A reader submitted the following question:
“I am a straight and happily married man, but lately I have had fantasies about other men. Some of them are just about me and another man, while others involve my wife and I am with a gay or bi man. The question I have has several parts to it. First, is this normal? Second, I have told my wife about these fantasies, and she seemed interested at first, but now is stand-offish about it, how do I help her open up to it?”
Thank you for asking this question. Let me start by saying that it’s not uncommon for people who identify as straight or heterosexual to have same-sex fantasies.
As part of the survey of 4,175 Americans I conducted for my book Tell Me What You Want, I asked participants about who appears in their sexual fantasies. When I looked only at people who identified as exclusively heterosexual, one of the things I found was that 59% of women and 26% of men reported having had a same-sex fantasy before.
This isn’t to say that it was necessarily their favorite fantasy or one that they have frequently—just that they’ve found the idea of being with a partner of the same sex to be arousing at least once before.
So, yes, it is “normal” (by which I mean it is relatively common) for someone to have fantasies like this. I should also mention that my work is just one of many studies supporting this idea. There’s a growing body of research showing that sexual fluidity is actually pretty common across genders and sexual orientations.
As for the second part of your question, that’s a little more complicated. As a sex educator, I’ve received numerous questions from women who have discovered that their husbands or boyfriends have some degree of same-sex attraction and are worried that it means their partner is actually gay and/or is not attracted to them. Some also feel betrayed or offended because they feel like their partner has hidden an important aspect of their sexuality. Further, many of them feel isolated because they don’t necessarily feel comfortable talking about this within their social support network.
Of course, I don’t know what your partner is feeling, but it’s possible that she might share one or more of these concerns. As a result, it’s probably a good idea to find out what she’s thinking and feeling so that you can productively work past any potential concerns she might have.
Couple’s counseling is something you might consider in order to assist this process, especially if she seems to be having trouble understanding your attractions or feels a loss of trust.
So the first step is really working to help your partner come to terms with this. Potentially integrating your fantasies into your sex life is something that would only come after that—and it would really depend on what you’re both comfortable with.
When it comes to acting on sexual fantasies, it’s generally a good idea to start low and go slow. So instead of jumping right into a threesome or opening your relationship, you might start by using your fantasies as a form of “dirty talk.” Then you might proceed to watching pornography together that depicts your fantasies and/or getting some sex toys you can use to simulate a fantasy experience.
The goal is really to take some time to build up trust, communication, and intimacy because all of these components are essential for successfully turning fantasy into reality.
And if you’re thinking you might eventually like to bring other people into the bedroom, you’re going to need really good communication skills so that you can get on the same page about rules, boundaries, and expectations. You will also need to have conversations about how to manage STI risks, as well as potential risks to the relationship that might emerge (e.g., feelings of jealousy are not uncommon in multi-partner encounters).
You and your partner may also find the following background reading to be helpful:
· My book, Tell Me What You Want, offers tips and suggestions for successfully turning fantasy into reality. It also offers insight into the most common types of sexual fantasies and what they really mean.
· Mostly Straight: Sexual Fluidity Among Men is a worthwhile book for understanding the science and research behind male sexual fluidity.
· The Ethical Slut is a great resource for those who are interested in exploring sexually open relationships and multi-partner sex.
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