False Fetish Theories And The Importance Of Clinical Evidence (Rant)
Some people try so hard to accept their cuckold fetish without even considering change, and they struggle with this admittedly difficult task. One way they may attempt to help themselves accept it is to develop theories as to why they have this fetish, which imply a natural biological cause, an evolutionary advantage, or are comforting in some way.
Theories behind the cuckold fetish which bring comfort to people who have this fetish are more likely to be accepted and repeated, and spread despite a lack of evidence. There are many people who will go to great lengths to justify their sexual desires in the most complementary way possible.
These are ways of coping, for people who want to accept their fetish but struggle to do that. They should not be mocked for attempting to do so, and to correct them would be counter-intuitive; if this helps them to accept their fetish, then it fulfils its purpose. However, in the interest of accuracy, this informal article aims to dispel these myths, and look towards scientific evidence as opposed to opinion. It’s annoying to me, after spending so much time researching fetishes, to see people making things up out of thin air when there’s already so much established literature out there. So, this is also a rant – sorry.
Let’s start with a popular rumour about another fetish: the foot fetish.
Here’s a great myth about the foot fetish:
‘The foot fetish forms because the parts of the brain that control the genitals and the feet are next to each other (see pic). They merge into each other and link sexual pleasure with feet!’
Firstly, let’s ignore the fact that the parts of the brain that control the eyes and the nose are next to each other, and no-one has ever been known to smell lights. Let’s also ignore the fact that this would mean that the leg and hip could get similarly ‘mixed up’ (walking would be very difficult!)
This would theoretically make stimulation of the feet become sexually pleasurable.
How exactly would this make people become aroused by other people’s feet?
It’s impossible. It would only make you become aroused by stimulating your own feet.
But that’s not what the foot fetish is – it’s arousal for other people’s feet. Not arousal from rubbing your own feet!
The original study that made this suggestion was actually nothing to do with fetishes, it was a neuroscience article about mixed signals in the parts of the brain. The authors wrote ‘perhaps this could explain the foot fetish. We prefer this to Freud’s theory of the foot as a penis’. And that was all they said! (Let me also say that it doesn’t take much to form a theory more preferable than Freud’s theory of the foot as a penis. That’s not saying much!)
Yet this myth has become widespread – it’s comforting to people who like feet and feel ashamed about it. It’s comforting to blame their brain and say they can’t help it and can’t do anything about it.
If you’ve heard this myth before it may not have occurred to you to question it in detail, as with other theories, because the initial evidence of a scientific backing is usually enough to take it as truth. It certainly seems like it could be right at first glance.
But when you question exactly how the theorized mixed input signals could create anything other than ambiguity over which body part is being touched, instead forming an attraction to other people’s feet, the theory falls apart.
I’ve included this just to show how easy it is for such a clearly false theory to be spread widely. Now, on to the cuckold fetish.
I’ve seen people suggesting numerous things about why people would develop a cuckold fetish, including the following:
‘A study found that when a lion saw his partner having sex with another lion, his thrusts were more forceful and his ejaculate was larger. Competition makes us want them more. We are evolutionarily designed for this, in order to pass on our genetics. Seeing our partner be desired by other men ignites our primal instincts and takes pleasure to a new level. The penis is actually shaped to be able to remove another man’s sperm from the vagina.’
All of this is true, with plenty of evidence for it, but the problem here is that this is the complete opposite of cuckolding. This is the problem when normal people are allowed to speculate without input from a scientist; it has a high probability of being nonsense. The evidence here is related to our natural instinct to fight competition in order to pass on genetic material – this is true. But fighting off competition is the opposite of cuckolding, which is allowing competition. We are evolutionarily designed to decrease competition. Cuckolding increases competition. Being aroused by cuckolding intentionally introduces a lower chance of passing on genetic material. The penis is shaped like that to decrease the chance of another man’s sperm reaching the egg, not to allow another man the chance. Cuckolding directly defies everything to do with our evolution!
If we were naturally aroused by watching our partners have sex with other men, we would not pass on our genetic material! If we encouraged our partners to sleep with others, we’d struggle to pass on our own genetics. If you know the first thing about the survival of the fittest you’ll understand that the inability to pass on genetic material would make any genetic trait die out. This also implies a genetic cause, and i’m not even going to go into that.
Having sex with a woman that’s just had sex with someone else is a 50/50 chance of success. It slashes our chances in half. Furthermore, there’s no reason why we would get aroused by the act of *watching* this, because if we become aroused by watching it then we would not be encouraged to take action and fight off the competition, instead we would indulge in the cuckolding, masturbate or even ejaculate and have a 0% chance of success.
