Are Sex Fantasies Dangerous?
2 weeks ago • Sep 15, 2023
GloriaBrame • Sep 15, 2023
Do you ever feel conflicted about your sex fantasies? Like perhaps they’re “too extreme”? Do you sometimes wonder if your sex fantasies are dangerous?
It’s a conflict my clients have often voiced. They are turned on when they have certain fantasies but once the thrill-ride is over they view themselves with contempt. They worry that their fantasies will send them into a downward spiral.
Sometimes, it’s about the porn they watch. They chase the dopamine rush of new, exciting, and sometimes extreme. Then they’re afraid the extremes will be their new normal and will wreck their lives. (Read How to Move Beyond Porn Dependency if this is your situation.) Or they may lie to their partner about their fantasies and feel terrified about getting caught.
Sex Fantasies are Universal
Sex fantasies are a universal human phenomenon, with about as much diversity as you’d expect on a planet of 8 billion people. Some of us don’t have any, and some of us have galaxies of fantasies dancing in our brains.
Long before there was an internet to make porn easily accessible, people felt the same fears about sex fantasies when they departed from the norm. It made them question themselves and their own sanity. They worried they could become helpless slaves to their own depravity.
I was one of those people. I thought I must be sick or broken to enjoy kinky fantasies and kept my fantasies locked down tight. Without access to porn as a kid, my mind still raced through crazy, often non-consensual S&M scenarios. I felt doomed. I hated myself even more when one boyfriend rejected a low-key request to try bondage by saying, “Oh hell no, I only like the normal stuff.”
Growing up in cultures that groom us to stick to a narrow set of rules on sex, it’s not surprising we feel profound conflicts about being turned on by things that others consider weird. It makes us feel abnormal. Our anxiety about not fitting in, and about how people would see us if they knew the crazy fantasies we have, usually leads to self-recrimination. We worry it makes us unlovable, dysfunctional freaks. “If John only knew what really turns me on, he’d divorce me,” or “If Mary knew what kind of porn excites me, she’d run away screaming.”
How can we reach a more self-accepting and self-forgiving space? Are sex fantasies good or bad? Are some fantasies more dangerous than others? Like so many other ambiguities in human life, there are no simple, one-size-fits-all answers.
So let’s explore the realities and risks of sexual fantasies.
What Do Sex Fantasies Say About Us?
Oddly, they actually don’t say much beyond “This scenario aroused me.” They are not a measure of our morality or a barometer of our ability to form healthy relationships. A bisexual or homoerotic fantasy doesn’t make a person bi or gay, just as a transgender fantasy doesn’t mean we want to transition.
That said, one of the coolest things about fantasies is that they can open the door to new possibilities. “Maybe I should explore or experiment with new things and find out if I like them?”
Fantasies are good fodder for our libidos and great outlets for creativity. They release innate primal energy and provide safe ways to explore otherwise forbidden or high-risk territory without actually going there in reality.
Where Do Sex Fantasies Come From?
Just like the dreams we have during sleep, sex fantasies are spurred by a combination of factors. Mostly, it’s natural human curiosity about experimenting with a variety of sexual behaviors. Occasionally, they tell us that we need more or different to feel fulfilled. And, often they take unpredictable twists and turns in our subconscious minds.
When fantasies cause deep internal conflicts, then they may be signaling emotional baggage. I’ve worked with many people who were so repulsed by their fantasies that the question became not whether the fantasy was unacceptable but whether they were trapped in a cycle of using fantasies to punish themselves.
But what better place is there to break all the rules than in erotic fantasies? They are fictional escapes from normal life, like a role-playing game. Sure, you may be a bloodthirsty barbarian in a DnD game, but when you’re with your family, you’re still the person they know.
Are Fantasies Dangerous?
I take an existentialist point of view on this: a person is their actions, not their dreams. We are allowed to have bizarre private thoughts. What we cannot do is hurt people or break laws in real life. Real-life actions have real-life consequences.
From my clinical experience, I’ve observed that the people with the biggest fears of fantasies carry a burden of sexual shame and low self-esteem.
Sexual shame makes them interpret their fantasies as despicable. The fantasy isn’t the problem. Shame is the problem.
Low self-esteem makes them doubt themselves, which leads to poor self-trust. They are afraid they’ll make stupid, self-destructive choices. The real risk of them going off the rails is usually small. Their lack of self-trust is what makes them feel like they are a danger to themselves.
Fantasies aren’t dangerous. Some people are.
When Should You Fear Fantasies?
You may feel like punching someone who cuts you off while driving, but chances are you’ll just honk at them or swear to yourself. You might even say, “I could kill them!” and not be haunted by that thought. Why? While you know that some people have violent road rage, you know that you’re just blowing off steam in a safe way. A dark thought doesn’t make you a bad person.
Apply that to your sex fantasies. Imagining non-consensual or extreme acts is one thing; acting on them is another. Let’s consider BDSM for a minute. In action, BDSM is a consent-based system. We may simulate extreme fantasies but we also follow rules on mutual consent, limits, boundaries, safe words, and mitigating risk. Our goal is to enhance erotic pleasure through self-regulated action that will not harm ourselves or others. BDSM is not dangerous to most; but in the hands of people who don’t respect our rules, it certainly can be.
People who cannot separate reality from fantasy are similarly dangerous. So are people who lack human empathy or have low impulse control. For those who can’t self-regulate, fantasies may become ticking time bombs. So if you’re one of those people, sure, worry. If you’re not though, then you’re not likely to suddenly act on those dark fantasies.
Fantasize Freely But Play Safe
Use your fantasies to escape, to explore, to turn yourself on. As long as you sleep well afterward, you have nothing to worry about, no matter what dark corners you explore. Play safe in real life, enjoy the ride in your fantasies.
originally posted on https://gloriabrame.com/are-sex-fantasies-dangerous