Even though all of us are familiar with the term, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” it’s something most of us tend to do especially when it comes to making assumptions about another person’s sex life.
Usually, when we think of someone who is into something “kinky,” i.e., BDSM, role playing, etc., a certain type of person comes to mind. Rarely do we tend to envision someone who is ordinary or looks like us.
However, I could write an entire piece of nothing but anecdotes about some of the most ordinary-looking, normal people whose sexual fantasies make 50 Shades of Grey look G-rated by comparison. While some people learn of their partner’s fantasies via the old-fashion way—that is, their partner feels secure enough to tell them—it’s becoming more common these days for people to stumble upon them thanks to an open email account, a web browser, or even text messages sent to them in error.
While learning about a partner’s secret fantasy life can be exciting and even spice things up a bit, more often that not the things we may find out may leave us shaken or at the very least feeling like we really don’t know this person as well as we thought we did. Sometimes, they may even mark the end of a relationship.
However, there are some ways to deal with uncovering a partner’s secret fantasy life even when we believe we would have better off not knowing.
Here are a few things to keep in mind should the occasion ever occur:
1. Keep an open mind whenever possible.
There are a few things which absolutely should not be tolerated. This includes anything that involves underage participants, animals, or anything that does not involve consent between adults.
Most things, though, do not fall into those categories and should at least be considered with an open mind. Ask your partner what the attraction is, i.e., if they are into BDSM, what is the appeal? Do they like the idea of being dominated or do they get turned on by being the dominator? It’s important to make it clear to your partner you are interested in the facts and at least open to what they have to say. Therefore asking, “Why do you like domination?” versus something like, “What in the hell do you see in that weird sh*t?!” is probably going to be a lot more effective in keeping the lines of communication open.
2. Remember that there is a clear line between fantasy and reality.
A huge part of the appeal of porn and kink is the fact that it is forbidden. Even today despite it being available in seconds thanks to the internet, there is still a sense of naughtiness and taboo surrounding it. Sometimes those things alone are the main reason why people like certain things.
Also, there is a huge difference between thinking and doing. Most people in real life probably are never going to engage in a threesome even if the opportunity arises. However, in our minds everything is possible, and there are no consequences.
While it’s very hard for some people—especially women—to come to terms with the fact that their partner may lust after and fantasize about others, many, including myself, would rather have my partner lust in their minds than do it in real life.
3. We aren’t obligated to indulge or act out our partner’s fantasy.
This is an important one for both people to keep in mind. Sometimes, there is an assumption on one or both’s mind that if someone shares a fantasy, then they are asking the other person to act it out. We need to make it perfectly clear that this isn’t the case.
Simply put, being open-minded and listening is not the same as saying that we agree to participate now, or anytime in the future.
If it feels too weird, is something you have no interest in, or even something that sounds downright repulsive, say it. Much like #1, the way we say something can have a huge impact on another person’s feelings. Therefore, it’s important we choose our words carefully, especially since the goal is not to shame our partner, but to learn more about them.
4. Be on the lookout if fantasy is spilling over into real life.
Several years ago, I dated a man who, after several months of dating, shared that he got turned on by humiliating his partners. (Amongst one of the things he shared is that he had a partner whom he enjoyed slapping around, though he claimed it was consensual.) I made it clear I had zero interest in that, and he claimed he respected that. However, I noticed that he seemed to have some control issues and more than once, tried to coax me into certain things I was uncomfortable with by saying, “Just this once!” Over time, I saw that these fantasies fit into a bigger pattern of power issues and the delight he took in having power over his partners. Needless to say, the relationship ended. While I often wish he hadn’t told me as much as he did in retrospect, knowing these things made it easier to see the problems present in our relationship that I may otherwise have ignored.
In closing, all of us, whether we admit it or not, have a fantasy life. When it comes to our partner’s, sometimes they may share it with us and other times, we may discover it—even when we aren’t actively seeking it out. In any case, we cannot un-know the things we learn. While some may choose not to talk about it or ignore it, many of us will have questions and seek out answers from our partner. Keeping in mind that what we learn need not be catastrophic and may even be helpful is important to keep in mind.
At the end of the day, most fantasies are harmless and when they are not, they may even help us to see why we need to extract ourselves from a particular relationship, if necessary.
Author: Kimberly Lo
Editor: Travis May