Candaules, King of Lydia, Shews his Wife by Stealth to Gyges, One of his Ministers, As She Goes to Bed by William Etty. This image illustrates Herodotus's version of the tale of Gyges.

Candaulism is a sexual practice or fantasy in which a man exposes his female partner, or images of her, to other people for their voyeuristic pleasure. According to Gugitz, the term is derived from ancient King Candaules who made a plot to show his unaware naked wife to his servant Gyges of Lydia. After discovering Gyges while he was watching her naked, Candaules' wife ordered him to choose between killing himself and killing her husband in order to repair the vicious mischief.

Sometimes this behavior is taken to the point of allowing complete sexual relations, a practice defined by many English speaking people as swinging. A related term is cuckoldry, which is distinct in that it involves a control difference between the partner that is having sex outside the couple and the partner who is not. In certain cases the relation evolves into a stable union of three persons that is known as ménage à trois.


History of the term

The term was first defined by Richard von Krafft-Ebbing in in his book: Psychopathia sexualis. Eine klinisch-forensische Studie (Stuttgart: Enke 1886).[4]

Psychology of candaulism

Sadger hypothesized that the candaulist completely identifies with his partner's body, and deep in his mind is showing himself.

Historical instances of Candaulism

The case of Richard Worsley, 7th Baronet of Appuldurcombe against George Bissett for "criminal conversation", that is adultery with Lady Worsley, revealed an incident in which Sir Richard had assisted Bissett to spy on Lady Worsley taking a bath.[

The notorious American FBI agent caught spying for the Soviet Union (later, Russia), Robert Hanssen, took explicit photographs of his wife, Bonnie, and sent them to his good friend Jack Hoschouer during the latter's tour in Vietnam. Later Hanssen invited Hoschouer to clandestinely observe him having sex with his wife during his occasional visits to the Hanssen household. Initially Hoschouer watched through a window from outside the house. Later, Hanssen appropriated video equipment from the FBI to set up closed-circuit television to allow Hoschouer to watch from his guest bedroom.  Hanssen also posted sexually-explicit stories to the Internet crafted to allow readers who knew the Hanssens to identify them, also without his wife's knowledge.