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Is It All Right to Fantasize about Someone Else during Sex?

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Hand in hand
Meng Yiren/ Moment/ Getty Images
Q: I find myself fantasizing about another person when I'm having sex with my husband. Is this normal? Would you consider it cheating? If it is infidelity, then how can I stop?

A: Take a deep breath. Many a husband and wife has had sexual fantasies about someone other than his or her spouse. Thinking about sex is not having sex, so you are not committing adultery. Sometimes, seeing a sexy celebrity or that hot stranger at the gym can put you in the mood for some lovemaking with your spouse. In those instances, the fantasy is enhancing reality, and your spouse might even thank you for it. However, thinking of dreamy Denzel Washington whispering sweet nothings in your ear is one thing, and pondering the hot stranger, whose name you now know because you struck up a conversation with him, is quite another.

You're safe as long as this is all in the realm of fantasy. Denzel is a good fantasy because you will probably never meet him and, even if you did, you probably wouldn't start up a relationship. If you start talking to the hottie from the gym, you could develop a rapport and innocent flirting could turn into something more. This is dangerous because it threatens your fidelity, which is the basis of trust in your marriage. If that's what is happening - you are starting to have feelings for someone other than your spouse and you can't get him out of your mind, even during sex with your husband - then you have a problem. At this point, you should privately confront your feelings (with yourself and not with the object of them). Then, consider counseling if you can't put this attraction out of your mind. If you can, avoid the person and don't make contact with him. Your marriage is at stake, and you don't want to do anything that you will regret later. Cheating will forever change - and there's a good chance it will ruin - your marriage.

Regardless of who you are thinking about - harmless celebrity crush or hottie next door - you should gauge what this means for you and your husband. Is this merely a sexual fantasy that helps you get in the mood to perform better sexually or is this a sign that you are no longer attracted to your spouse? You will know in your heart if this attraction you feel is something harmless to your marriage or a sign of trouble. Only you can determine this.

If you are no longer attracted to your spouse and need this fantasy to have sex with your husband, then you should try to reignite the passion in your relationship. The first step for heating things up again is to communicate with your spouse. Tell him that you're concerned about your love life and that you want some more romance and fun. Get on the same page about this, and then start planning date nights and loving gestures, such as running a bath for your hubby, sprinkling rose petals on your bed, and cooking a romantic dinner for two. Of course, if you continue to have trouble feeling attracted to your spouse or getting in the mood for sex with him, then consider seeing a sex therapist.

On the other hand, if you assess the situation and realize that you just recognize and appreciate another attractive man, then don't beat yourself up about it. You are human, and you can love your spouse, while still noticing other attractive people. As long as you never act on those attractions (or let them get in the way of your marriage), then you're fine. And you could bring these attractions into the bedroom by introducing role playing into sex. Maybe hubby could dress up like Denzel for you. You both just might like it.

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