Sex Q&A

Sex Question Friday: Is It Normal To Fantasize About Your Partner Having Sex With Someone Else?

October 24, 2014 by Justin Lehmiller


Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a female reader who wanted to know the following:

Is it normal behavior to masturbate while thinking of your partner with someone else? My partner of 6 years cheated on me with a female friend of mine, who tried coming on to me two days prior to their sexual escapade. I knew this woman was bi-sexual, but I don’t swing that way. Or so I thought, since then I have been masturbating to the thought of the two of them having sex. Is that normal?”

Let me start by saying that I’m not in the business of telling people what’s “normal” when it comes to sex because I’m not here to pass value judgments. So let’s instead reframe this question as “do other people have similar sorts of sexual fantasies?” The answer to that question is yes.

In psychological terms, people who are aroused by the prospect of watching their partner have sex with someone else have a sexual interest known as troilism. The exact origin of this word is unknown, but some people think it was derived from the French word “trois,” as in “ménage a trois.” This would seem to make sense, right? After all, we are talking about a threesome of sorts—just not the kind most people think of when they hear the word “threesome.”

Troilism fantasies are surprisingly common among men, who more commonly refer to this sexual interest as “cuckolding” or “cuckold fantasies” (“cuckold” is an old term used to describe a man whose wife is cheating on him). Consider this: when scientists analyzed what people were searching for on some of the world’s biggest porn sites, they found that “cuckold porn” was the second most popular term that appeared in heterosexual porn searches [1]!

I recently published an article in Playboy exploring the psychological motivations behind men who have a sexual interest in cuckolding, and some of the theories are absolutely fascinating. You can read that article here.

We do not know nearly as much about troilism among women—unfortunately, it is a topic that just has not generated any significant research attention. However, we know that some women do indeed have this sexual interest. This is sometimes referred to as “cuckqueaning” (“cuckquean” being the female equivalent of the term “cuckold”).

A quick search for “cuckquean erotica” on Amazon reveals dozens of hits, including an entire series known as the Cuckquean Chronicles. Likewise, there are a number of online communities and internet forums devoted to this sexual interest.

The only scientific data I know of that can address how common this sexual interest might be among women comes from a sexual fantasy survey I am currently conducting. This survey is designed to be the largest and most comprehensive investigation into the nature and origin of sexual fantasies ever (you can participate here if you haven’t already). To date, more than 2,000 people have started the survey and the results reveal that, so far, 35% of female participants report that they have fantasized about troilism before (for comparison purposes, the number was 49% among male participants). Of course, we’re not dealing with a representative sample here, but this finding suggests that troilism fantasies may be more common among women than anyone ever expected and are perhaps worthy of more research attention.

For previous editions of Sex Question Friday, click here. To send in a question for a future edition, click here.

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[1] Ogas, O., & Gaddam, S. (2011). A billion wicked thoughts. New York: Dutton.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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