There you are, in bed with the hottest person ever. You know, the one who gets exactly what you like and how you like it. But just when things are heating up, you realize your epic lover has no face. What the heck? That's right, you're having a sex dream. Sometimes they're amazing, sometimes they're super weird, and, either way, they may leave you wondering what sex dreams really mean. One thing's for sure, you're not alone. As clinical psychologist Dr. John Mayer tells Elite Daily, they're also very common. “Sex is a primary pleasure stimulus and one of the few behaviors that are defined instincts for humans — next to eating, it's the strongest of human instincts," he explains. "Because of all this, the brain will generate thoughts of sex even while we sleep and particularly while we sleep, because sleep is a time when we are the most uninhibited, thus our thoughts of sex have the freedom to fill our thoughts.”
While sex dreams may seem to occur seemingly out of the blue, there may be more to them than the randomness would suggest. According to Karen Frazier, author of The Dream Interpretation Handbook, sex dreams are messages from our subconscious and they're not always literal. “Instead, they are showing you desires and needs you’ve suppressed. In this way, sex dreams are like any other. They represent subconscious desires or needs coming to the surface while you sleep,” she tells Elite Daily.
So, if you’ve recently had a nocturnal romp and wondered what it was all about, here's what the experts say some common sex dreams mean.
Sex dreams about your partner.
If you're in a relationship and having sex dreams about your partner, this is likely the most literal of all scenarios, explains Dr. Mayer. “Dreaming about your partner indicates that you're still very attracted to [them] sexually,” he explains. However, Frazier adds that it can also be your subconscious highlighting needs that aren't being met in your waking life. “Your mind is replaying your day or telling you that you desire more intimacy or sexual activity with your partner,” she says. “It can also suggest that you long to get to know other aspects of yourself better or that you desire more loving and intimate relationships in your life.”
Sex dreams about someone other than your partner.
If you're in a relationship but your sex dreams feature someone other than your partner, Dr. Frazier says that may indicate some issues in your connection or sex life. “Dreaming about another person often indicates that you're less sexually attracted to your partner or your sexual activity with your partner is lacking excitement, diversity, [and] variety,” he explains.
“If you dream you’re having sex with someone who isn’t your partner, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sexually attracted to them, although it could,” adds Frazier. However, it might be your subconscious sending up a note about some dissatisfaction in the relationship. “It could also indicate you’re feeling vulnerable in a situation or relationship,” she explains.
But don’t panic yet, because that's not always the case, Frazier says. “Sex dreams are messages from your subconscious. Many people feel guilty if they dream about having sex with someone other than their current partner, but it’s important to understand your dreams aren't necessarily literal,” she explains. That's particularly true when the person you’re dreaming about is your ex. “[They can be] a symbolic indication that there are parts of yourself, your shadows, that you’ve hidden and need to reintegrate into your personality. What aspects of yourself does your ex remind you of? These are the aspects the dream may be suggesting you get back in touch with,” she says.
Sex dreams when you’re single.
While sex dreams when you're in a relationship can often provide you with clues about how you're feeling about that dynamic, sex dreams when you're unattached offer insight into your needs, exclusively, the experts say. It could mean that your sexual needs aren't being met, says Dr. Mayer. “A dream about a random partner most often indicates the need for more raw sex without love, attachment, romance, or emotion,” he explains.
These dreams could have a more nonliteral meaning about where you are in your life right now, says Frazier. “Sex with a stranger in a dream may indicate a desire to embark on a new, unknown path or uncertainty about a new avenue in your life,” she explains. By taking some time and engaging in some self-reflection, you can oftentimes tell which of these scenarios applies most to you. After all, as Frazier explained previously to Elite Daily, you're often your best dream interpreter. “If you suspect a dream means something, you’re probably right. Dreams come from your subconscious, and nobody knows your conscious and subconscious mind better than you,” she said. “Trust yourself and listen to your dreams. Chances are, you understand them better than you think you do.”
Most importantly, there's no need to be ashamed or alarmed if you're having sex dreams, says Dr. Mayer. “They're most often a very positive experience and can accentuate wonderful, deep and restful sleep.” So, sleep tight and just enjoy the, well, ride.
Dr. John Mayer, clinical psychologist