The Important Psychological Mechanisms of Sexual Fantasies and Fairytales
Love can mean becoming the monster they need to interact with.
In our quest to understand the perplexing nature of our sexual turn-ons, it is useful to first understand the nature of fairytales and the nature of play. Then we can begin to recognize that our turn-ons are our personalized “fairytales” sent to us by our own psyches, and sex is the stage on which we play with them to explore all that it means to be human in a complex world.
“I can’t do that to you, that’s sick and twisted,” he said when I told him what turned me on.
“If you respected and cared for me, why are you turned on by the idea of doing that to me?” they pleaded with confused eyes.
“Do you really get off on treating your lovers this way?” she asked incredulously! “Why can’t you just be turned on by being loving, sweet, and intimate? Why do you need those base instincts? Why can’t you rise above them and be heart-centered like me?”
The thing is, playing is not wanting to harm someone for real. Playing is where we explore real things, symbolically.
Play is where we get to form a relationship with the aspects of life that really exist, whether we want them to or not: power, loss, longing, joy, danger, struggle, death, connection, love, rejection, triumph, pain and so much more.
Through play, we get to do it within the safety of make-believe, with a buffer of pleasure and fun, all the while gaining the wisdom we can only get by experiencing things in our bodies, as we play-act them out.
This play-processing can happen before we meet these aspects of life for real so that we are prepared with strategies and inner coping mechanisms. Or, it can happen after we experience them in real life, and play then becomes the way in which we make sense of these experiences and process them after the fact.
In his book, “Arousal”, Michael Bader, talks about how, after a big natural disaster or traumatic event, children can be found play acting the disaster out again and again, forming new outcomes and relationships with the events that happened, and new internal pathways to make sense of them.
This is why we have dark children’s games like ring-a-rosie, where the plague has been encoded into a play and passed down the years.
A pocket full of posies
A tissue, a tissue
We all fall down
Did you know that most animals on the planet play? Play is older than humans. Did you know that animals instinctually know the difference between play interactions and real interactions? They get the difference between symbolic and literal. It is inbuilt into most forms of conscious life.
This tells me that play has a really important function.
In his book, Play: How it shapes the brain, opens the imagination and invigorates the soul, Stuart Brown tells a story of a dog meeting a polar bear during an expedition. The humans watched in horror as their dog ran ahead and a bear emerged from the snow. They were convinced the dog had met its doom.
However, something fascinating happened. Instead of going into fight, flight or freeze, the dog dropped to its forequarters and wagged its tail in the unmistakable signal of an invitation to play.
The bear, after pausing for an endless moment, seemed to think this sounded fun and also dropped into the unmistakable body language of play.
The humans watched in amazement as for several minutes, the dog and the bear play romped, wrestled, chased and pounced in a joyful game. They even did that thing animals do where they pretend to bite each other’s jugulars but do not apply any pressure. Only the slightest of differences in body language made this about play-fighting and not a real threat and yet they were clearly playing with themes of power, violence and potential death.
Furthermore, the bear came back at the same time of day, three days in a row and repeated the game with its new friend the dog.
The animals get it, yet we humans seem to get confused when it comes to sexual play. At least, we’ve been trained to become confused. We’ve been trained not to trust our sexual desire and to actively suppress and fear it. I believe this is a major contributing factor to the reason we lost the ability to hear what our turn-ons and sexual desires are trying to say. As a result, our relationship to this part of ourselves became distorted.
We tend to mistrust sexual desires and suppress them until they become so loud desire takes over the driver’s wheel. This means we skipped the part where we got to negotiate consent with this force within us. Yes that’s right, a two-way consent conversation with our own inner sexual desire. Instead we go from zero to a hundred really quickly and suddenly feel a strong urge to act in a certain way.
What would change if we learned to be in an active, embodied two-way conversation with our own source of sexual desire?
What would change if we heard it when it was still a whisper and could hear its guiding symbolic wisdom for what it was before it became so strong it overwhelmed clear thinking?
What would happen if instead of feeling shame about our desires we understood that they were meant to be symbolic play tools all along?
The #metoo movement showed us that there are millions of incidents where acts that should have stayed in play, were acted out literally and created real harm. In some of these incidents, one person thought it was play while the other did not. In other cases, they were both fully aware they were breaking the play-rules and at least one of them became a real predator. Either way, the harm done is real and lasting.
In a second-flip reaction against this harm, many well-meaning folk double-down on trying to suppress human sexual instincts, making them wrong, reinforcing the broken relationship with sexual desires and turn-ons. They even make terribly damaging laws that push our sexual drives and forms of consensual play, back underground. They turn our natural turn-ons into something to be ashamed of and to be avoided at all costs.
Porn is all bad. Sex workers and their clients are bad. Sexual fantasies, kink and any form of sex that allows the expression of play violence, or challenging emotions like shame, or power play, is automatically bad.
Through play, these bad words are freed and integrated instead. Play is where we can symbolically find the space for all things to exist. This is how we humans find balance. Yin Yang.
We stop pretending some aspects of life don’t exist just because we don’t want them to, and instead create an opportunity to learn how to navigate them - and how to be in relationship with them.
The importance of stories, fairytales, and sexual fantasies
Imagine if all the actors in the world refused to play the villain. How would stories be told? How would we process the complexities of being human through our narratives?
Imagine if there were no obstacles for our main characters to overcome? No mystery to make sense of? Is there even a story left to tell?
The human mind is hard-wired for stories. It is the oldest form of communication in the world. A fairy tale gets passed down for hundreds, or even thousands of years.
What would happen if we started to think about porn and sexual fantasies in the same light?
I just love listening to podcasts by Kate Forsyth, an Australian author and expert in fairytales. The language she uses to describe the important role of fairytales is so very similar to the language I have been using for years to champion our turn-ons and our sexual fantasies. These parts of us matter.
They allow us to encounter the pain and dangerous waters of “unrequited love in the little mermaid”.
As a professional dominatrix, I learned that sometimes it is the most loving thing you can do to play the villain, and enjoy it.
Exert from my personal diary after a BDSM scene where I played at being terribly cruel to my submissive, based on the clues I uncovered about his unique erotic wiring found within his sexual fantasies:
It is amazing how I can go hardcore angry sadist who is utterly intolerant of the fool before me... and how at the end of our scene, he can beam from his core and whisper in wonder, “You’re just so nice! You really are a nice person!”
That’s what happens when you accept someone’s wiring as it is and play with it. That's a nice thing to do.
Love can be becoming the monster they need to interact with... Really seeing them… Trusting them in their messy authentic erotic expression. Trusting that it is that way for a reason, rather than trying to make it fit a pre-fabricated idea of what it should be and twist it into something “nice”. To mistrust his turn-ons would be to reject this part of him.
To hold myself back from genuinely having fun and enjoying myself in the role of baddy, would be to rob the play of its power.
When do people feel the most loved? When they feel safe to let go and have their less socially acceptable parts be seen, accepted and actively enjoyed.
As an escort, I learned that even the more classical sexual expressions contained these essential ingredients of a good story.
Take a closer look at the circumstances around what created someone’s arousal, leading up to and during peak sexual encounters, and you will find themes of risk (the danger of vulnerability), power, and more. To gloss over these parts of sexual tension building is to lose the potency of the sexual encounter.
If you know how to listen, our turn-ons tell a story we can play out using our bodies and our feelings creating the real electricity of the encounter.
Do you want to be privately mentored into the art form of Navigating the Erotic Psyche through play?
Sent from my Venus Shell,
Artemisia de Vine
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