Truthfully, cuckolding is a fetish like any other. Unfortunately, due to the painful, heartbreaking nature of the concept, many people cannot understand why anyone would get aroused by cuckolding. Cuckold psychology is confusing to consider.
Cuckold psychology – the psychology behind the cuckold fetish – is a much larger topic than can fit into one article. This whole website is dedicated to that purpose! So, here’s a short summary.
Cuckold Psychology – The Psychology Of The Cuckold Fantasy, Explained
The cuckold fetish is about being cheated on, right in front of you, in the most painful, heartbreaking way possible. Additionally, there can also be an element of verbal humiliation, small penis humiliation, chastity, emasculation, interracial sex, or many more optional elements.
This scenario would normally make someone feel humiliated, inferior, inadequate, ashamed, and many more negative feelings. But, in the cuckold fetish, instead of feeling these emotions, they are registered as sexual pleasure.
Our brains ‘eroticize’ these emotions; they get turned into erotic pleasure instead of pain.
This is the same for many other fetishes. One of the ways that fetishes can form is as a way to turn deep-rooted emotional pain into sexual pleasure. (For references, see: Stoller, 1979; La Torre, 1980; Langevin, 1983; Stoller, 1986; Morin, 1995; Rosen, 1996; Sawyer, 1996; Kaplan, 1997; Lowenstein, 2002; Siegel, 2011; Baumeister, 2014)
In the context of other fetishes it seems more understandable:
- Why do some people like getting physically hurt? That’s a physical pain, whereas cuckolding is psychological.
- Why do some people like inflicting pain on others?
- Why do some people like to be tied up and deprived of all control?
- What about incest?
- Some people even find pleasure in an embarrassing experience like getting caught having sex in public.
Fetishes Turn Pain Into Pleasure
The bondage fetish, for example, is about the feeling of powerlessness. Being tied up makes you feel powerless, but in some people those emotions are arousing. Instead of painful vulnerability, it’s pleasurable.
For fetishes about urination or scat, the emotion is disgust. It would usually be horrible and disgusting, but for people with those fetishes, that negative feeling creates arousal.
Some people are aroused by public sex, which would normally create feelings of exposure, vulnerability, or shame. Again, those hurtful feelings are what create pleasure.
Cuckolding is all about inadequacy – not being good enough. It involves:
- being cheated on (which already implies inadequacy),
- preferably by a bigger, better, ‘alpha’ male (creating more feelings of inadequacy)
- And this man either has a large penis, a good body, or is socially dominant (creating feelings of inadequacy)
- And most importantly, it involves the girl really enjoying it, submitting to him in a way you’ve never seen before, moaning more than ever, loving every second, and that’s the part which triggers the sense of inadequacy; if she doesn’t enjoy it, it doesn’t make you feel inadequate. Her enjoyment is what triggers those emotions.
Usually this would be very hurtful, but for those with a cuckold fetish, inadequacy becomes pleasurable.
The author and clinical psychologist Stanley Siegel writes: ‘Fetishes form as a way to protect us from that same emotional pain. To disconnect from the pain and turn it into pleasure, we can be protected from the hurtful feelings it may trigger.’ (Siegel, 2011)
That’s also why anyone WITHOUT a cuckold fetish finds this whole thing absolutely disgusting. It’s almost painful to them, because the sense of inadequacy it creates is NOT being turned into sexual pleasure – in fact it just stays as that horrible, uncomfortable, unpleasant feeling.
Further reading: The Link Between Cuckolding And Interracial (the interracial element can create even more inadequacy, that’s why it’s such a common element of this fetish).
The Reason For Cuckold Fetishes
So, why does emotional pain get turned into pleasure? The reason is largely unprovable because it can’t directly be tested. Many psychologists have explained the reason in different ways – but they all say that fetishes turn emotional pain into pleasure, for some reason. The reason has been described as a way to:
- ‘protect’ us from these emotions (Siegel, 2011),
- or to ‘escape’ from these bad feelings about ourselves (Baumeister, 2014),
- or as a way to ‘overcome’ these fears/feelings and affirm our self-worth (Morin, 1995),
- or as a ‘fantasy of revenge’; by recreating the pain and hurtful fears that exist inside of ourselves, we overcome them. (Stoller, 1979)
The truth is, it doesn’t really matter why. They’re all different ways of explaining the same thing: somehow, fetishes turn deep-rooted pain into sexual pleasure. And in the cuckold fetish, it’s clearly all about the pain of inadequacy.
How Does The Cuckold Fetish Form?
The cuckold fetish is caused by having deep-rooted pain about being inadequate: either a fear, feeling, focus, belief, or association. When any of these are present, it creates pain which is eroticized through the cuckold fetish.
- Fear: Fearing inadequacy. Fearing not being good enough, and consequently focusing so much on trying to be the best possible, above all else.
