Sex Q&A

Sex Question Friday: Do Men’s Cuckold Fantasies Stem From Low Self-Esteem?

February 20, 2015 by Justin Lehmiller

A reader contacted me with the following hypothesis about the origin of cuckold fantasies:

“Do you want to know WHY some men feel aroused by that cuckold fantasy? It comes from a deep lack of self-worth. I feel like I’m not good enough for my girl, and so I want her to have sex with a better male. I know this goes against evolutionary programming, but it is a form of inferiority complex. I get aroused by knowing that she is mating with the alpha male.”

Thanks for submitting this interesting hypothesis. For any of my readers who are unfamiliar with cuckold fantasies, what we’re talking about here are (usually) heterosexual men who fantasize about watching their wives or girlfriends have sex with other men. These fantasies appear to be quite common, and numerous theories have been proposed to account for their origin, including an evolutionary explanation that you can read more about here.

To address your question, I’m not aware of any published research that can speak to a potential link between feelings of self-worth and having sexual fantasies of this nature. However, I recently collected some data that may shed some light on it.

I am in the process of conducting what is designed to be the largest and most comprehensive survey of sexual fantasies to date (you can participate here if you haven’t already). Included on this survey (among many other things) are questions about the frequency with which one has cuckold fantasies, as well as a standard self-esteem scale.

Preliminary results from the first 800 men who completed this survey revealed that cuckold fantasies were indeed quite common, with 49% of male participants reporting such fantasies before.

So was there a statistical link between cuckold fantasies and low self-esteem? Nope. In fact, there was a statistically significant relationship in the opposite direction (r = .08, p < .05)—in other words, the men who fantasized about cuckold fantasies most often actually tended to have higher self-esteem! Granted, this correlation was very small, so I wouldn’t make too much of it; however, it is inconsistent with the hypothesis that cuckolding fantasies typically stem from a lack of self-worth. This finding also suggests the possibility that perhaps guys need to be fairly self-confident in order to share their partners with someone else (i.e., perhaps men are only aroused by the prospect of cuckolding to the extent that they know their partner will not be stolen away).

I also found that cuckold fantasies were linked to a number of other interesting psychological characteristics that may help to generate a more complete understanding of where these fantasies originate. There will be much more to come on this topic once data collection is complete, so stay tuned.

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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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