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There’s a reason sexual fantasies are called fantasies: They rarely live up to the erotic scenarios we imagine in our heads. That’s according to a new survey by sex toy company Lelo: 80 percent of women revealed that acting out their fantasies didn’t live up to their expectations. So much for turning your guy into Christian Grey, right? “In a fantasy, you control every little thing,” says Marianne Brandon, Ph.D., author of Monogamy: The Untold Story. “Nothing unappealing happens.” The unfortunate reality: The dirty talk doesn’t go as planned, you both feel a little awkward, or the role-playing totally flops (turns out, you’re not destined to be a naughty secretary).

But that doesn’t mean you have to keep your hot thoughts to yourself. You just have to learn how to clue your guy into exactly what you want—then go with the flow, even if he strays from your script every now and then.

Figure Out What You Want

Your partner can’t fulfill your fantasies if you’re unable to pinpoint exactly what arouses you. So do a little exploring: Search for free Internet erotica written by women, and identify components of other females’ erotic musings that excite you, suggests Brandon. “Women are very picky about their fantasies,” she says. “You might read 10 fantasies, and there might just be one piece of one that turns you on.” That’s okay—you’re just looking for inspiration. Once you’ve found an enticing idea, build your ideal scenario, one moment at a time. “What kind of evening is appealing to you? Where might you be?” says Brandon. “If you break it down piece by piece, then it’s actually not that hard to put a whole fantasy together.”

Check for Trust

Before your spill your deepest sexual secrets, determine whether your partner is the right guy to do it with. “You want to share with a trustworthy partner, because it can make you feel vulnerable—you could wind up feeling overexposed and embarrassed.” A good way to gauge whether it’s safe to divulge: Would your relationship survive if he responded negatively? If not, you may want to keep your mouth shut for now, says Brandon.

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Don’t Apologize

The words, “So this is kind of weird” or “Don’t freak out” should never make it out of your mouth. Why? That just primes your partner to agree that your fantasy is a little too freaky, says Brandon. Share your erotic ideas with confidence, and your guy will be way more likely to jump on board.

Fill Your Partner In

Luckily for you, men are often quite turned on when a woman speaks about fantasies, says Brandon. But if you’re not ready to plunge straight into sharing, try what Violet Blue, author of The Ultimate Guide to Sexual Fantasy: How to Turn Your Fantasies into Reality, calls the third-party technique. “Find an example of your fantasy in a film, book, TV show, or news item, and let it introduce the topic for you,” she says. Your line: “Wow, that’s interesting. What do you think of that?” Initiating a low-pressure sexual conversation about the act of interest will make sharing your fantasy feel less like a “random perverted confession,” says Blue.

Be as Detailed as Possible

When you say threesome, you might think, “Two hot guys, ravishing me.” But your boyfriend might hear, “Score—she wants to bring another woman into bed!” That’s why it’s critical to share every part of your fantasy, in as much detail as you can. “If there are two or three elements that are pivotal, you want to make sure your partner understands that,” says Brandon.

Even then, your boyfriend might not execute it perfectly; in that case, it’s okay to act out the ideal scenario in your head while you’re going at it with your guy.  “Women often feel like they’re cheating if they fantasize about a sex act during sex,” says Blue. “But fantasizing about what you’re doing in the moment only enhances things—it can allow you to lose yourself and stop worrying about it being perfect.”

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