On a recent date, I agreed to meet the man I was seeing at a local bar at an unspecified time. I mingled in the crowd with friends until he arrived, finding me right away. We adjourned to the last two empty barstools, sitting close, flirting. Over drinks, I mentioned that I owned a switchblade. A real one. He moved very close, electrically close, and asked if I had it with me. I said no. “Next time, pack it.”
The next time would be at my house. I was nervous. A fantasy I had run like a movie when I masturbated was very likely to come true — taking control of a man, menacing him with a knife, and making him do what I wanted sexually. Even though I’m a professional sex educator, have a best selling anthology about sexual fantasies, and this man was clearly willing to be a co-conspirator in pleasure seeking, many questions still remained about how I might pull this off. Would he want to do the things in my fantasies? Were there details in his fantasy scenario that I should know about? And, most importantly, what would I do if I could do anything I wanted? Here was a chance to make our fantasies reality — and a chance to open up a whole realm of sexual possibilities for us to explore: the world of fantasy play.
Sexual fantasy is everyone’s own private, personal sex toy. A good fantasy played out in my head can take me to dizzying heights of arousal, enhance a private moment of masturbation or illuminate an experience with a partner. I can have a scenario progressing in my head when I’m getting head, act out my impulses with a companion, or tell my fantasies to my lover on the phone. But before we turn our fantasies into the unforgettable encounters we wish them to be, we first have to define what they are.
Sexual fantasy is the cornerstone of our individual sexual expression. An erotic fantasy is any thought, idea, image, or scenario that is sexually interesting to you. It doesn’t necessarily have to turn you on, or it can be the one thing that gets your blood boiling. And if you think you don’t fantasize, think again. Fantasies can emerge from your erotic imagination in countless different forms, from fragmented to detailed. We may see famous people that are attractive and imagine that our lives overlap. We can revisit memories of times we have enjoyed, using them to make us feel good in the present. Often, we envision scenarios that have never happened and some that aren’t even possible.
Sometimes we tell others what we have actually done, fantasized about, or want to do, making a fantasy for them — or us — come true. Whatever shape your fantasies take, exploring them can open doors to understanding your arousal, and allow you to tap into new channels of erotic expression — channels that work for you.
For some people, their fantasies aren’t an area they care to explore. Because they come from our imagination, and therefore are connected with our subconscious, fantasies can be startling, unpredictable, and sometimes even shocking. When we become aroused it’s easy to surrender ourselves to whatever movie we’re running in our heads, and push it in the direction that gets us closer to orgasm — but sometimes afterward what got us off was beyond what we deem acceptable in our daily lives. It’s easy to feel guilty after a fantasy has gone somewhere we find unpleasant or offensive. Admitting this guilt can make us feel shame about sex, our desires, or even who we are. Especially if the fantasy was powerful and included something that in real life we would never do, like degrade ourselves or betray a loved one. When fantasies move toward the arenas of everyday life (as they are bound to do), they can manifest in ways that make us uncomfortable.
Sometimes it’s not the content of the fantasies that can trigger guilt, but the time and/or place that they occur. Fantasies can happen at inconvenient times, such as at work or on the bus, placing us in a sexually charged situation in our heads while the world goes on around us. This may feel inappropriate or “dirty.” Or they can happen during sex with a partner. Your partner is fully present, yet unaware that you are imagining things to get yourself off. The illusion is created that somehow we’ve betrayed them. It’s important to understand the role of sexual fantasy in sex before beating yourself up about what, how, with whom, or when you fantasize.
We all know that fantasy is not reality. But when we masturbate and imagine troubling things, people, or situations, our human curiosity kicks in and we ask ourselves if these things are what we really want. For some people this is a horrifying thought. It’s important to keep in mind that fantasies don’t necessarily bear any relationship to reality. The realm of fantasy is the sanctuary in your mind where you are free to enjoy things that you would never do in real life. And fantasy is not only where we can court the forbidden, but it is also a powerful sex toy that can be used for arousal, heightening pleasure, and achieving climax.
