While we as a society are becoming more open about sexuality, one thing we can’t avoid talking about is fantasies. I’m not talking about sex dreams –– I’m talking about the sexy scenarios we create ourselves in our waking life. You may have one particular recurring fantasy that you can’t get out of your head, or you may have a lot of them across the board. You may be dying to create these fantasies in real life, or you might be content with simply just imagining the scenarios.
Where Do Fantasies Come From?
Luckily, as we become more open about sex, more thorough research around sexuality is being conducted (finally!) which helps us understand how our amorous brains work. Last year, one of the biggest and most in-depth studies surrounding sexual fantasies was conducted by social psychologist Dr. Lehmiller. Over 4,000 Americans participated in the study and guess how many of them fantasize (about their partner or otherwise)? A whopping 97%!
There are multiple aspects that can play into the reason why you’re fantasizing about something or someone. Dr. Lehmiller’s findings concluded that peoples’ fantasies are influenced by demographics (i.e. age, gender, race), personality traits, and their own sexual history. If you’re a super extroverted person, you’re more likely than a very shy person to fantasize about group sex or public sex, for instance. If you had a sexy outdoor sexual experience when you were younger, you might find yourself fantasizing about reliving it. Furthermore, you’ll likely find that your sexual fantasies change as you get older, experience or are exposed to more things sexually.
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What Do Fantasies Mean?
We humans are always so eager to label and understand our feelings instead of just feeling them. When it comes to sex, a lot of people get concerned when their desires aren’t vanilla (AKA, traditional) and they get nervous that what they’re feeling is “weird” or “not normal.” Certain things, quite simply, turn us on. Sometimes there may be no rhyme or reason. We might be surprised at what we find ourselves fantasizing about, but no matter how surprising or out there a fantasy might be, you shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed.
Benefits of Fantasizing
Even if you are embarrassed by how freaky-deaky your fantasies may seem, fantasizing can be good for a relationship. Studies have shown that sexually fantasizing about your partner can be beneficial for your sex life. It can even be beneficial for the partnership in general, causing partners to engage in “relationship-promoting behaviors.” The study also notes that fantasizing about your partner is extra beneficial for keeping a sexual bond going long term, especially after all the spontaneity and original chemistry induced sparks stop flying.
Talkspace therapist Christine Tolman echoes the sentiment of the study’s findings. “Fantasies can be a really important part of relationships. Being able to share what excites you can add more depth and fulfillment in your relationship,” she states. “If you feel uncomfortable or hesitant to share with your partner, consider engaging in activities that can increase trust and build your relationship, such as counseling.”
Being Comfortable With the Uncomfortable
One thing you certainly might feel uncomfortable bringing up? Fantasizing about someone other than your partner. Just because you’re fantasizing about someone other than your partner, it doesn’t mean that you are going to cheat on them. Tolman says, “Fantasies are incredibly personal. If you are fantasizing about someone other than your partner, that is your business!”
Ask yourself if you’re truly happy with your partner
However, if you’re fantasizing so much about someone else that you feel like you can’t focus on enjoying your partner, or you have actual intentions of hooking up with the person you’re fantasizing about, that might be a cause for concern. This concern should urge you to look harder at your relationship and whether you’re truly happy with your partner –– sexually and otherwise.
Start with yourself
Now, what’s one to do with all these sexy fantasies? Luckily you have options, whether you want to share them with a partner or not. The first, of course, is masturbation. Maybe you don’t feel ready to share your fantasies with your partner just yet, or you don’t have a partner to enact your fantasies with. Fantasizing is a great way to get yourself in the mood for a solo sex session. If painting a picture in your own mind isn’t enough and you want to get more visual, I can almost guarantee you that you can find some porn or erotica somewhere on the web catering to virtually any kink.
Role play with your partner
If you do decide to share your fantasies with your partner, good for you! You shouldn’t be ashamed of your fantasies or kinks, although it can definitely be a little embarrassing or uncomfortable to share them at first. You never know –– your partner could get totally turned on by the fantasy you share with them. Maybe they’ve even had the same type of fantasy and were too nervous to share with you, or it inspires them to open up about their own fantasies. If you have a partner that feels the same way as you and is open to exploration, then you’ve hit the jackpot!
An excellent way to bring your fantasies to life with your partner is through role play. Switching things up and playing different “characters” to reenact your fantasy is a way to sexually explore with “someone else” while still being with your primary partner. Role-playing is also a great and safe way to explore some of those fantasies that are a little darker or things you would want to happen consensually, but not in real life.
One example that’s a big one is consensual non-consent. This can go from BDSM related scenarios to X-rated doctor/patient fantasies. You wouldn’t actually want to be restrained and tied up by a stranger or inappropriately touched by your doctor in real life. But perhaps the idea of creating one of these scenes really turns you on. Talk about it before, discuss your hard limits, and definitely have a safe word!
Fantasy Can Be Healthy, So Why Not Explore It
When it comes down to it, your sexuality is very personal. Allow yourself to sit back and enjoy the fantasies, rather than drive yourself wild (in a bad way) trying to interpret what the fantasies mean or if they’re too weird. Whatever fantasies you choose to share or not share, bring to life or not bring to life, it’s all up to you. The time is here to feel empowered by your sexuality –– fantasies and all –– not embarrassed by it.