It’s not being a cuckold if it’s consensual & contracted
I commented on a Reddit post recently where someone had been accused of being a cuckold for dating a sex worker.
A few hundred downvotes and a lot of angry comments later, I realised that the majority of people have no concept of the sex-work industry, swinging, open relationships, or how contracts in relationships can lead to consensual sexual exploration and be perfectly workable. But it helped confirm for me what I already knew – that dating a sex-worker has nothing, and I mean NOTHING, to do with being a cuckold.
But the first discovery I made, was that if I valued my Karma-points then I should not be trying to tell Redditors that they are wrong about these things. Luckily I valued the truth over such Simian terror, so I went at it until they gave up, or got bored trying to educate me back into becoming a low-IQ, possessive male, driven by his mummy issues.
It was worth it.
What is a cuckold?
Most onlines dictionaries have the following to say about the word cuckold…
Cuckold: A man whose wife is sexually unfaithful, often regarded as an object of derision.
One dictionary went on to suggest it comes from a French word related to the Cuckoo, which is a bird that lays it’s eggs in another birds nest and leaves that other bird to bring up the chicks. I can see the comparison… sort of.
If you search Google for the word cuckold and look at the images tab, it’s porn with every variety of threesome you can imagine. So it is no wonder that many young Redditors are a bit confused about what a cuckold is, or isn’t.
There are three key things that separate the cuckold from a man who is in control of his relationship choices.
2. The difference between Compromising and Concession Making.
You can read about all these, and more aspects of relating, in the book,
Don’t be fooled by the name, it is a book about good communication in relationship, and why we all need to look at the challenging aspects to improve our lot. And what could be more challenging than trying to have a threesome with your partner? In the book, we talk about communication methods around that, as well as the reasons to explore such things in the first place. It is a guide to good relating and good communication, as well as exploring what you want as an individual, and yes of course it goes into great details on how to have a threesome and still have a fantastic relationship afterward regardless of anyone’s gender. It is also the very definition of how NOT to end up a cuckold.
Contracts are decisions made and verbally agreed upon by two consenting adults because it allows them as individuals to continue to grow while respecting the boundaries and differences of the other person.
By creating Contracts we are then able to define the boundaries of our behaviour & expectations precisely and clearly. Rather than stagnate, this actually then allows the relationship to grow, simply because both parties know exactly where the boundaries are drawn. This then allows those boundaries to be open to discussion and expansion over time as trust is developed.
A verbal contract could be about anything from who does the washing-up and when they do it, to exploring sex outside of the relationship. The point is, it is mutually agreed upon and made clear before ever being acted on, it is never just left as a secret desire, suppressed, hidden, or worse, done on the sly.
All relationships already function to contracts, but the best and most successful relationships will actively discuss the precise details of the terms, and will constantly revisit those terms too.
No one says the terms are set in stone, but they should simple server to define the boundaries of the relationship in a way that makes those lines clear at that moment in time. It is not about forcing them either, it is about acknowledging them.
Contracts will diffuse the risk of becoming a cuckold
Working to Contracts is in absolute contrast to the experience of the cuckold, whose wife is unfaithful against his true wishes while he puts up with his situation because of his weakness and subordination to her domination. Contracts clarify the rules of engagement and if they are broken, that must be addressed too.
It would take the better part of a book to explain this in detail, and conveniently that is exactly what we have done by writing our book, so check it out if you want to understand more.
Suffice to say, Contracts define the boundaries and encourage clear communication and negotiation around them, but also highlight the places that require further attention, maybe not immediately, but at some point.
For instance, exploring sexuality in a way that introduces other people into a monogamous relationship scenario is a perfect example because it will require so many things to be discussed about boundaries before, during and after the experience. Many of those boundaries will not be known until they are hit upon, and often with emotionally challenging results. This is all part of the opportunity to learn.
If you are in a trusting relationship where good communication is happening, even if the challenges around the different boundaries you both have are extreme and explosive, the trust, the communication, and especially the constant re-development of verbal contracts, are what will get you through.
