How to Talk to your Lover about Fantasies
Posted on November 12 2020
How to Talk to your Lover about Fantasies
By Dr Cat Meyer, PsyD LMFT
Perhaps it was instigated by seeing your cute co-worker down the hall, but all of a sudden you find that you can’t concentrate on your emails as a story begins to play out in your mind…
He comes into your office looking upset about something. When you ask him the matter, he looks up and holds your gaze with those bright blue eyes. You feel your body flutter with excitement as he starts walking towards you, still holding your attention, penetrating your defenses. As the gap between the two of you grow smaller and smaller, you find it impossible to hold composure. He tells you how he can’t stop thinking about you as his hand wraps the back of your head, drawing you into a passionate kiss. His hands glide up the shape of your body and the two of you are lost in the exhilarating chemicals of the moment exchanged.
As you allow this mental story to play out for a time, notice how your body responds. Or if these particular characters aren’t your go-to turn ons, perhaps you replaced the “he” with a “she” or “they” or maybe you changed the environment from an “office” to a “coffee shop”. Whatever contextual pieces you needed to change for yourself to become personally arousing, recognize that even though it wasn’t a real-life situation, the body still had a response.
Fantasy is the mental creation of something that is not here, yet it has a powerful effect of igniting the body’s perceptions of sensations as if it were happening. Like the effect of when we are visualizing being at the beach and we can smell the salt in the air or feel the sand between our toes--we call this “phantom senses”. The sources of sensation are not physically present, yet the mind activates the bodily’s perception as if they are. This is powerful to note, especially when we consider how often sexual desire may not occur until the body is already starting to be aroused. The engagement of fantasy can be a powerful tool to illicit arousal and desire, especially if we find that we struggle with low levels of desire for sex, or a multitude of contextual factors that are inhibiting us from wanting sex. When we make fantasy a regular practice for ourselves, not only can we discover a lot about our internal sex life, but we are also nourishing our eroticism so it becomes easier to access in times we want to be available for sex.
The challenge is that many of us may see our fantasies as something to be guilty of, not normal, a waste of time, not “enlightened”, or too vulnerable to share out loud. As a result, we may not speak about them or may even not allow ourselves to engage in them, all of which could cap our sexual and pleasure potential.
Am I Normal?
One of the first questions I get asked from people + clients is...am I normal? Let's start with acknowledging that word 'normal'. Normal is term used in research to designate the center of a bell curve in a surveyed population. While it can be helpful in designating common human trends, we can create a narrative of shame when we don't fit on this bell curve of commonality.
Now, let me remind you that shame has no place in our sex lives. So as we move forward in discussing what's been reported to be common fantasies experienced, let's remember that ultimately this is about you learning what works for you in your own erotic map + desire. What we play out in the safety of our minds can be anything! This does not necessarily mean that we want to physically reenact it, and sometimes that would not be a good idea if it is illegal or goes against someone's consent. But to allow our minds to engage in a vision that supports our own desire + turn on is not only pleasurable + fun but it's also healthy for sex lives + relationships!
Our brains have an incredible ability to recall associations we have made to particular stimuli in the past, or even create images that aren’t physically present. Fantasy aids us in doing the same and is an important player in our sexual arousal. Anytime we even see an item that generates an image of progression into sexual activity or our brain associates with turn on, we are engaging in fantasy. While research is still attempting to understand what determines our unique fantasies and why, some of the theories point to the theory that specific actions, events, or objects as the experience of high states of physical arousal in the body may be conditioning the mind to make erotic associations. There has also been beliefs that we eroticize things that we would otherwise have difficulty in mentally processing or accepting. Whatever the real reasons, fantasies have a natural place in our lives.
While it's reported that the majority of humans fantasize, there are many people who experience guilt around having them. For some, the reasons are related to religious beliefs that may give the message that fantasies or certain types of fantasies are immoral. For others, the guilt may arise because they are engaging in fantasy while they make love with their partner. For still others where is guilt that their fantasy is reflective of a past trauma done to them or someone else. And then there are many who feel guilt because their fantasies do not match their everyday values, for example: a feminist enjoys fantasies of being dominated by a group of men or a CEO of a company enjoys masochistic fantasies to counter the pressures of being in power during his everyday life. What we know about guilt and shame is that it impedes our sexual pleasure potential by causing us to reject + keep hidden parts of us that contribute to good feelings.
Feels good...but this is bad.
This can do one of two things, increase the desire for the thing, building stronger under the surface (forbidden), or manifests in unconscious, unhealthy, outward behaviors. So if it's safe and consensual, can we allow ourselves to dream?
