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What Do Your Sexual Fantasies Mean?

Woman in fancy dress sitting on balcony rail

Believe it or not, almost everyone has some secret desire, fantasy, or fetish that turns them on in the bedroom (or elsewhere). Some of us choose to keep our fantasies to ourselves and think about them when alone. They consider this part of their sexuality not necessary to share. Others have a strong urge to share their fantasy or fetish, desiring to act it out with sexual partners. Finally, there are those of us who have trouble swallowing the content of their desires, are confused or unsure about its meaning, and feel conflicted about their fantasies and fetishes.

Reflecting childhood

Feelings of guilt, shame, and confusion about our fantasies and what turns us on is common in our society. We want to know, “Why do I feel this way? And where does this come from?” The short answer is that our sexual fantasies are likely a reflection of the stimuli we were exposed to during our sexual awakening, much like classical conditioning. For example, the boy who experiences his first erection in the bathtub may then pair arousal with water and bathing. He might have fantasies involving water. The girl who has a domineering mother or who feels ostracized by her peers may have fantasies in her adulthood about being dominated (Dixit, 2010, p. 47).

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What is often difficult for people to understand is that sexual awakening happens when we are children. Although childhood sexuality is a completely natural part of development, it is often ignored in our culture, shunned or brushed under the rug as wrong. The child is made to feel ashamed or guilty for having sexual thoughts and desires. No explanations are given and nothing is talked about. By remembering that sexual curiosity and the desire to feel pleasure is a normal part of a child’s development, we can eradicate much of the shame and guilt we have about our early sexual experiences. It is this shame and guilt that may lead to our current state of confusion regarding our desires.

Reflecting anxieties

Sexual fantasies may also be a reflection of our daily anxieties. For example, the individual who worries about having too many responsibilities in their daily life may fantasize about being completely dominated and controlled in bed. The woman who feels small and unattractive may fantasize about being a sexual dominatrix. The key is to remember that we are creatures of balance. What we present to the world and feel on a daily basis often needs to be countered by its polar opposite, which could be manifesting in our sexual fantasies and fetishes. In other words, if an individual fantasizes about being sexually dominated in bed, it does not mean that they are weak and helpless in real life. Frequently, the opposite is true.

Sexual fantasies are often representations of parts of our lives, whether past or present. When we break them down and take a closer look, we will see that they are normal reactions to our life experiences.

Reference:
Dixit, Jay. Psychology Today, April 2010, p. 47.

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© Copyright 2010 by Moushumi Ghose, MFT, therapist in New York, New York. All Rights Reserved.

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Comments
  • KT April 13th, 2010 at 8:44 PM #1

    You are right when you say that childhood sexuality is seen as something wrong and something unnatural in most societies today. When I was growing up,my dad sat down with me and answered questions about sex whenever I had any…he did not just brush them aside…this was fine with me. But then i found out that not all parents do that and that the lack of such clearing from the parents’ side often leads the child into looking for answers from his peers or the internet or other sources and this can often be dangerous!

  • yolanda April 14th, 2010 at 3:15 AM #2

    I’m gonna really have to give this one some thought. Don’t know that I really have any fantasies or if I did how they would relate to growing up.

  • GREG April 14th, 2010 at 11:27 AM #3

    I do not quite like talking about my sexual fantasies with other people but after reading this article here,I think there really is a relation between the kind of sexual fantasies we have and our life…there is clearly a pattern and I’m pretty sure it is the same with most other people.

  • Mou Wilson May 10th, 2010 at 6:15 PM #4

    KT,
    Childhood sexuality is often hard to address and talk about. There is a lot of fear around the subject of childhood sexual abuse which is the coercion of sex with a child by an adult or by someone of a significant age difference. We should recognize that sexual play between children of mutual age (and also same sex) is common, natural and expected, and should not be punished or chastised. Shutting down children’s sexuality by shaming, shunning and/or making them feel guilty can lead to many other sexually related dysfunctions later on. A great book about childhood sexuality is “Sex, Therapy and Kids,” By Sharon Lamb.

  • Neil July 22nd, 2010 at 8:24 PM #5

    I agree entirely with your final comment that our sexual fantasies are often times a representation of something in our life. I have a wonderful relationship with my wife, including an excellent sex life. But I sometimes feel inadquate and “unworthy”. Consequently, when I do fantasize (usually during masturbation) I can never visualise myself as a participant, relying on mental images of my wife with other male partners to arouse me. Do you think this linked to my insecurities and feelings of inadequacy? Is this a common phenomenon?

