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Who are you fantasizing about during sex?
May 12th, 2011
08:01 AM ET

Who are you fantasizing about during sex?

Ian Kerner, a sexuality counselor and New York Times best-selling author, blogs about sex on Thursdays on The Chart. Read more from him at his website, GoodInBed.

Tell the truth (or rather, think the truth): have you ever fantasized during sex about someone other than the person you’re actually having sex with? Perhaps there’s a particular celebrity that turns you on, or a former flame, or even (heaven forbid) a brother or sister-in-law?

Do taboo thoughts make their way into your most intimate real-life moments? If so, take a deep breath and relax. You’re not alone, in fact you’re probably in the majority. In one study published by The Journal of Sex Research, 98% of partnered men and 80% of partnered women said that they had fantasized about someone other than their partner during sex in the previous two months. Whew!

CNNHealth's sex expert blogger Ian Kerner stops by to talk about the rise in women using porn on HLN's The Joy Behar Show, Thursday, 9 p.m. ET

The truth is, a healthy fantasy life is one of the keys to a great sex life - even when your partner might not always play the leading role. Most people find that they are most sexually satisfied when they are intimate with one person with whom they feel completely comfortable.

Along with this intimacy comes the freedom to let go and explore, including fantasizing about other people, places, and situations. In one study on sexual fantasy by noted expert Dr. Harold Leitenberg it was concluded that sexual fantasies occur most often in people with the highest sexual satisfaction and the healthiest sex lives. So your fantasies aren’t an indication that something is wrong, but rather that something is right.

Fantasies play a valuable role in our sex-lives. First off, they fuel arousal: “Thoughts can create real physical changes in your body, and you can use this to your advantage,” writes sex educator Emily Nagoski in the Good in Bed Guide to Female Orgasms. “This is why people fantasize even while they’re having sex - the added juice of the fantasy heightens arousal when the physical sensations aren’t enough to get us where we want to go.”

Fantasies also free the brain to explore secret, extraordinary realms without the obligations of everyday life. Kaye Wellings, a respected British biologist, puts it best in her book, "First Love, First Sex:"

“Fantasies perform a valuable function. Most of us, most of the time, behave conservatively, sexually and otherwise. Our erotic experiences represent only the tip of the iceberg in terms of possibilities. Many possibilities only see the light of day through fantasies or dreams, seldom as reality.”

And says Good in Bed expert Ann Potter, “I like to imagine that fantasizing is like putting training wheels on my desires - those desires that are maybe a little too 'out there' for me or my partner to get on board with acting out right away, or ever.”

And when it comes to fantasies, adults do just fine with a permanent set of training wheels, and needn’t bother with graduating to a two-wheeler. The brain is the biggest sex organ and a little fantasizing goes a long way.

So rather than resist your fantasies, let yourself enjoy them. Trying to suppress fantasies may end up doing more harm than good. In the mid-1980s, Dr. Daniel Wegner at the University of Virginia studied the menchanics of thought-suppression in an experiment known as the “white bear study.” Wegner sat people in a room with a tape recorder and told them to say whatever came to mind,  with one exception: Don’t think about a white bear. No surprise, people mentioned the bear constantly. The more they tried not to think about it, the more they mentioned it.

By suppressing a forbidden thought the brain never gets a chance to fully process that thought, and what could just be an innocent fantasy suddenly becomes a guilt-laden white bear that won’t go away.  Most of the time it’s not our fantasies that are the problem, but rather our reactions to our fantasies - the feelings of shame and guilt, as well as our anxieties and fears about what those fantasies might really mean.

But fantasies are meant to be enjoyed and if they weren’t taboo, well then they wouldn’t be fantasies to begin with.


soundoff (685 Responses)
  1. Leo

    My wife says she fantasizes about Karl Urban. So do I. So nice when we can agree. 🙂

    May 12, 2011 at 08:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • BethTX

      Two words: Billy Zane.

      May 12, 2011 at 09:32 | Report abuse |
    • Samson

      Leo's face.

      May 12, 2011 at 15:40 | Report abuse |
    • Mikey

      I need to get my reading glasses out, I thought it read 'Karl Malden'...now that's one for the books.

      May 12, 2011 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
    • Minute Man

      I fantasize about baseball in order to last that extra minute or two...never works.

      May 12, 2011 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
    • bubbas brother

      I fantasize about her too! Sorry to have to tell you this way bro!

      May 12, 2011 at 15:51 | Report abuse |
    • James

      Baseball nevers works...think Margaret Thatcher on the throne (and not the royal one)...

