Enjoying the Power of Sexual Fantasy
Sexual Fantasy Table of Contents
What are sexual fantasies?
What do you think about when you’re making love, daydreaming about sex, or masturbating? Answering this question can help you identify your sexual fantasies.
Sexual fantasies are a universal phenomenon, experienced by nearly all men and women at some time in their lives. They’re as natural and normal as dreaming, and, like dreaming, can relate to our conscious and unconscious thoughts. When we are comfortable with them, our sexual fantasies can enliven our sexual experiences, up our arousal, and supercharge our enjoyment of sex. When we feel confused or distressed by our sexual fantasies, they can impair our ability to develop and sustain a healthy approach to sex.
Unfortunately, much of what we see and hear about sexual fantasies in the media oversimplifies and trivializes them. They are either discussed as harmless fluff, with the message being, “Don’t worry about them – just relax and enjoy,” or as serious indications of psychological disturbance or as genuine desires to engage in, often “unconventional, unhealthy or perverse” sexual activities.
Just doing a search for “sexual fantasy” on the Internet can reveal numerous articles that categorize sexual fantasies according to sexual activities, such as multi-partner sex, rough sex, spanking, bondage, romance, taboo sex, and novelty. The media also projects a preoccupation with sexual fantasies involving celebrities and fuels that approach with the results of contests for the top ten sexiest male, female, or transgender stars in the news – as if this is the key to understanding arousal and sexual fantasies.
But the world of sexual fantasy is so much more than thinking about unusual sexual activities or out-of-reach partners. Like with dreams, sexual fantasies come in infinite varieties. Sometimes they mean nothing, but other times they can tell us a lot about ourselves – not only our longings, but also our fears, our sensual proclivities, and our unresolved psychological and relationship issues.
A personal approach to exploring your sexual fantasies
Wendy developed a new way of describing sexual fantasies that can reveal so much more in terms of its significance and erotic secrets. It is detailed in Wendy’s book, Private Thoughts: Exploring the Power of Women’s Sexual Fantasies, coauthored with journalist Suzie Boss. Simply asking questions about your fantasies can give you a much better understanding of what they mean.
- How do you describe your fantasy?
- Is the fantasy scripted with characters and roles, or it is more sensually-focused?
- What role do you play in your fantasy?
- How do you feel about your fantasy?
You can find a summary of Wendy Maltz’s “Common Types of Sexual Fantasies” here.
Sexual fantasies can range from being entertaining and pleasant to being upsetting and troublesome. Some sexual fantasies free us to expand our sexual learning and enjoyment, while others keep us stuck in thoughts and behaviors that are limited, and sometimes harmful, to ourselves and our relationships.
To help evaluate whether a sexual fantasy is creating problems for you, you can find a simple checklist here.
The more you know about sexual fantasies, the more options you have about the types you entertain, and the kinds of new fantasies you want to create. Read Wendy’s article “Creating New Sexual Fantasies” here.
Numerous techniques now exist for helping people heal unwanted fantasies and discuss related issues with a partner. You can find detailed information on healing fantasies in Private Thoughts, and a summary of the process in her article, “Healing Unwanted Sexual Fantasies” here.
The many functions of sexual fantasy
Based on the clinical work and extensive research Wendy has done for her workshops and writings on sexual fantasy, she discovered that sexual fantasies have many functions – more so than are commonly discussed. Fantasies can play an important function at different times during sexual response by stirring up desire, enhancing arousal or facilitating orgasm. Sexual fantasies can amplify real-life sexual experiences, substitute for sexual stimulation a person may not be receiving in reality, or satisfy curiosity.
In addition, sexual fantasies often perform functions that go well beyond sex. For some people, fantasies soothe anxieties that would otherwise prevent or limit sexual pleasure. Fantasies can help people to adapt to changes or challenges, enhance self-esteem, or contain the pain of past sexual traumas or emotional conflicts. Even sexual fantasies that a person finds unpleasant or disturbing to experience may be performing a useful function.
Each of us creates our own sexual fantasies for a reason. Sexual fantasies are shaped in lasting and powerful ways by our life experiences, and that includes by the sexual media to which we are exposed. Our sexual fantasies are as much a part of us as our dreams are. And just as our dreams sometimes puzzle us, we may not always consciously realize why we invent the fantasies that we do. Meaning can be symbolic and take some effort to discern. It’s important to proceed in investigating our fantasies with curiosity, as well as self-compassion.
Exploring and understanding our sexual fantasy life can be a key to developing a healthier sex life and deeply rewarding sexual relationships.
Featured sexual fantasy resources
Wendy has researched and counseled clients on sexual fantasies for decades and wants to share her work with you here. To make it easy for you to begin to learn more, you may want to explore the sample of resources below. For a deeper understanding of sexual fantasies, more readings are listed – and just a click away – in the “Sexual Fantasy Library.”