Let’s get real for a second and talk about something we’ve all had, but might not want to admit: Sex dreams. At face value, it makes sense to assume that dreaming about having sex with someone means, well, you want to have sex with them but—big sigh of relief here if you’ve been dreaming about a creepy boss—that’s not usually the case.
“The interesting thing about having sex in one’s dreams, is that it very rarely has to do with sex,” said Dr. Robi Ludwig, a nationally-recognized psychotherapist and author who’s a frequent guest on the “Today” show, CNN, and Fox News.
“Sex symbolizes a union or the coming together of two parts of yourself.” So for example, the dream that you’re getting it on with the aforementioned creep-o boss could mean you’re eager to become more successful, or be taken more seriously at work.
“Some theorists believe that you represent everyone in your dream, ” said Ludwig, who admits that—despite their not-so-literal meaning—sexual dreams can still be jarring. “Sex dreams—especially when they’re with someone who you’d never consider having sex with—can be a little shocking to disturbing to deal with. But they’re often very vivid and therefore encourage a desire to look a little deeper into what they mean,” she said.
To that end, Lugwig offers an expert’s take on what four common types of sex dreams really mean.
Sex with an ex
Despite what you’d think, dreaming about hopping in the sack with your ex may not mean you’re dying to get back together. “It could mean that you’re still trying to come to terms with some of your unresolved feelings towards them. The type of feeling you get in the dream could give you a heads up as to the feeling that’s still unresolved,” said Ludwig.
If you’re not gay during your waking life, this could be a dream about your self-esteem, according to Ludwig. “It might have to do with learning to love the different parts of yourself, [parts] you’ve been neglecting or have been critical of lately,” she said. “Same-sex sex with a friend could also indicate insecurities you have about the relationship, or wanting to emulate some quality or talent your friend has, that you’d like to develop.”
Sex with a friend of the opposite sex
“This could indicate feeling emotionally intimate towards them,” said Ludwig. “It can also mean that you’re drawn to some of the qualities which they exhibit.”
Sex with a stranger
“When you have sex with a stranger of the opposite sex, it could have to do with the male or female parts of yourself that you’re trying to get in touch with, an attempt to maintain a kind of psychic balance,” Ludwig said.” It also can be a sign of personal growth—but only if the dream is not scary or traumatic.”