Fantasies come in many different intensities. Some are so compelling that you just have to act on them. But other fantasies fall under another category: Ones that pique your curiosity, but also make you a bit nervous. Maybe it’s a fantasy that’s lingered in the back of your mind, and you’re not sure you want to bring it to fruition. Or maybe a partner suggested something that you hadn’t thought of before. When your feelings aren’t very strong one way or another, it can hard to know whether you should actually give it a shot.
Art by Angelica Alzona
Here’s how to experiment with a fantasy — yours or a partner’s — if you’re not sure you’re going to like it.
Take Your Time
A lot of people feel pressure to act on fantasies right away, but you really don’t need to rush, especially if you’re feeling uncertain or nervous. Give yourself time to think through it, decide what you feel comfortable with, and set things up properly. The fantasy will still be there for you once you’re ready.
In particular, I recommend giving yourself plenty of time if you’re with a new partner. Try playing with manageable fantasies first, until you develop more comfort with and trust in your partner. (In other words, maybe try some Velcro handcuffs before going for total limb immobilisation.)
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Fantasies can be really challenging since most of us feel uncomfortable with or embarrassed by our desires. Even if you’ve had a fantasy for years, and been deeply turned on by it, you may still have a hard time saying it out loud or asking for it. Admitting that you have a fantasy — either to yourself or to a partner — is a vulnerable act. When it comes to fantasies you’re more uncertain about, they can be hard to ask for in a different way. It’s important to keep reminding yourself that your desires matter, and that they’re worth trying to get more comfortable with. Because after all, exploring your desires is one of the most central aspects of understanding your own sexuality.
(Just as you’d want your partner to respect your desires and be willing to listen, you should show that same level of care to them. Your partner is deserving of your respect; do your best to consider their fantasies with an open mind. Remember the courage it takes to share a fantasy. Talk through it with them — even if your initial urge is to dismiss their request.)
Masturbate to It
One of the fastest ways to figure out if you’re into something is to try masturbating to it (if you haven’t already). Actively fantasise about the details of your potential tryst while you’re masturbating alone. If it’s a common fantasy, such as a threesome or same-sex action, you can find erotica or porn featuring that particular act. Watch or read as you masturbate, and try picturing yourself in the story or scene.
If the fantasy gets your pulse going a few extra beats per minute, it probably deserves experimentation. If it actively turns you off, it’s probably worth stopping there. If you’re somewhere in the middle, at least try the next step.
Dirty Talk First
Dirty talking about fantasies is one of the most underrated sexual acts. It’s hot in and of itself, and it’s a great way to see how you feel about taking the next step. Sometimes it’s hard to get a sense of how you feel about a fantasy when you’re on your own, but talking it out with your partner can make your feelings much more clear.
As you’re fooling around, talk through the fantasy with your partner as if you were doing it live. You can mention outside of the bedroom that you’d like to play with dirty talk first. Or you can invite them to talk about it in the moment. As you’re getting down, say something like, “So tell me more about that outfit you want me to wear…”
With dirty talk, you can play around with your fantasies without actually changing your behaviours. You may even find that you’re happy leaving the fantasy as a dirty talk topic only. For example, a lot of monogamous couples love talking about threesomes or group sex.
Break it Down Into Baby Steps
If the fantasy passes the masturbation and dirty talk tests, you may decide it’s time to bring it into the real world. Here’s another place where most people go wrong: They dive right into trying to enact the entire fantasy. You don’t have to jump into the deep end right away, especially if you’re nervous. Instead, break down the fantasy into baby steps.
Try to identify what you or your partner really like about the fantasy. From there, see if you can identify ways to play with that central element without going all-in on the fantasy. For example, let’s say you’ve always been a bit curious about a having sex with a stranger fantasy. You don’t actually have to go out and find a stranger to have sex with right away. You can have a partner roleplay being a stranger. Or if you have a complete domination and submission fantasy, you may want to have a trusted partner start with a contract for one evening.
Identify Your Fears
Does your fantasy (or your partner’s) make you nervous? See if you can get a better sense of what’s troubling you, and work to minimise those concerns. For example, with a threesome fantasy, you may be worried about freaking out when you see your partner penetrating another person. You could try having a threesome where your third watches you and your partner, or does everything up to penetration with the two of you.
As is always the case with anything remotely adventurous in the bedroom, safety first! Establish a safeword that you can use to stop activity at any time. Make sure you fully understand the directions of any toys or equipment you’re using. Talk about the experience afterwards, and give you and your partner space to process whatever came up for either of you.
Create a Worst-Case Scenario Gameplan
You can set you and your partner at ease by coming up with a gameplan for getting additional support if your fantasy play goes awry. For more intense fantasies, such as pain play or bringing in another person, you may want to try scheduling a sex therapy or couples counselling session, so you know you’ll have a safe space to process what happened.
In most cases, thinking through the worst-case scenario is actually a great way to remind yourself that the stakes aren’t that high. For most fantasies, the worst that can happen is that you try something and don’t end up liking it. There probably aren’t going to be any long-term repercussions to experimenting with spanking your partner or going to a nudist resort.
Take the Pressure Off
When it comes to sex (and really, most things in life), you can’t always know whether or not you’re going to like something unless you give it a try. You may very well not like it — and that’s OK.
Tell your partner beforehand that you appreciate their willingness to play with your fantasies with you, and let them know that committing to trying a fantasy once doesn’t mean you have to do it on an ongoing basis. Either one of you can always stop in the middle and say, “You know what, I’m not loving this as much as I thought I would. Let’s go back to our usual thing.” Or afterwards, either one of you might want to say, “I don’t think I want to try that again. Once was enough for me.”
Taking the pressure off of yourselves and your fantasies in this way will help you both feel more comfortable with experimenting with different fantasies in the future.