What Are the Most Common Sexual Fantasies?

What Are the Most Common Sexual Fantasies?

Sexual fantasies are mental images that trigger arousal or sexual excitement in an individual. Although cultural, societal, and religious influences have often lent a certain taboo to sexual fantasies, they are actually quite common and occur universally.

In fact, a 2014 study that evaluated the nature and intensity of 55 different sexual fantasies in 1,516 men and women reported that only two of the fantasies were statistically rare (shared by 2.3% or less of the participants) and nine were statistically unusual (15.9% or less). The majority of the sexual fantasies described in the survey (39 out of 55) were statistically common, meaning they were endorsed by more than 50% of the participants. Finally, five of the fantasies were statistically typical, or shared by more than 84.1% of the participants.

Others have since expanded on research about sexual fantasies, including social psychologist and author Justin J. Lehmiller, Ph.D., who asked 4,175 Americans to share their favorite sexual fantasy in their own words when doing research for his book on sexuality. Dr. Lehmiller reviewed the responses and created a list of the seven most common themes of sexual fantasies, which are outlined below.

  1. Passion, romance, and intimacy: Research shows that not all sexual fantasies are “kinky.” Many people fantasize about fostering intimacy with their partner through sex as well as feeling loved and appreciated.
  2. Multi-partner sex: Some of the most frequently reported sexual fantasies fall into the category of multi-partner sex. This includes threesomes (sex with three participants) and orgies (sex with more than three participants).
  3. Rough or dominant sex: Many individuals fantasize about rough or dominant sex. Such fantasies may involve spanking or being spanked, tying up a partner or being tied up, and other power- or control-related sexual practices. BDSM (bondage-discipline, dominance-submission, and/or sadism-masochism) encompasses many of the sexual fantasies in this category.
  4. Novelty, adventure, and variety: People fantasize about shaking things up in their sex lives, whether it be having sex in a new location, trying a new sexual activity, or having sex in a new position.
  5. Taboo activities: The idea of engaging in a sexual activity that is generally considered unusual, abnormal, or off-limits is exciting to many people. Lehmiller included fetishes and paraphilias (i.e. recurring, intense sexual interest in atypical objects, situations, fantasies, behaviors, or individuals) under the umbrella of taboo activities.
  6. Non-monogamy: Fantasies that involve non-monogamous sexual activity are arousing to some individuals. This could be having an open relationship, swinging, polyamory (consensual non-monogamy), or cuckolding (having a partner who is sexually unfaithful).
  7. Erotic flexibility: It is common for individuals of all sexual orientations to fantasize about gender-bending (exploring the boundaries of their own gender presentation or dress) and sexual fluidity (sexual fantasies involving participants of different genders or sexual orientations than a person usually explores).

While this list includes the most common sexual fantasies from Lehmiller’s research, it may not encompass all sexual fantasies. Additionally, it is not uncommon for people to have fantasies that fall into multiple categories or themes. Although sexual fantasies are common, if you experience recurrent, distressing fantasies or sexual urges, it may be beneficial to seek the support of a psychologist, counselor, or sex therapist. 


Joyal, C.C., Cossette, A., & Lapierre, V. (2015). What Exactly Is an Unusual Sexual Fantasy? The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 12(2), 328-340. https://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(15)30944-9/fulltext

Kassel, G. Medically reviewed by Janet Brito, Ph.D., LCSW, CST. (2019, October 29). The 7 Most Common Sexual Fantasies and What to Do About Them. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sex/sexual-fantasies.

Lehmiller, J. Reviewed by Lybi Ma. (2019, November 18). Our 7 Most Common Sexual Fantasies. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-myths-sex/201911/our-7-most-common-sexual-fantasies

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