What Do Your Sexual Fantasies Mean?Posted: October 11, 2012
I’ve been reading Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies, by Dr. Michael J. Bader, out of curiosity. What impact have my childhood abuse experiences had on my sexuality? Turns out… a lot.
I’m only one chapter into the book, but I’d like to share what I’ve learned so far. Apparently, creating safety is the ultimate goal of a sexual fantasy. Why would we feel unsafe? Because we’ve got a collection of negative beliefs, traumas, and emotional hurts from our past that shape our self-image and the image of those around us. A normal part of adapting to any family environment as a child is internalizing guilt, worry, shame, and rejection in varying degrees.
Sexual inhibition is nothing more than our feelings of sexuality threatening our sense of safety, because our warped self-image is incongruent with the freedom of sexual pleasure. A fantasy bridges that gap. As Bader puts it, “our fantasies convince us that we’re not going to harm or betray anyone, and that if we get fully aroused, no one will suffer.”
So here are just a few examples of how certain themes help to make us feel safe:
A sexually submissive role guarantees both an intense connection and an inability to overwhelm or hurt a partner during sex. This role would be preferred by those who have beliefs and experiences that suggest the individual is too much or too powerful, such as those who saw their parents as weak, or even high-ranking CEOs.
A rape fantasy in which one is forced to have sex is an attempt to protect one’s conscience, family, and culture and show that it’s not the fantasizer’s fault they’re having the sex that is forbidden to them. The author notes that men often use this type of fantasy when they make up the story that a woman “made” them lose their sexual control; interesting since rape fantasies are generally attributed to women.
Fantasizing about a ruthless and selfish partner allows the person to be ruthlessly selfish about their own sexual pleasure, not having to feel any guilt or worry about the other or feel responsible for them. Identification with a partner – the opposite of ruthlessness – can also come into play when it bolsters psychological safety, rather than enforcing feelings of guilt, worry, shame, or rejection.
A fantasy about a partner who is helpless to resist our sex appeal – who might even be begging us for sex – serves to negate feelings of rejection, shame, and defectiveness. Genital worship and exhibitionist fantasies also serve to negate shame, showing that others are enthusiastic about sex with us, even powerless to resist us, rather than repelled by us. Group sex fantasies can also show how “wanted” we are.
And… strippers are sexy because they are proudly showing off what they’ve got and the viewer doesn’t need to guilty or worried about her and so can release their inhibitions.
Does this jive for you folks out there? I have found some of it does for me.
No mention yet of why some people like to be humiliated during sex, or why some prefer to play a dominant role. I’ll write another post as I read along…
~ “The quest for psychological safety is at the centre of psychological life.” – Dr. Michael J. Bader