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'Physical monogamy is a challenge. I think [fantasies] play a very vital role,' says Toronto sexologist
Ever wonder if your sex fantasies are abnormal or downright bizarre? Whether you daydream about being whipped, getting it on with an object, or prowling around as a peeping tom, you’re not exactly breaking new ground. A recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that most fantasies are not actually unusual.
That’s significant, because traditionally, sex fantasies were sometimes used to diagnose deviation. But if more than half of us are imagining ourselves being dominated or touching a stranger’s private parts, it can hardly be considered deviant.
What’s more important is the impact your fantasies are having on you or other people, say the researchers, who are affiliated with the University of Montreal. Experts now consider sex fantasies – even the ultra-rare ones – to be problematic only if they distress you, hurt others or raise the risk of harm to people who don’t or can’t give consent.
Of the 55 fantasies discussed in the survey of 1,516 adults, only a handful stood out as truly unusual or rare.
“I’m not the least bit surprised,” says Toronto sexologist Dr. Jess O’Reilly. “There’s a huge range of fantasies.” She says that sex fantasies are healthy – even necessary, especially for those of us in long-term, monogamous relationships. “Physical monogamy is a challenge. I think they play a very vital role.”
O’Reilly adds that when couples encourage each other to fantasize and describe their fantasies to each other, it can spice up a relationship. But what if you’re not comfortable with these in-depth chats? Cory Silverberg, a sexuality educator and author in Toronto, suggests you start the ball rolling (no pun intended) by talking about a movie or article on the topic.
“That can be a safe way to introduce the idea,” he says. Set a few ground rules for discussing your fantasies: no judging or snickering, for instance, and an agreement that “talking is different from doing.”
That’s because fantasies aren’t the same as wishes. The Montreal study shows that while lots of people may enjoy imagining themselves at swingers’ parties, or picturing sex while tied up, those same individuals don’t necessarily want to do those things in real life. (Interestingly, that distinction was expressed by women more frequently than men.)
“It’s all about the feelings you experience in a fantasy – being in charge, losing control, feeling desired,” says O’Reilly. And understanding that may help your pillow talk. “You may not be comfortable relating the details of your fantasy to your partner, but you can talk about the feelings that punctuate it.”