  • Jane July 21st, 2011 at 4:45 PM #6

    I am a straight(?) female but have always fantasized about big breasts with big nipples. Is this because I did not receive enought nurturing from my mother? Does it mean I am gay? I love men and do not desire a relationship with a woman. I do not want to be with women sexually, only men. Am I normal? Is this type of fantasy a common one? I have been tortured by shame and guilt about this all my life.

  • tammy September 16th, 2011 at 4:07 AM #7

    Contrary to what others think, sexual fantasies do not always have to be naughty nor indecent, as long as they are controlled and provided that their sexual partners agree to what they want.

  • Kalika June 28th, 2012 at 5:30 PM #8

    Well written, but I’m not sure if it’s true for everyone. Since age 9 and 2 months I have fantasised about BDSM, torture, pants peeing/pooping, forced cross-dressing/sissification and forced diapering of boys and drew and wrote many stories and comics about this. At 17 girls featured in these fantasies also. I also fantasised of prostitution/selling virginity. I can’t see how any of this correlates to my life at age 9 in an educated, fairly conservative but equality-oriented family. I’m also polyamorous and love SM – I’m a switch (ie I like spanking/torturing guys but also like them to do it to me.)

  • Christina August 14th, 2012 at 2:18 PM #9

    Even though there was the 1960s sexual revolution of which my parents missed and sex and porn are easy to access from the media it seems that has nothing to do with reality. Sexual fantasies make life more interesting but I can’t share them with anyone, most all my husband who learned about sex from porn and messing around with high school girlfriend. His parents are the most asexual people I’ve ever met. I’m not sure how they conceived my husband and his sister!I can’t believe the repression that still goes on so much so indulge in fantasies as they make things bearable

  • Moushumi Ghose August 14th, 2012 at 7:09 PM #10

    Thanks for all your comments!

  • Lillian G. October 10th, 2012 at 2:07 PM #11

    Hi, I am about get marry in few months, but recently my boyfriend open with me about his sexual fantasy, he said that sometimes while we have sex he wants fantasize with other girls, because it will give him more pleasure, he says could be my best friend or even my sister…. I said him is OK since is only a “fantasy” but he feel better when I allow him to do it, he even asked me to show him my sexy friends and sister pictures so he can turn on… He also admitted me that he masturbate thinking about my sister… This really bother I am not that much open mind, and I am about get marry, I don´t want this become a problem for us after marriage, ah he also told me he is ok if I think about others guys during sex only to get more please.

    I really need a good advice.

  • Moushumi Ghose October 12th, 2012 at 9:57 AM #12

    Lillian,
    I feel like with all this stuff going on in and you’re about to get married, getting some premarital counseling couldn’t hurt to help define long term and short term goals and make sure you and your boyfriend have the same expectations going forward. It will be a much bigger mess to clean up later, it’s always good to get a head start and solve problems before they happen by coming up with some agreements.
    Moushumi Ghose

  • Snow White August 28th, 2014 at 12:40 AM #13

    Hi there

    I hope I’m not too late to tell you
    This guy is what we call ‘Jerk’

    I will open the front door nice and wide and ask him to walk through it and have a nice life being alone.

  • christopher September 29th, 2014 at 10:41 PM #14

    I have an ironic fantasy which sometimes terrifies the living daylights out of me. Sometimes I can just keep it under control and sometimes I,m a gibbering wreck. I feel like my heart is exploding can anyone tell me if its wrong to assume acceptance of transexuall fantasies . After spending most of my early life hiding in the closet , I recognised in my freinds and aquaintenses that my disasterous fantasies were being compassionately interragated . After taking far to many years to pluck the courage to explore these fantasies . I was suddenly delighted to find that I looked absolutely stunning in a mini skirt, huh heels and a bra, and even more than exhilerated to have the attention of men and women, This would soon turn to feelings of terror. Now years on I have decided to safely salvage these feteshes. By refraining. But I sure did have one miraculous moment . But now I have to make another impossible transformation back into a man . I regret to say ! That for me the entire experiance, though glorious and invigerating was insanely dangerous and I,m thankfull that it,s over

  • Moushumi G. October 2nd, 2014 at 12:39 PM #15

    Hi Christopher, Thanks for sharing. Transformations are never easy, and too often our biology is incongruent with how we feel. You are not alone in feeling this way. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any more insights!

    Thanks

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