Watching your partner have sex with another can strengthen your relationship, apparently
If I were to ask what your worst nightmare would be, what would be the first thing that comes to mind? There is an endless lineup of things that go bump in the night for you to choose from, but one in particular appears to stand out: your partner indulging in a little bump and grind with another.
For most of us, we couldn't imagine anything much worse than being forced to sit and watch as our boyfriend or girlfriend developed carnal knowledge of someone who wasn't us. If we were so unlucky to catch even a glimpse of this, our relationship would stand little chance of survival. However, according to new research, we're all completely wrong. Apparently, watching your partner have sex with another can actually strengthen your relationship.
Despite our reservations, a group of scientists are claiming that the act of cuckolding - where a man or woman enjoys watching their partner having sex with another person - can help a relationship and make communication easier between a couple. According to researchers Dr David Ley and Dr Justin Lehmiller, this is mostly due to the fact that cuckolding couples who act on their desires feel liberated because they can be completely honest about their sexual fantasies.
"In order to engage with cuckolding, the members of the couple must share with each other desires and interests that are often perceived as shameful", Dr Ley, who has a PhD in clinical psychology from the of New Mexico said. "This can lead to greater acceptance and higher levels of honesty. Couples I've seen who were successful at making cuckolding a part of their sex loved had some of the most effective communication skills that I've ever seen in any couple."
Typically in society, cuckolding isn't seen as a positive thing. It finds its origins in the cuckoo bird, which disguises its eggs in other birds' nests and leaves them to take care of the hatchlings, and in the past the word been used to refer one partner being unfaithful and pulling the wool over another's eyes. Cuckoldry was a central theme in many of Shakespeare's plays, with characters such as Othello being driven crazy with suspicion that their wives had humiliated them. Traditionally, a cuckold was seen as a fool who has no idea that his wife is cheating on him and he is customarily regarded as being "not man enough" to keep his wife from straying.
However, in recent years cuckolding has become less a term of mockery and more a term used to refer to extreme kinkiness in relationships. Now a phrase for people who enjoy watching their partners do the dirty with others, the practice goes hand-in-hand with a brand new stigma. Many have shunned the controversial practice and accuse those who partake in it as attempting to justify or normalise cheating.
Reaction to the report, which initially came from CNN, was primarily disgust, with many stating that the researchers' conclusions were problematic. Many cited the problems that would likely arise from indulging in cuckolding as an argument against the report; these primarily focused on the idea that jealousy and mistrust between couples was more likely to come from the practice.
Perhaps the important thing to remember is to take any relationship study with a pinch of salt and acknowledge that the things that strengthen one couple's bond will not necessarily work for another pair. For his forthcoming book, Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help Improve Your Sex Life, Lehmiller surveyed thousands of Americans and found that 58 per cent of men and about 33 per cent of women had fantasized about cuckolding. "Men are more likely to fantasize about cuckolding, and they do it more often -- but there are a number of women who have these fantasies as well, which points to the need for more research focused on women's cuckolding desires," Lehmiller said.
The researchers involved in the study insist that the 21st century is embracing the trend, said Dr Ley, also stating: "This fantasy has been around as long as marriage and sexuality. We're hearing more and more about it these days, and more people are rejecting the social stigma against this fantasy"
Although it may sound crazy to some, several other research projects have supported the idea that freedom in the bedroom leads to a happier relationship, with one in particular claiming that those in open relationships are happier than those in monogamous ones. Researchers conducting a study at the University of Michigan in 2017 analysed more than 2,100 people, with about 1,500 individuals in monogamous relationships and roughly 600 in committed non-monogamous relationships. In order to determine if there was a significant difference between the two styles of unions, they asked participants to rate relationship components including satisfaction, commitment, trust, jealousy and passionate love.
Ultimately, the research found no difference between the two in terms of satisfaction and passionate love. However, in terms of jealousy and trust, there were significant differences that led them to believe that happiness was higher among those in a partnership where both partners had agreed that each may have sexual relations with others; results showed that jealousy was lower and trust was higher.
So, would we all be happier if we threw in the towel on monogamy? Who knows? But, as legitimate as I'm sure the researchers' claims are, I'm going to go ahead and decline the opportunity of watching my partner have sex with someone else. I know it would strengthen our relationship and all, but I consider it one thing I certainly do not ever want to see.