Fantasy is the spice of life (not to be corny, but it really is). Our brains are extremely complex. Creating narratives, both sexy and non-sexy, are a part of being human. We think about how we’re going to stand up to our boss while we’re in the shower, we imagine our dream engagement, and we think about being bent over a couch and spanked.
So, what about the content of said fantasies, especially the sexual? What does it all mean?
Justin Lehmiller, PhD is a Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute and author of the blog Sex and Psychology found through researching for his new book, Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life, that we actually tend to fantasize about our partners more than anyone else.
Lehmiller surveyed over 4,000 people and notes that: “Nine out of ten 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 ten participants in relationships said they fantasize frequently about Hollywood celebrities, porn stars, politicians, or other famous people.”
Before you go yelling at your partner for watching porn or psyching yourself out because your favorite fantasy this week involved Taylor Kinney and a fireman’s pole, here is what the data actually shows: People like to think about their partner a lot. It’s not that hard to believe. This is a person you love, feel comfortable with, and have likely done some pretty dirty, nasty, hot things with.
It’s like the saying authors use when giving advice: Write what you know. We like to pick from what we know when creating sexual scenarios, too.
Most people just want to sleep with their partner
We see many, many 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!
What we forget to do is to cut back from all the sensationalized editorial and remember that at the end of the day, we stick with what we know for the most part.
It seems pretty clear that making up an elaborate fantasy involving Taylor Swift and a rabbit vibrator takes more brain power than imagining the person you’re married to holding that same rabbit vibrator. Hey, you might even use actual scenes from your IRL sex life for orgasm-inducing material. You’re not boring or lame, you’re simply using your own stuff. As Paris would say: That’s hot.
When you love someone and are turned on by them, you think about them in a sexual way. That kind of comes with the territory when you’re married or committed long-term to someone.
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?
It’s perfectly normal and healthy to have sexual fantasies outside of your current relationship. What’s interesting is that through Lehmiller research he found that those who were fantasizing about other people, and excluded their partners entirely from sexual fantasy might be the in rockiest of relationships.
It’s not to say that there is 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?
You don’t need to freak out if you have scenes in your mind when you’re getting off that don’t involve your spouse, but it’s important to keep tabs on every aspect of your relationship, including fantasy. If they are never the source of your erotic thoughts, you might want to think on it a bit.
What does this all mean for you?
What this really is is a reality check, a look into everyday, average American couples who like to have sex with each other. The media hypes up anything that deviates outside of conventional norms, thus giving attention to the unusual aspects of sexuality, and often forgetting to mention the bigger picture.
As a media outlet, we recognize that this can happen here from time to time as well! We want to read about things we find exciting and new. It just so happens that while sexual fantasy can (and does) include more than just our current sexual partners, it most often won’t.
What this research and data shows 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. It all sounds pretty standard.