Dear Audrey, I’m having trouble with the difference between sexual fantasy and sexual reality. I’ve always had a rich fantasy life when I masturbate—I like to watch porn and read erotic stories and all that. But a lot of the stuff I love to read about doesn’t work out when I try it. Like I’ve always really been excited about rape scenarios, but then I finally talked my bf into acting one out and I hated it. It really upset me. I like some bondage ok, but a lot of the humiliation stuff I like reading about didn’t do it for me in real life. And the real life stuff that gets me off—anal play, for example—is super boring to read/watch. Are the two worlds of my sexuality really so completely separate? I want to try new things (particularly some mmf/dp stuff) but now I’m sort of scared I’ll hate it and be upset. How do I reconcile these two parts of myself?
I think it’s extremely common to have a wide gulf between your fantasy life and your reality life—not even just in sex stuff. Think of all the career fantasies you (ahem, I) might have: quitting your job to raise baby goats out in the woods somewhere, or making artisanal pastries and selling them at the Flea, or buying a rundown secondhand bookstore in some cute town somewhere.
All things I would absolutely definitely hate in any kind of real-world scenario. Goats are almost certainly smelly and awful IRL. But at the core of all those fantasies is the same desire: to leave behind all of the stupid bullshit details of my current life and be blissed out in some “simple” life. Of course that’s ridiculous—bullshit details follow you wherever you go. Where are there more bullshit details than in the food industry? But I can take away that I have a desire for more peace and simplicity and try and find a way to make that happen.
I think you can do the same with your sexual fantasies. Of course, fantasies are great just to keep for wanking. But if you’re trying to transition some of that into your real world sex, think it through before you act on it. What actually turns you on about a rape scenario or being humiliated? Is it that you want to play with power dynamics? Try to realistically picture what it might be like to go through with something, not in sexy porn lighting with sexy porn actors but with you and your actual boyfriend in your actual environment. Even if it seems too boring in fantasyland, picture it in realityland.
It’s ok to start small and work up. Instead of jumping into a full-rape role play, maybe have him hold you down or pull your hair. See how that feels. If you’re interested in being multiply penetrated, start with toys and playing pretend before you bring in another dude. You can always ramp things up, but if you start out fully ramped and realize you don’t like it, there isn’t really anywhere to go. Porn isn’t real, erotica isn’t real. It’s carefully created. When you try something from porn, you are the one who has to carefully create the scenario.
It can be really hard to figure out exactly what works for you, so don’t get discouraged. It’s a lifetime process of trial and error, so cut yourself some slack when things don’t go exactly right the first time.