Cuckolds, Threesomes & Evolutionary Biology
by Dr. Susan Block
Most men are excited by the idea of their women being with other men. Yes, most. They may or may not actually like it. But many an otherwise sensible gentleman finds himself aroused upon seeing his hot wife, girlfriend or significant other flirt with a stranger, or perhaps a friend. He may be jealous, hurt, angry, even enraged. Still, he often can’t help but want to make love to “his” woman as soon as they get home, his erection stronger than usual, and his ejaculation more powerful. It’s as if he is pumped up to win some sort of sexual competition with another male for the prize of this valuable female, his wife.
A more adventurous gentleman might even encourage his lady to have sex with the other man, “cheat” on him with lovers, dress in “slutty” clothing when they go out in the presence of other men, or at least talk about the fantasy of being with another man, perhaps while she is pleasuring herself with a large dildo, which *represents* the other man.
Traditionally, this kind of husband (or boyfriend) is called a cuckold, an old English word that carries connotations of unwilling sexual submission and shame. Many cuckolds, willing or not, are sexual submissives in their relationships, helpless slaves to their women’s desire for other men, or their own fetish for being cuckolded by their “slutty,” often cheating wives, sometimes masturbating as they watch their “hotwives” get it on with “alpha” males, even sexually servicing their wives’ well-endowed partners or being the subject of intense humiliation.
But many other gentlemen who enjoy watching or imagining the women they love having sex with other men in threesomes, at swing parties, in porn or with dildos, don’t feel humiliated at all. They do, however, feel extremely excited, and experience harder erections and stronger ejaculations than usual. Some so-called cuckolds effectively dominate the scene, choosing lovers for their hotwives, sometimes advising the lover as to how to turn on the wife, much like a film director selects a leading man for his leading lady, and then coaches him on how to play the scene.
What do all these very different types of cuckolds – the Submissive, the Dominant, the Sissy, the Swinger, the Director (just to name a few) – have in common? They are all extremely aroused by seeing, hearing or imagining their women having sex with other men.
So, what is going on here? Why are so many men excited by cuckolding? Even if they’re jealous? There are many explanations, but one of the more compelling reasons for this type of male arousal lies in human evolutionary biology. Scientists used to think that there was only one kind of sperm with a single goal: to swim to the egg and inseminate it – ejaculation being like the proverbial gunshot at the start of a marathon, sending all the little tadpoles swimming upstream in a race to the mothership. Sounds plausible, but it’s largely wrong. Looking through giant microscopes, evolutionary biologists Robin Baker and Mark Bellis found that “egg-inseminators” make up only about 1% of a man’s sperm. So… what about the rest? What about the 99%? It turns out that sperm aren’t so much like a bunch of individual runners or swimmers, but more like an army or a football team. The offensive players are the tackles and fullbacks in the Big Game going on inside the female’s reproductive tract. They don’t ever even try to race to the egg because their job is to hunt, tackle and kill sperm.
What sperm are they trying to kill? Not other sperm from the same male, that would be “friendly fire,” and it wouldn’t be very good teamwork. These “killer” sperm are trying to attack and destroy sperm from another male that might be sharing the vagina with them in the Superbowl of Sex. They even use chemical warfare, emitting powerful spermicidal enzymes. But the attack sperm then come up against “defensive” sperm on the other side that block and protect their respective inseminator-quarterback brothers from incoming attacks. And the Big Game is on. Go team go! Or, you could say, the Sperm War is underway…
The Sperm Wars theory explains some men’s passion for football and other war games. More to the point, it illuminates male excitement over female non-monogamy, male competition and the idea of being cuckolded (a cuckold being a man whose wife or girlfriend has sex with other men). This goes back to our prehistoric human ancestors who were probably not monogamous. Like our cousins, the bonobos and common chimps, often several males would mate with one fertile female within a few days of one another, sometimes in the midst of a prehistoric “gangbang.” These different men’s sperm would then duke it out within one woman for the evolutionary goal of fertilizing her egg, and so the male psyche was primed to find male competition arousing.
