EVERYONE HAS FANTASIES. We fantasize about promotions; vacations; our favorite meals. And most of us fantasize about sex.
“Sexual imagination and erotic fantasies—this is one of the most amazing things that the human brain can do,” says Midori, a sexologist and educator. Letting your imagination run wild during solo or partnered sex is normal, healthy, and fun, even if your fantasies are a bit “taboo.” They’re called “fantasies” for a reason—imagining a certain scenario doesn’t mean you secretly want to play out that scenario in real life.
“Ultimately, your fantasies do not define your moral character or your value as a human,” says sex therapist Aliyah Moore, Ph.D. “If you want to explore your fantasies and it’s safe and consensual to do so, then find a way.”
Of course, there are some fantasies that are impossible to achieve in real life (for instance, hosting an orgy with your favorite historical figures), but with an open-minded partner, you can role play pretty much anything.
“When broaching the subject, focus on the partner as the central to the pleasure, that this is about sharing sexy fun with them,” Midori says. “Lovers don’t want to feel like a prop or a non-consensual pleasure dispensary service. This is about collaborating on creating delight.”
Are you ready to expand your erotic horizons? Here’s an overview of 30 common sexual fantasies, what they are, and why they’re hot.
Dominating a Partner or Being Dominated By a Partner
Dominating a partner or being dominated by a partner—also known as “power play” or “dominance and submission”—is a common thread that runs through many sexual fantasies. “Sometimes submission is a temporary vacation from day-to-day responsibilities,” Midori says. “Dominance can also be a vacation for people if their responsibilities are about taking care of others’ needs or being fair and egalitarian.” Power play fantasies might include giving and receiving orders, sex between authority figures and subordinates, bondage, impact play, and more. Fantasizing about these kinds of acts doesn’t necessarily mean you crave domination in your sex life, but if you’re curious and have a willing partner, you can always talk through your interests and boundaries and give power play a whirl.
Bondage, the act of restraining a person’s body or being restrained during sex or kinky play, is a common fantasy that often goes hand-in-hand (or shall we say “hand-in-cuff?”) with power play. “Bondage might enhance the feeling of power given and taken in dominance and submission play,” Midori says. She explains that being physically restrained with tools like cuffs or rope provides “total bodily and mental release from responsibility,” which is part of what makes bondage such an enticing fantasy. If you want to try out bondage with a partner, make sure you know how to do it safely first.
A 2021 review published in the Journal of Psychiatry Research found that giving and receiving oral sex was one of the most commonly reported sexual fantasies, and it’s also a commonly reported sex act. Why? Well, it feels great, and since oral sex is rooted in pleasure rather than procreation, it comes with a hint of taboo—and the sexual brain loves taboo. If you have oral sex fantasies but don’t actually enjoy it in real life, that’s fine—but if you want to go down while getting it on, go for it!
They say “three’s a crowd,” but for some people, a “crowd” is exactly what gets them hot. A 2017 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that the majority of its heterosexual participants were open to having a threesome. If the idea of a threesome, a foursome, or a full-on orgy turns you on, you’re in good company! You can store those fantasies in your spank bank, but if you’re feeling adventurous, you can also make a threesome happen IRL.
“Gang bangs” are different from group sex in that one person’s body is the central focus of the other participants, and according to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, it’s a fairly common sexual fantasy. Some people fantasize about getting gang banged because they’d like their body to be “worshiped.” Others are titillated by the idea of being “used.” With planning, communication, a safe word, and a group of eager participants, you just might be able to pull this one off in real life.
“Cheating fantasies are usually as simple as the idea that forbidden fruit tastes sweeter,” Moore says. If you get off on the idea of cheating on your partner, that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to do it in real life; it’s possible that your brain is just seeking a thrill ride. “Fantasizing about infidelity does not mean that you don’t love your partner, don’t want them sexually, or secretly want to cheat on them,” Moore explains. “It just means that your sexuality is a bit more promiscuous than your conscious mind, which is true for most of us.”
