Whether you believe it or not, there are many people who are convinced their dreams have a deeper meaning than what they seem to be on the surface. For some, their dreams might represent untouched emotions, begging for attention. For others, it's hidden desires, that have yet to come to the surface. But perhaps most interesting of all, is that many believe sex dreams have meaning — so it might be worth it to dig a little deeper to see what yours could be all about.
If you wake up from a dream about your partner cheating on you, or one where you're in bed with a celebrity, experts say it could be a message from your subconscious, so to speak. It's hard to be totally honest with yourself, or to even just notice smaller, simple truths, when you're super busy and going about your day. But that's why these dreams can be so helpful.
When you're alone in bed, your inner thoughts can break free. If you have a sex dream, it could mean you're looking for some external desires or answers to a current or potential relationship question. Here are nine different types of sex dreams that might pop up (as they're actually pretty common). Instead of brushing them off, take a moment to evaluate them, and figure out what they might be trying to tell you.
1. Your Partner Is Cheating On You
If you wake up from a dream (or nightmare?) that your partner cheating on you, take note. According to Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, a professional dream analyst and author of the book Dream On It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life, if you imagine your partner cheating, it could mean you're insecure in your relationship — and that it's time to communicate these concerns.
Though these dreams can sometimes be a result of picking up on tiny clues your partner is cheating, throughout the day, they don't guarantee something is going on behind your back. More often than not they're just your brain's way of telling you it's time to have a conversation. By sitting down with your partner and chatting about your worries, or even straight up explaining your dream, you should be able to get to a place where you feel more secure.
2. Dominating Someone/Being Dominated
According to Cadyn Cathers, MA, a psychological assistant, any dreams related to control issues (being extra dominant or desiring aggression), can be symbolic of other control issues going on in your life. Think about work, your relationship, and how you feel within your real-life surroundings.
If you aren't speaking up at work, for instance, these types of dreams might be more prevalent. The good news is, you can use them to your advantage. Let the dream inspire you to ask for what you need during the day.
3. Sleeping With Someone "Inappropriate"
A sex dream with your partner's sibling? A work colleague? A best friend? All of these people might appear inappropriate, as your relationships with them shouldn't be sexual. So what does it mean if your sleeping brain conjures up these visuals anyway?
"It is your mind's way of releasing the feeling, the temptation, validating it, and processing it appropriately," Dr. Nancy Irwin, PsyD, CHt, a licensed clinical psychologist, tells Bustle.
To take an even deeper look, ask yourself: "What is the parallel of this image/object/person/event in my life at this moment?" Your mind's job is to make associations, to connect the dots and make sense of the world, Irwin says.
4. Not Performing Well
While women can have dreams about not performing well in bed, it's a lot common for men to feel impotent and insecure in their dreams.
"If a man dreams about having erectile dysfunction, it may reflect that he is feeling weak or powerless in another area of his life at the time of the dream... not necessarily a literal reflection of his sexual performance," Irwin says.
In any case, dreaming that you aren't performing well in bed deserves a closer look, so you can figure out what's triggering it.
5. Having Sex In Public
Dreaming about having sex in a car, or in the woods, isn't as cut and dry as you might think. "This isn’t about your desire to be an exhibitionist. Instead, this type of dream relates to feeling vulnerable, self conscious and exposed in front of others," Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, a psychologist and ABS certified clinical sexologist, tells Bustle.
So, again, take a look at what's going on in your waking life, and see if you can connect those dots. "You may be worried that something embarrassing or secretive is going to be exposed or that others will judge you about something," Milrad says, and this anxiety could come up in a sexual dream.
6. Having Sex With An Ex
Depending on your ex, this could be a good dream, or a really, really bad one. But in both instances, it can be confusing. "Sometimes your ex shows up in a dream and you wonder if it's a sign that they are in fact your soulmate and you should rethink your break up," Milrad says. But luckily, the truth is often much simpler than that.
"Most likely, they are in your subconscious because you have had some reminder of them in your life," Milrad says. Maybe you accidentally stumbled upon one of their TikToks, or are coming up on a date that used to be significant to the two of you, like an anniversary. And now they're in your subconscious.
Usually, you should feel free to go brush it off, and forget them. But, "if you find your ex has a starring role in your thoughts, then it may reflect something more and you want to take some time to investigate what that is about," Milrad says. You might even consider talking with friends about it, or going to therapy, to figure out what role your ex is still playing in your life.
7. Having Sex With Someone Famous
Do you have steamy, fantastical dreams about hooking up with your favorite celebrity? "Sure, you’re obviously attracted to this person and may have even used their image as fantasy during sexual experiences," Milrad says. "However, when they show up in your dream as your sexual partner, it isn’t just another layer of having a crush on them."
Surprisingly, "most often, dreams about having sex with someone famous reflect your desire to feel special, important in the world, and have people take note of you," she says. "This may stem from feeling the opposite in your day to day life." So take the time to make sure your needs are being met, by reaching out to friends, talking with a partner, and ensuring you're doing plenty of things that make you feel seen and supported.
8. Aggressive Sex
Dreams that revolve around violence, or even abuse, are obviously upsetting. So take note of them.
"If you are violated and/or abused sexually in a dream, it is worth considering whether something like this has ever occurred in waking life," Kezia Vida, a dreamworker and relationship expert, tells Bustle. "If you are worried that you may be recovering memories of a trauma, seek support."
And, as always, consider what the dream might be saying about your current life. "Often dreams will reflect sexual trauma that we have experienced in an effort to help us process," Vida says, adding "even if you feel certain that this violation didn't occur in your current life, it can be helpful to understand your experience in the dream as a wound you are carrying."
9. Mind-Blowing AF Sex
Even dreams about mind-blowing, super amazing sex — the kind that have the potential to give you an orgasm while you sleep — are worth taking a closer look at, beyond how sexy they are on the surface. "These dreams can make for a powerful meditation, especially if you are having trouble accessing your desire in waking life," Vida says.
Also, don't forget: Whatever you feel in a dream may be something you'd like to feel in waking life, so consider exploring how to achieve that level of ecstasy when you're awake, Vida says. These dreams might inspire you to try something new with a partner, or to feel confident enough to ask for more/something different in bed.
If you have any of these sex dreams, consider speaking to a therapist or professional to find some answers and initiate the healing process, when applicable. As for the really good dreams, let them inspire you to spice up your sex life, so you can bring the fantasy to life.
Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, professional dream analyst
Cadyn Cathers, MA, psychological assistant
Dr. Nancy Irwin, PsyD, CHt, licensed clinical psychologist
Rhonda Milrad, LCSW, psychologist and ABS certified clinical sexologist
Kezia Vida, dreamworker and relationship expert