When discussing sexuality, we tend to concentrate on what one does over what one thinks. Exploring one’s sexuality is quite nuanced. In addition to physical preferences, a person’s thoughts, ideas and eccentricities around sex must also be engaged. Anecdotes about people being able to think themselves to orgasm should be enough proof of paying attention to the noggin up top.
While we see increasing positivity around many of the physical aspects of sex, there’s not enough conversation about the mental aspects. Especially when it comes to sexual fantasies. Driven by one’s deeply personal avenues of arousal, positively exploring sexual fantasies is essential for a fulfilling sexual health journey. Yet, the taboo around them remains. We spoke to an expert to understand it better, and here’s what we learned.
What Are Sexual Fantasies
Sexual Health Educator Seema Anand reveals, “Psychiatry describes fantasy as pleasure through imagination – scenarios, people, foreplay, sex, everything. Nothing is off-limits; there are no restrictions. The only rule is that it is all in the head and focuses on a person or persons for their fulfilment”. Clarifying their clear distinction from fetishes, she elaborates further, “A fetish is also about sexual arousal, but this is a physical act. Instead of people, a fetish focuses on particular objects or isolated parts of the body for pleasure. Often seen as ‘deviant’ or ‘bizarre’ (and hence shameful acts), fetishes are performed with one or more partners, often an entire community of like-minded people.”
Whether you are in a long-term relationship and have reached the ‘flannel pyjama’ stage, or you are in a new relationship and want to add some spice, or you are single and want to explore your pleasures, diving into fantasies can often act as an escape. FYI, both fantasies and fetishes carry a legacy of shame and guilt, but one of them comes with significantly larger dollops of it. Would you like a take a guess, dear reader? Fantasies!
The Taboo Around Sexual Fantasies
It is okay to find yourself zoning out and into a full-blown sexual fantasy with thought-out storylines and fleshed-out characters in the middle of a family dinner. Just make sure your expression isn’t giving away the fact that in your head, you getting hot and heavy with Keanu Reeves circa the 90s. But for something that is entirely contained in a person’s head, fantasies come with a massive amount of judgment and baggage. Seema attributes the taboo around sexual fantasies and fetishes can be largely attributed to –
1. Voluntarily arousing sexual pleasure is seen as a problem in many cultures.
2. Fantasising about someone else while having sex with your partner is possibly the most common fantasy, but surprisingly a large number of people feel very strongly about how wrong this is because they believe it is the same as cheating.
3. Media and literature have perpetuated the myth that fantasising about a person brings you one step closer to doing it.
4. While people are quite happy to fantasise, many are extremely uncomfortable and insecure at the thought of their partner having the same fantasies as themselves. Because although you have a handle on your own fantasies, you know exactly how far you will take it; there is a very real fear about how far someone else will take it.
Championing Positivity Around Sexual Fantasies
“Remember, anything to do with a conscious desire for sexual pleasure is going to arouse disapproval. But in the face of societal disapproval, I would like to say that from being problematic, fantasies and fetishes are really very good for you, for your relationships and for your inner happiness,” confesses Seema. And while circumstances may not always permit you to indulge in fetishes, a fantasy is within everyone’s grasp and should be explored. “I have heard fantasies described as ‘sexual brainstorming’, which is such a brilliant phrase,” says Seema, and what’s in to disagree with her. Seema recommends a few things to help navigate your sexual fantasies-
1. Fantasies are a great way to prepare for sexual intimacy. It revs up the libido and is almost like a dress rehearsal for the sexual act.
2. Fantasies do not interfere with relationships. If you’re worried, however, the thing to do is focus on the sensations you are feeling rather than the person you are thinking of. It helps you to stay bonded with your partner.
3. Fantasies are a great way to deal with sexual boredom in long-term relationships. You get to satisfy your desire for variety without stepping out of the relationship.
4. Don’t be shocked at the things that wander into your mind or the things that turn you on. Remind yourself that everyone has fantasies. It’s just that the whole subject is so taboo that we never share these stories, so we think we are the only ones thinking like this. “If you knew how many people shared your fantasies, you would know you are not alone, you are not weird, you are just isolated,” Seema says.
“Sexual pleasure is always a personal choice; you must decide what you wish to do. Our minds are deeper, vaster, darker and more diverse than all the galaxies put together; we contain the universe within us; every thought exists within us – “good” and “bad”. Some are buried deeper than others, but everything is in there,” concludes Seema. So the next time you find yourself drifting into a particularly juicy fantasy, know that it is perfectly fine to do so!