I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of healthy vs unhealthy fantasy (mainly wrt to kink, particularly dom/sub dynamics) and came across an article titled “When Fantasy Crosses the Line”.
The article uses an anecdote about a supposedly happily married man who fantasizes about his coworker until he crosses his own boundaries and ends up kissing her and entering into some sort of an emotional affair with her. Following this example, the author suggests that the man’s initial fantasies – while seemingly innocent – were insidious in that they edged him ever closer to temptation until he finally was unable to control himself. Therefore, the article suggests, one ought to distance oneself from fantasy to avoid these situations.
This conclusion strikes me as lazy, unsatisfying, and irresponsible. She’s essentially advocating broad fantasy avoidance which doesn’t sound particularly helpful or healthy. Additionally, the author is operating primarily from an assumption that the fantasy itself is the cause of his unhappiness, when I see it as a symptom. The monogamous construct of his married lifestyle seems to be at the core of what’s really creating emotional distress for him.
Openness to deep emotional and/or physical connection with multiple people in our lives is not necessarily unhealthy, and should not be treated as undesirable. As a society, we should be encouraging those who draw strength from creating deeper, more fulfilling, healthier connections to more people. Attempting to suppress those desires in a struggle to fit into the constraints of assumed-default monogamy could well be causing internal friction, and ultimately considerable guilt and shame – the very definition of toxicity! Furthering that damage by advocating even more shame regarding ones fantasies is a short-sighted and careless approach that fails to analyze the broader lifestyle choices that leads people into these kinds of dissatisfied situations.
Let’s be better than that, and start creating a culture that encourages our peers to introspect the true catalysts of their fantasies and to deal with them in ethical ways, rather than shaming them into repression.