Being in an Open Relationship
While some people fantasize about cheating, others fantasize about being in a relationship that allows for sex with others. According to a 2020 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, nearly one third of adults reported that being in some type of sexually open relationship was their favorite fantasy, and 80% of those people said they wanted to act on that fantasy in the future.
There’s a reason why there are so many unrelated adult performers acting as “daddies” and “daughters,” “step mothers” and “step sons,” and “twins” in porn: Cultural taboos can be a major turn-on. If you find yourself fantasizing about incest scenarios, watching “incest” porn, or wanting to role play an imagined incest scenario with a partner, don’t freak out. “These fantasies can be very disturbing and unsettling for the person having them and the partner hearing about them,” Midori says. “But having these fantasies does not automatically mean that you are on your way to being a predator or that you are suffering from past trauma.” That said, if you’re concerned about the thoughts you’re having, you can always reach out to a mental health professional.
Sex in an Unusual Place
Banging in the bedroom can get boring, which is why some people fantasize about having sex in unusual places (and others actually follow through!). Whether you fantasize about joining the mile high club or getting head on the beach, imagining the unique scenery—plus the potential of getting caught—might kick your arousal up a notch.
Speaking of “getting caught,” exhibitionist fantasies are all about being seen. People who fantasize about exhibitionism might be turned on by the idea of public sex, getting naked in front of a crowd, stripping or having sex on camera, or masturbating in front of a person or group. If you want to bring exhibitionism into your real life, keep your exposure consensual. Exploring your exhibitionist side at a sex party, dungeon, or swinger’s club; sending nudes to eager recipients; or putting on a sexy show for a partner will ensure that your exhibitionism is wanted and appreciated.
If you’re turned on at the thought of watching others get naked, masturbate, or have sex, then you’re fantasizing about voyeurism. Watching sex can be just as pleasurable as having sex, and the thrill of seeing something you’re “not supposed to see” can send your libido through the roof. If you want to practice consensual voyeurism IRL, ask a partner if you can watch them masturbate or suggest some “peeping Tom” role play.
Cuckolding is a specific type of voyeurism. Historically, the word “cuckold” was used to describe a man who’d been deceived by an adulterous wife. These days, the word “cuckold” refers to a person (usually a man) who’s turned on by watching their partner having sex with another person. Why does this fantasy get some people hot and bothered? “Often, it’s the thrill of the taboo or transgression of the monogamous norm,” Midori explains. “Some enjoy it because they’re getting pleasure from their partner’s pleasure. For others, it can be part of their dominance and submission erotic narrative.” If you and your partner are particularly enterprising, you can try cuckolding in real life, too.
Some people fantasize about a good ol’ fashioned anal pounding, whether the backdoor plays a role in their actual sex life or not. According to a 2014 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, giving or receiving anal penetration is a popular sexual fantasy, especially among men. Just like with oral sex, the “taboo” of a non-procreative sex act is probably part of the appeal. “It makes anal an intimate act,” Alicia Sinclair, sex educator and founder of the anal sex toy company b-Vibe, told Men’s Health. “There is also an element of dominance and submission that can be very sexy in the power dynamics of a sexual experience.”
People fantasize about aliens in all kinds of ways. Some are into the idea of getting abducted, while others get moist for medical experimentation, alien egg-laying, or tentacles. The overarching theme is transgression. We’re “not supposed to” interact sexually with intergalactic species—and like many other fantasies on this list, taboo is a turn-on! While you probably can’t get your extraterrestrial freak on with the real deal, alien porn and alien role play might help you scratch your itch (there are even sex toys that allow you to lay “alien eggs” inside a partner).
Sex With a Stranger
From apps to bars to glory holes, there are lots of ways to meet a stranger for an anonymous hookup in real life or just in your dirty mind. The “no strings attached” nature of anonymous sex is what makes this fantasy so arousing. When you’re bogged down with daily responsibilities, the idea of sex that’s just sex—with zero emotional attachments or expectations—can be quite appealing.
