Sexual Fantasies About Your Partner Can Make You a Stronger Couple

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Sexual fantasies about your partner may actually benefit your relationship, according to a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Previous research looking at the function of sexual fantasies has mainly focused on their frequency and content. But much less is known about how they affect the interactions between couples.

The latest study involved four experiments that examined the consequences of dyadic and extradyadic fantasies—meaning those involving your current partner, and those about other people, respectively.

In the first and second studies, participants fantasized either about their partner or someone else. They then had to rate their desire to engage in sex and other non-sexual relationship-promoting activities with their partner.

Meanwhile, the third and fourth studies asked partners to record any sexual fantasies immediately after they occurred, as well as all the positive and negative interactions that took place in the relationship on that day. They did this for a period of 21 and 42 days respectively. Furthermore, the fourth study asked participants to report on their perceptions of the relationship over this time.

Overall, the researchers from the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Israel, found that dyadic fantasizing was associated with heightened desire for a partner and increased engagement in behaviors that promoted the relationship.

For example, in the first study, participants who were asked to fantasize about their partner expressed greater desire to engage in sex with them and do something that would make them happy compared to participants who were asked to fantasize about someone else, according to lead author of the study Gurit Birnbaum who wrote the findings up for PsyPost.

The findings of study three showed that participants were "more likely to engage in relationship-promoting behaviors, such as complimenting their partners and acting considerately towards them, following sexually fantasizing about them," she wrote. "Sexually fantasizing about someone else, by comparison, was not associated with engaging in either relationship-promoting or relationship-damaging behaviors."

The fourth study sheds light on why people who fantasize about their partners are more likely to engage in behaviors that benefit the relationship. The data showed that dyadic fantasies enhanced the partner's appeal and the value of the relationship, possibly driving more positive behavior.

As a whole, the findings indicate that imaginary fantasies can have a significant influence on the real world, according to Birnbaum.

"In particular, merely thinking about sex with one's partner has beneficial relationship effects, leading to experiencing greater sexual desire for current partners as well as acting more positively toward them," she said. "

Dyadic fantasizing may thus serve as a relationship-maintenance mechanism that helps partners sustain satisfying intimate relationships over the long run by boosting partner and relationship appeal and inhibiting engagement in relationship-damaging behaviors."