Do I let him in on my fantasy when we’re in bed?

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I’m using fantasy during sex with my husband — should I keep this to myself or tell him?

Fantasy is an opportunity for our imaginations to take a walk on the wild side, but because what happens in our heads tends to be so much racier than what happens in our beds, most people keep quiet about them. Keeping these thoughts private also adds to their erotic charge, and once a specific sequence of mental pictures leads to an easy orgasm, it can create a kind of Pavlovian response where your favourite fantasy triggers arousal and arousal will trigger your favourite fantasy.

Fantasy is a very powerful aphrodisiac and a number of studies confirm that it motivates women to want to have sex, and can increase arousal. Other studies have found that sexual fantasy can increase love and affection in a relationship — but these effects only occur if the sexual fantasy is focused on the partner. It’s more common, however, to fantasise about someone other than the person you are in a sexual relationship with. For people like you, who are wrestling with the “tell or don’t tell” dilemma, I suggest that the decision is ultimately determined by content. If your fantasy revolves around your husband, that’s probably a turn-on. If it is about someone else, it’s likely that he would feel betrayed.

For some, an effective fantasy can have a transformative impact on their sexual relationship. Indeed, clinical psychologist Dr Harold Leitenberg argues that sexual fantasies can be a way for couples to satisfy their need for novelty and variety without threatening their relationship. For most people it is not that simple, largely because there is such a massive disconnect between what people think about and what they actually do. Many people have fantasies about very wild sex that they would never want to happen in real life.

The conflict between what people think about and what they want to do makes fantasy a difficult topic to discuss, even with a close partner, but it doesn’t make fantasy any less ubiquitous. When he was researching his book Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire, Dr Justin Lehmiller surveyed more than 4,000 people and 98% of them reported having had at least one sexual fantasy. Lehmiller’s research suggests that the likelihood of your husband having sexual fantasies of his own is very high. However, if you do decide to broach this subject, keep it about your own fantasies rather than try to draw his out of him. Preface anything you say by explaining that you are telling him about your fantasies because you feel guilty keeping sexual thoughts from him. He may not want to hear, but it is much more likely that he will want to know all about the content — so before you say anything, think carefully about the potential consequences.

Telling your husband that you think about threesomes while you are in the throes of passion with him might leave him feeling hurt, betrayed or rejected. Or it might turn him on. He may even want to act them out — but you may not. It is obviously your call to make, but generally speaking, if your sexual fantasy involves anyone other than your husband, it is probably safer to keep it to yourself.

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