Why It’s Totally Normal To Think Of Someone Else During Sex

Your girlfriends might not think its totally normal that you are thinking of your history teacher while having sex with your boyfriend but don’t fret. We spoke to sexologist Dr. Jess O’Reilly who helps with everything from couples retreats to your vibrator worries.

Dr. Jess assured us that its perfectly normal and actually quite healthy to visualize other people while doing the dirty. Explaining what it really means, how to talk to your partner about it and if its considered cheating or not.

What does it mean if you’re having sex with your boyfriend and picturing someone else? 

It means you’re perfectly normal and you’re excited by novelty, challenge and/or the unknown. Just like we dream about a range of partners, scenarios and lifestyles, so too do our fantasies reflect this desire for variety.

Is it worse to literally visualize someone else’s face or to just think of them? Or both

I don’t believe that one is worse than the other. I think it’s healthy to fantasize about people other than your partner. I know it can seem scary (especially if you reverse the roles), but couples whose relationships have stood the test of time (especially those who still have hot sex lives!) will attest to the fact that a willingness to push comfort zones is essential to a lasting sexual relationship.

Should you end it or become concerned if you’re doing this?

Absolutely not. I know it’s scary. I know it probably makes you feel a little threatened, insecure or jealous to acknowledge that your partner also thinks about other people during (or before or outside of) sex. I get it.

But… admitting to these vulnerabilities will ultimately bring you closer. When you open up and say, “I’m a little threatened” or “I feel a bit jealous” or “I need your reassurance,” you’re cultivating intimacy which lays the groundwork for eroticism within the context of a predictable, stable relationships.

I suppose you might be concerned if you’re only turned on by one thing. But this could be the case with any fantasy. And it’s not universally concerning as long as you are with a partner with whom you’re compatible.

If you’re consistently fantasizing about someone you also feel an emotional attachment to, it might be time to cut off that relationship. You should note, however, that having harmless crushes is normal when you’re in a committed, happy relationship and some research suggests that these crushes can actually be good for your relationship.

Is it considered cheating?

Cheating is something that you have to define with your partner. If you really believe that you can only be turned on by one person for the rest of your life, that’s perfectly fine.

For most people, however, this doesn’t work. They either break up or stay together in sexless marriages because the prospect of breaking up is scarier than actually working on their sex lives.

What constitutes cheating for one person may be perfectly acceptable for another. The key is talking about it openly with your partner. And embracing those vulnerable feelings (e.g. jealousy, insecurity) instead of projecting, withdrawing or lashing out.

What if it’s a celebrity or someone you don’t know… can that be a pass?

Again, this is up to the couple. Fantasizing about a celebrity (or talking about it with your partner) is often an effective and safe way to acknowledge that you’re sexual — not just sexual within the context of your current relationship — but sexual as a human being. You’re unlikely to ever meet your celebrity crush, so I think it’s an excellent way to explore monogamish territory. See my Ted Talk on Monogamish.

I’ve never thought of someone else during sex but sometimes when it’s dark I can’t visualize the guy’s face. Is that just as bad?

Absolutely not! I am madly in love. I’ve been with my husband for fifteen years and I still want to tear his clothes off! Though I don’t usually do so because life gets in the way. Sometimes I have trouble remembering what he looks like because I travel so much. It helps to picture a photograph.

Does it mean the sex is bad?

It doesn’t mean the sex is bad. You have to decide if the sex is good or bad. And not every encounter can be a ten out of ten!

It may, however, be an indication that you’re craving variety or novelty and this is the perfect opportunity to talk to your partner about your needs. Don’t wait! If you’re not getting what you want in bed, speak up. Do it constructively : I love ________. I’d also like to try ________. What do you think ?

Should you seek therapy if you’re thinking of an elder or mentor such as a teacher?

Nope. It’s normal to feel attracted to people in positions of power. There are many theories as to why we are attracted to teachers, mentors, bosses, etc., including…

-the idea of relinquishing control can be highly erotic. There is so much pressure when it comes to sexual performance that taking on a submissive or student role can help to increase our ability to be present by reducing this pressure.

-People in positions of power can make us feel safe and some people are turned on by safety.

-People in positions of power can also make us feel threatened and some of us are turned on by a sense of danger.

Instead of worrying, why not play this out in the bedroom with your partner? You may be craving more dominance and submission in your sex life.

Are guys or girls known to do it more?

It depends. The bottom line is that fantasizing about people other than your partner is extremely common regardless of gender. Monogamy in terms of thought is unrealistic in most relationships. If it works for you, that’s perfectly fine (people love to use individual examples to tell me that I’m wrong), but in most cases, it doesn’t work. Just like eating the same food everyday in the same quantity at the same time in the same location isn’t realistic, sex also thrives in the context of variety and novelty.

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