Voyeurism: Why We’re Obsessed With Watching People Have Sex

Voyeurism, alongside BDSM, anal, feet, and panties, is one of the most common sexual fetishes. What is voyeurism? Why is it so popular? And how can I incorporate it into my sex life?

Before diving in, it’s important to note that you should never watch someone without their permission. However, voyeurism with the informed consent of everyone involved can be seriously hot and is a regular part of many peoples’ sex lives.

Here’s everything you’ve wanted to know about voyeurs, including what voyeurism means, why it’s so popular and how you can try it out.

Woman peeping through window blinds at home

What is voyeurism?

Put simply, voyeurism is the practice of deriving sexual pleasure from watching someone engage in sexual acts or in a state of undress. This can be on a screen or in real life. The pleasure of voyeurism comes from watching, while simultaneously being separate from, the sexual activity.

It’s considered a fetish because it’s something “unusual” from which people get arousal and sexual pleasure.

Voyeurism and exhibitionism

What does voyeurism mean? It’s the opposite of exhibitionism. Voyeurs like to watch. Exhibitionists like to be watched. Of course, you don’t have to be only one of these things.

It’s common for people to desire both these experiences at different times and in different erotic scenarios.

Consent is essential

Consent is a crucial part of any sexual activity but is especially essential when it comes to the voyeur kink. Why? Because some people’s voyeuristic fantasies involve them spying on someone without their permission.

Man watching woman iron in lingerie

You should never watch (or film or photograph) someone without their permission - it’s actually against the law, and is where we get the creepy phrase “peeping tom” from.

However, if this desire stays as a fantasy, is explored during role-play with a consenting partner, or is undertaken with a consenting performer, then it’s fine. In fact, it’s great!

Porn, peep shows and watching people have sex (including your partner)

Is watching porn an act of voyeurism? Yes! Porn has become normalized, but it’s still a modern phenomenon. What does voyeurism mean today? For most people, it means opening a laptop and finding their favorite erotic movie.

There are many (and more interesting) ways voyeurism can be explored, but watching porn is the most common.

A predecessor of porn, and an example of voyeurism at its finest, is the peep show.

What did voyeurism mean before technology? Peep shows became popular in the 70s as the porn industry was starting to develop. Hells and legs of woman next to pole

During a peep show, performers put on a live sex show or strip erotically to an audience who watched them through a small viewing slot. They were hugely popular due in part to their erotic content, and in part to the thrill that came from watching the performer from a place of anonymity and secrecy.

In recent decades, people have started to speak more openly about wanting to watch their partner have sex with someone else.

Cuckolding is the term used to describe a man getting turned on by watching his wife have sex with another man. This phrase is familiar because it seems shocking. But it’s actually not shocking at all!

Many people who are non-monogamous or in open relationships are aware of the intense pleasure that can be derived from seeing your partner engage in sex with someone else. For many people, watching their partner with someone else is a regular and exciting part of their sex life.

Serious couple looking at each other

Why is voyeurism so popular?

Watching people have sex is hot and many of us fantasize about it. What’s voyeurism all about and why is it such a common kink?

We’re visual creatures

What is voyeurism about? Images!

Humans have an inherent fascination with all things visual. We love photography, art, film… we get pleasure from the act of looking at something beautiful or interesting. So is it surprising that we enjoy looking at sexy stuff?

We’re curious...

Seeing inside the intimate lives of other people is thrilling. That’s why reality shows like Love Island are so popular. We’re endlessly curious about what goes on behind closed doors.

What is voyeurism? The perfect way to find out.

... or shy!

It’s common, especially at a young age, to be interested in sex, but not have any experience and find sex scary and intimidating. Watching sex is a way for us to experience it without being involved, rejected, or doing any work!

Woman looking out window at sky

It makes us feel powerful

There’s lots of academic theory about the links between gaze and power. We won’t get into all that here, but it’s worth noting that for people who have a kink for power (hello, doms!), voyeurism will probably turn them on.

Why? Because watching people have sex and be in a vulnerable, naked state while you remain at a distance can make you feel powerful.

It sounds strange, but there are many reasons why watching your partner have sex with someone else is hot.

People tend to have one of two reactions when they think about their partner with someone else: horror and disgust or excitement and arousal. How can something that seems like rejection be pleasurable?

It’s validating

Let’s face it, we’re all ego-driven. Watching your partner go at it with someone else is satisfying because you’re seeing someone else find them sexy.

Sensual couple in bed touching faces

Plus, if your partner looks hot and is doing a good job, as their partner, you feel pride in the fact that this gorgeous person chose you.

You think they’re hot, so inevitably you think they look hot having sex

You physically fancy your partner and probably find them incredibly sexy. So it makes total sense that watching them naked and doing sexual stuff will be pleasurable for you.

There’s a thrill from the element of competition

The intensity of jealousy, once you overcome the fear of it, is thrilling.

Everyone knows you want what you can’t have, and that when someone else wants something, you want it more. The same logic applies when you watch your partner have sex with someone else.

You’ll find yourself desiring them intensely, which is an incredible form of foreplay. And you’ll probably want to prove that you can pleasure them better than the person you’re seeing them with, which will make your next session together unforgettable.

Couple drinking tea and flirting at home

It can be incredibly intimate

Though it seems strange, many non-monogamous couples or partners who practice swinging say that their partner being with someone else brings them closer together. How? To start with, sharing these kinds of private fantasies with a partner makes you both vulnerable and consequentially heightens intimacy.

Discussing it and then watching your partner have sex with someone takes this further, as you’re not only acting out your shared secret fantasy, but you can watch them with the knowledge that they’re doing it for you.

It’s like a personalized erotic performance. Eye contact with your partner during it is definitely recommended.

How to start safely exploring your voyeur kink

There are lots of fun ways to start exploring voyeurism. As with any kink, always discuss desires and boundaries with your partner and make sure you both know what you’re doing, and don’t try any of these without informed consent.

  1. Watch your partner get undressed, have a bath, or take a shower. Better yet, get a striptease!
  2. Watch your partner masturbate.
  3. Watch your partner have sex with someone else.
  4. Try voyeurism role-playing with a partner. One of you could “spy” while the other pretends not to know the other is watching.
  5. Join a voyeur kink community where you can meet people and go to parties to watch consenting people do sexy things.
  6. Explore erotic literature, video, or audio porn from the perspective of a voyeur. There’s lots of good stuff out there!
Legs of woman in the shower

Does the idea of watching your partner have sex with someone still freak you out, or are you now a little… intrigued? We don’t blame you.

Have fun, kinksters!