Voyeurism – The thrill of watching others

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The fascination of voyeurism
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Voyeurism is the desire to observe, or the sexual gratification of watching naked people or people engaging in sexual acts. Voyeurs become sexually aroused watching other people, and get a particular thrill out of it. Read on to find out what voyeurism means and why so many people are attracted to watching nakedness or sexual acts.

What is voyeurism? Explaining and defining the word

We briefly explained what voyeurism means in the introduction. A voyeur is someone who becomes highly sexually aroused when watching other people when they are naked, getting undressed or sexually active. This tendency is generally more common among men. Voyeurs usually only take on the passive role of observer – they don’t generally have any contact with the person they are observing. For many voyeurs, also known as Peeping Toms, the act of observation is also a stimulus to being sexually active. Many can only become sexually aroused if they observe naked people or watch other people having sex. Some voyeurs like to watch a particular sex practice, for example oral sex. But not everyone who has this preference lives it out. It is only considered an illness or disorder of sexual preference if those affected are put under psychological strain as a result, or other people are harmed by their voyeurism.

In these cases, experts refer to voyeurism as paraphilia. This is a disorder of sexual preference, as we’ve already mentioned. Exhibitionism or fetishism can also be disorders. A certain degree of voyeurism is completely normal, and the idea of seeing others naked or watching porn to become sexually aroused appeals to many people. The tendency to watch others being sexually active is seen in teenagers and early adulthood. Experts believe that low self-esteem and sexual uncertainty contribute to someone becoming a voyeur. The lack of sexual opportunities is also often a reason for watching others or peeping. Experts even talk about voyeurs being afraid of their own sexuality and physicality. With voyeurism, they can cloak themselves in passivity and become untouchable.

Voyeurism is widespread and not necessarily a sexual disorder. Let’s look at why it appeals to so many people.

Why so many people find watching others so appealing

There’s a reason why watching porn is so common nowadays. Many people find watching others spices up their own sex lives. Being a voyeur gives them a feeling of power. The person being watched does not know they are being observed. The voyeur is in control, and experiences a rush of adrenaline. They know it is “forbidden” behaviour and they could be found out, and this in turn releases adrenaline, giving them the thrill they need. Today, watching porn is socially very common, and pornographic recordings are widely available. Getting excited about these films, including them in foreplay or using them for masturbation is a popular trend, and a very normal sexual activity. Many people get that special thrill for their own sexuality this way. But as we’ve already said, voyeurism can also be a disorder of sexual preference, and therefore become a problem that requires medical treatment.

A black and white picture shows a woman in her underwear lying on her back on a bed with her eyes closed.
The fascination of observing

When the desire to observe becomes a problem

Voyeurism becomes a problem if the watching or peeping happens without the knowledge of the person being watched. This is against the law, and is even seen as a disorder requiring treatment. Some voyeurs make use of darkness to remain undiscovered. Swimming pools and saunas are popular places for watching other people without being spotted. Voyeurism is only prosecutable when video recordings are made without the consent of the person being observed. However, even just watching someone is highly unethical if that person is unaware it is happening.

The sexual preference of voyeurism cannot be cured, but there are methods to relieve the psychological strain. Psychotherapy and medication can help  by channelling the compulsion to observe.

To prevent voyeurs from acting secretly and therefore against the law, there are dedicated establishments. And of course, there is more than one type of voyeurism. We’ll look at a couple in more detail here.

The different types of voyeurism

The word voyeurism encompasses different types and approaches:


Candaulism involves watching your partner having sex with someone else. The act of watching is arousing for the partner. Sometimes person just wants to see their partner be a subject of desire for someone else. We explained where the word “candaulism” comes from in a previous blog post, which also includes more information about this special kind of voyeurism.

Consensual voyeurism

Consensual voyeurism is, as the name suggests, where the person being observed consents to it. They know they are being watched, and find it stimulating and sexually arousing. Voyeurism can also be incorporated into role play, which can take the act of peeping into new spaces. Of course it’s always important that everyone involved consents.

Dedicated establishments and services for voyeurs

As well as establishments like strip clubs or swinger clubs, where it is completely legal to watch naked people or even the sexual act, today the internet offers countless opportunities to get the thrill of watching. Whether it’s people getting undressed, being naked or performing sexual acts, there are many platforms out there that give voyeurs the chance to easily live out their sexual preferences.

There’s also a difference between voyeurs who are happy just to watch and become sexually aroused, and those who find watching naked people or people having sex gives them the urge to be sexually active themselves.

As we’ve seen, there are various ways to live out voyeurism, or get a thrill from watching others, without breaking any laws. But everyone involved must always consent! Then the sexual preference “voyeurism” can be highly stimulating and exciting for both the voyeur and the person being watched.

Image sources: pexels-cottonbro-5645105, pexels-sara-loya-17553416

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