*Trigger warning: references to BDSM, power play, medical roles, prostitution, gangs, voyeurism and other sexual scenarios and fetishes.
Far from being wrong or dirty, fantasies can be fun – and they can be illuminating. They tell us what we want, like, what we desire, what we deserve – how we feel about ourselves, how we want to feel with others, and how we want others to feel with us.
What is your go-to fantasy?
Which aspect turns you on? What role do you adopt? The one in control or the one submitting? The one initiating or the one going along for the ride? Getting dirty or being dirtied? Objectifying or being humiliated?
Many fantasy sexual scenarios involve two halves… the dominator and the dominated. This involves power.
If we think about it, we may play power-games and adopt powerful or powerless positions that in some way reflect our real life. Perhaps underneath we fear, or have experienced, the opposite – being powerless, out of control, unable to trust people or get our needs met. When we long to play dominator perhaps it reflects how in real life too we want to feel powerful. When we play the dominated, perhaps this is in some way something we are used to?
Maybe it turns us on to use force. What does this suggest? Perhaps this is the only way we believe that we’ll ever get we want – we need to force someone to give it to us. In this way sex wields the ultimate control – over another person – to possess and penetrate and get what we need.
Conversely – we may like to finally give up the control we try to wield in our daily life; to submit, be passive and powerless. To trust ourself to another. Or be used by another for their pleasure. How are you in everyday life? Do you usually over-compensate by using controlling habits? Is submission an antidote for you?
But, submission in sexual play is given with consent; the dominator doesn’t actually force us – that would be rape. Instead we consent to their “force” in the hope, or knowing, that they will take care of us.
In this way, fantasy can be about trust, and be a powerful way to get our emotional needs met.
We’re all entitled to our secrets. Many fantasies just wouldn’t be the same without secrecy… an elicit touch under a table, sneaking down a dark alley, doing something that in real life you wouldn’t dream of actually doing. Shining a light on it, and bringing your dreams into everyday life, makes the tension of transgression vanish.
Not all fantasies are born to be played out. Some should stay firmly at the back of the closet. Because that’s not always the point of fantasy is it. The pull of imagining being bad is often enough to satisfy us (perhaps in real life we’re always being “good”, or always pleasing and taking care of others).
In fantasy we have a safe space where we can shed our inhibitions and responsibilities without actually having to do so. And sometimes it might not be a bad thing for it to stay that way.
But keeping some fantasies strictly to the bedroom doesn’t mean fantasy can’t be a bit of fun. Even if we stick to well-worn paths in life, we all have within in us some form of red light district that society has made taboo.
A varied sex life is healthy and often enhances closeness and satisfaction in a relationship. Sharing our fantasies with our partner can have the same effect. They are especially useful to us when we’ve examined what we like about a certain scenario and why we like it. And as long as we are exploring with respect and trust for ourselves and others, and of course if our partner expressly tells us that they want to explore too.
There aren’t so many fantasies, and even less porn, based on open emotion, affection or loving respect – and when they are we tend to dismiss them as not really porn anyway, and for some they become less sexy for it.
Open emotion, affection and loving respect involve honesty. When the fun of fantasy can wear a bit thin is when there is continually a lack of honesty – when the only sex we have is fuelled by fantasy, when we are constantly in character. This may indicate we’re hiding a fear of dropping the mask and really connecting, of showing our true feelings and risking vulnerability with another person.
It might help to occasionally ask ourselves: how much do we please others in our fantasies and how much are we ourselves being pleased? How much do we want it this way, and how much are we going along with what our partner wants? What would we like in real life?
We’ve all heard the saying “The eyes are the window to the soul”. We could argue that fantasy gives us a wide open door to it.
Fantasy offers an intriguing and, let’s face it, very sexy way to allow ourselves to explore and find out more about ourselves and our partners.
Sexual instinct is as old as we are; and sex and emotion are inextricably bound. As human beings, we can rarely shut off one part of us completely. It just comes out in another way.
In this way, elements of sexual fantasy point to deep-rooted emotional needs in us – often echoes from our past. These quirks can signpost parts of our childhood where our emotional (or maybe physical) needs weren’t met, and to experiences when we were tiny when we felt – and perhaps were – powerless.
And there lies the opportunity – to use ‘adult play’ as a chance to explore what makes us us, to learn our needs and ask for them to be fulfilled in reality too as well as in our sexual dreams, and so to evolve as real adults.
Best of all, exploring in this way can also let us show and be loved for who we are, underneath the soldier outfit or that leather mask… complete with all our fantastic and fantastical “filthy” quirks.
The Circle Line is launching soon! Sign up now and we'll be in touch when we're fully working