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Sexy Fantasies About Your Partner Provide an Unexpected Relationship Boost

If you dream it, you can do it.

In the 1995 smash hit “Fantasy,” a daydreaming Mariah Carey sings, “images of rapture/creep into me slowly/as you’re going to my head.” According to new research, the pleasure induced from a sexy fantasy like Carey’s isn’t just the stuff of R&B poetry. It’s also a scientifically sound way to spice up your love life. In the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, psychologists show that fantasizing about one’s partner induces relationship-improving behaviors and inspires general “I’m feeling this” vibes. Sweet, sweet fantasy indeed.

In the paper, released Saturday, a team of Israeli researchers acknowledge that when an individual in a relationship with someone starts fantasizing about someone else, the demise of a relationship is often on the horizon. But when that person fantasizes about their partner, it could actually make the relationship stronger. Thinking about sexy time with a romantic partner is called “dyadic fantasizing,” and the study reveals that involving a romantic partner in those fantasies not only increases their perceived appeal but also motivates the fantasizer to invest more in the relationship.

“Daydreams have been found to increase feelings of love and connection that presumably foster pleasant future interactions,” explains Baruch Ivcher school of psychology professor and study co-author Gurit Birnbaum, Ph.D. to Inverse. “The rewarding aspects of fantasizing might become associated with the partner and the relationship, coloring them in a more appealing light.”

Happy Gilmore does fantasizing right.

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Birnbaum and her team evaluated the effect of sexual fantasies on relationships over the course of four studies. In the first two, study participants either fantasized about their partner or someone else and then rated their desire to have sex or participate in “relationship-promoting activities” with their partner. In the third and fourth studies, partners kept diaries to record how often they fantasized about their special someone and how their real-life relationship was going.

Fantasies that involved only a person’s partner increased the daydreamer’s desires to show emotion and physical love to their partner — none of that “I’m reading 50 Shades to help us” nonsense. On the days when people found themselves stuck in a sexy daydream, they were also more likely to follow up with an act of romantic kindness, like giving compliments to their partner. To make sure that this all came back to sexy thoughts, the researchers also asked the people to imagine having a conversation about life concerns with their partner and then asked whether that made them want to have sex. It did not.

Birnbaum says she observed a particularly marked increase in feelings of love and connection among the individuals who had scored low on those feelings before, suggesting that engaging in constructive, sexual fantasies can help a relationship. Reflecting on how other people think, feel, and behave during daydreaming, she theorizes, could enhance one’s empathy for another person.

She's got the right idea.

“Indeed, therapists often use fantasy training in the treatment of couples with sexual dysfunctions, claiming that fantasies can promote couple intimacy and improve sexual functioning,” says Birnbaum. “Our findings suggest that the implementation of fantasy training in the treatment of couples with relationship and sexual difficulties should be further encouraged.”

Discovering that imagination can help a real-life relationship is consistent with what already scientists know about the established benefits of daydreaming. Previous studies have shown that daydreaming about what you want — such as getting over a phobia or performing better at work — can help you actually achieve that goal. Nostalgia, a form of daydreaming, works in the same way: When people feel a sentimental longing for their past, they actually experience the sense that they are socially connected.

Sexual fantasies, says Birnbaum, seem to act in the same way. If you can dream it, you really can do it.

Steve Irwin: How He Rose to Fame as the Crocodile Hunter

Google paid tribute to the star.

Google commemorated the life of Steve Irwin on Friday with a homepage doodle on what would have been the Australian’s 57th birthday. Irwin became a household name through his animal activism and television appearances, first launching onto screens of Animal Planet viewers with his show The Crocodile Hunter.

Irwin was born in the Essendon near Melbourne in 1962 to parents Lyn and Bob Irwin. His parents famously gave him an 11-foot scrub python for his 6th birthday which he named Fred. The young Steve learned a lot from his parents about animals, and they laid the foundations for Beerwah Reptile Park when they bought some land in 1970. Steve learned to wrestle crocodiles from the age of 9, and helped manage the family-owned park. The park was renamed Queensland Reptile and Fauna Park, and in 1990, it was renamed Australia Zoo — the same year Steve met producer John Stainton. He met his future wife, Oregonian Terri Raines, when she was visiting the park the following year. Their croc-filled honeymoon in 1992 formed the first episode of The Crocodile Hunter.

 How to Fall Sleep Easily, Stay Asleep Longer, and Power Through "Sleep Inertia"

No more hitting snooze.

By Crystal Grant and Siobhan Banks, The Conversation
Filed Under Alcohol, Environment, Food & Health

Getting a good sleep can be tough, and this can lead to feeling less than refreshed when you wake up in the morning. Falling asleep and waking up are brain processes we don’t fully understand, but research suggests these transitions are a lot more gradual than the flip of a switch.

Scientists Studying Near-Death Experiences Predict What Happens After Death

A third of people who've had a brush with death report having one.

By Neil Dagnall and Ken Drinkwater, The Conversation
Filed Under Death & Paranormal

In our never-ending quest to understand what happens to us after we die, humans have long seen the rare phenomenon of near-death experiences as providing some hints. People who’ve had a brush with death often report seeing and experiencing life-altering events on “the other side,” like a bright white light at the end of a long tunnel or being reunited with lost relatives or beloved pets. But despite the seemingly supernatural nature of these experiences, experts say that science can explain why they happen — and what’s really going on.

Body Clock Scientist Determines What Time to Exercise to Boost Alertness

"This could be helpful for people who are unwilling or unable to exercise in the morning.”

Anyone who has felt wide awake at 3 a.m. or struggled to stay awake after 7 p.m. knows that the time on the clock face has little to do with how you feel. These interruptions can take a toll on people whose work schedules don’t align with their internal rhythm. A new paper published Tuesday in the Journal of Physiology, however, suggests a well-timed work out can help realign the body’s clock.

Scientists Identify the Biological Reason Women Are Stronger Than Men

Women have one huge advantage over men. 

By Adam Moeser, The Conversation
Filed Under Biology, Diseases, Genetics & Sex

Is there anything more exciting than a battle of the sexes? In popular culture, this usually focuses on societal gender roles. But, there’s another battle of the sexes, a biological war waged by the body’s immune system. Can this conflict finally tell us who is stronger — men or women?

In the United States, most people have, or know someone who has, an immune-related condition, like allergies, migraines or autoimmune diseases. Chances are, these individuals are female. Females have much higher rates of immune disorders. One of these diseases is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a disorder that causes significant abdominal pain. IBS affects 10 to 15 percent of the US population, and is up to four times more common in women than in men.