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In our culture, monogamy is emphasized as the one “true” way to have a relationship. For some people, these beliefs about fidelity go so far as to include fantasies. And yet, a lot of people find that what they fantasize about is far from the constrictive boundaries of commitment. So, let’s talk about what it means when you fantasize about other people even while you’re in a relationship.

Different Definitions of Monogamy

There is no standard version of monogamy that everyone accepts. Everyone has different needs, wants, and levels of comfort within their own relationship. If you’ve never had a conversation about what monogamy means to you in your relationship, now is the time. It can save you from a lot of hurt down the road. 

When you talk about monogamy, keep in mind that there are three components. The first is physical monogamy. What kind of physical touch are you okay with your partner engaging in with others? What kinds of physical contact are you okay engaging in?

Next, there’s social monogamy. This typically applies to couples in non-monogamous relationships but need to pretend to be monogamous for various reasons, including avoiding the stigma of open relationships. Other couples may be openly non-monogamous.

Lastly, there’s monogamy of the mind. Some expect their significant others to be faithful even in their thoughts. This level of monogamy is almost impossible to maintain, especially over the long term. You don’t have to act on your thoughts, but not having those thoughts in the first place is difficult. It’s often easier to deal with the underlying jealousy than to try to control your partner’s internal thoughts.

What It Means to Fantasize About Others

People often ask whether it’s normal to fantasize about other people when you’re in a committed relationship. Normal is a subjective term—and one that’s hard to pin down. But fantasizing about other people is common. I often joke that the imagination is non-monogamous because so many people are in committed, happy, healthy relationships, yet they occasionally fantasize about other people. 

It can be difficult to feel that you can’t freely express yourself, especially in a long-term relationship. And chances are, you will occasionally fantasize about others. If you and your partner have the communication skills to discuss this without judgment or jealousy, you can reach a new level of trust, intimacy, and sexual satisfaction in your relationship. 

When Fantasies Become a Problem

If you fantasize about a celebrity or someone cute you saw at the grocery store from time to time, this is a normal behavior. But if there is one person in particular that you have fantasies about every time, this can pose a problem within your relationship. 

If you find yourself in this scenario, ask yourself if you would want to follow through on your fantasy in real life if the opportunity presented itself. Be honest, too. Don’t assume the answer is no simply because you’re in a monogamous relationship. If you can reconcile your desires beforehand, you’re less likely to do something incongruent with your values in the heat of the moment. And, if you don’t want to act on it, you may want to start incorporating other fantasies into your self-pleasure time.

Often, people develop sexual attraction to others outside the relationship because they don’t like the person they have become within their own relationship. They may feel they have become boring, working a job all day and spending the rest of the time parenting or taking care of their house. This can cause people to desire the adventure of an affair. However, if you have these thoughts, it’s important not to judge yourself. Accept that you have them, and you don’t have to act on them.

Getting the Spark Back

If you want to heat up your relationship, you don’t have to rely on fantasizing about strangers. Instead, it’s often more effective to work with a trusted expert on sexual relationships. Contact me for a free consultation!



Bio: Dr. Nazanin Moali is a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in the Los Angeles area. She works with various individuals to understand and improve their sexuality. Dr. Moali conducts personal consultation sessions in her Torrance and Hermosa Beach offices, or via a secure, online video-counseling platform. Click here to take the sex quiz for women.

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