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Can’t Get Bare From Here My boyfriend of two years recently confessed (after a few drinks) that he fantasizes about other women during sex -- not just imaginary women, but his exes and my girlfriends. I’m especially shocked because I often initiate sex, and try hard to satisfy him. Thanks to his revelation, I’m feeling insecure, not very interested in sex with him, and incredibly uncomfortable around friends he's fantasized about. Is his behavior normal?

--Feeling Cheated On

This sounds like a case of premature organ donation. There are all these stories, supposedly mythic, of people waking up in Vegas, in a bathtub of ice, missing a kidney. Then, there’s your boyfriend, found floating in a bottle of Jim Beam, apparently missing his brain.

Now, there could be some alternate universe out there where it’s a wise idea to let a woman know, “You may as well have a bag over your head during sex because I’m thinking of Eva Longoria.” In our universe, merely having a thought is not considered reason enough to release it into the atmosphere. Just ask all the other men (and women) who recast the lead when they’re in bed, yet manage to avoid alerting the editorial staff of Entertainment Tonight.

It isn’t every man who makes his head home to a harem. No, only 98 percent of men -- according to Thomas V. Hicks and Harold Leitenberg (Journal of Sex Research, Feb. ‘01), who asked heterosexuals in relationships if, over a two-month period, they’d fantasized about anybody but their current squeeze. This leaves a whole 2 percent of men -- woohoo! -- whose trips to fantasyland don’t involve leasing a bus for their woman’s friends and family.

Eighty percent of wives and girlfriends surveyed did admit to restaffing their sexual fantasies. Still, if the mind had fire laws, most of those violating them would be men. Not only are men 11 times more likely to psychically call in a sub, in another study, Bruce J. Ellis and Donald Symons found that men often ditch one imaginary alternate for another mid-fantasy. It doesn’t matter how hot a man’s old lady is, how much he loves her, or how hard she works to satisfy him. Male sexuality is all about variety. Men are hard-wired to want you, the entire girls’ dorm next door, and the entire girls’ dorm next to that.

So, what’s preventing them from going door-to-door trolling for sex? For starters, the average guy’s chances of finding any takers are right up there with his chances of bending spoons with his thoughts. Still, some contend it’s wrong to even have “lust in your heart.” Well, duh! All you should find there is a bunch of blood and maybe a few clogged arteries. People’s brains, on the other hand, are biologically programmed to scan the horizon for hotties, then notify their libido whenever one crosses their path: “Imagine bending THAT over the cash register!”

Nobody wants to admit sex can get a little ho-hum at the two-year mark. But, when it does, nobody should admit they’re hotting it up by bringing their girlfriend’s address book to bed. If your boyfriend doesn’t have lime Jell-O for brains, and isn’t just plain mean, maybe he was hoping the truth would set him free -- setting you up to do the emotional heavy lifting of breaking it off. Considering how difficult it must be to elbow through the crowd in your head to have sex with him, let alone have lunch with your best friend, maybe you need to give him the heave. In time, he should find himself much more focused on you during sex -- just as soon as he starts having it with his next girlfriend.

Posted by aalkon at October 20, 2005 2:02 PM


Your response to the male-fantasy lady was dead on. You did, however, neglect to note that 70% of those male fantasies involve Brooke Burke. The other 30% are still clinging to the Brittney Spears school-girl-with-pig-tails video.

Most guys have learned that their significant others DON'T really (no matter what they SAY) want to know our fantasies.

Love your column. Although the Nashville Scene prints it in milli-type...

Posted by: Mark McDaniel at October 21, 2005 8:10 AM

The one thing about sexuality is to trust that you and your partner can make concerted efforts to communicate your sexual desires openly and truthfully. It's too bad that the boyfriend needed a few drinks to be truthful. Even if the boyfriend did have a few drinks, perhaps it was his first time to finally be open. The first approach can be nerve racking. As a female writing this comment, I sympathize with the boyfriend. As for the insecure gal, step up to the plate and show that you are a strong woman. It surprises me that you were scared instead of understanding or at least wanting to understand what else he wants in bed.

Posted by: Susan at November 7, 2005 7:21 AM

If my boyfriend had said that to me, I would have absolutely had the same reaction "Feeling" had. If I had to make a choice I'd much rather my lover be making love to someone else and thinking about me than the opposite. I'd much rather have a man's heart and mind than his body. And I absolutely disagree with Susan who said that she sympathized with the boyfriend. As you said, he's either trying to find a way to break-up, is sadistic or just a bloomin' idiot! She should lose that loser and find someone who truly finds her irresistible or at least one who can keep his pie-hole shut.

And, regardless of what your studies say I think it's possible (and I've seen examples of it) for a man to make love to his woman and actually be thinking of her at the same time. Of course I can't read minds.


