Cuckolding: What It Is And Why Some People Love It

Here’s what you need to know about cuckolding before you try it.

Cuckolding: What It Is And Why Some People Love It

Cuckolding: What It Is And Why Some People Love It

Cuckolding: What It Is And Why Some People Love It

Published
August 27, 2021
— Updated
Medically Reviewed by
6 minutes

You might have seen the term “cuckolding” on dating app profiles, internet memes, or in categories on porn sites. If you’re curious about finding out what cuckolding is, the things you should consider before trying it, or where to find a “bull,” we’ve got you covered. 

The meaning of cuckolding has changed over time 

Cuckolding is a consensual fetish or kink that falls under the BDSM umbrella. Cuckolding is where “one partner [known as a ‘cuck’] is watching their partner have sex with someone outside of the relationship [known as a ‘bull’],” kink educator Emerson Karsh tells O.school. The cuck doesn’t always have to be in the room while the sex act is happening. They may request pictures, video, a detailed report of the experience, or something else. Cuckolding can be considered a BDSM act because domination, submission, and humiliation are often a turn-on for the person watching their partner submit sexually to someone else.

This Old English term “cuckolding” originated in the thirteenth century, and was derived from cuckoo birds — animals known to lay their eggs in other birds’ nests. Historcially, cuckolding referred to situations where a cis-woman engaged in sexual activity with a cis-man other than her husband, without her husband knowing. But, today, cuckolding has been redefined to include partners of any gender or orientation and does not involve cheating. All parties involved are aware of the situation and consenting. 

Be aware that cuckolding can have negative, and even racist, connotations 

In sexual/fantasy play, the negative connotation of a “cuck” — someone who is weak or inadequate — can be part of the appeal as it plays into the humiliation and submission aspects of BDSM. But others have used the word with malintent. Around the 2016 presidential election, for example, some alt-right conservatives co-opted the word to be a racist or derogatory term meant to insult those with liberal ideals. While the word “cuck” is also meant as an insult in a kink/sexual context, it is generally not meant to put others down based on their core values. 

An article published in GQ also noted that cuckolding can have racist implications. In many situations, and often seen in porn, cuckolding is shown between a white couple and a Black man (acting as the bull) where racist stereotypes about Black men being sexually aggressive toward white women are played out. GQ also notes that “in pornography, the wife of the cuckolded (almost exclusively white) husband is most commonly sleeping with African-American men, meant to provide an additional layer of humiliation if the white husband sees that man as ‘inferior.’” 

Dr. Pitagora tells O.school that while cuckolding can “include race play (when consented upon among all parties)” it can also “be inherently racist ([when] not discussed or acknowledged as part of what everyone wants).” When engaging in race play or power dynamics, communication and consent is of the utmost importance. Everyone involved must be aware of the intentions behind the fantasy/role play scenario and know that consent can be withdrawn at any time. 

Cuckolding is not hotwifing 

Hotwifing is often conflated with cuckolding, but there are some key differences to consider. Hotwifing is when a woman consentually has sex with men other than her husband, boyfriend, or partner. Hotwifing is usually between a cishet-man and woman. Dr. Pitagora adds that the term “hotwifing” can sometimes be considered "problematic in its conventional objectification and sexualization" of women. Unlike hotwifing, cuckolding does not assume a heteronormative dynamic where the person being objectified and sexualized is always a woman. Cuckolding is a term that includes people of any gender and orientation. 

Furthermore, in cuckolding, the cuck is often “submissive, feels inadequate, and often craves humiliation as part of [their] turn on,” according to an article published in 2019 by Sexpert. In hotwifing, the husband gets off by seeing his partner have sex with someone else, but the central element of the experience is not the humiliation and power exchange that is present in cuckolding. 

Cuckolding roles 

In a cuckolding scenario, each person usually plays a specific role. Typically, these roles include the cuck or cuckqueen, the cuck’s partner, and a bull. 

