Ask the Loveologist: Healthy Sexual Fantasies
Recently I have been having crazy sexual fantasies while making love with my partner. I don’t know if I should feel guilty or excited because when I just let them go, I get way more aroused and I can tell my partner is feeling it too. I can’t get myself to tell my partner and I wonder if this is some form of cheating on him. I am not always thinking of someone else, just other crazy scenarios. Sometimes I am shocked by my own thoughts, like where did these come from? What is your take on fantasies? Do they hurt or help a relationship?
This is a great question that almost everyone thinks about at some point. In a recent research study on Sex in America, the majority of men and women have fantasies while having sex, some studies putting the number between 40 to 90 percent for both men and women. The Kinsey research concurred with this data and showed even higher percentages during masturbation.
In fact, using sexual fantasy as the fuel for early eroticism is for most of us our first sexual act. Boys start having sexual fantasies as early as 11-13, for girls, fantasy usually begins later in their teens and early 20′s. What’s more, there is mounting research which suggests that the ability and freedom to entertain fantasies actually enhances both sexual arousal and desire. Telling stories is integral to being human, and sexual fantasies can be both healthy and inspiring during sex.
Given that sexuality is one of the most mysterious ways that we relate to our partners, it isn’t all that surprising that our range of sexual fantasies is as rich and diverse as we are. Many people feel concern about whether their fantasy behavior is normal and worry about what it means.
Understanding the sexual arousal that may come from fantasies about being sexually overpowered or raped does not mean that you actually want to have the experience. Even the very common fantasy of having multiple sex partners doesn’t necessarily mean that you are interested in playing it out. It is not uncommon to struggle with the edge between enjoying their fantasies and feeling guilty or wrong about having them. The issue for many couples can be as straightforward as establishing boundaries that are respectful for both partners.
Like so much of sexuality, the idea and practice of fantasy has come out of the closet culturally. Internet fantasy chat rooms, elaborate sexual avatars, and free exchanges of pornography have all contributed to our awareness and capacity for fantasy. Some couples choose to take their fantasies to the next level and “act out” shared fantasy to enhance their pleasure.
There are plenty of accounts of people who allow their fantasy life to go too far. Whether this leads to obsessive thoughts about another or an inability to focus on your life or your partner, this is where fantasy crosses the line and can become a danger to your relationship. Learning to distinguish between fantasy and reality can be a challenging obstacle for some. In the same way that dreams are altered when we try to describe them upon waking, carrying our fantasies into our daily lives can be disruptive and destructive.
Whether it is just in sharing our own fantasies or in agreeing to act them out, it is important to be both conscious and communicative about your comfort level and your boundaries. Being able to speak openly about the role of fantasy in lovemaking and agree on what should and shouldn’t be shared provides a respectful space for fantasy to exist between you.
Conversely, fantasies can also heal long held sexual blocks. Some sex therapists have encouraged patients to use fantasy to help overcome sexual problems. Within a therapeutic context, people have been able to use fantasy to confront the fearful stages of intimacy and lovemaking and reduce or eliminate their fears. Sexual fantasies can provide an opportunity to deepen the intimacy with your partner, to learn more about yourself, or to be clued into underlying emotional issues.