Article By Justin Myers
— October 2021 —
Sharing our innermost fantasies can be scary. But it can help you understand how compatible you and your partner really are (and unlock a world of pleasure)
Sharing intimate details about ourselves is now second nature, but as open as our books may be, we may struggle to speak up about our innermost sexual fantasies.
You could put this down to a general reluctance to talk about sex in any way other than end-of-the-pier sauce or orifice-obsessed office banter, but whatever’s causing it, you’re missing out.
Dating apps and specialised communities have made it easier for like-minded people to find each other. If you want to find someone into sploshing – I’ll pause here while you google – or BDSM, for example, it’s seldom more than a click and a swipe away. But outside those communities, if you want to communicate even the tamest of fantasies with someone you’re dating, you’ll have to sit down and have “the talk”. This is where nerves kick in.
You can never be quite sure how someone will react. Which might sting the most – to be ridiculed, to be judged or, perhaps worst of all, to be indulged, but unwillingly?
The good news is there’s probably never been a better time to lay it bare – we’ve just witnessed what felt like a near apocalypse, after all, and after almost two years of living under tight regulation, we’ll be eager to try anything new.
Sexploration, if we can bear to call it that, is likely to be top of the menu for many.
Perhaps your main worry, when about to divulge your deepest kink, is that their adventurousness won’t match yours. You don’t want to repel them, but nor should you sugarcoat it.
Hardy relationships usually share a level of similarity, but it’s worth remembering there’s always room for compromise or growth.
As long as you are open, honest and your relationship is already built on trust and mutual respect for one another – even if you’re not at the love stage yet – there’s no good reason you can’t share what’s on your mind. Sam Owen, Hinge’s UK relationship expert, reckons relationships can thrive on trying new things together.
Don’t fear the unknown. “Exploring fantasies you may not have considered, but that match your general sexual appetite, may be pleasantly surprising,” she says. “Couples who engage in self-expanding new activities together experience an increase in sexual desire for one another, and, in the long run, sustained relationship satisfaction.”
Awesome. Ready? Pick your moment to bring it up; it has to feel right, so set your scene. Context is everything. Think more “romantic evening at home surrounded by candles with music burbling gently in the background” than “the bread aisle of a crowded supermarket”.
Perhaps build up slowly – enjoy intimate conversations that don’t go quite as far, talk about things you already do, or that your partner does for you, that you like. Maybe watch a film together that covers some of the themes that interest you. “Think about which sexual preferences you want to communicate at each stage of the budding relationship and how; be specific, be respectful, be sexy,” says Owen. “Ask questions like ‘What’s on your sex bucket list?’ and ‘Tell me one thing you’ve learnt from an awkward sexcapade you’ve been on?’”
If nothing else, explaining where you heard the word “sexcapade” will likely fill an hour. These questions might seem awkward, but in a new relationship especially, you can get away with being more direct and inquisitive.
As you talk, don’t just listen to their responses; watch their face and body language. Are you turning them on or making them mentally calculate the cost of a man-and-van to move all their stuff out as soon as you’re asleep? Encourage them to share too – this should be a conversation, an exchange of fantasies, not a broadcast.
So it’s out there – now what? If their fantasy shocks you, you need to be respectful and compassionate. “Just because it’s not your cup of tea doesn’t give you the right to judge,” Owen says. “Equally, if you sense they’re shocked by your fantasy, give them time to digest. Explore a conversation on their general outlook on life and attitudes towards sex, either during that date or on another one if you choose to meet again.”
You may have caught them off guard or you may not be compatible – talking around the point, but not quite on it, can help you discern which. If it’s really not for you, honesty is the best policy.
Rejection hurts, but it’s a useful tool to help you move on – 85 per cent of Hinge users, for example, said they’d want to hear the truth rather than excuses. Only do things you’re totally comfortable with and expect the same of your partner too.
Fantasies only work when they’re consensual; if someone has to be nagged into it, you’re heading into abusive territory. You may find that talking things out makes the fantasy seem less scary – often people merely want to be reassured they won’t be judged, or it won’t be more widely revealed.
Might you be able to introduce certain elements of the fantasy, rather than dismissing it straight off? If you still don’t like the sound of it, and no third parties are in danger of harm, keep their predilections to yourself, move on and look for someone whose tastes align better with yours.
There’s no shame in ordering vanilla off the menu and nobody should be shamed for their fantasy either. You shouldn’t have to search too hard. “Pandemic-related lockdowns and uncertainty has made us want to live life to the fullest and not take things for granted,” Owen says.
“Nearly half of Hinge users want to explore new sexual desires with a potential partner this autumn. That’s a lot of people wanting to be adventurous. A quarter of UK Hinge users said they want to try role-playing, BDSM and new sex positions.” Plenty of relatively kinky fish in the sea, then.
You may think the answer is to get things straight before you start dating, but a dating profile can only tell you so much, and we must all make sure we’re not that guy whose creepy replies get screenshotted all over the internet.
Be as honest and open on your dating profile as decency and your chances of promotion will allow, but avoid being overtly sexual in messages. It can be hard to judge the tone. And absolutely no unsolicited dick pics, either, please.
As impatient as you may be to find your match, you may have to wait until you know each other a little better before you raise the issue of fantasies. “You’ll look creepy and scream danger if you start talking sex before you’ve even met in real life,” Owen says.
“Once you’ve decided to meet offline and realised you match on other dimensions, you can more appropriately see how well you match sexually.”
Don’t be shy or timid or afraid to express, but remember to stay charming and respectful. Make your dates feel safe and heard, like they have agency and are your equal. You catch flies with honey, not vinegar, after all – never forget your sweet spot if you want a fantasy to become reality.
A version of this article originally appeared here on gq.co.za.com