STIR THE SOUP…IN THE BEDROOM
What do we know about sexual fantasies? Do we all have them? Where do they come from? Do they differ between men and women?
Sexual fantasies are mental images of erotic nature that can lead to sexual arousal. Some wish their sexual fantasies could come true (who wouldn’t want to get some with Johnny Depp or John Dwayne!) but they don’t have to materialize to be “effective”. In fact, sometimes this is what makes them arousing. The fact that we know we don’t want them to ever come true and they most likely won’t (think whips and chains or fantasies of being raped). We all know how successful and popular the book series “Fifty Shades” became.
Our sexual fantasies can be connected to our first sexual experiences. These experiences tend to imprint in our brain and become memorable for years to come so they show up in our mind when we become aroused. What we fantasize when we’re getting it on can also be a result of something we watched or read about. Who hasn’t seen porn? Pornography is one of the places people get their ideas from. It used to be playboy and other magazines, but pornography has evolved nowadays. Anything goes online. I am pretty sure you can find any kind of sex you can imagine if you google it! It can be interactive as well. You just sit in front of your computer or your phone and you can tell the people on your screen what you would like them to do….
Fantasies can reflect our personality. For example, extroverts tend to fantasize more about sexual activities with more than two people like group sex or nonmonogamy while introverts might be more into quieter activities or romance.
Sexual fantasies are safe. No one else knows what they are but us. They happen in our mind when we masturbate or when we have sex with our partner. Usually the peak of the plot in our fantasy is what pushes us over the edge and leads to a wonderful, delicious release.
When people have fantasies that veer from what is “appropriate” they sometimes try to suppress them, and they end up being preoccupied or controlled by them. Think of a fetish. People are self-conscious enough to talk about their fantasies when these are relatively “vanilla” so imagine the possible embarrassment in someone’s mind when they get off by being dressed up as a furry or when they worship someone’s feet. Being open about it can be difficult and the fear and anxiety about being viewed differently if anyone knew can be paralyzing.
In my work as a sex therapist with couples and individuals I make a point to bring up the topic. People are initially shy or embarrassed to talk about it. They often haven’t told each other out of fear of being judged. Most of us would probably feel this way. We are socialized to think that there is only one right way to have sex: penis-in-vagina and we might feel that all other sex is not “normal” or “the right kind”.
I find that when I ask my clients about their fantasies it’s liberating for them. They can finally talk about what’s in their head. They occasionally worry that something might be wrong with them but that is rarely the case. There are few kinds of fantasies that are considered “pathological”. Those would be fantasies of having sex with someone that cannot give consent for example a child or an animal and fantasies of inflicting pain, again without consent. When a fantasy becomes the only way for a person to derive sexual satisfaction that can also become problematic.
Because this topic is a taboo, there is not much research about it. Justin Lehmiller Ph.D., a research fellow at the Kinsey Institute, conducted a two-year study involving more than 4,000 Americans and his findings are both surprising and comforting. He found that most people (men and women) fantasized about three things: threesomes and orgies (multi-partnered sex), Bondage and Discipline acts ranging from spanking and light bondage to more hardcore activities and bringing variety and novelty into their sex life by using sex toys, new positions and new settings. He also found that women’s major fantasies involved BDSM and group sex activities and that men’s sexual fantasies included more romantic and emotional content than expected.
Most of the time, it seems we are fantasizing about having certain psychological needs met, like being wanted, and feeling desired and sexually competent. Sharing our fantasies with our partner can potentially bring us closer and make for better sex but we must start with learning how to accept our sexual fantasies for ourselves and be good with that first.
If you decide to share your fantasies start with the less adventurous ones and go from there. You don’t have to get it all out at once. This will help you start feeling more comfortable talking about sex and can contribute to increased intimacy and trust in your relationship.