Does Your Partner Know Your Sexual Fantasies? Why Not?

couple laying on bed making heart shape with handsMany couples with whom I work continue to return (or call back if they’re in distance therapy). They find it’s helpful to have regular “tune-ups” even after we have repaired and healed their relationships to move past whatever hang-ups or problems inspired them to contact me in the first place.

In these ongoing conversations, I get to learn about many ways that loving couples heighten sexual intimacy and strengthen their relationship by creating fun and pleasure. I continue to notice that couples who have a happy sex life view lovemaking as an expression of intimacy, but they don’t take any differences in their needs or desires personally. They enjoy a relaxed and accepting view of sexual pleasure.

Fantasy is an important aspect of creative intimacy. Believe me when I tell you that your sex life will be greatly enhanced if you feel safe enough to share your sexual fantasies with your partner—and perhaps even explore them with one another. Does your partner know about what really turns you on? Can you imagine telling him or her about it?

Fantasy is the base of variety, imagination, and adventure for most of us when we experience sexual pleasure, either alone or with a partner. But relatively few couples seem to be able to trust their loved one with their fantasies and then find some way of “acting them out” together. When we share these secret places in our minds, the result can be great romance and excitement that swoops us out of the monotony that can ensue when we are mating in domesticity.

I encourage couples to cultivate the idea that within the safe boundaries of their relationship, all wishes, images, fantasies, and desires are acceptable and welcome. Nothing is intrinsically wrong or disgusting. We can decline a partner’s request, but we don’t judge or disparage him or her for it.

Describing and sharing a fantasy requires a great deal of courage, so receive your partner’s secret longings with tenderness and compassionate curiosity. One couple recently shared about their bedroom “treasure chest” that includes sartorial regalia honoring each of their delights and predilections. The contents include police and nurse uniforms, a cheerleader outfit, and several pirate costumes—sort of a Caribbean theme!

“It’s really a helluva lot of fun,” one person laughed. “I don’t even begin to understand some of my desires or fantasies, and I have no idea why Johnny Depp got me so turned on in Pirates of the Caribbean! But my sweetie doesn’t care—they just consider it play and we have a ball!”

Most of us base our expectations about sex on informal and unreliable sources, usually friends we had as adolescents. And this “information” is usually based on fantasy.

Ignorance often leads to people judging themselves harshly and comparing their performance to the actors who appear in their favorite fantasy. I often hear people lament that they are “just no good in bed.” An obvious example is the guy who believes he always has to be able to produce an erection whenever the situation requires it. When it doesn’t happen, self-doubt and genuine fear often result.

Years ago an author named Nancy Friday interviewed thousands of women about their sexual fantasies—one of her books that I really enjoyed is My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies. Those of us who are female are usually (not always!) less visual and therefore more inclined to enjoy reading erotica, while men tend gravitate toward video/online stimulation. Consider watching with your partner, discussing what’s exciting and what isn’t.

Talk about your fantasies with your partner. He or she might be surprised and/or delighted. I guarantee you will grow in intimacy as you trust one another with your deepest desires. Let go of any attachment you might have to a particular outcome, such as orgasm.

The results can be downright entertaining, and you’ll learn a great deal about one another. Just don’t take things too seriously. You’ll laugh together at the very least, and that’s one of the best aphrodisiacs!

© Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Jill Denton, LMFT, CSAT, CSE, CCS, Sexuality / Sex Therapy Topic Expert Contributor

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • claudia

    February 24th, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    I often feel so liberated but I am SOOOO embarassed talking to my husband about these things that he probably has no idea of the things I really would like in the bedroom.
    I know it’s my fault because I am just so shy around him when it comes to conversations like that. I like having sex with him and I think that I satisfy him and he does me… but it always seems like there is that little missing piece. Maybe I can’t put it into words because I’m not really sure what it is.
    I would be willing to try new things but I am so not into talking about it that I am sure he thinks that I like things just the way they are, even though I would like to mix it up a little.
    I know that until I find that voice I really have no room to complain but that’s a challenge for me.

  • Laken

    February 25th, 2014 at 3:42 AM

    If you are married and feel that you can’t talk to each other about this kind of stuff, then I think that there are going to be some other things going on in the marriage that you need to talk about.

    This is the person that you have vowed to be with for the rest of your life. Don’t you think that if they loved you enough to make that commitment to you then they are going to be okay with whatever you want to bring to the table sexually as well?

  • eric

    February 26th, 2014 at 3:49 AM

    I think that it’s that fear of being judged as being weird that prohibits most people in any relationship from sharing with their partner what their sexual fantasies my be. Even though most of the time that partner would be very open to trying something new, there is always one with those little hangups that keep them from being fully open and honest and so think about how that could really hold back a relationship. Keep it from being a fulfilling as it could be if both partners were being open and honest with each other at all times.

