Vasiliy Koval/Shutterstock
Source: Vasiliy Koval/Shutterstock

An acquaintance who knows I do sex counseling recently asked me about a confounding incident: For years, he had a vivid fantasy of coming home from work to find his wife waiting for him wearing nothing but high heels and a smile—and eagerly inviting him to play. He mentioned it to her offhandedly, and they joked about it. But after a few years of bantering, she said that if he really wanted that, she was game. Delighted, he said, “Surprise me.”

Not long after, she lived out his fantasy—and he got the surprise of his life, because, strange as this may sound, he felt completely turned off. His question was: Why? He had dreamed of this fantasy for years. In his mind, it felt so exciting, so real. He wanted it so much. So when it finally became a reality, how could he feel uninterested?

Simple.

Sexual fantasies exist in their own psychological realm—and sometimes they’re better left there.

The Erotic Imagination

The erotic imagination is a wonderful gift. Like dreaming, however, we don’t control it—and quite often, we don’t really want those fantasies to come true. Plenty of men fantasize about being the hero and rescuing a gorgeous girl from a burning high-rise—without the slightest wish actually to be trapped in a fire on the 28th floor. Sexual fantasies, however, can feel so compelling that we may fool ourselves into believing that we really want them.

But let's say you would really like your fantasies to come true. Should couples actually share their fantasies? Opinions differ, and there’s no right or wrong answer, beyond what works for the people actually involved. If sharing erotic fantasies works for you, then reveal them. But I would urge caution, because the costs may trump the benefits.

Pros and Cons

Sharing fantasies offers two advantages: First, if you really want the fantasy to come true, how can that happen if you don’t declare it? (As my friend’s tale shows, however, the erotic imagination can trick you. You may believe that you want to turn a fantasy into reality, but when that happens, you might realize that you’ve been fooling yourself.)

The other advantage of fantasy sharing is honesty: Many people believe that couples in committed relationships should be totally honest with each other. If you embrace this value, then it follows that couples should honestly reveal their fantasies.

But total honesty means...no surprise parties, no playing along with things you’d rather not do, like Thanksgiving with in-laws you dislike, and no little fibs that spare the other’s feelings. Sometimes kindness and cooperation are more important than honesty. I’m not saying that lovers should never share erotic fantasies, but I urge caution.

And here is the main disadvantage of revealing fantasies: Your lover might think you’re weird, perverted, or worse. ("You want what? How could I be with someone who wants that?")

Are you ready to take the risk?

During more than 40 years as a sex educator and counselor, I’ve informally polled many friends, acquaintances, and sex therapists. When it comes to sharing erotic fantasies, the majority errs on the side of caution, and they don’t share their deepest fantasies for fear of what their partner might think.

If You Decide to Share…

Here are my suggestions:

  • Start small. Instead of, “I’d love to open the door and find you naked,” ask if she’d be willing to open the door clothed but braless. (See my previous post, "You Want WHAT? How to Ask for New Sexual Moves.")
  • Add on slowly. If a partner is agreeable to that initial suggestion, down the road, you might ask for more, eventually leading to your full fantasy.
  • Elaborate on moves already in your sexual repertoire. If you fantasize a partner welcoming a vibrator into sex, you might request it as an extension of the music and scented candles the two of you already enjoy. (“It is just another enhancement…")
  • Take turns orchestrating little erotic surprises. Often, intense fantasies signal not so much a desire for that specific scenario, but a wish for some novelty to spice up a boring sexual routine. Play with lubricant, foot massage or a blindfold in bed.
  • Try part of an erotic fantasy; it may satisfy you. If not, over time you might suggest elaborating on it.

Finally, what if you have intense fantasies that delve into fringe sexuality—a threesome, a group sex party, or BDSM? Tread carefully. You might get some of what you dream of—or you might jeopardize your relationship. I support lovers getting what they want sexually, but sometimes erotic fantasies are best left in the realm of the imagination.

(For more, check out my earlier posts, "The Curious Couple’s Guide to Occasional Non-Monogamy" and "A Loving Introduction to BDSM.")

Have you ever shared erotic fantasies with a lover? What happened? Joy or heartache?

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