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Notes on Erotic Role-Playing

By Dr. Marty Klein Expert
 
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Most people have sexual fantasies. Role-playing involves a certain kind of fantasy and a certain relationship to that fantasy. It requires a conscious acknowledgment of the fantasy; furthermore, it involves sharing that fantasy with a partner, who, presumably, consents to participate in it.

The simplest kind of role-playing involves a person pretending to be a different kind of personality than is typical for him or her (or accessing personal characteristics he/she believes are there, but typically unexpressed). A meek person may pretend to be demanding; a voracious person may pretend to be inhibited. Couples who do this may not even think of it as role-playing, but simply as one of the many playful things they do together in bed.

Somewhat more complicated is role-playing that involves specific roles or even scripts: doctor/patient, pirate/slavegirl, queen/foreign prince, Madeleine Albright/Henry Kissinger. Couples can simply imagine themselves in these roles and speak a sentence or two about it ("You haven't had a checkup in two years. I better examine your prostate"). Or they can get more involved, speaking in role for the majority of the sexual encounter. A few simple props such as an apron, nurse's cap or artist's charcoal can make these games even more involving.

Not surprisingly, some couples take their role-playing out of the bedroom and into the wide world. They don't have genital sex in public, but their behavior is erotically compelling to them. They may do it in an unobtrusive way, calling no attention to themselves and simply enjoying the erotic ambiance they privately create together. Or they may involve the world in their game, whether by costume (an adult woman wearing a cheerleader's skirt), conversation (letting others overhear them talking in role), or behavior (flashing a naked butt at a gas station attendant).

One form of role-playing involves consciously playing with power dynamics. People variously refer to this as bondage, S/M, and discipline; the expression "erotic power-play" covers a wide range of activities and attitudes.

Add a Comment3 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

This is an excellent and informative article, it helps everyone remember that while roleplaying *is* about being someone else for an evening, it is not *just* about that. It helps lovers communicate their preferences to one another through a more comfortable and fun medium, that helps to take away their inhibitions. It also helps individuals discover new insights into their sexual preferences they may not of known they had. I recommend atleast some form of roleplaying in all relationships, there is something to try even for the not so adventurous types! Also, if you are considering beginning roleplay with your partner, I invite you to view http://eroticroleplaying.blogspot.com for ideas and discussion.

November 11, 2009 - 11:38pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I also found this article fascinating: not only well-written, but non-judgmental to include all "extremes" of human sexuality, as well as discuss what the majority of behaviors are (again, without putting the "extreme" category on the outliers, as I've just done).

Dr. Klein, do you have any literature recommendations for married couples who are both interested in learning more about taking their relationship and trust to a new level by using erotic role-playing, or is this taking away the essence of what erotic role-playing is: no references needed, only imagination and creativity?

June 14, 2009 - 1:38pm
Aimee Boyle

Dear Dr. Klein,
Thanks for this article; it really sums up my experience with this issue... the trust is the most important factor and it leads to wonderful, creative times in the bedroom, which in turn reignites the passion you feel about the relationship itself. It is so rare to have this with a marriage partner and I appreciate that you said many people feel uncomfortable and judged in their primary relationships so they choose to play out their fantasies with someone else.
How incredible would it be for people to learn to accept these pieces of their partners and themselves, and how fewer divorces would we have, I wonder, if we did?

It's something I think about often and I know that while sex itself is healing, liberating, nurturing and fun in so many ways, it is also a microcosm of our most ancient feelings about ourselves and "other" - we play out in this arena our shadows, our demons, our infantile selves, our issues about dependency, control, power, abandonment and rejection as well as our incredible capacity to love, accept, defend, honor, worship, obey.

It's like a physical manifestation of our psyche's hidden truths; our attempts at controlling it and making it disappear never really work. How I marvel at this level of trust - as you pointed out - that is at the heart of letting it out, letting down my guard, being safely explorative and not made to feel a fool - at all.

Thanks for your insights.
Aimee

June 2, 2009 - 5:06pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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