The definition of role-playing, courtesy of Urban Dictionary: A bedroom practice in which partners dress up and pretend to be someone else for sexual satisfaction.
Why do people role-play? Sometimes, sex itself is very intimidating if you are not 100 percent comfortable with your sexual partner—so wouldn’t adding costumes and characters into the mix just make it that much more “scary?”
Role-playing may be something private that sexual partners do in the bedroom together, but based on the various role-playing lists on Buzzfeed, like “25 sexy role play confessions that will either scare you…or give you some ideas,” it seems like it is something people are willing to talk about.
Some of the scenarios on the list include schoolgirl fantasies (how cliché), a coach/athlete role-play, physical examination role-play and a “Mad Men” role-play…just to name a few.
Cosmopolitan also published its own list online, titled “Role play ideas you’ve never tried before.” On this list, they talk about reading out loud a passage from a book where the characters engage in sex, such as any passage from “50 Shades of Grey,” and then replaying it in your own way.
Suggesting sexual role-play to your sexual partner does not mean that you are not happy with your current sex life, it just means spicing things up a bit.
“Couples role-play for a variety of reasons. On a basic level, role-playing allows couples to introduce a level of novelty into their sexual relationships,” Nicholas Eaton, Ph.D. and assistant professor at Stony Brook said. “If couples are sexually monogamous, they may find that role-playing allows them to experience some degree of sexual exploration—although they are with the same partner, the roles played may provide new experiences and identities,” he added.
Eaton also said that his lab recently completed data collection on sexual behaviors of about 1,000 people. The participants of this study answered the question on how sexually appealing they find role playing on a seven-point scale.
According to Eaton, the data showed that 78 percent of women and 81 percent of men rated sexual role-playing as “somewhat appealing.” 24 percent of women and 26 percent of men rated the sexual role-playing to be the highest level on the scale, which was “very appealing.”
“Many individuals in their lives will experiment with role-playing, and some will make it a regular part of their sexual lives. Our data suggest that this follows from a notably high level of attraction to role-playing in women and in men, with around one person in four reporting that role-playing is at the maximum level of sexual appeal,” Eaton said.
Sexual role-playing can also be useful to couples who are perhaps having difficulties sexually.
“There will be times where I will suggest sexual role-play as one of the things that they [patients] can do to jumpstart their sexual relationship,” Peter Kanaris, Ph.D. and sex therapist said.
However, Kanaris added that it is important not to just throw suggestions to couples, such as role-playing. You need to know the person and know what they will be comfortable with.
“There are some people that are very into role-playing sexually and it sort of is something that their sexuality is strongly connected to. And there are other people that are just a little more carefree and would like to experiment with something different,” he said.
Many people experiment with role-playing as a way to explore further intimacies, but he mentioned that there is that population of people whose sexual script is very narrowly based on a specific role-play.
“So in order to be sexual they will almost need it,” he said.
“There are some folks that are fairly inhibited that almost, like, need permission to do something different and to try something out,” he said when he talked about how sexual role-playing can free people like that up.
Role-playing can be a very “freeing” experience; it is sometimes healthy to indulge in your own fantasies.
“I think role-play is great. It gives an opportunity for people to experience fantasies that they otherwise could not,” Tristan Tyrell, a senior geology major and TNG treasurer, said.
So what is the best way to go about approaching role-playing?
“I honestly would ask my partner flat out. I’m not good with subtlety, and if my partner(s) find that weird, well they probably going to find a lot of things I like weird, so it for the better,” Tyrell said.
Richie Moylan, a first year graduate student studying social work, feels the same way.
“The most important thing is to be on the same page, especially in terms of expectations. Part of the reason role-playing can be such a healthy experience is that it fosters better communication between partners,” he said.
That is the best way for any couple to go about it. You cannot expect your partner to just know what you want. If you want to know if your partner is into role-playing—whether it be with cop/culprit, teacher/student or maybe even Spiderman/Mary Jane—the key to successful role-playing is to be upfront and honest. It could be a little awkward to get into it, but once you start, you may not want to stop.
Moylan also said that as long as both parties are comfortable, he does not think that there is a limit on “weirdness.” Everybody is into something.
For him, anything involving a teacher/student scenario is too weird for his liking.
“Absolute strangest I’ve heard of is father-daughter role-play,” he said.
Everybody has fantasies, even if they do not admit it. Indulging in your fantasies can be a healthy and quite normal thing. When a couple gets to the point in their relationship when they are comfortable enough to discuss sexual fantasies, then maybe that is when they are ready to put them into action. Of course, everyone is different.
Moylan also talked about how role-playing can enhance intimacy in dominant/submissive relationships.
“It allows partners to be more open about their desires, and express them in a safe, controlled environment,” he said.
So, if you are curious about role-playing, then why not give it a try? It does not mean that your current sex life is no good or that you are bored with your partner—it just gives you the opportunity to spice things up and have a little bit of fun. So go ahead, open that door to the kinky thoughts that you usually tuck away. Your partner may love it.