I think we've all seen those American sitcoms where the couple decide to spice up their love life so the woman dresses up in her old cheerleader outfit, or the guy dons a fireman uniform, and then there's usually some sort of crazy hijinks and mix-ups where he ends up outside on the lawn in nothing but a fireman's hat with the neighbours watering their lawn and awkward hilarity ensues... To many people this is the sort of thing that they think of when the words “role play” are used in a sexual context, and it kind of turns them off a bit, or at least makes them uninterested in perusing further. But here's the thing, role play isn't just cheerleaders and firemen. It's pretty much anything you want it to be. It doesn't have to involve costumes or elaborate set ups or scripts. In the most basic of explanations role play is simply creating a sexual experience that steps out of your regular routine and utilises imagination and fantasy.
Fantasies. We all have them. Some are more wild than others, but everyone has that little secret place in their mind they go to for extra sexy thoughts. Sharing these thoughts and desires with other people can be tricky for a lot of people though, and often we can feel embarrassed or ashamed by the secrets in our head. This has more to do with societal conditioning on how we think about sex than you actually being any kind of freak, but that doesn't make it any easier for a lot of people. Playing a role or a character can be a really great way to fulfil those desires without having to fully commit them to your everyday life. I'm not saying that lying to yourself is a good thing, or even that this IS lying to yourself, I just mean it can be a way to compartmentalise certain parts of ourselves to be brought out for special occasions and popped away again for later.
Occasional BDSM play and other types of kinky sex is a really good example of what I mean. In those situations you become the Dominant or submissive player. You take on the role of control, or you take on the role of one who has given it up. You can get rough and sweaty. You can scratch and bruise and call each other names. He can dress in your frilly knickers or she can be dressed up like a pony. It's all just a fantasy role play, and once it's over you go back to your lives of paying bills and taking the kids to school and it sits in the box til you decide to bring it out again.
Costumes and Characters
Probably the most common fantasy costume I've ever come across in the past twenty years (and will probably continue to be for at least the next twenty) is the Princess Leia in the gold bikini costume. Almost every hot-blooded hetero male I know finds that entire scene captivating and arousing. The gorgeousness of Carrie Fisher, the sexiness of the outfit, the powerful warrior princess in chains at their command... Oh yeah. That's the shit right there. Having their partners take on the role of Princess Leia is the ultimate in childhood fantasy becoming an adult reality and can be deliciously exciting to play out.
Sexy cops arresting you for some violation, a hot doctor checking your temperature and giving you a full body examination, getting called to the principal’s office, inviting the sexy tradie in for a cool drink, these are all common fantasies we have that are great little games and roles we can play with our partners to satisfy our desires and indulge in our fantasies while in the comfort of our own homes and security of our own relationships.
For some just the visual of seeing their partner dressed as the sexy cop or nurse or fireman etc is all they need for their fantasies to be fulfilled, and for others a more elaborate set up is the key. They may have a script or scene they want to follow, they don't just want you to look like a cop, they want you to speak and act like one too. Handcuffs and firmness and “come with me, Sir/Madam”.
The more you play around with these games and roles the more comfortable you become in them, and the more detailed and stylised the games become. It gives you a sense of freedom and exploration and, the more you share and communicate with your partner, the closer and more comfortable you become, in every aspect of your lives, not just sex.
Same but Different
One of the sexiest games I've played with partners, and one that I know a few friends indulge in too is the game you play where you and your partner go out to a bar but pretend you don't know each other and pick each other up. It can be super sexy flirting and giggling with someone you've known for years but are pretending you don't know. You can be yourself, or become a whole new person, and invent a crazy life for yourself for just one night. Even better is if you can stay in a hotel overnight so the whole experience is one of a different world to the one you know.
I used to know a couple who had a thing about make-up sex. They loved that fire and passion they'd get after an argument so sometimes they would create these ridiculously loud and elaborate arguments, maybe even break a glass or two, get themselves as riled up as possible, and then spend the next day or so in bed ravishing each other.
Trust in the Silliness
Whatever the fantasy, whatever the game, one of the best things about being in a close sexual relationship is the trust and honesty to express yourself within it. Understanding our partner's desires and needs is the perfect way to show how much you're into them, and it's a fantastic way to learn more about ourselves. Indulging someone in their fantasy often has a way of becoming part of our fantasies too. You may never have even seen Star Wars (seriously, who hasn't seen Star Wars*), but seeing how excited and turned on your partner gets when you don that gold bikini might just transfer to you getting a delicious tingle every time you see it in the cupboard.
The main key is to have fun with it. Explore all the aspects of it, and don't be afraid to improvise and make it all up as you go. It's supposed to be enjoyable and sexy so if at any time you feel uncomfortable or that it isn't going the way you want, it is okay to stop play, review and reassess. All of these things take time to work out properly, and you may even feel a bit silly sometimes... But considering how silly sex is anyway, I say embrace it, laugh with it, and try not to end up naked on the front lawn in nothing but a fireman's hat.
* Yes I know it's Return of the Jedi. Let's not get pedantic now.