16 Actually Helpful Tips For Acting Out Your Sexual Fantasies

Role-playing in the bedroom can be fun and hot — and on top
of that, it can be really great for discovering different
aspects of your sexuality.

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It allows you to safely explore your relationship with your
fantasies, with taboo, with power, with who you are and
what turns you on — all while giving you the opportunity to
play make-believe. You know, that super fun thing you
stopped doing when you reached a certain age because you
had to become ~grown up and mature~ or whatever.

BuzzFeed Health chatted with sex expert Ian Kerner, PhD,
founder of GoodInBed.com and sexuality
educator Sandra Daugherty, host of
Sex Nerd Sandra, to get their best tips for
making role-playing amazing. Here’s what they said:

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1. First,
know that there’s no set definition of what role-playing
entails — it’s all about what you and your partner are

First, know that there's no set definition of what role-playing entails — it's all about what you and your partner are into.

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A lot of people hear “role-play” and their minds
immediately jump to, “You get a costume, I get a costume,
we play out an official scene, we can’t break character.
Go,” says Daugherty. But that’s such a high bar —
and it’s only a small part of what role-playing can be.

Depending on what you and your partner want, role-playing
can be taking on characters (“You be the prince, I’ll be
the stableboy”). It can be wearing costumes and making a
sex tape. It can be playing out simple scenarios (“Let’s
pretend we’re in high school again and our parents are
right downstairs”). It can be playing with dominance and
submission. It can be playing with setting (“What would it
be like if we were students at Hogwarts?”). It can be
talking through a fantasy you have without actually
carrying it out. TL;DR, it can be anything that allows
you to explore different personalities, temperaments, and
ways of expressing yourself sexually.

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2. Don’t
put a ton of pressure on it being this crazy sexy time — it
should be fun before anything else.

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Sure, plenty of people get into role-playing as a way to
~spice up their sex lives~ or whatever, but you have to
keep the bar low. Instead, go into it thinking that it
could be something silly and new to try with your partner.
Above all else, you have to be willing to laugh at yourself
— because yes, there’s lots of room for error and you’re
not going to do everything perfectly.

“Play should be for its own sake,” says Daugherty. “It
doesn’t have to get you super turned on. It doesn’t have to
be anything other than play for fun. You have a good laugh,
and five minutes later, you’re having the best sex of your

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Reeeeally simple prompts work great, so don’t feel
the need to plot anything intricate.

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If a multi-act character-driven role-play extravaganza is
your thing, by all means, YOU DO YOU. But things can be a
lot easier than that — basically, all you need is
one sentence to kick things off.

“It can literally be something as simple as, ‘You didn’t do
your homework’ to begin playing with a dynamic. ‘Shh, my
parents will hear us.’ ‘Don’t tell your wife,’” says
Daugherty. “One sentence and then you’re done. And then the
rest of your play can be exactly what you normally do, but
then there’s an extra layer of excitement, a little extra

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4. Play
with how you look and what you wear to embody different

You don’t have to jump to elaborate costumes or anything.
When you play with your appearance — maybe changing your
hairstyle or getting a wig, growing some facial hair, wearing
an outfit that’s the opposite of your style, whatever — you
wind up feeling different, too.

“It helps you get outside yourself and give yourself
permission to explore different personalities,” says Kerner.

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5. Or
just talk through your fantasies. It might wind up being
hotter than actually carrying it out.

Or just talk through your fantasies. It might wind up being hotter than actually carrying it out.

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“You can do tremendous role-playing without doing more than
exchanging words,” says Kerner. “You might not ever have to
get to the point of dressing up in a costume or taking on a
character in order to get the spirit and gratification of a
character or a scenario.”

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6. Use
your favorite shows or movies to ~get inspired~.

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You wouldn’t be the first people getting really turned on
by watching Game of Thrones, says Kerner. Whatever
you and your partner are into comes ready-made with fleshed
out characters and relationship dynamics, settings and
scenarios — all stuff you and your partner will already be
familiar with without having to put in the work. “You can
watch a show together and then continue the action in your
bedroom,” says Kerner — whether that’s taking on the
characters or just rolling with the spirit of things.

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7. Explore
those common, cliché pairings in unexpected ways.

If you’re going to lean into the “role” part of role-playing,
you definitely know the common pairings: student–teacher,
doctor–patient, boss–employee, etc. They’re popular because
they give you a chance to safely play with power dynamics —
but you can switch up how you do it.

Take student–teacher, for example: “You think the teacher has
power and the student doesn’t,” says Daugherty. “However,
that doesn’t have to be the case. You can have a student
who’s blackmailing the teacher, who’s seducing the teacher,
who’s doing the teacher a favor, who’s soothing the teacher
because they’re having marriage problems. You can have a
relationship and it can play out a million different,
interesting ways.”

So ~use your imagination~.