Sharing with your lover
Sharing our fantasies with our partner can be a powerful bonding experience as you both explore and discover the erotic landscape of this person(s) you are with. It can contribute to better communication around sex needs/desires, shared excitement, and an opportunity to learn about who he/she/we are as sexual beings. For others, sharing their fantasies can lead to shame, guilt, and judgement. If we feel our partner is going to bail, be grossed out, or not be honest back, then we are less likely to open up. Maybe we did once with another partner, and their response wasn't empathetic. These scenarios can imprint on our mind that it's not safe to share or that something is wrong with us. There is a major difference between play that's engaged between two consenting, pleasure-seeking adults and assault + abuse. For most of us, sexual fantasy is a way for us to expand our erotic mind, get creative, and feel connected with another person(s).
Creating a safe space: Trust, Safety, Presence
It’s brave to share + receive fantasies with our lover. We are talking about something that is not only personal to us, but a part of our internal erotic map. It's not so much that we can eradicate our turn-ons. This is something that's been conditioned into our system of sexual associations from ages ago.
Sometimes it can be hard to remove our own ego-driven desire to be the sole source and fulfillment of all things for our partner, and yet...not only is this unrealistic, it puts A LOT of pressure on you to be what you may just not be authentically.
So as a partner who wants to see their lover feel supported, heard, and safe in their pleasure, we want to think about creating the space for them to do so. Specifically, be curious, non-judgmental, present, and kind. We don't have to like what they like, nor should we put pressure on ourselves to do so. AND we can be kind. Ultimately, fantasies are for US and don't have to be shared if we don't want to or don't feel it would be of benefit.
Sometimes as a partner receiving the share we can fear the intention of it...
Expressing fantasies does NOT necessarily mean we or our partner want to bring them to reality. Sometimes it can actually ruin the fun of the fantasy, because in fantasy everything is perfect. In real life, we are considering real human hearts, real potential consequences, real nerves, real financial investments--all of which can detract from the responsibility-free experience of a fantasy.
This may be a good prelude to start the conversation. That way our partner can rest at ease and be present to the share. We can even approach the conversation with expressing the intention of connection and discovery of our erotic selves.
I recommend starting the talk by acknowledging appreciations we have towards our partner regarding our sex with them. This way, they feel seen + can put down their defenses for what you have to say as a potential threat to themselves or the relationship.
- "One thing I really appreciate about you is . . . . ."
- "One thing I really appreciate about sex with you is. . . . ."
- “One way I feel sexually desired by you is…”
- "One thing I really like and want more if is. . . . ."
- "One thing I would like to try is. . . . ."
If we're feeling nervous, speak to this and ask for their support. Remind them that they don't have to enjoy it, themselves. This is just something we've discovered to be a part of our erotic map. Now, it is possible that there is a beautiful shared moment between, and it's possible that there is judgement + projection. No one is obliged to like our fantasy. If they feel uneasy, at risk, unsafe, unsure, that's their process and it's ok to have. It's not having to do with us and our worth as humans. We can then decide to keep the fantasy to our own solo time.
If this fantasy is something we'd like to bring to life, we can start slowly and take our time with the progression. There is no rush when it comes to pleasure. Only the presence to the enjoyment of it in every moment of the unfolding. We have time + it can be really fun to elongate the discovery rather than rush through them all immediately.
Sharing fantasies can be a fun narrative during sex to heighten the experience. During a love-making session with my partner, he whispered a sexy threesome scene in my ear starring a woman we had met earlier in the evening. It got us both so hot + turned on that we completely lost ourselves + track of time for hours.
Fantasies can be talked about outside of sexual play as a discovery conversation. 'What turns each of us on?' 'What have we always been fascinated with?'
For a good storyline
The use of erotic materials like movies, books, poetry, or art can also be helpful in connecting with your sexual fantasies or describing them to your partner.
Some of my favorite inspiration has come from Erotic Poetry. Here are some of my favorites:
- Erotically Wasted Podcast + Instagram
- Delta of Venus by Anais Nin
- milk and honey by Rupi Kaur
- Wild Open by Rachel Pringle
- Intimate Kisses by Wendy Maltz
- Erotic Poems by E.E. Cummings
- Leave Her Wild by Atticus
- Erika Lust is a feminist director of erotica who has taken the fantasies of women and turned them into short videos in the Xconfessions. These aren't your typical pornography, but rather EXQUISITE + artistically created, female pleasure-focused pieces.
By adding fantasy to our regular self-care routine, we are nourishing our eroticism so it can flourish. Sex is your birthright and you deserve to have it be as juicy as your imagination can hold you. Lean into the edge of your comfort zone, because on the other side of that is transformation and the even more expanded, sexy, version of yourself.