A fantasy is a thoughtful process where one imagines a scenario that takes them to a place or situation of their choosing. We typically learn to fantasize as children. Children are encouraged to use their imaginations. It appears that with the advent of innovations such as virtual reality, children may be doing less fantasizing on their own. That is, however, an area of study which is relatively nascent and not valid for this essay. Setting aside whether children’s fantasies have changed or become underused of late, I am prepared to continue using my original premise. Fantasy is a creative process which allows us to be anything. do anything and experience anything we can or want. As we grow, fantasies become somewhat more realistic in their content and boundaries. Younger children often fantasize about being heroes or super heroes. They imagine having powers beyond the scope of everyday people. Children begin to fantasize about being more powerful because, as children, they have very little real power. They are constrained by societal restrictions and their own physical and mental abilities. In their fantasies there are none of those restrictions. They are not subject to parental authority. In their fantasy lives they have the ability to overcome the limitations that keep them from being autonomous. And therefore, the power of the imagination takes them to a place they can be in charge of their own destinies. Children can play at being adults. They no longer have to ask permission to do things. They will not be stopped at the door. They can buy and sell, travel anywhere, eat and sleep what and when they wish. Fantasy is a wake dream. It’s only limitation is the ability to imagine and build on that until there are few or no boundaries. As they grow and mature, their fantasies become less fantastical and more reality-based. They are practicing to become adults. That has been the way for generations of children since humans emerged from wherever the species sprung.
As the child enters adolescence and adulthood is closer than ever, fantasy begins to take the form of plans for the future. Imagining their lives in the years ahead become more concrete. Who and what they want to be takes shape in their minds and fantasies begin to include thoughts of sex. Still undeveloped, there are nevertheless more realistic overtones to dreams of the future. Social constructs interplay with very basic wishes and desires. Parental and other authority figures are just as influential but the adolescent is more determined to break free from those restrictions. Remember, they have had some time to practice becoming adults at this point in their young lives. Sexual fantasy at puberty is more vivid and other influences inform those fantasies. Today, access to information and the introduction of easy access to pornography seriously affect fantasy life. What the imagination has heretofore limited the content of their fantasies, outside input has expanded it significantly. Real life experience has also affected the fantasy life in one form or another. What I can do and what I want to do are further divided. Hopefully, that doesn’t shut the process down entirely. We still need to imagine doing and experiencing things we have yet to realize. Fantasy should never end completely. Sexual fantasies can be as exciting as ever and a healthy fantasy life can inform decisions that allow the sexual life to flourish.
It has been said that reality cannot match fantasy for excitement and satisfaction. Many fantasies remain as such for a variety of reasons. Some of which are necessary for survival. Well, at least for the purpose of avoiding disastrous consequences. As adults, most of us are aware that some fantasies should remain private and not acted upon. Nurturing inappropriate behavior through excessive fantasizing can and often does lead to acting on those imaginings and suffering real life consequences. So, as with other thoughts and imaginings, keeping oneself based in reality is crucial. Sexual fantasies can enrich real life experiences but must be considered carefully before taking real form. All fantasies allow us to escape reality and can be used as distractions, masturbation enhancements, expansion of a sexual relationship and other pleasant dreamlike experiences. Speaking of dreams, fantasies frequently become groundwork for dream content. Images of our imagination often appear during a particularly vivid dream. When one awakens from one of those and realize it was only a dream disappointment may set in. But that should encourage us to keep fantasizing. Those images may return another time in another dream and can be as good as if not better than before! Again, excessive fantasizing of any content can become obsessive and must be discouraged. Especially for those who have a tenuous grasp on reality. This is more than a disclaimer, folks. So please heed the warning.
Back to sexual fantasies. I have been treating people with sexual issues for many years now and I have found that allowing oneself to let the imagination wither and to rely on prescribed fantasies, such as those found in porn, often lead to sexual dissatisfaction. I do not advocate banning or restricting porn (with exceptions, of course). But I do encourage limiting it so that dependence on pornography for sexual fantasy does not become problematic. Using porn to stimulate the imagination is one way to avoid dependence. Keep the fantasies alive and rely more on your own rich imaginative powers. After all, the makers of porn have imaginations too. Why let their fantasies replace your own? Give them a little mental competition. You owe it to yourself to be creative and to nurture your power to expand your fantastical repertoire. You may be surprised at how much you can do to stimulate your sexual reality with a good dose of sexual fantasy. Or just enjoy the fantasy and dream on.