Sexual fantasies - good or bad for your relationship?

Sexual Fantasies - is it good to fantasise?

By Charlotte Fantelli

Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise... Johnny Depp in – well, in just about anything... A good spanking... Outdoor sex in the rain... Just some of the many sexual fantasies shared with me after I quizzed friends, colleagues and anyone else willing to divulge this information! Whatever they may be, we all have certain things that get us hot under the collar. This is quite normal, isn’t it? To dream and to desire, to let our minds wander to places of fun and ecstasy. But is a dose of sexual fantasy good for our relationships? Or are sexual fantasies, as some suggest, acts of wilful indulgence that can come between a couple? I am on a mission to find out!

I like to fantasise about everything!

I am a daydreamer! I walk around with my head in the clouds 90% of the time. Whether I am visualising my next interview, business meeting or sex session, my head is always full of potential scenarios. And I am also the sort of person who likes to bring fantasy to life. If I think of something and it feels great in my mind, then more than likely I won’t stop until it is a reality – take Uncovered magazine for an example of this. 

My sex life is no exception: I have probably acted out every sexual fantasy I have ever desired to act out, while having countless more floating around my mind, quite content to stay just there. In living out many of my desires I have learned a bit about sexuality, fantasy and myself. Some of what I learned was great – one thing I discovered, though, is that fantasies are nearly always better in your head!

When I saw I had this topic pencilled in for this issue, I had my mind firmly set on writing it. A fun and easy subject, I thought to myself – after all I am a dreamer by nature, and can talk about sex all day long!

As I started to research, it soon became evident that I could write an article about my own experiences, but after digging deeper into theories and philosophies, I was totally confused as to how I could answer the moral dilemmas I posed in the introduction (not a great place to be with just a couple of days til deadline). After reading the varied opinions of the experts I found, the contradicting ideas and theories not only confused me as to the facts of the matter, but I even started to question my own moral compass! Let’s hope my following research and writing will be as eye-opening for me as for you...

What is good about sexual fantasy?

Well, that is easy - it feels great! To drift to a place where our every whim and desire plays centre stage, our pleasures are indulged in just the right way, with nothing and no one to interrupt us. No baby crying from the next room, no falling off the bed or clashing of teeth – just pure and simple ecstasy!

It has been suggested that the brain is the largest sexual organ and sometimes it is easier to feel relaxed by allowing our minds to drift while we have our bodies satisfied, especially if the act of sex itself has any negative associations. 

Men V's women

Research suggests that women’s fantasies tend to be more romantic in nature, whilst men’s more explicit. This, of course, is a generalisation – in reality some women have explicit and overtly sexual thoughts and fantasies, and some people (both men and women) do not fantasise at all. It is believed that daydreamers who tend to visualise other aspects of their life are more likely to fantasise sexually.

What is bad about sexual fantasy?

It has been suggested that fantasising while having sex with your partner can diminish or undermine the sexual bond that is being shared. Of course if, while having sex with your partner, you are actually thinking about being somewhere else – or with someone else – it can be a barrier to a fulfilling union. 

It is also suggested that indulging in  fantasy can leave you dissatisfied with the real sex life you actually have.

Many religions consider the mind to be as sacred as the body and view any ‘unholy’ sexual practices or desires being played out in the mind as sinful as living them out.

The ideal of intercourse taking place between two loving individuals coming together as one is, of course, the most joyous and fulfilling sex one can have. When the arousal in our mind meets that of a fully engaged and responsive other, we in that moment are as close to the perfect union as can be. Fantasy in essence is a self-satisfying thing that does not enhance this intimacy. 

Obviously there is a scale, and while most would agree that imagining yourself and your partner making love on a beach, being caressed by the lapping waves, is a good and agreeable fantasy (much better in the head by the way – sand can really chafe!), the line is not quite so clear when it comes to anything that would be ‘morally’ unacceptable to one’s partner if lived out, such as adultery. 

