By Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D.
I want to watch my wife sleep with someone else. Is that normal?
Believe it or not, you aren't the first guy who has fantasized about this. In fact, a similar scenario has even appeared on one of the Top 10 Lists of Sexual Fantasies that I have compiled on my website. So let's talk first about where this fantasy might come from, however, please keep in mind that different reasons might exist for different men.
Perhaps the most common reason I hear from non-psychologists in trying to explain this fantasy is something along the lines of "Well, duh, he's either gay or bisexual." This may be true for some guys, particularly guys who are interested not just in watching, but also joining the action, however, I don't think this explains why so many men have this fantasy. Instead, there may be some psychological and/or evolutionary reasons behind it.
For instance, some men may find it arousing to see their partner sleep around simply because they are voyeurs. In other words, they may derive great pleasure from watching other people engaged in sexual activity. A certain degree of voyeurism is common, given the widespread popularity of pornography; however, some people have more intense degrees of voyeurism than others and are only satisfied seeing the real thing in person.
Another possibility is that there is a biological or evolved mechanism that stimulates arousal in this situation. Specifically, seeing another man (or multiple men) bedding a desirable woman may stimulate sperm competition. The basic idea is that when such a situation is observed, men's bodies and brains respond in such a way as to increase the likelihood that their sperm will out-compete that of other men. Consistent with this idea, both men and women report that after a period of separation or when female infidelity is suspected, the male partner thrusts faster and deeper during their next sexual encounter, possibly as a means of displacing other men's semen.1 Perhaps even more compelling, research has found that after viewing pornography that depicts sperm competition (i.e., two men having sex with the same woman), male participants exhibited a greater percentage of active sperm in their ejaculate than did men who viewed porn featuring only women.2 Thus, it may be adaptive for men to be aroused by this situation because it will increase the odds that they will impregnate their partner instead of someone else.
Of course, other explanations are also possible (e.g., some guys may just have a desire to see their partner completely satisfied, while others may enjoy the fact that it is a forbidden or taboo activity). But no matter the reason, as long as the activity is consensual and nobody feels pressured into doing something they do not want to do, acting on this fantasy could potentially enhance sexual satisfaction for everyone involved.
As for the question of how to talk your wife into it, I cannot tell you that because I do not know how your wife feels about non-monogamy and the prospect of sleeping with other men. Like any other sexual fantasy, this is not something you can force upon your partner. Going through with it has to be a mutual decision. The only thing you can do is tell your partner about your fantasy and see where it goes. Of course, that's easier said than done because sharing fantasies can be difficult, especially when they involve bringing other people into the mix. This is the kind of thing where you don't just want to blurt out what you're thinking; rather, you want to work up to it slowly through a more general process of communicating about your desires. Thus, the timing is important, as is the way it is framed because your partner may interpret this fantasy in a lot of different ways.
1Gallup, G. G., Burch, R. L., Zappieri, M. L., Parvez, R. A., Stockwell, M. L., & Davis, J. A. (2003). The human penis as a semen displacement device. Evolution and Human Behavior, 24, 277-289.
2Kilgallon, S. J., & Simmons, L. W. (2005). Image content influences men's semen quality. Biology Letters, 1, 253-255.