Sexual fantasies are a normal, integral part of the daily lives. Fantasies can greatly range from sex with an intimate partner, group sex, loving sex and violent sex. Sexual fantasies are defined as, “any erotic or sexually arousing mental imagery that a person has while awake. It can be an elaborate story, or it can be a fleeting thought of some sexual activity” (Hicks and Leitenberg, 2001) So it really is quite broad, fantasies are whatever your mind can conjure up!
Through the study of fantasies, it was discovered that fantasies begin at an early age. These studies state that they begin, for most people, between the ages of 11 and 13. However, in my experience of being a therapist I would suggest that most people’s start much younger!
Fantasy and self-exploration are tightly interlinked. Fantasy allows you to delve in deeper to your desires and sexual wants. When we are highly aroused, we suspend rational thought and judgement. As this happen sensation blurs into fantasy and fantasy blurs into sensation. The sensations you become absorbed in give rises to images, colours, sounds etc. Fantasies are your own to conjure up, your own enigma. Remember that fantasies are part of you, in your own body but yet something magical you can share with others!
Fantasies can be incredibly useful. Often with sex there is a disconnect between the mind and the body. Fantasy can be utilised when this detachment arises, allowing ourselves to sink back into our bodies and our minds by lessening distractions.
Fantasy is a great way to masturbate without relying on porn. In therapy I actively discourage people from using porn when struggling with a sexual dysfunction as porn can become a visual distraction from what is happening in the body. If you are able to conjure up fantasies, I encourage that so that it assists you from becoming more self-aware.
Fantasy and Myths
If I fantasise does that mean there is something wrong with me?
I get this question the most often in my clinic room. It always makes me delighted to answer a clear “NO”! Actually, there is a strong link between a healthy sex life! About five percent of men and women say they have never had a sexual fantasy (or won’t admit to it)! It is perfectly normal and healthy to fantasise, as a therapist I actually encourage it. With the ability to fantasise you may gain a better understanding of your needs and wants in sex. Equally I would like to say that if you don’t fantasise there is nothing wrong with you! We are all different, unique and magical in our own way!
I’m worried that if I tell my partner about my fantasies they won’t understand.
This can be two-fold. Firstly: the important part is safety, one must feel safe in order to talk openly about a fantasy. Secondly: explaining a fantasy with a partner, or having them tell you theirs can be daunting if you, or if your partner doesn’t fantasise. Then there can be an issue whereby one of you may be hurt or offended if either are not part of the fantasy. Perhaps it would be best to have a conversation about how you FEEL about fantasy first, then make the decision to talk about personal ones.
My fantasy may not live up to its expectations.
Fantasy provides an imaginary playground where we can discover forbidden elements of ourselves in the comfort of our mind. What I would say about fantasies is that they are not real -life!! We often think that reality would be just the same, but that just isn’t the case! We forget all the intrinsic details that we (choose to leave out) from real life. So, what we really need to remember that we manage expectations.
My partner doesn’t fantasise about me, is it cheating?
Not at all!! This originates from the myth that sex should be spontaneous and natural. However, drawing back to the point that fantasy is about imagination, remember that sometimes arousal isn’t instantaneous! As a therapist I would actively encourage everyone to open up and to discuss your sexual fantasies, even if they are “vanilla”. Both can lead to better communication, therefore better relationships, self-confidence and sexual pleasure.
We have more to do.
Society still has strong thoughts and feelings about sexual expression, we still have taboo, shame and stigma attached to sexuality. People feel that they must suppress their inner desires to satisfy societal barriers. Yet with social media and the access to ethical porn sites, I do feel that this is changing. There is no doubt that sexual fantasies are an integral part of our society and of our personal lives. However, there is still much more to know about sexual fantasies.
Psychosexual and Relationship Therapist at Drurytherapy