SEX AND SEXUAL PROBLEMS: SEXUAL FANTASIES

Many people use fantasies to help them overcome their sexual problems. If anxiety is a problem, then thinking through an imaginary sexual encounter is a bit like rehearsing for a stage-play. You might still get stage fright but at least you know your lines. By imagining romantic or exotic places, or different sexual partners you can increase your arousal. Just about everyone, both men and women, will fantasize at some time, and these fantasies are generally safe and even beneficial. For most people there is a strong dividing line between the real and the imagined. Whether you choose to cross the dividing line to act out any particular fantasy depends firstly on how feasible it is. If you imagine yourself as the focus of the unbridled lust of several members of the British Royal Family, then you are hardly likely to ever be in a position to cross from that fantasy to reality.

It depends also on how acceptable it is to your conscience and the extent of your inhibitions, or fear of the consequences of acting it out. Some fantasies you would definitely act out if you had the opportunity. If you imagine yourself and your partner making love on a secluded beach on some beautiful tropical island, then there are obviously ways of making that happen. On the other hand, if you are in a relationship and your fantasy is a menage a trois, then fear of the consequences might be a barrier.

Fantasies can help to enhance your sexual responses in the safety of your own imagination. However, there are some negatives. If you find that the only way you can respond to your partner is by imagining they are somebody else, then it might be time to take a look at deeper problems in the relationship. In this case the fantasies could well be a symptom rather than a cause of the problems.

Fantasies can involve coercive or non-consensual violent behavior like committing rape or inflicting pain on the other person. If these images are consistently linked in the imagination to the strong positive reward of a sexual orgasm (either by masturbation or with a partner), then the possibility of that leading to actual behavior can be a significant risk.

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