Exhibitionism and the Attraction of Being Watched
On the way home from a recent road trip, my hubby jokingly asked if I would consider giving him road head. Of course, we considered it would be dangerous, so we decided to pull over. It was close to full dark, but there was still enough light to see inside the car if someone were to walk up on us. It was thrilling, thinking of possibly being caught or just watched. Though we didn't get caught, the possibility of it added to the experience.
Psychologically speaking, exhibitionists are classified as people who derive sexual arousal from exposing their genitals to others who least expect it. Think of the trope of the man in the canvas raincoat, flashing others in a park. It's the shock factor that does it for them. However, there is another group of people who enjoy sharing their sexuality with others, who would not be classified as having a psychological disorder. They just enjoy others willingly watching them in a sexual situation.
Denver-based sex therapist Indigo Stray Conger, co-owner of Mile High Psychotherapy LLC, said, "Healthy exhibitionism is a sex-positive celebration of the erotic and should not be confused with exhibitionistic disorder. The desire to incorporate being watched by others into sexual activity is an extremely common fantasy." A 2015 Journal of Sexual Medicine study found 66 percent of men and 57 percent of women fantasize about having sex openly in a public place, and 82 percent of both genders fantasize about having sex in an unusual place, including offices, public toilets, and so on.
The biggest concern for most consensual exhibitionists is how to achieve the feeling of being watched without breaking any public indecency laws. Having sex in public is illegal in most states, so even though the idea of having sex with your partner in a park may sound thrilling, the reality is it can cost you more than a good time. Nevertheless, your fantasy doesn't need to be tamed. Sexually exploring—without breaking the law—can be achievable if you're smart and careful.
How do you know you're an exhibitionist?
Tatyannah King, a sex educator and blogger, discovered their exhibitionistic tendancies by accident. "I was having sex in front of a window and instead of pulling down the blinds, it felt liberating to keep the blinds up and see the view of the front yard, knowing that a stranger could walk by and potentially see me and my ex-boyfriend."
An NSFW artist on Twitter discussed his experience with exhibitionism with his wife. "I really allowed myself to accept that I found public sexuality hot when my spouse pulled me outside by my junk one night two years ago and whispered, 'Fuck me here. On the pool deck. Now.' The idea that anyone could have looked out their window or driven by was just exhilarating." He also finds sharing his NSFW art through his Twitter account a good way to indulge in this fantasy. Drawing and sharing BDSM-related scenes and getting feedback from others gives him a thrill.
'The desire to incorporate being watched by others into sexual activity is an extremely common fantasy.'
The excitement of exhibition isn't restricted to intercourse or partnered action at all. Vincent Pisano, a 36-year-old blogger based in New Jersey, said, "I realized I was an exhibitionist when I started sleeping naked. I lived in an upper-level apartment that was only visible by the next building over. Because I started sleeping naked, I started doing everything I could naked. One day, I realized a woman across the way had been watching me. Over the next few weeks, we would tease, watch, and masturbate together once a week. As a differently-abled individual, it helped me realize it was okay for me to be a sexual person, and it has led me to do boudoir photo shoots and has helped me gain a positive image of myself and my naked body."
How can you get into exhibitionism?
Consent is key when it comes to being an exhibitionist. Swinging and the BDSM lifestyle are good ways to express your desire to be watched within a safe and secure environment. Attending play parties or even a dungeon can be a fantastic way to experiment with being watched without worrying about the legality of being caught in public.
If that's more exposure than you're comfortable with, putting on a private show for your partner is a good place to start. While you may not be viewed by a crowd, even performing for one person can give you feelings of excitement, especially if it's something new to you.
The truth is, you don't have to do anything you're not comfortable with. Leaving exhibitionism as a fantasy only played out in your mind is perfectly okay. It's not for everyone, but for those who desire it, it can be a sexually riveting experience.
"Exhibitionism makes my soul feel invigorating," King said. There's nothing more powerful than knowing your mind can free itself of any inhibitions despite being in front of others in situations that are extremely vulnerable.