From tying up your partner a la “Fifty Shades of Grey” to spying on your significant other while they seduce a stranger, the sky’s the limit on what you may secretly (or not so secretly) fantasize about. According to a study done by sex toy brand EdenFantasys, one in four Americans has a secret sex scenario that they want to act out but have yet to share with a partner.
So what’s the appeal of a fantasy? Sexual health coach Dr. Jayne Guyn, Ph.D., RD, and author of “Too Busy to Get Busy,” says, “Our erotic urges enjoy playing to a script. It’s not necessary to have one to run eroticism, but when a turn-on meets a hot story — particularly a forbidden story — it has a place to land.” Read on to learn why some of the following popular fantasies may fire up your libido.
Do you dream of engaging in a menage a trois? You’re not alone. Out of nearly 4,200 Americans interviewed by social psychologist and author of “Tell Me What You Want” Dr. Justin Lehmiller, 89 percent fessed up to fantasizing about having a threesome.
Why is the threesome such a common fantasy? Sexual health coach Dr. Guyn explains, “This fantasy is one of abundance — more partners. The psychological basis of this fantasy lies in the sexual scarcity that many men (and some women) experience. The fantasy of threesomes and ‘more-somes’ removes any feeling of shortage and replaces it with multiple hands, mouths and bodies. The anxiety of ‘not enough’ is banished.”
Up Next: This powerful sexual fantasy demands safety and consent.
2. Domination and Submission
Whips, chains, leather, oh my! These are all accessories in one of the top three sex fantasies in the U.S. — BDSM, per Dr. Justin Lehmiller’s study. As a whole, BDSM is categorized as multiple sexual activities that involve (consensual) power plays — namely bondage and discipline, domination and submission, and sadism and masochism. In this case, the “D” and “S” stand for domination and submission. Sexual health coach Guyn says, “The psychological basis for the dominance fantasy is infantile (i.e., ‘I’ll take what I want’). In submission fantasies, it’s ‘I am powerless, and in my lack of power you secure me.’”
Your daily life may be an underlying factor in whether you prefer a dominant or submissive role. According to certified sex therapist and sexologist Dr. Jenni Skylar, “For those who live more rigid, busy lives dictated by Google calendars, the appeal of surrendering to a submissive experience in a BDSM scene can feel simultaneously relieving and exciting. Vice versa, someone who feels crazed by the chaos of the world may enjoy a dominant experience and the excitement of being in control.”
Up Next: This common fantasy involves discipline.
3. Bondage and Discipline
If you’d love to try sexual restraints (e.g., ropes and handcuffs) on your partner, you may be fantasizing about the “B” in BDSM — bondage. Dr. Lehmiller says, “Bondage and discipline (the second meaning for “D”) involves one person surrendering control to another. Only bondage involves physical restraints — handcuffs, rope, etc.— while discipline involves psychological restraints.”
Dr. Lehmiller elaborates, “Discipline is all about controlling someone else’s behaviors — what they’re allowed to do or say — through rules and punishment. In some ways, then, discipline can be thought of as surrendering both body and mind to another.”
Up Next: This common fantasy may make you question your sexual orientation.
4. Sex With Someone of the Same Gender
If you identify as heterosexual, have you ever dreamed about a steamy encounter with someone of the same sex? Sexual health coach Guyn explains: “Because women are socialized to repress their sexual desires — even when in a loving relationship — many women fantasize about a partner who ‘knows how to please a woman’ (i.e., another woman) instead of communicating with a male partner about her specific desires in the bedroom.”
Guyn adds, “Men also fantasize about same-sex sex. They think that a male partner would be more intuitive, knowledgeable and competent at pleasuring, particularly during oral sex."
Up Next: Does the thrill of getting caught in flagrante make your heart race?
5. Sex in Public Places
From sneaking off for a quickie at a party to joining the Mile High Club, public sex has secured a place in numerous films and television shows (and the minds of many Americans). Dr. Justin Lehmiller states, “Most of these fantasies about public sex seem to be driven by the same thing: a sense of adventure and the thrill that one could potentially be observed or caught in the act. Public-sex fantasies are therefore more about enhancing sex by inducing an element of risk and fear than anything else.”
According to Lehmiller, emotions like fear and anger are oftentimes mistaken for sexual arousal “because these emotions stimulate our bodies, causing our hearts to beat faster and our breathing to become heavier.”
Up Next: Like to watch? This is the fantasy for you.
If you’d rather watch than get in on the action, you may be among the voyeuristic variety. According to Dr. Lehmiller, 60 percent of participants reported fantasizing about voyeurism. However, he establishes: “The point of voyeurism fantasies is to observe others without being seen. But true voyeurism is nonconsensual in nature because it involves someone being watched without their awareness. Given that consent is lacking in these cases, voyeurism is illegal when the fantasy becomes reality.”
Certified sex therapist Kristie Overstreet adds, “These fantasies are appealing because they change up sex and intimacy by providing a different experience. Curiosity and pleasure are heightened because you are doing something different than what you are used to.”
Up Next: If three's a party, this next sexual fantasy is a festival.
7. Group Sex or Orgies
If you dream of having multiple partners at once, you’re not alone. According to Dr. Lehmiller’s study, 74 percent of participants feel the same. Dr. Jane Guyn explains, “We are taught by society that sex is the ultimate expression of love and intimacy. When we feel raw sexual urges that include images or desires to be erotic with people other than a loving mate, we repress them, hoping to make them disappear because they confuse us. This only makes the urges stronger. They develop a charge. The more we push them down, the more power they hold over us.”
Certified sex therapist Dr. Jenni Skylar adds, “If we deconstruct the appeal behind the top American fantasies, the theme of multiple partners in a mostly monogamous culture is new and taboo and therefore can feel scintillating. For many, the fantasy is often about being doted on by multiple people, being the recipient of attention and pleasure.”
Up Next: This fantasy tempts you to taste “the forbidden fruit.”
8. Sex With Someone Who’s Unavailable
Whether it’s a married person, an attractive co-worker or even your boss, the thought of having sex with someone who’s “off limits” can be extremely thrilling. Erika Weisel, a licensed therapist focusing on sexual and emotional addictions explains, “What makes these fantasies appealing to the masses is they deal with pleasure, pleasuring and making one emotionally available to the fantasizer. The emotional gratification derives from making the person available who has previously resisted. The higher the sexual desires of the fantasizer, the more sexual and ego fulfillment is obtained because of the submission by the object of their conquest.”
According to sex therapist Dr. Megan Fleming, it’s perfectly normal to fantasize about someone who’s taken or otherwise forbidden. She says, “Sexual fantasies are a natural expression of human imagination. In our imagination, there is safety with no risk, everything is permitted and nothing is wrong or bad.”
What Do YOU Think?
What is your biggest sexual fantasy? Have you ever tried any of these popular sex fantasies in real life? Is the psychology behind these fantasies surprising to you? Let us know in the comments section.
Michelle Spencer is a writer, music addict, and fitness devotee. Hailing from St. Louis, Missouri, she moved to L.A. in 2007 and has tried nearly every type of Crunch workout class – from Pound™ and 2FLY to Jillian Michaels’ Bodyshred and Diesel. (Running, weights, yoga, and spin are her staples.) She has also written for Thrillist, Brobible/Guyism, and Dame.