Role-playing is a term for pretending to be someone other than yourself for many reasons during either non-sexual or sexual activity. Some people include role-play in their sexual activities for many reasons including to spice up their sex life or escape from reality and into a fantasy world for a while.

Some consider role-playing a kink (see’s Kinky Sex Topic), which means it’s unconventional or weird (or worse) to some people. There are many categories and terminology for sexual role-playing in the kink and BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Dominance, Submission, Sadism and Masochism) communities, but the basic concept is creating a fantasy scenario that has no real world implications during sexual activity … and it’s fun as long as it’s consensual.

In basic sexual role-playing, people in trusting relationships find it erotic and a form of sexual expression to pretend they are a different person, professional or personality than they are in real life. Sometimes role-playing starts with a conversation about whether their partner may be interested in participating and if so, what their boundaries are.

(Not all role-play is sexual. A role-playing video game was created to teach sexual education to youth. See’s Youth Sex Education Sub-Topic in the Sex Education Topic.)

The sourced articles below should provide more information for those curious about role-playing in any of its forms.

  1. 13 Hot Sex Games For Couples To Play Tonight

    “Role play can build intimacy in a marriage by exposing another side of your personality which builds a greater connection between partners. Sexual role play demolishes barriers by encouraging individuals to open up.”,, accessed on 7/8/2019

  2. Kinkly Explains Role Play

    “Role playing is a wonderful way for couples to explore different fantasies or fetishes. It provides a way to explore something taboo. For example, a consenting couple can pretend to be a school girl and teacher, a boundary that could not be crossed in real life. Acting it out provides couples with a safe and legal way of acting out this fantasy. Similarly, couples looking to spice up their sex life could pretend they don’t know each other and ‘meet’ in a bar for a sexy one-night stand without risk of STDs or divorce! Many couples also use costumes and props in role play to enhance the experience.”

    Kinkly,, accessed on 7/8/2019

  3. Fit To Be Tied: 7 New Role Play Ideas That Incorporate Bondage

    “And while dressing up can help set the scene, why not add a few sexy BDSM toys to your role play that are fully functional? For combing two of your kinky interests into one, try these sexy role play ideas perfect for incorporating bondage for beginners!
    [1.] The Captured Spy …
    [2.] The Roadside Police Stop …
    [3.] The Great Escape …
    [4.] The Professional Dominatrix …
    [5.] Dirty Dancing …
    [6.] Hello, Nurse! …
    [7.] The Voyeur …”

    Katy Thorn,, 5/30/2019

  4. How To Role Play In Bed Without Feeling Like A Weirdo

    “Leave Room For Error: As sex therapist Susan Block likes to remind us, ‘sex should be a comedy, not a tragedy.’ Role-playing is hot and exciting, but it can also be a little awkward, and that’s okay. Lean into the weirdness. Allow yourself to break in and out of character. Embrace the hiccups. Remember, you’re doing this to have fun. Keep the attitude light and don’t be scared mess up the script.”

    Carrie Weisman,, 2/12/2019

  5. A Beginner’s Guide To Role Play: How To Choose A Sexual Fantasy—And Actually Play It Out

    “‘Role plays can take on many forms and they may reflect values and desires that are entirely oppositional to those you pride yourself on in real life,’ Dr. Jessica O’Reilly, host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast, tells HelloGiggles. ‘Oftentimes, the most appealing roles are those that stray most significantly from our lived reality. If you manage great responsibility at work or in the home, you may derive great pleasure from indulging in a submissive role. And if you spend most of your days catering to everyone else’s needs, playing a selfish role may be the perfect escape from reality.'”

    Brianne Hogan,, 1/16/2019; (Broken link removed 9/2022)

  6. Why Is Role-Playing Hot To Some People? Experts Explain It All

    “Basically, if you’re at all curious about why role-playing is such a big turn-on for some people and not for others, it’s time to stop wondering. Here are four possible explanations. …
    [1.] Role-Play Gives You A Way To Escape From Reality, As Long As You Feel Safe. …
    [2.] Role-Play Gets You Out Of Your Comfort Zone, If You’re Into That. …
    [3.] Role-Play Can Fulfill A Variety Of Needs And Desires, Depending On The Person. …
    [4.] Role-Play Can Actually Be Really Intimate. …”

    Jamie Kravitz,, 6/21/2018

  7. Here’s How Consent And BDSM Role-Play Actually Work

    “Role play means two people had a conversation and decided: I think this sounds really hot, now how can we sensibly play this out. You need to negotiate before you start playing. When you negotiate, you talk transparently about what you like, your no-go zones and you state what (in certain circumstances) you might be okay with. We call it the yes/no/maybe list. For acts that you decide are a ‘maybe,’ you should think very deeply about what conditions would have to be in place for that ‘maybe’ to be a ‘yes.’ Get specific — there can’t be any surprises. You also distinguish between what you would give and what you would like to receive. Maybe you enjoy being spanked, but you have no interest in spanking? Then you and your partner can switch lists you can see where they match up.”

