Esther Perel believes that what distinguishes humans from animals during sex is that humans have a capacity for eroticism, which is created through imagination.
(FYI erotic means: “relating to or tending to arouse sexual desire or excitement”)
So if imagination is essential to desire, maybe, you’re not broken or lost the ability to have sex at all….
You’ve just lost the ability to imagine.
I realised this quite late in my journey, and it struck me quite hard that I never ever *imaged* sex.
I used to fantasise a lot when I first got into my relationship, however that had drained away along with my desire.
Likely squished by the practicalities of everyday life.
Use your imagination
Strangely, the word isn’t often used in related to adults. We generally only think of children as the ones with the wild, vivid imaginations.
As adults, we call them fantasies.
Often fantasies are the first things to be crowded out when life gets busy or we feel stressed. Thoughts of whats for dinner, the important meeting tomorrow, worries about children’s well-being or simply not even having time to think can all mean fantasies naturally fade out of our minds.
However, it’s these fantasies themselves that tie us to our sexual identities.
Without them, we can lose touch of who we are sexually and what we want.
Or if we’ve never had them, it’s like trying to paint with no inspiration or singing when you don’t know the words- frustrating, and empty.
To begin with, when the boy asked me what my fantasies are, I’d usually get super embarassed, shy, or go blank.
I just don’t bloody know!
I feel so vanilla- like a blank sexual slate, or just super boring, that I have no idea.
And I realised, it’s because I don’t imagine.
And imagination is KEY to sex (I repeat- KEY TO SEX) because that’s what builds the tease, the anticipation, the desire.
Think about it. When you first get together, you look forwards to sex because you think about it during the day.
You mull it over in your head, revisist every single second you spent savouring each other, peeling off each others clothes, remembering every delicious change in position or smouldering look.
Later on down the line, the remembering stops because the novelty wears off. We don’t automatically use our imagination during the day. The anticipations and tease is gone.
And so has the desire.
BUT the good news is you can cultivate imagination (and therefore your ability to feel desire).
I found the following tips invaluable to ramp up my ability to fantasise. Although I’m still a work in progress, I now find it so much easier to kick start my imagination. And I rarely watch full length porn anymore (see why below…)
How to “cultivate desire”
Tip one: Find out about different types of fantasies
At first, I wasn’t even sure I knew what a fantasy was! But Wikipedia sorted me out: “A sexual fantasy, also called an erotic fantasy, is a mental image or pattern of thought that stirs a person’s sexuality and can create or enhance sexual arousal”.
1. The Perfect Lover- someone you fancy- a passionate stranger, a sexy celebrity, an acquaintance, someone taboo e.g. a friends Dad!
2. Group sex/threesomes- getting help from some friends 😉
3. With the opposite sex- fantasies about being with another woman, or two!
4. power/submission fantasies– imagining being dominated, or being the dominator and overpowering your partner. This might involved tieing up, spanking, blindfolds etc.
5. Having sex in a specific location/time/age: this could be something like a hotel, a beach, an office. Or it could be at a specific time or as certain people. I watched Black Sails on Amazon and just couldn’t stop thinking about sex afterwards- mainly because of the sexy pirates and copious sex scenes. But I kept having random fantasies about being a pirate wench and my boyfriend dressed in those sexy pirate clothes and streaks of sweat running through the gunpower smoke on his shoulders….
6. Role play- e.g. teacher/student
7. Specific sex acts, e.g. DP, anal, having oral sex
8. The personality flip- becoming someone else in bed, so visualizing yourself as the sexually assertive woman…
9. exhibitionism/voyeurism e.g. having sex in a public place, watching someone masturbate, dogging
Tip two: Know what it means to fantasise
What I realised is that for me, fantasising is just picturing how I’d ideally like to have sex.
It’s that simple!
It’s about “going beyond our lived experiences” (Perel) and transforming them into whatever you want them to be inside the safe space of your own mind.
