When I think of role plays, I think of two things. First, I think about a professional development exercise used at work to learn through scenarios you may encounter, practicing skills to make you more effective at your job. Secondly, I think about something people do in the bedroom, often involving cheesy costumes. We can gather two things from my thoughts:
- I clearly worked in a corporate setting with a focus on development, and
- I have limited knowledge on the real deal on role plays and how great they can be in a relationship!
So, in order to challenge my mindset and establish new thoughts when I think of role playing, I dove into what it is, why it’s good for partners, and how to do it.
WHAT IS ROLE PLAYING, IF NOT A WORK EXERCISE?
The way Google defines it is “the acting out of the part of a particular person or character, for example as a technique in training or psychotherapy.” That’s only partially helpful of our context of role playing in the bedroom. When you think of it that way, Dr. Dawn Michael, a clinical sexologist, relationship expert and author, defines it in its most authentic form as “taking on a character other than yourself and acting it out, playing a role.” That can take on many different forms. It may mean acting out one’s fantasies, wearing a costume or even just using an accent!
The point with role playing is that when you engage in it, you and your partner are challenging each other to open yourselves up to “try on” a different character. Which leads to the next important question.
WHY THE HELL SHOULD I PRETEND TO BE SOMEONE I’M NOT?
When it comes to relationships, especially long-term relationships, it can be easy to fall into a rut when sleeping with the same person. You can get comfortable, have routine sex that is always the same, and lose some of that I-have-to-have-you-now chemistry. This often happens when real “adulthood” makes its way into your life – including cohabitation, full-time jobs, and even kids for some couples. So, one option to spice things up in the bedroom and continue to explore boundaries is the idea of role playing. There are quite a few benefits if you choose to engage in this kind of game!
- When attraction fades, role playing is a way to turn it back on. Role playing allows you to reconnect and recharge sexual energy in your relationship – in a fun way! It can be a part of adding an adventurous, fulfilling component to your relationship. Role plays help you regain sexual desire as well. When things are different, and/or your partner take on a different role, it can turn you on to them in a way that you haven’t felt in a long period of time. It introduces new and exciting things to keep the sexual part of the relationship interesting, and successful.
- Role playing can deepen the relationship. The thing I love about the hard or awkward parts about relationships is that they almost always bring you closer. The same is said of role playing! Trust is built when a couple decides to engage in role playing because they are agreeing to established boundaries. There is a mutual understanding that they are exploring whatever intimate fantasies they choose and consent together. If a relationship does not have trust, it will be difficult to role play successfully. When there is safety, comfort, and non-judgment from your partner then partners can go all in, uninhibited, and allow the experience to strengthen their bond.
- Role playing increases confidence, inside and outside the bedroom. I love this benefit! Let’s say for example you role play a powerful executive and your partner takes on the role of an intern. You adopt that power and confidence in your role behind closed doors. But you also can carry that with you outside the bedroom! As another example, you may not walk around telling people that last night you were a nurse rescuing a very sick patient with your specialized “services,” but you can carry that confidence boost with you for sure.
- Role playing reduces inhibitions. Role playing is all about fantasy. Most people have fantasized about specific things, but they’ve never told anyone about them. Maybe your partner has been interested in a new position but is afraid to try it. The ability to role play as someone else in the bedroom can make things like that possible – whether it’s trying a new position or acting out a completely different identity. And after you’ve tried the position or tried on the role and realize how possible (and fun!) it is, you can add those things and more to the sexual menu you and your partner share!
HOW THE HELL DO I DO THIS WITHOUT BEING AWKARD?
I can’t really tell you how not to be awkward. We each need to try things for ourselves to see what feels good and what feels like you cannot do without cracking up or quitting mid-role play. Don’t knock something until you try it! Here is the best way to summarize how to get started if you want to add a little role playing into your current romance:
- Decide what you want to role play
o See examples below! Choose something that’s always intrigued you or you’ve always thought about in a sexy way.
- Establish limits/boundaries
o Decide what the rules are. What are the limits of what’s comfortable for you both?
- Set the scene
o Tune into the mood of it all! Should you wear something specific or do something to the bedroom to add to the theme of the role play? And from a mental standpoint, get into your role! Channel your inner actor and be ready to win an award for playing the role you’ve chosen.
- Have fun!
o The point of role playing is to get turned on and turn on your partner. Don’t overthink it! Enjoy the moment, release your inhibitions and feel SEXY. We used to play pretend as kids all the time – no need to turn it off as an adult! And if you bust out laughing, don’t sweat it. Roll with it and move on!
OKAY I WANT TO TRY IT. WHAT ROLES CAN MY PARTNER AND I PLAY?
The sky is the limit with the roles you can play! Talking with your partner about some of your personal fantasies is a great place to start. But if you want to have some thoughts going into that conversation, here’s a little list of tried and true role plays that have been done by others!
- Fifty Shades of Grey
- Acting as strangers
- Maid or butler/client
For more specific scenarios, check out this list of 50 ideas to try or do a Google search to find others.
After discovering all this new information about role playing, I am stoked to add this to the little “trunk of toys and tools” for me and my boo to keep our relationship hot and ever growing. Who knows who I’ll be in the bedroom next…I will give Darling D the night off and become someone else instead!