    Alexa Tsoulis-Reay,, 5/9/2018

  8. How I Have Threesomes With Just My Boyfriend

    “It may seem an impossible task but it is actually possible to have a believable threesome with just you, your partner and a realistic sex toy. I would also recommend buying a blindfold and coming up with a sexy roleplay scenario but all of that all comes down to you, although I will explain more on that during this article.”

    Omgkinky,, 4/9/2018

  9. 1 In 5 Of Your Friends Is Getting Kinky — Should You Be Too?

    “The truth is that at least some of your friends have probably tried it — and one out of five make it part of their regular play in the bedroom. According to the 2015 Sexual Exploration in America Study, more than 22 percent of sexually active adults engage in role-playing, while more than 20 percent have engaged in being tied up and spanking.”

    Sarah Aswell, Medically reviewed by Janet Brito, PhD, LCSW, CST,, 12/11/2017

  10. The Role-Playing Video Game Where Teens Navigate Sex

    “That’s where PlayForward: Elm City Stories comes in. A two-dimensional, role-playing video game, PlayForward was created Fiellin and her colleagues to help educate minority teens who are disproportionately at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. A study published last month in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, focused on the findings of Fiellin’s year-long trial, revealed how effective a video game could be on young people’s knowledge and attitudes about sex and other risk-taking behaviors.”

    Kimberly Lawson,, 11/27/2017

  11. 11 Of The Most Common Sexual Fetishes

    “You don’t have to stop playing make-believe when you grow up. Role-playing means acting out a sexual fantasy with your partner(s), either once or as part of an ongoing fantasy, Renye says. While it can be a fetish or kink within itself, it’s also a healthy way to act out other fantasies. For instance, if you have a medical fantasy, and are aroused by doctors, you probably don’t actually want your doctor to get sexy with you because that would be creepy and abusive. The beauty of role-playing is that you can have your partner dress up as a doctor and indulge your fantasy consensually in your own home.”

    Sophie Saint Thomas,, 11/1/2017

  12. Role Playing During Sex

    “Sex expert and commentator Colleen Singer puts it like this: ‘Role playing can take many forms, ranging from living out a secret fantasy, to more elaborate games with actual storylines and costumes. If you’ve been with the same person for a long time, sometimes you just need a little extra fire in the bedroom – and that is OK. One very effective way to do this is role playing.’ Dr. Dawn Michael — a clinical sexologist, relationship expert and author — adds that in its most authentic form, role playing is simply ‘taking on a character other than yourself and acting it out, playing a role.'”

    Lindsay Tigar,, 6/3/2017

  13. How To Introduce Role Play And Fantasy Into Your Relationship

    “First and foremost: role-play and fantasy do not have to include elaborate costumes, props and rehearsed scenarios. Forget shopping online for hours to find the perfect replica of an 18th-century Victorian maid’s outfit with elaborate silk ruffles and free yourself from the shackles of whips and chains (although, by all means, use them later if you want). The definition of fantasy is simply anything that intensifies the sexual experience. The weather, the time of day, the location or the pacing are some simple elements that may enhance the sexual experience between you and your partner. So let go of any expectations about elaborate role-play that may intimidate you or stymie you from beginning.”

    Esther Perel,, 4/28/2017

  14. I’m A Happy Woman, So Why Do I Fantasise About Sex Abuse?

    “One of the most intimate expressions of sexuality is role playing with someone we trust and desire. It’s not a game that’s open to strangers – except in our imaginations. This is tricky terrain and it’s only with those we feel closest to that we can even admit to such instincts. Whether fantasising about perpetrating sex crimes or imagining being the victim, it doesn’t mean we’re asking for it to happen.”

    Mariella Frostrup,, 3/5/2017

  15. Role Play Can Be Super Awkward. Here’s How To Get Past That.

    “There are so many questions! How do I even bring up a fantasy? What do I buy? What if my partner judges me for wanting to be the cheese to his mouse or the princess trapped in a tower? Trust me, anyone who is into role play started out as a beginner. Look no further, role-play neophyte! We’ve got your ultimate guide for newbies right here. …
    [1.] You have to talk about it …
    [2.] Role play doesn’t require expensive props …
    [3.] Don’t let potential awkwardness trip you up …
    [4.] It’s OK if your fantasy is totally weird …
    [5.]Have a safe word …
    [6.] Have a plan in place for aftercare …”

    Gigi Engle,, 10/31/2016

  16. Your Sexual Fantasies Decoded

    “In essence, sexual fantasies are no different from any other kind of make-believe: they’re fun to think about, but not worth taking seriously. ‘Just like your sexuality, your fantasies have little bearing on your personality,’ says Berry [sexual wellbeing expert Sarah Berry]. ‘If anything, the fact that they’re so alien from your real, external self might be what makes them so exciting in the first place.’”

    Marie Claire,, 3/21/2016

  17. 4 Common Sexual Fantasies, And How To Safely Explore Them

    “Domination/Submissive Role Play: Exploring power dynamics with domination and submissive role play can awaken a whole new dimension of your sexuality. ‘I encourage exploration of BDSM [bondage, dominance and submission, sadomasochism] for couples,’ says Cadell. ‘People are eager to discover new roles for themselves and exchange power in sexy and safe way.'”

    Claire Hannum,, 3/19/2016