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Candaulism is most commonly defined as a sexual practice, or the fantasy of the practice, where a man exposes his female partner, or intimate images of her, to others for their voyeuristic pleasure. It is sometimes defined as the practice of two people having sexual intercourse while a third partner watches. The voyeur usually observes from a hidden location.
The term comes from the activities of King Candaules; he was an ancient monarch who planned to show his naked wife to his servant without her knowledge. It was coined by German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his famous book Psychopathia Sexualis.
Candaulism can take many forms. It may be a man urging or forcing his female partner to wear revealing or tight clothing in public. He might even undress his female partner in front of other people. A man might urge or force his partner to become sexually involved with another person at a swinger’s event for example. He might even encourage or force her to become involved with prostitution or pornography. Candaulism can also be practiced without the female partner’s knowledge such as when a man posts risqué photos of his partner online.
Sadger believed that a candaulist identifies completely with his partner’s body; deep in his mind, he is actually revealing himself. However, his theory has never been proven.
Candaulism is closely associated with voyeurism, but an important distinction exists between the two. When couples practice candaulism and engage in sexual behavior, they do so with knowledge of the third party’s presence. This is not the case with voyeurism. While three people are involved in sexual behavior like this, this arrangement is not considered a threesome since just two people are physically engaging in sexual interaction.