Is It “Rapey” to Fantasize About Someone Else During Sex?

Reader Jo said the following in response to our post, “Wise Guys: How Often Do Men Think of Someone Else During Sex?” For the record, not all Comments of the Week are opinions we agree with. And in this case in particular, we definitely don’t agree with the idea that fantasizing about someone else during sex qualifies as “rapey.” But it’s such a fascinating, complicated topic that we wanted to throw it out to the group…

“We guys take our job pretty seriously.” Excuse me – “our job” ? It’s your thinking that’s disordered, sonny! If you honestly see sex as a “job” then you haven’t had a single sexual experience in your whole life – and I don’t care how many people you’ve inserted your little chap into. Sex is something you do when you both want to – yes, difficult to synchronize that sometimes, but worth the effort. And sometimes you just have to go without. Sex is TOTALLY about the other person and being totally into them. If you’re not into them – if they’re not turning you on – the relationship is over.

“We all know that when the sex goes, splitting up isn’t far behind. We have to solve the problem.” But the sex is gone, my little friend, the moment you have to start thinking about other people. Sex is in the head. You are your thoughts. By continuing to use her body – but like a blow-up doll to get off on and ejaculate into – you dehumanize both yourself and her. I’m sure she would not be thrilled to know that the guy she thought was so great that she allowed him into her bed and her body, is actually using her as a sex toy while his real self (his mind, his thoughts) are off with someone else.

Trying to portray yourself as someone who is somehow doing good, being reasonable, about a “problem” – when you merely want to hold on to a body to use till you get something better – is truly despicable. It is also a bit rapey – not in a way that the law would ever recognize, of course – because she has not given her consent for this. At the very, very least, you need to inform a woman – at the point you feel you need to fantasize to ‘perform’ – about your feelings. This at least would allow her to either a) choose to fantasize along with you or b) kick you out the door.

Do straight men imagine sex with every woman they see?
Our Wise Guys weigh in


  1. I agree with some of the other commenters that the “rapey” comment crosses a line, which unfortunately takes away from your overall underlying point. This world would do well to approach (and esp teach young people to approach) sex as a more sacred union between two people who care about each other and each other’s pleasure. Not something that’s a job, or something that’s DONE to one person by another. Our sex-obsessed society would be better off if more of us were more present and more mindful during our fuckfests.

  2. Yes, I saw this comment earlier and felt a little sorry for the commenter. Jo, you’re taking things that are well within the spectrum of what most people would call normal/acceptable in a loving relationship, and making them sound not only hurtful, but potentially something even worse (“rapey”?! I’m obviously not the only person who was stopped cold by that completely overblown designation).

    Of course fantasizing about someone else ALL the time would be something to figure out, discuss with a therapist, etc… but for the most part, I’m not sure I want to know every single time my wife thinks about someone else. Honestly… who cares?

    People are going to fantasize sometimes. Should they blurt out, mid-sex… “Oh, hang on, that hot newscaster just flashed across my mind. Carry on.”

    You said, “The sex is gone, the moment you start thinking about other people.” This is a Disney movie version of a romantic relationship, and won’t serve anyone well who lives in actual reality.

    It doesn’t mean someone’s less attracted to you just because they sometimes find someone else attractive, too. If they wonder what it might be like to kiss, or even fuck that other person, really, what’s the big deal? That doesn’t mean they don’t still want to kiss or fuck you, and it doesn’t mean they’re even remotely considering ACTUALLY cheating on you… it just means that their brain is doing what human brains do–wondering about things. This is going to happen with everyone you’ll ever be in a relationship with, like it or not.

    I trust my wife that if something became a fixation for her, she’d mention it, as would I. We’d then figure out how to deal with it. But do we need to know everything going on in our partners’ heads? I think the world’s a better place without that being the case.

    If you’re going to be throwing around words like “rapey” and talk about people getting kicked out the door for completely normal human impulses (and ones that can’t even always be controlled, mind you), the one thing you can count on is that your partner is going to be less likely to tell you anything (and, quite frankly, more likely to kick YOU out the door!). Honestly, this sounds like something that hits a real nerve for you, and maybe something I’d consider talking to a therapist about–why it bothers you so much, and what you might be able to do to see it in a more rational, accepting context.

  3. Every woman that ever fantasized of Gerard Butler while having sex with her significant other was being “rapey”? LOL. This comment was laughable. Sex is an action. Assuming both parties want to participate in this action, there is no rape. What goes on in each persons head is their business, no one else’s. Hell, sometimes the party less focused is just trying robe a good partner and needs other stimulation in order to make their partner feel good. No one said sexual relationships were easy and straightforward. This site and others teaches me something everyday about the complexity of human sexuality.

  4. Obviously I disagree with the “rapey” thing, but what I’d really like to say is that, as a man, I’d steer well clear of any woman who throws words like that around. Rape is a heinous crime and that isn’t a suggestion you toss around flippantly.

    If a woman thinks fantasy is “rapey,” imagine the potential consequences of actually sticking your penis inside her. That is the type of lady who gets you in a lot of trouble, fellas. Avoid.

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