Tell Me About It: I’m getting married but I fantasise about Thai ladyboys
I don’t believe I am gay, but I’m certainly not 100 per cent straight either
‘We can be very strict on our thoughts and see them as wrong or sinful.’ Photograph: Paula Bronstein/Getty Images
Q I am in my late 30s and in a three-year relationship with a 30-year-old woman. We have our ups and downs, but we are crazy about one another. When we first met, I was highly aroused by her, but now I am not.
I understand that the sexual attraction falls away after time, but my issue is that I constantly think about and crave ladyboys, otherwise known as transgender women.
I had limited contact with ladyboys when I was in Thailand, and nowadays I find myself constantly fantasising about them and masturbating when my partner isn’t around. When I am sexual with my partner, I sometimes think of ladyboys. Or sometimes I fantasise about other women.
I am worried: is this is a big deal? We plan on getting married and having a baby next year. Apart from my sex life I am perfectly happy. I don’t believe I am gay. But I’m certainly not 100 per cent straight either. What advice can you give me?
A This column has had a number of queries about transgender fantasies. Most people have sexual fantasies, which, by their very nature, are not politically correct. Domination and submission, inappropriate people, past encounters and power plays are all normal parts of the landscape. Sometimes these fantasies can cause enormous upset in everyday life; when this is the case, simply trying to get rid of them does not work.
Trying to stop thinking about something is impossible. We need to find better ways of handling what our heads are presenting us with. At the very least we need to accept what is happening, because it is actually happening in our imaginations.
Very often it is born out of some underlying trauma or need, for example having a fantasy about a strict boss or a difficult friend. It may offer us a power play in which we are more in control or have some choices – these may not be offered to us in a way that is easily understood, but nonetheless such fantasies can help us to process our emotions.
Or the fantasy may offer us connection by imagining sex with someone close to us who is out-of-bounds, but with whom we already have an emotional connection.
Often the fear is that we will speak these things out loud or be found out as not being the good person we are setting ourselves up to be.
We are often very strict about our thoughts and can see them as wrong, sinful or more truthful than our waking representations. This can create barriers in our lives when we try to hide or cover over what we think is really happening. The result can be a blocking of the people close to us and a withdrawal from connection.
It seems that one of your difficulties is that your fantasy has been acted out, at least to some degree, and this has created an imprint in your brain – in other words the experience has been of such huge pleasure (and perhaps excitement, edginess and risk) that your brain seeks out this pleasure again and again.
You have considered your sexuality and realised that it is not black and white but something more organic. The ladyboy experience may have connected with this ambivalence, and perhaps the honesty of this experience is one you want to recreate.
However, you also are in the lucky position of having found someone you love and want to spend the rest of your life with, and you might begin to be yourself completely with her. This does not mean speaking about the fantasy, but it does mean trying to be fully present in your lovemaking with her. We are the masters of ourselves, and we can choose what to give attention to.
Thoughts are not chosen. They will present themselves to us to be converted into behaviour or actions, but we do not have to act on them. We can let them pass through our minds. Fantasies can be accepted for what they are, and allowed to exist in the same way the lotto fantasy exists: unreal but pleasant.
Give plenty of attention to creating a more intimate, exciting and light-hearted engagement to the person in front of you: focus on the reality of her. Be amused by and accepting of the fantasy and know that you are becoming the person you want to be by slowly getting your thoughts and actions to follow your intentions.
Brett Kahr’s book Sex and the Psyche has more on fantasies
Trish Murphy is a psychotherapist. For advice, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We regret that personal correspondence cannot be entered into