The Differences Between The Sexual Fantasies of Men and Women

sexual fantasies

Robert W. Birch, Ph.D. Sexologist & Adult Sexuality Educator

Robert Birch, Ph.D. Sexologist, Adult Sexuality EducatorHave you ever given any thought to the differences between the sexual fantasies typically conjured up by man and women. Men tend to have more sexual fantasies than women and are more likely to pair them with masturbation. Men, being visual beings, are likely create a visual image of a woman's sexual body and imagine watching her or seducing her or, quite often, being seduced by her. Women, on the other hand, are typically less visual in their sexual fantasies, are usually less focused on genitals, and usually focus more on the emotional feelings of a romantic encounter. Women also tend to involve more olfactory and auditory memories... memories of smells and sounds.

Many women have difficulty imagining an explicit sexual encounter, but readily acknowledge the stirring of sexual feelings while engrossed in a romantic novel or movie. Erotic fantasies, PG-13 through the X rated ones, can serve several sexual functions. Fantasies can induce sexual desire, maintain sexual arousal, enhance the sexual experience, trigger an orgasm, and preserve a memory.

The desire to be sexual is not controlled by a switch that can be turned on following the eleven o'clock news. Many people, particularly as they age or as a relationship matures, find that the easy turn ons are less and less likely to occur, particularly late at night. At times when time is limited, fantasies can serve to focus attention on the anticipated erotic event and help induce a desire for sexual intimacy.

More than one person has told me, "I'm not able to get excited on a moment's notice - I need time to psych myself up." To induce desire, you can think ahead about what you would like to experience and what you wish to both give and receive. Imagine the sexual encounter is your very first, but without those initial anxieties, and let it be, in your mind, a new and exciting adventure. Recall the good sexual feelings you have experienced and mentally reminisce about memorable past encounters. Conjure up the memory of a partner's warmth, softness, and gentle touch. See your partner's face in your mind's eye and recall that person's sounds of pleasure and the aroma of their excitement.


 


Desire can be induced mutually throughout the day, with, for example, a phone call to say, "I've been thinking of your wonderful body." The mid-day message, "You won't believe what I want to do to you tonight," can stir the imagination of both partners, spending the day thinking of the possibilities in store for that night.

For those without a partner, fantasies during the day can become the prelude for an episode of self-loving that evening. Self-stimulation, the normal, natural way of experiencing solitary pleasure, is a healthy outlet for many who are alone. Fantasy during the day can certainly prepare you for the quiet celebration of your own sexual response.

Most of us have had the experience of beginning a sexual encounter, only to find our minds wandering off to the worries of the day or the pressing issues of tomorrow. By pushing away the intrusive nonsexual thoughts, erotic fantasy can maintain arousal. When distractions hit, we need only focus on a pleasant sexual memory or project an exciting visual image on our mental movie screen. Fantasies can be of our current sexual partner, but often they will revolve around persons from the past, coworkers, movie stars, or attractive strangers. Bringing others into fantasies is normal and is justified if it serves the current relationship by eliminating distractions that would otherwise dampen or destroy the passion. Obviously, if someone feels guilty about including others in his or her fantasy script, they should be left out. Some people like a cast of thousands, while others want to focus exclusively on their current partner.

Many people worry about their fantasies being "kinky", but such fantasies are common. Unusual fantasies can help maintain arousal and are harmless if there is no compulsion to actually experience an act that would be emotionally or physically harmful to oneself or to others. Whereas honesty is usually the best policy, discretion must be used in the sharing of some unusual fantasies or fantasies involving other people. It is rare that a couple can share such private thoughts without, at best, a little discomfort. Too often the reaction to hearing a partner's most kinky fantasy is one of jealousy and distrust, if not anger and disgust.

One woman playfully imagined that her partner's penis was enormous, and reported how she would visualize engulfing this gigantic imaginary erection into her body... and she would privately marveled at her vagina's ability to swallow up this massive tool. She quickly acknowledged, however, that she had no desire to experience anything that large in real life, but she did enjoy embellishing her fantasy with the thoughts of dressing this impressive male member in doll's clothing and taking it for walks in the park. During her sexual encounters, this fantasy helped rivet her attention on the pleasure she was feeling from the very adequate reasonably-sized penis of her partner.

One night, this woman decided that it would be fun to share her fantasy with her partner. To her utter surprise, the man was devastated upon hearing her playful musings! He began worrying that she had been with men who had larger penises than his, fearing that these well-endowed men must have please her more than he could ever hope to. He erroneously assumed that she could not enjoy his average-sized penis, and began to feel totally inadequate as her lover. Fearing he could not satisfy this woman, he backed off sexually. When he did try, he felt self-conscious and, as a result, often failed to become erect. This, of course, led to more avoidance and self-degradation.


In couples therapy, this man worked on understanding that his partner's fantasy had nothing to do with his genital size or sexual performance, but made their shared intimacy more exciting for her. In our last therapy session he began laughing and, when questioned, shared his own "pet" fantasy. He had for many years fantasized he was making love to a virgin and that her vagina was the town's tightest. Both agreed that they loved each other, loved the sexuality they shared, and would never again ask about the private fantasies each used to dispel the occasional intruding distractions. The also learned that virginity and penis size are immaterial when there is love.

