Most people have a sexual fantasy that they are deeply ashamed of, one that seems so weird that they worry it’s indicative that there’s something wrong with them. But, as Justin Lehmiller, a Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute and author of the blog Sex and Psychology recently emphasized in a Reddit AMA, sexual fantasies are extraordinary common.
“Our fantasies and our desires overlap to some degree, but they aren’t one and the same (think about a Venn diagram with overlapping circles),” he said. “So just because we fantasize about something doesn’t necessarily mean we want to do it. The non-desire-based fantasies may result from things like having a very active imagination or being what’s called a sensation seeker (meaning you have a heightened need for sexual excitement). So some fantasies are just the product of a wandering mind or the search for thrills and don’t really have deeper meaning.”
And while there’s a very wide range of fantasies, there’s at least one that’s super common, and, yes, you’ve heard of it before. Oddly enough, it’s also the one that was most likely not to go as planned in real life.
“By far, the single most popular fantasy was having a threesome,” said Lehmiller. “Group sex in general was popular, but threesomes were the most popular form. Interestingly, while threesomes were the most popular fantasy, they were also the fantasy that was least likely to turn out well when people tried to act on it. I suspect this is because most people don’t have a script for how a threesome or group scenario should go. So they end up in the situation, but don’t know quite what to do and it just doesn’t play out like it did in their head.”
He also added that the “gender ration matters,” and that, among heterosexual couples, “women are more interested than men in threesomes that include at least one same-sex partner.”
On the other hand, the fantasies that worked out best in real life, according to the results of his surveys, were those that featured couples consensually cheating on one another—whether that be by going to a swinger’s club, a sex party, or simply observing their partner have sex with someone else. Having sex in a new setting, like, say, an airplane, seemed to work out well too in most cases.
“Non-monogamy fantasies… actually had one of the highest rates of success. Fantasies about sexual novelty, like trying a new position or having sex in a new setting, and passion/romance fantasies had very high success rates, too. It’s interesting that non-monogamy tended to work out so well when group sex didn’t, but I think that’s because the group scenarios are just totally unfamiliar to most people—they don’t have a script for how it’s supposed to go.”
One of his most interesting insights in light of today’s conversations surrounding dating norms was that there seemed to be an increasing “desire among heterosexuals to break free of the sexual script that dictates that men should be the initiators and women should be the ‘gatekeepers’ when it comes to sex. Heterosexual women often fantasized about being more dominant than they were in reality, while heterosexual men often fantasized about being more submissive.”
This corroborates with recent research that found that women are more interested with men who have “feminine” facial features for long-term relationships, as well as a recent study that found that men who are more willing to take on less dominant roles in the bedroom seem to have better sex lives.
So, if you’re looking to forego sexual scripts, that’s one fantasy you can definitely act on. Just make sure that you and your partner are on the same page. As Lehmiller says, “Trust and communication are really the keys to acting out any fantasy in a safe way.”
For more on how dating norms are changing, check out why Science Says Women Aren’t Interested in Flashy Men.
To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter!