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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 (847 Responses)
  1. RenegadeFL

    Shemar Moore. Perfection.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sari in Vegas

      Shemar Moore is a hottie, don't get me wrong. But Matthew Gray Gubler from the same show gets my vote. He is nerd chick brain candy 😀

      May 12, 2011 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
    • MGG for sure

      @Sari I agree 100%!!! Matthew Gray Gubler is one of the most beautiful men alive, but it's funny, I find that guys can't stand it when women think he's gorgeous. They always try to point out his flaws, which there are none of course. And the character he plays only makes him a million times hotter!

      May 12, 2011 at 17:05 | Report abuse |
    • Sari in Vegas

      Actually my husband is very amused at my crush.. He says it's cute...

      May 12, 2011 at 18:02 | Report abuse |
  2. Elmely

    Troy Polamalu, Marc Sanchez, and my neighbor upstairs.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:09 | Report abuse | Reply
    • markus

      Try a Packer – can't believe you are turned on by a Steeler or Jet.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:18 | Report abuse |
    • Q1a2

      A packer??? Fudge packer? No thanks!

      May 12, 2011 at 16:41 | Report abuse |
    • UpstairsNeighbor

      Come on up babe!

      May 12, 2011 at 16:50 | Report abuse |
  3. Bubba's Soul

    I am fantasizing about myself. I mean my body. So bubba no need to feel down.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Bubba's Fat Ugly Wife

    yer all thinkin 'bout me when we're gettin' it on! Wooo weeee!

    May 12, 2011 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Jeff

    Naomi Watts. Works...every...time.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. rambo

    Margaret Thatcher. Helps last longer

    May 12, 2011 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. 2g1c

    2 girls 1 cup

    May 12, 2011 at 16:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • a human

      awesome. but how can you last longer than a minute with that visual?

      May 12, 2011 at 16:26 | Report abuse |
    • 2tired2care

      gross!

      May 12, 2011 at 17:04 | Report abuse |
    • Its in the tub

      Try Tub Girl

      May 12, 2011 at 17:15 | Report abuse |
  8. Ballson Chinn

    Howard Stern and Baba Booey

    May 12, 2011 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Peter Smith

    Jesus

    May 12, 2011 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Guy Smithson

      YOU NEED COUNSELING AND/OR MEDS FOR THAT COMMENT

      May 12, 2011 at 17:04 | Report abuse |
  10. phead21

    I fantasize about hockey...I really love hockey...and maybe some select vegetables...

    May 12, 2011 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ankelbiter

      Hockey and vegetables...you must be Canadian.

      May 12, 2011 at 17:07 | Report abuse |
  11. the Wash

    James McAvoy. 😀

    May 12, 2011 at 16:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Darksider

    These statistics only reinforce the idea that human monogamy is not natural. The mind and libido wants variety.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Al Scarpa

    my right hand

    May 12, 2011 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Rae

    Trace Adkins for sure.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rae

      I might add I'm a female, lol.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:21 | Report abuse |
    • a human

      doubtful

      May 12, 2011 at 16:26 | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      Hmm, Part of it's the voice, isn't it?? On that note, Alan Rickman... 😉

      May 12, 2011 at 16:40 | Report abuse |
    • LuvAR

      Alan Rickman...*swoon* the man is hotter than Georgia asphalt.

      May 13, 2011 at 12:23 | Report abuse |
  15. I hope you're satisfied with your juvenile comments. Pun intended.

    So if you actually could hook up with your fantasy, logically, you'd need to fantasize about someone else after one or two goes to be "healthy." Or you could actually find satisfaction in your partner. Where did this study come from? The Center for Justifying Your Own Screwy Proclivities?

    May 12, 2011 at 16:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lanfear

      Fantasies are healthy... it doesn't necessarily mean that you are not satisfied with your partner. Nor does it mean that it is "un-healthy" not to fantasize. I feel bad for people who are too insecure to open their mind a little... but to each their own.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:29 | Report abuse |
    • rob

      you probably screw like a dead a person just dying for the experience to be done and over with. Pun intenDEAD!

      May 12, 2011 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
    • rob

      This reply is for
      I hope you're satisfied with your juvenile comments. Pun intended.

      you probably screw like a dead a person just dying for the experience to be done and over with. Pun intenDEAD!

      May 12, 2011 at 17:13 | Report abuse |
  16. Lanfear

    I always used to think about other people with my ex... but now with my new bf... we make up our own fantasies and live them out. Right now there's no one I want but him. And he can think about whatever he wants during s-e-x, just as long as he keeps on doing what he does to me I am happy. 😉

    May 12, 2011 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Moiraine

      I thought i killed you!!

      May 12, 2011 at 16:32 | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      M, an evil thing never dies.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:42 | Report abuse |
    • rob

      You soud like HOTTTTTTT STUFFFFFF!!!!!!!