      May 12, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
    • bombero

      SOFIA VERGARA!!! MMMMMMM

      May 12, 2011 at 16:06 | Report abuse |
    • Samson

      Hey Leo, eat a bowl of penis.

      May 13, 2011 at 10:12 | Report abuse |
  2. Bubba

    Psst! Don't tell anyone. I know it's nice and private here and no one will see this: I fantasize about my wife.

    May 12, 2011 at 08:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • bubba's brother

      Hey Bubba! I fantasize abuot your wife too...

      May 12, 2011 at 08:41 | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      EVERYBODY fantasizes about my wife.

      May 12, 2011 at 08:52 | Report abuse |
    • bubba's dad

      and here i am thinking i was the only one...

      May 12, 2011 at 09:21 | Report abuse |
    • SBman

      I fantisize about your wife and my wife 🙂

      May 12, 2011 at 13:00 | Report abuse |
    • anobody

      Your wife told me today that she was fantasizing about you.

      May 12, 2011 at 13:16 | Report abuse |
    • DoubleDCup

      I fantasize about you, baby . . . I mean Bubba.

      May 12, 2011 at 15:37 | Report abuse |
    • guest

      That wife is a woman,right?

      May 12, 2011 at 15:42 | Report abuse |
    • bubba's neighbor

      i'm not only fantasizing about your wife, i'm doing her!

      May 12, 2011 at 15:44 | Report abuse |
    • bubba's brother-in-law

      I fantasized about her before you did

      May 12, 2011 at 15:52 | Report abuse |
    • Bubba's Dog

      I'm not even going to go there.

      May 12, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      All kidding aside....my wife is my number one fantasy too....I hear what your saying....Divorce rate would go down if people actually kept the fantasy in the relationship....and explore their partner and not someone else's.

      May 12, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
    • bubbas boss

      Back off you guys! I had her 1st. Even before you bubba

      May 12, 2011 at 15:56 | Report abuse |
    • scott

      be honest.........she's with another guy right?

      May 12, 2011 at 16:01 | Report abuse |
    • Bubbas Son

      Those aren't just betime stories she is telling me with the light off

      May 12, 2011 at 16:06 | Report abuse |
    • Bubba's Wife

      I dont fantasize about any of you when we are doing it. sorry.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:06 | Report abuse |
    • Bubba's Priest

      If I told you I'd be arrested.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:09 | Report abuse |
    • bubba's mailman

      she has given me a lot of visual aid...

      May 12, 2011 at 16:49 | Report abuse |
  3. The_Mick

    Caroline Catz, the actress who plays Louisa Glasson in the British TV comedy "Doc Martin."

    May 12, 2011 at 09:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MrsFizzy

      Nice show. Not really a fantasy and altho I don't find him attractive as such, I find there's something ...nice.. about Martin Clunes – maybe it's his lips.. hmmm.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
  4. Sage

    WARREN BUFFET and his bank account!

    May 12, 2011 at 09:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Fran

    I scream my own name during s e x.

    May 12, 2011 at 10:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. bubba's wife

    I fantasize about me too, especially in the shower.

    May 12, 2011 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Pippie

    Eric Bana. Holy moly, gimme, gimme...

    May 12, 2011 at 11:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leo

      I'd take a piece of that, too. Without the Romulan tattoos, of course.

      May 12, 2011 at 11:28 | Report abuse |
    • Hester P.

      See...I'd HAVE to have the tattoos.

      May 12, 2011 at 13:52 | Report abuse |
    • Mama2KOA

      yeah... I'd ride him like a harley on a bad piece of road

      May 12, 2011 at 14:24 | Report abuse |
  8. XtremeWierdo

    Two twins who both look like Chelsea Charms on a trampoline.

    May 12, 2011 at 12:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • knucklehead

      Sigh...now I have to go google Chelsea Charms...

      May 12, 2011 at 15:58 | Report abuse |
    • knucklehead

      OMG....that's not a fantasy...

      May 12, 2011 at 16:02 | Report abuse |
  9. Jim in DC

    Ian Kerner!!! ...... Those eyes... those lips... hhmmmmmmm

    May 12, 2011 at 12:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lila

      I'm glad someone mentioned him he does have great eyes!!

      May 12, 2011 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
  10. Bubba's Sister

    I fantasize about Bubba and Bubba's Wife too. And Wife's Daddy pops up on occasion as well, oh yeah.

    And yes, I am one of those 80% of women. oops.

