I Want My Girlfriend to Take a Lover. What’s Wrong with Me?

Hi. I am not sure where to go with this question, so I hope it is OK to ask it here. My situation is that I have what some might consider a fetish, but what might not be a fetish at all. It is who I am. I have been with my girlfriend for about 10 years and I love her. We are great together except sexually we are kind of oil and water. She likes quiet, basic (what I consider boring) sex, whereas I need more adventure and mental stimulation. The thing is this ... my deepest most intense sexual reactions come from thoughts of my girlfriend being with another man. This has been a part of my fiber since college. I am 40 now. I know most men probably think about their significant other with another woman, but that does nothing for me. I am sexually and emotionally stimulated by the idea of my girlfriend taking a lover. I have trouble getting erections if I don't think about this kind of scenario, which is known in some circles as “hotwife” or maybe “cuckolding” lifestyle. I am embarrassed about it to some degree, but the older I get the more I am realizing that maybe this is just the way I am wired. I think most women would be repulsed by this. My girlfriend is not repulsed; she understands my mind-set and finds it a little intriguing, but she’s very shy and very unlikely to act even though we have both played together outside the relationship. We are open-minded people. She loves me as I love her. I want to preserve what we have, but at the same time I don't know if I can or should stay in a relationship where my most animalistic, biological desires are not fully satisfied. You may think I have self-esteem problems, but I don't really think that’s the case. I basically want a relationship where my girlfriend or wife is free to play but I am not. I know this is not “normal,” but I am accepting of my not being normal and I don't want to fight who I am to conform to societal mores. Is there something wrong with me? Should I set aside this sexual need in order to stay in my relationship? Am I with the wrong woman? Thank you for answering. - Unsatisfied
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Dear Unsatisfied,

Thank you for writing in and asking your question with such candor and openness. This is actually a much more common occurrence than is often realized. Freud famously remarked in his landmark book on dreams that sometimes conscious feelings and thoughts contained in one area of thought or activity can be a camouflage for a host of other unconscious feelings and desires. For instance, we’re frustrated with our kids or boss, and we take it out via honking at the driver who cuts us off. We feel unappreciated at home, so we strive harder for recognition at work. (These are very simple examples.)

I have found that sexuality often serves as a kind of “cover” for hard-to-articulate and/or unconscious desires or emotions that get expressed in our sexuality. One simple example of this is how our desire for emotional closeness and acknowledgement of our value becomes enwrapped in physical urges to be held, kissed, to give and receive affection, etc. Men especially seem to seek validation and expression of other emotional needs in sexuality, perhaps because vulnerable expression of emotions is not socially condoned. We haven’t found an acceptable way (yet) for men to express their feelings sensitively and still be masculine. To our detriment.

It’s a complicated issue you’re discussing, but the boiled-down version is that I would imagine your fantasy contains a number of different yearnings and emotional expressions. It’s interesting if you look at the specifics of your fantasy that basically you’re in control (by setting the terms of the relationship) of a scenario in which you have no control and are at the whim of your girlfriend’s desires and those of her outside partner(s). It would be interesting to explore (were I your therapist) what feelings and desires come up for you as you imagine these circumstances; do you feel special because your wife plays with others but comes home to you? Is there a tinge of self-punishment, a kind of eroticized denial which you remain the “author of” as the creator of the fantasy? Is there a sense of degrading yourself, or her, in that you are in a way persuading her to sleep with others? What is pleasurable here, or is there pleasure in the unpleasant?

Some psychologists believe that sexual fantasies are a way of making earlier trauma more “palatable,” a retelling or taking control of a painful previous trauma; those who suffered neglect or mistreatment may end up involved in imagined or actual S&M scenarios. Along these lines, there may possibly be pleasure in creating a sexual version of a scenario that was or is unconsciously quite painful. As the creator, you take control of the situation and the (possible) trauma expresses itself in a more palatable sexual way rather than as a painful memory. (This is all speculative of course, just patterns I have observed over the years. A man who feels underfed emotionally by his wife may fantasize about big breasts.)