The consequences of disclosure were more serious for another couple. The man fantasized about having sex with his wife's younger married sister. While he found the sister attractive, he had no illusions about her commitment to her husband and would never, in reality, make a pass at her. When he shared his fantasy, however, his wife expressed anger and disbelief. She became extremely uncomfortable whenever her sister was around and believed that she had to watch them both closely for any signs of subtle flirtation. Angry that she now felt distrusting, not only of her husband, but of her sister as well, she chose to end her marriage with the man rather than further damaging her relationship with her sister. The fantasy proved to be too close, too personal, and too threatening.

Many shared fantasies, however, enhance desire and maintain arousal. One night a man entered a singles bar, propped himself up on a bar stool and slowly rotated, carefully surveying the women around him. Apparently no one caught his eye, so he turned his back on the scene and sipped quietly on his drink. About fifteen minutes later, a woman walked in. As her eyes adjusted to the darkened room, she also scrutinized the crowd. She wandered around a bit, being careful not to make eye contact with any of the men scattered around the room. After a few minutes of aimless wandering, she moved up beside the man who was seemingly intent on nursing his drink. Sliding between him and the person sitting next to him, she leaned toward the bar to catch the bartender's attention. As she did, the man felt her breast brush lightly across his arm, but he did not look her way.


 


After being served, the woman stepped back, drink in hand, and stood behind the man. Aware of her presence, the man turned and looked into her eyes. His unoriginal inquiry, "Do you come her very often?" was met with an abrupt, "No!" As he turned toward her, his leg came to rest against her thigh. She made no attempt to avoid the contact, but waited for him to continue his attempt to initiate conversation. Awkwardly he asked, "What do you do for fun?" Both grinned at her response, "I pick up strange men in singles bars." At this point the drink he had been nursing so patiently was gulped down in record time and he asked her to dance. She played at being reluctant, but allowed him to convince her. On the dance floor, they danced as though each was covered by porcupine quills and a large man on a Harley-Davidson could have driven between them. As they continued to dance, however, they moved closer until, from a distance, it looked as though their bodies had blended into one.

As they left together he asked, "Shall we take your car or mine?" Again giggling, they took his car to the nearest motel, where he produced a bottle of wine from an ice bucket on the back seat. Ralph and Mary, who had been married for three years, were acting out their shared fantasy. Once in the room, Mary enticed Ralph into seducing her slowly, pretending uncertainty "I really don't know if I should!" as he pretended clumsiness, fumbling to unbutton her blouse and acting bewildered by the complexities of the one-handed unsnapping of a push-up bra.

During their lovemaking, Mary intentionally cried out, "Oh Bill, you make me feel so good," and in the morning, Ralph pretended to have completely forgotten her name. It was a night not soon forgotten, providing the erotic content for many fantasies that followed.

Novelty can get lost in long-term relationships. When a couple becomes comfortable and familiar with each other sexually, they often forget to be romantic. The entire sexual scenario might become routine, taking place at the same time of the day and in the same location - and all too often hurried. While it might be impractical for most of us to make love on a beach, in fantasy we can imagine the sound of the ocean, the warmth of the sand beneath our body, and the excitement of making love under the stars. Perhaps yours will be a fantasy of making love in the woods, or in an old barn, or in the backseat of a car you had as a teenager.

Some fantasies can be acted out, e.g., a pick up in a grocery store. But most fantasies are just private thoughts that need not have a complex storyline, or a cast of hundreds. Working too hard at building a sexual fantasy can become a distraction, defeating one of its purposes. The best fantasies are often quite simple and tied in with pleasant memories. Often it is visual, creating a mental image of a part of the partner's body that is pleasing to look at, but impossible to see in the dark or in a particular position. At times words can be added to the fantasy while forming the mental image "I love your buns."

Special fantasies can be saved for those times when an orgasm is a bit elusive. These favorites can often add the final bit of excitement needed to trigger a powerful climax.

Fantasies serve many functions from getting started to getting finished. Remember, sexual fantasies before, during and after a sexual encounter are normal, natural and often helpful in changing a routine experience into a new and exciting event.

Robert W. Birch, Ph.D. is retired after 35 years of clinical experience, university teaching and public lecturing in the specialized area of relationships and sexuality. No longer a sex therapist, he now identifies himself as a sexologist and an adult sexuality educator, and lives and writes in rural Ohio with Susan and their four dogs. For much more on this topic, read Dr. Birch's illustrated book titled Male Sexual Endurance: A Man's Book About Ejaculatory Control. A shorter bare-bones outline of the start-start exercises are available in his manual titled Introduction To The Management Of Premature Ejaculation: A Short Book About Lasting Longer. For a short illustrated brochure on the use of vibrators, including their use during intercourse, read Dr. Birch's Your Vibrator: Using It, Enjoying It, and Sharing It. Men wanting to learn more about orally satisfying a woman should read the book written by Dr. Birch titled Oral Caress: A Loving Guide to Exciting a Woman. All these books and much more can be found on his website at http://www.oralcaress.com/.

next: Understanding Male and Female Sexual Fantasies

Last Updated: 08 April 2016

Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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