Illustration by Erin Taj

Do U Even Hotwife?

The fetish for the liberated dude

Peter, 36, and his girlfriend, Kelly*, discussed “hotwifing” for almost a year until they took the plunge. Or rather, before Kelly did — by finding and having sex with another man, to Peter’s delight.

It was Peter who first suggested she seek out someone else. Before he met Kelly, he’d been in a turbulent relationship with a chronically unfaithful partner, whose infidelities left him “returning to the idea of her sexual partners when needing fantasy material.” In the wake of their breakup, he began seeking out hot wife porn. Eventually, the thought of being with a woman who would regularly sleep with other men became “a bit of an obsession.”

When he fell for Kelly, a relatively inexperienced younger woman, their desires converged. By experimenting with camming on Chaturbate, Kelly found that she enjoyed being the subject of intense, desirous attention from men other than Peter. From there, he says, their testing of the waters “slowly and carefully expanded” into Kelly going home with men she met on dating apps, or bringing them back to her place when the connection felt right.

Peter and Kelly aren’t “open” in the usual way, where either of them can hook up with someone else. Rather, Peter’s sex life revolves around Kelly exclusively — and occasionally getting off on the experiences she has with other men. Sometimes, she’ll show Peter profiles of the men whom she finds attractive. Other times, if the guy agrees, she’ll send Peter pictures or video while in the act. And if she can’t record it, she’ll recount what happened to Peter after it’s over. Their only rules are that she uses condoms and makes choices that prioritize her own sense of happiness and personal safety. Otherwise, she can seize whatever appealing opportunity arises without documenting it or directly involving him.

As nonmonogamous straight relationships have become increasingly mainstream, it’s not uncommon for some men to encourage their partners to sleep around as a means to an end for securing their own license to philander. But hotwifing prioritizes a woman’s sexual freedom as a key component of her partner’s pleasure; her “openness” is an end in itself, not part of a bargain. The man in this situation may pursue his own extra-relationship fucking (as with wife-swappers or swingers), or he may enjoy an explicit component of humiliation in his partner’s infidelity (like cuckold fetishists), but neither element is required because it’s secondary to his kink for experiencing his partner’s sexual voraciousness and unapologetic lust. When the bedrock of the man’s arousal rests on the woman’s experience, her satisfaction alone may be enough to satisfy him — even when he’s not physically part of it.

Thirty-five-year-old hotwifing enthusiast Troy, for instance, has never been in the room while his wife, Lara, has been fucking another man. He’d like to try, but he recognizes the practical challenges it presents, and so far has stuck to enjoying stories, pictures, and video of Lara and her side pieces. Peter, by contrast, has twice been in the same room while Kelly had sex with someone else, but he described a recent experience when she spontaneously slept with someone in his absence as an encounter they “both enjoyed more than any prior experience.”

“I haven’t once felt an ounce of anger,” Peter says. “Seeing my partner’s pleasure is pretty much my favorite thing.”

“I love the idea of my wife’s deepest, truest state being purely wanton,” Troy adds,. “The idea of her conquering and being conquered is legitimately intoxicating.”

Because it challenges so many conventions of masculinity — which maintain that any man who can’t secure his woman’s monogamy is a “cuck,” “a beta,” or otherwise a failure — hotwifing is emotionally fraught. Navigating those “delicate conversations,” as Troy calls them, is hard work, but also part of the erotic charge. Jake, 33, explains that when he was 17 and first imagined his girlfriend cheating on him, he “mistook [his] reaction for anger.” It was only later, as he matured, that he became sensitive to how inextricably his jealousy was bound up in arousal. (It became acutely apparent after he realized he “spent a lot of time asking my partners about their exes.”)

Now he can say unequivocally, “I like the idea of [my partner] being in control and enjoying herself whenever she pleases, of other people wanting her and making her happy.” Jake is describing what poly couples call “compersion”: feeling joy when your partner feels (sexual or otherwise intimate) satisfaction, even if it’s with someone other than you.

Cuckolding fetishists also get excited by their partners’ extramarital pleasures, but what’s crucial for them is a focus on their own inadequacy and shame by contrast with the prowess of a wife or girlfriend’s other lovers. As clinical sexologist Dawn Michaels says, “The husband feeling like a victim of the cuckold is a major element of the kink.” Some cuckold fetishes want to be “forced” to wear chastity belts, or to be submissive to a wife’s lover — like by serving him breakfast the morning after. In other words, the woman’s sexual actions are still about him, about providing a milieu within which he can feel used and disrespected. Hot-wife lovers get their kicks, too — it’s not a purely selfless pursuit — but they don’t necessarily need so much attention directed back onto them. (Think of it this way: A cuckold’s partner can fairly be called a hot wife, but not all partners of hot wives are cuckolds.)

As with most sexual quirks, hotwifing could be turned into something ugly; for instance, a man could be pushy or manipulative with a partner who isn’t interested in extra-relationship sex because he himself thinks it would be sexy. But the men I spoke with were very sensitive to their partners’ limits, and mindful of the potential pitfalls of using a woman’s sexuality for their own kink. “My wife and I spent a lot of time hammering out the rules to make sure [she was enjoying it] too,” Troy says. “I didn’t want to reduce her to the role of a sex object.”

Jake has yearned to make his hot-wife fantasies a reality, but he’s currently dating someone who’s only comfortable telling him stories about imagined encounters, not pursuing real-life dates. “So I don’t try and push it onto her,” he says. And Peter says that while he was excited by the opportunity to explore hotwifing with Kelly, his primary motivation for raising the issue was that he didn’t want her allegiance to him “to limit her during formative years of her [sexual] life.”

Beyond the immediate thrills, the rewards for undertaking hotwifing in a sensitive and careful way are manifold. Troy is aroused by the idea of a “powerful, well-endowed man”; Lara’s partners fit this bill, at least in his mind. (While he says he has never felt the “innate pull of attraction” for men the way he does for women, he does find there to be “something hot” about big dicks.)

Hotwifing also introduces an effective incentive into all aspects of Troy’s life:

The fact that my wife sleeps with other men puts me in constant competition with the world around me — I always need to be smarter, funnier, more engaging, more attractive … because I can’t get complacent, I constantly strive to be a better partner for my wife, and I get the thrill of winning her over, time and time again.

Troy’s taste for hotwifing involves a more explicit nod to cuckolding: He wants “the thrill of jealousy,” and a sense that his wife might be “stolen away” while knowing that she hasn’t been.

Peter and Kelly, meanwhile, have felt increasingly bonded and trusting. While Peter isn’t interested in polyamory outright, he expects they’ll eventually move away from this highly fetishized form of nonmonogamy: “[We’re] open to the possibility of emotional and continued connection with others … All the hotwife play we’ve done has confirmed my safety in the relationship.” And for all the pushing back against the status quo or testing the limits of jealousy, this improved intimacy and trust is clearly the biggest boon.

“I trust my wife to share sex with strangers,” Troy told me. “The idea that I can trust her to play with the boundaries of intimacy and still return to me is a rush.”

*Names have been changed to maintain the privacy of those quoted