If you can introduce Concession Making into it, then there is a real possibility that you can both get what you want in the end.
This level of communication is NOTHING like the experience of the cuckold, who is being run over, used, dominated, and abused against his true wishes, and he has no control of the situation.
Contracts provide agreements on terms of behaviour and also awareness of what happens if that is then ignored.
Compromising Versus Concession Making
These two very different approaches to making Contracts may seem like the same thing at first, but once you start to understand the immense difference in the intention and impact that Compromising has compared to Concession Making, then you can start to see the chasm between the two and why it is so important not to compromise yourself, and not to encourage your partner to do it either.
Compromising is not a good thing
Firstly, let me say that most relationship advice in glossy magazines suggests that Compromise is the secret to long and healthy relationships. I completely disagree, I think compromising is actually the secret to a long, miserable, unhealthy, power-imbalanced relationship. Compromising is exactly how a man ends up a cuckold.
To my mind a compromise is when someone forces themselves to do something they do not want to, just to please another person. That is the very definition of control and imbalance in a relationship and it will doom it to misery for at least one person involved. Though they will then try to convince themselves that they are okay with that for the greater good of the relationship, and that is the essence of a compromise. It destroys the autonomous sense-of-self and is a terrible approach, assuming you prefer a balanced relationship (and some actually don’t, but I won’t go into that here).
Concession Making is a better approach
Concession Making, on the other hand, is about discussing terms that work for both people, and it goes hand in hand with a later Contract to define those terms, so they are workable and fully understood.
It is very often the case that you will accept your partner doing a certain thing under certain circumstances, i.e. if certain conditions are being met, but that you likely can not bear it otherwise. This is important to grasp because it brings up the third and possibly most important key to the article I am writing here – Good Communication, and I will talk about that in a bit.
Concession Making requires two autonomous individuals to think for themselves, stand-up for their own needs, to respect the needs and desires of their partner, and to find ways to discuss those needs and desires honestly, and often, because needs change too.
Concession Making is not easy, it is hard because it requires admitting that you want something that your partner may not agree with. But, so what! There is nothing wrong with disagreeing, it is healthy for a relationship. The world is built on disagreements, that become negotiations, that become contracts. How you manage dispute and disagreement is the true measure of the quality of a relationship. Really, the places you disagree are exactly where and why you need Contracts, and it is why you should both strive to be amazing, autonomous, unique human beings in your own right. Contracts can help you both to achieve it.
Addressing the tough stuff is the mature and adult approach to dealing with two unique people’s needs. While ignoring the tough stuff and instead indulging in sneaky behaviour to get only your own needs met, that is like lighting a time-bomb in a relationship that is not working out, and that you are completely in denial about. It won’t end happily, and you are not evolving as a human being if you are in denial.
Concession Making when done right, can stop a relationship from becoming a dysfunctional, un-discussed, imbalanced, dominating power-play.
Again, it would take a book to explain the subject in-depth, and conveniently I already mentioned one that does.
So how does this resolve the cuckold situation?
Where Concession Making helps resolve the situation of the cuckold, is that firstly the man is pro-actively fighting his corner to be met on his terms, and his partner should be negotiating her part in that too, of course. She deserves to have what she wants as much as he does, surely? If he cannot face into that, then they really need to split up before they waste any more time.
If they have done things properly, then the discussion of her needs to have sex with other men should be at the communication level, not yet being acted on. If they Compromise, it will likely end up leading to her acting on it in secret or against his wishes anyway. All the while, he would be failing to even discuss it, probably he would be putting up with it for the greater good of the relationship. That is being a cuckold.
There is no need for it to be like that. That is dysfunctional and it does not need to be that way. So yes, in that situation it is being a cuckold.
Concession Making is when you both discuss the reality of an event before it happens, the emotional impact of it, the pain it might cause, the things you both feel or long for, or hate, or desire, or think you need or don’t need, and also the terms upon which you can both possibly come to agree to meeting each other if not half-way, then just somewhere. Where is that exactly? Communication can find it out, but eternal silence definitely won’t.