Sex With a Boss
Considering the imbalanced power dynamic and potential consequences, having sex with your real-life boss is usually inadvisable. But that doesn’t mean you can’t think about banging your boss or a fictional authority figure, and chances are, you already do. When Dr. Justin Lehmiller conducted a large-scale study on sexual fantasies, 62.5% of the people surveyed said they’d fantasized about having sex with an authority figure, such as a boss or teacher. Why? “The sexual mind loves power,” Lehmiller told Men’s Health. If you want to get railed over your desk IRL, try some boss/employee role play with a partner.
In the realm of authority figures, doctors easily slip into sexual fantasies. After all, they already have intimate access to their patients’ parts. “Doctors are granted permission to examine our bodies, so fantasy doctors can tell us to take our clothes off for examinations and touch us in fantasy ways,” Midori says. “Doctor/patient fantasies are another naughty scenario of transgressing social norms safely.” If you want to let your medical fetish flag fly, buy some latex gloves and try playing doctor with a partner.
Most of the time, couples engaging in P-in-V sex are either trying to A) get pregnant, or B) not get pregnant. And some people are turned on by the idea of getting pregnant or getting someone else pregnant, even if that’s not something they want in reality. People of all genders and orientations can have impregnation fantasies, even if they never have the kind of sex that could actually put a bun in someone’s oven. At their core, these fantasies—which are sometimes called a “breeding” fetish—are about dominance and submission. The “breeder” gets to dominate the receptive partner by ejaculating inside them, while the receptive partner gets to be “taken” or “used.” If you’re role playing a breeding scene with a partner and don’t want to do any real baby-making, make sure you’re using at least one form of birth control.
A Massage With a Happy Ending
Like doctors, massage therapists are given special access to our bodies. Lots of people fantasize about getting an extra “thorough” massage, since it pairs the thrill of anonymity with the titillation of doing something you’re not “supposed” to do. If you want to turn your fantasy into reality, you can practice erotic massage with a partner or seek out an erotic massage professional.
If you fantasize about getting spanked, slapped, paddled, or flogged (or if you fantasize about doing the spanking, slapping, paddling, or flogging), then you’re hot for impact play, which falls under the BDSM umbrella. Unique sensations—including pain—can really get your juices flowing, especially when those sensations are coupled with power play or bondage. Having impact play fantasies can be distressing for some people, because living out these fantasies is often pathologized. But people who intentionally seek out pain for sexual gratification are no different from people who intentionally experience pain when they’re running marathons, getting tattooed, or choking down super spicy ramen. It provides an endorphin rush! If you want to try impact play with a partner, do your safety research first.
Sex With an Ex
If you find yourself getting off on memories of your ex, don’t worry—that doesn’t mean you secretly want to get back together. “Fantasizing about an ex usually just means that you had a positive sexual experience with them you’d like to relive,” Moore explains. “If you consciously decided to break up for good reasons, then trust your conscious mind. Your fantasies mostly just show you things you want that are rooted in your subconscious; they don’t contain secrets about what’s best for you.”
Sex as Another Gender
If you’re a different gender in your sexual fantasies, that doesn’t necessarily mean you want to live as that gender—you might just be curious. Imagining yourself as another gender can help you push gender norms aside and experience sex in new ways. “Men may want to feel pretty, cherished, or submissive. Women may want to feel dominant, strong, or assertive,” Moore says. “Those who identify with neither traditional gender might want to dabble in those roles, and anyone might want to experience something outside or in between them.” If you want to try out gender-swapping role play, there are lots of tools—like strap-ons, binders, padded bras, and tucking underwear—that can help you embody a new persona.
Sex as Someone of a Different Sexual Orientation
Some straight people fantasize about having gay sex. Some gay people fantasize about having straight sex. Those thoughts could be a sign that you’re a little more sexually fluid than you previously believed, but they might just be fantasies that tickle your erotic imagination. A 2017 study published in the Archive of Sexual Behavior found that one in five straight men watches gay porn—and those men still consider themselves straight. Of course, if you want to act on your fantasies and expand your sexual horizons, go for it!
