Is your sexual fantasy normal? Let this study tell you

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Shocker: Most men are super into the idea of having sex with two women at the same time. 

Whether you’re single or in a long-term relationship, it’s totally normal to feel anxious about sharing your sexual fantasies with your partner. But while you might think your lurid fantasy of being spanked with a trout by a red-headed woman dressed as a Boxtroll is out of the ordinary, it most likely isn’t, according to this study analyzing how common various sexual fantasies are.

Conducted by researchers at the University of Montreal and published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, the study sought to differentiate between “abnormal” and “atypical” fantasies by asking more than 1,000 men and women to describe their favorite sexual fantasies in detail, as well as rank a list of 55 sexual fantasies, from “giving fellatio” to “my sexual partner urinating on me.”

What the researchers found was that much like sexual preferences IRL, sexual fantasies vary so widely that only a very few fall outside the range of what’s statistically “normal” and what isn’t, as indicated by the full table of their findings below:


Via Business Insider/University of Montreal

According to the researchers, a ranking of 2.3 percent or less means that a sexual fantasy is “rare,” while a ranking of 15.9 percent or less qualifies a fantasy as “unusual.” As you can see, most of the fantasies fall well outside that range. Only fantasies associated with cross-dressing, water sports (urinating on a partner, or having a partner urinate on you), pedophilia, and zoophilia fall into the “rare” or “unusual” categories for both genders.

Aside from that, most fantasies appear to be fairly common, although there’s some discrepancy between the genders. Men, for instance, are far more likely than women to report fantasizing about having sex with two women and/or “watching two women make love” (shocker), as well as engaging in extramarital relations, with 83.4 percent responding they fantasize about sleeping with someone who isn’t their spouse.  

Women, however, are more likely to fantasize about sexually submissive acts, such as being tied up or being spanked or whipped, though they were more likely than men to note that they did not wish to actually engage in these acts in real life. (Strangely, women were also way more interested than men in having group “sex with more than three people, both men and women,” with 56.5 percent of women reporting this fantasy versus 15.8 percent of men. Guess now we know who’s watching all that gangbang porn on Redtube.)

Perhaps surprisingly, however, the most common fantasy for both men and women was the same: When asked if they “like to feel romantic emotions during a sexual relationship,” 92.2 women responded affirmatively, as did 88.3 percent of men. Sorry, gender difference proponents: Looks like there’s less of a difference between the sexes after all.

Of course, there are a number of obvious problems with the study, chief among them being that the sample isn’t exactly representative: For instance, 85.1 percent of the respondents self-identified as heterosexual, with only 3.6 percent reporting that they identified as homosexual. Because the study doesn’t differentiate between the two groups in the final numbers, it’s reasonable to conclude that some of these fantasies—say, “having homosexual (or gay) sex,” or “watching two men make love”—would be much more common with a higher number of LGBTQ respondents.

It’s also unclear exactly what a “normal” sexual fantasy entails, or how helpful it is to group sexual fantasies according to how “normal” or “abnormal” they are. Although the researchers use the term “normal” from a statistical point of view, rather than as a value judgment, human sexual desire is so incredibly wide-ranging and nuanced and complex that there are no norms or standards governing it; in fact, it’s pretty rare to find a fetish or paraphilia or fantasy that at least a dozen other people on Earth don’t share. While some fantasies might be more common than others among different groups of people, when it comes to what people like to do in bed, there is no “normal”; to a certain degree, we’re all freaky-deaky kinksters, every last one of us.

H/T Independent | Photo by azadam/flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson

EJ Dickson is a writer and editor who primarily covers sex, dating, and relationships, with a special focus on the intersection of intimacy and technology. She served as the Daily Dot’s IRL editor from January 2014 to July 2015. Her work has since appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Mic, Bustle, Romper, and Men’s Health.