  • Cuck or cuckold. This is a person who enjoys imagining, hearing about, or watching their partner have sex with someone else. While a cuck traditionally refers to a male, a cuck is not always a man.
  • Cuckqueen. Some people like to use the term “cuckqueen” to refer to female cucks, Dr. Dulcinea Alex Pitagora, NYC-based psychotherapist and sex therapist, tells O.school. 
  • Bull. The word “bull” has been used to describe the person outside of the relationship having sex with the cuck or cuckqueen’s partner. In some situations, a couple may purposely choose a bull who makes the cuck feel inferior. For example, if the cuck is a smaller man, a couple might choose a bull with a bigger stature or penis. 

Types of cuckolding scenarios

Cuckolding can look different for different people based on their preferences and desires. Here are just a few cuckolding scenarios a couple might try. 

Watching a partner have sex with someone else. 

The most traditional cuckolding scenario is when a man acts as the cuck and watches his wife have sex with someone else. Usually, the bull is someone the husband sees as “more virile and well-endowed,” Dr. Pitagora explains. Of course, this traditional scenario can be played out between many different gender configurations. It “might involve three people of the same gender, or three people of different genders, or multiple people of different genders” says Dr. Pitagora. 

Reporting back to the cuck

Certified sex therapist Megan Pollock, MS, LPC-S, AASECT, tells O.school that cuckolding doesn’t always have to involve the cuck watching their partner have sex. It can also involve a partner having sex with someone else independently and later reporting back to the cuck with details of the encounter. With the consent of everyone involved, the cuck might also request pictures or videos of the encounter so they can enjoy viewing it. 

Engaging in submission play 

In many situations, the cuck will be willingly humiliated. This could be done by “forcing” the cuck to watch their partner have sex with the bull. The cuck could also be permitted to masturbate or “kept celibate and in chastity” says Dr. Pitagora. 

Other things that are often done in cuckolding is having the cuck hold their partner for the bull, or having the cuck fluff (perform oral on) their partner or the bull, says Pollock. Many cucks also enjoy giving oral to their partner after they have had sex with the bull. 

3 reasons people enjoy cuckolding 

There are many reasons people might enjoy cuckolding. Here are just a few.

1. Compersion

Dr. Pitagora says “Cuckolding can be seen as the ultimate form of compersion — a term often used in the polyamory community to refer to a type of relational empathy in which pleasure is felt when an individual’s partner experiences love or sexual pleasure with another partner.” 

In a study published in 2017 in the Archives Sexual Behavior on “The Psychology of Gay Men’s Cuckolding Fantasies” that surveyed 580 people, one participant said “I am turned on thinking about my husband being completely pleasured by another man.” And another participant shared, “I enjoy imagining, hearing about, and witnessing my partner having sex with other men...I want my partner to experience pleasure and happiness in whatever way he deems fit for living the fullest life he can.”

2. Jealousy 

Some cucks don’t experience compersion and instead experience jealousy when they watch their partner have sex with someone else. And for many people, this jealousy “is an important part of the interaction,” says Dr. Pitagora. Because humiliation and submission can be a turn-on in a cuckold scenario, the jealousy factor can be a good thing for some.

3. Shame, humiliation, and submission

Many people seek out cuckolding for the shame, humiliation, and submission they experience while watching their partner have sex with someone else, especially if the cuck feels that they are sexually inferior to the bull. 

A participant from the study published in the Archives Sexual Behavior said “I have a cuckold fantasy that my husband brings home a stud/bull who is hotter than me, and hung, and the bull forces me to move into the guest room. The bull fucks my husband anytime and any place he wants. [...] I’m forced to clean up after meals and serve them beer as they are fucking but do not get to watch.” 

Cuckolding might be more common than you think

Depending on the culture you live in, cuckolding and many other kinks are often seen as taboo so people are often hesitant to talk about it or report their engagement. While there is very little research on how common cuckolding is as it’s often underreported, the data we do have shows a lot of people are interested. 

