I am a closet exhibitionist. Very few people know this about me because I'm a bookish introvert who has seldom been the life of a phone call, let alone a party. However, the vast majority of my masturbation fantasies involve me having sex with one or several partners, while one or several other people look on. Planes, trains, automobiles, construction sites, fishing boat—any public venue works in my dirty mind's eye.
My partner knows this about me, and while he's squeamish about public sex in the "real world," he did agree to take me to a sex club where we could get it on in a room full of other couples doing the same. Neither of us was a stranger to the idea of sexual adventure, but this particular kink was new to us both, so it was a shared initiation. Inside An NYC Sex Club
I loved the club environment: open eroticism all around me, combined with the surprisingly warm, safe feeling of being in a walled garden of sexual delights. The freedom to be sexual in a public place was liberating and titillating, and I immediately found myself wanting to join in. The sex we had was really no different from the sex we have at home, only the venue and context were different.
But as we got busy, I discovered something surprising: for me, partnered sex and masturbation alike are ultimately inward journeys. I struggled to stay present, to savor the novelty of our surroundings, but ultimately I succumbed to the undertow of my imagination. In order to plumb my initial arousal and reach orgasm, I needed to go deep inside myself, and when I came, it was with my eyes closed—and I was far away somewhere, fantasizing about being watched by an entirely different group of people.
According to Amy Alkon, who writes a syndicated newspaper column as The Advice Goddess, this sense of deflation is entirely to be expected.
"The funny thing about fantasy is that it's not always what it's cracked up to be. When people think about having a threesome, they don't picture someone sitting on the edge of the bed reading Newsweek, wondering when their turn comes," she says. Alkon sees a definite trend among her readers, who are more and more comfortable expressing, and acting out, their sexual fantasies, than they were just a few years ago. Threesomes: A User's Guide
"I used to get a lot of letters from lonely guys in the middle of nowhere who were wondering if they were perverts for liking women's feet," she says. "Now with the internet, I get fewer of those, because it's easy enough for them to find other people who are into the same thing, and gain some reassurance that they aren't alone." Alkon thinks that if anything, the trendiness of acting out elaborate fantasy scenarios has created unreasonable expectations.
"This I'll-be-the-pirate-you-be-the-slave girl thing, the stuff that's so routinized and put on, people do because they're determined to make their sex lives more interesting—it becomes another requirement, and it's not fun. If you're looking to keep your sex life interesting, it's the spontaneous stuff that works."
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