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On Fantasizing About Other People During Sex

Our Dark Fantasies

Is it normal? And could it actually spice up your sex life?

“It’s a common story that most couples go through. That business about “love everlasting” is a myth that ends after we get married. Very few couples can sustain monogamy within marriage and have orgasms. If fantasizing someone else helps, then go for it.”

Dr. Betty Dodson, American sex educator and erotic artist

My partner lives in a different city, and visited me after a whole month the other day. As luck would have it, I was on my period at the time, which stalled our wait for sex even further. But strangely enough, even when my period ended, I didn’t find the need to point it out to him and rush into sex- we were long term partners and there was no haste with us. If not today, then tomorrow, right?

While there is stability in this, it can also dampen our sexual appetite. The sudden, fizzling, desperate urge for sex can dissapear after a few years. Surely I do feel remarkably aroused at times, like when I notice his strong features as he works out. But this arousal revolves around restrictions. There is something unachievable, and therefore striking about his muscular physique and the vigor of his youth as he jogs in the park. Also, being outdoors, I am expected to maintain a cordial distance from him. And no wonder I get turned on- desire flourishes where restrictions exist; it forms a long bridge that you have to cross to meet the other. And in this gap, there is scope for numerous possibilities that then grow into fantasies.

Fantasies about another person

But on most days, there is no imaginary bridge, heavy with desire for us to cross. Familiar sex becomes ordinary and uninteresting. Realistically, I would not give up the security and emotional safety of this partnership for temporary sexual relief. I need this anchor to keep me afloat in a turbulent world. But even so, it cannot still my sexual desires. And however comfortable and loving a relationship may be, we needn’t settle for sex that has lost its spark. So how can we spice things up? Sometimes I decide against monogamy and explore intimacy with others. But even when I am with my partner, it is possible to bend the rules and let my fantasies run wild.

Fantasies are a normal and exciting part of our sexual selves. They open up into a world of desire. Pleasure is often focused on the other- how well can the other person touch, kiss and please us? Do they know how to make us orgasm? While these questions are necessary, it leaves out an important aspect of pleasure: our own fantasies. What do you fantasise about? While masturbating, during sex or even during a stray sexual thought in the middle of the day? It’s important to answer these questions for ourselves and accept them without shame. Maybe we have sexual fantasies that feel dark, wrong or immoral and we stop ourselves from letting the thought take root. The lines that obstruct pleasure with the greatest force are often self imposed. Imagine if we let go? Why not indulge in any and every fantasy that appeals to us, at least in our minds? At the end of the day, fantasies are personal; they exist in our minds and don’t hurt anyone.

Yesterday while lovemaking, I dared to quietly think about another man. I was in the throes of orgasm and I imagined his face in place of my partner’s. I have never met the man I fantasized about, I’ve only spoken to him once. In his photograph, he looks endearingly into the camera, holding a cup of coffee outside a suburban tube in London. I know him as a Tantra teacher who has promised to teach me spiritual practices to connect more deeply with my sexuality. Our minds can be free of barriers. When I spoke to him, he mentioned our energies- like that of Shiva and Shakti, and I felt instant desire for him. I carried that desire deep in my body for the rest of the day, only for it to be released in that intense moment of lovemaking. 

I remember the precise moment when his face flashed in place of my partner’s. He was thrusting into me, but not enough for me to orgasm. I asked him to go faster. My hips shook and trembled on the sheets, but I couldn’t feel the wild joy of being lifted from ordinary consciousness to the surreal high of sex. I still felt conscious and tethered. The comfortable but boring sex couldn’t match up to my previous experiences of unbridled sexual pleasure. I wanted more. Spontaneously, I imagined another man, a new man, one who I had never touched. In the dark, velvet contours of my imagination, it felt like a new sexual experience. A rush of hormones kicked in and I orgasmed.

For some, this confession could be confusing. Is it okay to think about another person when you are in a long term partnership? It must be kept in mind that monogamy and partnerships are social choices which benefit different people for different reasons. But our erotic fantasies transcend such choices. They are vibrant signs of us being alive. The existence of diverse fantasies do not dilute the authenticity of a relationship. They are simply proof of us being complex sexual beings, with the capacity to imagine things out beyond the boundaries of our lives. If anything, sexual fantasies should give us hope- that even when our lives become routine and mundane, our imagination can still flourish and invent the new.

The deepst parts of our erotic mindscapes may have been cordoned off a long time ago, deemed forbidden territory by social norms and our own sense of shame. To open those creaking gates and enter into this complex terrain of desire can be a surreal experience. It brings us closer to what is otherwise out of reach. When you fantasize about another person, it creates an emotional and physical distance from your partner, which isn’t always a bad thing. 

The threat of distance invents risk. And risk can get human beings going like nothing else does; it makes our hearts beat quicker, blood pump faster and makes us want the people in our lives more than ever. To imagine risk in the safety of our bedrooms creates thrill without fear. And what permeates through all these emotions is desire, the kind of aching desire that can turn boring sex into something incredibly new and exciting. To have a fantasy is to reinvent what is ordinary and everyday, and then turn it around only with the power of one’s mind, and this is something to be celebrated as essential to life and living. 

Intimacy is a skill.

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