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I'll Fantasize About You if You'll Fantasize About Me: Some thoughts on fantasizing about people you know

A couple years ago I was catching up with a friend from high school. Perhaps it won't be surprising that the conversation wended around to sex as it is wont to do with your friendly Unlaced Librarian. We got to talking about who we had crushes on and who we had fantasized about growing up in our teens and early adulthood. I ended up confessing to the person that I had thought about them. The person then told me that they had thought about me too and that it was something they never thought we would ever talk about.

But I'm glad we were able to talk about it. 

Nothing happened because we revealed these secrets. It wasn't awkward or some move to try to get us to leave our significant others. Indeed we haven't seen each other in over a year now and I doubt I will see them again any time soon.

But the exchange did make me wonder how often two people fantasize about each other.

I've imagined bursts of sexy scenarios for all sorts of people. I know how easy it is to crush on our favorite cashier at the grocery, the circulation librarian, the delivery person we see every week. I've also been on the other side of the counter, building a flirty repertoire in my mind with select customers or patrons (or tourists when I worked at a museum). I've also fantasized about some co-workers in every job I've had, in one capacity or another.

But it makes me wonder how often the people I've fantasized about have cast me in a similar role in their minds.

How often does the delivery person anticipate a stop for the same reason the office worker is thrilled to get a new shipment of copy paper? When do customers and cashiers match up mentally? How many times has the tourist and the tour guide plotted a different ending to their day in fiction form?

Now, to be clear, I'm not talking about stalking people, incessantly asking people out, giving unwanted attention, obsessive thoughts, or really wanting to leave a long term partner/chuck your family and home life out the window for someone you're thinking about. Those behaviors aren't healthy and make people miserable on both sides. Harassment and abuse is, well, harassment and abuse.

What I'm talking about are routine fantasies that hold no (or extremely little) sway in real life. At most maybe you chat a little longer with the person when you see them or give them extra fries when they come in. If you're already friends or co-workers you maintain a stable, two way relationship. The other person likely doesn't even know you've had a fantasy or two where they have been the star.

I find the idea charming and a little magical but I know I'm not everyone. Lots of people have issues with fly by night fantasies about people they know. For some, the idea that they themselves might be fantasy fodder for others freaks them out.

I can't get into all of them in one blog post, but there are lots of reasons why we find fantasizing about people we know difficult to understand. Indeed, when I even mention fantasizing about someone you know, a lot of people automatically jump to the conclusion that you want to stalk or thrust yourself upon the subject of your fantasy. It makes me sad that so many people believe it's impossible to have sexual fantasies that are healthy and valuable without acting upon them. 

Some people feel it is okay to fantasize about celebrities or fictional characters but to fantasize about real people in our daily lives is fetishistic or inappropriate. Some people are fine with their spouses or partners crushing on a musician or movie star but would be very upset to know the likeness of the local librarian or delivery person was popping up in their beloved's mind. Some people see fantasizing about co-workers to be dangerous because most of us spend more time around our co-workers every week than we do with our partners and family. That can cause feelings to flare up and teeter us toward cheating or flirting. (Some people even see fantasizing about someone you know as a form of cheating.)

We also might think of people who we are not attracted to or who we find repulsive and it could feel violating to think that person is fantasizing about us.

I'm sure you can think of many more reasons.

So, yes. These fantasies are complicated and not exactly a tidy subject to reflect on.

But I maintain that our sexual fantasies can play very important roles in our lives. If we reflect upon them a little and understand the roles they play, we can have a healthier relationship with our sexualities. And that will help us have better relationships in real life.

Here's my take:

When we fantasize about people we barely know, acquaintances, or even friends, we are still making love to ourselves.

If we can't pursue our crush, or don't want to in reality, we usually have no problem filling in the blank spots with the types of things that make our fantasies better, which usually has little to do with the person in real life.

I speculate that often when we fantasize about other people, we don't actually want to pursue a relationship or even a real sexual encounter with them. Crushes and fly by night fantasies are normal and we cannot bring our lives to a screeching halt every time we find our minds thinking what if
But I don't think most of us want to. Sure, some of these fantasies might stay with us for years but I often find most of the fantasies I conjure up about people I know last only as seasons or sometimes just a flash of a few seconds. I populate my fantasies with lots of other things: erotica books, porn, smutty fan fiction, characters I make up in my head, my own smut writing. Real life crushes and fantasies are one part of a healthy fantasy diet.

Coping with life, maintaining and growing in long term relationships, and building our futures means we must allow ourselves a little magic. Where maybe just for a moment something we desire happens.

If we understand the role and perimeters of our fantasies they can be wonderful ways to experience pleasure and give us that magic.

And sometimes, dare I say, often, you're not alone. You are as much a player on the sexual stage as the ones you choreograph and carry with you. Perhaps the same people in your mind are thinking about you. Perhaps if you gather five or ten or twenty people from your past, you will find you all fantasized about each other. Indeed I went to a small high school and both my friend and I had fantasized about several of the same people, practically half the damn school.

I can only imagine what sort of brain orgies go on in college classrooms or conference meetings or community theatre casts.

Well, now that I think about it, I can imagine. 

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