All Your Sex Dreams, Explained

If you sat through all of Inception wondering, “Why are none of these guys accidentally showing up naked for their mysterious espionage dreams?" you are not alone. Scientists have found that sexual dreams are incredibly common, with both men and women alike reporting that eight percent of their dreams are about sex. That might not sound like a lot, until you realize that we only spend about two hours of each night dreaming, which then means we spend about 58.4 hours each year specifically dreaming that we are nude and feeding melon balls to David Boreanaz (just, you know, a hypothetical). Don’t you want to know what it all means?

Though some total killjoy scientists believe that dreams have no meaning and are just the product of randomly firing neurons, psychologists have spent more than a century looking into the meaning of common dreams, and they've come up with some pretty solid and widely accepted interpretations for all sorts of REM meanderings — including a wide variety of sex dreams.

So check out the handy sex dream guide below, drawn from “definitive” dream interpretation site Dream Moods, and finally get to the bottom of those nocturnal Boreanaz-melon ball adventures once and for all. No judgments here.


Have you ever woken up feeling weirdly guilty about a dream where you cheated on your significant other, even though you would never do that in real life? Uh, yeah, me neither. But the good news is, cheating dreams don't usually have anything to do with actually wanting to cheat. Instead, they're typically about insecurity.

Being Cheated On By Your Partner

This represents "A lack of attention from your mate" or "fears of being abandoned," as well as concerns about whether your partner can be counted on for future commitments.

Cheating On Your Partner

"You have compromised your beliefs or integrity" or encountered "a situation where you were being dishonest." But these dreams can also "reflect the intensity of your sexual passion; you are exploring areas of your sexuality."

Kissing Someone Else’s Partner

"You wish to be in a relationship and to experience the energy of love. You may be sexually acting out and desire to awaken your passion. Alternatively, the dream indicates a lack of integrity on your part." Who, me? Never.


In the world of dream interpretation, even something as PG-innocent as kissing can have a billion different, tricky meanings about your inner self and/or lust for celebrities.

Kissing Your Ex

"You are looking back on the positive experiences and good times that you shared with your past love. This dream may be triggered by some major change in your current relationship and how far you have come from those past relationships."

Kissing a Friend

"Represents your respect and adoration for your friend." Please use this knowledge to comfort yourself during the first ultra-awkward moments when you see your friend after this kissing dream. It was just a respect dream!

Kissing a Stranger

"If you are kissed by a stranger, then your dream is one of self-discovery. You need to get more acquainted with some aspect of yourself."

Kissing a Celebrity

"Indicates your drive to be successful"...or "may just represent your waking fascination or obsession with this particular celebrity."

Kissing Someone You Hate

This dream, which you will absolutely be discussing with your therapist no matter what we say here, "signifies betrayal, hostility, or reconciliation with an angry friend. If someone tries to kiss you against your will, then it means that someone is shoving their ideas, beliefs and opinions in your face."

Watching Others Kiss

"To see others kissing in your dream suggest that you are too involved in someone else's personal lives and relationship. You need to give them some space."

Kissing Yourself

This incredibly unnerving dreamland occurrence is actually a good thing — it "represents self-acceptance, as well as self-love. You need to accept and love who you are, even your flaws or shortcomings."


The ol' "I showed up to take the LSATs wearing nothing but a stretched-out pair of Spanx" dream is nothing to be worried about — it's typically just tied to anxiety.

You’re Unexpectedly Naked and Horrified

Feeling "helpless" or like "you have completely let your guard down" can cause these naked dreams. "Nudity also symbolizes ...not measuring up or not being ready for some important task." Like the task of showing up for work while wearing pants.

You’re Unexpectedly Naked and Don’t Care

"You have nothing to hide and are proud of who you are ... the dream relates to your honesty, openness, and carefree nature."

You’re Unexpectedly Naked, and No One Else Seems to Notice

"Your concerns or anxieties are your own projections; no one will notice except you. You may be magnifying the situation and making an issue out of nothing."


Representing "an exciting end to something,” dream orgasms come up (huh-huh-huh-huh-huh) in four percent of sex dreams for both men and women, according to a 2007 study on sex dreams and gender conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. The study also found that women reported that four percent of their dream orgasms were enjoyed by another character in their dream, not themselves — a phenomenon that, predictably, zero men reported.


Oops, you did it again — you performed an elaborate strip tease for your 11th grade chemistry teacher in your dream last night. What could this madness possibly mean???

"You need to be more passionate and direct with your sexual needs. Alternatively, the dream may mean that you are being lured into doing something you don't really want to do." But what if the thing that you don't really want to do is be more passionate and direct with your sexual needs? That's probably how you end up incepting all the way to Dream Level 4.


Though we’ve previously covered the meaning of basic sex dreams, there are still some titillating extras to add. Like:

Anal Sex

"Represents submission. You may be afraid to yield to the wants and desires of others." Like their desire for anal.

Oral Sex

A “willingness to give or receive pleasure/joy. It is symbolic of your creative energy and reaffirms that you are headed in the right direction in life.”

Gay Sex (When You're Straight)

“Represents a union with aspects of yourself. It is symbolic of self-love, self-acceptance, and compassion. If you are uncomfortable with homosexuality in your dream, then it suggests some fears or anxieties femininity [or] you may be experiencing some insecurity in your relations with the opposite sex.”

Your Straight Partner Having Gay Sex

“Represents your anxieties and fears that he won’t like you back. By seeing him as gay, then it would be easier for you to dismiss your feelings for him because you have no chance with him. On a side note, it is common for expectant fathers to have dreams of homosexual encounters.”

Ex Sex"Denotes your reservations about embarking in a new relationship or situation."Ex Sex for Brides-to-Be

As if planning that shizz wasn't already stressful enough: "If you are approaching your wedding date, then is not uncommon to experience especially erotic adventures with partners other than your intended spouse."


What are you to make of that recurring "nightmare" where Jared Leto's penis chases you up and down the darkened streets of Washington D.C.?


"Signifies sexual energy, power, aggression, and fertility, especially if the penis is erect. If the penis is flaccid, then it points to sexual frustration."


"To see your vagina in your dream suggests issues with your femininity and you sexual needs/urges," according to DreamMoods. Or, you know, it could also mean sexual energy and power. That's a really sexist reading of dream vaginas, DreamMoods! I expected more from you!

Vanishing Vaginas

"To dream that your genitals disappear indicate your fears or lack of confidence toward sex."


"Symbolizes primal nourishment and your need to be nursed and care for. Alternatively, breasts indicate sexual arousal and raw energy" or "a feeling of exposure and invasion of privacy."

But just remember, no matter how many times your dreams lead you to ride in a hot air balloon shaped like a giant penis, it is all only a dream ... or IS IT???

Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.

Images: drocpsu/Flickr; Giphy (9)