How do Sperm Wars affect men today? Obviously, we don’t have so many gangbangs as our ancestors probably did. But whenever a man has sex with a woman, he unconsciously considers the odds of her being with another man. If he feels that she is totally faithful to him, he might feel very happy and secure and love her a lot, but his erection won’t be at its strongest, nor will his sperm volume be at its highest. Unconsciously, his brain sends a message to his testicles: Don’t bother to send out the full army (or football team) of several hundred million sperm to an empty field where there’s no opposing team.
But if he suspects his wife or girlfriend is having sex with another man, whether she is or not… if he feels she could be cuckolding him—whether he’s a happy swinger, a curious voyeur, a humiliated cuckold, a knowledgeable polyamorist, a controlling pimp, an angry victim or just a confused spouse—his testicles will spring into action and produce as many hundred million warrior sperm, blockers and inseminators as they can. The result is that the man has a much stronger erection, more copious ejaculate and a more intensely pleasurable orgasm than usual. Studies have shown that a husband’s sperm count rises when his wife is away for a few days, even if he’s ejaculated as much as he normally does during her absence. Not knowing exactly what the little lady is up to when she goes out “with the girls” or stays late “in a meeting” can send that urgent telegram of arousal to a man’s balls to assemble the army, so he’s hot, hard and ready to jump her bones by the time she gets home. This tends to happen whether the man is insanely jealous or filled with sweet compersion. Often considered the opposite of jealousy, the word “compersion” is used by swingers and polyamorists to convey the empathetic, bonoboësque joy they feel for their partners’ pleasure with others. Not everyone is capable of compersion or even wants to be, but it certainly makes the sperm wars effect more enjoyable.
Apparently, the human male is wired to be aroused by sexual competition. This is one reason why so many men are drawn to so-called “slutty” women, despite the fact that so many societies, around the world and throughout history, have consistently and vigorously denigrated sluts. This also explains why so many men love pornography. When a man views porn, he tends to watch a woman he desires having sex with someone else, usually another man, or maybe even with several men, as in the popular gangbang genre of porn. Some male porn lovers enjoy watching women masturbating or lesbian porn, but the vast majority of men choose to watch heterosexual porn. Essentially, they are watching a slutty woman with another man or men. This tends to trigger a stiff, Sperms Wars-powered erection.
The Sperm Wars theory also explains why so many men, even if they adore their wives, get sexually bored with them after a few years. If a gentleman feels there is no possibility that he could be “cuckolded,” and that his wife could cheat on him or that she could be with another man, then his sperm count will stay *comfortably* low. After all, no sense sending out the whole football team of sperm when just a few runners will do the trick.
This is not to say that couples can’t stay monogamous and enjoy hot sex for many decades, but such couples often utilize the power of fantasy, either together or individually. But a long marriage that never even entertains the possibility of cuckoldry, i.e., another man having sex with the wife, is almost inevitably doomed to low sperm counts and comfortable boredom in the bedroom.
What about jealousy? Sperm competition is exciting, reminding a man that his woman is worth fighting for, making his erection fighting hard. The danger is that jealousy, which is all tangled up with possessiveness, insecurity and fear, will add the wrong kind of fuel to the Sperm Wars fire, and all that fun fighting between sperm turns to real fighting between people. Even “retroactive jealousy” over past lovers or “fantasy jealousy” over future lovers or paranoid jealousy over imaginary lovers, might overwhelm a man to the point that the Sperm Wars going on within his balls only adds fuel to his rage and fear. The Sperms Wars cocktail is a potent one, and can be quite dangerous in high doses or when experienced at the wrong time or place.
Thus, a lady must respect her gentleman’s boundaries; with some men, playing the Sperm Wars game is playing with fire.
