Updated: DECEMBER 22, 2021
Reviewed by Dr. Laura McGuire
on December 14, 2021

An exhibitionist is a person who becomes sexually aroused by being observed naked or engaging in sexual acts. This thrill can be achieved through fantasy or by actually performing these acts in front of people or in a public space. The term exhibitionist is closely connected to the term voyeur. The exhibitionist is the person who puts themself on display and the voyeur is the person who derives pleasure from watching the exhibitionist. Exhibitionists can be folks of any gender or sexuality.

The word exhibitionist can be used in two different ways, one more casual, and the other clinical. For most people, an exhibitionist lives their revealing fantasy in a consensual manner. The people seeing or hearing their body or activities understand the situation and accept it. This differs from those who have the mental health condition exhibitionistic disorder. This condition is characterized by a compulsion to unexpectedly expose one’s genitals to strangers or other non-consenting people.

Engaging in or fantasizing about being an exhibitionist is a common fantasy. Surveys suggest that more than half of people asked think about having sex in an open public space. More than 80% of folks are turned on by the thought of having sex in communal spaces, such as workplaces, bathrooms, restaurants and more.

Exhibitionist behaviors cover a wide-ranging spectrum of activities. In one sense, a person never has to leave their home to be an exhibitionist. They can wearing sexually appealing outfits such as lingerie or jock straps, perform striptease dances, have sex with the lights on or participate in mutual masturbation with their partner. The end goal is to be seen or heard.

Other out-of-home activities can elicit attention from a wider range of people. This can include wearing revealing clothing to attract attention, flirting, touching and dancing provocatively, performing burlesque or stripping or attending sex parties and participating in sexual activities while being watched.

More About Exhibitionist

One one hand, embracing exhibitionistic fantasies and desires can be a fulfilling embrace of erotic potential. Knowing and understanding your kinks can completely change a person’s sexual life. And given how popular exhibitionist tendencies are, both in survey results and in popular media, opening this potential up could prove to be very satisfying to many.

However, consent must always be considered. It is easy to deride the traditional view of the flasher opening their trenchcoat at passersby. That is clearly non-consensual. At the same time, how many other, celebrated, exhibitionist desires easily slip into the non-consent category? Car sex, camping sex, backyard sex, loud sex, skinny dipping, park sex—all of these can attract unwitting eyes and betray consent. The fear of getting caught is what adds to the excitement for some people. All of the above have certainly been depicted in movies and television as desirable. They will also show up as options on how to spice up your sex life in advice columns.

Despite the challenges, (remember, indecent exposure is a very real criminal charge), there are ways to enjoy being an exhibitionist without fear of legal entanglements or exposing someone to nudity or sex that never consented to it. For those who enjoy having their body seen, but aren’t necessarily looking to engage in public sex, try visiting a naturist resort or finding a clothing optional beach.

If the thrill of more overt sexual activity in front of eager eyes turns you on, find spaces and situations where consent is clear. This can include inviting people to your home, attending sex parties, becoming a sex worker, masturbating in porn booths or attending sex clubs.


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