Think about your fantasies for a moment, whether they are vivid, vague, seemingly mundane, or a little scary. Don’t try to look deeply into their meanings, just pick out their main themes. What you’re doing is isolating what makes them a peak erotic experience for you. Keep your mind open, and don’t pass judgment on yourself — this isn’t about “good” and “bad,” it’s about understanding what turns you on. Note what stands out, and the important differences between what is possible in fantasy and what is possible in reality. Here are some things to look for:
Firsts (first time with a sexual act such as penetration, oral sex, anal sex)
Loss of control (someone has sexual power over you, “makes” you do things)
Having control (exerting sexual power, having people “service” you)
Taboo (with a forbidden person like clergy or family, an animal, same gender, inappropriate urges or timing, rape)
Multiple partners (a gang-bang, football team, sex party, orgy, threesome)
Casual or anonymous partners (strangers, the waitress, UPS guy)
Your current or past partner (a memory of a real-life event, imagining a peak experience you hope to do together, or imagining your partner behaving differently than usual such as being dominant or submissive)
Public spaces (the office, movie theater, park, dressing room)
Being “used” (a slave, a fuck toy, getting passed around)
Role play (you and/or your partner is an icon: a cop, schoolgirl, hooker, doctor, nurse, dog, dog owner)
Romance (dreamy settings: being seduced by a rock star or actor, making love tenderly to the girl at the office)
Objectification/fetish (breasts, butts, dicks, mouths, panties, shoes)
Now you’re getting an idea of your main fantasy components. Think about what your favorite themes are, or try on new ideas that appeal to you. Feel comfortable with tapping into what these fantasies trigger when you want to become aroused. Remember that if you fantasize about something shocking, like being forced to perform sex, it doesn’t mean that you want it to happen or that you are a bad person. But by identifying it in the realm of your fantasies you can find a safe space where imagination fuels desire. By learning how to turn yourself on with fantasy you can do extraordinary things, like make yourself really aroused and teach yourself a new masturbation technique. Or you can fantasize while your partner goes down on you, and learn to orgasm with the combination of their stimulation and your fantasy. Or if you have a partner, and have established trust and sexual communication, you can share your fantasies — you can even make some of them come true.
Think your fantasies through before you attempt to make them come true, and make sure that whatever you plan on doing is going to be safe, both physically and emotionally. Research your fantasy: read a book of short stories that include fantasy scenarios similar to yours for ideas. Read about the realities of your fantasies in guidebooks or look on web sites in The Sex Education Web Circle. Rehearse the fantasy in your head and think about how it could go awry, or how it could be perfect. Be realistic about your goals and the realities within the context of your fantasy and don’t place expectations on your partner or the scenario that might be unrealistic. And make absolutely sure no one becomes involved without your consent, even by accident (particularly in public or semi-public scenes).
You should always talk to your lover about your fantasies before attempting to make them a reality. This can be scary, especially when you don’t know how they might respond. Just remember that whenever sex happens, in any context, someone always has to be the one to say, “I want to.” When you want to talk to them about your fantasy, go over what you want to say to them in your head, and imagine possible reactions and scenarios. This will help you feel less nervous, and give you some ideas about handling the discussion. Think about what context feels right for you to bring it up: cuddling after sex, in a neutral place like the park, or by introducing the subject through an outside source.
Outside sources can be movies that contain part or all of your fantasy, erotic books that you can give them or read passages aloud, showing them a web site, or introducing the topic simply by relating something you saw or heard. Be prepared for your lover to react in any number of ways — they could be surprised, aroused, shocked, relieved, or upset. Some partners might feel betrayed, thinking that you have been keeping a secret from them — reassure them that you haven’t been hiding anything from them, and that your fantasy unconditionally includes them. You might even discover that your lover wants nothing more than to make your fantasies come true.
Further reading (and listening) online:
In a multi-format e-book — readable on everything from your computer or any web browser to the Palm OS or your iPod/iPhone: check out Erotic Role Play – A Guide For Couples. There’s also an audio book version here at Digita Publications.
There’s even more in my other (print and Kindle) book, The Ultimate Guide to Sexual Fantasy. Here’s the book sales’ summary:
“With wit and enthusiasm, sex educator Violet Blue encourages couples to talk about and explore fantasies together to deepen erotic intimacy. She takes readers on a tour of the wide world of sexual fantasies, offering expert advice for talking dirty to a partner, playing with toys, role-play, making homemade porn, and exploring fetishes, sex scenes, phone sex, sex games, public sex, sex parties, orgies, sex with strangers, S/M and much more. Packed with tons of games, resources, and lots of fun, The Ultimate Guide to Sexual Fantasy is the perfect book for daring readers who want to safely turn their sexual fantasies into reality.”