Fantasy as a Survival Strategy (Part 2)

In this post I’ve divided the action steps into two areas:

  • fantasy as an ally
  • fantasy as an obsession

Fantasy as an Ally:

  1. Don’t pathologize fantasy. Be curious, non-judgmental and open-hearted. Allow fantasy to be a teacher and simply a part of who you are. Give yourself the opportunity to consider fantasy as an ally.
  2. Make a list of romantic fantasies from as far back as you can remember. Are they pleasant? Unpleasant? Neutral? Notice what it feels like to take a closer look at your rolodex of fantasy memories. If you feel too activated or overwhelmed, take a break and discuss this exercise with a trusted confidant when you feel more regulated.
  3. Make a list of sexual fantasies from childhood to now. Follow the same instructions as #2 above.
  4. How has fantasy served a purpose in your life? What have been the benefits of fantasy, both romantic and sexual. How have these fantasies been a useful part of your imagination? How have they been a survival strategy?
  5. Sexual fantasy is part of your erotic template It’s part of being human. Celebrate that part of your sexual self. Discuss your fantasies with a therapist, sponsor or sex coach. If you have a partner, share your fantasies. Liberate yourself from keeping that part of you under wraps. If you don’t have a partner, take stock of your sexual fantasies and know that they are part of a sexual playground to be explored.
  6. Express gratitude for your fantasies.

Fantasy as Obsession:

  1. Has romantic fantasy become obsessive resulting in negative consequences? If so, list the obsessive fantasies as well as the consequence associated with each fantasy.
  2. Has sexual fantasy become obsessive and resulted in negative consequences? Follow the same instructions in #1 above.
  3. What is your relationship to on-line porn and are you aware of any problems your porn use has caused? If so, explore how porn has been a barrier to intimacy as well as face to face relationships?
  4. What is your relationship to the dating apps? Do you find yourself getting lost in the world of apps and swiping for the perfect person or perfect body parts? Again, notice how these habits interfere with the integration of sex and intimacy in your life?
  5. Fantasy can be a very self-centered activity where the brain gets hyperfocused on immediate gratification. Consider other-centered activities such as the following:
    • Ask yourself: What do I want from the other person? Once you’ve identified what you want, consider ways to bestow that upon yourself. Sense what’s missing in you based on what you want from them.
    • How can I become more of a “giver” rather than a “taker”? Instead of getting stuck in wanting (i.e. not enough), what do I have to give? The Prayer of Saint Francis describes this internal shift. Recite the prayer out loud on a daily basis and see how it resonates for you.
    • Attend SLAA meetings to listen to others with similar stories and experiences. Eventually, consider being of service to others—an antidote to the self-centeredness of obsession.

Fantasy is a vital part of your life energy and your imagination. Don’t hide from or eliminate safe, productive ways to fantasize and have fun. If it does feel out of control, seek professional help from a sexual health expert who understands the complicated underpinnings often rooted in relational trauma. Obsessive, compulsive fantasy is not a life sentence but requires attention to minimize future harm.

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