NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Tuesday, September 12, 2023

What is Consensual Exhibitionism?

In my last article, What is Consensual Voyeurism?, I defined this term and discussed the difference between consensual voyeurism and nonconsensual voyeurism.  

In the current article, I'm focusing on the other side of this dynamic, which is consensual exhibitionism.

Consensual Exhibitionism

What is Consensual Exhibitionism?
Consensual exhibitionism is defined as when a person displays themselves in a sexual manner to a consenting viewer or viewers.

Consensual Exhibitionism

As part of consensual exhibitionism, both the person who is being viewed and the one who is viewing get sexual pleasure.  The one who is viewing might see him or herself as a consensual voyeur (or not).

Someone who engages in consensual exhibitionism doesn't necessarily need an audience. For instance, some people enjoy looking at themselves in a sexual manner in a mirror or in a video. 

Another example of both consensual exhibitionism and consensual voyeurism occurs on social media, like Instagram, where social media posters include pictures and videos of themselves posing sexually.

Similarly, OnlyFans provides a place for sex workers and others to create content for consensual exhibitionism that would have them banned on other sites.

For many people consensual exhibitionism is a fetish they enjoy practicing with a partner (or partners) privately or at sex parties, sex clubs or other places where everyone gives consent.

Consensual Exhibitionism at a Sex Party

People often "switch" from being a consensual exhibitionist to a consensual voyeur because they're turned on by both.  Others prefer one or the other.

Nonconsensual exhibitionism is very different.  This involves nonconsensual behavior, like exposing genitals to unsuspecting strangers. This is an exhibitionistic disorder and it's mostly practiced by a small percentage of men. It's also illegal.

How to Practice Consensual Exhibitionism in an Ethical and Responsible Way
If you and your partner want to practice consensual exhibitionism, you can do it in an ethical and responsible way with everyone involved consenting beforehand as to what will take place:
  • Allowing Your Partner to Watch You Masturbate: For people new to consensual exhibitionism, this can be a good way to start if both people feel comfortable with it.  As I mentioned in my previous article, many couples include watching each other masturbate as part of their sex script.
  • Role-Playing: See my prior article for how to include consensual exhibitionism as part of a sexual role play with your partner.

Consensual Exhibitionism as Part of Sexual Role Play
If You're New to Consensual Exhibitionism, Start Slowly
Just like trying out anything new sexually, make sure your partner is really into consensual exhibitionism and not just going along with your desire (see my article: What Are the Basic Rules of Sexual Consent).

Also, be aware that things don't always go well the first time when you're trying anything for the first time. It might go perfectly in your sexual fantasies, but when you're with a partner, there are other factors to consider, including initial awkwardness and other mishaps.

Before beginning anything new sexually, make sure you and your partner have discussed what you're both willing and unwilling to do and what the boundaries are.  Also, be prepared to stop if either of you feels uncomfortable.

Make sure there's time afterward--whether immediately afterward or at some other designated time--to talk about your individual experiences and whether it's something you want to do in the future.

In addition, prioritize sexual aftercare in whatever way is meaningful to you and your partner--including hugging, cuddling and whatever you both find soothing after sex.

Getting Help in Sex Therapy
Sex therapy is a form of talk therapy where you focus on sexual issues (see my article: What is Sex Therapy?).

There is no physical exam, nudity or sex during a sex therapy session (see my article: What Are Common Misconceptions About Sex Therapy?).

Many individual adults and couples with sexual problems find sex therapy to be helpful for a variety of issues (see my article: What Are Common Issues Discussed in Sex Therapy?).

To have a more fulfilling sex life, seek help from a licensed mental health professional who is a sex therapist.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I am a sex positive therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.