“I no longer fancy her, it’s difficult to do.”
I heard two guys in front of me in a queue talking, the last line coming out loud in frustration. My ears perked up.
“Imagine she’s (name of a Bollywood actress). Close your eyes and go on.” The friend suggested helpfully.
Last month, one of my female clients asked me point blank if it’s okay to imagine someone else while having sex with her husband. Was she not being unfaithful? It got me thinking. She was feeling guilty about thinking about someone else. How common was sexual fantasy amongst people with regular sex partners? How many of them even acknowledged it? How many lived in guilt of emotional infidelity?
What is a sexual fantasy?
Whether it is a mental image or a series of thoughts that arouse your sexual desires, sexual fantasies are more common than you think. Sexual fantasy is a lustful daydream which you drive as you want. It’s erotic wish fulfilment. According to the Journal of Sex Research, 98% men and 80% women fantasise about having sex with someone else, other than the one they are involved with. And it’s one of the top ten fantasies for both men and women.
And what about fantasising about someone else while actually having sex with your partner? As per the Encyclopaedia of Human Relationships, it’s one of the forms of ‘extradyadic sex’.
How common is fantasising in bed?
A survey in the UK found 42% men and 46% women think of someone else during sex. Many fantasise about a close friend or co-worker. 15% of women said they did this regularly. The study also found that most people fantasise about what sex will be like with someone else before actually having sex. 60% of men and women have thought of former lovers. Only one third thought this was a form of infidelity. I imagine that while the figures may not change much for India, the guilt levels will be perceptibly higher.
Is it okay to have sexual fantasies while in a relationship?
Whether out of pleasure or boredom, the question if it’s okay or not is not one that I can answer from my textbook. I’m sure no one likes the idea of his/her partner thinking about someone else in the middle of the most intimate part of a relationship. During the initial phase it is natural to be very attracted to your partner and not think of anyone else. But after a certain period, when sex becomes routine, one might find oneself thinking of someone else. During the act many people are married and thinking of someone else.
When we’re talking about sex in a long-term monogamous relationship, it may be difficult to judge the right and wrong. It may be a random act or it may be often, especially when you find your partner not fitting the image you currently have in your mind. It may be a stranger or celebrity or neighbour or co-worker or friend or family member. Or even their spouse! Fantasy is free.
Let’s consider guilt.
Fantasising about someone else is okay. If once in a blue moon you find yourself thinking of some handsome guy or a beautiful girl, that’s no reason to drive a stake into your heart. But unless you’re role playing, there are some signs that should ring your alarm bells…
If you are fantasising about someone else more often than not…
If you are fantasising about someone specific, who’s not a stranger…
If you fantasise about someone even while not having sex…
Or if you fantasise about doing stuff other than sex with someone….
Not only these are signs of a disconnect between you and your partner, but also an indication of an attachment with the person you fantasise about. In that case fantasising about someone else is not okay. Especially if the answer is yes to any of the last three. That means that you will have to sit down with yourself or someone else to dissect the reasons behind this.
Related reading: What women want from men
One of the common reasons is that your relationship is going through a stale or difficult phase. Adding spark to your sexual life might liven things up a bit. You can sit and discuss with your partner if there’s anything you’d like to change.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore it if you find yourself doing this more often than not. And do not think it’s okay. Fantasising about someone else is not always okay especially if you are married and you are feeling guilty all the time. Because it’s a sign that something significant is missing from your sexual life. It works like a defence mechanism, an escape from the reality of your relationship, but not a healthy one. Your intimacy then becomes a bitter-pill experience that needs to be sugar coated with fantasy. You start feeling guilty about thinking about someone else and this complicates the situation more.