What do we do with our sexual fantasies? Count them, try to make them come true? In reality, fantasies are an end in themselves
Do you think about having sex in public, having a threesome with someone you know, wearing latex or toys? The sexual fantasies that appear the most in surveys are also those that are repeated the most in the media. But what do we do with our fantasies?
If before, sexual fantasies were something private, prohibited or shameful, the messages that we receive today from our environment encourage us to make them come true, share them with our partners, and try to make them in tune with our habitual sexual practices.
As if fantasy were something that we must expel from our interior and that it becomes, as far as possible, something common in our erotic encounters. As if there should be a radical correspondence between what we fantasize about and the possibilities that the material world offers us.
However, all these messages, rather than helping to maintain a satisfying erotic life, tend to be a source of problems and confusion.
Fantasies are not plans
In order to untangle the messes generated by fantasies and their implementation, it may be necessary to specify in a concise way what we mean when we speak of erotic fantasy. The clearest definition can be found in the work of the psychologist Eric Klinger (1):
“Verbalizations of all mental processes whose ideative product is not evaluated by the subject in terms of its usefulness to achieve any goal extrinsic to the process itself.”
In simpler terms, fantasy has no purpose. Like leisure and play (Krieger compares it to children’s games), fantasizing is a practice that has no other purpose than the practice itself.
This distinguishes fantasies clearly from another thought process with which it is often confused: planning. If you are buying the ropes to tie you to the bed, it is no longer a fantasy, it is a plan.
This differentiation is really important to understand the value of erotic fantasy. We fantasize about fantasizing, and we plan to carry out concrete practices.
Thus the fantasy is part of the intimacy of the subjects, and is not limited by objective reality. It does not need to be possible. It does not belong to the sphere of the literal and materializable, but belongs to that of metaphor and allegory.
The pressure of the immediate
This confusion between fantasy and planning means that fantasies are affected by two major cultural problems in our society: immediacy and the progressive disappearance of our privacy.
Fantasy is part of autoerotics, that is, erotic practices that help people find themselves. These practices include masturbation, but also sensory self-exploration or the enjoyment of pornography, all alone.
Fantasy does not produce anything consumable immediately. It is the result of calm and the possibility of having your own time alone, without haste. If, on the contrary, we seek immediacy, the fantasy is reduced in many cases to a masturbatory stimulus.
Although masturbation is an important part of many people’s autoerotics, fantasies can also be enjoyed without masturbation. Identifying erotic fantasies with masturbation detracts from both forms of autoerotics. It is a product of our culture in which everything must be materially productive, in this case, an instrument for orgasm.
Your fantasies are yours
The same happens with the imposition to share it, confess it and carry it out. Autoerotics allows us to explore ourselves, know ourselves and learn about ourselves; explore our desires without the judgment of others interfering with them, and experience them as fully as possible. There is no need to expose fantasies, as we are continually told.
Already in 1973, the author Nancy Friday (2) warned about this way of seeing women’s fantasies:
“Most people think that women’s sexual fantasies fill a need, a vacancy; that they are taking the place of The Real Thing, and as such they arise not in moments of sexual fulfillment, but when something is missing ”.
Today’s media messages make this true of everyone’s fantasies in general. However, for sexology, sexual fantasy is something quite different.
Sexual fantasies are a central part of people’s autoerotics, enjoyable and constructive, which helps them find and become intimate with themselves, in the same way that encounters with other people serve to generate intimacy with them.
It is not mandatory to materialize sexual fantasies. This does not give them value but rather subtracts it. What happens in certain fantasies could never be carried out in reality.
Keeping fantasies in the sphere of intimacy makes them become a form of personal enrichment. Let us fantasize about fantasizing and enjoy that space of personal freedom that only occurs in that intimacy, in that Secret Garden as Nancy Friday called it.
1 Klinger, E. Structure and Functions of Fantasy John Wiley and Sons. Hoboken. 1971.
2 Friday, N. My Secret Garden. Trident Press, New York. 1973.