Sex And Lies: The Truth About Sexual Fantasies

Margie Nichols, Ph.D.by Margie Nichols, Ph.D.

Two weeks ago I was at a sex research and therapy conference where multiple speakers extolled the virtues of sexual fantasy – not just for masturbation, but during sex with a partner, shared or not shared with partner.

Yesterday in my therapy office I heard yet another distressed woman ‘confess’ that she always fantasized just before orgasm with a partner to get herself over that last little ‘hump.’ She felt terribly guilty that she was not ‘connected’ to her spouse during sex, whom she loves dearly.

Someday people are going to look back at the way most people view sexual fantasies now and regard it at about the same level as the belief that masturbation grows hair on your hands.

That day is not today.

The two most common issues I hear are: guilt about content; and guilt about fantasies that aren’t about partner and/or guilt about fantasizing during sex with partner.

Guilt about content warrants several blogs on it’s own, but for now let me say a couple of things for those of you who feel guilty about ‘rape’ fantasies, fetishistic fantasies, group sex fantasies, and the like. First, you have about the same control over WHAT turns you on as you have over WHO turns you on. Which is to say not much. Second, repression is a crude mental tool. If you work too hard to repress a desire, it tends to either AMPLIFY the desire or repress ALL desire. Take home? Learn to love your fantasies. They are your friends, they expand your sexuality. Besides, there is a weak correlation between fantasy and behavior. Sometimes you would REALLY get off if you enacted your sexual fantasy and sometimes it would be a disaster you would never dream of attempting. Most important: try to appreciate what how lucky you are to fantasize. Not everyone is capable of this wonderful, free sexual enhancer.

How about feeling guilty because you have sexual fantasies while you are having partner sex? The belief that one should be intimately connected to one’s partner during every moment of partner sex is an antiquated, destructive idea. Get rid of it, along with the belief that coming at the same time means anything at all. Sure, sex involves intimacy, connection, love, respect, blah blah blah. It also involves sweat and lust and transgession and slimy fluids and grunting and yelling and, in the end, an exquisite selfishness. Orgasm is often – not always – about transcending ego, body, and ordinary consciousness and …..it’s about pleasure.

Sharing that experience with your partner is the intimacy, helping your partner have this kind of joy and fun, that is the connection. Intimacy doesn’t mean staring into each other’s eyes all the time but it might mean being generous in giving your partner sexual pleasure…..and that can include fantasy. I’m all for tantric sex and two souls uniting but……it’s not required and it’s not for everyone. Believe me, I see more couples with joyless, perfunctory sex than I can count. A zesty, robust sex life, no matter how it’s attained, is a gift to a relationship. For most people in relationships, sometimes the earth moves and sometimes it’s a maintenance orgasm or a favor to your partner. And if fantasy helps – lucky you that you have it to use!

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