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Are things getting steamy in your sleep? If the last dream you had left you feeling all hot and bothered, rest assured that sex dreams are entirely normal — no matter how seemingly weird or unexpected the storyline.
All of us are likely to stumble across some NSFW content in our sleep at one point or another, and with varying degrees of frequency.
While the meaning of your dreams is highly individual, they may provide some insight into your waking life. Here’s what licensed psychologist and AASECT certified sex therapist Dr. Janet Brito has to say about some pretty common sex dream themes.
Why and when you dream about sleeping with your ex will likely depend on how long you’ve been separated, but whatever the case, Brito urges against using it as an occasion to reach out.
“Dreaming about your ex merely means that you are processing the past,” she says, “especially if you had a bad ending, or are reminiscing about good times, [or] if your breakup was the result of unforeseen circumstances.”
Instead of dreaming-and-dialing, Brito recommends writing down a title for the dream, how it made you feel, and what themes the dream is asking you to explore.
It’s pretty normal to dream about famous peeps or other familiar faces. As one Stanford study notes, you’re more likely to encounter someone in your dreams whom you’ve seen before IRL. This applies to people you know personally, and those you know thanks to movies, TV, and social media. (So, you think you’re Brad Pitt?)
Brito assures that “dreaming about a celebrity is normal,” and these dreams don’t necessarily have to abide by your sexuality. If you’re a heterosexual woman and find yourself dreaming about a famous leading lady, “it may mean that you admire their qualities and are striving to realize such qualities in yourself.”
According to the doc, celebrity-driven sex dreams often serve as a way for us to project our behaviors, both good and bad, onto a third party. Just like any dream, celebrity sex dreams “give you ample opportunities to see various aspects of yourself; the good, the bad, and the ugly,” Brito explains.
If you find yourself having a dream sex with an unwelcome visitor, Brito likens the scenario to an “opportunity to face the lion,” so to speak.
She also suggests changing your perspective. Treating your so-called enemy as a friend, will allow you to “reframe the dream as an opportunity to heal.”
Brito advises to think of this person “as your friend who has arrived into your dream to teach you a tough and painful lesson for the purpose of empowering you.”
Dreaming about having sex with your boss can be confusing, especially if you find them attractive or are facing some tough times a work.
To help navigate what your sleeping mind is trying to tell you, Brito suggests you “write down every detail that you recall as soon as you wake up,” before applying what she calls a “2-dream exercise.”
In this exercise, you draft two columns to compare what happened in your dream — say you got fired, for example — and what you wish would actually happen, like getting a raise. “The point of the exercise is to help you distinguish between the content of the dream and your heart’s desire,” explains Brito.
The 2-dream exercise
- Write down every detail you can recall ASAP.
- Draw two columns. In one column write what actually happened in your dream. In the second, write what you wish happened.
- Look for comparisons that may reveal what your heart truly desires.
Don’t freak out, dreaming about someone who isn’t your significant other doesn’t necessarily mean something is amiss in your relationship. “Dreaming about someone other than your spouse is like dreaming about any other person,” notes Brito.
Instead of focusing on who that person is, Brito suggests that by “focusing on the attributes of that person, you will be able to identify the type of relationship you wish to have either with yourself, your significant other, or with the person represented in your dream.”
Most importantly, “don’t guilt yourself.”
If you find yourself dreaming about a stranger or acquaintance, Brito suggests naming the person and attempting to greet them before starting a dialogue. “Throughout this exercise, allow yourself to be open, curious, and non-judgmental.
“Imagine it as a free-association exercise,” she says. Preparing yourself for these kinds of sexy dream encounters may help you resolve why you’re having the dream in the first place.
“BDSM dreams could signify what BDSM means to you,” explains Brito. “Depending on the dream story, either you’re enthusiastic about the dynamic, feeling a sense of expansion, desiring to either feel more in control of a given situation, or give up control,” she says.
