How to Explore Exhibitionism During Sex, According to a Sex Therapist

Exhibitionism is one of the most common fetishes in the world, but it's also a type of kink that is wildly misunderstood. This is because many people hear exhibitionism and mistake it for exhibitionistic disorder, the illegal and grotesque act of exposing oneself to non-consenting individuals in public. However, the type of exhibitionism embraced by the kink community is always consensual.

It's important to know the difference between consensual exhibitionism and exhibitionistic disorder because "conflating the two leads to a lot of shame and stigma," says sex therapist Nicolle Dirksen. But as long as exhibitionism is explored safely and consensually, it can be a great addition to your sex life.

To help you feel more confident exploring exhibitionism, Dirksen shares additional tips explaining what an exhibitionist is and how to incorporate exhibitionism into your sex life.

What Is Exhibitionism?

Not to be confused with exhibitionistic disorder, which is not consensual, exhibitionism is what happens when a person has a desire to be consensually watched during sex or to be seen naked, Dirksen says. Those who enjoy exhibitionism may also refer to themselves as exhibitionists.

Though every exhibitionist has their own preferences, you may be into exhibitionism if the thought of getting caught having sex excites you, the thought of group sex sounds hot because others would see you engaging in sex, and/or if you enjoy watching porn, listening to audio porn, or reading erotic short stories that involve others getting caught having sex, according to Dirksen.

If you're interested in pursuing exhibitionism, you may enjoy being with a partner who is into voyeurism. "While exhibitionism means that a person is turned on by being watched during sexual activity, voyeurism is a kink in which a person has a desire to watch others engage in sexual activity," Dirksen adds.

How to Explore Exhibitionism During Sex

If you're curious about exhibitionism, rid yourself of any feelings of embarrassment or shame and know that it's completely normal. So long as exhibitionism is explored consensually, it can be a fun way to try something new with a long-term partner or discover a new side of yourself.

"Start by talking with your partner(s) about your fantasy to make sure everyone involved has a chance to ask any questions and set boundaries," Dirksen recommends. You can start by explaining to your partner what interests you and why you think it's so hot. Then, as Dirksen suggests, talk about any fears or anxieties, and establish a good safe word so you'll be able to stop play if the scenario ever becomes overwhelming.

Once you've communicated with your partner(s) and agreed on boundaries, you can start exploring. Dirksen recommends recording yourself masturbating and letting your partner(s) watch it. (If you don't feel comfortable recording yourself, mutual masturbation is a great option, too.) You could also have sex in front of a window, though it should be "one that is high up to avoid non-consenting onlookers," Dirksen adds. Another option is to encourage your partner to watch you undress before entering the shower or getting into bed.

If you want to explore exhibitionism by yourself, you could check out nearby sex clubs or parties. There, you could let others watch you as you masturbate, undress, or walk around naked.

Is Exhibitionism in Public OK?

Exhibitionism is best explored in private. Although it may sound hot to engage in public sex, the legal implications of having public sex are serious: you could get arrested for public lewdness, indecent exposure, or even disorderly conduct. Plus, even if you and your partner consent to public sex, other public bystanders do not.

Bottom line: while exhibitionism can be a great way to add something different to your sex life, it should always, always, always be done consensually and in private.

Taylor Andrews is a Balance editor at POPSUGAR who specializes in topics relating to sex, relationships, dating, sexual health, mental health, and more. In her six years working in editorial, she's written about how semen is digested, why sex aftercare is the move, and how the overturn of Roe killed situationships.