Help me! I’m in a long term loving relationship with someone that is otherwise wonderful, but I cannot enjoy myself sexualy unless I imagine that I am a sex victim. In the past, I sometimes imagined being in an S&M senario. This turned me on a lot, but I never actually did it in real life. But the images I get in my head now are so terrible! If I hear about a girl being raped on the news, I’ll imagine it later that night while I’m having sex. More often I imagine I’m a child victim. If I try not to imagine these things I feel nothing sexually. My boyfriend goes out of his way to please me and it does nothing for me. I hate these images and I hate what it is doing to my sex life, which prevously was very good. I should also note, I have never been a sex victim in real life. Why is this happening and what can I do?
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First of all, don’t panic. Second of all, please don’t guilt trip yourself or think that you are crazy or sinful or whatever. Fantasies of various kinds, even violent fantasies, are common enough things to experience. Not everyone has the sort of fantasies that you’re experiencing, but you are certainly not the first and you won’t be the last. To the extent that you label these fantasies as ‘hateful’, they will have more power over you and may possibly become more compelling than they presently are. If you can find a way to accept them (not necessarily like them, but just accept that they are part of you), you may find you have more ability to work with them and that they become that much less compelling.
Fantasies aren’t real things – they exist in the mind only. They are not the same thing as reality unless you choose to make it so. Because these fantasies only exist in your mind, they have only the power over yourself that you grant them to have. This is not to say that they aren’t compelling, however. Masochist fantasies (of being dominated) can be very exciting as they combine the power of sexual arousal and orgasm with the anxiety of not being in control over what sort of pain/danger you may experience next. It sounds a bit twisted (which is why I suppose it is known as kinky behavior), but from a neurological point of view, it makes perfect sense. Your fantasy is in one important sense, about being immersed in an exciting total experience that crowds out all other thought. Regular everyday sex cannot easily compete with this sort of thing from a pure arousal point of view.
You have a few options at least. Some of which make more sense than others. If you want to stay with your boyfriend (which is probably the healthiest option), you can work on finding ways to have more intense sexual experiences with him (in the bounds of your mutual comfort levels). A good relationship is founded upon more than just exciting sex. Few relationships that are founded on nothing other than exciting sex will last. You can have regular intense sex experiences without needing to become a masochistic victim. Plenty of people find ways to do this to their satisfaction. Google for “ESO Brauer” and you’ll find one approach described in written form. While on this option, let me mention that couples therapy with a therapist who is also a sex therapist would be very helpful here as well.
If you cannot find a way to feel sexually satisfied without freaking out your boyfriend, another option might be to just not try to satisfy the fantasies and to settle for a sub-optimal sex life. Which is to say, that you would choose the loving aspect of the relationship over the sexual one and settle for sex that is okay, but not everything you want. Many people end up doing this even though it is not a glamourous way to go.
If it ultimately becomes clear to you that you will never be happy without acting out your masochistic fantasies, you do have the option of exiting your present relationship and finding a new one with a man who is into what you’re into. There are men and women out there, I’m led to believe, who practice S&M in a safe context where the fantasies can be allowed to be acted out, but there are code words or gestures which can be used to calm things down when they get too out of control. Mind you – this is not your safest way to go, but some people do end up choosing it nevertheless. The risk here is that you get seriously hurt/injured, not to mention ending up lonely after throwing away a good relationship for some sensation seeking.
If you’re asking me what I think you should do, my advice is that you explore the first possibility, and then the second one before you jump to the third. I won’t judge you as a bad person if you go that last route, but I will think your judgement is more than a little bit off.