Dear Alice,

I have always been attracted to men, and have only been with men. I am currently happily engaged to a man, and have no doubts about our relationship. However, I've discovered over the past couple of years (even when I was with my previous boyfriend) that I do not like porn with men in it. I like lesbian porn! And anytime I've masturbated I've fantasized about women (never one that I know or have seen.) It's made me very uncomfortable, finally admitting it to myself. I do remember when I was in 7th grade there was a new girl at our school. When she got a boyfriend I was very jealous; I just assumed it was because she was new and I didn't have all her attention *ha* Is this normal? Am I out of my mind!?

with much embarrassment,
fantasy challenged

Dear fantasy challenged,

Out of your mind? It actually sounds like you are very much in your mind, which is why you're so aware of your fantasies, and that's great. Fantasies serve a variety of purposes. They allow people to explore elements of their sexuality that they may not be comfortable with or want to act out in their lives. Fantasies can also provide an exciting escape into something new, something taboo perhaps, or unacceptable to the fantasizer in their waking life. Some sex researchers assert that the brain is the central organ of sexual pleasure — a number of women report that they have orgasms from fantasy alone. When fantasizing, a person engages this powerful instrument of arousal to produce whatever experiences s/he wants to imagine — without the consequences of enacting them in real life.

There are many factors that people consider when defining their sexual identities. These include physical, emotional, and erotic attraction towards others, dreams, fantasies, social networks, relationships, and ideal sexual orientation, among others. Fantasies can be one aspect of sexual orientation or identity, but certainly not the only or defining one. That is, having same-sex or opposite-sex fantasies doesn't necessarily mean a person is gay or straight, there is a lot more to sexual orientation. Researchers now view sexuality as a spectrum, with homosexuality on one end and heterosexuality on the other. Many people fall in the middle of this spectrum; exactly where a person falls may shift throughout their life. Some argue that there are as many sexual orientations as there are people, everyone defining for themselves their own rules of attraction, fantasy, and relationships. As long as you feel comfortable with your sexuality, there is no need to define or compare yourself to a norm.

In fact, "normal" might not exist. Many sexual activities, including some we accept as normal and healthy today (masturbation to name one), have been at some time considered deviant, and in other circles accepted as completely ordinary. "Sexually normal" is a subjective term, and defined by a certain culture at a certain time. To answer your question more directly: Yes! It is normal to have fantasies about women, even though you are happily involved with a man. Other "normal" fantasies may include (but are not limited to) your partner having same-sex or opposite-sex fantasies, one or both of you fantasizing about having a threesome or group sex, fantasizing about watching your partner have sex with someone else, or switching partners with another couple — the list goes on and on!

If you have more questions about your sexuality, there are many resources available to you. A good place to start is the GLBT National Help Center. The wesbite as a bunch of great resources and offers options for peer chat, or hotlines if you would like to discuss these issues with another person.

You mentioned that you're happily engaged. First off, congratulations! Secondly, have you shared your same-sex fantasies with your partner? Perhaps incorporating some of those stories or fantasies into your relationship and sex life would be as exciting for him as it is for you. Your fiancé may have a secret fantasy about being with a woman who fantasizes about women — you never know!


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