Sexual fantasies are like hemorrhoids: Most of us got ‘em, but few of us talk about ‘em. Welp, it’s time that stops now! Here, sex educators explain WTF a sexual fantasy is — plus, breakdown four of the most common sexual fantasies.
Sexual Fantasy, Defined
A sexual fantasy is any mental movie, thought-pattern, or noggin carbon copy that sexually stirs, or promotes pleasure in, the person having it. Having these erotic fantasies is completely normal, totally common, and healthy — in fact most pleasure-seekers have them throughout their life.
Not All Sexual Fantasies Are Real Life Fantasies
What a sexual fantasy is not is the same a sex bucket list item. Something on your sex bucket list is something you definitely want to try out IRL. This is not necessarily the case with sexual fantasies. “There are certain sexual fantasies that are super-sexy to imagine that we do not want to happen in real life,” Carol Queen PhD, sexologist with sex toy company Good Vibrations and author of Exhibitionism for the Shy.
So…. how do you determine which to erect in person and which to keep locked in your noggin? Start by asking you if you actually want to bring the fantasy to life! “There are some fantasies we just can’t see ourselves actually living out for whatever reason,” says Dr. Queen. However, there are others fantasies that we desperately do want to bring to life.
If you have a sexual fantasy that falls into the latter camp, in most instances “your next step is learn more about the safety around the acts, get more comfortable talking about sex and the specific fantasy, acquire any prerequisite fear or props, and find partner(s) who are into the fantasy, too,” she says.
You also need to noodle on whether it’s ethical, safe, and possible to live this fantasy out, adds Dr. Queen. “Is this sexual fantasy even possible under the laws of physics and lawlaws?,” she says. If not, you can’t bring this exact fantasy to life. However, you may choose to tweak the fantasy so that you can! For instance, if you’re a boss, your contract may not allow you to have sex with someone who reports to you. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t role-play doctor-nurse, teacher-students, or another similar power dynamic with someone you don’t work with.
How To Explore 4 Common Sexual Fantasies
Curious what other peeps are fantasizing about? You’ll eat up the findings from a recent 4,000+ person, 350 question survey. The main takeaway? As varied as our fantasies may be, they all fall more-or-less into a few main categories, including four of the below.
1. Group Sex
One of the most common fantasies of all time, “for most, the fantasy stems from the idea of getting to feel multiple hands on you, and having your hands on multiple people at once,” according to Dr. Queen. Beyond just letting you feel multiple people, group sex lets you hear, smell, and taste multiple people at once. *Fans self*.
“If you want to explore group sex, you first need to decide what kind of group sex you’re interested in,” she says. A threesome, after all, is a different experience than an orgy or kink play party. Next, figure out who (strangers, friends, acquaintances, other people in the kink community, etc) you want to explore the fantasy with. Plus, where.
In the event you want to explore with folks at a sex party, “you need to figure out where the sex part is happening, which can involve some research and networking,” says Dr. Queen. Ask the sex educators at your local sex shop, or TBH your most sex-positive friend, if they have any leads.
“Next, get comfortable talking about your sexual interests and boundaries if you’re not already,” she suggests. Activities like making a Yes-No-Maybe list, and sex-texting with a partner or FWB about your fantasy can help.
2. Rough Sex
Earning silver for “Most Popular Sexual Fantasies” is bondage, discipline, dominance, and submission .
Dr. Queen credits BDSM’s popularity in our fantasy brains to the fact that it’s still a little taboo, or at least in part. BDSM play also leans into the power dynamic already inherent in a relationship, and eroticizes it.
Whether your kinky fantasy involves whips and chain, verbal degradation, or another flavor or BDSM altogether, be sure to talk through the specifics of the scene ahead of time. “Negotiating a kink scene lets all involved express their comfort levels and boundaries, so everyone knows what’s allowed and not.”
Need more help planning a rough romp? Please don’t look to Fifty Shades for inspo here. Instead, hire a professional Dom(me) to show (and explain) the ropes… literally. “If you live in an area with a BDSM club, another option is to see if they host newbie info sessions,” she adds.
Specifically, a type of consensual non-monogamy known as cuckolding. Cuckolding is when a person takes pleasure in watching their partner have sex with another person, or knowing that their partner is having sex with another person, explains Howard.
“Cuckolding invokes humiliation and compersion (receiving pleasure in response to other’s pleasure), two things that are taboo and do not align with traditionally accepted monogamy,” she says. In other words, it’s taboo.
“The first step in exploring cuckolding for real is to do your research and possibly talk to a sex therapist or sex educator because once you ring that bell, you can't unring it,” she says. Be clear about the expectations and boundaries of the dynamic—including, the acts that are okay, how the encounter(s) will end, and what all parties need to feel involved and valued.
If you and/or your partner(s) are quite ready to take that next step, Howard suggests starting with a (traditional) threesome or internet sex with a professional sex worker instead.
That’s right, people don’t just crave rose petals and chocolate hearts on Valentine's Day.
And why do they crave it, exactly? In part, because it’s so rare, says Howard. “Authentic romantic gestures aren’t the social norm anymore, which makes it even more special.” But also because romantic gestures make people feel cared for and safe.
Her recommendation: Get more creative than RomCom classics and do things like washing the dishes (without being asked), buying then watering all the bouquet of roses, and taking the car to the carwash.
What To Do If The Fantasy Flops
Sadly, most sexual fantasies don’t live up to expectations when recreated, according to Goody Howard MSW, MPH, the resident sex educator for Royal, a vegan-friendly condom and lubricant company. “Part of preparing to bring the fantasy to life is preparing yourself for this possibility,” she says.
Her recommendation: Create a game plan—ideally with any partners involved in the scene—that will help you work through the emotional, mental, and physical consequences of fantasy failure.
Adequately researching the sex acts and aids involved in the fantasy will help you create this plan. Depending on the specifics of the fantasy, you may want to hire a sex educator, sex therapist, or sex worker to help you think through the logistics!
“When scheduling time to do the fantasy, be sure you live plenty of time afterwards for aftercare,” says Goody. “Talking through feelings of inadequacy or failure that popped up should be part of that aftercare.”