Posted by: Pinchy at November 10, 2005 12:35 PM

One more thing about "Feeling Cheated On"! If her boyfriend were fantasizing about Catherine Zeta-Jones or Carmen Electra, that would be one thing; what man doesn't? But, since he fantasizes about women she knows, friends even, it puts her in a very uncomfortable position and, as I said before, he's stupid, mean or Tourette-ridden. Definitely dump the dud!!!

Posted by: Pinchy at November 10, 2005 12:38 PM

Has she considered there might be some thing she is or isn't considering? No. Of course not. Right???

Posted by: Patriarchal Oppressor at November 30, 2005 11:27 PM

THANK YOU, Pinchy! I HAVE DUMPED the 'loser'.

...but gosh, it was hard! There was love (and great friendship & common interests) there. So I'm just trying to reassure myself that ending it was the right thing to do... that the issues were valid. That not every man subscribes to my ex's modus operandi. The fantasizing was just one manifestation of the problem. My (now) ex-boyfriend seems to deal with his insecurity by (subconsciously?) trying to make his partner(s) more insecure (something he's admitted to). A sort of flirt-and-tell or fantasize-and-tell or get-propositioned-and-tell... etc. Maybe he believes that only jealousy and insecurity can inspire faithfulness. Whatever the reason (and believe me, I'd love to understand), all his over-sharing erroded my ability to trust. I'm trying to not let it leave me as insecure as he made me feel at times.

I entirely understand that men fantasize. People fantasize. I don't have any objections to porn either, so long as it doesn't become your main hobby (erection=good; addiction=bad). It would be fine with me if a partner fantasized about a hot actress or celebrity. But if he's going to fantasize about real women we know, I wish he'd be sensitive enough to imagine how sharing this might hurt me. Then I'd hope that he'd choose to not hurt me. I value honesty and the emotional intimacy it can bring... but WHAT GOOD CAN COME FROM OVER-SHARING?

As to Susan, who wrote: "As for the insecure gal, step up to the plate and show that you are a strong woman. It surprises me that you were scared instead of understanding or at least wanting to understand what else he wants in bed." I DID want and try to understand... I researched it; talked about it with my boyfriend, with my mother (who I knew he didn't fantasize about); encouraged my boyfriend to go to therapy (for support- he hadn't told anyone else about it & I couldn't offer the sort of support I felt he needed)... but he couldn't explain it to me except to say that he didn't really WANT my girlfriends & his exes, etc... but he wanted to feel wanted by them. Huh? Maybe that makes some sense, but it makes me sad. I wanted him.

Wish he could save his fantasies for his private wanking endeavors and be a little more sensitive about sharing it all. I'd like to think I'm not just a hole for my beloved to project his (not-so-secret) desires upon. Maybe I'm young and idealistic, but I had trouble giving up my idea of what sex is. Pinchy's got it right: if one must choose I'd much rather have my man's heart and mind than his body. I've heard that (some?) men value the body more.

Posted by: Feeling at December 2, 2005 11:56 AM

I think that you made the right decision, leaving him. Because it sounds like it was more an insecurity issue rather than a sexual one on his part. "...he didn't really WANT my girlfriends & his exes, etc... but he wanted to feel wanted by them." This tells me that he needs others acceptance to feel okay about himself. Although everyone wants to be validated by others, its crucial to like oneself regardless of outside circumstances. If I was with a man who desperately needed his ego stroked by the multitudes, I would wonder why he is really with me. Is it because he knows who he is, knows what he wants, and sees me for who I am, a unique individual. Or could I just be anyobody, as long as I can give him the attention he craves. He doesn't sound that stable to me. Its unlikely someone with those kind of needs is ever going to be satisfied with the attention of just one person. Love can be an addiction.

Posted by: kat at December 26, 2005 1:35 PM

I am a 62 year old male and have a young girlfriend Cassie who's 28. I wank over celebrities at least once a month. Cassie pleasures me enough for me to only think of her when I'm having sex. You mustn't be pleasuring him. He wouldn't need to think of other women. Work on that.

Posted by: Old shelf stacker at January 11, 2006 3:28 AM

No, she doesn't have to "work" on anything. Can you imagine if she were the one to have told him, I'm fantasizing about all your friends while having sex with you, I'm sure the guy would have flipped to the high heavens. If he feels that she isn't enough for him then he needs to move on to other pastures, thereby clearing up the path for someone that is truly interested in her.

Posted by: Mari at January 23, 2006 12:07 PM

A sex life composed of one-night-stands is looking more and more optimistic

Posted by: Katie at January 29, 2006 8:39 AM

I haven't had sex in almost a year, since my girlfriend Rachel left. I'm 63 but I find wanking over a particular celeb I'm hot on a release. When Rachel gave me sex though she was brilliant she thought up all different ways to make me enjoy myself. I still wank over her now. She was able to keep me interested in her, you need to sort that out.

