We’re all thinking about pleasure in different ways right now: Sex is the last thing on some of our minds because we now have so many other competing priorities. Plus, our fantasies may revolve around the plans we’d made before the coronavirus turned our worlds upside down; instead of our vacations, museum visits, exquisite dining, and other forms of pleasure, we might find ourselves longing for sexual connection, orgasms not crafted by our own hands, and the kind of sex we’ve been waiting our entire lives to experience. For some of us there are—as Celeste Ng dubbed it in her 2017 novel—little fires everywhere, including on our mouths, in the smalls of our backs, and on the skin between our thighs. It can almost feel as if we’re being pushed into a burning furnace.
Sometimes our fantasies about the sex we desire are no different from the sex we’ve already had, and sometimes they include scenes we’d dare not speak out loud—let alone act out—because we’ve been led to believe that they’re slutty, disgusting, abnormal, and unhealthy. Maybe you’re fantasizing about a threesome with unlimited touching of your favorite spots, heavy and hard thrusting, and so much pleasure that you begin feeling faint. Or maybe you’re dreaming about being dominant—a bad bitch ordering the person groveling at your feet to kiss, touch, and sex you, and preparing to punish them if those orders aren’t fulfilled to your exact liking. Do you fantasize about being spanked until your ass is bruised and blue, tied up in ways that rival a contortionist, or choked until you come? Do you want to watch other couples have sex or be watched as you show off all the tricks and licks that make you the ultimate lover? These are common fantasies that aren’t even a tenth of how deep, hot, and sometimes dark sexual fantasies can be.
Dr. Uchenna Ossai, a pelvic health physical therapist, sexuality counselor, and professor at the University of Texas at Austin’s Dell Medical School, wants all of us to understand—without question—that it’s normal to have sexual fantasies and we shouldn’t feel ashamed about them. Ossai says we only have shame about our sexual thoughts or desires because we don’t openly discuss how natural and human they are. “There are many themes and types of fantasies that people have,” Ossai says. “There is no preferred or appropriate fantasy. It’s so easy to judge our fantasies for being ‘too kinky’ or ‘not kinky enough’ because of poor understanding of pleasure and fantasy as well as cultural shame.” Women in particular are often too afraid to even speak about our sexual fantasies because we fear that we’ll be judged by our friends and lovers. We’ve been conditioned since birth to believe that women should be more interested in giving pleasure than receiving it, and that the pleasure we desire should be designed and executed by our partners (especially those of us in hetero relationships or those who are partnered with masculine-presenting folks).
Part of that can be attributed to the fact that we’re not taught how to talk about sex. “Honestly, sex education is essential to challenging socialization and scripts that foster shame in sexual fantasies,” Ossie says. “We have to be willing to have more conversations about sex that move beyond sex skill acquisition and explore discussing sexual fantasies in a normal context. When those conversations happen, people are given exposure and are more likely to respond from a place of curiosity versus fear of the unknown.” The time is ripe for our ideas about our sexual fantasies to shift. We should be comfortable enough to discuss our fantasies and kink with those we share our bodies with, and we should side-eye any lover who seeks to make us feel less-than because of how we want to be pleased.
A Closed Mouth Won’t Get Fed
When it comes to introducing our sexual fantasies to our partners, it’s important to remember that we can’t request what we won’t communicate. Opening up about our sexual fantasies is often the most difficult part of introducing them in the bedroom. So research your fantasy before sharing the idea with a partner. Become knowledgeable enough to fully describe the fantasy to someone else, answer questions, and figure out what the experience may be like for you, especially if you’ll be trying it for the first time.
Be Thoughtful About Boundaries
Not every sexual fantasy has to be acted out, but we should be prepared for how our partner may react and start thinking about the boundaries we can set around those fantasies. Are you an exhibitionist who would like to experience public sex, but you don’t want to do so in a crowd? Communicate that. If you want to invite another person (or people) into your coupled sex, consider if your lover will be interested in sharing you in that way and if the fantasy could alter the relationship. Would you be okay with watching your partner experience pleasure with a third person? I’ve heard stories about someone setting up a threesome or an orgy and then flying into a jealous rage as soon as their partner seemed to be enjoying sex with other people. There’s no need to overthink our fantasies, but we should make sure we’re considering our sexual, mental, and emotional well-being before, during, and after the fantasy.
It’s normal to have sexual fantasies and we shouldn’t feel ashamed about them.
Don’t Bury Your Desires
Ossai has a few tips for those who think their partner will make them uncomfortable about acting out a sexual fantasy or will judge them for having one: Don’t count them out and don’t bury your desires. “Depending on how your partner likes to be communicated with, I would start small and discuss what turns you on about your fantasies, then gradually incorporate your partner in engaging your fantasy with you [if you choose],” Ossai says. You might be pleasantly surprised by how much it turns your partner on to know what turns you on.” Recall the basics of descriptive writing from high school or college: Speak details that involve all the senses—sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound. If you’re comfortable, share an actual video that resembles your sex fantasy.
For those with partners who are still opposed to hearing about your sexual fantasies and/or somehow makes them feel ashamed or unwanted as a result of sharing them, Ossai encourages them to calmly challenge their partner to explore why they are reacting that way. “Ask why communicating your sexual fantasy or sexual desire made them shut down or reject what you’re saying,” she says. “Realize that your fantasy is not being offered up for them to judge you. You’re choosing to share this fantasy with them because you want them to be a part of it, but it’s not a requirement.” And if you continue to feel sexually stifled, or that your sexual desires and fantasies aren’t being prioritized by your partner, consider sex therapy. There are many therapists who specialize in helping couples work their way through all kinds of challenges they might be having around sex. Check your network. Make an appointment. Don’t give up on what may be the best sex of your life.
Let us know how you’ve introduced and explored fantasies in your relationship. Hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @jonubian. For more specific advice about exploring sexual fantasies, send questions to email@example.com. Maybe I’ll answer your questions in a column!
Follow Dr. Uchenna “UC” Ossai for more information about how to achieve a more fulfilling sex life. She offers great advice on Instagram (@youseelogic) through a series titled “Bourbon Talez.”