post_fantasiesLike dreams in the night, our highly polished fantasies can be reflections of our inner world, hints of our deepest secrets, longings and needs. Sometimes they display our erotic personalities (even if not our exact wishes), and sometimes they have little to do with sex at all. Let’s look at some specific fantasies and consider what they “really” mean:

Roger: 33 years old, single, firefighter.

His fantasy: I’m an executive working on the 42nd floor of a downtown tower. It’s night, I’m working late, and I think I’m the only one there when all the electricity in the building goes out. It’s a complete power failure. A blackout. Suddenly, my office door bursts open and there’s my boss, her curvy silhouette outlined in the sliver of streetlight peeking through my window. She’s usually totally in control, almost icy, but now she’s so scared that she’s shivering. She rushes over to me and wraps her arms around my neck. As I do my best to comfort her, she kisses me hard and begs me to make love to her.

What it means: Roger’s confidence depends upon his feeling trusted, special, and needed in a crisis. Who better to boost his ego than the fantasy ice-queen who turns to him for comfort? While this tale could be misconstrued as eagerness to diminish a powerful woman, its gentle tone says more about Roger’s need to rescue than his interest in bringing women down. The fact that her rare vulnerability is reserved for him alone, and in a situation where he can actually help, is the crux of this fantasy.

Erin: 42 years old, married, technology marketing rep.

Her fantasy: I’m strolling with my husband across a concrete walkway that straddles two sides of a busy highway like a bridge. Cars are streaming by at 80mph just beneath us, so close I can feel their speed like a warm wind. I stop in the middle of the bridge to look at the scene, and my husband slips up behind me, pressing his groin against my backside. I can feel him growing big and hard. Suddenly he lifts up my skirt, drags my panties down around my ankles and plunges into me. He’s rough – no prep, no warning – but somehow I’m ready. As he thrusts, I’m so excited that I’m dizzy and I hold tight to the handrail to keep my balance. For a split second I think I’m going to tumble onto the freeway . . . but what he’s doing is so thrilling I don’t care.

What it means: In real life Erin wants to be more daring in her career, maybe even striking out on her own, but she fears letting go of her secure job. Her fantasy is a perfect metaphor for this dilemma and helps her handle it by symbolically eroticizing the conflict. In her sexy scenario, the fast-faced, entrepreneurial world that seems just out of reach (the freeway) is juxtaposed against the stable perch where she is, quite literally, standing still in her tracks. Secretly, she wishes that outside forces – maybe even her husband – would “thrust” her toward a resolution. That way, the more exciting but daring choice could be made for her.

In both Erin’s and Roger’s case, the dynamic tension between power and surrender is at the heart of their fantasies’ sexual intensity. Erin’s heat rises as she gives in to her husband’s will and to her own fear-tinged desires. Roger’s arousal thrives on the power granted him when his fantasy-boss shifts from detached authority-figure to panic-stricken waif. Yet, we could also say that he surrenders equally to her impassioned plea for comforting. If we envision the tension between these opposite energies as an “X” – power-line crossing over surrender-line – then Roger’s fantasy is like a double X. Both players seem to hold one sort of power over the other, yet acquiesce as well, giving them each a chance to criss-cross twice over the power grid.

Part of what makes this kind of tension so alluring – as well as revealing – is that it shows up for most of us in real life in the same ways that it appears in our fantasies. In Erin’s story, that parallel is especially vivid and obvious. In Roger’s, it’s worth remembering that his actual job isn’t high in an office tower, but atop a tall ladder, fighting fires. Rescuing “damsels in distress” when they are most frightened and vulnerable is his gift and his glory.

Sometimes, fantasies deliberately flip-flop the direction of our everyday power/surrender dynamic, looking quite contrary to what we experience or seek. Consider the meek, geeky guy who fantasizes picking up hot chicks and doing them on his Harley, or the well-heeled executive who dreams about (or hires) someone who will cater to his yen for submission. In the case of the exec, the standard interpretation is that he or she wants to finally give up responsibility after an exhausting week of wielding the whip. While that’s undoubtedly an accurate depiction for some, for others the need to utterly control the sensation spectrum, to capture an orchestrated approximation of ideal eroticism, is completely consistent with their bossy approach from 9 to 5. In fact, the fantasy action is uncannily like ordering lunch at a Michelin 3 star. The patron can select from a menu of extravagant options without having to consider another’s pleasure. Like a secretary or waiter, the Dominant is there to serve – and that’s just the way the exec likes it.

Now, when you think about your own sexual imagery, stop for a moment and ask yourself: if your fantasy were a night dream instead of an arousal aid, how would you interpret the meaning? What would it tell you about your emotional needs and your way of moving though the world? You might have a few enlightening surprises coming your way!