Really, for evolutionary purposes we should be designed to be repulsed by this, and respond with violence towards the other male, who’s trying to reduce our chances of passing on our genetics. Hint: we are. We are designed to get jealous and angry towards those who threaten our relationships in order to compel us to fight off all competition.
This also implies that all men are naturally excited by the cuckold fetish, as a consequence of evolution. This is completely untrue and simply ridiculous, 99% of men would find it extremely unpleasant. It’s emotionally horrific for most men.
The first glance at this theory makes sense and seems to have scientific backing. Upon careful consideration it should be easy to see how ludicrous this is.
Yet, it gives people hope that they’re normal. That’s what they want; desperate validation that their desires are ok. (Of course they are if you’re 100% happy, but let’s get the reason why right! See my article on Cuckold psychology for that)
Here’s another one:
‘Men are more visual than women, so they like watching. They like porn, and their wife becomes their pornstar.’
Do all men have a cuckold fetish? No, probably not even 1%. Does this theory explain why 99% of men would absolutely hate watching their wife cheat? No.
Do no women have a cuckold fetish? No, in fact there’s a word ‘cuckqueen’ to describe a female cuckold. Does this theory explain this? No.
Most men and most women don’t have this fetish, meaning it’s nothing to do with gender or the nature of humans, and instead is an exceptional anomaly. Theories must explain the anomaly to be valid, instead of trying to explain the nature of humans – or even worse, just men.
Why do they like watching their partners, as opposed to someone else? There are plenty of other people out there that won’t make you feel cheated on. Some are much more physically attractive than your partner I’m sure! Yet, cuckolding is about watching your partner, not two random people. Does this theory explain this? No.
Why aren’t they just voyeurs, which is a fetish for ‘watching’ – cuckolding differs in that it involves infidelity. How does this theory explain the difference between voyeurism and cuckoldry?
Does the existence of erotic cuckold literature not disprove this? Is it therefore not at all arousing if a wife tells the husband a story about cheating on him? Because that’s got no visual element, it’s just a story. So that’s not arousing at all? If a husband is listening to his wife have sex, but can’t see because he’s blindfolded or in another room – he just hears her moans and the sound of repetitive skin-on-skin slapping, are you saying he feels no arousal because it’s not visual? Are you saying there are no emotions involved in cuckolding? Is cuckolding even a visual fetish? No, it’s 100% an emotional fetish, otherwise it wouldn’t involve infidelity and themes of inferiority and inadequacy.
Making up theories like this is not only completely unnecessary, but it creates false misconceptions for members of the public.
Testosterone is an ‘androgen’ – a hormone responsible for male characteristics such as facial hair, muscle growth, and baldness.
The clinical treatment of fetishistic disorder involves ‘anti-androgen’ therapy. Doctors will prescribe pills which effectively block testosterone and all other androgens from having an effect on the body. By doing this, it removes your sex drive, and therefore you don’t feel desire to engage in the fetish.*
The TREATMENT for the cuckold fetish is to lower testosterone.
Low testosterone is certainly not the cause of the cuckold fetish.
High testosterone would quite feasibly bring this fetish out of you, as testosterone increases sex drive and aggression. Aggression isn’t always directed outward. Masochistic aggression is directed inwards, towards self-abuse either in physical pain or humiliation such as cuckolding.
Neither high nor low testosterone would cause a fetish out of the blue, and there is no clinical evidence for this either.
Perhaps some people think of the cuckold fetish, or sexual submission, as being ‘weak’ or not masculine enough. Then, they assume that hormones cause that. Testosterone can make you angry and aggressive, and many people theorize that low testosterone would make you submissive enough to allow cuckolding to happen to you. Testosterone can increase drive, aggression, and maybe even confidence, which we may associate with ‘dominance’.
Then, people make the leap of equating that to sexual dominance. However, this is untrue. Fetishes don’t work that way. Fetishes have no correlation with your real life. They are often completely different.
Someone can be dominant in life and submissive in bed, just as someone can be a total pushover in life and dominant in bed. Sexual submission does not correlate with hormones. Neither does sexual dominance.
Fetishes form differently.
Cuckolding relies on subconscious emotions which often have absolutely no relation to real life. Regarding this fetish, all testosterone does is regulate your sex drive. Lacking testosterone does not make you sexually submissive, and it certainly doesn’t make you become aroused by infidelity. Fetishes are caused by other factors.
