10 Scientific Facts About Sexual Fantasies

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With Fifty Shades of Grey in theaters now, thousands of fans are planning to hit theaters and watch several gasp-worthy sex fantasies unfold on the big screen. But as much talk as there has been about the film's particular flavor of fantasy, the truth is that you don't have to be salivating over Christian Grey to have secret desires! And, judging from the copious amounts of research on the topic, we all have 'em.


Here, 10 scientific facts about sexual fantasies.

1. The most risque fantasy is probably more common than you think. A recent study from the University of Montreal published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that from exhibitionistic sex to sex with strangers, most of us are fantasizing about the same things.

2. Men seem to enjoy a wider variety of fantasies. Blame testosterone or give 'em credit for having more active imaginations. Either way, the Journal of Sexual Medicine study found that men were interested in more of the 55 fantasies on the questionnaire researchers gave them, and on average, they were more detailed when it came to describing their favorite one.

3. Women's fantasies are more emotionally-driven. Researchers at the University of California at Santa Barbara found that women's sexual fantasies, in contrast to men's, emphasized touching, the partner's feelings, the woman's physical and emotional responses to what was going on, and the mood and ambience of the encounter.  

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4. That said, both men and women care about romance. In the Journal of Sexual Medicine study, 88 percent of men and 92 percent of women agreed that romance was integral to their sexual fantasies. 

5. Men fantasize more frequently than women, on average, as well. The majority of adult men under 60 think about sex at least once a day, according to Edward O. Laumann, PhD, lead author of a major survey of sexual practices, The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. Meanwhile, only about 25 percent of women say (perhaps there's something to that -- what they say vs. what the reality is may differ!) they think about it that frequently. Both sexes fantasize less as they get older, but still, men reportedly fantasize about twice as often. 

6. Women tend to be more open about same-sex fantasies than men. While men may have a wider range of fantasies, women seem to be more open to getting turned on by a variety of scenarios, as well. Northwestern University researcher Meredith Chivers and her collagues did a study in which they showed erotic films to gay and straight men and women, then asked them about their level of arousal, and also measured their actual arousal physiologically. Turned out, although straight women said they were more turned on by male-female sex, but they had the same physical reaction to male-female, male-male, and female-female sex. Researchers say this may be because we have "less-directed" sex drives.

7. Most of us are fantasizing about someone other than our current partner. According to a study published by The Journal of Sex Research in 2001, the overwhelming majority of coupled-up women -- 80 percent! --  said they had fantasized about someone other than their partner during sex in the previous two months. Meanwhile, 98 percent of men 'fessed up to this. Ha! Experts say it's because, no matter how monogamous we may be, it's totally normal and common to crave that initial chase phase!

8. Feeling guilty about your fantasies is not without consequence. Researchers from the University of Vermont found in a famous study published in the Psychological Bulletin that one in four people "feel strong guilt about their fantasies." And 22 percent of women admit to repressing desires based on their fantasies. Researchers note that this sort of guilt or repression can lead to an unhappy sex life.

9. Your state of your relationship will likely influence what you fantasize about. Research published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin last year found an interesting correlation between people's personalities and their sexual fantasies. People who were anxiously attached to their partner were more likely to have sexual fantasies reflecting emotional intimacy, being comforted and supported, and having affection expressed toward them. Meanwhile, participants who dealt with fear of abandonment by isolating themselves had sexual fantasies with themes of aggression and emotional distancing. Makes sense ...

10. Men and women share a couple of surprising fantasies ... The more the merrier? Fourty-four percent of men and 27 percent of women fantasize about having sex with more than one partner at the same time, according to a survey done by LifeStyles condoms. Their findings also showed high percentages of both sexes are interested in experimenting with role play!

Which of these facts do you find most surprising?


Image via iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

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