You don't want to hurt your partner if you bring up a fantasy—but you also don't want to get made fun of for lusting after David Hasselhoff. Every couple has different boundaries, but it's always safer to keep things more general. Suggesting that your partner play a mailman is one thing; it's quite another to suggest he play your mailman… who also happens to be his brother.
"Bringing it up is a big part of the excitement of a fantasy," says Dr. Joy Davidson, a sex therapist and the author of Fearless Sex. "You're facing something challenging and scary."
That said, if you're not a thrill-seeking adrenaline monkey when it comes to your relationship, you can ease the pressure of revealing a fantasy by leaving it up to someone, or something, else. Rent a movie or watch a TV show that you know somehow addresses a fantasy—or, say, old Baywatch episodes, if you find hairy, brief-stuffing German pop stars attractive—and then ask whether your partner thinks it's as sexy as you do.
Laura, a 34-year-old physical therapist, had a fantasy she didn't want to tell her boyfriend. "I wanted to act like a cat in bed, and I don't even like cats," she admits. "There was no way I could have brought it up to my boyfriend. But one night Batman Returns came on, and Michelle Pfeiffer was looking hot as Catwoman. So I started 'jokingly' purring and rubbing up against him. He went with it, and it soon turned into clawing and biting. We had fun, and I didn't look like a total weirdo."
Can fantasies signal problems in your relationship? Of course. If, for instance, you find yourself thinking about having an emotional bond with someone you know, that's a problem. In addition, fantasizing shouldn't involve taking yourself to another place mentally while you're having sex. You should always try to stay in the moment with your partner, even if you're both pretending to be different people.
"Sex can get routine in a long-term relationship, but when you know and trust someone, you can also be more adventuresome," Davidson says. "If something goes wrong and you're both adult enough to say, 'Well, that sucked,' and move on, then you have a playmate and partner with whom it's safe to take leaps."
So next time you're hesitant to reveal an innocuous fantasy, remember one thing: If you want to pretend to have sex with underage students, cats, or—God forbid—underage cats, there's no better partner in crime than your mate.
*Names in this story have been changed.