If you’ve ever wondered why it feels so freakin’ good to walk around your house naked, it could be because you’re an exhibitionist. Don’t get me wrong: I recognize that you don’t have to identify this way in order to just fully embrace a braless moment. But feeding off of your S.O.’s attention while you parade around without any clothes on is definitely trudging toward exhibitionist territory.
But if the term “exhibitionist” makes you feel icky, it’s probably because you’ve never heard of it in the sexy context we’re using it. Unfortunately, there’s the other side to exhibitionism that’s the non-consensual mental condition “characterized by the compulsion to display one’s genitals in public” (which is both disturbing and illegal), but that’s not what we’re talking about today.
Today, we’re talking about the sexy, consensual side of exhibitionism that can be used to amplify your sex life, libido, and orgasms. So allow me to explain everything to know about this v common fantasy and kink because, hey, you’re probably already more of an exhibitionist than you think.
What is exhibitionism?
For those of you who already love being the center of attention and thrive off of other people’s attention, it’s possible “being an exhibitionist is already a skill you possess—even if you haven’t brought it directly into a sexual situation,” says Good Vibrations sexologist Carol Queen, author of Exhibitionism for the Shy.
In a sexual context, “exhibitionism is a sexual kink in which the person feels sexual arousal at the idea or reality of being seen naked or engaged in sexual activities by others,” says clinical sexologist Sarah Melancon, sexuality and relationship expert for SexToyCollective.com. (Like, maybe you’re really into the thought of someone watching you while you masturbate).
Another way of looking at it is “the desire to reveal one’s physical attributes in a sexually alluring or suggestive manner,” says clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly. “In general, exhibitionism involves revealing body parts that are normally covered or obscured by clothing in accord with societal norms.”
Oh, and btw: It’s pretty common. According to research conducted by psychologist Justin Lehmiller, 81 percent of men and 84 percent of women have “experienced sexual arousal at the thought of public sex”—which, you guessed it, is one of the many indicators you could have an exhibitionist kink.
How is exhibitionism different from voyeurism?
The two go hand-in-hand. “A voyeur is someone who feels sexual arousal by watching someone else nude or doing sexual activities. The fantasy of exhibitionism requires a voyeur—it is a relationship between the “see-er” and the “see-ee,” says Melancon. So while you don’t necessarily need a partner to consider yourself a voyeur or exhibitionist, the two kinds of thrive off of each other’s pleasures.
What would make someone an exhibitionist?
Remember, there’s no need or reason to identify your pleasure if you’re comfortable with not identifying it at all. But if you’re curious if you are an exhibitionist, here are some things that could mean you enjoy this type of kink.
- Sharing nude photos with your partner while they’re at work.
- Encouraging your partner to go shopping for lingerie with you.
- Engaging in public sex where you could potentially be caught.
- Engaging in public sex at a sex club where watching is encouraged.
- Inviting a third person over to watch you have sex and/or masturbate.
Okay, how do I incorporate consensual exhibitionism into the bedroom?
Lots, and lots, and lots of titillating ways. But for starters, you have to communicate with your partner about what you’re interested in by establishing boundaries and explicitly telling your S.O. what you’d enjoy. Once you have the sex talk down, get comfortable with yourself.
“Build your comfort with being seen by practicing alone—dirty-dancing in the mirror, watching yourself as you masturbate, experimenting with whatever garments feel sexy for you,” says Queen. “Getting a sense of your own pleasure in showing off is key to really enjoying it with a person watching.”
Now, once you have that down, here are some tangible, practical ways to ignite your sexual prowess, according to licensed psychologist Margarida Rafael, resident relationship and sex expert at AdorePassion.ca:
- Videotape yourself masturbating and share it with your partner.
- Surprise your partner when they get home from work by walking out naked to greet them.
- Have sex in public places that don’t break the law—like, a bathroom at a friend’s house.
- Engage in sexual activities against a window, in your swimming pool, and in your balcony.