As a nation, we’re a bit rubbish when it comes to talking about sex. In fact, only a quarter of us are happy talking about what goes on in the bedroom, a survey by eharmony found. So it’s hardly surprising that when it comes to discussing our sexual fantasies, we can be even tighter-lipped.
This discomfort is particularly common among those in long-term relationships, sex and relationships therapist Miranda Christophers tells HuffPost UK. “The main reasons people don’t usually want to share is because they are embarrassed or feel their partner may react negatively,” she says.
The good news is that it’s never “too late”. Trust is key – feeling safe enough to open up to your partner (or partners). “It’s important that you are considerate of each other to avoid feelings of rejection or shame,” says Christophers.
Fantasy chat can be introduced at any stage in a relationship – and it’s worth revisiting regularly. “Over time, people get focused on domesticity and the direction changes or they feel scared of triggering negative reactions, so it becomes more unspoken about, which puts up a bit of a wall,” she explains.
This can perpetuate discomfort and result in couples avoiding the conversation altogether. However, talking not only improves your sex life but your emotional connection, suggests Christophers. “It can make you feel incredibly close knowing that your partner has shared their innermost sexual thoughts with you.”
So, that thing you’ve always dreamt of doing? Here’s how to broach it ...
Set the scene.
It’s important both parties feel relaxed, comfortable and bonded, says Cate Mackenzie, a psychosexual therapist couples counsellor. “If people are nervous to mention something, they can rush into expressing themselves, which may trigger the other person. People are more open when they feel safe and their nervous system is relaxed.”
A good way to set up these conversations is by making sure the setting is relaxed, so sitting down on the sofa or having a bath together. Stay humorous and flirty, making the fantasy sound fun, she adds. You should be able to laugh about it, while also playing with new ideas.
Consent is crucial, Mackenzie stresses – striking the right balance between suggesting ideas, but not forcing your partner to do things. “We are all sensitive people and if you can use emotional literacy, then you can invite your partner into supporting you to enjoy sex even more.”
‘I’ statements involving the other person can help: “I would love it if you smacked my bum” or “I would like to lick chocolate off your breasts”, for example. “You shouldn’t be saying anything along the lines of ‘you are so boring you never try anything new,’” she adds. That’s a sure-fire turn off right there.
Ask the question
Turning the focus onto your partner is a great way to kickstart the fantasy chat. Christophers suggests asking them what they like while you are getting busy.
The most common sexual fantasies, according to a US survey, include having a threesome; engaging in BDSM (including spanking, biting or being submissive/dominated) and shaking up a sex routine with different positions, locations or partners; to public sex and open relationships.
But there are hundreds of potential fantasies – all a fantasy really is is a thought or idea that turns you on.
Play a game
To enter the zone gently, you could suggest a game, such as taking turns to describe a fantasy. Christophers recommends writing out a list of five each, putting them in a jar and then taking turns to pull them out and talk about them. If they’re a turn on for both of you, perhaps explore them a bit more.
An alternative approach is sharing erotic fiction with your partner, suggests Molly Moore, sex blogger at Molly’s Daily Kiss and director of Eroticon UK. “There are lots of excellent erotic anthologies to pick from, such as Best Women’s Erotica. Use that as way of exploring the things that you both like and desire,” she explains.
Talking about why a story turned you on with a partner can be “much less daunting” than directly talking about your fantasies. “But it can open up the conversation and create a landscape between you where you both feel more able to explore those things together,” says Moore.
Some people actually don’t find it easy to talk about their sexual fantasies face-to-face, which is perfectly normal. If that’s you, why not broach the idea by message? “If you don’t feel comfortable talking about it via your regular message apps you could set up a new messaging app [or thread] and invite your partner to talk to you on it,” suggests Christophers. “This may help to create a new but safe space which can feel more secretive and erotic.”
Keep it playful, don’t rush it, and remember “fantasies are fantasies” – you don’t have to act them out or see them as a threat, says Christophers. “Many people like to keep them just as a fantasy but sharing it with your partner and possibly talking about it erotically during sex can really spice things up.”