Think about your favorite sexual fantasy. I’m talking about the one that keeps you up at night, the one you keep going back to.
Have you lived out that fantasy? Or, do you at least have concrete plans to do so in the future?
If you answered no, then I have some bad news for you. There’s a very strong chance that you’re going to grow old and die without ever having explored that fantasy.
Does that sound depressing to you? Because it scares the hell out of me.
The thing is, when people make their first tentative attempts at discussing their sexual fantasies with their partners, they usually go about it all wrong. Consider the following scenario: Man asks Woman if she has any fantasies she’d like to explore. Woman does have sexual fantasies, because obviously she does — we all do — but Woman is worried that her fantasies are too dirty and Man will think there’s something wrong with her. Woman says, “No, not really. I love the sex we’ve been having.” The couple continues having the same gentle sex until it becomes spinal cord reflex – or they lose interest in sex altogether.
Or the scenario plays out where one partner says he or she would like to have a threesome. The other immediately says that they are totally against the idea, and so they never bring up another fantasy ever again.
There are two things going wrong here: first and foremost, the participants are being held back by their fear of being judged by their partner. And second, they don’t know how to broach the subject, or how to react when their partner brings up a fantasy that they don’t share.
I’m going to show you how to assuage your partner’s fear of judgment, along with a conversational formula you can follow to not only explore sexual fantasies you already have, but also uncover new fantasies that you hadn’t thought of before.
Removing the fear of judgment is step one in exploring sexual fantasy, and it starts long before you broach the subject with your partner. Before you have “the talk,” you need to create an environment in which the other person feels they can talk about the things they like without worrying about whether you approve.
The way you do this is simple: whenever someone tells you about something that turns them on, refrain from immediately chiming in with your own opinion. Try your best to follow this rule for all subjects, even non-sexual ones — whether your partner tells you they like anchovy pizza or they want to dress as a sheep during sex and have you dress as a farmer.
Or even if they like Nickelback. It’s crucial that they not feel judged.
There’s a more active way of demonstrating non-judgment: try telling a story about a friend who did something sexually wild, and tell it in a way that demonstrates approval of your friend’s sexual adventurousness. For instance, I like to tell women about a friend of mine who got kicked out of a football stadium for having sex with her boyfriend in the bathroom.
The key is the way I tell the story. It makes it abundantly clear that I think it’s an awesome story and they’re cool for having done it, that I’m not one of those guys who looks down on anyone for enjoying themselves.
The goal isn’t to talk your partner into something he or she doesn’t want to do; the goal is to create a “no-shame zone” where each person feels comfortable opening up about their individual fantasies, and the effects can be astounding. In my experience, this can often result in women – even those I’ve just met – opening up and telling me about their sexual fantasies without any prodding.
Once you’ve let the other person know that they won’t be judged, you can get to the good stuff: talking about your fantasies. There’s a right way and a wrong way to do this.
You need to slowly lead into the subject; the best way to do this is to begin by talking about something you’ve already done with your partner or something you’ve heard or read about. By connecting fantasies that you haven’t discussed before to things you or other people are already doing, you normalize them. Here are a few lines you can use to get the ball rolling:
You know how you like it when I pull your hair during sex? What’s something else like that we can try?
My friend Lisa told me the other day that she and her husband love role-playing during sex, and it got me thinking. Is there anything like that you’ve been curious to try?
Remember how hot it was when we had sex in the car that one time? We should try more stuff like that. I’d be curious to try having sex out in the woods.
Whew…you turned on yet? Me too.
Now that you’ve gotten the discussion started, you and your partner can share some of your fantasies, but remember: if your partner shares a fantasy that you aren’t interested in, don’t immediately shoot it down.
As we’ll see in the next two sections, even a fantasy that turns you off can provide you with useful information. Now take a deep breath because next it’s time to get into the touchy-feely stuff: how these fantasies make you feel.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: your fantasy isn’t what you really want. You don’t really want to roleplay or get tied up or have sex somewhere unusual (well, not exactly).
What you really want is the feeling that these fantasies give you. The activities themselves are merely a means to an end. So once you and your partner have discussed what you’d like to do, the next step is to figure out how you want to feel.
Hmm, roleplaying as a teacher and student could be fun. It just feels so naughty and transgressive. What is it that turns you on about that idea?
Bondage sounds interesting. How does the thought of tying me up make you feel?
You want me to slap you in the face? Hmm…what’s the appeal of that to you? What exactly is it that you like about that idea?
By deepening the discussion in this way, you uncover the desire behind the desire- the psychological benefits that you and your partner derive from the fantasy. In marketing, this is called selling the benefit rather than the product. Or, as one hardware company CEO famously put it: “We don’t sell drills. We sell holes.” (By the way, dibs on “We sell holes” as a company slogan.)
Once you’ve uncovered the feelings that you and your partner crave, you can move on to the next step: sexual brainstorming.
At this point, you and your partner have shared a few fantasies with each other and explained how those fantasies make you feel. The next thing you can do is use that knowledge to figure out what other activities might provide the same feeling.
I like the idea of doing something bad and trying to not get caught. Let’s think of some other ways to produce that feeling…how about sex in the car?
Being dominated and totally under your control could be really hot. What else could we do to explore dominance and submission?
I have to be honest, I don’t think I could slap you in the face. But I’m open to the idea of punishing you, or inflicting pain in some other way. Is there anything else I could do, like maybe spanking or biting?
If your partner has suggested a fantasy that you’re unwilling to try, this is the point where you break the news to them- but notice from that last example how you can still use the knowledge of that fantasy to find the desire that drives it, and come up with a related fantasy.
And now that you’ve generated a laundry list of sexual experiences that you and your partner would like to try, you can get to the really fun part: actually doing all those things.
Once you’ve enacted a fantasy with your partner, you can strengthen its appeal by continuing to verbally reinforce the feelings it provides. To do that, use phrases like the following, either during or after sex:
That was so hot. It felt really naughty doing that.
Mmmm, you like being dominated don’t you?
That was amazing. You loved being totally uninhibited didn’t you?
The rule here is simple: verbalize how the fantasy made you feel, or prompt your partner to do the same. Because our minds tend to internalize anything we say repeatedly, the feelings that the fantasy creates will grow stronger over time, heightening you and your partner’s enjoyment of it.
Let’s walk through a few example conversations in which couples begin to discuss their sexual fantasies, uncover the emotional desires driving those fantasies, and then come up with a few related fantasies. Note that this leaves out both stages where you demonstrate non-judgment and reinforce your fantasies, as those generally happen in separate discussions.
In our first example, let’s see how a nonjudgmental guy named Rick starts and guides a discussion of sexual fantasies with his partner Stephanie.
Rick: I was thinking…you really like it when I pull your hair during sex, right?
Stephanie: Yeah, I love it. Why?
Rick: Well I like doing it too, it got me thinking that we should find other things we like to do. What else have you been wanting to try?
Stephanie: Well…maybe if you bent me over the couch and we had sex that way?
Rick: I like that. What makes that idea so hot to you?
Stephanie: I think it’s the idea of being dominated.
Rick: Hmm. Is there anything else that would make you feel dominated?
Stephanie: Well, maybe if you tied my hands with your belt or told me exactly what to do to you.
This discussion follows a simple formula, and the ways it played out would probably be considered a best case scenario situation, but you get the point.
The bottom line is that your sexual fantasies don’t have to remain just fantasies locked away in your imagination. You can and should live them out. Create an atmosphere of openness and trust with your partner, follow the formula I’ve provided to start sharing and exploring your fantasies, and you’ll unlock a whole new world of sexual experiences you had previously only dreamed of.