Sexpert Julie: Sexual Fantasies, To Share or Not to Share?
Sexpert Julie explains the concept behind intimate and erotic fantasies, and how to effectively share them with your partner.
-Julie Elledge, Ph.D.
Do you harbor secret dreams of being a maiden in distress who is rescued by a knight in shining armor on a white horse? Or, are your dreams a little more naughty, maybe having a forbidden tryst in the copier room with your co-worker, or two?
All people fantasize. Masters and Johnson famously said that ninety-five percent of people say they fantasize and the other five percent are lying. Fantasy is a healthy source of sexual arousal and interestingly enough, occurs most often in people who show the fewest sexual problems and the least sexual dissatisfaction (Leitenberg, 1995).
Fantasy is the use of sexual images to create arousal. Is it any surprise that men’s fantasies tend to be more visually explicit, whereas women’s lean toward romantic and emotional themes (Zurbriggen & Yost, 2004)? It matches up nicely with other researchers who found that men prefer sexually explicit images while women prefer storytelling (Fisher, 1992).
There are two types of fantasies that people indulge in, intimate and erotic. Intimate scenarios are romantic in nature and tend to create emotional stories, like being stranded on a tropical island where a gorgeous hero comes to your rescue and makes love to you. Now, if you put a group of people watching the two of you on that beach, then it becomes an erotic fantasy.
Here is where fantasy can get a bad name. No one is going to look at you like you’re crazy if your fantasies are romantic and emotional. But, when your fantasies get to be dark and forbidden, they can be frightening and threatening to ourselves and our lover. Fantasies perplex us. Why, for example, do some strong, powerful women have sexual fantasies about being dominated or even raped?
Fantasies are not necessarily ideas that you secretly wish to come true. Having forbidden and dark sexual fantasies is normal. Having such fantasies does not mean that if you were to watch a video depicting a real woman being raped, or experience it, that it would be arousing to you. In Videos for Lovers, Jim and Patti (a real couple), Patti shares with her husband that she wants to be sexually ravaged by a group of men on a conference table. Jim is well aware of the terrible harm it would cause Patti if it were to happen in real life, but they are able to use the fantasy in their lovemaking. The couple understands that the fantasy allows them to play with the idea of power and dominance without suffering the real consequences, and that the fantasy does not represent a desire to act it out in real life.
Fantasy introduces the unfamiliar into the security and routine of commitment. Inside your commitment, fantasy releases the erotic imagination, creating novelty and distance. It recreates the mystery of a new romance, awakens the passion of your honeymoon, and reignites the uncertainty of the chase. And within the fantasy when your mind seeks what it can’t have, the reward system in your brain lights up with the desire for the unobtainable (Fisher, 2008). In fantasy, you can see your man and yourself through new eyes — you can now see what is hidden away during the routines of normal day to day living.