- Feeling: Feeling inadequate in your life. Feeling inferior to others. This means you’ll be particularly hurt by the concept of inadequacy – and particularly aroused by it.
- Focus: Focusing on trying to be good enough. Focusing on your standing compared to others. Focusing on everyone’s rank in society.
- Belief: Believing that inadequacy is particularly painful – that being a cuckold is essentially the worst thing that could happen to a person.
- Association: Associating inadequacy (particularly sexual inadequacy) with pain. Thinking that sexual inadequacy would be the worst thing possible in a relationship, more than emotional inadequacy for example.
Any of these things create a greater pain around the concept of inadequacy, and that’s what causes the cuckold fetish. The cuckold fetish eroticizes these hurtful feelings; it turns pain into pleasure.
Are Cuckolds Inadequate People?
No. THIS IS UNRELATED TO WHO YOU ARE IN REAL LIFE. Some people with this fetish are successful, handsome, ripped, popular with women, or have any number of ‘good’ things. It doesn’t matter. The pain around inadequacy doesn’t mean that you are inadequate in real life, it just means you have that pain in your brain. It’s psychological and largely not conscious.
In fact, the pain of inadequacy is what can give someone the urge to improve, and do any of the following:
- Dieting/exercising, getting a great body,
- getting money, becoming rich,
- learning to be good with women, becoming popular,
- gaining as much knowledge as possible, becoming intelligent,
- getting obsessed with self-help, becoming better in every way,
- thinking that if they become famous/successful/powerful/etc they’ll finally be ‘good enough’.
Most of these are largely positive. However, the urge is so strong that they can become all-consuming forces which destroy the balance of their life, and makes them feel bad for not having these things.
Other people go the opposite way, and instead of inspiring them to try extra hard to be ‘good enough’, they give up, and turn to what the author John Bradshaw (1988) calls a ‘release’:
- addictions (alcohol, drugs, porn),
- or escaping (through addiction to video games, TV, films, or intellectualization)
It can also cause depression, anxiety, particularly social anxiety, and much more.
Subconscious inadequacy can control your whole life, and that’s why I made this website (sign up to my mailing list to learn how to overcome it!)
What Causes Your Specific Desires?
Additionally, your individual fears, feelings, beliefs and associations will determine exactly what part of this fetish arouses you most. For example, some people with a cuckold fetish also get particularly aroused by some of the following things:
- Small penis humiliation
- Feminization, emasculation, sissification
- Verbal humiliation (being called ‘pathetic’ or a ‘loser’)
And other people with this fetish may not like those things as much.
Or, some people are especially aroused by the thought of their partner having sex with:
- Her ex
- Her boss
- His ‘bully’
- A person of a different race
These are individual. Different people are into different specific things, even within this fetish. That’s because we all have different fears and feelings inside of us, in addition to ‘inadequacy’. Each of these things eroticizes a different individual fear/feeling inside of you.
Again, fetishes turn pain into pleasure. The pleasure of emasculation is rooted in the pain of it. The pleasure of a girl sleeping with her ex comes from having painful fears or feelings about the concept of a girl sleeping with her ex.
Fetishes turn pain into pleasure, and pain itself is formed by fears/feelings/focus/beliefs/associations.
So, as well as ‘subconscious inadequacy’, you may also have any of the following painful fears/feelings/beliefs (depending on the specific parts of this fetish which arouse you):
- Female promiscuity –
- do you feel pain around this subject?
- Do you feel pain about casual sex and girls being sluts?
- Or, do you believe that ‘all women are slutty’?
- Is this your biggest fear?
- Does it create bad feelings when you think of this?
- Do you have negative associations with female promiscuity, which create pain?
That pain would be eroticized by this fetish.
- Penis size –
- Do you feel emotional pain about a woman sleeping with someone who has a bigger penis than you? That pain is exactly what causes pleasure!
- Not just feelings or fears, but focus; if you think penis size is important, then small penis humiliation can become arousing (regardless of the size of your actual penis – it’s the focus, fears, and beliefs that can cause the arousal. I frequently get emails from people with a SPH fetish who tell me their penis is very big).
Fears and beliefs will form if you simply focus on penis size or believe it’s an important element of sex. Porn can cause this disproportionate focus.
- Sex and sexual inadequacy –
- Do you feel sexually inadequate?
- Or do you fear being sexually inadequate?
- Or focus; do you think sex is incredibly important, and it matters a lot?
- Do you believe a woman would cheat on you if you weren’t good enough in bed?
- Do you believe the quality of sex is crucial for the security of a relationship?
Again, porn can cause this. Porn makes you focus on sex, and end up thinking that life revolves around sex, and that women will dump you or cheat on you if the sex is bad. If you think this, this creates fears of sexual inadequacy, because that’s a big fear to anyone who believes sex is crucial (again, regardless of your real-life sexual competency). Those fears of sexual inadequacy are eroticized by this fetish.
