What Do Your Sex Dreams Mean?
There you are — under the covers, disrobed, fooling around with some sexy mystery hunk. Suddenly, you catch a glimpse of his face and … it’s your old third-grade math teacher?
That’s when you wake up.
Yep, you were having a sex dream, and that doesn’t mean you’re weird or have a raging sex drive. On the contrary, research shows that most Americans dream about sex often: About 8 percent of nighttime reveries involve some sort of sexual activity, according to a University of Montreal study, with women getting it on in dreamland just as frequently as men. Sexual intercourse was the most common type of sexual dream content in the study, followed by sexual propositions, kissing, fantasies, and masturbation.
While sex dreams — indeed, dreams in general — are fascinating, science has yet to discover their significance. What does seem to be true is that dreams need not be taken literally. Just because in your dream the other person involved is your boss, your best friend, a young Idris Elba — or even all three at the same time — doesn’t necessarily mean you want that to happen in reality.
“All dreams, even sex dreams, can be easily connected to things going on in your life,” says Ian Wallace, the author of The Top 100 Dreams: The Dreams That We All Have and What They Really Mean. “And every character in your dream represents a small snippet of your own personality.”
Wallace explains it like this: When someone pops up in your sex dream, it doesn’t necessarily imply you want to be intimate with this person. Instead, he or she probably possesses some admirable personality trait (such as leadership skills, kindness, or a flair for fashion) that you recognize in yourself but haven’t yet fully developed. “Showing off your talents and traits requires that you open up and become vulnerable and exposed,” says Wallace — just as you do during sex (which is why your snoozing psyche converts it to this extremely intimate act).
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The psychologist Gillian Holloway, PhD, author of 5 Steps to Decode Your Dreams: A Fast, Effective Way to Discover the Meaning of Your Dreams, agrees. On her dream interpretation website, she explains that while some sex dreams may simply be “wish fulfillment” (you probably won’t be able to score with this person in real life, so you resort to your dreams), sex dreams are usually more complex, reflecting your personal desires and fears.
Here dream experts offer additional insights into what some common sex dreams may mean.
What It Means When Your Sex Dream Stars… Your boss Workplace romps may be the most universal sex dream, according to Wallace. But if you and your boss are getting it on in the Land of Nod, does that mean you should cut back on those one-on-one meetings in real time? Probably not. “Sure, you may be sexually attracted to your boss,” says Wallace. “But if you’re having sex with him or her in a dream, your subconscious is probably becoming aware of your own ability to make decisions and act as a leader.” So once you shake that post-sex-dream awkwardness, perhaps you should schedule a date with your boss … to discuss your future with the company.
Your friend Not again! You’ve been enjoying a completely platonic relationship with someone you’ve known forever or whom you’ve just met or — and suddenly that man or woman has a leading role in your sex dream. What’s going on? You can chalk this up to your pal having a quality that you admire or see in yourself. Explains Wallace: “People often tell me, ‘I have a friend. He’s ugly; he kind of smells — but I keep dreaming about sex with him. Am I mad?” Quit the worrying. He probably has some talent (his karaoke skills?) that your subconscious is working to develop.
Your crush It seems like a no-brainer that the person you’re infatuated with will star in your sex dream — but why you’re fantasizing about him or her in your sleep isn’t as obvious. “It’s easy to assume this means you want to have sex with that person,” says Wallace. “But you’re actually being drawn to one of his emotional or spiritual qualities.” (And you thought you had a dirty mind!)
A celebrity After bosses, celebrities are the most common headliners in our sex dreams, says Wallace. And the University of Montreal study found that women were twice as likely as men to have nighttime fantasies about sleeping with a famous person. What’s going on? Even though a romp in the hay with Selena Gomez or Bradley Cooper may sound like a dream come true, it’s likely your psyche is simply recognizing a talent you have in common with the star.
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Your ex You thought you were finally over the person who broke your heart, and suddenly your ex is back in your dreams — naked. Why must our minds torture us so? According to Wallace, if you’re dreaming about an ex-lover, it could mean that you’re unknowingly repeating bad habits from your failed relationship. Consider this type of sex dream a red flag.
Your partner cheating If your beloved “strayed” while you were snoozing, don’t be too quick to worry that it may be going on in real life. This sex nightmare probably has a lot more to do with your own insecurities. “When you dream that your partner is having an affair, it may mean that you’re losing faith in your own abilities or attractiveness,” says Wallace. Perhaps all you need is a confidence boost, and it’ll be you — not an unwanted interloper — starring in your sex dream.
A stranger “When people have sex dreams about strangers, the unknown person is often wearing a mask or has no face,” says Wallace. Who is this mysterious intruder? It’s very likely your subconscious telling you to unmask a talent you’ve been hiding. And according Holloway’s dream interpretation website, it may also mean you’re homing in on qualities you want in a partner — one you already have or one you’re still seeking.
A family member Eek! Having a sex dream about your sibling or parent sounds icky, creepy, and just plain wrong — but Wallace insists it’s completely normal. And once again, it all boils down to your kin’s character. If your brother, sister, or great uncle has some trait that you admire or recognize in yourself, watch out: You may just end up in bed with them … in your dreams, of course.
Bottom line? There’s no need to take that X-rated head trip too literally or start fretting about problems in your real-world sex life. Consider your sex dream simply as a wake-up call to get to know yourself better.