What Common Sex Dreams Actually Mean, According to an Expert

written by EMMA GINSBERG
Source: @lunya
Source: @lunya

Why is it that we are willing to explain all the weird and random details of the crazy dreams we have, but when they are sex dreams specifically, we pretend like they never happened? We’ve all woken up from a hot and heavy dream, thought to ourselves, “Woah… what was that about?” and then proceeded to feel slightly embarrassed. But here’s the thing: We don’t need to be embarrassed (they are normal!), and we don’t need to spend all day trying to figure out why we had a sex dream, either. Certified Dream Analysts like Lauri Loewenberg can help us make sense of them.

According to Loewenberg, analyzing the meaning of our sex dreams can help us gain an understanding of a connection we might be seeking in our lives. “When you delve into a dream and make connections between the dream and your current real life, you’ll find that your sex dreams are rarely about a physical union you want but more about a psychological union you need or that you have recently had,” Loewenberg says.

Sex dreams can be particularly useful for showing us what we need right now in our life—romantically, sexually, emotionally, and psychologically, Loewenberg explained. So, if you can’t seem to get out of steamy dreamland, Loewenberg is teaching us the meanings behind eight super-common sex dreams, plus sharing some tips for analyzing their connection to real life.

Dreaming about having sex with a friend

Especially in this case, Loewenberg emphasizes that sex dreams are more about emotional and psychological connections rather than sexual ones. There’s no need to feel super weird the next time you see your friend. Because chances are, the dream is a sign that you want to see them more often or be more connected.

It’s important to think about when you last saw this friend when interpreting the meaning of your dream, says Loewenberg. “If it’s a friend you’ve recently had interaction with, the dream may reflect that you connected on a deeper, more intimate level in real life,” she says. “If it’s a friend you haven’t had interaction with recently, pick three things that first come to my mind when you think of this person, and of those three things, is there one that you identify with right now or one that would be beneficial to you if you incorporated it into your own life or personality?” For example, if you had a sex dream about an old friend who you see as a very outgoing person, now might be a good time to put yourself out there and tap into your social side. Similarly, if you had a sex dream about a friend who is very organized and career-driven, perhaps you want to think about incorporating more organization into your own life.

Dreams are symbolic, and if you look at them literally, you will not only miss the message, you will also drive yourself crazy.

Dreaming about having sex with an ex

If your dreams have been anything like mine lately, you’re all too familiar with this scenario. Loewenberg says sex dreams with an ex are extremely common, so we’re not alone (phew!). The meaning of the dream depends on which ex you’re dreaming about and the context in which they appear in your dream. Because these can be complex, Loewenberg broke them each down by type:

If they were your first love…

“If it’s an ex that you consider to be your first love, but it’s been a long time since you were together, then the dream would be more about wanting to connect with those feelings rather than with that particular person,” she says. You might be yearning for some of the emotions that go along with first love—the excitement, the novelty, and maybe even a little bit of the anxiety. To address this, consider where you might be able to bring some new energy into your life. This could look like making a change at work, meeting new friends, or trying a new workout.

If they were toxic…

Dreaming about an ex who was not your first love, on the other hand, might mean that you are feeling like you’re stuck in some of the same behavior patterns or situations that you experienced with one of your exes. For example, “If you’re dreaming of having sex with a toxic ex, it could mean that something is remaining from that relationship that you haven’t yet freed yourself from, or perhaps something is going on right now that feels similar to when you were with them,” Loewenberg says. For instance, if you felt very out of control in a previous relationship and are feeling out of control in your work life or personal schedule now, that lack of control could have triggered your dream.

If you miss them…

Finally, if you are dreaming about an ex that you miss or wish you were still with, examining whether there is an aspect of your current life that is making you feel that absence even more subconsciously might help you move past having those dreams consistently. Maybe tons of your friends are getting married or engaged right now—this could cause you to be subconsciously analyzing previous relationships, which may trickle into your dream life. Or maybe you’ve been itching to move out of the apartment you lived in when you were with your ex or even to a different neighborhood or city—acknowledging that this pressure exists could be one way to curb the dreams.

