Five realities
Chris X
English (United Kingdom)
5 five realities fantasy intervention tools

This recovery tool was submitted by a member as part of a set of tools which may or may not be helpful for everyone.

This tool has helped me deal with persistent sexual fantasies. Like any tool it may not be helpful for everyone.

In sexual fantasy I am often lying to myself about what I want, what I need, and how to get it. The fantasy is not only toxic because it acts as a plan for me to act it out, but because it reinforces lies about myself and my true values. This tools is supposed to help me move away from that toxic world and get in touch with the reality of my true needs and values.

I ask myself the following questions at different times, depending on the situation and my emotional state:

  1. Do I REALLY want to act out the fantasy?
  2. What REALLY happens in the fantasy?
  3. What would REALLY be the result?
  4. What REAL needs does the fantasy cloak?
  5. How could I REALLY meet those needs?

Do I REALLY want to act out the fantasy?

The ideal time to ask the first question is before I really get into a harmful fantasy. Sadly, I have often needed to ask it immediately afterwards. When I have truly admitted that my sexual addiction has made my life unmanageable, the only honest answer to this question is NO, I do not REALLY want to act out the fantasy - no matter how strong the addictive urge to do so.

What REALLY happens in the fantasy?

I answer the second question in objective, clinical language. The idea is to move away from the wishful thinking, blurred boundaries and seductive language of fantasy, and get me back in touch with the reality of what the behaviour would actually involve. These are usually two very different things. The fantasy might fool me into thinking the behaviour would be loving. The clinical language is more likely to reveal how abusive it is. The rose-tinted spectacles of fantasy makes everything turn out all right. Objective language helps uncover this illusion.

What would REALLY be the result?

The third question reinforces the process started in the previous question. It requires a little more imagination. In my addiction the ability to think ahead to predictable consequences has been dulled. This is an opportunity to exercise that ability, before it is too late (again).

What REAL needs does the fantasy cloak?

Often I delay asking myself this question until I feel in a safe place emotionally. I have noticed that I nearly always indulge in fantasy when I have a real need which feels unmet, but the feeling of that unmet need is so strong I cannot bear to admit it, so I fantasise a different need, and meet it in fantasy. When I feel secure enough - perhaps with a recovery partner - I try to discover what that real need is. Often it echoes unmet needs from the distant past. Often it is something very basic. Although many of my sexual fantasies are long-standing habits, I have noticed over and again that they reflect the real need they are trying to mask, like a blanket. For example, if I feel powerless in a real life situation, I may fantasise about power - one way or the other. If a relationship seems difficult, I might fantasise about a simpler one - or cutting out intimacy altogether.

How could I REALLY meet those needs?

This is the real payload. When I have answered the previous question honestly and deeply, I discover a constructive alternative to harmful fantasy. Surprisingly often, my real needs can be met much more easily than my fearful addictive self realises, once I have brought them into the light of day. Even more surprisingly, I realise that the real need is ALREADY being met, I just have to be patient. Expressing gratitude helps me get in touch with this reality. Even when the real need cannot easily be met, there is always something I can do more constructive than push it away with addictive fantasy.

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