Have you been thinking of someone else ...?
Here are 4 key things we know about the sexual fantasies of married men and women:
1. The overwhelming majority of people of ALL genders (87% total!) DO fantasize about someone other than their primary partner.
In fact, this particular study only asked participants about the prior two months. If it had been a lifetime assessment, it's easy to believe rates might reach close to 100% for men and increase similarly for women.
So ... that guilty feeling you get when you think about having sex with a man who isn't your husband ... you can put that feeling away. Your fantasy is normal, and quite likely meaningless.
2. Married men have significantly more sexual fantasies about other women than their wives do about other men.
Environment and context play a much larger role in women's fantasies than it does in men's. Circumstances such as how long they've been married and whether they are actually having or have had an extramarital affair increases the chances a woman will fantasize about someone other than her husband.
These same factors don't predict the frequency of fantasies for men. For men, simply being male predicts they will fantasize about women other than their wives. Conditions such as the length of their relationship, whether or not they feel happy in their marriage, whether or not they are cheating or ever have cheated, have absolutely NO predictive value.
In other words, it's hard to go higher than 98%, but yeah, men just think about sex. A lot.
3. Men and women differ in terms of who — and what — they fantasize about.
Even in fantasy, female sexuality is more driven by relationship cues and factors than male sexuality. So, when discussing female sexuality at any level, we must address the relationship variables that are playing in the background.
Women tend to fantasize sexually about known individuals, such as past boyfriends, coworkers, friends, or their tennis coach. It's important to note that this does NOT mean they actually have a desire to act out their fantasies with these specific men. Women's sexual fantasies generally include aspects of intimacy and relationship that men's fantasies don't, so it makes sense that their fantasy lovers would be men with whom they have some form of relationship — past, present or future.
Men, on the other hand, are more likely to sexually fantasize about women they don't know, or even "women" who don't really have any identity per se — like faceless, bodiless vaginas and breasts. Where do you think the Venus de Milo statue came from?
In contrast to their wives' fantasies, men's tend to be far less relational in nature, Men focus on explicit, mechanical imagery without any romantic or emotional context. Basically, when men fantasize, all they need to think about is body parts.
4. Most people never tell anybody about their sexual fantasies, including their primary partner.
People have a natural fear of rejection and judgment, especially in relation to sex.
Maybe, just maybe, this new information might prompt you to have a conversation with your husband about some of your own sexual fantasies.
He's male, so you are pretty safe — 98% safe, to be precise — to assume he's thought about other women. What would it be like if you gave him permission to admit that without fear of judgment — at the same time you admit to your own fantasies?
Fantasies don't have any proven connection to behavior, so you can feel secure that sharing these fantasies with your husband does NOT mean either of you are going to stray.
Consider this as an opportunity to focus on the tremendously erotic mental, emotional AND physical connection the two of you can ignite!
Erotic communication and shared fantasy is an amazing thing.
Give it a try ...
This article was originally published at Psychology Today. Reprinted with permission from the author.