How Many People Have Fantasized About Forcing Sex On Others?
March 11, 2020 by Justin Lehmiller
In my last post, I wrote about people who fantasize about having sex ‘forced’ on them. Today, we’re going to talk about the flip side of these fantasies: people who fantasize about ‘forcing’ sex on others. How many people have had these fantasies before? And where to they come from?
I surveyed more than 4,000 Americans about their sex fantasies for my book Tell Me What You Want and, as part of this survey, I inquired about whether people had ever fantasized about forcing sex on someone else. Here’s what I found:
· 20% of self-identified women had fantasized about this before, while 4% said they fantasized about it often
· 38% of self-identified men had fantasized about this before, while 7% said they fantasized about it often
· 38% of non-binary participants had fantasized about this before, while 9% said they fantasized about it often
What these numbers tell us is that, while most people say they’ve never fantasized about forcing sex on someone else, this certainly isn’t a rare fantasy; however, men and persons who identify as non-binary are about twice as likely to say they’ve fantasized about this as women.
Interestingly, when you compare these figures to the number of people who say they’ve fantasized about being forced to have sex, it’s clear that the former is far less common than the latter. In other words, regardless of gender, people are much more likely to fantasize about having sex forced on them than to fantasize about forcing sex on others.
I should note that in the way people described these fantasies, they made it clear that they were fantasizing about a consensual scenario. For example, some participants said things like “they secretly want it.” Thus, it’s not the case that these people are fantasizing about committing sexual assault—rather, they’re picturing a consensual scenario (often with a bit of “token resistance”), which means the sex isn’t truly forced in these cases.
So where do these fantasies come from? And what’s the deeper psychological meaning behind them?
I found that a number of personality and other factors were correlated with having fantasies about forcing sex on others. Here’s a look at some of the patterns that emerged, as well as how they differ compared to fantasies about being forced to have sex:
· People with overactive imaginations and those who reported fantasizing the most often were more likely to fantasize about forcing sex on others. Thus, these fantasies are often the product of a wandering mind—and the folks who have these fantasies have more fantasies about almost everything (including being forced to have sex).
· People with an unrestricted sociosexual orientation had more fantasies about forcing sex on others. Thus, these fantasies are more common among those who see sex and emotion as distinct. Put another way, being able to separate physical sex acts from love and other emotions is linked to having more of these fantasies (just as it’s linked to having more fantasies about being forced to have sex).
· People with sensation-seeking personalities had more of these fantasies. Thus, for persons who have a heightened need for sexual excitement and thrills, fantasies about forcing sex on someone else (as well as being forced to have sex) appear to be more common.
· Unlike fantasies about being forced to have sex, no linkage was observed between history of sexual victimization and fantasies about forcing sex on others. These fantasies were not linked to having previously victimized others, either.
· There was also no link to self-esteem or attachment anxiety, unlike fantasies about being forced to have sex.
· People who reported that they typically have more power in their relationships were more likely to say they fantasized about forcing sex on others. Thus, these fantasies may, in part, reflect a tendency to be the dominant partner in a relationship. Interestingly, relationship power was unrelated to fantasies about being forced to have sex.
· Fantasies about forcing sex on others were linked to more fantasies about BDSM in general. Thus, these fantasies often appear to reflect a broader interest in BDSM, just like fantasies about being forced to have sex.
As you can see, fantasies about forcing sex on others are linked to a number of psychological and relationship factors, and it appears that different people may have this fantasy for very different reasons.
That said, it’s important to note that there was a moderate correlation between fantasies about forcing sex on others and fantasies about being forced to have sex, which suggests that some people fantasize about both, such as those with active imaginations and sensation seeking personalities, as well as those who identify as BDSM switches (persons who go back and forth between dominant and submissive roles).
However, it’s also clear that some people only fantasize about one role—and there appear to be some factors that uniquely predict having one type of fantasy, but not the other. For example, having more relationship power was linked to fantasies about forcing sex on others, whereas low self-esteem, attachment anxiety, and sexual victimization were all linked to fantasies about being forced to have sex.
Sexual fantasies are complex, and different fantasies can have very different psychological roots. However, even within the same fantasy, two people can fantasize about it for very different reasons.
Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (facebook.com/psychologyofsex), Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit (reddit.com/r/psychologyofsex) to receive updates. You can also follow Dr. Lehmiller on YouTube and Instagram.
Image Source: 123RF/nd3000
You Might Also Like:
Dr. Justin LehmillerFounder & Owner of Sex and Psychology
Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.Read full bio >