When we were kids, we had no idea what to do when we had a wet dream. We generally kept it to ourselves and didn’t utter a word about it, hoping our parents couldn’t see the evidence written on our face. Adulthood isn’t that much different, come to think of it. Anytime we have a sex dream now, we may joke about it with our friends or S.O., but that’s as far as it goes. We don’t really know what they mean and, most of the time, we’re probably too scared to inquire what they truly represent. Because, let’s face it, our subconscious can be a scary place.
Sometimes our sex dreams tell an accurate story about what we secretly desire, what we’re not getting in our sex life, or what we’re most curious about. Keep in mind, though, that a sex dream doesn’t always translate to your sex life IRL. They could be indicative of what’s going on in your career, personal life, or family. Whatever the case may be, don’t be shy if you’ve got some dirty REM cycle experiences under your belt. It’s pretty common. Eight percent of everyone’s dreams involve sex, including both men and women alike. Of course, there is no one right prescription to diagnose why you’re dreaming about, say, having sex with a family member (yes, that happens, and it’s okay), but there are a few guidelines that experts seem to believe in wholeheartedly. And that’s enough for us.
Here are 10 kinds of sex dreams and what they mean.
1. Sex dreams about your ex.
It doesn’t necessarily mean you still have feelings for this particular ex, but it could signal that. Another explanation is that you’ve got some unresolved issues left in yourself that you haven’t addressed yet. Maybe you’re still a little bit hurt about how it all ended, or you could be scared that whatever is happening in your current relationship might end up the same way they did with your ex.
2. Sex dreams about celebrities.
Confession time: I have had two wildly vivid sex dreams about Macklemore over the last year or two. They were so real, I swear I know what the guy smells like. I don’t even listen to his music that often, but apparently my subconscious finds him to be irresistible. (Fine, I’ll admit I also find him sexy as hell.)
The simplest answer is that a sex dream about a celebrity means you’re slightly obsessed with this famous person. Another explanation is that you have a particularly strong drive to be successful and recognized for your accomplishments.
3. Sex dreams about cheating on your S.O.
Don’t freak out! It doesn’t mean your brain is about to take you on a cheating a rampage without having any choice in the matter. Dreaming about getting down and dirty with another person, though, might mean you’re not feeling fulfilled in your relationship, whether it’s inside or outside of the bedroom. Whoever you’re dreaming about having sex with matters, too. If it’s someone you’ve been spending time with recently, you may want to reconsider how intimate your friendship is with this person.
4. Sex dreams about your S.O. cheating on you.
One out of every five women dream about their partner being unfaithful, so you’re definitely not alone. I have this dream pretty regularly, actually, about once every few months. Ian Wallace, a dream psychologist, puts it this way: “Dreams where your partner is cheating with someone else suggests that you’re betraying yourself in some way in waking life and need to have far more confidence in your talents and how attractive they appear to the people around you.” See? Doesn’t always have to do with sex.
It could also represent the fact that your relationship isn’t going that great, and there are some things you need to work on with one another. You may be harboring a fear of being abandoned as well.
5. Sex dreams about certain body parts.
Is there a large penis bothering you in your dream? If it’s erect, it points to aggression and fertility. If it’s flaccid, you may be sexually frustrated IRL. Breasts point to nourishment, or sexual arousal and raw energy, according to DreamMoods. Dreaming about vaginas represents your femininity and sexual needs. Shocker.
6. Sex dreams about family members.
Gross, I know. Ew. But it happens to the best of us. You know this already, but I’ll say it to reassure you: the dream does not mean you actually want to have sex with your brother. It’s about wanting to connect more deeply with this person. Maybe you have been neglecting or mistreating each other lately. Perhaps you have gone through a really rough time recently. Time to reassess what’s really happening in your relationship.
7. Sex dreams about weird fetishes or fantasies.
Orgies, bondage, partner swapping, gay sex when you’re straight (or vice versa) — these are all scenarios that might make you feel weird when you wake up, but they’re perfectly normal sex dreams. Generally, there aren’t big meanings behind these. You just get a free pass to enjoy some fantasies in a judgment-free setting.
8. Sex dreams about big-time orgasms.
I’m sure you’re not complaining, but you might be wondering why you keep having sex dreams exclusively about orgasms. It could mean you’ve got some sexual tension that needs to be unleashed in a healthy way, or you’ve got an exciting end occurring in your life. The big O dream happens to 4 percent of all men and women, according to a 2007 study.
9. Sex dreams about your boss.
Depending on who you work for, this will either be enjoyable or frightening. Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, dream expert and author of Dream On It, Unlock Your Dreams Change Your Life, told Cosmopolitan this imaginary roll in the hay means you need to take charge of something going on in your life, sexual or not.
10. Sex dreams about a random person seducing us.
Loewenberg says the person who is ravaging you isn’t your long lost soulmate. Rather, they’re a reflection of the masculine traits you need to cultivate more of in your everyday life. She says you may have to be more assertive, more willing to take what you want instead of passively float through social situations.