My take on fantasies is that there is no problem with any of this, since no one can predict how the clever and resourceful psyche resolves conflicts via sexual expression. Where it can become problematic is if a rigidity or fixation enters in—i.e., someone who can only get turned on by being physically hurt, or by spanking their partner, or watching pornography or having two partners, etc. The problem, then, in my view (and this is only my view), is that it begins to limit our spontaneity and creativity in the actual relationship. It’s a must rather than a maybe, limiting possibility. Part of the dance of intimacy is the give and take of ideas between partners, the blend of two minds exchanging wishes, finding mutual expression. If a fantasy becomes a must rather than a what-if, it starts to take on a heaviness and an imposition and can obscure the vulnerability that expansive relationships require—and where, by the way, our desires change. Shorter version: Would enacting the scenario bring you two closer or drive you apart, and what is the ultimate priority? Only the two of you can answer, though I think that any insisting on sexual fulfillment as the ultimate aim has real potential to rigidify the transaction between you two.

When I work with clients on these kinds of issues, I first need to assess if they want to try and literally fulfill the fantasy, or explore what the fantasy might mean or symbolize to the person. I also look at the potential outcomes of acting it out. Also beware of one thing: Folks who act out role-specific fantasies are almost always disappointed. Sexual anticipation is hard to out-do. After the initial rush of excitement ebbs, as it must, it could become a compulsion to find a more “satisfying” version of the fantasy, something a little more risky, edgy and exciting—again, more of a demand than a want.

I find nothing at all morally wrong with your fantasy. It is entirely your choice, and you sound like two consenting adults. I just encourage you to think about consequences before proceeding, and try also to understand why your erection depends on this scenario. You want to fit your fantasy into your life rather than the other way around. Consider: Might your girlfriend end up resenting doing it? Might you feel disappointed if she doesn’t put her heart into it, or if you end up not liking it as much but she does and she wants to keep going? Would you be able to really “preserve what you have” with such an outcome? You may feel it’s worth it, but something tells me your psyche is trying to express something akin to a dream, which I bet would bear fruit were you to examine it and play with its possible meanings rather than literally carrying it out. If you choose the latter, I would just encourage you to do so with eyes open, given the ever-present possibility of unintended consequences.

Sincerely,
Darren

Darren Haber
Darren Haber, PsyD, MFT is a psychotherapist specializing in treating alcoholism and drug addiction as well as co-occurring issues such as anxiety, depression, relationship concerns, secondary addictions (especially sex addiction), and trauma (both single-incident and repetitive). He works in a variety of modalities, primarily cognitive behavioral, spiritual/recovery-based, and psychodynamic. He is certified in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, and continues to receive psychodynamic training in treating relational trauma, including emotional abuse/neglect and physical and sexual abuse.
  • 17 comments
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  • jermaine t

    jermaine t

    January 18th, 2013 at 3:08 PM

    Say what?! Dude you are crazy. I wouldn’t ever let my girl take on another lover.
    Call me weird, but what if she likes it with him more than she does me? Where does that leave me?
    Out in the cold, I can tell you that.
    My suggestion is to either get this relationship back on track or end it and find someone, one person that can satisfy you.

  • nathan

    nathan

    January 18th, 2013 at 11:54 PM

    fantasy is all good my friend.even talking about it is okay if she is comfortable.but acting on it – that is where you need to be cautious. there is absolutely no doubt that bringing in another man will change your relationship. both for you and your girlfriend. you may say you will be okay with it but the emotional aspects that will come into play if you do end up acting on your fantasies are unavoidable. there will be a shift in your relationship and chances are – they will not be positive. take some time out and think of the consequences before you actually jump into something.

  • Garrison Haynes

    Garrison Haynes

    January 19th, 2013 at 4:22 AM

    What I really think is that this relationship is just not satisfying to you anymore on a sexual level. This might mean that you need to try some new things in the bedroom or it could mean that you need to find someone new. But what I do know for sure is that you need to find some answers for both you and your girlfriend. Have you talked to her about any of this? Does she see this as a problem? I think that this could be a great opportunity for the two of you to really open up some lines of communication with one another and try to make something great out of what is so obviously stagnant to you. But I am not sure that this is going to lead to only healthy endings for you. I see a lot of conflict within you that needs to be resolved and I think that this is something that is going to take a very long time for you to deal with.