    May 12, 2011 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bubba's Sister

      OK, seriously, Damian Lewis and his red hair and adorable chin would be hard to resist. I heard red heads have talents.

      May 12, 2011 at 13:01 | Report abuse |
  11. smithereens

    yes, red heads do have talents, they are the best

    May 12, 2011 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Bubba

    Nobody ever fantasizes about me, though.

    May 12, 2011 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Bubba's secret lover

    I thought I was the only one you fantisized about????

    May 12, 2011 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bubba

      Must be some other Bubba.

      May 12, 2011 at 13:24 | Report abuse |
  14. Jim

    Damn! Now All I'm going to think about during s.e.x is a White Bear!

    May 12, 2011 at 13:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. hotness

    I fantasize about this hot married guy at work. He's gorgeous!

    May 12, 2011 at 13:18 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Dude

      If my wife had a guy she was drooling over I'd have her scream his name out during S3X to get her all the more excited. That's hot....

      May 12, 2011 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      THERE'S someone fantasizing about me. Sorry babe.

      May 12, 2011 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
  16. AndreaM

    Lol, I have my fantasy persons as my desktop at work. Really helps to anesthetize myself from the monotony when I can spend my time daydreaming. The good thing is my fiance 6 cubes down doesn't mind a bit, lol.

    May 12, 2011 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • co-worker

      sucks to be your fiance'

      May 12, 2011 at 16:24 | Report abuse |
    • 4horsman

      He doesn't mind because he's thinking about the girl a few
      cubes down...

      June 1, 2011 at 11:29 | Report abuse |
  17. Ed Dioti

    My postman's wife.

    May 12, 2011 at 14:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Ed Dioti

    My boss, her assistant, and her sister, all at the same time.

    May 12, 2011 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. dave

    I actually pull up pictures on my blackberry and look at them while I do my wife from behind.

    May 12, 2011 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bubba

      There's someone else fantasizing about me. Just my luck . . .

      May 12, 2011 at 14:58 | Report abuse |
    • mrob

      Hahaaa! Dave, you aren't doing it right if you have a free hand. Gotta grab a hold w/2 hands when you're going at it from behind. Bubba, I'll make sure my gf screams your name tonight so you know someone is fantasizing about you.

      May 12, 2011 at 15:49 | Report abuse |
  20. Thinker

    I fantasize also about your wife. Her and mine together and me watching.

    May 12, 2011 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. The Good Life

    fantasize!

    http://www.MyRegeneca.com/TheGoodLife

    May 12, 2011 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. ak2k

    Sterling Archer! Aw yeah!

    May 12, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. epeen

    I fantasize about Lynne Russel, former CNN anchor. Her boobs were massive.

    May 12, 2011 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Judge Dredd

    Judge Dredd does not fantasize but if he does it is about himself.....the law.

    May 12, 2011 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. mo

    i fantasize about cars driving into tunnels and hot dogs being placed into hot dog buns.

    May 12, 2011 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DoubleDCup

      LMAO!!!

      May 12, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
    • omega

      i fantasize about th apollo moon rocket

      May 12, 2011 at 16:01 | Report abuse |
  26. Bubba's Grandma

    I'm fantasizing the entire Bubba family right now.

    May 12, 2011 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. palintwit

    I fantasize about buying a brand new double wide with indoor plumbing and relocating to Wasilla.

    May 12, 2011 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • omega

      indoor plumbing, boy howdy, aint you th aristocrat

      May 12, 2011 at 16:00 | Report abuse |
  28. Truthwillsetyoufree

    I fantasize about it being with another person. Not fun by myself anymore....

    May 12, 2011 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Kristi

    I'm gay but with a str8 partner so I fantisize about gay trysts.

    May 12, 2011 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DoubleDCup

      So if you're gay, wouldn't it be more fun if you were with a gay partner????

      May 12, 2011 at 15:58 | Report abuse |
  30. Lila

    Not a who, but more of an action or a position. The heads of the people are irrelevant it's usually just bodies getting busy.

    May 12, 2011 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Anonymous

    William Shatner circa 1966...

    May 12, 2011 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Eric Nicolas

    Millard Fillmore

    May 12, 2011 at 15:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. tc

    I fantasize about Rip Torn along with the cookie monster as well as Bee Arther

    May 12, 2011 at 15:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Misternomer

    What about loving your wife or husband without having to lust after something you can't have?

    May 12, 2011 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bubba's Step Sister

      Where's the fun in that!!!

      May 12, 2011 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
    • omega

      oh, pls! most people marry someone who puts up w them, not someone they really want

      May 12, 2011 at 15:58 | Report abuse |
    • DoubleDCup

      I agree with you Bubba's Step Sister!

