Have you ever woken up in the morning, feeling slightly foggy-brained and definitely confused about why you spent all night dreaming about doing the erotic accordion with a friend who you aren't even attracted to? Turns out you are not alone. Sex dreams are extremely common! In a 1986 research study by Barbara L. Wells, 85% of women reported having a “nocturnal orgasm” (more commonly known as a wet dream) before turning 21. And wet dreams aren’t just a passing phase of teenage years, they can happen at any time in your life, though they are more common during puberty because of the major hormonal shifts happening in your body.
Like in waking life, sex dreams don't always end in orgasm (heavy sigh). A “nocturnal emission” or wet dream, is a spontaneous orgasm that happens while asleep, but plenty of people have erotic or romantic dreams that don’t end in climax. And these dreams can be really confusing, especially when they involve an acquaintance, coworker, or pretty much anyone other than your partner. Though some scientists think dreams are just the result of random neurons firing in the brain, others think there is more to it than that, and sometimes our dreams can provide insights into our subconscious needs and desires.
So what do you do if you have a sex dream about a friend, classmate, or coworker? “Do not take your sex dreams literally,” says dream analyst Jane Teresa Anderson. “Dream sex with an unlikely partner - or even a crush - is NOT a message from your deeper self suggesting a sexual encounter with that person in waking life. This is good news for those who dream of sex with a family member or a person of a different gender from their usual choice. These dreams are deeply symbolic, very common, and perfectly natural.”
Sometimes the key to understanding our sex dreams is deciphering what we admire about our sex partner. Dream expert Lauri Quinn Loewenberg provides a formula for figuring out what it all means: “There's a magic rule to apply when figuring out your sex dreams: First, ask yourself if you have connected with them on some level in real life, did you have a meaningful conversation recently, for example. If not then pick three words that first come to mind when thinking of that person. Of those three qualifiers, is there one that would benefit you right now if you were to incorporate it into your own personality? Voila! That's what that person represents and that's why you're having sex in the dream.”
And those random dreams about your coworker from accounting? Turns out they might not be a sign of true love. “A coworker is a very common partner in our sex dreams. If there is no attraction there (hey, sometimes a cigar is a cigar) then there is something about that coworker your subconscious is attracted to. Maybe he is the one that closes all the deals or maybe he is the problem solver. Whatever it is, there is something about him that your subconscious wants you to incorporate into your own behavior in order to benefit yourself at work... or benefit yourself in general,” says Loewenberg.
In the end, the key to interpreting your dreams is knowing the dreamer: yourself. “Everyone and everything in a dream represents something about the dreamer,” says Anderson. “If you find yourself having dream sex with a dark or shadowy or 'negative' character, it may be that you are ready to recognize your shadow side, some negative characteristic you have been denying. These dreams can help you to recognize and accept aspects of yourself, as well as to release them - let them go - if you wish.”