  • J

    J

    January 19th, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    There’s nothing wrong with you – lots of people have fetishes, and lots of them are stranger than yours. As for whether you’re with the wrong woman – maybe think about how you would feel if you were not with her? Would you feel free/relieved? Or would you miss her?
    I think you’ll know deep down whether you’re with the wrong person. Base it on your day to day experience of being with her, rather than on your sex life. There will be many women out there who would enjoy having the lifestyle you want, but you may not find the same level of loving relationship again. It will depend on what your priority in life is.
    Best wishes x

  • Gavin

    Gavin

    January 22nd, 2013 at 12:29 AM

    A very good response IMO. never thought about how this could mean something else for the person. also the fantasy may sound a little weird to some people but please realize that everybody is different and what may be weird for you may not be so for some others.

  • worldpeace

    worldpeace

    January 23rd, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    What is the point of dragging that poor woman, or any woman through a 10 year long over bearing relationship / marriage just to treat her like a worthless wh*r@ and push her to let random guys have her most intimate prize just because you have a weird fetish? You and any other guy like you knew long before of your twisted “fantasy” so why bother throwing it out on someone after they’ve already fallen in love with you, then if they don’t do it you brake up with them over a freak fetish?? Seriously? Dudes like you need to be alone….No good, loving, faithful woman deserves that kind of pain and drama– nor the health risk associated with high risk sex, she should be with a mentally stable, normal and loyal man who will reciprocate her love.

  • Christie

    Christie

    January 27th, 2013 at 9:56 AM

    Some people have different ideas of nomal than you do. Dont patronize this man for openly asking a question because you’re uncomfortable with the implications of it.

  • Elizebeth

    Elizebeth

    January 23rd, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    I agree with “Worldpeace” input from a woman’s point of view is very much valued. In my opinion any male who tries to force his girlfriend or wife to perform degrading acts with her body to entertain his never ending unsatisfactory bouts of trashy lust, deserves to be alone & unsatisfied for the rest of his life. If he does not change. 40 years old, your girlfriend of 10 years (whom u still haven’t married) is quiet about your fetish, but does not want to do it, but she’s still with you, most likely because she loves you & hopes love will win you over & you will change. Even animals don’t “share” She should just leave you & never look back.

  • Vena Jensen

    Vena Jensen

    January 28th, 2013 at 1:56 PM

    IMHO, anticipation is much stronger than the actual act. I would agree with Darren here, that the fantasy may be what is keeping you “hooked” but once the actions are taken there will be less stimulation. In the end, of course, it is up to the two of you. As long as all parties are informed, it is each of your decision whether to participate or not. Personally, I would never agree to this arrangement because I value depth of intimacy between two people more than breadth of experience with many.

  • Darren Haber, MFT

    Darren Haber, MFT

    February 12th, 2013 at 8:00 AM

    Hi all, great responses, thank you! I would just add that sexuality is a real wild card; I’ve had male clients who told me that their girlfriends had fantasies along the lines presented herein (which they did not necessarily share). I also agree with Nathan and others who imply that actually carrying out a fantasy changes the equation in ways not often anticipated.

  • O Veteran

    O Veteran

    March 2nd, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    I had similar desires. In my case, I ended two prior marriages in part from my ex’s infidelities and my resulting jealousy. When I met my current “better half” many years ago, I told her I wanted to arrange a similar situation as Unsatisfied is thinking about. I did and she was willing. All ended up fine. I was not jealous (due to my knowledge and role of the act) and I’ve never experienced that horrible sickening pain of jealousy again. It worked for me. Everyone is different.

  • Fro

    Fro

    July 22nd, 2015 at 8:40 AM

    I also suffer from this same fantasy, “Fetish”, or whatever you want to call it. Never had a partner who was willing except for one, and she was into extreme pain, etc… For me, it is more fun to keep it a fantasy I suppose. If my girlfriend played along, eventually it would change the relationship in one way or another. The brain is a mysterious organ and we all have different ideas of “Normal”. To each their own!