But remember: the woman doesn’t actually have to have sex with the other man to create the scintillating Sperm Wars effect. It is only necessary that her husband or boyfriend think she might, even if he just imagines it, and even if everyone knows it’s *just* a fantasy. Indeed, for most couples, the power of Sperm Wars and the experience of being “cuckolded” are best and most safely explored in the realm of the imagination. The realm of fantasy which can be almost as exciting as the real thing, and a lot less dangerous. There’s a fine art to this, the art of balancing love and lust. The Sperm Wars theory is not just a sex geek’s delight (thought it certainly is that). Understanding how Sperm Wars works really helps to keep lust alive in a long-term relationship.
Now, if only we could keep the wars to the sperm, and stop the wars between people…
MAKE SPERM WARS, NOT REAL WARS.
© March 29, 2015. Susan Block, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Suzy,” is a world renowned LA sex therapist, author of The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure (which contains even more information about Sperm Wars!) and horny housewife, occasionally seen on HBO and other channels. For speaking engagements, call 310-568-0066.
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SPERM WARS posted on COUNTERPUNCH “America’s Best Political Newsletter”
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01 · 24 · 22 @ 11:45 pm
This is a dynamic that I, myself, had never considered nor any partner I have been with, at least, that I know of. I agree that it is a dynamic that can definitely add more hot spicy ingredients to a stale couplehood or yes, it can be fire and lead to a more dark paradigm. All in all, I love your article and it has given me some to think about. It taunts my curious nature and teases that notion of bringing out the “football” team to tackle a few foreign sperms on the loose. Great article!
10 · 21 · 21 @ 6:51 pm
I LOVE Dr. Suzy!! Dr. Suzy is the woman who taught me about sperm wars when I was studying cuckolding almost 10 years ago.
04 · 4 · 15 @ 12:44 am
What a great piece, and yes, I totally agree. Let’s encourage sperm wars, and let’s get gals and guys to enjoy so much sex that all wars are kept right there at the cervix.
Sperm wars? Definitely better than oil wars, religious wars, race wars, ethnic wars, or drug wars. I’ve experienced them. They can happen even without sperm! They are somewhat ecosexual. Experiment with them!
Missy Comley Beattie
04 · 4 · 15 @ 12:41 am
The incredible Susan Block: Now, if only we could keep the wars to the sperm, and stop the wars between people…
03 · 31 · 15 @ 7:12 pm
I dig it. Very informative, humorous and dare I say revolutionary?
03 · 31 · 15 @ 2:54 pm
Great article! Wonder if the “soldier/football team sperm” and the “babymakers” taste differently as well… (Badoom cha!)
Hoping the world will start to come around even more thanks to your constant revelation of The Bonobo Way!
03 · 31 · 15 @ 1:43 am
I’m fond of your manifesto !! If only everyone could put it into practice, it would flow on earth much more drops of sperm than of blood…
03 · 31 · 15 @ 1:40 am
I desire to be with women who realize they need more than one man.
03 · 30 · 15 @ 10:43 pm
Often times, the notion of a solely monogamous relationship overshadows reality that there are other relationship possibilities. This article offers a lens through which to view how those other relationship dynamics can function to enhance sexual performance. Indeed, the sperm wars game can be considered “playing with fire” but I believe that a open relationship that has good interpersonal communication and is willing to discuss and negotiate boundaries can make this sort of dynamic work. I can definitely see the system becoming functional for those that are not living in that thought paradigm of jealousy and possession, but who are operating out compersion and pleasure paradigm.
Chelsea 'Raw' Demoiselle
03 · 30 · 15 @ 8:02 pm
This giant microscope finding really changes things! Sperm Wars are not at all what collectively we’ve all been assuming they were for a very long time… pieces of the puzzle are being brought to light in this article Dr Susan Block!
What a help for couples sorting through their supposedly quirky arousals and excited jealousies!
03 · 30 · 15 @ 7:56 pm
Very interesting article Dr. Block. In fact I must tell you that I have experienced this personally as my husband and I became swingers a long time ago and our sex life has just sky rocketed to higher levels. I know he loves to watch me have sex with other men and boy is he a raging bull for weeks after we go to a swing event. I wasn’t too keen on this at first but now when it starts to go limp, I take them both out for a good time and then “they” fuck my brains out.