      May 12, 2011 at 16:00 | Report abuse |
  35. Anthrogirl

    The comments here are Hilarious!!!!

    May 12, 2011 at 15:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. LawlCakes

    Ok... If your fantasizing about someone else during s3x then you got into the wrong relationship. If you love somebody, then THEY should turn you on. Not a thought of a celeb or an ex-girl/boyfriend. If you are thinking of someone else during s3x then i want you to ask yourself one question. Do I LOVE this person or do I just simply have LUST? Because if you are fantasizing about someone else you likely are lying to yourself about you love life and its actually a lust life.

    May 12, 2011 at 15:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DoubleDCup

      Don't be a downer, sweetie.

      May 12, 2011 at 15:55 | Report abuse |
    • brent

      pretty high standards, i like my standards a lot lower, that way I don't disappoint myself...you don't fantasize, i like to fantsize about people who don't fantasize...I am fantasizing about you right now, uhmmm so straight soooo proper uhmmm doggy style...... dohhhh!!!!

      May 12, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
    • knucklehead

      Just when I was about to ask you out...

      May 12, 2011 at 16:00 | Report abuse |
  37. David

    When I'm with my wife, sometimes I fantasize about my cousin (forbidden fruit) or Zooey Deschanel.

    May 12, 2011 at 15:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. cheaters

    To me, that's just as bad as cheating on them if it's your spouse....if you would really rather be with someone else...then maybe you should go do that person instead.

    May 12, 2011 at 15:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DoubleDCup

      Sure. Let me dial back my time machine to 1966 so I can meet Sean Connery.

      May 12, 2011 at 15:56 | Report abuse |
  39. Stacy

    IMO if you need to fantasize about someone else maybe you should BE with someone else!

    May 12, 2011 at 15:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LawlCakes

      Agreed

      May 12, 2011 at 15:53 | Report abuse |
    • knucklehead

      hmmm...but apparently not you...

      May 12, 2011 at 15:59 | Report abuse |
    • brent

      i am fantasizing about you a lawlcakes...wanna know what your wearing??? I am sure God will punish me...later.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:25 | Report abuse |
  40. phoenix

    the heathen are nuts they are un natural robotic critters they need gyms and crazy pills, heathen got money and spend that money.

    May 12, 2011 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. brent

    I fantasize about me...with me...and myself....i wish I was Bubba

    May 12, 2011 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bubba

      Everybody wishes they were me. I try to be humble, but it's hard.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:19 | Report abuse |
    • Nigel Tufnel

      Bubba. That's what she said.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:31 | Report abuse |
  42. omega

    a teenage jessica alba

    May 12, 2011 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. TO Law/Cakes & cheaters ET AL

    You two, or actually since you're the same person, need to come out of your mothers basement and smell the real world! It's wonderful to famtasize!

    May 12, 2011 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • DoubleDCup

      Agreed!!

      May 12, 2011 at 16:07 | Report abuse |
  44. Chuck Norris

    I fantasize about one woman... my mom. Because she's the one woman I HAVEN'T had s.e.x. with.

    May 12, 2011 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Danny

      hahahaha ur sick bro

      May 12, 2011 at 16:01 | Report abuse |
  45. Danny

    I fantasize about how my wife use to look 30 years ago....when she was 20....(it really helps).

    May 12, 2011 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Irish Rogue

    Tis great to fantasice. Tis even better to be with the target of your fantacy! Been there, done that! They shoul dhave made a movie! 🙂

    May 12, 2011 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. North Carolina Woman

    I fantasize about one of my male cousins. More often than I'd like to, but he is a hottie.

    OK, let the southern redneck jokes begin.

    May 12, 2011 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
    • palintwit

      He must have a real cool double wide, eh? No pun intended.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:03 | Report abuse |
  48. love the one you're with

    The is an enormous difference between fantasizing about someone else during your day and fantasizing about someone else when your partner is riding you. The first one is totally acceptable, the second one is not. If you find yourself secretly imagining someone else when you are actually with your partner, you need to talk or get out of the relationship.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Cupcakes

    Zooey Deschanel no doubt... and cupcakes

    May 12, 2011 at 16:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. doggieDUDE

    I like what I have at home, but his is too big and is uncercomsized. What I would like to have is about 6"-7" cercomsized and a nice patch of dark pubic hair. hate it when guys shave, gross. Looks like they just had crabs.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:06 | Report abuse | Reply
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