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Husband troubled by intrusive fantasies during sex

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

Dear Dr. Diana,

For the last month or so, I have noticed that my mind has started wandering during sex with my wife. Usually this leads to having fantasies about other women. This is happening more and more often, and it bothers me.

I love my wife and am very attracted to her. We have a great sex life. And I have no desire to cheat on her. But I don’t know what to do about these thoughts that keep intruding on our lovemaking. It’s starting to have an effect on my performance. Sometimes I go a little soft, but my wife doesn’t seem to notice. Should I talk to her about it? I’m afraid she wouldn’t understand. Help!

—Frustrated by Fantasies

Dear Frustrated,

This pandemic affects each of us differently, and I suspect that these fantasies are an unconscious “escape mechanism” that your mind is creating to deal with the stress and anxiety. I have some suggestions that may help you deal with this.

First, practice some mindfulness. When you notice that your mind is wandering during sex, when you find yourself starting to imagine another woman, simply notice that it is your mind that is having the fantasy. You are still there in your body having sex with your wife. First notice your breathing for a moment. Then bring your attention back to you and your wife, back to what is actually happening between the two of you.

Pay attention to the sensations in your body, especially your genitals. You might even tell your wife how you’re experiencing pleasure with her in the moment. (“Oh, that feels good when you squeeze on me!) Or simply describe what is happening. (“I love watching my penis going in and out of you.”) These techniques will help get you grounded again.

Should you talk to your wife about these fantasies? If you feel like she might not understand, you certainly don’t need to tell her. There is no such thing as “mental cheating,” so you’re not violating any boundaries or commitments.

But there can be a lot of benefit to having that kind of discussion. Find a time when you each of you can sustain some focus for a talk. Open up about what’s going on with you. Being vulnerable like that involves taking a risk. But you may find that it will lead to better communication and understanding between the two of you.


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