      May 12, 2011 at 17:15 | Report abuse |
    • silly

      oh rob she is she's canadian

      May 12, 2011 at 17:17 | Report abuse |
    • rob

      Lanfear:You soud like HOTTTTTTT STUFFFFFF!!!!!!!

      May 12, 2011 at 17:18 | Report abuse |
  17. RE: I hope you're satisfied with your juvenile comments. Pun intended.

    Okay, you've said your piece, time to go back to the fishies Osama!

    May 12, 2011 at 16:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • I hope you're satisfied with your juvenile comments. Pun intended.

      You can actually reply just by clicking the "reply" button.

      Also, it's "peace." Thanks for the online smear. It was totally incoherent.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:29 | Report abuse |
    • RE: I hope you're satisfied with your juvenile comments. Pun intended.

      No, it's "piece", nopt peach. Again, return to being fishbait Osama!

      May 12, 2011 at 16:40 | Report abuse |
    • keith

      @I hope you're satisfied with your juvenile comments. Pun intended.

      He was right the first time. It's piece.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:47 | Report abuse |
  18. brightviolet

    Kurt Russell (well maybe Kurt Russell -20 years)

    May 12, 2011 at 16:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Ra

    Isis...and Hathor

    May 12, 2011 at 16:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. jessicaber

    I have always wondered what is wrong with me, because I fantasize about the type of people that I would never fall in love with or be with in real life...the dirty rapist type who likes to watch or maybe two of them at the same time or a big bossomes blond who likes to see me handuffed in bed and looking up to her as a mommy figure. I am 36 years old and I think maybe once or twice I have actually fantasized about some one that I love.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • msvice

      That girl.......is SUPER HOT!!!! LOL!!! WOW!!

      May 12, 2011 at 16:43 | Report abuse |
    • KeeKeeDee

      I'm a guy who has very similar fantasies. I've never felt the slightest bit of guilt. It's fun.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:53 | Report abuse |
    • Lanfear

      There is NOTHING wrong with you! I think a lot of women have the r-a-p-e fantasy, most probably too shy to admit it. My bf and I "r-a-p-e" eachother all the time lol... during the day I always come up with reasons to "punish" him later when I get home from work and vice versa. There are lots of 'dirty' things women would like done to them, but it's generally only comfortable with someone that we feel secure with. Obviously I wouldn't want some random stranger to r-a-p-e me... but the thought of a hot guy doing it... mmmmm!!

      May 12, 2011 at 16:56 | Report abuse |
    • Lews Therin

      You still dream of me?

      May 12, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
  21. Steve

    Am I the only person who thinks about themselves?

    May 12, 2011 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. William

    I have never fantasized about another woman during intercourse. To top it off I married the first girl I was with, and by society's standards she's not hot. I think there's something wrong with me lol.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • well

      Dont worry buddy you're not alone : /

      May 12, 2011 at 16:40 | Report abuse |
  23. Jesus

    Mary Magdelene(absolutly)

    May 12, 2011 at 16:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 2tired2care

      Was she smoking hot?

      May 12, 2011 at 17:02 | Report abuse |
  24. Dan

    Almost any female wearing fishnet stockings, yummy

    May 12, 2011 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Jake123

    I fantasize Elizabeth II

    May 12, 2011 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Sarah Palin

    Mandingo

    May 12, 2011 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Will U. Kizzmiaz

    Whoopie Goldberg

    May 12, 2011 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Silly trolls...

    You guys rock.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Todd Palin

    A new snowmobile.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Ankelbiter

      Not your mom, Sarah?

      May 12, 2011 at 17:11 | Report abuse |
  30. Bristol Palin

    A really, really big zuchinni.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • 2tired2care

      That will go nicely with your new chin!

      May 12, 2011 at 17:02 | Report abuse |
  31. Dot

    Obama needs to hire an anti-fantasy czar. We need more big brother in our lives.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bubba

      I nominate Donald Trump for the position. He's enough to drop the birthrate all by himself.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse |
  32. Jen

    Robert Downey Jr.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Lou Acosta

    Your mother.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. whitebear

    sort of like ghostbusters....anything you think of will come to life=jetpuff marshmellow man

    May 12, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. BHU

    "or even (heaven forbid) a brother or sister-in-law?"

    LOL. He must have read my mind...my wife's sister is HOT.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Lan

    I though you were dead!

    May 12, 2011 at 16:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Moiraine

      Are you fantasizing about Nynaeve!!??

      May 12, 2011 at 16:48 | Report abuse |
  37. A$$clowns are all around...

    midgets...

    May 12, 2011 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Jack Evans

    This article shows how LOW CNN has gone in searching for market share. Please cut this stuff and continue with responsible journalism. This kind of article gives FOX one more reason to bark about your standards. I've been proud of CNN until today.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MrsFizzy

      Until today?? I don't know how much attention you've been paying but the daily articles about Bristol Palin for example aren't much to be proud of either..!

