Is It OK To Think About Someone Else During Sex?

Even if you're in a relationship with someone you love, some of the most common sexual fantasies involve people who, well, aren't them. What does that mean? The line between role play and fantasy can sometimes be a little blurry, but, on the more basic level, is it OK to think about someone else during sex?

Outside of role play, the thought of it doesn't really sit well with me right off the bat. But then I realized how reductive that is, because I'm sort of assuming it's sex with a long-term, monogamous partner, and that's certainly not the only kind of sex that happens. And even if you are having that kind of sex, the truth is, what is or isn't OK should be more about what is or isn't OK for you and you partner.

I think sexual fantasies are great, but the idea that my girlfriend would be thinking about someone besides me while having sex with me makes my skin crawl. It's too close to her wanting to have sex with someone else. But if I think fantasies are fair game, where do I draw the line? When is it actually OK to be thinking about someone else? Because people do it... a lot. Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of tells Bustle that fantasies are totally healthy and in fact, something you can build on. Here's more about why we fantasize and what it means for our relationship.

What's Really Happening?

Not only is it common to think about other people during sex, it's really common. Like really, really common. A survey of 1,300 women by UK company Lovehoney found that 42 percent of men and 46 percent of women thought of someone else during sex — that's nearly half. And 15 percent of women said they regularly thought about sex with a former flame during sex, which I think would bother most people in a relationship, right? The idea that your partner regularly thought about their ex? I mean, I can wrap my head around thinking of a hot stranger or a fling, but thinking about their ex— on a regular basis— would be really difficult for me personally. But to each their own.

When It's Healthy Versus Unhealthy

So we know that it's happening and that it's happening a lot, but if every person has their own reaction to it, is there an objective opinion on whether it's OK? "Overall, fantasizing is perfectly healthy if it enhances an experience and doesn't happen all the time causing a disconnect from their partner," says Levine. "If someone is fantasizing all the time, and prefer the fantasy over their partner then they may want to reconsider being with that person and what they really need and want in bed. Some people in loving relationships want to be fully connected and prefer to focus on their partner and not fantasize. Other people may be hooking up and the priority may be doing what's in the best interest of their own pleasure. Others use fantasy to enhance an experience."

Why Do We Do It?

"Fantasy can be from start to finish, shared, or happen at various times during a sack session to amp up arousal — particularly to get over the edge and orgasm," says Levine. "It can be a mental movie, or a quick snapshot of something that happened or something you desire. While you may not want to share who you are fantasizing about (especially if it's someone at work or your friend's husband), it can be fun and adventurous to share what turns you on."

When Is It A Problem?

I agree, but Dr. Seth Myers tells Psychology Today that although they can be completely normal, continual fantasies may indicate something else is wrong:

Once in a blue moon, if you find yourself in the middle of an intimate act fantasizing about another, you should not be horrified or feel guilty. If you find yourself fantasizing about someone else on a regular basis, your fantasy has become a coping mechanism to handle feelings about your relationship. You could be bored or angry at your partner, and your fantasy becomes your defense against incorporating intimacy with your partner. Do not give yourself a green light to regularly fantasize about another. Giving yourself this regular pass would allow you to take the easy way out when you really have some work to do to figure out what's wrong in your relationship.

So the takeaway seems to be not to beat yourself up if you suddenly find it happening when you're caught up in the moment with your partner. There are a lot of circumstances that could lead you to fantasize about someone else. If you're regularly thinking about— or wishing you were with— someone else, it might be time to take a look at your relationship and see if there are some bigger issues at play.

Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our video on sex positions for small penises:

Images: Fotolia; Giphy (2)