Fantasy is the spice of life. Creating narratives, both sexy and non-sexy, is human nature. We think about how we’re going to stand up to our boss while we’re in the shower, our dream engagement, and even about being bent over a couch and spanked.
So what exactly does the content of said fantasies, especially regarding sexual desire, all mean?
Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., author of Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life, surveyed over 4,000 people and discovered that we actually tend to fantasize about our partners more than anyone else: “Nine out of 10 participants said they had fantasized about a current romantic partner before and, further, among those who were in relationships, nearly two-thirds said they fantasized about their current partners often. By contrast, fewer than one in 10 participants in relationships said they fantasize frequently about Hollywood celebrities, porn stars, politicians, or other famous people.”
It’s not that hard to believe that people think about their partner a lot. This is a person you love, feel comfortable with, and have likely done some pretty dirty, hot things with after all.
Most people just want to sleep with their partner
...which comes to our next point. Beyond the elaborate sexual fantasies that we sometimes like to concoct in our heads, for the most part, we stick with what we know best.
When you love someone and are turned on by them, you think about them in a sexual way. That kind of comes along with the territory once you’re married or committed long-term to someone.
What we forget to do is to cut back from all the sensationalized editorial that appears in the media. It's not uncommon to see countless pieces about fantasizing and how thinking about celebrities, ex-partners, or the random girl from the coffee shop when we get off is normal.
And it is!
It seems pretty clear that making up an elaborate fantasy involving Taylor Swift and a rabbit vibrator requires more brainpower than imagining the person you’re married to holding that same rabbit vibrator.
So, is it normal to think about other people? Yes. Is it easier, and likely more comforting, to think about the person you have sex with on a regular basis? Also yes.
Is your relationship in trouble if you fantasize about other people?
Contrary to popular belief, it’s perfectly normal and healthy to have sexual fantasies outside of your current relationship. Through his research, Lehmiller found that those who were fantasizing about other people, and excluded their partners entirely from sexual fantasy, actually might be in the rockiest relationships.
It’s not to say that there's anything wrong with picturing Idris Elba going down on you on a beach in Tahiti, but if he’s the only person you’re thinking about during partnered or solo sex, you might want to think about why that might be. Is there a particular reason your partner doesn’t make a single cameo when you’re having sexual thoughts? If they are never the source of your erotic thoughts, you might have some deep soul-searching to do.
What does this all mean for you?
What this really is, is a reality check—a glimpse into everyday, average American couples who like to have sex with each other. While the media hypes up anything that deviates outside of conventional norms, it's the diversity of human sexual desire, as described by Lehmiller, that helps to strengthen relationships in the long run.
What this research and data indicate is that we like to have sex with our partners and we like to think about having sex with our partners when we’re not having sex with our partners. While sexual fantasy can (and does) include more than just our current sexual partners, it most often won’t.