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Is there a Science to Studying Sex Fantasies? Scientists Say – OH, YA

Published: DECEMBER 4, 2014 | Updated: FEBRUARY 2, 2022
Scientists believe they're compiling new information on the sexual desires of men versus women. Meanwhile, I question the Vanilla of it all.

Would you take a scientific poll about your personal sexual fantasies? Doctors in Canada have released a report examining what they refer to as the "What" in "What do you desire?" Four university scientists from Indiana and Kentucky questioned 203 married or cohabitating heterosexual couples on the details of their sexual fantasies. Why? According to the report's abstract, to explore possible pharmacological interventions to treat low sexual desire. Could there really be a pill for that?


The couples took the surveys online. It's not clear if any special instructions were given—such as being alone in the room or not discussing the partner's responses prior to entering their own. There was also no information about the ages of the respondents or how long they've been with their current partner. That's a lot of mystery right off the bat—but let's look at what these couples reported as their top-three sexual fantasies.

Top Three Reported Sexual Fantasies (and They Aren't What You Think)

  1. "Feeling romantic emotions during a sexual relationship" was listed as important by over 92% of women and about 88% of men. No love for the one night stand, eh?
  2. "Atmosphere and location" were deemed important by 86% of women and over 81% of men. Roaring fireplace, anyone?
  3. "Oral Sex" showed more striking gender differences. A whopping 87.6% of men said it was vital, but only 78% of women. Maybe because some feel licking an ice cream cone is nicer than deep-throating a jumbo popsicle.

Major Gender Differences in the Study

One of the biggest disparities between the genders is definitely the subject of having sex with someone other than their partner. Over 83% of men said this was an ongoing fantasy, but only 66% of women felt the same way. Could that be because desire to feel romanctic emotions usually comes with a promise of monogamy? Is the idea of extra-marital sex still taboo to the point that people won't even admit to fantasizing about it? We already know that people of all genders find enjoyment in the poly lifestyle. Is it really possible that so few women and yet so many men are interested in extramarital giggity?

Even more divisive was the idea of watching two women make love. An unsurprising 82% of the male respondents reported that this was a regular fantasy. This is compared to only 42% of women. Funny, I didn't see watching two men have sex anywhere on this list. WTH? The idea of making love openly in a public place was low on everyone's list. This ranked as a popular fantasy among 66% of men and only 57% of women. I guess that's good news for people who like taking their kids to the park.


Is Self Reported Data Trustworthy?

I'll be honest. I don't think self reported data is especially trustworthy in the very personal world of sexual fantasy. I'm also not clear on why married couples are fantasizing about oral sex instead of just having it. Sure, it's possible that they just happened to find 203 of the most boring and vanilla couples on earth. However, I suspect that these respondents are vastly underreporting a desire for things like anonymous sex, sex with an audience, appearing in pornography—not to mention all that "romantic" rape fantasy stuff that fills the digital pages of eBook romances by the thousands.

Here's a piece of advice for you sexuality studying scientists out there. Next time, make sure your respondents have a little privacy, and maybe use a larger sample group. A glass of wine probably wouldn't hurt either.

Wednesday Lee Friday

Wednesday Lee Friday is an eclectic writer of fact and fiction. She has worked as a reptile wrangler, phone sex operator, radio personality, concierge, editor, fast food manager, horror novelist, and she owns a soap shop. She prefers jobs that let her sleep during the day. Everybody knows all the best art and literature happen at night! Wednesday's work has appeared in Women's Health Interactive, Alternet, Screen Rant, The Roots of Loneliness Project and Authority...

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