Q&A: Is It Normal To Fantasize About Having Sex With Random Women?

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QUESTION: Is it normal for a person in a serious relationship to masturbate and fantasize about having sex with other random women? Especially if the person is getting regular sex from their partner? Is this considered cheating?

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Male-Fantasies

Photo: Anne Helmond (flickr.com)

People can act out romantic sexual fantasies or very explicit no-feelings-involved sexual fantasies. Then, in the blink of an eye, people can return to thinking about one’s own partner.

Everyone Does It

Yes, it is very common for women and men to fantasize about people other than their own partner. In fact, a study published in 2001 in The Journal of Sex Research found that, among 349 women and men ages 18 to 70, all of whom were in relationships at the time of the study, 98% of men and 80% of women said that they had fantasized about someone other than their partner over the previous 2 months.

Why fantasize about someone else? Some people find it very stimulating to think about having sex with a friend, a co-worker, a classmate, a total stranger or even a celebrity. These fantasies may occur alone during masturbation or even in the middle of having sex with one’s partner.

Bucking the Routine

The 2001 research study also found that sexual fantasies about other people are more common as people tend to stay together longer. This makes sense: as much as people may feel committed to each other, sex does tend to change in long term relationships. Couples tend to have sex less often with each other and, when they do have sex, it may feel more routine or less exciting than it did at first. As they look for ways to enhance their arousal and pleasure, they may find that fantasizing about others helps or is fun to do.

Mental Infidelity

Whether you consider this to be “cheating” or not is more up to you than me. People have their own definitions of what cheating is so it is important for couples to communicate and decide what is or is not okay in the context of their own relationship.

Most people would probably not consider fantasizing about others to be cheating – particularly as most women and men do fantasize about people other than their partner. However, some might feel that it feels wrong or inappropriate to them.

Fantasy vs. Real Life

Sexual fantasies allow people to explore their sexual feelings in often very safe ways. In fantasy, you can explore sides of yourself without having to worry about what is politically correct or who is or is not actually available to you in real life.

People can act out romantic sexual fantasies or very explicit no-feelings-involved sexual fantasies. They can be powerful or submissive, have sex with one person or many, or approach a stranger or even a long lost, high school love for sex, massage, making out or to become pregnant.

Then, in the blink of an eye, one can turn the fantasy off, return to regular life or return to thinking about one’s own partner.

More Information

To learn more about sexual fantasies and exploration, consider reading The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex or The Guide to Getting It On.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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