  • Manica

    Manica

    April 17th, 2016 at 8:09 PM

    I wanted for years to have my husband and past boyfriends.That will be ok with sharing me.Watching another man have sex with me and being turn on by it.I have live sexual dissatisfied for years.Now i am single again.I am looking for a man that has the same desires.The relationships does not work when the both parties are not on the same page sexually.That what i learn in my relationships.Now the person will have to go out and for fill their desires with someone else.Everyone just get hurt.My desires include my boyfirend/husband.That what turn me on is that this is what turns him on seeing me taken by someone else.Everyone has their own fantasies2z

  • kevin

    kevin

    October 10th, 2016 at 3:37 PM

    I’ve been dealing with the same issue well maybe a little different see I’ve been married for 20 years and i like watching my wife with other men sometimes I like to join in on the fun she likes it as well and she is free to have sex with whom ever she wants but she never talks to me about her thoughts or her fantasy but if bring some home for her to have sex with then she’ll try to make it happen i just don’t know if she is do it because I like her to or if truly enjoys it her self i just wish she would talk to me about what she likes and fantasies about how do i get her to open up and talk to me about her sexual thoughts thank you K.cooper

  • Dee

    Dee

    November 22nd, 2016 at 4:43 PM

    My husband and I of 10 years played with this idea and it isreally affecting us now. I was unfaithful to him 10 years ago but not since. About a year ago he began to ask me how the other man did certain things. He became aroused by this and wanted to “see for himself”. He asked me to go outside of the marriage and let him “catch me”. At first is was exciting to be with other men but after the 3rd time, I didn’t like it. I LOVE and ADORE my hubby and I’m now repulsed by what I did to him when I was 20. I would NEVER forgive him if he cheated on me! However, Justin did. We had a rough year 10 years ago and 8 amazing years after that. The last year has been weird. He wants me to be with other men and then “punish” me for doing it. I realize its his own fantasy and I should satisfy his needs but I really don’t want to be with other guys anymore. He gets off on me telling him about other guys using me. It makes me feel dirty and ashamed but he gets off on it. Is he really punishing me? I know I’ve been given the green flag to sleep around but I don’t want that anymore. I love him and I’m losing my energy every year we get older. We both recently turned 33 and have 2 kids. Trying to maintain 2/3 men at the same time is exhausting. Lately I feel so ashamed that I spend about half an hour in the bathroom after the other man. I tell my hubby it’s to “clean up” but in reality, it’s about 20 minutes of feeling disgusted in muyself and crying. Then another 10 minutes of trying to make it look like I’m not crying. The reason I decided to post this is because he has become violent IN BED. I know my husband would never hurt me EVER! He is a great father and a wonderful person! In bed, he gets off by hearing me talk about the other men and “punishing” me sexually and lately, physically. Over the last few months, I’ve had so many bruises on me that my coworkers are starting to ask questions. I know hewould never hurt me but in bed, he does. He likes to hear me resist and cry. He did tell me he was going to “punish” me. It’s just that I want my normal hubby back. We shared 8 years of great sex, awesome memories, and kids. I don’t know what to do. I just want to be therefor each other again- the right way.

  • Me

    Me

    December 6th, 2016 at 9:00 PM

    I love the thought of lots of men getting aroused by my wife.

  • Matt

    Matt

    January 28th, 2017 at 12:16 PM

    Ah the age old fantasy of seeing another man with his spouse. Mainly its one of two things. Competition or Voyeurism. In the competition aspect, the male is excited by the fact that the other guy is better in some way and enjoys the angst. He looks forward to her coming home and reclaiming her afterwards and becomes more affectionate knowing that she’s still desirable by other men. This could spin off as female domination or cuckold tendencies as things escalate.
    The other aspect is voyeurism. Here the male is gratified by watching his gf wife enjoying a new lover. I feel this is probably more related due to porn watching and how the women always seem to have bigger orgasms and they are more passionate. The passionate part could be lacking in a few of the relationships. This could be caused by health issues, visual perceptions, or memories of previous relationships that they can’t forget. I’m sure there are exceptions, but these are the two major themes I’ve seen.

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