Dreaming about having sex with your current partner

Thankfully for you and your partner, there’s not a whole lot to unpack here! Loewenberg says that usually dreaming about having sex with your partner means that you want to have more sex with them or connect with them emotionally more frequently. She recommends paying attention to when you are having these sex dreams about your partner. Have you both been busy lately with work or friends, neglecting to set aside time to focus on each other? Have you been feeling like sex with your partner has gotten redundant lately, and the dream is a sign to switch it up and try something new? Regardless, take note of what’s been going on in your relationship when you dream about having sex with your current partner to take stock of your current relationship needs.

Source: @cottonbro | pexels

Dreaming about having sex with a stranger

These sex dreams can be particularly jarring, and according to Loewenberg, that’s not just because you’re dreaming about being with someone you don’t know. “Sex with a stranger often means you are taking on qualities—or need to take on qualities—that are not typical or familiar to you,” and she explains that the gender of the person whom you are dreaming of having sex with may give you a clue as to the nature of those qualities. Of course, your waking sexual orientation may come into play in any sex dream you have. However, specifically when dreaming about strangers, Loewenberg says that considering your partner’s gender in more abstract terms is the best way to figure out what your subconscious is trying to tell you.

For example, “dreaming of having sex with an unknown male most often means you need to or are currently connecting with male assertiveness.” Standing up for yourself or taking action toward a goal are common causes of sex dreams with unknown men. Alternatively, “Dreaming of sex with an unknown female could indicate you are currently connecting with creative or caring energy,” Loewenberg explains. This could be because you have taken on a creative project or have been emotionally supportive of a friend.

Dreaming about cheating

Ah, the dreaded cheating dream. Whether you’re dreaming about cheating on your partner or about your partner cheating on you, these will cause you to wake up with a pit in your stomach. This is where Loewenberg cautions against reading too far into your dreams or obsessing over their deeper meaning, especially if there is no history of cheating in your relationship. “When this dream seems to have come out of nowhere, there is no history of cheating in your current relationship, and—other than the dream—things are pretty great, don’t worry! Remember, dreams are symbolic, and if you look at them literally, you will not only miss the message, you will also drive yourself crazy,” she says.

With that in mind, Loewenberg says there are a few common reasons to have a cheating dream. You might feel that something has become a “third wheel” in your relationship, like a side hustle or a baby; you might be feeling like some aspect of your relationship is unsatisfying or falling flat; you may be feeling guilty about some other “betrayal,” or at least perceived betrayal, in real life. Regardless, Loewenberg says that being honest with your partner about the dream is the most important thing to do. “A cheating dream is a brutally honest commentary on some aspect of your relationship that your subconscious wants you to address and correct,” she says.

The physical connection that you experience in your dream is usually a representation of uniting with something that you desire in your waking life.

Dreaming about not being able to have sex

Talk about waking up hot and bothered—dreams where you want to have sex but, for some reason, can’t have sex are just as frustrating at the moment as they are confusing after the fact. “This is most often connected to an inability to complete something in real life or an inability to make a connection with someone in real life, depending on the context of the dream,” Loewenberg says. “The most common version of this dream is that you and your dream partner are trying to find a place where you can do the deed, but the dream always ends before you get the place or the opportunity.” If this sounds familiar, Loewenberg suggests asking yourself what it is in your life that you haven’t been able to accomplish due to time constraints or other confining factors.

Dreaming about masturbating

This dream’s meaning is extremely straightforward, according to Loewenberg. “In real life, masturbation is about self-pleasure, so when you dream of masturbating, you have likely done something in real life that is causing you to feel very pleased with yourself,” she says. There’s really nothing to be further analyzed regarding masturbation dreams. They are normal and a part of most people’s dream lives.

Dreaming about something you think is taboo

When it comes to dreaming about something you consider taboo, Loewenberg recommends thinking about how you felt in the dream. For common taboo sex dreams, such as dreaming about having sex in public or dreams about BDSM, Loewenberg says the meanings are more obvious than they may appear. “Sex in public can mean you desire recognition,” she says. “If you are the dominant in a dream about BDSM, ask yourself where in your real life you have taken charge. If you are the submissive, you may be letting someone in real life control you.”

Ultimately, Loewenberg says that almost all sex dreams are about bringing something that you lack into your everyday life. The physical connection that you experience in your dream is usually a representation of uniting with something that you desire in your waking life. “If you desire to be able to speak your mind, your dream will use someone you know that has that ability, will create a desire for them in your dream, and merge your bodies to symbolize bringing that quality into yourself,” Loewenberg says. If you are having a lot of sex dreams, now might be the time to chase what you’ve been lacking.