      May 12, 2011 at 16:55 | Report abuse |
    • KeeKeeDee

      In a market economy, I'm fairly certain that CNN isn't soliciting your pride. You're hear; their adverisers are counting you. And the rest of us are having fun reading this stuff, and commenting on it.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
    • Mustang95

      Totally agree, Jack. This is swill, as exemplified by the typically juvenile comment threads these dumba$$ stories generate.

      May 12, 2011 at 17:00 | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      You guys go and read some grim gloom and doom then – you can still find that on CNN if you want it.

      May 12, 2011 at 17:03 | Report abuse |
  39. DYLANSDADDY

    Seeing that men are more visual and women are more emotional, I find it hard that men fantasize more than women.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. stop the non-sense daydreaming

    Hey, buddy, stop the non-sense daydreaming by yourself, and wasting readers time–for what? just to fill CNN pages??

    instead

    spend your time thinking and writing sth more meaningful

    May 12, 2011 at 16:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Captain_OWNARSHIP

    I FANTASIZE ABOUT MYSELF WHEN I AM BALLS DEEP IN A WOMAN.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Jack

    Well, if you care about what Jesus says, he said in His Sermon on the Mount, "if you even so much as lust after a woman, you've comitted adultery with her in your heart." Do you care what Jesus says? If you don't you ought to. He is going to judge you one day and He has the right to do that. After all, He is he sinless Son of God and the creator of the universe. He has a right to judge His creatures.

    May 12, 2011 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • FTTC

      If all it takes is lusting after a woman then we're all going straight to H. E. Double-hockeysticks. YOU try walking through the streets of Manhattan on a warm spring day and not LUSTING once or twice a block...

      May 12, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
    • Lanfear

      STFU with your ancient teachings. I, for one, don't care, and it's much healthier not to. Last I checked, Jesus isn't the thought police.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
    • Bubba

      Jesus probably fantasizes about my wife, too.

      May 12, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse |
    • Ankelbiter

      ...and priests don't lust after young men? Fantasy seems to be ok for clergy, then it's damn sure ok for everyone else.

      May 12, 2011 at 17:14 | Report abuse |
    • rob

      Hey Jack: Stop judging You Jack-off Why are you reading such a sinful article as this

      May 12, 2011 at 17:25 | Report abuse |
    • ERIC

      Jesus doesn't exist

      May 12, 2011 at 17:26 | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      Jack, I know what that maniacal mind of yours is thinking, but I beg you. DO NOT castrate yourself. Trust me. You'll regret it.

      May 12, 2011 at 18:47 | Report abuse |
    • George

      I am a Christian and I find it very insulting that you would preach at someone. The only person who has a right to judge us is God. NOT YOU. plz stop making the rest of us look bad.

      May 19, 2011 at 16:37 | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      "Do you care what Jesus says? "

      Not in the least.

      "If you don't you ought to. He is going to judge you one day and He has the right to do that."

      I can't be afraid of judgement from a being in which I do not believe.

      "After all, He is he sinless Son of God and the creator of the universe."

      According to a book written by Bronze Age Sheep Buggerers

      May 24, 2011 at 14:06 | Report abuse |
  43. Prince William

    Pippa

    May 12, 2011 at 16:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Chix Dig Me

    I like to think about my friend's girlfriends and wives.

    May 12, 2011 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Grog

    That chick in the picture is my new fantasy. Dayum those legs are hot.

    May 12, 2011 at 17:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. BlackDynamite

    If you're married, the answer is obvious
    BD

    May 12, 2011 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Captain_OWNARSHIP

    Is DISQUS down for all the other CNN articles for everyone else too or am i like super ultra banned? i hate SoundOff

    May 12, 2011 at 17:04 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lews Therin

      ok good i thought work banned me lol

      May 12, 2011 at 17:05 | Report abuse |
    • Rand al'thor

      Get out of my head!!!

      May 12, 2011 at 17:07 | Report abuse |
  48. Mystery

    This is so like people in Oregon! Go ahead and fantasize that is super healthy in a good relationship however don't EVER think the neighbor one fantasizes about is going to appreciate knowing. Best keep the fantasies to thyself!

    May 12, 2011 at 17:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Forz

    Jessica Biel...mmmmmmmmm!

    May 12, 2011 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. shizzsniffer

    I love to recieve blumpkins.

    May 12, 2011 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • id10t

      I love to give them!

      May 12, 2011 at 17:08 | Report abuse |
    • shizzsniffer

      I got to go bad, wanna come over?

      May 12, 2011 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
    • id10t

      sure, what did you eat today?

      May 12, 2011 at 17:09 | Report abuse |
    • shizzsniffer

      Lots of bran!!!

      May 12, 2011 at 17:10 | Report abuse |
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