Steroids And Injecting Testosterone
Having worked with many men in teaching them how to overcome this fetish, I’ve also worked with many fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders, who make a conscious effort to keep their testosterone at high levels, yet still have a cuckold fetish. I’ve worked with multiple men who take anabolic steroids, including some who inject pure testosterone at levels 10x as much a normal person needs, and they all say that testosterone simply increases sex drive, and does not change the quality of their fantasies. Not only that, but they also use other ‘androgenic’ compounds too.
Steroid users actually seem quite prevalent in the fetish community, possibly because they share the same cause – feelings of inadequacy, which can result in an obsessive drive for improvement beyond reason, which makes people want to take steroids. The cause of the cuckold fetish could also make you want to inject testosterone to be ‘better’. The crossover between these common causes may make steroid users be more likely to have a cuckold fetish than other members of the population – despite their high levels of testosterone.
The myth of low testosterone causing cuckold fantasies comes from uninformed people who equate testosterone levels with monogamy, which is stupid, or think higher testosterone magically raises your position on the dominance hierarchy and makes you more of an ‘alpha male’, which is offensively uninformed.
Then, they also somehow think that ‘alpha males’ don’t have cuckold fetishes, which is similarly uninformed and frankly ridiculous, and think that people lower on the dominance hierarchy or who aren’t successful with women are more submissive, which is also ridiculous. They assume that ‘alpha males’ are sexually dominant and perhaps even sadistic, which is laughable to someone like me who studies these things!
Furthermore, they might think that cuckolding comes from a lack of assertiveness – that people with a cuckold fetish just aren’t assertive enough to demand monogamy, and that low testosterone causes that. Of course, everyone with this fetish knows that cuckolding is not something you ‘go along with’; it is a sexual urge that becomes deeply arousing in itself, and some men actually have to be assertive towards their partners to ask them to go along with their cuckold fantasies!
Cuckolding is also a fantasy for single people, who don’t have relationships, and who don’t even fantasize about their partner cheating on them, just the concept of cheating itself. It’s nothing to do with assertiveness. Cuckolding is not a fetish from people too ‘weak’ to enjoy normal sex. It is a fetish where many people, even highly successful or accomplished people, feel the desire for it.
Testosterone also declines with age. If the present theory was correct, all old men would be into cuckolding.
The idea that low testosterone causes the cuckold fetish probably comes from associating testosterone with manliness and strength, and seeing cuckolding as ‘unmanly’ or ‘weak’. Perhaps it is, if it happens unconsensually in real life, but as a sexual fetish it is not related to manliness. On the contrary, male hormones cause an increased sex drive and an increased desire to engage in fetishes – and one treatment for fetishistic disorder is to lower testosterone.
Low testosterone can also make you angry and aggressive too. In fact, the ratio of testosterone to estrogen is probably more important than testosterone alone for normal mood regulation. Testosterone is only one of many hormones that plays a role in mood. Usually, when testosterone rises, estrogen also rises, because a process called aromatization converts excess testosterone into estrogen. High testosterone often leads to high estrogen, which affects mood far more.
Similarly, low estrogen could affect mood as much as low testosterone, causing anger – particularly irritability – and rage/agression. Hormones are a complex and carefully balanced system, and the human body will do a lot to try to keep it that way. Testosterone doesn’t affect mood or life nearly as much as 17 year-old, single, social rejects who spend their days posting on forums think it does (sorry, but that’s the truth. These are the people emailing me about testosterone).
In reality, cuckolding comes from eroticizing emotional pain. Anyone can have emotional pain, whether they’re a billionaire or homeless, fat or ripped, assertive or not, socially successful or not. Furthermore, testosterone is misunderstood by deluded 17-year-olds and indeed the general public who have a misguided knowledge of its functions and effects. There is no correlation between sexual submissiveness and testosterone.
*Anti-androgen therapy is a very poor method of treatment, because it also causes decreased confidence, drive, energy, and much more, as well as not really getting to the root cause of the problem, but just trying to block its symptoms.
Here’s another one:
‘Cuckolds are so intelligent that they form this fetish to allow them to relax into a simpler role. It’s a form of escapism.’