I had a funny experience recently. My husband and I (like many, I think?) have a couple of celebrities we admire, Shakira for him, and Jason Statham or – dare I say it? – Nicole Sherzinger for me... Anyway, this fantasy was freely allowed and shared in our relationship (and the role play could be fun) until... I was sitting in the green room of a TV studio, chatting to one of my husband’s celeb crushes! When the realms of fantasy collide with the realms of everyday possibility, it becomes clear that it is the mystery and intrigue of these people that makes them great ‘fantasy fodder’ – and I am sure after seeing them on the loo or with morning breath they would not remain quite as alluring! 

Fancying the boss!

OK, let’s consider how we would feel about our other half fantasising! Would we be so blase about fantasy if the person who looked to us to fulfil their needs was looking to another person or something else in their mind? 

For me – and I might be very liberal in this – if my husband were to say to me that he fantasised about a made up situation or person, I wouldn’t be in the least bit offended as long as that was just part of his sexual pleasure and not all consuming to the exclusion of me. Indulging him and myself can be a great and fun part of our relationship and doesn’t pose a threat. However if, for some reason, he started fantasising about a friend, a family member or the boss (OK, so he doesn’t have a boss and his last one was a man... but bear with me here...) if his fantasy life was focused on someone we knew and this became something he desired, this would pose a problem for me.

That said, I feel we are quite lucky in the fact that we have both kinda ‘been there, done that’ – so much of the forbidden holds little mystery and therefore we know how blessed we are with what we have!

We also have the sort of relationship where we can share this, and I believe here lies the crux of the issue: secrets and lies.

Secrets and lies

Any secrets and any lies can harm a relationship. In my opinion it is this that can form a barrier between two people, not simply enjoying a touch of fantasy. 

When fantasy becomes a harboured desire, a secret or a life separate from your real relationship, this indeed can pose a problem. 

Harmful fantasy

Until now we have considered the use of fantasy as part of a healthy relationship, but of course there are extremes. Fantasy can drive some people to act out immoral, even illegal, things. What starts out as a pleasurable fantasy can grow as the person needs more to fulfil their sexual desires. Often those who use sex abusively will have started out by fantasising – until the fantasy was just not enough. 

On the flip side, those who have been sexually abused in some way can find their desires become destructive, focusing on themselves being punished or abused. This is very common – and if you are finding this is the case and it is disturbing you, then it is advisable to consider counselling.

Fantasies, like anything which creates excitement and pleasure, can be addictive and so too can the acts which feed them (for example masturbation or pornography). Like any other addiction, fantasies can be classified as such when they impact detrimentally upon your life and you can not simply stop indulging, even though it is causing you, your relationship and/or your family harm. 

Everything in it's place

My ramblings seem to have led me to the following conclusion: Like with everything in life, there needs to be balance. Having an imagination and filling it with things that feel good can be, in many ways, a great blessing. But if these fantasies become misplaced – if they consume us and create barriers between what we have and what we want – we can indeed become dissatisfied with, and desensitised to, reality, seeing it as a lesser part of our sex life. With so many things it is about communication: if you are feeling dissatisfied in a relationship, or you feel the grass is greener, you need to act – either by improving what you currently have, or by moving on.

If your fantasies form an enjoyable, satisfying part of your sex life that does not exclude or detract from your relationship they can bring great benefits: they can allow you to explore yourself, your relationship, your desires. They may be able to help relax and excite you, or even help you reconnect with your partner or fan the flame of passion, by seeing each other in a new light.

However, if your fantasies mask an inability to feel pleasure with your partner, this needs to be addressed. There are many relationship counsellors who can help, but quite simply opening up and discussing your desires can be a perfect way to start.

Equally, encouraging your partner to speak about their desires and allowing them an open (non-judgemental) forum for their fantasies to be explored (verbally if not literally) can also help keep the balance and link between your individual fantasies and dreams, and your shared desires as a couple. 

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