- Do you believe that you need to be ‘dominant’ to be a man?
- Do you associate masculinity with certain traits, such as confidence, assertiveness, extraversion etc?
- Do you think you need to do something in particular in order to be ‘good enough’?
- Have you spent a lot of time on communities which focus on the idea of an ‘alpha male’? Again, the focus is enough to create fears.
- Have you learned to ‘pick-up’ or ‘game’ girls?
- Do you always try to think of the ‘right’ thing to say – instead of just saying what you want?
These are all symptoms of deeper fears, feelings, and beliefs about masculinity and what you need to do to be ‘good enough’.
- Male competition –
- Do you feel exceptionally uncomfortable thinking about your partner’s ex-boyfriends?
- Do you get jealous easily?
- Do you worry about your standing compared to other men?
- Do you get on better with women than men, and have more female friends than male friends for example?
- Do you feel excluded?
- Do you always feel like an outsider in your friendship circle?
- Do you feel like you were born ‘different’ to everyone else?
- Do you feel like you’re always at risk of being rejected?
Of course, nearly all of these concepts are painful to everyone. But in people with a fetish involving those things, they are particularly painful. They’re very similar to insecurities, and fetishes exploit insecurities.
There are hundreds of potential fears/feelings/beliefs which could cause arousal to particular parts of the cuckold fetish – and overcoming them is a whole other topic. This is a tiny starter guide – sign up to my mailing list if you want to keep going.
So, What Can You Do About This?
Healing the pain which causes the fetish will remove the reason why it’s arousing (see: Langevin, 1983, Siegel, 2011, Baumeister, 2014). If you want to change your fetish, you need to change the root cause. That means healing the pain.
But, there’s so much more to it than that: fetishes are affected by a complex interplay of much more. It’s for that reason that many different methods of reducing fetishistic arousal have shown success (Laws & O’Donahue, 2008).
This is a long, complex process, and that’s what this website is for.
Of course, you don’t have to change anything. Fetishes are normal, and it’s perfectly ok to just accept it. Even though it seems weird or shameful, there’s nothing wrong with whatever happens between consenting adults – or on your own – as long as it makes everyone involved happy.
But if it doesn’t make you happy, it’s a problem.
One solution to that problem is to learn how to be happy with your fetish, and accept it – and that’s fine.
But I started this website because the internet seemed to be filled with people saying ‘just accept it’. Some people even claimed that was the only option – and I knew that was wrong. I was reading hundreds of books and studies saying the opposite, and I was determined to bring scientific research to the opinion-filled internet space.
This website aims to offer the more niche advice for the small percentage of people who don’t want to ‘just accept it’. If you want to change, sign up to my mailing list!
The psychology of the cuckold fetish is explained as follows:
Fetishes turn pain into pleasure, and pleasurable parts of the cuckold fetish are actually very painful. These are: Inadequacy, inferiority, infidelity, but may also be mixed with many other individual pains.
What causes pain? Fears, feelings, beliefs, focus, or associations. The most deep-rooted of these are formed in the earliest years of childhood, as well as throughout life, particularly through painful or traumatic experiences.
Cuckold psychology is not any different from ‘exhibitionist psychology’ or ‘sadist psychology’ – they all form by the same universal mechanism. Fetishes are normal and don’t require change, but that isn’t the only option. If you’d rather change, sign up below.
– Connor McGonigal
Cuckold Psychology: The Psychology Behind The Cuckold Fetish, Explained.
Baumeister, R. F. (2014). Masochism and the self. Psychology Press.
Bradshaw, J. (1988) Healing The Shame That Binds You. Health Communications Inc.
Kaplan, L. J. (1997). Clinical manifestations of the perverse strategy. Psychoanalysis & Psychotherapy. 14(1), 79-89.
Langevin, R. (1983) Sexual strands: Understanding And Treating Sexual Anomalies In Men, Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum
La Torre, R. (1980). Devaluation of the human love object: Heterosexual rejection as a possible antecedent of fetishism. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 89, 295–298.
Laws, D. R., & O’Donohue, W. T. (Eds.). (2008). Sexual Deviance: Theory, Assessment, and Treatment. Guilford Press.
Lowenstein, L. F. (2002). Fetishes and their associated behavior. Sexuality and Disability, 20(2), 135-147.
Morin, J. (1995) The Erotic Mind. New York: HarperCollins
Rosen, I. E. (1996). Sexual deviation. Oxford University Press.
Sawyer, D. (1996). An attempt to repair: The meanings of a fetish in the case of Mr. A. Issues in Psychoanalytic Psychology, 18, 21-35
Stoller, R. J. (1979). Sexual excitement: Dynamics of erotic life. London: Maresfield Library.
Stoller, R. J. (1986). Perversion: The erotic form of hatred. Karnac Books
Siegel, S. (2011) Your Brain On Sex. Sourcebooks Casablanca.