You resolve the cuckold situation by taking control of communication through Concession Making that leads to Contracts, that leads to both of you acknowledging the other’s needs while attempting to get both of your needs met through balance and concern for the other.
Testing the concessions, giving a shit about how the other person is feeling, finding out what works for them, and for you, and what doesn’t. Going back to the drawing board, patching up the injuries, revisiting it all again, trying again. Getting it wrong to get it right, but doing it with mutual concessions not forced compromises.
If nothing works, then yes, it’s probably over, but at least you tried everything. Maybe you are just not suited to function together. Try someone else, don’t become a cuckold unless you like being dominated and dysfunctional, and believe it or not, some people do. But contrary to the opinion of a whoop of baboon Redditors, I certainly do not.
Be wary when Merchant-bargaining with your emotions
Concession Making is where you think about what you need in order to feel okay about your partner getting what they need. It is certainly Merchanting, but you do need to be careful about that, because you are dealing with emotions, and so you have to be careful what you exchange in those kinds of deals. You need to avoid it becoming an emotional compromise. The details of which are too individually unique to be able to discuss it here in a generic way.
The important point is NOT to compromise yourself or your partner, but to find the place that works for you both, and where you both feel comfortable before, during, and most especially after any act.
Communication can diffuse a lot of the unexploded bombs that lie hidden on that path, but we will get to that shortly.
Test a concession, talk about it, adjust it
So you define a Concession that you think might work for you both. Then you might want to test that, and return to the negotiation later to discuss how it went, and if it worked out, then you turn that into a Verbal Contract. Or, if it failed, then you try to find some new terms until you find something that works.
But, if you can’t find a way to resolve it, and you can’t find a way to meet somewhere in a concession that works for you both, then maybe you are not suited to achieve it, but at least you then know that.
Everyone is so different that it is impossible to outline a one-fix-fix-all suggestion here, but the generic aspect will come down to the same fundamental things, and it is those things I am sharing here. More is shared in the book, but the real key to all of it lies in the next topic, that of communication.
Communication is EVERYTHING!
Communication is the most important ingredient in all of the above and in every relationship that ever was. It does not even have to be good communication, so much as the ongoing attempt to find new ways to discuss what you find at the boundaries of your relationship, and especially in the places where you both disagree.
Many relationships have turned around from near calamitous disasters to become successful enterprises simply because they found a way to communicate their needs and feel acknowledged in that, not even necessarily getting met, just acknowledged.
In the case of my argument with a large whoop of Redditor baboons who aggressively gang-barraged me with accusations of being a cuckold because of my views, I brought each argument back down to the same point – that it is all about Communication, or the lack of it, with your partner and has nothing to do with dating a sex-worker or even a nun. It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it!
Communication develops honesty, honesty develops trust, trust develops the conditions for a person to be acknowledged, and that can lead to them getting met.
If your partner wants to experience sex with other men, you best get used that idea or leave her, because she wont ever figure out a way to switch that desire off, and nor should she. You cannot fault an innate desire!
That was my argument with the baboons and they did not like it one bit, when I turned it around and suggested it might be them as the ones with the issue, and that their attitudes would likely drive their partners away or to be secretive about their desires, they liked that even less.
Okay Mr big talker, let’s have a real life example
If I dated a woman who liked to sleep with men but was afraid to tell me about it and so did it behind my back (and yes, I have), the moment that I found out about that, I would have three choices: walk out, become a cuckold, or start communicating to discuss terms.
Of course, in my youth I ended up a cuckold on a number of occasions, and that is probably why I argued so vehemently with the whoop of baying Redditors; because today I know the difference.
I have also been at the middway point, where I was able to demand terms, but I was still learning about how to communicate around that.
Communicating is never easy, and I think that is what confuses many people because they think it should be, but easy communication means you are missing the real gritty stuff. Communication on the real stuff is always uncomfortable, challenging, revealing, it often triggers shame, and is damn hard. That is how you know it is the real stuff.
Fortunately, the more you try to do it, the better you get at clarifying what you are okay with, and what you are not okay with, and not only to your partner, but more importantly – to yourself.