Brito also notes that these dreams may be reflecting certain dynamics in your relationship. Whatever the case, she suggests writing the words bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism on a piece of paper in order to explore your personal associations with each concept to help you better understand your dream and what it represents.
Dreaming about a platonic friend doesn’t necessarily mean you want to sleep with them… although it absolutely could, notes Brito.
Alternatively, it could simply “signify how much this platonic friend means to you,” or that “you would like to embody [certain] qualities that you admire” in them, she explains.
If you’re having trouble unpacking this kind of dream, Brito advises to examine the dream’s context and try not to focus on its literal implications; instead, “use the dream as a symbolic guide into your inner world,” she suggests.
Like with BDSM, Brito says that dreaming about oral sex means “whatever oral sex means to you.” If you’re a big fan, “it may mean you’re craving some good ol’ oral sex,” she says. Conversely, if you’re shy about that sort of thing, oral sex dreams “may mean you’re nervous about experimenting with this sexual activity,” she explains.
Dreaming about having sex with a student or teacher can be awkward to say the least. However, instead of judging yourself, Brito suggests defining “what the teacher or student means in your life and [assessing] the social environment where the dreams reside.”
That information will be key in helping you navigate your dream as it relates to your life. She also recommends employing the 2-dream exercise mentioned above.
According to Brito, dreaming about having sex in water “tends to signify there is an emotional component that needs further exploration.”
In order to understand your aquatic adventure, she suggests creating a dream image board with cutout images from magazines of things and people that resonate with the details of your dream.
Sex is an emotional activity, and those emotions differ from person to person. That being said, sex dreams don’t always have a lot of emotional subtext, but that doesn’t mean the most lighthearted sex dream can’t be used as a tool for developing your own self-awareness.
Dreams that indicate a lack of emotion around sex
“The only dreams that may indicate a lack of emotion regarding sex would depend on the dreamer,” says Brito. There is no one-size-fits-all diagnostic when it comes to dreams.
But, if you find yourself experiencing a lack of emotion when it comes to real life sex, these feelings may trickle into your dreams, explains Brito.
As with any dream you might have, “it is best to let the dream guide you and focus on the emotion and energy of the dream, and less on the content,” she says.
It is best to let the dream guide you and focus on the emotion and energy of the dream, and less on the content.
Sex dreams with a lack of emotion before, during, or after the deed is done
The timing and intensity of a dreamer’s emotions as it relates to sex is highly individual and will depend on the real life of the dreamer. As Brito notes, if “the dreamer prefers a casual dynamic and is not interested in forming an intimate bond, then they may experience less commitment to deeper emotions.”
Brito also posits that it’s not so much lack of emotion but lack of love that is worth considering, and says, “If the dreamer is showing or feeling no interest, enthusiasm, or concern for their sexual partner or vice versa, and this scene was not agreed to in advance, then the dream could be a warning sign that something about the relationship needs tending to or the dreamer needs an intervention.”
If the dreamer is showing or feeling no interest, enthusiasm, or concern for their sexual partner or vice versa, and this scene was not agreed to in advance, then the dream could be a warning sign that something about the relationship needs tending to or the dreamer needs an intervention.
Understanding your emotions
If you’re having trouble navigating your emotions, journaling and writing exercises like Brito’s 2-dream exercise can help you externalize them for easier review. If you keep it up, you may notice some patterns that provide helpful insight.
Another way to get in touch with your feelings is to be in touch with your body. A body scan is a type of mindfulness meditation where you take an audit of all the physical sensations and areas of tension in your body, starting with your feet and working upward.
By exploring your body in this way, you may be able to identify or release the negative emotions and stress that may be lurking behind all that physical tension.
Consider your dreams a guilt-free zone. No matter how freaky things may get, don’t let your dreams serve as a direct mirror for your real life. Instead, try to approach your dreams as an opportunity to learn about yourself, or at the very least, as quality, subscription-free entertainment.