  • Amber

    February 27th, 2014 at 3:55 AM

    Do you think that there are times (I know there are for me) that I am afraid that if I open up I still won’t be able to go through with it, even though I have brought it up? Just because I might be able to talk about it doesn’t always mean that I could go through with it.

  • neeala

    March 1st, 2014 at 10:29 AM

    Amber- I think that we all have those little fears but if you are with the right person then they will help you realize whether this is truly something that you want to pursue then if it is I think that if you are with the right person… they will help you remian confident about what you try. Doing things in a sexual way doesn’t have to mean that you have to achieve this or that it is simply a way to experience a new kind of intimacy with bsomeone that you care about. Don’t let your worries hold you back from having a freeing and uninhibited sex life because if you do then I promise you that you will be missing out on a lot. Open up and share, and if you are with someone who cares about you then you will probably learn that there are some new things that he might want to try too!

  • Nicole

    March 2nd, 2014 at 7:02 AM

    Hi Jill,
    You may also want to check out a fascinating book called:
    Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow about Karrezza.
    It’s not about fantasies, but it can certainly keep the interest flowing.

  • Paul

    April 29th, 2016 at 8:53 PM

    My wonderful wife encouraged me to tell her about my fantasies and shared hers with me. The result was that our sex life remains as exciting as ever, without the sameness and routine that it might otherwise might have been. Just remember that your partner doesn’t come with an instruction book and neither do you. Like anything new you should both find ways to use sex and sexual fantasies purely for the FUN you can both enjoy and an extra dimension of intimacy. For those who feel shy it might help to write your partner a letter to broach the subject of your fantasies in the first instance. Don’t be judgemental and a really loving partner will appreciate the honesty inherent in this sharing.

  • Richard

    May 2nd, 2016 at 11:51 AM

    My fantasy life is much stronger than wifes! I want to talk. She is shy. What next?

  • Dana

    July 10th, 2016 at 1:12 PM

    Me and my partner are very open, I can talk to him about anything. We had a pretty colourful sex life but have come to a halt (we havent had sex in the whole of 2016!) Albeit there has been mental/emotional and financial stress going on through this that could explain some of it…but my honest feelings are that he hasnt figured out how Im am turned on. I was horny little minx in the beginning so a lot of it was coaxing him in and doing his fantasies and I’ve now realised that I’ve gotten bored and it’s his time to put in the effort. Ive told him this and tried to explain how I can be put in the mood… though its a lot less obvious than his way (he needs it spelled out, I need it more subtle) but he forgets/gets impatient …but he’s not doing it right. Is there any advice or good books that I could give to him that might explain the complexity of womens (or maybe its just me) libido. I know he will try at it when he knows what to do.

  • Adam

    November 11th, 2017 at 12:13 AM

    It’s incredibly important to be open and honest about any desires or fantasies in a long term relationship. If you are sending your life with someone you will only be happy if you are 100% together anything else is working blind, shooting in the dark and often living a life of denial which only leads to discontent.
    If you and your partner want to be truly happy, content, satisfied you both need to be singing from the same song sheet, you need to be interested in each other’s needs and be willing to take each other as far as each of you needs to go, you nay have each their, it’s not like you can do these things with anyone else is it?
    Strong couples are completely at one, they accept understand and welcome anything which resides in their partners thoughts and needs and will enjoy the fun of satisfying them with them, this is how a relationship is meant to work, you find the courage to share your soul completely and the rewards are tremendous!

  • Michael

    May 20th, 2018 at 9:31 PM

    We’ve been married 30+ yrs, and I’ve hinted, asked, wondered aloud why it is that she’s never asked me about my fantasies. The usual response is that it’s late, let’s discuss it in the morning (doesn’t happen; too many distractions,etc.) I take the fact that she’s dodging or avoiding as an insult; If I knew of something she wanted that was so easily satisfied, she’d get it pronto, no excuses. I cannot trust someone who dodges & deflects, which undermines intimacy, which in turn is ruining an otherwise good marriage.

  • Norman

    March 8th, 2021 at 9:38 PM

    We have little to no sex. That has been partly due to depression, PTSD, and blood pressure meds. Recently in an attempt to break out of this I asked about her sexual interests and fantasy’s. She denies having any sexual fantasy’s or knowing what turns her own.

  • John

    December 28th, 2022 at 1:39 AM

    Being expected to have sex has got to be the worst part of adulthood. No, you don’t get to know my sexual fantasies because 1) I don’t have any; 2) I’m not a pervert, and 3) I don’t tell you personal things because you will use those as weapons against me in the future. My thoughts and feelings are none of your business.

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