November 24, 2008

Q&A: Same Sex Fantasies And Sexual Orientation

How do fantasy and sexual orientation relate to each other? Does having same sex fantasies mean that you are gay or bisexual?

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Question: I have only had sexual experiences with men, although I mostly fantasize about sex with women. I have strong feelings for men, and enjoy physical intimacy with men, but why do most of my fantasies about sex involve women? Am I bisexual or a lesbian?

Sexual fantasies are commonly experienced (and frequently enjoyed) by women and men and they don’t always reflect how we feel or the types of sex we long for in our waking life.

Some people fantasize about being sexual with friends, strangers, neighbors or celebrities – even when they are in monogamous relationships or marriages – but that does not mean that they would actually want to be sexual with these people in reality. Other times, individuals find that they feel aroused by sexual fantasies or images (such as in porn) that relate to domination/submission, group sex, or forced sex. Again, that doesn’t mean that a person would actually want to engage in these activities in real life; but people may find them arousing as fantasies.

Also, sexual orientation doesn’t always match up with one’s fantasies. Heterosexual-identified women and men sometimes fantasize about members of their same sex and homosexual-identified women and men may fantasize about individuals of the other sex.

Some sex researchers might suggest that sexual fantasies have little to do with sexual orientation, and that – if you have no other reason to believe that you are sexually attracted to women in real life – these fantasies may be arousing for any number of reasons. For one, we often see more images of attractive women looking sexual than we see of men, such as in popular women’s magazines, men’s magazines, movies and the internet. If fantasizing about women feels taboo to you, that element may add to the psychological excitement of your experience.

Other sex researchers might suggest that this nuanced view of your behavior and fantasies is a reflection of the fluidity of sexuality, and the idea that many women and men are probably “bisexual” to some degree, or would be, if society didn’t place such strict restrictions on people to behave certain ways. If you are curious about being romantically or sexually involved with women, and that feels appealing or comfortable to you, it may be worth exploring those feelings.

That said, there is no one way to be bisexual, heterosexual or homosexual. Just because you enjoy being sexual with men doesn’t mean that most of your fantasies have to be about them. Just because you enjoy fantasizing about women, or becoming aroused to such fantasies, doesn’t mean that you have to be sexual with women or get into a relationship with them. The way that you live your sexual and romantic life is up to you to decide in a way that feels comfortable and enjoyable to you.

To learn more about sexual orientation, including bisexuality, check out the web sites of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays or the American Institute of Bisexuality.