It's a great read, and a wonderful plug for Ryan's new book, Sex at Dawn. The first letter he answered was from a woman whose husband wanted to watch her have sex with another man, a request she fulfilled.
But, as she described the enjoyment her husband had at watching her and having "after" sex with her, with the other man's ejaculate inside her, the wife became concerned that maybe her husband was gay. Ryan and Savage's responses normalized the desire and behavior, suggesting that the husband was heterosexual, and was driven by the biological impetus of sperm competition , and voyeurism. I like Ryan's responses, especially the nonpathological view, but think that this is a very complex behavior, with a lot more reasons behind it.
So, I thought I would use this posting to explore these issues, and invite discussion of what these various reasons might be. Wives simply do not often or unprompted go to their husbands and request they have permission to have sex with other men. I will tell you that in the research for my book, I heard lots of varied reasons for this desire from various husbands. Some of the reasons were nice, and some were not so nice.
I think a discussion of this phenomenon deserves consideration of all the reasons and motivations. So - here you go - my list of the motivations, based upon my research, behind why men would be interested in watching their wives with other men: If they are used to such a voyeuristic process in their sexuality, there is some legitimacy to suggesting they may incorporate it into their marital sexuality.
Watching your wife have sex with another man may be a next step, or progression, from watching yourselves have sex by having a mirror on the ceiling during sex, then using a video camera during sex, and then finally watching one's spouse with someone else.
Many men told me "My wife is the most beautiful woman in the world to me, I'd rather watch her having sex than some porn actress I don't know. After watching their wife with another man, the husband is prompted biologically to have longer, more vigorous sex, has a shorter refractory period between erections, ejaculates harder, and his ejaculate contains more sperm. Nearly every couple I interviewed told me that after an episode of the wife having sex with another man, the couple felt like they were "in heat.
Historically, such men have been beaten, ostracized and ridiculed, and regarded as weak, "sissy men. Many of the men expressed that through their wife's open sexuality, the couple was actively and consciously rejecting social pressures to suppress female sexuality, assert monogamy and patriarchal power.
This played out in many different dynamics. Sometimes, bringing a man to bed with the wife was a pretext, a bait and switch if you will, for the husband to then engage sexually with the man as well. Sometimes, the husbands were very concerned about being seen as heterosexual, but they spent an awful lot of time looking for well-endowed men for their wife. To my mind, a man who is that focused on the size of other men's penises really doesn't qualify as all that straight.
I did see a number of men who reported that due to physical complaints, they weren't able to be as vigorous in bed as they and their wives would like. While the wives by and large were happy with things as they were, the husbands often felt their wife's loss of sexual satisfaction more strongly than the wife themselves, and were motivated to encourage the wife to sleep with other men.
The world record for male orgasms is about 26 in a hour period. Per Sherfey's research, women have documented as many as orgasms in a single hour. I saw many men who reported that their wives were highly sexual beings, with a greater sexual capacity, and it simply turned the husbands on and pleased them to be able to see their wives sexually satisfied, at a degree that a single husband couldn't match.
I also speculate that there is a degree of vicarious experience here - by being a part of the experience, the husband gets to vicariously experience what it's like to have that greater sexual capacity, and identifies in a strong manner with his wife and the essence of female sexuality in a way that most men never experience. Masochism was named after him.
Leopold posted ads in German newspapers of the day, looking for "energetic young men" to befriend and pleasure his wife. Check out Craigslist, and you'll see Leopold's modern counterparts Leopold's interest in the experience was specifically the humiliation aspects, of being cuckolded, treated as weak, lesser, and not a real man. Like those who seek the Taboo, the cuckolds often seek out a strong SM flavor, where the husbands are dominated, belittled and degraded.
It's not always about the money. A friend, and a wife interviewed in my first book, told me that when she was working as a manager at a brothel, one of the women always called her husband on her cellphone, before bringing a man back to her room for a "party. The financial part is a piece that can't be ignored, as it has been around for a long time. In England, men would sometimes set up their wives to be seduces by a man, so that the husband could then sue the man in court.
In Florida, in the 's, the Sheriff husband of the "Housewife Hooker" hid in the closet videotaping his "nymphomaniac wife" with other men notably republican politicians , whom the husband then blackmailed. Many of the men I interviewed got a thrill, a sense of being "king" that they had a wife who was so sexy, that other men wanted to be with, but who ultimately came home with him, the husband.
It made the men feel powerful and successful, that they had such a sexy wife. Some of these men talked about treating the wife as a whore, as a piece of meat, and "taking her down a peg.
This might sometimes, though very, very rarely. But, it is at root of Dan Savage's past responses to these men, a response that Savage and Ryan didn't repeat in this column.
Usually, Savage quotes the "eroticization of fear " hypothesis, that these men so fear their wife's infidelity that they eroticize the fear, in order to reduce the anxiety, managing it by sexuality, until they have turned the fear into a sexual fetish.
In my book, I encountered a single man who described this scenario. It might happen, but it's a lesser answer than all of the above. Hopefully through their partnership, Christopher Ryan opened Savage's eyes to the wide range of other explanations. Can you think of other reasons I missed?