Posted by: Lorry driver at March 1, 2006 3:48 AM

Nothing is simple, least of all sex. But in defense of both protagonist and antogonist, I do have this to say:

Feeling, you hit the crux of the problem when you said "Maybe he believes that only jealousy and insecurity can inspire faithfulness. Whatever the reason (and believe me, I'd love to understand), all his over-sharing erroded [sic] my ability to trust."

Blame is irrelevent, you dumped him and now you move on. Personally, I lost a girlfriend once because when she told me she slept with an ex, all I wanted to know was if she wanted to be with me or him - and her "me" was enough of an answer. She left me because I made her feel bad about herself, and she went back to a different ex I knew to be physically abusive - jealousy is the only proof of faithfullness. I've never cheated on anyone anywhere except in my fantasies, and maybe neither did this guy. But I also learned not to share ALL my fantasies with my current partner pretty early in the game.

Nobody can tell you to work on your technique without sounding like an idiot unless they were there to witness it. Nobody can justify your ex telling you he was fantasizing about all your friends while screwing you. But there's something pretty important nobody has mentioned until now. Yes, he was seeking psychic validation by imagining other faces on your body, yes, his telling you was immature, ill-advised and insensitive in the extreme, but...

I posit that the reason imagining other faces on your body WORKED to bolster his self-esteem is because of the very real connection you two had. Yes, men are visually oriented, and love variety, BUT, that does NOT mean that we are all attracted to any old bimbo with a hot bod who condescends to sleep with us. We are, or at least I am, very much influenced by the heart and soul of our partner. Now, it's possible that the ex. wasn't attracted to you, and so imagined you were somebody else, but that's not my first guess. I think it far more likely that sex with you was empowering, liberating and exciting for him in a way which his twisted male psyche responded to by attempting to counter deep-seated feelings of inadequacy with a forced juxtaposition of images otherwise associated with feeling of rejection and inadequacy with the very real, visceral and undeniably positive experience of intimacy with you.
So the point is... (I'm sure I have a point, I usually do, anyway) Telling you what he was doing betrayed emotional immaturity and relationship ignorance, but the actual doing of it could, and perhaps should be taken as a tribute to your worth and desireability.

We men are generally kind of stupid at recognizing why we feel the way we do. We often mistake a feeling excited by a very specific connection with another person as a archetype - what being a "real man" feels like, or conversely, what being with a "real woman" makes us feel like. I think when "Old Shelf Stacker" tells you to "work on that" what he is really saying (to give him the benefit of the doubt) is that being with his Cassie (the ego-boost from the mere fact that she is young enough to be his grand-daughter aside) makes him feel enough like a "real man" that he doesn't need to fantasize (about what, an 18 year old supermodel?) during sex. That's great there, Stacker, but what makes you think that it's her ability to pleasure you, and not her, herself, and your ability to take pleasure from her that's responsible? What makes it technique instead of connection?

So in ass-hole's defense, he's just being a particularly stupid form of guy, and he probably wasn't just boning you 'cause you didn't kick him out of bed - there was probably a real connection there, he was just too stupid to recognize it.

And in feeling's defense, you're right to boot his sorry ass if you didn't get enough from the relationship to want to babysit him through relationship 101, but don't let it eat at your self-esteem. With a guy like that, so oblivious as to what it actually was that was making him feel so good - he likely couldn't have paid you a higher compliment than putting every female face he'd ever been attracted to on your body in his sorry little attempt to shore up his tiny ego with the validation his connection with you provided him. Which is, of course, the best reason I can think of to dump his sorry ass and find yourself somebody evolved enough to recognize what's happening to him enough to keep his ego-stroking to himself.


P.S. Too drunk to spell check or proof-read, hope it's not completely illegible

Posted by: BriaN at April 12, 2006 7:03 PM

Wow Brian, that was pretty darn brilliant and insightful! You're right on, I think.

Posted by: Belinda at May 8, 2006 5:18 PM

Brilliant Brian... thanks, hit right home.
With a man who sais he just wants to have sex with other girls... just for the sex, the flirt-- he loves me-Me... but prones for an open relationship.

In other words... I am his favorite but he wants to explore-- variety as he sais... yet since I said-- ok boy, you are free to go... free (as he felt in a cage... oh my), just telling him that I might not desire for him afterwards... ahah... sticks around a lot more...

Never to be taken for granted.
Letting one responsible of his acts.

I now feels much more confortable and in control... secure and happy.


Posted by: Ann at October 16, 2006 7:22 AM

This guy was obviously fishing for a menage a trois. But should he be dumped just for asking? I think not.

Posted by: Zguy at October 4, 2007 8:53 PM

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