What Do Sexual Fantasies Mean?
Where do sexual fantasies come from, and what does it say about who we are?
Stanley Siegel paints us a picture:
You are sitting in front of a computer screen surfing porn sites ready to get off. You sift through scenes and images until you connect to one. Suddenly, every element of desire falls perfectly in line. You become intensely excited, your physical and mental energy sharply focused and shutting out other thoughts. Eventually, you climax.
Most of us do not meticulously analyze what just happened. There might be some curiosity about why a certain porn turns us on. Typically, after getting off to it, we feel temporarily satisfied and pull ourselves back together.
Sexual fantasies, whether elaborate romantic themes or sporadic images of muscular arms or big breasts, mean much more than we think. Specific erotic images are connections to deeper inner truths long banished from consciousness.
Porn intensely focuses our mental and physical attention, uncovering specific emotions eroticized much earlier in life. Through our sexual fantasies, we attempt to master feelings of powerlessness, shame, guilt, fear and loneliness that have followed us into adulthood. Encoded in the porn scenes that lead us to orgasm are the psychological antidotes to these feelings. Situating ourselves in humiliating, romantic or risky scenes counteracts painful feelings by turning them into pleasurable ones. Psychologically, this happens outside our awareness, the way blood cells heal a cut finger without our knowing it.
The most common feelings people eroticize are:
• powerlessness and helplessness
• detachment and emptiness
• rejection and abandonment
• anger and aggression
• inadequacy, guilt and shame
• insecurity, loneliness and vulnerability
But is having the fantasy a problem in and of itself? No. When we have “unconventional” desires, we often hide them, further fueling any shame or negative emotions attached to the fantasy. Rather, if we embrace the fantasy – and perhaps even live it out (to the extent its possible in a safe and consensual manner) – we can not only understand ourselves on a deeper level, but we show ourselves love for the darker corners of the psyche.
The more we beat ourselves up over our sexual fantasies, try to avoid them, or assume they mean there’s something wrong with us – we allow ourselves to be taken further into whatever issues the fantasy reveals. The truth is, most of us have at least some so-called “unhealthy” desires because we live in a society that tells us sex is bad, sinful, or at best – something straight married people do to make babies. Sure we see sexuality all around us, but in an artificial, plastic way that does little to help us understand – let alone validate – our individual feelings and experiences.
Embrace fantasy, even – no, ESPECIALLY – if it makes you uncomfortable. If you begin addressing the issues it brings up, the fantasy may play more or a less role in your sex life. Look at the fantasy for what it is – a pattern of thought and emotion that leads to physical arousal and pleasure – and go from there. Human beings are extraordinarily simple and complex at once; our experiences do shape our sexuality, just as they shape every other part of us. Its not good, its not bad – it simply is. Accept – or even LOVE – this part of yourself, and you’re on the path to sexual healing.
- Relatonship Advice: Sexual Fantasy and Being Present
- Baba Dez on Sexual Energy, Sexual Wholeness and the Need for Sexual Healing