According to interview with CNN in 2018, Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D, published in his book Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help Improve Your Sex Life, that 58 percent of men and about a third of women have fantasized about cuckolding. In 2016, Pornhub shared data on how frequently the term cuckolding was searched and “From January 2013 to November 2016, cuckold [had] grown in popularity by 57 percent.” “Every month, 1.75 million people search some variation of ‘cuckold,’ ‘cuck’ or ‘cucked’ on Pornhub, placing it in the Top 100 of all search terms” according to the article. 

How to become a cuck

If you are ready to try cuckolding and are looking for community and/or partners there are a few different places you can look. Depending on where you live, there may be sex clubs or sex parties that can be a good place to find like-minded people with similar sexual interests. Karsh recommends dating apps like Feeld, #Open, and FetLife for finding partners and says to be “upfront that your interest is in cuckolding” on your dating app profile or in conversations.

“If you are interested in learning more and connecting with like-minded people, try to find an online community on Reddit or discord to talk to, ask questions, and hear advice from others” Karsh says. 

5 things to consider when trying cuckolding 

If you’re interested in cuckolding, there are a few things that can be helpful to consider before you try it:

1. Communication and consent

“A couple trying cuckolding should have a strong foundation of trust and communication,” says Karsh. “Have clear, explicit conversations with your partner(s),” and “be very clear on any boundaries, limits, [and] restrictions,” Pollock tells O.school. As with any sexual experience, it’s important everyone knows that consent can be withdrawn at any time. Boundaries, rules, and limits should also be an ongoing conversation as people may adjust their wants or needs over time, or in a particular moment. 

2. Know how and when to stop 

“Know how to express discomfort or wanting to stop during the experiences” says Pollock. For many different reasons, it can be difficult to express discomfort or ask to stop during sex. It’s important to talk with your partners before you engage in any kind of sexual activity about how you will ask to stop — especially if you are trying something new. You may consider discussing with your partners how comfortable each of you feel asking to stop and how you will handle the situation if/when it comes up. You might also consider using a safe word

3. Take it slow

Pollock says to start off by taking it slowly. You don’t need to immediately dive into the deep-end by finding a bull to have sex with. Instead, you can begin by trying things like “sharing fantasies and role-play” says Pollock. You might also explore sharing intimate details with your partner about past sexual experiences, going to a bar and watching your partner flirt with someone else, or watching/listening to them have phone sex with another person

For some people, the fantasy of their partner having sex with another person can feel very different than actually watching them have sex with another person. Be sure to continuously check-in with yourself and your partners as you try new things. 

4. Debrief 

Pollock says “it is greatly advised to debrief after the experience to see what changes, if any are desired/needed moving forward.” Debriefing with your partners allows you to get feedback about how you can better meet their needs and also gives you the opportunity to share how they can better meet yours. Debriefing will also help ensure the safety and comfort of each partner. 

5. Stay on top of your sexual health 

Any time you are sexually active, it is important to care for your sexual health by doing things like seeing a medical provider and getting tested for STIs regularly. This becomes especially important when you start having sex with a new or additional partner, like in cuckolding. Be sure to communicate with your partners about when you were last tested for STIs and what they tested for. You might consider going to get tested with your partners and continuing to do this regularly. 

The Bottom Line

Cuckolding can be a great way to explore fantasies and experience submission and humiliation. It takes strong communication, trust, and honesty among everyone involved. If you’re thinking about trying cuckolding, you might want to consider taking it slowly with your partner first and preparing with things like education and STI testing.

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Ella Dorval Hall (she/they) is a white, eating disorder recover-er, sex and pleasure educator. She's worked at a national sexual health organization, Healthy Teen Network, training educators how to teach evidence-based sex education curriculums. Ella now hosts workshops, writes, and does 1:1 education that brings people the information and skills they need to actually enjoy sex. You can find more of Ella’s work on Instagram @unlearnings3x.

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