Reading this quarter’s stories, I began to mentally check-mark the situations our authors describe from my own experiences. “Done it, done it, yep – that one too, been there – bought the t-shirt…” until I got to “Chosen.” Whoa!!! Ok. I haven’t done that one. I might be sexually adventurous, but the closest I ever came to mythology was dating a guy named Achilles.
Ok, I didn’t actually date him. Semantics.
The point is that the situations our authors detail tell the time-honored tales of fantasy fulfillment: the murky waters where the bright shallow pools of every-day sex mingle with the deeper, darker, more dangerous waters of sexual craving. Scientific studies have concluded that sexual fantasies are a universal aspect of the human condition. Common themes, including forced sex or “rape,” multiple partners, exhibitionism or voyeurism, anonymous sex, bondage and sadomasochism, taboo-breaking (like having sex with a parent or sibling, or a dark purple cephalopod*), they’re all part of our collective and individual psyches, and cross even the most disparate cultural boundaries. Male fantasies tend to be more visually based. Female fantasies trend toward the situational. Male or female, rich or poor, young or old, everyone has fantasies. So here’s the million dollar question: If fantasies are so ubiquitous, why do so few people seem adept at making fantasies a functional part of their sexuality?
Sexual fantasy is an integral part of our experience as erotic beings, but it’s not something we usually talk about, even with a partner. In fact, most women are more likely to talk to their girlfriends about their fantasies than they are with their male partner. Why is it that something so intrinsic to our psychology and sexuality is given so little attention in our primary relationship? Why are fantasies treated as taboo, or in the worst-case scenario, as something shameful or embarrassing?
As much as I would like to believe that nobody buys into the archaic guilt-and-shame model of repressed sexuality anymore, I know it’s still out there making people feel shitty about their own fantasies. Whether it’s religiously induced morality or not, I’m sure each of us has had a sexual fantasy and thought – “Oh, that’s just WRONG!” Let me ask you this: Why do you feel less guilty about wishing the immediate and painful death of that person who just cut you off in traffic than you do about being raped by a gang of sweaty men? They’re both fantasies. Why is murder more benign than sex?
That’s right – because one of them involves a penis and/or vagina – or many penises and/or vaginas, and our society is still so repressed about its innate sexuality that it ties us all up in knots. (And then makes us feel guilty about enjoying bondage. Sheesh!) There’s no moral or practical reason to keep your fantasy about being gang-raped by the cast of “300” hidden away from society – but you do. At least most of us do. But sometimes…. we choose to live out our fantasies in real life.
Living out your fantasies can be a supremely rewarding experience for both you and your partner, regardless of whether or not you are in a long-term relationship with that person. The best preparation for any scenario is establishing trust. Only you can decide how much trust you require. A very dear friend of mine was dating a man whom I had never actually met. Out of the blue one day, she called me up and asked me to help her fulfill, with his permission, one of his fantasies for his birthday: having sex with two women. I had known her for years and years, and trusted her judgment. Still, I had no experience with this man, so we agreed to meet for dinner. Everyone understood that if I left after dinner, I was “out.”
Turns out, this guy was everything my friend claimed. I decided to stay and we had a wonderful time. He and my friend went on to date for many more years, and afterwarss, he became my lover for a time, as well. Supremely rewarding.
Some people might have required a higher level of trust and history with a person before they became lovers. For me, the fact that I had just met the man added to MY fantasy fulfillment. The key is to figure out how much control and trust you need before just letting go and having a great time. Of course, all the self-awareness in the world can still miss the mark.
As someone who’s lived out many, many fantasies, I can tell you that some are better left in your head. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about living our sexual lives to the fullest in every possible way. If you want to make a fantasy come true – GO FOR IT! Go buy that $250 elk-leather flogger! Go join that sex club! But please do it in an educated way. Be prepared. Be honest. And be aware of a few common outcomes:
- Resentment. One of our heroines works up the nerve to ask her partner to include another man in their sexual escapades. It’s SO COOL that it all works out so neatly in the story (and in my story, too), but in real life making fantasies come true can be fraught with problems, especially when acting it out involves your primary partner. People who will willingly participate in your fantasy fulfillment selflessly and without resentment or jealousy do exist, but they are few and far between. Make sure you don’t let your desire blind you to how your partner truly feels. Insecurity and general fear of losing a partner to someone else can be HUGE obstacles. If you hear the phrase, “I’m only doing this for you,” you may want to rethink the pros and cons of proceeding.
