Sexual Health: What’s Your Fantasy?

Guest column

With the official start of fall, our thoughts have turned to the coming season.  Some of us have headed back to school, and many of us are preparing our cool weather wardrobes and getting excited for fall specific activities and markers (pumpkin ice cream!!).

To keep my erection healthy this are the ticket. Order viagra canada? Any trustworthy pharmacy will insist on a prescription from a health care provider who has seen you in person.

As the days get shorter and we transition with the weather, I want to advocate for the benefits of investing time and energy into something I consider an integral part of health and happiness.  As a professional sex educator and student in a PhD program in Human Sexuality, I know I’m biased, but I genuinely believe having a healthy and fulfilling personal sex life is absolutely central to our well-being.

Here’s the trick – there is no recipe or standard for what constitutes a great sex life! There are countless ways to express and experience sexuality. Just as we all have our own finger prints, I believe each of us has a unique sexual journey to discover what makes us happy and satisfied.  And what makes us happy one day, or one year, might grow and change into something entirely different as we grow and change ourselves.

Something I hear frequently as a sex educator is that people – and especially women – don’t have much time left over after work, friends, family, and everything else we pile onto our plates to spend a lot of time or energy on their sex lives.

Even people who have good sex don’t feel like they have the space to branch out and try new things.  This is why I’d like to take a minute to consider the amazing, free, can-be-used-almost-anywhere sexual tool: Sexual Fantasy!

Fantasy is a sexual tool that we take for granted more often than not. This tool, if nurtured, can support us as we move through sexual frustration, communication, and exploration. Instead of being passive in their sexual fantasy landscape, I advocate for people to actively develop sexual fantasies and use these fantasies as tools to help them build a healthy and happy sexual life. People use fantasies in all kinds of ways: to aid masturbation, to enhance partnered sex, to feel empowered, as foreplay, as a distraction or escape, to explore possible turn-ons, to help achieve orgasm or climax, and as part of sexual play.

Often people resist jumping into a fantasy world with both feet. This may be because their sexual fantasies don’t exactly match up with their real life sexual interests – which is actually quite typical.  Examples include fantasizing about people who do not match your sexual orientation, fantasizing about sexual behaviors that you are not interested in acting out in real life, or fantasizing about taking a certain role in a sexual interaction that you would not be comfortable with in reality.

People sometimes worry about what their sexual fantasies mean about them. The truth is that having a fantasy does not mean you want to act out that fantasy in real life, or would even enjoy it if you did!

So repeat after me: “Fantasy is not reality!”

Fantasizing about someone outside your sexual orientation does not reflect a hidden conflict of identity. Fantasizing about behaviors that you know you do not enjoy in real life does not mean you are confused or don’t know what you want. Fantasizing about a different sexual role does not mean you need to change up everything about the way you have sex now.

In his book Arousal, Dr. Michael Bader examines sexual fantasy from a psychoanalytic perspective. He says that fantasies provide two things that every person needs: safety and pleasure. He suggests that what people fantasize about probably offers a situation where they can experience both of these simultaneously.

Let’s examine an example of a lesbian fantasizing about sex with a man. In reality she is emotionally as well as sexually attracted to women. These connections are rewarding, but can also be frightening, or intense.  She might access psychological safety through her fantasy about being with a man, because she doesn’t experience intimate emotional connections with men. By removing the possibility of emotional connections, she imagines a sexual situation that is pleasurable but doesn’t include the risks that actual sexual interactions, and being vulnerable, often entail.

While this particular example might create a feeling of safety for some women, others might have a completely different reaction. My hope is that people consider how their fantasies are working for them, rather than judging the content as something that is “wrong,” “shameful,” or indicative of something deeper about them.

People also access safety through fantasy, because in fantasies they are in total control, and don’t have to worry about the sexual desires or needs of anyone else. In general, women report being more concerned with their partners’ pleasure during sexual interactions than their own.  I see this as a strength of female sexuality. However, it can also present a barrier to women feeling comfortable when their sexual pleasure is the center of attention.  By incorporating fantasies where a partner is getting all the sexual pleasure during solo or partnered sex, women can create a psychological situation where they feel more relaxed and can more easily experience their own pleasure.

This may seem counter-intuitive to how people feel they “should” be present with partners during sex.  I often field the question: “Isn’t it bad if I need to fantasize about something else to have an orgasm while I’m with my partner?”  I don’t think so.  I think that one way of creating intimacy during any type of sexual interaction is allowing someone else to be with us while we are vulnerable.  What’s more vulnerable than being fully engaged in a fantasy?  And it’s entirely up to you whether you choose to tell your partner about your fantasies or not- after all, they are your own!

I hope that this post has inspired people to consider how their fantasies can work in service of a happy and healthy sexual life.  I also hope it conveyed that there is no “right” way to fantasize.  For more AMAZING information about fantasies, check out the Sexual Fantasies pamphlet created by The Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health at


Kira Manser, LSW MEd, is the LGBT Health and Capacity Trainer at Mazzoni Center, and is pursuing a PhD in Human Sexuality at Widener University.  She is also a co-founder of ScrewSmart, a Philadelphia-based sex education collaborative. 


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