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8. Think
about what specific parts of a fantasy are especially hot to

“Say ten people have a teacher–student fantasy,” says
Daugherty. “But every single person will be turned on by a
different element. One might be turned on by corporal
punishment, rulers, spanking. Another might be really into
plaid skirts. Another person might be into the adrenaline
rush of the forbidden. Another might be into embarrassment.
Another person would really be into a certain word a person
said, like ‘detention.’ Some people might be into the desk!
So just because ten people have the same fantasy doesn’t mean
you are getting a boner for the same reason.”

Because of that, it might be a good idea to communicate to
your partner what you’re really excited about when it comes
to role-playing something — otherwise you might wind up
riding out the completely wrong fantasy.

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9. Take
advantage of Halloween and other natural excuses to dress up
in ways you know will turn each other on.

I know we said that role-playing doesn’t have to involve
costumes, but come on. When else will you have the
opportunity to put on a totally rad costume and have the
added benefit of running around wearing it in public and
counting down the minutes ‘til you guys get home? Halloween
is the best — and the perfect opportunity to experience
role-playing related thrills in a low-key way, says Kerner.

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10. See how
you can develop the things you already do with your partner
into more of a ~role-playing thing~.

Like, maybe you already really like wearing your partner’s
shirts because it makes you feel like the guy or girl next
door — that’s a little thing you can run with and expand on,
says Kerner. Or maybe you and your partner already give each
other back rubs while you’re watching TV before bed — you
could step up your game and explore a massage parlor fantasy
together. Or maybe you guys play a sport together — AKA
perfect basis for a forbidden romance between the star
players on rival teams. Etc. etc. etc.

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Channel some real-life frustrations into your play to blow
off some steam in the best way possible.

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Let’s say you have a shitty day at work because a coworker
was being an asshole. You can go home and have fun with it.
“You can flip the script,” says Daugherty. “You can play a
boss–employee dynamic with your partner and you can play it
where you’re blackmailing your boss. You can be the boss.
You can give favors for a raise. Whatever!” Same goes for
pretty much every other everyday annoyance, from the
barista who fucked up your order to the judge-y sales

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12. Maybe
take an improv class.

Not necessarily to brush up on your acting skills — it’s more
to get in the spirit of role-playing.

“Improv is silly and terrifying at first, but there’s nothing
at stake,” says Daugherty. “It’s about a whole team
supporting each other. Those are good skills to have — sex
play is healthiest when you’re both on the same team aiming
toward the same goals. If you feel like you mess up, your
partner is there to help you carry that ball.”

A lot of places will offer one-day workshops, but if that’s
too much for you, Daugherty suggests
this book as a place to start.

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13. Make
sure you know what you’re not comfortable with in general
so it doesn’t accidentally come up in a role-play

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Underlying triggers or general discomforts are really
important to consider ahead of time, since when you’re
playing with different characters or situations, some shit
might come up in unexpected ways, says Daugherty. For
example, if you’re really not into exploring pain, that’s
probably a good thing for your partner to know before
playing with any sort of power dynamics where they might be
inspired ~in character~ to punish you.

Yes/No/Maybe lists like this
one might be a helpful place to start if you’re not
exactly sure what’s out of bounds for you. Basically, it’s
a list of sexual acts that you can take for self-reflection
or with a partner to indicate what you are and aren’t down

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14. Along
those lines, consider setting some parameters or coming up
with a safe word ahead of time.

Spontaneity and going with the flow are great, but there are
certain times when talking with your partner about what will
happen or setting rules (like safe words, which you can read
here) is necessary. For example, if something calls for
punishment, degradation, humiliation, or simulated lack of
consent, you guys should discuss boundaries, how you’ll
communicate during and after, and talk through a bit of what
might happen.

That said, just because you set parameters ahead of time
doesn’t mean that plan can’t change. “Having a safe word, for
example, is not an excuse for not checking in with a partner,
being in tune with your partner, and recognizing what’s
happening with your partner during sex,” says Kerner.

This is especially true if you get into BDSM territory, which
can have a lot of overlap with role-playing. More info on how
to navigate that

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15. If
you really have no idea where to start, there are games and
books for that.

If you really have no idea where to start, there are games and books for that.

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The Erotic Mind
by Jack Morin is a great book for
anyone interested in erotic play. “It’s all about exploring
your fantasies in your own head to extract the underlying
themes and details that specifically turn you on,” says
Daugherty. She also suggests
this kit, which comes with 40 erotic role-playing
prompts to ~inspire~ you.

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Finally, make sure to take your time and enjoy yourself.

“Whether you’re working outside in, with a physical detail
and then moving into a character, or seeing from the inside
out, working from your fantasy life and then gradually
leading to some external play, really appreciate every step
of the process,” says Kerner. “Every step is enjoyable.
Getting to the fully realized role-playing may be the least
interesting part of it. Be open to all aspects of the
process. Learn from it. Figure out what really turns you on.”

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