- Fantasy FAIL. Let me be frank. Some fantasies are just a lot more work than you think they’re going to be. And messier. Add safe-sex and general safety measures into the mix and ::sound of a balloon deflating:: Yeah. Suddenly it’s not sexy at ALL. Many years ago, I was involved with a man whose kink was “suspension bondage.” Using a great deal of specialized rope, he would tie women up in beautifully ornate ways and suspend them from something – a frame, a few eye-hooks in his ceiling beams, a tree, etc… Google “shibari,” it’s a “thing,” I swear. I’d seen him do this to other women at my sex club and thought, “Ooooh! I wanna do THAT!” But after 45 minutes of prep time and loss of feeling and/or blood in some of my extremities, the “hotness” had evaporated. (PS – Do NOT try this at home. There are classes – go take one).
- Whoops! Wrong fantasy… Sometimes experiences like the one I describee above make you realize what IS and IS NOT titillating about an experience. I discovered that I didn’t actually care about being tied up. That’s not what made it hot for me. What made it hot for me was the fact that I was being fucked, forcibly (but consensually) in front of a crowd of people. Realizations of this sort can be a good thing. They can also be horribly upsetting. I’ve known several women who started getting into bondage and whipping/flogging/caning who discovered – a little too late – that it was not exactly what they were after. Remember – when you’re doing this with other people, THEIR expectations get all wrapped up in your own. All the safe words in the world can’t help you if you don’t know yourself well enough to know when to stop If you have an inkling that BDSM is a road you want to walk, start small. Get educated. Work with someone who REALLY knows what they’re doing (probably not your partner – sorry!) and build slowly. It’s not always sexy being safe, but you have both mind and body to worry about. There’s very little room for error in either case.
- Fanatical Fantasy. Sometimes, we are so successful in living out our fantasies that it becomes an obsession. Remember that the whole point of being open and honest and generous with our fantasies is to live full, healthy, functional sexual lives. Remember, too, that variety is the spice of life. Just because you and your partner discovered how much you love getting fisted doesn’t mean every sexual encounter from now until forever should involve a fist. Besides, the lube bills would be prohibitive.
While I’m at it, let me share two more bits of advice with you. The first: be kind If your partner entrusts you with one of his/her most secret fantasies, it should not be used against them. EVER. The second: be respectful. Sharing a fantasy does not automatically mean that its owner has any interest in it becoming reality. That’s really important, folks. If your partner shares a fantasy with you, it does NOT give you license to go out and make it come true, no matter how benign you think it is. Remember, fantasies are forged in our psyches for a reason. Those reasons might have been amusing … or traumatic. Your partner might or might not be ready to face the origin or outcome of his fantasy. Always talk about a scenario before attempting to make it a reality. Safety is more important than sexy. Always.
My greatest fantasy is one that focuses on the overwhelming intensity of an encounter–a desire so absolute that it obliterates all common sense, all cultural taboos, and all moral judgment. Any fantasy scenario I create includes this basic instinct at its core. Knowing this truth allows me to call up any number of scenes in my head while I’m having “maintenance sex” with my partner – or with myself! It allows me to hone in on what’s going to get me off, regardless of the skills of my partner. It helps me figure out what I need and what I want, and the difference between the two. Knowing and understanding our fantasies (and those of our partners) allow us to know ourselves more deeply. To me, that is fantasy’s highest function: bringing us closer to each other. The brain is, after all, the most important and potent sexual organ. Imagine a lover who is as deft and articulate with your psyche and emotional well-being as he/she is with your body!
I take it back. THAT is my greatest fantasy.
*Tentacle Porn/Tentacle Erotica/Tentacle Rape – yes – they all exist, and have gained increasing popularity thanks to the internet, anime and horror movies from Japan, but it’s not a new concept. The 1814 novel Kinoe no komatsu, or The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife, includes an illustration of a woman having sex with not one but TWO octopodes. According to scholars, it was consensual. (Whew! I’m so relieved!)
Photo: Le.Sanchez: School-TP3
About the Author Ruby Theron
Ruby Theron in an occasional contributor to our Real Sex column. She is a thrice-married mother of two living in the DC metro area. She has a full-time gig as COO for a small nonprofit, and she teaches four Zumba classes a week in her copious free time. Ruby’s degree is in applied anthropology, which may in part explain her continual fascination with the role of sex in different cultures … especially her own. Having led a fairly promiscuous and adventurous lifestyle (by U.S. cultural standards), her friends (i.e., the editors of Pique) consider her somewhat of an authority on sex.