Wednesday, September 5, 2012
It seems that every TV talk show host these days has something to say about Fifty Shades of Grey. And this book and its sequels by female British author E. L James continue to fascinate women throughout the world.
The author openly states that her book reflects all the romantic and erotic fantasies she has had during her life time. The heroine is young, beautiful, witty, curious, smart and healthy. Her attraction, Christian Grey, is handsome, rich, articulate, desirous, solicitous and most of all, controlling.
While the book is not a “must read” for everyone, its popularity is a reminder of the important role that fantasy plays in a woman’s sexuality.
Fantasies are one of the key aspects to sexual arousal, and can be powerful motivators whether they are unspoken mental images or acted out between consenting partners. Mental images can serve to augment sexual response without feeling anxious or guilty. They allow the person to envision different scenarios within the container of their imagination.
When acting fantasies out, discussing their significance and the roles each partner will play is important. The goal is to enhance the relationship between the couple and to deepen their emotional connection during and after sex.
Setting boundaries and having a safety word that stops the action and protects the partners is equally essential. Physical abuse and statements that cause emotional pain do little to create long term sexual satisfaction. In fact, the effect is usually emotional distancing that often ends with denial of sexual participation and even separation and divorce.
Fantasies among women and men differ, with some seeming bizarre to the partner. When sharing a fantasy, it is helpful to say that it can remain only a fantasy and not be acted out. This also enables couples who choose to share their fantasies to be non-judgmental. Fantasies may change with age and maturity, and the longer the relationship continues, the more this change may be noted.
Most health care providers are at ease in discussing issues regarding sexuality and fantasy with their patients. Providers also may suggest their patients see a counselor whose schedule allows for extensive discussion of this matter in a safe environment.
Rhonda Borman, LCSW