You spot someone out in the street of the park and by chance, see them again later. They look amazing. You hope they might smile at you, and without you even quite realizing, one side of your mind races ahead with extreme scenarios that have absolutely no place in a sensible, respectable life. It can be worrying. Are you, or even worse, are you increasingly becoming something of a sleazebag? The possibility is appalling in an era deeply alive to the dangers of unreciprocated desire, and yet, the very fact we have this worry is a good sign. To be concerned that one’s desires might horrify another person is a signal of a basic moral sense. Exploitative people don’t ever agonize they might be such a thing. An erotic fantasy isn’t a prelude to forcing one’s unsolicited attention on another person; it’s a mature admission that nothing is ever going to happen. Erotic thoughts belong to a larger family of daydreams; that is, wishes that one’s life were richer in possibilities than it actually is. The inventor of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, made an instructive observation about babies and daydreams. Imagine a baby who wakes up in the middle of the night. It’s dark and the mother isn’t there, and it starts crying. It’s going to take a few minutes before the mother can come along and see what’s the matter. In those few minutes, the baby is alone with its distress. To an adult, it might not seem such a long time, but to an infant, the delay could be devastating. In a healthy scenario, the baby pulls off a remarkable feat: it’s able to imagine the mother being there, even when she isn’t. The baby fantasizes that it’s not alone, that things are better than they are, and that can be enough to hold things together for a while. Fantasy comes to the rescue when there aren’t any better options about. Daydreaming is a safety net that stops us going crazy from a sense of missing out. Rather than worrying only about the risks of daydreams, we should be concerned about what happens when people can’t have them. It’s the inability to fantasize that may lead people to act out, rather than dream their wishes. Fantasy is a critical safety valve. It’s a frank admission of the goodness and appeal of so much one hasn’t got. And perhaps, we can get more ambitious about daydreams. We call them “sleazy” to draw attention to their unwanted, erotic component. But the act of wondering about someone else can potentially extend far beyond the body to broader daydreams about personality, character, and ultimately, a love of a whole being. When we fear we are “sleazebags”– as we must, if we’re decent people– we should honor our daydreams for what they really are: melancholy, slightly pitiful, highly normal, and yet clever ways of coping.