I have the great pleasure of talking to lots of people about their fantasies. Some of this comes from working on my next book and interviewing people about things like rape fantasies and race play. Most of the time it is people who are familiar with my work talking to me about their personal fantasies. I always consider it an honor to talk to people about what they fantasize about.
Recently, I have been thinking a lot about how fantasy shapes our sexuality. As a corollary, how the reality of sex interacts with our fantasies to shape our self image, desire and satisfaction. What I want to focus on in this post is when fantasy and reality collide.
Fantasies Are the Primary Sex Act for All of Us
Fantasy occupies a larger part of or sexuality than most people realize. If you think about all the time you spend fantasizing, seeking out porn that manifests your fantasies and setting up for a scene to play out your fantasies, it is a substantially larger portion of your sexual time than actually having sex.
Fantasy also shapes what we are willing to do in bed. Generally, the more ideas we are exposed too, the more likely we are to try a few things. A lot of people, as evidenced by the letters and calls to sex advice shows I listen too, have things they really want to try and fantasize about than they actually end up trying.
People take different approaches to manifesting their fantasies. From the discussions I have had, the preparation makes some difference. The more thoughtful and realistic the approach to living out a fantasy, the more likely people seem to be with getting satisfaction (at least from my sampling of interviewees). The other thing that seems to make a difference is having few expectations about the real experience.
I bring this up in a kink blog because I know a ton of people who have a BDSM fantasy but have never manifested it. People will read a book with some kink, or see someone tied up, or see a spanking scene and think it is really hot. It is not uncommon for all genders to fantasize about being tied up or tying someone up for sex. The big difference I have found between people who actually try kink and those who let it remain a fantasy seems to be perceptions of having a willing partner.
Fantasies and Other People
The reality of most fantasies it that they will ultimately involve at least one other person. Most of us don’t have solo fantasies. So, the first step to successfully trying a fantasy is to find a willing partner.
I have had dozens of people approach me in person and on the internet and ask if I can help make their kink fantasy a reality. Most of these individuals are actually partnered. They don’t believe their current partner will be receptive to their fantasy so they are seeking out someone who they believe can help them live out what has been in their head.
This approach (at least with me) generally leads to disappointment. I don’t condone cheating and secrecy in relationships. I am all for ethical non-monogamy but if you are stepping out on someone without previously establishing that is okay with them, I am not going to be game. So I end up disappointing a lot of people.
The thing that most people don’t understand is that their current partners may actually be game to help them carry out a fantasy. There is a fear of rejection that comes with having to ask someone to do something you have been told is weird or different. My advice is always, talk to your partner. Tell them WHY you have this fantasy and what you hope to get out of trying it. Be honest about your needs. They may be game, they may not.
Second, be willing to negotiate with your partner. For example, if you really want to try a threesome, let your partner know. Your fantasy may involve another person you and your partner already know. However, your partner may only be game if the third party is not in your social circle and you won’t run into them at the local PTA meeting. You may have to tweak the details of your fantasy to get it to happen. But, if a few tweaks mean you can experience what you want without having to lie or step out on your partner, you are better off.
You may also be able to negotiate a “pass” with your partner. I know a lot of monogamous couples who have run into the issue of one party desiring something the other simply cannot deliver. One option to this is to figure out if it is okay with both people if one party seeks out a third person to live out their fantasy. I have lost count of the monogamous couples I know who experience an affair. Universally, their comments are “It wasn’t the actual sex I had an issue with, it was the lying and betrayal.” If your fantasy is important to you, negotiate with your partner.
For people seeking out someone to live out a fantasy with, keep in mind that person is a human being. I say this as someone who is fetishized a lot. I am tall (6 feet), have large breasts, and very fair skinned and in my 40s. These are all things that get fetishized. There are plenty of people who “want to fuck a tall girl” or “a big girl” or a “MILF” or whatever. What ends up happening is that the person sees only the characteristic they are fantasizing about and forget that there is an actual person here. I have people ask me way too often to do stuff that is not okay with me. When I turn them down, the common response is, “Come on. I really want to fuck a [insert fetishized characteristic]. Can’t you help me out?” No, I can’t. I am more than a single physical characteristic. You have to treat people as human beings.