As you might have guessed, I have a penchant for threesomes with women. Today I get exactly what I want, and I am very happy with it, and I can say without any doubt that to achieve it required communication above all other things. So how did I get to that point? By going through a lot of painful revelations, of course, but it was absolutely worth it in the end.
The day I finally figured it out
I once dated a sex worker. I knew what she did for a living, and she was upfront with me from the start. I did not mind that she did it, because it was the bent of my nature to be okay with that, but…only on certain conditions, it turned out.
I figured it was okay with me, because I imagined that in return I would get threesomes with her and other women. I wasn’t totally conscious of this aspect, it was something I realised in looking back.
My acceptance of her having sex with men for money was not because I was a weak person, but because I was already fine with open sexuality. I did not confuse lust with love when it was in a relationship based on emotional trust, and I had been exploring that myself already, but always in a swinging situation or a threesome. My partner having sex with strange men while I was not there, but that I knew all about it – that was new to me, and I was not sure how I was going to handle it, and I let her know that.
So, when I first started dating this sex-worker, I had yet to fully grasp that it had to happen on very clear and finite terms in order for it to work for me. I soon discovered this the hard way. It turned out that I had some very precise rules around that kind of thing, and some very bad reactions when it was not met. I was learning as I went.
A sex-worker is actually really helpful in this regard, because if there is a button to push, she will probably push it. I was fine with her to have sex with other men, which surprised me as much as her in the beginning, but it also then surprised me further to discover that it had to happen in a very clear way, so that it did not trigger any of my stuff.
On a couple of occasions she did trigger me, and in those moments I was very quickly not okay to the point of becoming rabid. The outcome was, that I started to get a map of what my rules were, mostly because I discovered them when they got broken.
So first I had to learn what my rules were, then I had to learn how to communicate them without flying off the handle or triggering her stuff, and then finally she had to decide if she was okay with my new demands and the contractual changes that I was then requiring.
It was often fiery, it was often feisty, but I worked hard at finding ways to communicate through it. Sometimes our negotiations took a long time to resolve, sometimes they very nearly didn’t, and we would both get triggered and have a fight. But, I did my best not to let them end in compromises for either of us.
Over time, I learnt what I was okay with, and I learnt what would cause me to go loco in an instant. It certainly was not easy, but neither was it all that hard, it was simply a journey of exploration.
Learning that, and understanding and noting the lines of my boundaries when they got crossed, helped me to figure out what contract terms would work for me when dating someone of her calibre, and it helped me practice ways of communicating my needs as well as talking about hers.
Once we got to the point that one boundary was clearly defined for me, and I knew for sure that I had defined it, that then allowed her to decide if it worked for her too, or how to adjust things so we could both accept the way we both functioned. We made Concessions, and we gradually negotiated our way into something that worked for both of us.
I personally liked open relating because that gave me the freedom and the right to explore without guilt too, but on her concessional terms.
At the same time as exploring sexual horizons with my partner, to counter-balance that I needed intimacy, emotional monogamy, and 100% trust to be able to function otherwise all bets were off. Sexual promiscuity under defined conditions was fine with me, safe-sex was an absolute must, and it had to be for money if she did it without me, I was not okay with her just sleeping around for kicks. Funnily enough, I struggled more if she slept with women without me, or if she did it with men for free, because then my need for emotional monogamy felt threatened.
You discover all these quirky things about yourself that you had no idea existed and that is okay, in fact that is what you need to find out to be able to be honest with your partner and yourself. Really you are learning about yourself.
And to be clear, once I understood my boundaries, I also became more aware that I would no longer tolerate a relationship if those boundaries were crossed with deliberate malice, or if sneaky behaviour was happening, or where I was not being met on the terms of our verbally agreed concessions and contracts.
At first these quirks all seemed strange, until I realised that I was gradually clarifying exactly what worked for me, and then what worked for her too. I was not a cuckold because I was in a deal I was happy with, or negotiating towards one.
