Role playing in the bedroom sounds pretty fun, right? But for some of us, it’s challenging enough to feel comfortable being yourself during sex, let alone someone else. What if your partner finds your fantasy freaky? What if you can’t stop giggling? We asked sex experts for tips on how newbies can get started…
Step one: Figure out your fantasy
If you already have a sexy scenario in mind, you can skip ahead… show-offs! But for beginners, sex therapist Laurie Watson says a trick that always works for her clients is heading to a hotel bar and pretending to be strangers picking each other up for the first time – just make sure one of you reserves a room ahead of time.
Then there are always classic power dynamics to fall back on, such as cop and criminal or doctor and patient – take your pick. Many traditional scenarios – housekeeper, professor – sound a bit of a cliché, like something in the cheesiest of cheesy porn, but that’s because they work! Stuck for ideas? You can (and should) turn to past experiences for your inspiration.
Step two: Now share it
Sex therapist Ian Kerner says “all good role-playing starts with sharing your fantasy.” Easier said than done, Kerner! What if your partner thinks you need him to take on a different persona to get turned on, or that your wandering mind means you also have a wandering eye?
Well, Kerner has a trick for that: bring up your fantasy as a compliment. Say, “I had this really hot dream about you last night. You were a professor and I was your student…” By including your partner from the get-go, it’s clear that your fantasy is just that. Once you’ve brought up the what, it’s time to explain the why – and yes, sorry, this part is non-negotiable!
Telling your partner you have a doctor fantasy isn’t enough – through no fault of his, you could find yourself in the company of Dr McCreepy when you were hoping for Dr Hot-and-Stoic. If you want a sexy experience, you have to describe exactly what it is about the scenario that gets you going (the better you explain your fantasy the better it’ll be, and the more likely to get you off rather than make you feel weird).
Step three: Establish limits
Before losing yourself in a character, be sure to let your partner know what you’re comfortable doing and what’s going too far, especially if you’re experimenting with some kind of punishment scenario. If you get caught engaged in espionage (you dirty spy, you!), do you want a verbal reaming or a light spanking on the butt?
Same goes for playing a role that triggers an emotional response. Let your partner know your limits, and establish a safe word that’ll bring the action to a halt the second you’re starting to feel uncomfortable.
Step four: Set the scene
A wardrobe change isn’t mandatory, but it can definitely add to the fun. For some women, a wig – going from dead straight to curly or brunette to blonde – can really help you get into the idea of a new identity, says Kerner.
The same goes for dressing up your environment. You probably won’t be able to transform your bedroom into a classroom to play out a hot-for-teacher scenario, but wheeling in a chalkboard or desk will go a long way.
Step five: Don’t forget to have fun
After all this planning in advance, it might feel like you’re about to audition for a role on Broadway – but don’t get caught up in all the theatrics of it. The aim is to feel turned on, not to win an Oscar.
The advice is: if you break character and start laughing, don’t sweat it – just move on, according to, well, pretty much everyone I’ve talked to.
“We were all good at playing pretend at one point in our lives – so think back to your childhood when you were playing house,” says Hannah, a 25-year-old web developer. “Kids don’t care they’re making stuff up.”
At a certain age we’re supposed to have stopped playing make-believe. The beauty of role-play is that you don’t have to (oh, how deliciously disobedient).