This Is How Fantasies Affect Your Relationship

We all have sexual fantasies. Some of them, may be more common than others, but they're nothing to be embarrassed about. A 2015 LoveHoney study even found that 81 percent of women have actually acted out sexual fantasies with a partner. To some people however, sexual fantasies are just that — “fantasies” that they won't ever act out IRL. If yours is rare, telling your partner about it may seem a little nerve-wracking (i.e. OMG, what is he/she going to think of me?). But as new studies found, you might want to share yours ASAP because sexual fantasies may improve your relationship — but only if you’re fantasizing about your partner.

“It’s completely normal and healthy for couples to have fantasies,” Sarah Watson, LPC and Sex Therapist tells Bustle. “To share them with your partner can create another level of intimacy and closeness. It can improve communication as well. Some fantasies aren't going to be played out in real life, that is OK. When sharing your fantasies with your partner it is important to share what you already enjoy about your sexual relationship together.”

Three new studies focusing on the idea of sexual fantasies in relationships were recently presented at the biennial conference of the International Association of Relationship Researchers in Toronto. As The Wall Street Journal reports, all three studies found that fantasizing about your partner will help your relationship through these ways:

1. You Desire Your Partner Much More

In one study, researchers brought 102 people in heterosexual monogamous relationships to a lab. One-fourth were told to sexually fantasize about their partners, another fourth were told to fantasize about solving a problem with their partner, another were told to sexually fantasize about another person, and the last group was told to fantasize about solving a problem with another person. After, participants described the fantasy scenarios they were given and were asked about how they felt. People who sexually fantasized about someone other than their partner felt guilty. Those who had fantasies about their partners felt more interest towards them.

2. You Feel More Committed

Another study looked at 100 heterosexual monogamous couples during a six week time period. Researchers asked participants to keep a diary and record how their feelings of their relationship changed from day to day. They were asked to rate how strongly they agreed with statements like “I feel committed to the relationship,” “I feel doubts about my compatibility with my partner,” and “I feel my partner is highly valued by other people.” Of course, they were also asked to record whether or not they sexually fantasized about their partner throughout the day.

When people said they did fantasize about their partner, they were likely to feel more committed, more trusting, and showed more affection. They also had less doubts about the future of their relationship days after they fantasized about them.

3. You’re Just Nicer

The third study looked at 48 heterosexual monogamous couples who were asked to keep diaries for three weeks. They were asked to record all the fantasies they had (of their partners or not) in detail. They also wrote down what type of “relationship interactions” they had like whether they did something nice for their partner, if they expressed their love for them, or if they acted critical.

On the days when people fantasized about their partners, they were more likely to act positively toward them the next day. While they weren’t necessarily mean to their partners when they thought about someone else, their behavior towards them didn’t change for the better. According Gurit Birnbaum, a social psychologist and associate professor of psychology at the Interdisciplinary Center and lead author of the study, these findings show that “even if you’re not satisfied with your relationship, fantasizing about your partner boosts your relationship perception and satisfaction.”

Have Fantasy You Want To Share?

While thinking about doing all kinds of fun sexy things with your partner is great, acting them out could possibly take it to another level. But just how do you do that? Watson tells Bustle the first step is to evaluate what fantasies you might have. Take some time and jot down all your thoughts, feelings, and desires. Secondly, start the conversation with your partner about what turns you on and what you’d like to try.

“Sharing this information requires you to be vulnerable and open to your partner. Know that your partner might be open to everything you share and they might not,” Watson says. “Work together to find something you both would like to try. Be open, and be honest. Sharing fantasies can be exciting and very arousing, enjoy it.”

Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy(3)