What Is Exhibitionism?

Exhibitionism - Everyone's Kinkynoun \-ˈbi-shə-ˌni-zəm\
>the act of exposing in a public or semi-public context those parts of one’s body that are not normally exposed.

Exhibitionism ranks pretty high on the list of fantasies for both women and men and is also the one fantasy that couple are most likely to try out for themselves. If you’ve ever fooled around in the back of a cab or gotten hot and heavy at your parents house, you have already dabbled in exhibitionism. What is it about being potentially caught in the act that’s such a turn-on?

Some say that the thrill of being heard or seen while engaged in sexual acts actually increases the levels of dopamine in your brain. Others say that exhibitionist behavior may be simply a byproduct of that all-consuming, can’t-keep-your-hands-off-each-other feeling, in which love is not only blind to the opinions of others, but also to their gaze.

And of course, for some, exhibitionism is more a matter of practicality (like when you’re living at home or with roommates) than a function of actual desire.

But still, a propensity for exhibitionism runs far and deep and many psychologists theorize that its broad appeal may be strongly related to our first youthful experiences with the intense pleasure of orgasm, which most of us experienced (whether on our own or with someone else) when the possibility of getting caught was close by – say, in our parents’ house. These formative experiences may establish a powerful link between the particular risk of getting caught and the singular pleasure of sexual gratification.

As a result, even years later, the possibility of getting caught as manifest in our exhibitionistic urges elicits powerful feelings of sexual desire. We may be far from our teenage years (and even have kids of our own), but that doesn’t mean we’re not above acting like horny, hormone-addled teenagers when home for the holidays.

With exhibitionism, there is also an underlying sense of power that comes from being observed – a power in knowing that we may be arousing the watcher(s).