Is it wrong to think about someone else during sex?
Often, in the early stages of a relationship, we’re completely consumed by the other person. We’re having sex with them every moment that we possibly can, we think about them when we’re in the car or on the bus, and — if we have time — we’re probably also thinking about them when we’re masturbating. But, even in a happy relationship, eventually these things cool down and our brain starts to make room for other thoughts. Life sets back in, our old fantasies come back, and you may find yourself thinking about someone else — even during sex.
It’s more common than you might think. One study found that 42 percent of men and 46 percent of women had thought about someone else during sex. That means that nearly half of all people are thinking of someone who is very much not their partner, even during the middle of having sex with them.
So...if you do it, you're really not alone.
What does it mean if you start to think about someone else? And, more importantly, is it OK to think about someone else during sex? For some people, that would seem like a huge betrayal — even the idea of it would make them uncomfortable. But for others, sexual fantasies that don’t involve their partner might be totally normal. The truth is, it’s a bit of a grey area — so a lot of it is down to the details of the relationship and the circumstances around how you think of someone else.
If you find yourself thinking about someone else during sex, it may be OK — here’s what you need to consider.
Are you disconnecting with your partner?
The number one thing to consider is whether or not thinking about someone else is an obstacle, if it seperates you from our partner. "Overall, fantasizing is perfectly healthy if it enhances an experience and doesn't happen all the time- causing a disconnect from their partner," Amy Levine, sex coach and founder of Ignite Your Pleasure told Bustle. "If someone is fantasizing all the time, and prefer the fantasy over their partner then they may want to reconsider being with that person and what they really need and want in bed. Some people in loving relationships want to be fully connected and prefer to focus on their partner and not fantasize. Other people may be hooking up and the priority may be doing what's in the best interest of their own pleasure. Others use fantasy to enhance an experience." If it’s an occasional fantasy or just a quick thought that flits into your head, it’s probably fine. If it’s a regular occurrence that pulls you away from your partner, that’s more of a worry.
Are you satisfied with your sex life?
Think bigger picture: are you happy with your sex life? Like Levine says, enhancing your sex life is fine, but if you’re thinking about this person in order to transport yourself back to sex you actually liked, that’s a problem. Try being more open with your partner about your needs and see if the sex improves. You may go through an awkward period where you’re experimenting and things aren’t working, but the payoff will be worth it.
Are there problems elsewhere in your relationship?
You can also think about the even bigger picture — are you fantasizing about someone else to escape your relationship? If you know that you have fundamental relationship problems or that you're still hung up on someone else, fantasizing about someone other than your partner is definitely a worry. In fact, some people can do it in a spiteful way, as a form of punishment when they're angry with their partner. Instead, try to sit down and get to the bottom of your relationship issues. And if you realize this relationship isn’t working for you, then don’t be afraid to walk away.
How would your partner feel?
Finally, you know your partner — how do you think they’ll feel about it? If they’re someone who is open about enjoying porn or if you regularly talk about how hot you think other people are, it might not be a big deal in your relationship. But if you know that it’s really important to them that you’re in the moment and present, then what you’re doing might be hurtful. Make sure to take them into consideration, because you’ll probably have a lot of insight into whether or not they'll be OK with it.
Thinking about someone else during sex may make you panic, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. All sorts of random images and people can pop up during sex or masturbation — and if that’s all it is, it’s nothing to worry about. But if you’re disconnecting from your partner or if you’re not happy with your sex life or your relationship, then thinking about someone else may be your brain’s way of trying to tell you something. If you’re in doubt, talk to your partner, work on your issues, and see if the fantasy goes away. Ultimately, you know if your fantasy crosses a line.