Siri, what is the purpose of fantasy?



How on earth did a gal get any of her existential questions answered before Siri and Google?  Not only are there a million answers out there for every question I could possibly ask, but Google knows me so well he actually finishes my search sentences for me!

I got to thinking, and searching, about the purpose of fantasy this past weekend.  During my (less than) extensive searches on the interwebs, I read in the online mag Psychologies  a survey from the University of Minnesota found that 80% of people would rather tell you about an embarrassing situation in their life than to reveal their fantasy or daydream.

I must be in the other 20% because I am about to tell you about what I was fantasizing this past weekend.

Ugh.  Here we go.

At one point over the past weekend we actually had the boy out of the house on a play date, and the baby down for a two and a half hour nap.  I got to sit in front of the TV and drool for a bit.  As a working mom, this two and a half hours of tele-time could have been my fantasy in and of itself, but I actually got to watch two of my favorite episodes from one of my all time favorite shows, House, MD.  

Back when House was on prime time, I was a huge fan of the medical drama (and of Hugh Laurie. . .  omg, those blue eyes. . .  ).  I loved the mysterious cases that would present themselves at Princeton Plansboro Hospital, and how the misanthropic Dr. Gregory House would methodically solve each and every one.  It is no exaggeration to say I have seen each episode at least three times, because I will also watch House in syndication like there is no tomorrow, as evidenced by my little binge this past weekend.

Something about the bad-boy Dr. House just makes me feel weird and warm and squishy.  Yes, he is damaged.  He is a drug addict who lacks empathy, a total narcissist who cares only about his own pleasure and the obsession of solving the puzzle before him.  He is willing to stomp on the liberties of anyone who stands in his way.

It got me thinking about how I’ve always been obsessed with guys who range from being aloof and unattainable to straight up bad boys:  Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre, Sawyer from Lost, Steve Martin in the Jerk, rugged mountaineer David Breashears, that married man I dated in college. . .  but I digress.  Like any “good girl” who is infatuated with a “bad boy,” I can’t help but think, if only I could “fix” him.  For me the allure of being involved with a bad boy has to do with feeling power I would have to captivate and change him.  In reality this never happens; people don’t change unless they are heartily motivated, hence all of this being a fantasy.

It just so happens I married a man who is possibly the nicest person on the planet.  He is kind to all sentient beings to the point of being unwilling to kill an ant on our kitchen counter.  He is a loving, involved parent and partner who splits all chores with me 50/50.  He happens to be very handsome, with amazing amber eyes.

He also puts up with me, which is no small feat on some most days.

So, despite my fantasies of the surly and detached genius who was born with a heart three sizes too small, everything worked out okay for me in the relationship department.

The few hours I spent over the weekend in a hazy House reverie got me to thinking about why we fantasize, and if I am cheating on my quest towards mindfulness when I do partake in the occasional daydream about those icy, blue eyes (have I mentioned the eyes?!)

Siri couldn’t answer my question, but she did search the web for me.  I browsed Wikipedia and got some answers from Freud and Lacan, which once upon a time when I was studying psychoanalytic criticism in college I could have made sense of.  These days, my mommy-brain resonates more with some of the answers I got from other blogs and from articles in the New Yorker online.  The answers I found ranged from fantasy being a helpful tool for problem solving, to an escape from boredom, to a symptom of narcissism.

The general consensus seems to be that daydreaming or fantasy is a normal and common event.  Anecdotally, I can tell you that most women of my age and station have what is called a “mommy-crush”.  I knew one woman (not me, I swear!) who even fantasized about the children’s singer Raffi (okay, maybe it was me).  So, I asked Siri to do a little digging for me on “mommy-crushes.”

An article in says mother’s of young children are particularly “vulnerable” to crushing.  Dr. Barry McCarthy says, “they’re overworked, perhaps not getting as much attention from their busy spouses as they’d like, and probably not feeling particularly sexy.  When you have a crush on somebody, it suddenly validates that you’re still a passionate, desirable woman– not just someone’s mom.”  Bingo!

This article helped me bring my daydreaming back around to mindfulness, being more aware of how I am feeling about myself, and how my insecurities or stress may make me detach from reality for a bit.

All in all, I think the moments I spent crushing on the good (bad) doctor this past weekend were harmless, and pleasantly-well-spent, since now I know a little more about fantasy and daydreaming.

And now, back to reality.

What purpose does fantasy serve for you?  Do you think it helps you in any way?  Do you have any mommy (or daddy) crushes?  If so, who are they and why do you think you crush on them?  



6 responses »

  1. Okay, I have a few things to say… I’m opting for a list (I love lists!)…
    1. I’m in my late twenties and my fantasies always include Jon Stewart. It’s really the strangest thing, but I cannot get enough of that man.
    2. I love talking about my fantasies… I think I prefer it to “everyday chat.”
    3. I think fantasies are 100% okay… because realistically how can we define what is a fantasy and what is not? I would like to sell my art someday and live off that… is that a fantasy? Who can say? One of my favorite Buddhist teachers (Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche– oh and actually, he IS my favorite) once said something a long the lines that humans seem to ALWAYS be using their imaginations, everything is really just a product of our mind– so everything must be fantasy (of course until we reach a certain point, but I don’t know if its worth getting into that right now).

    Thanks for your post! Made me smile– much love!

    • Girl, you are delightful!! And btw, that article I read in listed John Stewart as the number two mommy crush!! Just sayin’. Of course I’m more of a Stephen Colbert lady myself. . . I’m glad to have made you smile! Thank you so much for reading and commenting, and taking the plunge in talking about your fantasies and also sharing some deep thoughts. How fun! You know, in my “research” I didn’t actually come across any Eastern philosophies on fantasy/imagination, so I really appreciate your teacher’s sentiment on the matter. Kind of Jungian? Have a great day Bender my love!

  2. Right now all of my fantasies involve Hilton hotels by myself with fluffy white down comfortors. Or running away to India. I don’t, and haven’t, really ever had any celebrity crush/fantasies. I think the closest is Ellen, but mostly I want to BE her, and not be with her. So that’s weird. But seriously, if I could match the wit and the compassion, this world would be a better place…

  3. Pingback: Fell Down A Fanfiction Rabbit Hole. . . and shit got real (Or, Crap, I’m Fangirling at 40) | momaste

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