By Beatty Cohan, MSW, LCSW
In my 35 years as a practicing psychotherapist and sex therapist, I have treated hundreds of men and women of all ages and stages in life– both heterosexual and homosexual– whose problems have included depression, anxiety, early child sexual abuse, addictions of every kind and relationship and sexual problems. In all those years only a handful of patients have chosen to share their sexual fantasies with me. And in daring to do so, what they were all looking for was my reassurance that it was ok to fantasize and that their fantasies were “normal.” In retrospect, this is an area that I should have explored more thoroughly with all of my patients. And indeed, this is a topic that most of us (whether we are in therapy or not) should not be afraid to explore, as we seek to have richer and more fulfilling sex lives.
Children’s natural curiosity and their openness to the world around them allows them to have creative fantasies as they attempt to understand and make sense of the world. As we develop and mature sexually, we all begin to fantasize about what it must feel like to fall in love, be in love, experience that first kiss and have sex. We all remember our first crush and that ‘feeling’ that gave us butterflies in our stomach. As a child I too was mesmerized by movies about love and sex and devoured romance novels and magazines, which only served to further activate my already active sexual fantasy life. As an adult, I read Nancy Friday’s book My Secret Garden which became an instant classic and one of the only books available at that time that enabled women to pursue and enjoy their sexual fantasies. These days, adolescent girls and boys, especially when talking among themselves, are very open and honest about their sex lives and sexual fantasies.
I have observed that as adults begin to form more permanent love relationships, the topic of sexual fantasies wane. In fact most adults are apt to repress their sexual fantasies as ‘life’ takes over. And we can all attest to the fact that talking about sexual fantasies is unlikely to be dinnertime conversation among adults. And yet we all have fantasies, sexual and otherwise.
In writing this piece I want to give people permission to fully explore their deepest sexual fantasies with themselves and with their partners. I also needed to acknowledge to myself that although I have always had a rich sexual fantasy life, I too rarely shared these fantasies with anyone for fear of embarrassment. Fortunately, today I am in a relationship where I am able to not only talk about these fantasies, but to act them out as well, if I so desire.
I encourage you to take whatever steps you need to take to free yourself mentally and sexually. Tell yourself that from this day forward you will no longer repress, suppress, deny or avoid enjoying your sexual fantasies to the fullest as long as these fantasies aren’t acted out in a way that will be hurtful to you or others.
I wish you a successful and sexually charged fantasy life.
Beatty is a nationally recognized psychotherapist, sex therapist, co-author of For Better, For Worse, Forever: Discover the Path to Lasting Love, columnist, national speaker and national radio and television expert guest. She currently hosts a live ASK BEATTY radio show on the Progressive Radio Network in New York City and has a private practice in New York City and Sarasota, Florida.