Recently I’ve received multiple inquiries from couples who want to be coached on the topic of cuckolding. Since there are a lot of misconceptions about the topic, and the potential for abusive situations is substantial, I put together this blog to help educate people on the ways to make healthy choices when embarking on a cuckolding relationship. Before choosing to incorporate cuckolding in your relationship, I recommend couples consider four important factors: consent, co-construction, compassion, and communication.
Consent is integral in any relationship involving an unequal power dynamic, because one partner must willingly subjugate himself or herself to the control of another. The power structure of dominance and submission can be incredibly alluring, but it can also be very toxic if misused. The most straightforward way to avoid unhealthy or undesired power dynamics is to be clear from the onset about what you both want and need from each other. By taking the time to have extensive, clear dialogue about desires and boundaries, you increase your chances at long-term success in the type of kink you are seeking. This is especially true with cuckolding.
By traditional definition, a cuckold is a man who enjoys watching his wife have sex with another man (or men) while he is denied the privilege of sex with her. Cuckolding dynamics can be used by folks of all genders, and cuckolding can take numerous forms. Some people utilize chastity as a key component for the cuckold; others allow some form of sexual activity. There is no universal rulebook, and you can set whatever boundaries work for you both, provided you both clearly and enthusiastically agree to them at the onset. I strongly suggest couples have initial conversations about consent when they are fully sober, fully rested, fully present, and not acting in a D/s role. It’s crucial for submissives to be able to speak as equals in these types of negotiations, and that neither partner pressures consent from the other.
In my work as a relationship and intimacy coach, I consult couples on a variety of kinky topics. The biggest hurdle I see with couples interested in cuckolding is a mismatch of interests: one partner is really turned on by the idea, but the other is hesitant and merely going along to keep things happy at home. This is risky. Informed, enthusiastic consent is required of both partners, to ensure one partner isn’t foisting fantasies on the other.
I have worked with couples where the husband has had lifelong fantasies about non-monogamy and chastity, but the wife was perfectly happy having a monogamous sexual relationship with her husband, whom she adored. I have seen these couples fall apart because the husband wouldn’t be satisfied having his ideas stay in the realm of fantasy and masturbation fodder. Not all of our fantasies need to become reality. On the other hand, I have consulted couples with dominant wives who want to sleep with multiple men and were clearly bored with their husbands. These women attempted to use cuckolding as a game to keep the marriage going. The husband played along because he loved her and didn’t want to lose her.
This isn’t how consensual cuckolding works. Relationships are built by teamwork, and cuckold relationships are no exception. Both partners have to be invested in the fantasy for it to become reality in any sustainable way. Otherwise, the couple is signing up for a one-way ticket to resentment-land.
Intent is a key factor in any relationship based on an unequal power dynamic. Couples must believe the benevolence of their partner’s intent for trust to be possible. For any relationship to be sustainable, it must be built on genuine mutual concern for each other’s well-being. Compassion is critical for healthy dominance and submission. A dominant without total compassion for the submissive’s health (physical and emotional) easily becomes a tyrant. A submissive without compassion for the dominant’s needs can treat him or her like a fetish vending machine, who merely exists to fulfill his fantasies. Neither of these scenarios builds a lasting D/s dynamic.
Rather than treating the cuckold like a disposable commodity or an afterthought, there must be value placed on the cuckold’s contributions to the partnership. Dominants: recognize and reward the many reasons you chose to be in this relationship, and never overlook the whole human being in the heat of the fantasy moment. Even in the absence of shared sexual activity, should you both choose that option, there is still a need for emotional intimacy and recognition of the cuckold’s other needs, which may include other forms of BDSM play or specific types of permitted sexual interaction. Cuckolding is not an excuse for neglect of either partner’s needs.
Continued honesty and what I call “maintenance negotiation” are integral aspects of any healthy relationship. In addition to the initial negotiation that takes place to establish the boundaries of any BDSM play, I believe long term D/s relationships require no small amount of ongoing communication about the state of partners’ needs and desires. This is maintenance negotiation. Partners should set aside time to talk about their relationship, and it’s important for this to be done out of any dominant or submissive roles. People need a safe space to speak as equals and be fully heard, even if they are in a 24/7 power dynamic the rest of the time.
Ongoing opportunities for negotiation allow partners to touch base and assess whether the dynamic is still serving them both, whether they are both happy, and whether they have any reservations that need to be aired. From the beginning, partners in cuckolding relationships need to be clear on certain specifics of engagement: what exactly are they planning to do? Which partner is allowed to have what kind of sex, and with whom? Does the couple want to build a trust-based relationship with one outside person on an ongoing basis, or do they want the possibility of multiple new partners? What is the plan for STD screening and protection? All of these things need to be clarified from the beginning, agreed upon fully, and recalibrated as needed, but only with the full consent of both partners.
When we use the term “edge play” in BDSM, we often think of things that are physically risky, such as asphyxiation or waterboarding. In reality, our emotions are very much at risk in our kinky play, and the potential for long-term trauma in psychological forms of BDSM shouldn’t be overlooked. Cuckolding can be a healthy and mutually rewarding form of play, provided both partners are attentive to consent, co-construction, compassion, and communication.
Lady Elizabeth, PhD has been involved in BDSM her entire adult life, both as a passion and a topic for academic research. She holds a PhD in linguistic anthropology from an Ivy League university, specializing in gender and sexuality. A professional dominant since 2000, she particularly enjoys teaching novices about the diverse world of BDSM.