And it doesn’t have to be some wild fantasy about orgies or bondage- it can be something very ordinary. But there’s something inherently sexy about that. For example, I fantasised/imagined giving my boyfriend a blow job from underneath a table. I quite liked the idea of him not being able to see where the pleasure was coming from. My sexual blueprint is energetic, so this might be why. Look yours up here because this might help!
Tip three: Commit to exploring your fantasies.
This is the hard(ish) bit.
A low sex drive means that these thoughts aren’t just going to saunter into your mind and suddenly make you horny. They’re not just going to fall from the sky, or turn up behind the sofa along with some loose change and the remote control.
You have to summon them.
Sandra LaMorgese says that “fantasizing gives us a safe, personal sexual space to explore our own desire”.
So we need to begin to fantasise to get to know ourselves and know what turns us on.
Put time in your diary to fantasise. Set a phone reminder. Make it your new hobby. Whatever you need to do, this needs to go on your to-do list very near the top!
This really helped me- the idea of manually kick starting your desire by scheduling in time to think about sex.
The more you do it, the closer you’ll feel to that sexual side. And this helps with knowing what turns you on– the two feed into each other!
Tip four: Get creative
So often we’re over in the left hand side of our brains, for most of when when we’re working or planning out the weekly shop- organising, logic, planning, analytical, rational. This is great, but we often lose touch with the right hand side, which is all about imagination, creativity, instinct, intuition, passion. So you can see how you need this side for your sex drive to bloom!
Get out there and get creative! Express yourself- sing, paint, dance, draw, write, use colour and decoration, day dream… the world is your oyster.
This article explains how to become more creative which has some really practical ideas and tips.
Tip five: Be free- don’t judge yourself.
I struggled with this for ages, but your fantasies aren’t really REAL. Don’t worry about it if you feel like a bad person, or wrong, or not a feminist. It’s just you kickstarting your sex drive.
It IS awkward if you then have a sex dream about a colleague and have to face them the next day, granted. Especially if they’re exactly the opposite of what you’d go for. But just embrace it. Your sex drive is waking up- its’ working!!
Tip six: Find your imagination station
Find a safe, sensual space somewhere for you that you can use to cultivate your imagination. Transform your bedroom or somewhere in the house into your own safe sensual space where you can relax, unwind and imagine. Read my post on how to create yourself a sensual haven in your own house for some ideas.
Tip seven: Start with GIF’s.
Nowadays, we often watch porn as a quick way to get horny. But when we do this, we’re spoon fed fantasy and don’t have a chance to learn how to develop scene, character or plot.
If fantasy is a movie inside your head, learning these skills are important. In a way we’re blunted by porn- spoiled because it’s at our fingertips.
Thats why I choose to watch GIFs instead. These are short snippets in time of a porn scene- a lustful grab, a lick, a suck. I use them to plant the breadcrumbs of a fantasy, and then I can imagine around them- who they are, whats happened before, whats going to happen now, putting myself in their shoes.
Tip eight: get a dick pic and imagine
Tip nine: read erotic fiction
Same as tip seven. Cultivate that desire baby, any way you can that doesn’t involve it being handed to you on a plate. Read this post on whether erotica can rekindle your sex drive here.
Tip ten: use all five senses
To create a bold and vivid fantasy, use all five sense to ground yourself into it. Consider smell, taste, sound, smell, what you can see. I particularly find smell is so powerful! Check out this post on sex and mindfulness for info on how I did this.
Tip eleven: Imagine a different scenario
So, this one is weird but I personally found this to be such a good tip. Use the following scenarios to vary up your fantasy:
- imagine it’s the first time you’ve had sex
- the last time you’ll have sex
- that you’re Dita Von Teese or another sexually empowered woman
- that he’s the celeb you fancy (how would you worship his body?)
Tip twelve: Sharing is caring
Scheduling in time to think about sex, and using all of the methods above, are really helpful for sort of “tricking” your brain into restarting itself and logging back in to the sexual part of your brain. It’s a temporary solution aimed at helping you find that sexual, sensual side you might feel far away from.
How about you, do you imagine sex in your day to day life? How do you cultivate desire? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.