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Sharing Your Sex Fantasies With your Partner: Sizzler or Fizzler?

Sex experts discuss the pros and cons of revealing to your partner your most private erotic fantasies.
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You've been sharing a bed with the same partner for years. By now you know each other's sleeping habits inside and out, right down to the exact room temperature and sleeping position preferred. But how well do you know what it takes to turn on your partner? There's one way to find out -- by sharing your most intimate sex fantasies. An open exchange of erotic fantasies can help rekindle the flames -- or can they? Here's what sex experts say on the subject.

Risky business

Many sex experts advise couples to use caution when revealing private sex fantasies. "It often backfires," says Wendy Maltz, MSW, sex therapist and co-author of the book Private Thoughts: The Power of Women's Fantasies. That's because too often, says Maltz, there's a lack of understanding about what it means to share them.

To minimize misunderstandings, Maltz suggests setting some guidelines before agreeing to reveal erotic fantasies. "Make sure you have a mutual understanding of each other's objectives. Are you doing it simply to learn about what each other's private sexual thoughts are, or are you creating a menu of the type of sexual activities you want to try?" she says.

Other experts agree that it's best not to plunge head-first into a completely candid revelation of your deepest erotic fantasies. "First, test the waters. Float the idea in a general way," suggests Barbara Bartlik, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. "You could say, 'What did you think about that scene in the movie?'"

Even when both partners willingly reveal their sex fantasies to one another, says Maltz, there's no guarantee that the outcome will be a positive meeting of the minds, or bodies. "It's shaky ground for a relationship. It can really enhance the sexual experience, or destroy it. It can make people very uptight and anxious," Maltz says.

That's particularly true if either you or your partner finds the content of a particular fantasy off-putting. "What about the person who likes to be sexually sadistic? The other person may take great offense to that," Bartlik says. Oftentimes, explains Bartlik, it takes a lot of courage to reveal a less conventional fantasy such as one that includes sadomasochism. Further, it takes a very loving and loyal partner to listen and accept fantasies that may be outside the mainstream of sexual experience. The inability to accept an edgy fantasy may cause a rift in the relationship.

But even if you find your partner's sex fantasies a bit unnerving, there's hope for moving forward.

Interpretation Counts

Maltz offers some advice to prevent emotionally jarring fallout from the revelation of sex fantasies. The first thing is not to assume that your partner wants to actually do everything he or she fantasizes about. "It's important not to take these desires literally, unless they're intended that way," she says.

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