Definitions of “rough sex” vary, but if you search the term on PornHub, you’ll find people tearing each other’s clothes off, holding each other down, thrusting vigorously, dirty talking, and pulling each other’s hair—all while screaming in ecstasy. There are multiple reasons why rough sex is a popular porn genre and a popular sexual fantasy. Some people associate rough sex with passion and heightened emotions, while others, according to a 2019 study published in Evolutionary Psychological Science, attribute their interest in rough sex to a desire for novelty. If you want to engage in rough sex with a partner, make sure you discuss your desires and boundaries in advance.
Choking often makes an appearance in rough sex fantasies. “Choking is an act of surrender, when we completely trust the other, dominant party and let them take complete ‘life threatening’ control over the submissive party,” Lia Holmgren, an intimacy and relationship coach, told Men’s Health. She pointed out that the “life threatening” aspect of choking fantasies isn’t grounded in a real desire to give or receive a near-death experience—but the idea of having that power or giving someone else that power can be hot. Experimenting with choking during sex is extremely dangerous. If that’s something you and a partner want to try, take a kink workshop led by an experienced professional who can walk you through the risks and proper technique. If you just want your partner to place their hands on your neck without actually restricting your breathing, make sure you both know how to do that safely—and don’t forget to establish both a safe word and “safety action.”
Humiliation fantasies might involve verbal degradation, objectification, public embarrassment, cuckolding, servitude, and more. So why does feeling bad feel so good to some people? “I think it’s tied to how our culture treats sex as an embarrassing or taboo topic,” Moore says. “The more we treat something natural like it’s freakish or embarrassing, the more we’ll have a subconscious desire to push against that standard.” If you want to try out erotic humiliation with a partner, talk about your desires and limits ahead of time.
When Dr. Justin Lehmiller surveyed more than 4,000 Americans about their sexual fantasies for his book Tell Me What You Want, 61% of women, 54% of men, and 68% of nonbinary people reported that they’d fantasized about being raped. While rape fantasies have long been pathologized, having these thoughts doesn’t mean you’ve been sexually assaulted or you’re suppressing memories of sexual assault. These fantasies are common across demographics, and they’re often grounded in a desire to be dominated and to “lose control.” If you want to role play a “consensual non-consent” scene with a partner, plan it out in advance and agree on a safe word.
“Losing” Your Virginity or Having Sex With a Virgin
Hopefully by now, we all know that “virginity” is a made-up concept that unfairly puts P-in-V intercourse on a pedestal and sets the stage for a culture of slut-shaming. But that doesn’t mean we can’t play around with it! Like with other fantasies on this list, virginity fantasies are usually about dominance and submission—or more specifically, “taking” and “being taken.” Even if you and your partner both “lost” your virginity long ago, you can still role play this fantasy.
Paying for Sex or Getting Paid for Sex
“There are a hundred reasons that someone might find this idea arousing, but more often than not, it comes down to the fact that it feels naughty, wrong, or off-limits,” Moore says. “On the other hand, being paid for sex can make a person feel valued, sexy, or naughty in some cases.” To live out this fantasy, you can role play a sex worker/client scene with a partner, or you can go ahead and actually hire a sex worker. Just make sure to look up your local sex work laws in advance so you clearly understand potential risks and pay them well for their services!
Sex With Someone Much Older or Younger
You might fantasize about being a wide-eyed pool boy getting frisky with a MILF, DILF, or both. Maybe you imagine yourself as a wealthy, older CEO hooking up with a college sorority girl. Getting to be someone’s “hot young thing” or having an older, wiser partner who can teach you their sexual tricks are both popular turn-ons that tango with taboo. Real life May/December dating can be complicated, since a wide age gap can create an imbalanced power dynamic, so if you want to make your fantasy a reality, bolster your self-awareness and clearly communicate your intentions. For a simpler real life romp, put on your tiniest, tightest shorts and role play your pool boy fantasy with a partner.