Do you fantasize about your partner? Researchers say it can help your relationship.
Previous research shows that almost everyone – between 95% to 98% of people have sexual fantasies – but not everyone wants to act on them. In general, men’s fantasies are more sexually explicit. They are more likely to fantasize about multiple partners, some studies found. Women’s fantasies contain more romantic and emotional content.
A study published in the January, 2015, issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine found typical types of fantasies for both men and women include feeling romantic emotions during sex, imagining a particular atmosphere and location, receiving oral sex and (particularly for men) having sexual intercourse with two women.
Three recent studies presented at the biennial conference of the International Association of Relationship Researchers, held in Toronto, show that fantasizing about your partner will help your relationship. It increases your desire for the person you are with and leads you to show them more love, affection and support. Fantasizing about someone else won’t hurt your relationship, the studies show, but it won’t help it, either. The studies haven’t yet been published in a scientific journal.
In the first study, 102 individuals who were in a heterosexual, monogamous relationship were brought into a laboratory and asked to fantasize about their partner or someone else. One-quarter of the people were told to fantasize sexually about their partner; one-quarter were told to fantasize about solving a problem with their partner; one-quarter were told to fantasize sexually about someone other than their partner; and one-quarter were told to fantasize about solving a problem with someone other than their partner.
The participants were then asked to describe the scenario they imagined in detail, including how they felt afterward. The study found that the people who had sexual fantasies about someone other than their partner felt guilty. And the people who had sexual fantasies about their partner had more interest in their partner.
In the second study, the researchers followed 100 heterosexual, monogamous couples for six weeks. Participants were asked to independently record their perceptions of their relationship in a diary each day, without showing their partner, rating how strongly they agreed with statements such as, “I feel committed to the relationship;” “I feel doubts about my compatibility with my partner;” and “I feel my partner is highly valued by other people.”
The participants also reported on whether or not they fantasized about their partner that day. This study found that on days when people said they had fantasies about their partner, they were more likely the next day to say they felt more committed in the relationship and more trusting of and affectionate to their partner. People also had fewer doubts about their relationship on days after they had fantasized about their partner.
In the third study, 48 heterosexual, monogamous couples were asked to keep diaries for three weeks, with each partner recording in detail every fantasy they had about their partner or someone else. They also recorded their relationship interactions each day, such as whether they expressed love, did something nice for their partner or were supportive or critical.
When the participants fantasized about their partner, they were more likely to act positively the next day. When they fantasized about someone else, they weren’t mean to their partner the next day, but they didn’t behave better toward them either.
So, fantasizing about your partner might actually be a good thing.