10 Common Sex Dreams and What They Really Mean

It's probably not what you think.

Having sex dreams lately? Spoiler alert: most of us do. Approximately 8% of all nighttime dreams involve some sort of sexual activity, according to a University of Montreal study, and women tend to doze off to sexual fantasies just as much as men. But sexual dreams (which are often referred to as wet dreams, for women) can be confusing. One minute, you’re getting hot and bothered under the covers—maybe you’re even just about to climax—and the next, your eyes fly open and you’re suddenly awake. You may have dreamt about doing it with someone you know, someone you don’t know (like your favorite celeb), your current significant other, or someone completely random. So, what does it all mean? Should you be having more sex? Are you sexually frustrated or craving more sexual intimacy? Not necessarily.

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.

According to Lauri Loewenberg, a certified dream expert, “Sex in a dream isn’t as much about a physical union you want, as it is about a psychological union you need.” That means that these dreams—though sexual in nature—could be indicative of what’s going on in your career, personal life, or family, and indicate deeper, more personal desire. Often times, this has little to do with sex itself. Just know that whatever the case may be, having sex dreams is common, natural, and nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

It may help alleviate some of the mystery behind weird sex dreams by getting a better understanding of what they might mean, so we did some research on the topic. When it comes to interpreting the meaning of your sex dreams, of course, there is no one right prescription to diagnose what you’re dreaming about, but there are a few guidelines that experts seem to believe in wholeheartedly.

Here are 10 kinds of common 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, however, 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.

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