Role-playing can be a great way to develop a relationship and build intimacy, but that's not all it's good for. Through role-playing we get to "try on different shoes" within out sexual relationships, says Chris Auer, a mental health counselor at White Forest Counseling in Ashland, Ore. Role-playing "allows people to get to know themselves better by experiencing different emotional and/or relational aspects of [themselves]," he explains. You can "experience a freedom of expression that may otherwise be cut-off through adherence to cultural norms."
Of course, it can also be about kicking up the kink, shaking up a staid routine, jump-starting a waning libido, or just something you do for fun. Seductress T.M. Lee, author of Scripts 4 Play, says imagination is the key to sexual fulfillment. "Once your imagination is gone, so is the fun in your sex life," she says.
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Relationship expert Johanna Lyman adds that "role-playing can be an integral part of keeping the flames of desire flaming in long term relationships." The intimacy you develop with after years with the same partner is "wonderful for keeping a relationship going, but it doesn't do much for the libido. Eroticism exists in the space between two people, while intimacy closes the gap. Acting out fantasies creates more space between who you think you are; it creates a sense of the unknown, which is extremely erotic." The Key To A Sexy Marriage
So How Do You Start?
"Check out his porno collection if you want a clue," says Natasha, a former professional fetishist and dominatrix at New York City's infamous Pandora's Box. And if you can get up the nerve to ask him, "make sure to be specific," she instructs. "Don't just say, 'What's your fantasy?' Say, 'When you are by yourself, what kind of porn do you watch?"
"Make sure you keep an open mind and allow him to share whatever he wants," she continues, explaining that most men came to her because they didn't feel comfortable talking about their fantasies.
So what are men's typical fantasies? What roles did Natasha find herself repeating over and over? The answer, in order of frequency: Nurse, School Teacher, Mom, Teenager, and Interrogator. If you're uncomfortable talking about role-play, consider introducing any of the above scenarios; chances are he'd find one of them appealing.
"Begin by adopting an alter ego," Natasha says. "It could be as simple as putting on a new lipstick and telling yourself, 'when I put this on I become Nurse Sexy.'"
To get into character, it can help to establish a routine, some transformational process that signals that you are going to become someone else. It could be as simple as a song and a red light-bulb; the important thing is to have a defined character and to become her.
Want more? We broke down a few of the most common fantasies: Nurse, Secretary and Teacher.
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Essentials: Red lipstick, high heels, sexy white lingerie, thermometer.