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Perhaps a hallmark feature of childhood is role playing – whether this is dressing up as our favorite superhero, pretending we’re a star athlete, musician or the like, or simply mimicking the roles we see adults playing throughout our life. And while we naturally leave much of this behind as we get older, role playing might still have many benefits for us even as adults. 

We generally don’t give it a second thought when a little kid says he’s Superman. We understand he’s simply attempting to embrace the admirable qualities reflected in the Man of Steel. 

And even most kids get this. They’re not confused between play and reality – between pretending to be Superman versus actually believing he’s Superman. 

Role playing simply provides a chance to learn how to embody certain character traits reflected through role models. And in this way, it’s helpful for us even as adults – learning to integrate the deep values and wisdom from the characters we emulate. 

But it seems there are few opportunities for this outside of the theater and the sexual dance, which might be why sexual role playing becomes so significant for many. And while it’s tempting to throw the baby out with the bathwater here, the spirit of role playing seems to hold. 

Maybe the sexual characters we want to play have more to do with our desires to be seen and powerful, adventurous and free, creative and generous, chosen, included, admired, and the like. And these might not even be sexual desires at their core. Our sexual dance is simply the stage in which we try on these different roles and expressions.

Whatever it looks like, role playing allows us to practice embodying the various ideas, values, and traits we admire. And much beyond mere child’s play, this still serves us well on our path of growth as adults. 

In the end, embrace the spirit of play and let role playing teach you how to integrate admirable qualities throughout your life and relationships.

Photo by TK on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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