Dreams are a gateway to our unconscious desires, at least according to Sigmund Freud. In fact, the infamous, turn of the century psychologist called them “the royal road to the unconscious.” While not always the case, many dreams can have a deeper meaning, especially ones that involve sex. Still, it’s not always easy to determine exactly what it is your unconscious mind is trying to reveal during REM sleep. That’s why we reached out to three dream interpreting experts, to help us crack the meaning of common sex dreams that nearly all of us have had...likely more than once.
Sex with an ex
“The ex we tend to dream about the most is our first love,” explains Lauri Loewenberg, a certified Dream Analyst who’s analyzed and researched over 75,000 dreams from people across the globe. Not to worry though, sex with an ex doesn’t mean that you’re still secretly pining for them. Actually, these dreams are rarely about your ex at all. “They are more about what they represent: first love, excitement, passion, being desired, always wanting to be together, all those wonderful things that make you feel alive!” Loewenberg explains that if you pay attention to what’s going on in your life, specifically, your current romantic relationship, you’ll likely realize that you’re in a rut or dry spell. “This is the way our subconscious reminds us, ‘Hey, we’re still desirable. We still need these feelings. Let’s spice things up!’"
The other ex you’re likely to dream about, is the mother or father of your children. Again, this isn’t about loving your ex-partner or yearning for the sex you had with them. “Rather, this dream expresses the need to ‘connect’ with them and become a ‘united front’ for the sake of your children.”
Sex with a stranger
Loewenberg calls these “the mystery lover dream,” and they don’t mean you’re yearning to have an affair or want more sexual excitement in your life. “The thing you must keep in mind when figuring out your dreams is that everything and everyone in your dream is symbolic of some part of the self or something that affects the self,” Loewenberg says. “That being said, an unknown man in a dream typically represents qualities we associate with that gender: assertiveness, being a go-getter, and standing up for oneself. An unknown woman will typically represent qualities we associate with the female gender: compassion, creativity, sensitivity, and the ability to nurture.”
Thus, to dream of having sex with an unknown person of either gender suggests you are merging their respective qualities into your behavior. “For example, sex with an unknown man is about taking on a more assertive role or attitude. Sex with an unknown woman may indicate you are becoming more compassionate.”
Sex with a co-worker or boss
While these dreams can make it very uncomfortable at work the next day, remember, as “embarrassing” as these dreams can be, they are good because they show you—in their weird way—what you can do to improve yourself. “The boss dreams are most often about taking on that authoritative, decision-making role somewhere in your own life,” Loewenberg says.
The co-worker dream can be a little trickier to figure out. It all depends on your gut reaction to the dream. “If the co-worker you are dreaming about makes your heart beat a little faster and your palms a little sweatier, well then...sometimes a cigar is just a cigar!” (In other words, yep, you definitely like them!) But if the thought of being intimate with that co-worker makes you cringe, “Then there is a simple formula to figure it out, and you can actually apply this formula to any sex dream.”
Loewenberg suggests you ask yourself which three words best describe your coworker’s personality. “Then ask yourself if any of those qualifiers would benefit you in your life right now if you incorporated it into your behavior. For example, perhaps the co-worker you are dreaming of is the one that cracks all the jokes in the office. In that case, he may simply represent humor and that is what your subconscious wants you to merge into your own behavior or attitude. Lighten up, have a sense of humor about things!”
Cheating on your partner or your partner cheating on you
Not to fret, Loewenberg notes that cheating dreams are the most common sex dreams, according to her research. There are two ways to break down infidelity dreams. One, if a partner has cheated you in the past, and two, if a partner hasn’t. “If there is infidelity in your past, then these dreams reflect the distrust or guilt that is still there and are nudging you to continue to work on it, rather than be complacent about it. But if there is no infidelity in your past, and these dreams seem to be coming from left field, then you need to figure out what it is that [makes you] feel like a third wheel in the relationship. Usually it is work that is taking up too much of your or your partner's time. But it could be anything such as golf, fantasy football, or even a new baby that is causing you or your partner to feel "cheated" on. These dreams are shining a spotlight on the issue, so you and your partner can figure out how to get more quality time together.”
Sex with a celebrity
When it's one of your favorite celebrities, then you don’t need a dream expert to tell you what’s plain as day: you want to have sex with them. But if it’s a seemingly random celebrity, like one you are not a fan of, or one you haven't seen or thought of in years, rest assured there is good reason your subconscious chose him or her to cameo in your dream. “Celebrities in our dreams often represent some part of ourselves we want recognition and applause for. To figure out what that is, use the same formula: what comes to mind when you think of that celebrity? Is it a song? The meaning for you may be in the title or the lyrics. Is it a movie or TV show? Then you may identify with that character or with the story line.”
Loewenberg continues, “For example, I had a client who was having sex dreams about Lenny Kravitz. She wasn't necessarily a fan, so she couldn't figure it out. I asked her what first comes to mind when someone mentions him to her and she said, The Hunger Games movies. Turns out, she was desperately trying to lose weight. Her dream was using Lenny to show her that if she wanted to get down to the weight she was aiming for, she would have to incorporate hunger into her life, and that is not a healthy game to play.”
Sex in public
Similar to having sex with a co-worker, the interpretation of this dream all depends on how you respond to it. If you find yourself enjoying this dream, “This can mean that you want to have people see you as an irresistibly attractive partner and want to flaunt your relationship,” explains Carole Lieberman, MD, a psychiatrist and dream analysis expert. If you find yourself consumed with shame, “It could mean that you are afraid of being ‘exposed’ — such as if you are contemplating or actually having an affair.”
Sex with multiple people
This one, according to Jillene Seiver, PhD, who’s taught human sexuality to college students for more than 25 years, is one of those dreams that’s straightforward. “You may actually be thinking about and considering that in your everyday life, so the dream may not be symbolic. Or it’s possible that the dreamer wants to explore variety, or wants to express an aspect of himself that he doesn’t feel comfortable expressing in waking life.”
At the end of the day, or rather, when you wake up in the morning, you are lucky to have sex dreams—and not just because they’re a fun way to start your day. With them, you can figure out what it is you craving, and then while wide awake, you can go out and turn those dreams, or the deeper meaning of those dreams, into reality.
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