If you daydream of having steamy sex on a tropical island whilst thousands of onlookers clap and cheer, this may not be an empty, meaningless fantasy. What you fantasise about could reveal many things about you, writes Annelize Steyn from INTIMACY.
Sexual fantasies are a common phenomenon, and provide for the healthy release of pent-up feelings. They allow you to be who you want to be. In your fantasy, you can be five kilograms lighter, drive a cherry-red Mercedes, or sport jet-black, waist-length hair. Some people’s fantasies vary, while others stick to a specific theme.
Are fantasies pure flights of the imagination? Some would disagree, saying that people’s fantasies reveal a lot about them. Nearly 100% of men say that they have had a sexual dream before, in comparison to 70% of women. Experts say that your dreams give expression to your subconscious thoughts.
Kobus van der Merwe, relationship therapist and Imago presenter, believes that your fantasies in the bedroom reveal who you are and what you think (even if you are not aware of this yourself). He observes that there is a fear of rejection in our longing for intimacy. “If you fantasise about intimacy, you won’t experience the pain of rejection.”
Kobus thinks that sexual fantasies are not always a positive contribution to a relationship because they create an “escape”. He believes that we limit our passion through fantasy and daydreams. As a mother, we may think it inappropriate to be erotic. We may be afraid of being judged, of rejection or of losing the love and respect of our spouse. “It is safe to be erotic in your thought life because no-one can judge you in that space. You are in control of what happens. Unfortunately, fantasies can sometimes draw the passion out of a relationship.”
Linked to deepest fears
Tammy Nelson, an Imagorelationship therapist, says that in her study of 300 people and their fantasies, she realised that fantasies are sometimes linked to our deepest fears. If you fantasise about your husband having sex with another woman, your greatest fear may be that your husband will cheat on you. Unwanted sexual fantasies often represent unconscious attempts to resolve feelings that resulted from experiences of human aggression, betrayal, abandonment, and exploitation. They help people to escape from emotions such as fear, anger, shame, and helplessness that inhibit sexual functioning (www.healthysex.com).
People who were victimised sexually in the past are often troubled by unwanted sexual fantasies. One research study found that females who have been molested tend to have more fantasies of being forced or dominated than the average woman. The more extreme and violent the abuse, the more likely a survivor of sexual abuse is to have sexual fantasies of being forced into sex or of forcing someone else into sex. (www.healthysex.com)
Therapists have found that fantasies can be useful in helping patients to overcome their sexual problems. The individual can, with the help of a therapist, confront and reduce their fears concerning intimacy and sex (Sinclair Intimacy Institute).
There are people who enjoy sadomasochism and who fantasise about being tied up. These people may have lacked freedom whilst growing up.
It is important to understand that there is no such thing as an inappropriate fantasy. A fantasy that involves rape is not a sign that you want to be raped; a lesbian fantasy does not mean that you are a homosexual and a dominatrix fantasy does not mean that you need to invest in a pair of leather trousers. What you do with and do about your fantasies is your decision.
Fantasies can help you to resolve problems in your relationship, and to heal hurts. There are ways of moving that sexual energy out of your head and putting it back into the erotic side of your relationship. Imago recommends that you use the following fantasy guidelines in your marriage.
Scenario number 1:
Fantasy: You want to dominate your husband; spank him; order him to perform certain favours and make him beg for what he wants. There are even women who imagine a spouse sucking on their stiletto heels!
What does this fantasy mean? You want to be in control.
Heal your relationship in this way:
The mild approach: you choose the time and place to be intimate;
The strong approach: sit on top of him and dictate the speed and rhythm that you enjoy;
The daring approach: tie him to the bed and enjoy him the way you want to.
Scenario number 2:
Fantasy: Although “rape fantasies” are not the most politically correct term for these fantasies, this is the term that most experts use. In these fantasies, you are the innocent, naïve young girl being taken advantage of by a predatory type of man. You want him to push you against the wall, tie your arms behind your back and slip his hand beneath your skirt.
What does this fantasy mean?
You want to be dominated or loved. (This fantasy does NOT mean that you want to be raped.)
Heal the relationship in this way:
The mild approach: ask your husband to invite you to be intimate in the coming week;
The strong approach: ask your husband to take you by surprise in an unusual place for intimacy;
The daring approach: let your husband tie you to the bed with silk scarves and lovingly stroke and kiss your whole body before becoming intimate with you.
Scenario number 3:
Fantasy: You imagine having sex in front of your friends. You think it could be exciting to be watched by an audience.
What does this fantasy mean? You want to be seen.
Heal the relationship like this:
The mild approach: open the curtain slightly before you have sex. Allow for the possibility that if someone looked over the wall and stared for a while, they might just be able to see you.
The strong approach: switch on the light, throw off all the bed covers and lie without clothing on. Your husband should look at you and tell you what he wants and desires from you.
The daring approach: have sex outside in broad daylight (in your garden, for example).
Scenario number 4:
Fantasy: You dream that your husband has sex with another woman.
What does this fantasy mean? You want to feel that you belong to someone.
Heal the relationship like this:
The mild approach: ask your husband to hold you tightly during and after sex while telling you that he loves you.
The strong approach: ask your husband to continually whisper: “I am here, you are not alone,” in your ear during sex.
The strong approach: seduce him, confident that he wants and desires you.
(updated April 2011)
(This is an edited version of the article which first appeared on Intimicacy4Us in June 2008)
Why women love 50 Shades of Grey