When you have a sensual or downright graphic sexual dream, depending on its content (and who was in it), you’re often likely to keep it entirely to yourself. Or, you might share select parts of it with someone, or you might joke about it with friends or a significant other. But more often than not, you’ll probably find yourself at a loss when it comes to actually deciphering your erotic psyche. In all fairness, it can be kind of unsettling to unearth whatever little nugget of truth your subconscious may be holding in wait. But sex dreams (and indeed all dreams) are almost always about something more—and that’s rarely sex itself. 

Here's a quick guide to some common sex dream types and their possible meanings. Keep in mind that we’re all unique beings with complicated sexualities, so take what serves you and leave the rest!

1. With an ex

Sex dreams with an ex are the most common of them all. You may have moved on and are happily seeing someone else, yet you find yourself dreaming (possibly continually) about your former flame. Such dreams don’t mean you’re craving a replay (unless you are), but they can mean that said ex possesses traits you feel are absent in your life—or in your current relationship. It’s also possible that your brain just hasn’t caught up yet, and switched gears. Sex with your new person could be triggering old thinking patterns of a relationship past. As you create new memories, your dreams may just readjust.

2. With a faceless stranger 

Expert dream psychologist Lauri Loewenberg told Cosmopolitan that the “mystery lover” dream is actually the second-most common theme after dreams about exes. “It doesn’t mean there’s someone out there waiting for you, and you’re dreaming about them,” she says. “This is really more about yourself. The mystery lover symbolizes some aspect of yourself that you’re trying to get to know and utilize in your own life.” If the faceless stranger is dominant, this could represent your desire to be more authoritative in general.


3. With someone you dislike…or even hate 

Sex therapist Holly Richmondasks: "Think about why you dislike them. Do they dismiss you? Not let you talk? … In some way, in your subconscious, you having sex with this person would be you taking your power back or exerting your power over them." Meanwhile, Loewenberg suggests, “It could be that your subconscious mind is urging you to find a way to connect with that person, to come together on some level with them for the sake of your sanity.” Or—they have a job you think you deserve.

4. With someone of a gender you don't usually go for 

"Novelty is the seed of human sexual arousal," says Richmond. "A lot of us are so locked into who we're attracted to that we need our dreamland to give us that space, that permission to open those doors a little bit wider." Same-sex sex dreams are very common among women who aren't normally attracted to other women, according to Loewenberg, who says that it's mostly about “what the person you’re having sex with represents.” She urges dreamers to think about the qualities the woman in your dream represents. Maybe she’s kind, strong, or mothering? And then think of anything you’ve done recently that makes you proud of your gender. Maybe you completed a huge project in a male-dominated office? Or, maybe you’re searching for a chance to do just that.


5. Sex dreams about your partner cheating 

Apparently 1 out of 5 women dream about their partner cheating on them, so you’re not alone on this one. Dream psychologist Ian Wallace puts it this way: "Dreams where your partner is cheating with someone else suggests that you’re betraying yourself in some way in waking life and need to have far more confidence in your talents and how attractive they appear to the people around you.” Of course it could also mean your relationship isn’t going so great, and/or you’re dealing with a fear of abandonment.

6. An orgy 

While on the surface of things, the concept of an orgy may seem fantastic (or not), dreams about orgies signify a lot of distress in your life, according to Loewenberg. “That can usually be connected to some kind of confusion or overload that’s going on in your real life … Do you have too much going on? Are you trying to accomplish too many things?” It may be that your attention is divided among too many different things and you need to let go of some commitments in favor of others.

7. In public 

If you're taking the risk of having public sex in your dreams, it may mean you need/want to be more adventurous—sexually or otherwise. Or, according to Richmond, such a dream could also be your subconscious rebelling, in the case that your partner is less adventurous than you. She adds that this is one dream that could have more of a literal meaning as well: maybe you actually want to have public sex—so there. Mull that over and see if it fits!


8. In your childhood home 

The childhood home is an extremely common location for dreams of all types, sexy ones included. Loewenberg suggests it’s not so much about the place itself, but about who you were when you lived there. “Ask yourself what’s going on right now that makes you feel like a child,” she asks. “Do you need your mom right now to help you with your bills or a relationship issue? Or are you acting childish right now?” Think about that former version of yourself: are you holding onto something you’re looking to let go of…or striving to remember something you wish you hadn’t? Deep thoughts.

9. A mind-blowing orgasm 

According to Loewenberg, yes, women have wet dreams too. What’s more, women tend to have more wet dreams as they get older, and men have fewer. Go figure, right? Personally, the universe’s sense of humor never ceases to amaze me. I digress. Aside from the simple thrill of a dreamt orgasm, such a dream can actually represent some kind of exciting ending in your waking life. Or, you’re just really horny and want to have sex asap. Either way, orgasm dreams must be worshipped for what they are: your subconscious helping you feel really nice.

Dream on, babes.

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