That’s a very comforting thought. It’s also something that ‘feels’ right; sexual indulgence is, in a way, relaxing. Pleasure is always a way to take time out from the burden of life, whether it be sexual pleasure or otherwise. Adding in a nice complement about intelligence is sure to boost their ego, and maybe that’s what they need. However, perhaps it would be better to form a theory around evidence as opposed to ego. Not only is there no evidence for this, and i’m sure plenty of evidence against it, it offers no link to any research in fetishes, or any real backing whatsoever other than a comforting half-formed thought. Also, what about those who spend their lives relaxing into a simpler role? Not all people with a cuckold fetish are highly-stressed workaholics – only some (see cuckold psychology for why)
The original basis for this idea was a book about the complex phenomenon of using masochism as a way to escape from ‘the burden of self-hood’ – a fancy way to explain the eroticization of inadequacy. Somewhere down the line this got mixed up. The idea was that masochism becomes pleasurable because it reduces high-level self-awareness, which can become stressful and painful if you feel like you’re not good enough. As the author of that paper Roy Baumeister states:
‘Why would anyone in today’s self-seeking society want to escape from self? It is plausible that high-level self-awareness can lead to anxiety and discomfort under some circumstances. The requirements of making decisions under pressure or uncertainty, of taking responsibility for actions that may disappoint or harm others, of maintaining a favorable public and private image of self despite all threats and challenges, and of asserting control over a recalcitrant social environment can become oppressive and stressful and can foster desires to escape. This burden of selfhood can be used to explain and predict the selective appeal of masochism.’ – (p.29)(no, I don’t know what ‘recalcitrant’ means either)
The first sentence states there is no inherent reason why an escape from self would be desirable. Self-awareness is not a burden in itself, only ‘under some circumstances’. For those who are on top of the world, self-awareness is a pleasurable phenomenon. It feels good to know how great you are – as Baumeister points out later on: ‘Subsequent research has suggested that sometimes people enjoy self-awareness’ (p.34)
But if you don’t feel great about yourself, if you have a subconscious sense of inadequacy, then self-awareness becomes a stressful burden and escapism becomes desirable. Now, you can see that Baumeister is simply discussing the exact method in which inadequacy becomes eroticized.
‘There is ample evidence that people wish to escape and avoid self-awareness under some circumstances, such as after receiving an unfavorable evaluation (Duval & Wicklund, 1972), after finding out that they will probably be unable to improve or succeed on an important matter (Steenbarger & Aderman, 1979), after experiencing an interpersonal rejection or put down (Gibbons & Wicklund, 1976), and after performing actions that contradict their personal attitudes (Greenberg & Musham, 1981). Wicklund (1975a) argued that people are generally unable to live up to their ideals and goals, so the desire to escape from self-awareness may be very common.’
Self-awareness becomes burdensome when you don’t feel good enough – and that’s when this mechanism becomes a way to turn that into sexual pleasure. It’s the eroticization of inadequacy.
Do not confuse this for the original assertion that ‘Cuckolds are so intelligent that they form this fetish to allow them to relax into a simpler role. It’s a form of escapism.’ That’s a drastic oversimplification and not even a very good one.
Remember that comforting or complementary ideas will spread fast.
It’s not only the origins of fetishes which are misunderstood, but also the capacity for change. One of the most comforting things for people with uncommon sexual interests is the thought that there’s nothing they can do about it. By removing any possibility for action, it makes acceptance a little bit easier. This is directly contrary to much of the research around the subject. Again, nice thoughts spread fast.
However, there is a truthful element to this – there really isn’t much reason to change for most people. Fetishes are natural and acceptance is a very valid technique for dealing with any uncomfortable feelings. For some fetishes however, acceptance can be very hard, and change can be much more beneficial for their quality of life (hence the purpose of this website). As I wrote in my ‘Can Fetishes Be Changed?‘ article, there have been numerous clinically-proven and scientifically validated methods of change over the years. A select few vocal people refuse to believe this, despite the evidence, and I don’t blame them – it’s much easier to believe you’re hopeless than to bear the responsibility of being in control.
The main point of this article is Don’t believe what you read on wikipedia! And don’t believe what you hear from somebody that believes what they read on wikipedia! Comforting statements spread faster than the truth. Be skeptical with what you read (including this!) and ask for evidence all the time. This is the reason why there are so many half-formed myths and misconceptions about fetishes. Pretty much anyone can chime in with whatever opinion they’ve formed from as little evidence as possible.
On this website I aim to change that. If you’d like to know the psychology behind the cuckold fetish and what to do about it, make sure you’ve signed up to my mailing list.
By Connor McGonigal.
False Fetish Theories And The Importance Of Clinical Evidence (rant). Date: April 2018