Is It Normal To Fantasize About Other People During Sex?

Dear LELO,
Lately, I’ve been finding harder and harder to ‘focus’ during sex. I’m still attracted to my boyfriend, but when we’re in the middle of things, I start to think about some other sexier scenarios than the usual ‘post dinner pre-sleep’ sex in our bed.’ But sometimes it’s not just other places or situations, but a totally different person!
I feel really guilty, and I’m not sure if I should tell my boyfriend or not. I don’t think he’s noticed but I feel so dishonest!
Help!
Distracted

Dear Distracted,

Let’s start with the good news: Yes, you’re perfectly normal, and no, you’re not a monster. Fantasies are a harmless facet of our sexuality in which we are able to explore things safely do literally anything (and anyone). But, obviously, the full answer has a bit more nuance to it.

If your mind wanders during sex and you start to think about something – or someone – else, you’re not alone. Even during passionate, mind-and-soul-engulfing sex, our thoughts can turn to random things, be it the state of our body-hair when the clothes come off (and if we have any points on our waxing card left), whether our roommate can hear us (and if they remembered to buy milk or not), or how romantic your date had been (and how hot your server was).

While not everyone might be willing to admit it, we have all thought about someone else during sex, whether during the solo kind or the partnered kind. Most of us agree that thinking about people other than our partner during masturbation, either while fantasizing or watching porn, is fine, but why do some people feel so guilty when it happens with a partner?

Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

Humans, despite how much we strive for comfort and security in life and in relationships, are inherently interested in novelty. Now, the degree to which we are interested in/pursue novelty varies from person to person, but to some extent we all enjoy trying something new and exciting.

Long-term relationships are the exact opposite of that. Once the rush of initial passion and nerves wear off, we settle into the comfortable. It’s not to say that’s a bad thing―having sex with a partner you know well means you both are more comfortable with each other, and ideally have a better idea of how to satisfy each other.

Thinking about someone else during sex lets you enjoy something different within the bounds of your relationship, which may particularly be relevant if you’re monogamous. It’s important to remember that being in a monogamous relationship is a choice, choosing not have sex with other people, but it doesn’t mean not wanting to have sex with other people.

A Wish that Your Heart Makes

While it’s commonplace to fantasize about other people, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give some consideration as to why and how you are thinking about other people. If your fantasies are happening every once and while, that’s not a big deal, but it is if you’re using it as a necessary escape from your current relationship reality.

Fantasizing about other people in the bedroom, if not the problem, can still be a symptom. Is there something missing from your sex life (a kink, physical attraction, etc.) that you can’t live without? Are you emotionally hung up on an ex? These are actual issues that manifest as not being present in the bedroom, and it’s definitely worth exploring to prevent some subconscious, bottled-up behavior from exploding in the future. In fact, any time something just feels “off” sexually, we should use that as an opportunity to look inward and check in with ourselves.

Give Your Partner a Piece of Your Mind

We can all be jealous and insecure sometimes, but even the most rational of us would not greet the news that our partner is thinking about someone else while with us happily. Even if we rationally understood something, like our partner fantasizing about anonymous sex with a sexy farmhand, we might not be able to shake the feeling that our partner isn’t really present during sex.

It can help to be honest with our partners about what kinky scenarios and fetishes that turn us on. You probably don’t want to tell them that you’ve thought about their best friend before, but being more open about the general scenarios you do fantasize about can help you both have a better understanding about what turns you on. Our fantasies don’t equal actions, and just like you don’t actually want to go have sex with some stranger baling hay, your partner might be turned on by how sexy you find that fantasy, without actually wanting you to go through with it. Fantasies in general can help you explore a headspace without the risk of judgement from your partner.

Conclusion

So we’ve told you that it’s normal, we’ve told you to talk it out, and we’ve told you to do some soul searching.

If you were looking for a much simpler answer, all we can say is that ‘being good in bed involves being present and making your partner’s pleasure important to you.’ Oh, and never ever yell out someone else’s name. Unless they ask you to.

Written by: Katy Thorn

Katy Thorn is a post-grad writer with a passion for writing about sex, sexuality, and all things rated R. She received her degree in Women’s Studies with a focus in Intersectionality at the University of California, Berkeley (Go Bears!). She has a cat named Yoko, drinks too much black coffee, and hates writing bios.

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