No-one was being unfaithful because it was consensual, and it was well communicated, and it was verbally contracted and clear. No one was dominating anyone or playing games, it was mutual and it was considered.
But, nothing is perfect, and we did not live happily ever after…
With some people it will just never work out, cést la vie!
It took me a couple of years to realise that I was actually not happy with the situation with my sex-worker girlfriend, and so we split up.
The reason was that our more precise contractual requirements could not be made to meet. She eventually wanted something that was outside the boundaries of what I was willing to accept, and I could not find a concession that would let me allow it.
It was clear by then that we had hit the hard, impenetrable surface of fundamental elemental states, and neither of us would, or should, be changing to meet the other. To do so would be compromising ourselves. She needed a certain thing, and I could not be in a relationship with someone that did. The End.
Certainly it hurt to see the end of our time together, but at the same time it was clear to me that I had worked through my needs properly, and without becoming a cuckold in the process. That was probably a first.
From that point on I understood my needs a lot more, and I knew better the terms I was willing to meet someone else on, in order to get what I wanted out of a relationship.
There was no way that I was being a cuckold, it was the complete opposite after that because I was in control of my side of the bargain and better able to communicate it. And if her behaviour did not suit me, then I was more than willing to walk out, in fact I did walk out.
And the next relationship that I had benefited from the lessons of it all. I was still happy to date a sex-worker if it happened that I met one, because I knew they would be able to talk much more openly, and with much more experience than the average woman could, and of course they would likely be much more open to my favourite past-time – that of threesomes with my partner and another woman.
The main take-away from my flare up on Reddit was that when my lifestyle choice was pitted against a large number of whooping male baboons, it served to make me more aware of just how well I have managed to figure out my own needs and desires, communicate them with my partner, and then seek ways to get us both met exactly how we both want to be met. Thanks to those Redditors trying to subjugate me with abusive tirades and name-calling, I realised that I had achieved a wonderful and rare thing.
I did not find a single guy in the midst of those arguments who did not exhibit large amounts of reactive pain and fear around sexual promiscuity in their partner. All the while having no idea that their pain came from their own possessive concerns, mixed with a massive failure to communicate, an inability to think for themselves beyond the pack, and the abject failure to consider the reality of their position, or more importantly, their potential partner’s position. If anything, it was a bit dishearteneing, and I felt sorry that it made so many of them angry and vitriolic, but pretty soon I thought – fuck these idiots, and then I more pitied the women that would end up with them.
But I can say without any doubt that the key to the entire question of whether dating a sex-worker makes a man a cuckold, lies in the single word that shows up in the dictionary definition of a cuckold: Unfaithful.
If a partner is unfaithful, then it suggests there is no trust, and if there is no trust it is because there is no communication. If you can diffuse that, then there is no shame, pain, concern, or loss of trust when your partner finally shares with you whatever her secret desires are.
When you find those out, and when she feels safe enough to share her desires with you, then the journey to better relating is open to you both, and there is no reason why you can’t experience it all without any pain or shame at all, only pleasure, and when it is done safely, there really is nothing to lose. Or… you then know for sure it is time to leave her, because she is not for you.
It really is that simple.
If you know what you are doing, if you can communicate with each other, if there is trust, and you have defined your contracts clearly and stick to them wholeheartedly or change them if they need it, then it does not matter if you date a sex-worker or a nun, you can both achieve anything, and still know that you are there for each other.
That is not being a cuckold, that is the maturity of fearless and honest adult relating, but I can understand why it would look like the same thing to the immature, fearful, or inexperienced observer.
For more insight and information, Jodie and myself go into many more details and aspects of exploring relationship and how to communicate around our desires in our book, available as Paperback or eBook to download from Amazon.
The Experience, A Gentleman’s Guide to Threesomes: Exploring Relationship, Sexual Energy & Western Tantra
Mark’s main pastimes are Meditation and Tantra and the study of human behaviour in relating. He is co-facilitator at The Temple Space. He is also a travel writer, published author, and music producer. His other books and music publications are available through his website www.MarkDKBerry.com