According to an April study from the Kinsey Institute of 1,559 adults that investigated how the pandemic is impacting our sex lives, it seems many are indeed getting imaginative. In addition to erotic indoor recess activities like sexting and trying new positions being on the rise, acting out sexual fantastics has been huge. And here's a twist: The research supports that the most common sexual fantasies, during COVID-19 at least, have skewed toward the pure and wholesome side.
"Some of the fantasies that topped the list in terms of frequency were things like previous sexual experiences, getting non-sexual needs met, breaking lockdown or quarantine orders to have sex, and sex with exes," says Kristen Mark, PhD, a sex researcher involved in the Kinsey Institute's ongoing study of sex and relationships in the time of COVID and advisor to sexual coaching app Coral. "Those top fantasies aren’t necessarily different from pre-COVID, but what’s different is that someone who may normally fantasize about super-graphic sexual stuff may find themselves fantasizing about getting their emotional needs met or more romantic kissing scenes, and vice versa."
Clearly, in these times of strife, some are yearning for comfort, but research has also supported the notion that when it comes to sexual fantasies, plenty of folks fantasize about kink and group sex, too. During a recent virtual Coral event with sex educator and Kinsey Institute researcher Justin Lehmiller, PhD, nearly 60 percent of audience participants revealed that BDSM tops their list of favorite fantasies. And in his 2018 book, Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life, he noted multi-partner sex to be the most popular fantasy in America at the time. So if a threesome has been weighing on your mind, trust that you're not alone.
Whatever you're into, though, rest assured that harnessing the power of fantasy can keep you sexually and mentally healthy. That's even the case if you're lucky enough to be quarantining with a romantic partner because you may well be experiencing an intimacy famine. As Coral's in-house sex and intimacy coach Zoë Kors points out, “humans are tactile, affectionate creatures and thrive on being touched." And if you're coming up empty on the touch front because, say, the pandemic may be killing your partner's libido, the power of fantasy can help.
"The same way that guided meditations can replicate the experience of deep relaxation, sexual fantasies can stimulate and soothe your nervous system in the same way sex does." —sex and intimacy coach Zoë Kors
"In the same way that guided meditations can replicate the experience of deep relaxation, sexual fantasies can stimulate and soothe your nervous system in the same way sex does," Kors says. "Fantasizing is a great way to nourish yourself."
So how… do you do that? Whether solo or partnered, you can be very intentional in acknowledging the sensory elements of your experience. "In addition to strictly sexual fantasies, experiment with adding an emotional component to your fantasy repertoire," says Kors. "What kind of emotional experience are you craving? What might you do with a lover that would nourish you outside the bedroom? What do they look like, smell like, feel like, and taste like? Choose details, and set the scene."
You can use your imagination to weave those details into your fantasy, or you can get a little help from outside sources. If you’re recalling a seaside romp at the shore, for instance, get yourself in the tub. Or if you want to dial in on a former lover, dust off your go-to makeout mixtape. Desperately wish you being dominated? Introduce some kink into a masturbation session by breaking out some ice cubes for temperature play. And if you’re looking to approximate a threesome with your partner, adding in a sex toy could fit the bill for a phantom third.
If you want to take your fantasies a step further, Kors recommends you try an immersive exercise, like writing your own erotica. Doing so can allow you to flesh out the details of your dirty daydreams and give you material benefits to use for later. "If you’re interested in journaling for self care, this has the added benefit of tending to your sexual wellness," Kors says. I, for one, can see what she's getting at. If I've learned anything from bouts of going without partnered sex, it's that fan fiction is always a good supplement.
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