“First and foremost: role-play and fantasy do not have to include elaborate costumes, props, and rehearsed scenarios.” In Part III of Esther Perel's three-part blog series on Sexual Fantasies, she provides guidance on introducing this new dimension into your relationship . . .
How To Introduce Role Play & Fantasy Into Your Relationship, by Esther Perel
Go Back to Basics
First and foremost: role-play and fantasy do not have to include elaborate costumes, props, and rehearsed scenarios. Forget shopping online for hours to find the perfect replica of an 18th-century Victorian maid’s outfit with elaborate silk ruffles and free yourself from the shackles of whips and chains (although, by all means, use them later if you want). The definition of fantasy is simply anything that intensifies the sexual experience. The weather, the time of day, the location or the pacing are some simple elements that may enhance the sexual experience between you and your partner. So let go of any expectations about elaborate role-play that may intimidate you or stymie you from the beginning.
Start from a Place of Reassurance
Talking about sex can be tricky – especially when you’ve never done it before. Frequently, there is the fear that if we speak our desires aloud, our partner will shame us or they will feel like they have failed to satisfy us in the past. Insecurity and vulnerabilities swirl around our sexual selves. Start by reassuring your partner that you enjoy what you do have. Ask them if they’re comfortable talking about fantasy. Start slowly, ease into these conversations. Here are some suggestions to open the dialogue:
“You know what, we’ve never talked about this and I’m really nervous…”
“I’ve been doing this course, please don’t make fun of me – I would love to talk to you about it.”
“Are you open to talking about what turns you on?”
“I’m really curious about what you like…”
Alternately, write a note. Or speak on the phone – which allows an intimate distance. Of course, the earlier you open up this dialogue in a relationship, the easier it is but nevertheless, start today because that is where you are now.
Talk More and Try More…
The door is now open to dialogue and for you to share your fantasies. Conversation about fantasy is about play, curiosity, transcending the limits of reality and moving beyond your usual boundaries. You can test out fantasies through talking (“Is there something you’ve always wanted to try?”) but you can also test through action. We act, we see and we wait for a response, then we try again. For instance, if you start kissing your partner on the couch, but they are pulling you towards the bedroom, they are showing you what they are comfortable with – this can also raise an opportunity to express your desire to have sex in the living room. Through a combination of action and words, allow yourself to be playful and open. Get past shame by trying: knock on the door and say, “Hello, room service is here.” As children well know, you need a playmate to play. If you are shamed or rejected when you start to play a game, you retreat into yourself. So willingness is key. But so is the ability to try again if the door is not opened the first time.
Bring in a Third… No, not that Kind of Third
I often suggest to couples that they use a third item – a transitional object – such as a book, a movie or an overheard conversation to allow for fantasy and play to enter their sexual experiences. Reading to each other, for instance, can be a way to create desire.
The book Behind Closed Doors offers fantasies from women and men’s point-of-view that can be read aloud. The lens of a movie or book allows for you to ask questions like: “Is that something you’d be interested in trying?” or “Does that turn you on?”
Do it Yourself
In the sanctuary of your erotic mind, you can be anything or anybody you want. So as well as cultivating mutual experiences, you can step into a different body or role inside your own mind – you are free to fantasize when you’re with your partner. You can imagine you are taller, younger, skinnier, more powerful, less powerful and on it goes. You can go beyond the limits of your own conscience, body type or abilities, particularly when you have a partner you feel safe with.
How do you incorporate fantasy and how does that impact your relationships with yourself and your partner?
Psychotherapist Esther Perel is recognized as one of the world's most original and insightful voices on modern relationships. Esther helms a therapy practice in New York City, she is a licensed marriage and family therapist, an AASECT certified sex therapist and a member of the American Family Therapy Academy. Esther is the New York Times best selling author of The State of Affairs and Mating in Captivity. Learn more about Esther at EstherPerel.com or by following @EstherPerelOfficial on Instagram.