You know the feeling — desire. While watching a sexy scene in a movie or TV show, it flickers in your body. What you’d give to be on that tropical island making passionate love or to have that attractive stranger whisk you away to the boudoir.
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Do you embrace those thoughts or set them aside? If the latter, you may want to consider some changes.
Fantasies may seem like simple daydreams, but they hold real potential for strengthened connectedness, creativity and pleasure with your partner, and that’s regardless of whether you’re newly paired or have been together for decades.
1. Boost Arousal
Research conducted at the University of Granada in 2007 showed that sexual fantasizing increases arousal. Male participants, however, responded more positively to sexual thoughts and accepted them more easily than female participants. This isn’t surprising, given that research also shows that women tend to experience more shame around sexuality.
Embracing sexual desires and imaginings can not only help minimize these negative beliefs, but also ease anxiety — which is more common in women and a potential cause of low libido for all genders.
“People often forget that our brain is a sex organ — a big one,” says Yana Tallon-Hicks, a sex educator and writer in Northampton, Massachusetts. “Turning it off while we wait for our bodies to do all the turning on cuts us off from our full power supply and pleasure potential.”
So when those sexy thoughts arise, let your mind wander fully into them. Or kick-start fantasies by intentionally savoring a sexy daydream or taking in an erotic film or story.
2. Reach Mutual Pleasure Potential
After you’re initially aroused, fantasizing can go a long way toward the pleasure potential Tallon-Hicks mentioned. The more turned-on you feel, the more pleasure you and your partner are likely to experience. You may even get more “OMG!” out of your Big O.
Think of fantasizing as mental foreplay. Talk with your partner about your desires to increase anticipation — which can also fuel pleasure. If you’re not yet comfortable talking about sex, begin with small steps, such as sending a flirty text about a fantasy and setting increased with sex talk as a goal. Research published in the Journal of Social Personal Relationships in 2012 showed a strong link between comfort in discussing sex and a pleasing sex life.
3. Break Out of the "Pattern"
Years into a relationship, it’s easy to fall into a comfortable, but not terribly exciting, routine — especially in the sex department, says Sandra LaMorgese, Ph.D., a sexuality expert and author in New York City.
“Instead of delving deeper into each other’s wants, needs, interests, turn-ons, turn-offs and deep fantasies, we fall into a pattern and stick with it, even when it becomes less exciting or fulfilling,” says LaMorgese.
Recommitting is important, she added. To help remedy bedroom monotony, explore new fantasies. Letting your thoughts drift down a sexy path can inspire creativity, shaking up the routine and adding a sense of novelty and adventure.
This is important, because new experiences boost dopamine and norepinephrine levels in your brain, inviting those punch-drunk, falling-in-love feelings.
4. Stay Present
Everyone experiences disruptive thoughts mid-coitus on occasion — some individuals more than others.
“For example, folks who might be struggling with [erectile dysfunction], anorgasmia or chronic pain can almost get stuck in their negative focus on their bodies during sex,” says Tallon-Hicks.
Fantasizing can allow you to stay in a sexual, erotic moment, she said, keeping these problems from becoming more prevalent or taking over.
If you find yourself feeling self-conscious of your performance or body during sex, refocus on sexual desires. Ask your partner about their fantasies, or share one of your own. If a fantasy is realistic, consider acting on it or something similar. Role-play or try an enticing, new-to-you position or technique.
5. Strengthen Intimacy
All of these perks can lead to increased closeness as a couple both in and out of the bedroom. The more pleasurable and gratifying your sex life is, the more likely you’ll be able to stay close emotionally. And any work you prioritize and engage in together can build a sense of connectedness.
To begin inviting these benefits, LaMorgese suggests starting slow.
“Build an atmosphere of nonjudgment where inhibitions melt away, a place where your deepest, darkest fantasies feel safe enough to come out,” she says, adding that the process takes time.
“Accept your partner’s fantasies without judgment, and start working toward fulfilling one of them. Be a giving lover and accept the same in return.”
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What Do YOU Think?
What do you and your partner do to stay intimate? In your experience, how does intimacy benefit your relationship? How do you feel about fantasizing? Let us know in the comments section!
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August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer and author of "Girl Boner: The Good Girl's Guide to Sexual Empowerment." Her work appears in Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, DAME Magazine, LIVESTRONG.com and more. augustmclaughlin.com