When Acting Out Sexual Fantasies Ends Up Awkward IRL, What Should You Do?

We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto today's topic: what to do after acting out a sexual fantasy turns awkward.

Q: My boyfriend and I recently tried reenacting a roleplaying fantasy. I wanted to play nurse and have him be my “patient.” He said he was down. I spent a good amount of money buying a nurse outfit and fake medical equipment, and really got into character. It was fun for a while, but once we got down to business, he couldn’t get hard. We both got super embarrassed and I hid in the bathroom. He apologized and said it was just a fluke. Even though it was so bad, I’m still turned on by the fantasy. Am I an idiot for wanting to try it again?

A: Thanks for the question! Sexual fantasies can be extremely hot in our heads, but they don’t always work out exactly how we imagined them in real life. But just because a fantasy goes awry once doesn’t mean you should give up on it altogether! Here are five steps for getting over a bad fantasy experience.

1. Relax

It’s a bummer that the naughty nurse couldn’t complete her check-up, but it’s actually not that uncommon. Anytime you try anything new for the first time, there’s a high likelihood of it not working out exactly as planned. How did it go the first time you tried to play the piano? The first time you tried to give a blow job? I’ve said before that good sex takes practice; skillfully acting out fantasies is no different!

Don’t read into this experience too much. Both of you are feeling embarrassed right now, but you don’t need to make it into such a big deal. Talk to your partner and say something like, “I’m sorry if you felt put on the spot the other day, or if I didn’t respond in the best way. I like playing around with you and exploring new things. I realize that not everything is going to work for us, but I’m glad we’re both willing to try.”

2. Decide If You Want To Give It Another Go

You’re absolutely not an idiot for wanting to try out this fantasy again. When a fantasy goes awry, it’s important to make the distinction between the logistics not working out, and you deciding you’re no longer interested in acting it out. It sounds like you fall under the former category.

Your boyfriend had a hard time getting erect, so the logistics of the fantasy obviously didn’t work out, but you’re still turned on by the fantasy. On the other hand, let’s say you tried out your nurse’s outfit and noticed that you actually didn’t feel that sexy in it. You might realize that you enjoy playing nurse in your head, but not so much in real life. Since you’re still turned on by this fantasy, I think that makes it worth at least a few more tries — but of course, it’s your call.

It might get a bit trickier with your boyfriend. It sounds like your boyfriend was willing participant in your nurse fantasy, but I wasn’t clear on whether or not it was something that genuinely turned him on too. You’ve got to ask him if he wants to try it again. Try to help him see the difference between logistics and desires. Say something like, “I know that didn’t work out exactly how we’d envisioned, but I’d still love to play with you and I have some ideas for how we could make it easier. Is it something you’re interested in?”

3. Give It Time

If you both decide you want to try it out again, give yourselves some time before your second attempt. It will feel too loaded to try again right away, and your boyfriend may feel even more pressure. After you’ve talked about whether or not you’re going to give it a second chance, say something like, “cool, glad we’re on the same page. I’m not in a rush, so why don’t we talk about it again next month?” If you’re able to have some great sexual experiences with each other before your second attempt at naughty nurse, you’ll both feel more confident.

4. Lower Expectations Beforehand

Most of us have had fantasies that we’ve been building up into our head for years. That can sometimes create a lot of pressure when we try to bring these fantasies into the real world. Before acting out any fantasy, I think it’s usually a good idea to talk it through with your partner and try to lower the stakes. If your partner is game for giving it another go, you could say something like, “I’m glad you want to try it out again. It’s totally fine if it doesn’t end up being as fun as we want it to be, but let’s try to take the pressure off of making it perfect.”

When you’re in the moment with the fantasy, try to keep the same attitude. The fantasy doesn’t need to be “perfect” every step of the way. If your boyfriend isn’t getting hard, ask him to go down on you, or masturbate in front of him. Or do a striptease out of your nurse’s outfit for him!

5. Dial It Back

Since so many people can feel pressured to act out fantasies perfectly, you may want to try easing your way into roleplaying. It doesn’t matter that you’ve already tried it once; you can always dial it back and try it again.

Try to think of ways that you can break your fantasy down into smaller pieces. For example, you could try dirty talking naughty nurse and patient with your boyfriend, without costumes or props. Or you could describe your fantasy in a couple of texts. Taking smaller steps will take a lot of pressure off of both of you.

Have fun exploring!

Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our SoundCloud page.

Images: Bustle; Giphy