When asked to name the most common sexual activity in which humans engage, people typically response with the answer of “masturbation.”
However, this isn’t true. We will engage in more sexual fantasizing during our lifetimes than partnered sex and masturbation combined (and then exponentially multiplied).
Sexual fantasy is the most common human sexual experience, and fantasy plays no small part in masturbation. If we are to understand the male experience of masturbation, we cannot elide sexual fantasy.
The overwhelming majority of males engage in fantasizing while masturbating, and few share these fantasies with romantic partners. What then are the most common sexual fantasies in which men engage?
Generally, fantasies fall into one of two categories. First, memories of past arousing sexual experiences. Second, an imagining of arousing sexual events that haven’t happened (and may never happen).
In comparison to females, males engage in fantasies which are sexually graphic (particularly including images of genitals), focus more on a partner’s body and on what a male wants to do to it, involve a variety of partners (including group sex), are impersonal, and demonstrate dominance.
Of course there are women who engage in these very same fantasies just as there as men who engage in the fantasies research ascribes to females (more passive, more focus on men’s interest in their bodies, more romantic, and more emotional). Still, this does not negate the notable gender differences discerned in research.
Have you given much thought about your masturbation fantasies? There may be unprecedented access to pre-packaged, quick-hit titillation and expert guidance on the bodily mechanics of personal pleasure, but the American erotic imagination is still congested with political correctness and shame.
Masturbation has by no means conquered all social taboos — will it ever, really? — but when it comes to fantasy, we could all use some loosening up.
When I’ve inquired about my partners’ fantasies, it’s often scared the crap out of them. Want to make a man stutter in bed? Ask him to describe the peaks and valleys of his personal erotic landscape.
Men aren’t used to talking about these things — except when it’s in the course of an emotional interrogation (i.e. “So you like fake boobs, then, huh?”).
It’s fascinating, though, to see how a person’s character and life experiences influence the private realm of fantasy. There’s tremendous vulnerability and intimacy in sharing these things — like a cat rolling over to show you its belly.
I can’t tell you how often I’ve encountered men who are distressed by their socially unacceptable fantasies. They insist that they have no desire to pursue such encounters in real life, but they worry about the fact that this imagery has taken up residence in their mind.
These are guys who identify as straight but occasionally like to imagine sexual encounters with other men, or who find themselves returning to the thought of sex with a teenage girl.
Then there is the occasional woman with a rape or submission fantasy, which studies have shown are incredibly common.
There are a lot of unsavory, politically incorrect aspects to our sexual imaginations. These shadowy caves of the sexual psyche tend to reveal fundamental inner conflicts and can be at odds with our public personae.
It’s important to recognize that these scenarios are frequently things we don’t want to experience in reality.
Plenty of things are titillating as ideas but repulsive, or at least disappointing, in reality. Fantasies are like dreams — they aren’t right or wrong; they just are.
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