Remember, You are Wile E. Coyote in Your Fantasies
The great things about fantasies is stuff like physics, physical bodies, and logic don’t have to apply. In your fantasy you may have the flexibility of a professional contortionist or the pain tolerance of someone with no nerve endings. Reality is different. As you being to try and make your fantasy come true, you need to bring it into this realm. Be realistic about the physical limitations of you and the others involved. Be realistic about the emotional capacities of other people. If you fail to do this, you will be disappointed.
This is especially important in terms of trying kink. I know a lot of people who fantasy about spankings and impact play. A lot of BDSM porn features impact that leaves significant redness and marks. Not everyone can take that level of impact. The other thing I see happen is people watch an impact scene and it doesn’t look like the strike should be particularly painful. They often think the sub is faking the reaction. In reality, being struck with things like a belt or cane does not take too much force to be very painful. For instance, I have a delrim cane. What looks like a pretty light tap will ultimately leave a very deep bruise because the material is a very solid, non-porous plastic (to buy one of these, see Master J’s Fun Things on my Resource page). Coming in for a full force strike with this cane not only can bruise the muscle, but can (and has) split skin and causes bleeding. Not many people can take that kind of strike.
In their fantasies, they almost never consider the emotional impact on their partner. They work from the position that if they ask their partner to hit them, their partner will be game. The reality is, many people are not comfortable hitting someone. The idea of striking someone you love is repulsive to some people. I have spoken with a lot of men who were raised with the idea that a good man never hits a woman. Their desire to be a good man is antithetical to hitting a woman. Asking a guy like this to spank you or hit you with a flogger can be very upsetting to the guy. You have to keep the other person in mind. While the idea may be hot to you, it may be upsetting to someone else.
Research Is Critical
The thing that is most often ignored in preparing for a fantasy is research. We live in a culture that teaches researching sex play is dirty and gross. Not only is it not dirty or gross, its necessary. I will take anal sex as an example.
I do stand-up comedy. There are dozens of comics who make jokes about anal sex. Most of them include some reference to poop or pain. The reality is, without proper preparation, both are likely. Trying anal sex is pretty common. However, most people don’t think about things like anal douching beforehand, using lots and lots of lube, warm up and preparation, and anal training. The result of failure to prep is usually a really bad first experience. A little research could really help.
Recognize that your fantasy will not match your reality 1:1. You may come close, but not everything will be the same. You need to be open to what actually happens. The people I know who are most disappointed with manifesting a fantasy are the ones who focus on the small parts of the fantasy that don’t match reality. Focusing on the fact that the other party was not as tall, or as strong, or as whatever that you wanted can foul your experience. Focusing that one thing out of the nine you hope would happen will make the reality seem worst.
Figure out what parts of your fantasy are really important to you. Those are the things you need to concentrate on making happen. Not every detail is important.
Keep an Open Mind
The first time trying something is rarely perfect. Most acts take time and practice. If you try something and it is only “okay” and not mind-blowing, it may be worth refining and trying again. Tweak what didn’t work and see if you can get a better experience.
Then again, you may hate it. If what you tried didn’t work for you, and you know it really didn’t work for you, there is no need to try it again. The reality is, sometimes our fantasies are hotter than reality by far. You may really think having your partner spank you will be super hot. The reality might be it just gives you flashbacks of being punished as a kid and that is a turn off. There are a lot of emotional things that can happen when you try a new sex act that you can’t anticipate. If something feels bad, don’t do it again.
Finally, keep an open mind when it comes to your partner’s fantasies. I will speak from experience here. I found out about water sports (piss play) when I was around 15. From 15 to 39, water sports were on my hard limit list. I did home health care in college and cleaned up so much pee from other people, there was nothing sexy about this to me.
Then I met someone who was into it. I was willing to try it because of the dynamic. The first time I tried it, it fell into “well, that’s not too bad. Makes him happy,” so I was willing to keep doing it. A year in, we have definitely intensified that part of our play and I have to say, I now find it ridiculously hot. As in, I kind of want to film this because I think it is so hot I want to replay it.
Final words: keep an open mind, be willing to negotiate, research, and be willing to try something more than once. Its okay if you don’t like it. It would be great if you found a new kink!