KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 — Many may perceive sex as a mere physical act, but the activity is also very much a mental process.
Naturally, everyone has a mental image or thoughts that sexually turns them on.
You may be dying to act it out between the sheets with your partner, but at the same time some people tend to question if their sexual fantasies are normal.
According to Dr Anaand Baskaran, fantasies stem from one’s imagination, desire, fear and drive a person’s experience that leads to a brief visual flash, hence it’s absolutely normal.
“Sexual or erotic fantasies are more specific because of their sexual content and/or intention to enhance sexual feelings and leading one to the orgasm.
“It’s an act of acknowledging one’s sexual desire in the form of role-play or attributes leading to a spiced-up sex life as long as it does not bring any harm along the way,” he said.
Dr Anaand, who treats sexually-transmitted infections, also noted that fantasies are an exercise of one’s alter ego and breaks from the mundane “vanilla sex” which might turn out to be predictable and boring after some time.
“This may even be the factor of why some marriages fall out due to the lack of communication between the couples addressing their sexual fantasies keeping in mind the safety and respect for each other.”
He said sexual fantasies and a healthy sex life go hand in hand in spicing up the relationship, hence the question of normalcy does not arise.
“It is more of a necessity to embrace each other’s wants and needs and the little sexual surprises which make the physical bond between the couples even stronger.
“A lack of fantasy is correlated with lack of communication, even sexual dysfunction at some point,” added Dr Anaand.
Citing various studies, he said it was found that sexual fantasies can do wonders to one’s sex life and ultimately the relationship.
Referring to a 2018 article on dyadic fantasies — fantasising about one’s partner, Dr Anaand said the study showed heightened desire and increased engagement in relationship-promoting behaviours.
“Relationship perceptions explained the link between dyadic fantasies and relationship-promoting behaviours, suggesting that such fantasies benefit the relationship by enhancing partner and relationship appeal.
According to him, humans can fantasise about anything they want, including things that they only want in a fantasy.
“No one fantasises about having sex with their partner in their bedroom in the missionary position.
“For most of us, that is relatively easy to get, so we don’t need to fantasise about it. Instead, fantasy fills in the blanks on what we want, but don’t have,” he added.
Common sexual fantasies
Although anyone can have different types of imaginations, Dr Anaand said sexual fantasies between men and women are quite different.
Quoting renowned American Anthropologist Donald Symons, he said male sexual fantasies have the tendency to be ubiquitous, frequent, visual, specifically sexual, promiscuous, and active, while for the female it tends to be more contextual, emotive, intimate and passive.
“For instance men being generally visual, hard-core and goal oriented are twice as likely to be triggered with what they have heard, seen or read like pornography for instance.
“On the contrary women who seek the sensitive, literary process of emotional caressing created through romance novels where the fantasy builds in a snowball effect,” he said.
Dr Anaand added that what men see is more important than fantasy touching, feeling and partner response, while women tend to focus their fantasies on a much personal level rather than purely judging on appearance and progress into fantasised sex more slowly.
When to pull the plug
Just like all the great things in life, fantasies come with their own set of pros and cons, and in some cases they can have a powerful negative impact.
“Some individuals recognise fantasies as a part of wild imagination to tame but others might find themselves acting out — bringing harm to themselves or to their loved ones because lust overcomes their sense of reality.
“Fantasies may cause addiction in some cases where the person starts using it as an emotional weapon and starts overstepping the boundaries,” said Dr Anaand.
He added that some forms of vile and illegal acts include rape, incest, kidnapping, bestiality, paedophilia and even adultery.
“If the fantasies start taking an obsessive quality, they can become just as disturbing and harmful as anxiety-laden obsessions.”
To take control of harmful fantasies, Dr Anaand said there are several self-dimming mindful ways to try before things get out of hand.
“First is mental detoxing where it’s all about observing and reminding yourself that fantasies are just thoughts.
“Realise that the mind likes to invent stories and fantasies. Hence, remind yourself that you don’t need to identify with your fantasies.”
Second, he said if the fantasies are causing mental suffering and you can’t seem to control them with self- help, seek help from others.
“Talk to somebody, whether a friend or someone close and understanding.”
Next, he advised to take charge of your behaviour if you are not able to control your thoughts.
“Avoid any people, places, or things that tend to trigger the pleasurable but addictive thoughts.
“Re-arrange your environment so that temptation is reduced,” he added.
Lastly, if all the fantasies are overpowering and leading to further destruction, Dr Anaand said it was best to seek help from trained professionals such as clinical psychologists or psychiatrists.
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