Fetishes come in a lot of different shapes and sizes. (I mean, not literally shapes and sizes, but you know, they range from person to person). Some super common fetishes you’ve definitely already heard of (or maybe even tried out) include bondage, role-playing, impact play, and anal sex, but QQ: Ever heard of voyeurism?
‘Voyeurism is getting sexual excitement from watching others when they are naked or engaging in sex acts,’ says Jill McDevitt, PhD, CalExotics sexologist. And while the pleasure is most commonly derived from watching others, the fetish could also include hearing others engage in sexual acts, or even being told about other people’s sexual experiences.
So, no, it’s not the creepy, non-consensual ‘Peeping Tom’ that might come to mind. Voyeurism is a fetish, and actually one of the most common ones, according to the Journal of Sex and Research.
So if you’re curious in the slightest about what voyeurism is, how to do it, why it turns people on, don’t worry: We broke down literally everything you need to know.
What is a voyeur?
A voyeur is someone who experiences pleasure from watching other people partake in sexual acts. Maybe you’ve already decided this is absolutely not your thing, but ‘one could argue the enjoyment of watching porn is, in part, voyeuristic,’ says McDevitt.
After all, most people masturbate when they watch other people have sex on their screen, no? So yeah, it’s fairly common to be, at the least, slightly interested in this sexual fetish.
Why is voyeurism a fetish?
Ask yourself: Why is anything a pleasure? We all experience different turn-ons and turn-offs in the bedroom, so it really depends on what someone likes and engages with. Here are two people, who would consider voyeurism a fetish for them, explaining why they get turned on by watching others engage in sexual acts together or masturbate:
- ‘Personally, I am really into voyeurism because it’s a different way to experience sex. You’re not in the sex, but you’re seeing it, noticing what gives someone pleasure, seeing when someone moans the loudest in what position. It’s exhilarating,’ says Michelle*, 25.
- ‘My girlfriend knows I’m watching her which makes it super hot. It’s like her way to show off,’ says Michael, 34.
What’s the difference between the good kind of voyeurism and the bad kind of voyeurism?
Put simply, consent. ‘I use voyeurism as an example of a fetish that can be done in a fun and consensual way, or in a non-consenting and harmful way,’ says McDevitt. ‘”Voyeuristic disorder” is actually in the diagnostic manual for psychiatric disorders, in which it is described as a persistent and intense sexual interest in spying on unsuspecting people nude or having sex.’
So in other words, make sure every sexual act you engage in with your partner has been consensually agreed upon and communicated beforehand (this goes for anything in the bedroom, btw). Good voyeurism = consent and communication about what you will be doing with every sexual partner. Bad voyeurism = doing something behind your sexual partner(s)’s back.
How can you incorporate voyeurism into the bedroom in a healthy, consensual way?
Okay, now the fun part: There are so many different ways to spice up your sex life—especially with voyeurism. Here’s what McDevitt recommends:
- Watch your partner masturbate. This could look like encouraging your partner to lay on the bed and do their thing while you watch from the crack of the door.
- Watch your partner shower or bathe.
- Bring in another person to watch your partner have sex with.
So if you’re intrigued, maybe give it a try. But, again, for all the people in the back: Consent is the key, key, key factor here.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan US