What It Really Means When You Dream About Sex

Dreams are fascinating things. In our dreams, we're able to fly, speak languages we've never studied, have lengthy conversations with deceased loved ones, and in some cases get to witness our own funeral. It's truly amazing the stuff our brain lets us experience when we're asleep. But why we dream has left scientists perplexed. Some say it's a way for us to process what happens during our waking hours, while others suggest dreams are the result of the brain's visual cortex being turned off while we sleep. To make up for there being nothing, the visual cortex responds by continuing to "see" even though our eyes are closed, per Time. But what we dream and why we dream about certain subjects is a different story.

One of the things that people sometimes find themselves dreaming about is sex. According to a 2007 study published in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 8% of our dreams involve sex-related themes, with intercourse being at the top of the list. "Dreams speak in a symbolic language, not a literal language," certified dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg told Glamour. "Sex in a dream is not about the physical act of merging two bodies but more about the psychological act of merging two minds or merging a quality or behavior of your dream partner into yourself."

Of course, sex isn't just intercourse, but rather a whole spectrum of things. So while each sex act you dream about may have a slightly different meaning, sex, generally speaking, has its own possible meanings. And most of the time it has nothing to do with your actual sex life.

You're processing big life milestones

If you've had some major changes in your life or are on the precipice of them, you may be dreaming about sex as a means to process these new things. As lucid dream researcher Dr. Clare Johnson explained to Regain, such monumental shifts in one's life — getting a new job, marriage, moving to a new place — can result in feelings of being exposed to a degree, as well as excitement. These emotions can play out in your dreams as having sex with someone you've been interested in, or with your partner because these similar feelings tend to bubble up when we're being intimate. 

In fact, it's very common to have sex-related dreams about exes in the months and weeks leading up to one's wedding day. Does this mean that you want to throw in the towel and skip the big day for a past lover? Absolutely not. Instead, it's the brain dealing with the stress of your present relationship (planning a wedding is no small feat, after all) and perhaps feeling the need to make past relationships right via closure, per Out.

You admire the person you dream you're having sex with

Although there's a lot to be interpreted in regard to who you have sex with in your dream, ultimately, it doesn't necessarily mean that you desire that person in a sexual way. Instead, it could be indicative of admiration and respect for that person, in a way that's completely void of all sex-related things.

"All dreams, even sex dreams, can be easily connected to things going on in your life," dream analyst Ian Wallace told Everyday Health. "And every character in your dream represents a small snippet of your own personality." According to Wallace, when a person in your life appears in a sex dream, it could mean that there's something about them that you look up to and admire, that you also have within yourself but have yet to tap into. "Showing off your talents and traits requires that you open up and become vulnerable and exposed," said Wallace. So, again, it comes down to feelings of vulnerability, something that comes with having sex.

You're struggling with a power dynamic

Just like in waking life, a dream about sex can be about power and trying to get control over a situation. That situation can be a relationship, something that's happening in our life, or how we see ourselves compared to how we think others see us. It's a way of grappling with something that might be, at least temporarily, out of our hands, per Mental Health Center. Because of this, having sex dreams about a boss is really common because of the power dynamic at play.

"Many experts say dreams about having sex with your boss are the most common — and sometimes the most disturbing," psychotherapist Dr. Harold Jonas told NBC News. "Before you go thinking that you may subconsciously be secretly sexually attracted to your boss, realize that a sex dream about your boss has more to do with how you view yourself. It's a dream about your own emerging power, professional abilities, and leadership skills. You may be feeling ready to take charge and move your job to the next level compared to where you are now professionally."

While it's fun and definitely interesting to analyze and interpret our dreams, it should go without saying that there's no definite, all-conclusive meaning in anything we dream about. Just as scientists have yet to confirm why we dream, no one has yet to determine, without a doubt, what our dreams mean. At this point, it's educated guessing and speculation based on what psychologists know about the human psyche and how it responds to things. Something that can add a bit of mystery to our dream life.