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BDSM fantasy: will it limit my sex life?

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Anonymous asks:

I have serious problems becoming sexually aroused without fantasizing about certain BDSM-like scenarios. I've been having fantasies of that sort for a really long time- years before I even knew what BDSM was- so I was thinking that my problem might just be that I'm used to these types of fantasies and only fairly recently started trying to use other means to get myself off, so to speak. However, I haven't noticed any improvement with this problem. I really don't want to be this limited in my sexual experiences. Do you have any suggestions for me? I've heard some things about how seeking therapy might help, but I don't know that much about what this would entail.

Heather Corinna replies:

Our sexual fantasies really don't limit our actual, out-of-our-heads sexual experiences.

Sexual fantasy and sexual reality are separate.

Fantasy is influenced by reality, and reality can be influenced by fantasy if we choose, but they still are two very different things. For many people, much of their sexual fantasy not only isn't any part of their sexual reality, but for various reasons -- safety, legality, or just plain old logistics -- isn't even something they'd want to enact in reality. For other people, it is enactable, something that is wanted in actuality, and something a person may bring into fruition. But by no means are our fantasies a script for our actual sex lives we need to follow, or will be interested in following only, to the exclusion of everything else. It's up to us if we enact a given fantasy, how we do, when we do, and how often.

There really is no therapy that can get our fantasies out of us, and it's pretty ethically questionable for a therapist to try. Fantasies don't do anyone harm: they're only in our heads, and they don't dictate our actions. We choose our actions. Certainly, if you're finding your fantasies are very disturbing to you, you can see a therapist to talk about them and find out why you're so disturbed, and they can help you get more comfortable with those fantasies and your feelings about them, but they can't rid you of them. Too, in general, the more people usually try to repress fantasy in their heads, the more persistent the fantasy usually gets.

It should also stand to mention that people who are into BDSM are not all into BDSM exclusively, or BDSM 24/7. Sure, some people are, but they're pretty rare.

For most, it's just one aspect of their sex life, and one way they have sex or one thing they add to the sex they're having, some of the time, but not all of the time. For most, it's not a lifestyle, it's just one thing that turns them and their partners on.

If you're finding you're oriented towards BDSM in your sexual indentity and interests, it's still up to you not only IF you explore that, but how much of your sexual life you make it. You may also simply be finding -- if you've not yet had sexual partners -- that for whatever reason, that's easier to visualize and imagine, who knows. But no matter what, there really is no reason to be worried that that's the only way you'll ever be aroused in real-life or the only kind of sex you'll have, much in the same way that someone who fantasized about nothing but vaginal intercourse would not need to be worried that's all they'll ever do or want to do.

So, for the time being, what I'd advise is just some acceptance of these fantasies as fantasies that you have. They may change in time, or they may not, but either way, acceptance is going to get you further and leave you in a better space than resistance likely will, especially since a fantasy just doesn't do anyone any harm. If you decide down the road to enact that fantasy in real life, so long as whomever else is involved has the same interests, so long as the two of you -- just as with any other sort of sex -- are on the same page with your limits and boundaries and safety, are respectful of one another, and are both only doing what it is you want to be doing, it's still all okay, and still doesn't mean you have to commit to ONLY that, or that your sexuality must be nothing but ONLY that. If you feel or decide you do NOT want that to be any part of your in-person sex life, that's okay, too.

Here is some additional information for you which I think might help:

written 24 Jul 2007 . updated 20 Dec 2012

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