OPRAH MAGAZINE: 8 of the Most Common Sexual Fantasies
People fantasize about a lot of things: a no-expenses-barred vacation in Bora Bora, finally getting promoted to the corner office, one full day where no one wants or needs a single thing from
you… And fantasizing about those things are fun, because you just might get them one day. But you shouldn’t take your sexual fantasies so
As intense as sexual fantasies may be, “we may not actually want to do them,” says Cyndi
Darnell, a clinical sexologist based in New York City. “Instead, these fantasies can offer a portal into aspects of our non-sexual emotions that we’re trying to reconcile in our
And, sometimes, those fantasies can be a little troubling—like, say, fantasizing about having sex with someone besides your partner. But imagining being naked with a stranger doesn’t necessarily
mean you’re looking to cheat or in you're
in the throes of an emotional affair. “What makes a fantasy
powerful is the fact that it is just that: a fantasy!” says Darnell. “Its purpose is to help you process things, and is not a reflection of any latent erotic desire.”
Confused about what your sexual fantasies might mean? These are a few of the most common ones.
1. Being dominated
Looking for a Christian Grey to your Anastasia Steele? Nearly 65 percent of women fantasize about being dominated sexually, according to a survey of more than 1,000 people that was published in
the Journal of Sexual Medicine. “There's a reason 50 Shades of Grey made such an
impact!” says Channa Bromley, a relationship and dating coach. “BDSM is alluring because one partner relinquishes all sense of control. They’re submissive to the person touching them, but
subconsciously give themselves permission to be wild, to be orgasmic in response—she doesn't need to hold back.”
Fantasizing about being dominated doesn’t imply that you're weak or that your partner is superior to you, though. “Fantasies involving power play may speak to a desire to gain or relinquish
control regarding our private lives, work lives, or role in society,” says Darnell. “Power dynamics in an erotic context create such sensorial arousal.”
2. Having a threesome
Eighty-nine percent of the 4,175 Americans surveyed by social psychologist Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D., for his book Tell Me What You Want admitted to fantasizing about having a threesome with other people (those in relationships did say ideally one of those people
would be their partner).
“Fantasies of being the center of attention and desired by large groups of people may be about a longing to be seen and valued as a person of worth or importance, or part of something much larger
than the individual self,” says Darnell. That could be why around 57 percent of women actually fantasize about having sex with morethan three people
at a time, according to the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
3. Getting it on with someone from the same sex
Lehmiller’s study also found that 59 percent of women confess to fantasizing about sex with other women. But if you’ve always been into the opposite sex, a sexy girl-on-girl dream doesn’t mean
you’re suddenly not into guys. “Female on female sex focuses on oral and clitoral stimulation, and this is how many women orgasm,” says Bromley. “A fantasy about another woman could be about the
desire to be pleasured in a way that women understand
And, not for nothing, it’s only recently that women have been able to express more freedom and choice around sex. So dreaming of a little same-sex action may be more about that liberation than
sexual orientation—“gender fantasies might suggest longing to break free of the social obligations placed upon us by gendered restrictions,” explains Darnell.
4. Enjoying a romp in public
If you’ve ever had sex as a guest in someone’s house, you know that the thrill of getting caught can make
your romp seem even hotter. And 57 percent of women fantasize about taking things even further by having sex in a public place, according to the research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. “There’s a sense of liberation and empowerment in fantasizing about having an audience and the idea that you sexually excite others with
your performance and arousal,” says Bromley.
Just because you dream about or imagine being naked in front others doesn’t mean you’ve got an exhibitionist streak IRL. Remember, “fantasies permit us to engage in imaginary scenarios without
real-world complications—like jealousy, hurt feelings, offending others, or even risking arrest,” says Levy.
5. Having sex with total strangers
Ever had a sexy stranger show up in your dreams, or someone you’ve never met in person (ahem, Idris Elba…)? Nearly 50 percent of women report that they fantasize about having sex with an unknown
person, the survey in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found. “The anonymous ‘stranger’ fantasy permits people to avoid issues like attachment,
intimacy, or jealousy,” says David A.
Levy, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist based in Los Angeles.
The more impersonal nature of a stranger fantasy may also indicate you’re trying to detach yourself from something that has nothing to do with your relationships. “Fantasies about sex with
strangers may give expression to a desire to be free of pressure, duty, and responsibility to others in our day-to-day lives,” says Darnell. “Often times, such fantasies are about what that
person represents rather than who they are.”
6. Or, doing it with someone you know that’s not your spouse
Sixty-six percent of women fantasize about having sex acquaintances, reports the Journal of Sexual Medicine. But if your boss, your friend’s husband,
or your smokin’ neighbor suddenly makes an appearance in one of your fantasies, don’t freak out.
“One of the greatest enemies of sexual desire and satisfaction is boredom,” says Levy, “especially in longer-term relationships.” Fantasizing
about someone you know is partly due to the fact that they regularly show up in your real life, and also because “novelty, mystery, curiosity, and imagination are all hallmarks of desire,” says
If you’re fantasizing about someone you despise, it’s not just for the super hot hate sex: “Fantasies about a person we actively dislike may be a way of coming to terms with the dynamic and
taking control of the situation in your mind to make peace with it in the real world,” says Darnell.
7. Mixing pain with pleasure
Going back to those 50 Shades fantasies… Sixty-five percent of people fantasize about receiving pain, whether in the form of spanking, biting,
or dripping hot wax, Lehmiller found in his research. “S&M is about relinquishing control—it’s a way people forget themselves,” says Bromley. “The pain brings you into your physical being and
into the present moment. Also, physiologically, the pain inflicted wakes up the body, making it more sensitive to pleasure.”
Spanking, biting, and dripping hot wax are all elements of foreplay, which builds anticipation and pleasure to even higher levels before the main event. “The dynamic here usually involves
control: either gaining a sense of control (usually for the person administering the pain) or relinquishing control (for the person receiving the pain),” says Levy.
8. Making love in a romantic location
Nearly 85 percent of women fantasize about getting down in a sultry locale, like on a deserted beach, the survey in the Journal of Sexual
Medicine found. It’s not just because we’ve been conditioned by romance novel covers, although that does play a part—“for women, emotional and contextual factors are more prominent in
fantasies,” says Levy, and a romantic setting can help get you revved up.
Somewhere romantic like “a deserted beach is far away from chores, deadlines, or any responsibilities,” says Bromley. “It’s a place where a woman can just be in the present moment. There isn’t
anything waiting for her to do, she can just relax into the bliss.” And what’s sexier than that?