Sometimes I fantasize about really nasty things during sex--so nasty that I can't bring myself to type them out. That's how embarrassed I'd be if anyone ever knew what I picture happening in my mind when my sweet, wonderful boyfriend is making love to me. Is there something pathologically wrong with me? Am I trying to avoid intimacy? I wasn't ever abused in any way. I'm a pretty decent, ordinary person with a great job, good friends and family, and I'd say I'm happy most of the time. So why do these dark fantasies play out in my head during sex?
He Said: As long as your fantasies do not involve children or violence, they are more likely not at all "nasty," a relative term. In fact, nasty is the new normal. There is a movement in pro-sex circles to take back terms like filthy and nasty, and there's even a relatively new gay-oriented underwear and accessories company called "Nasty Pig" that proudly plasters the logo on the front of jockstraps. I'd be willing to bet that your "sweet, wonderful boyfriend" is at least as nasty as you, and that you are both indulging simultaneous but unspoken desires. We all create elaborate scenarios in part to keep sex from becoming routine, and because, quite frankly, their taboo nature is, well, hot. But since you are obviously feeling embarrassed (an emotion that seems designed by jealous puritans to put a damper on our sex lives), maybe you should venture to discuss your imagination with your BF. If nothing else, you might find some overlap and the fantasy could become reality. Be forewarned, however: Sometimes talking about your secret desires can make them less intense!
She Said: The wisest man I ever met once said, in response to my wanting a deeper understanding of a phobia, “There is a point at which we become a mystery to ourselves.” He didn’t mean it as a blanket statement—that all self-examination was fruitless. He simply meant that there are depths within the human psyche that are not fathomable by reason. And certainly, our sexual fantasies and taboos—the scenarios we’d never actually act out but that turn us on and make us feel guilty all at once—live in these recesses. If you grew up in a Judeo-Christian society (or an Islamic or traditional Hindu one for that matter), chances are at some point your young, impressionable mind was taught that sex was either very dangerous, or outright "bad." Even if it wasn't said directly, there are thousands of years of genetic memory and ancestral history backing that general dictum. Is it any wonder then, that we often surround the act of sex with "bad" thoughts?
You didn’t specify, so I don’t know if you’re talking about a garden variety rape fantasy—which you would share with 46 percent of women, according to recent research—or something involving animals or the Gestapo or Mitt Romney. But whatever it is, the first thing you need to do is realize that it’s only a string of thoughts. We have tens of thousands of thoughts each day, rendering these fantasies just a few crashing waves in an ocean. Like all thoughts, they only become problematic when we label them so. I say bring your fantasy out into the light of day: Write about it at length, as if you were a playwright crafting the most horrific, XXX-rated scene ever. Get it all out on paper and then read over it for what it is: a story. A fiction. If you’re worried about anyone finding it, burn it afterward. Lastly, try talking to your boyfriend about it. Ask him if he ever fantasizes—chances are the answer is yes, if he’s honest. Tell him you do and that some of your fantasies embarrass you, but you’d like to share them with him, little by little. If he’s game and open, start slow: Give him a few details and see how he responds. The attempt to communicate them is itself an act of intimacy. But it’s important to realize that whatever his response is—from silence to “Sounds hot!” to “That’s sick”—it doesn’t actually matter. The contents of our own minds are private territory. They belong to us. In an interdependent world of shared homes and highways and offices and social media, take a little comfort in that. It isn’t merely allowable for you to fantasize; it’s your right. You needn’t justify, explain, or get approval from anyone else.
Curious? Heartbroken? Confused? Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org