S E X U A L D R E A M S
Dream Sex is probably one of the most complicated human activities to understand and you will come across many interpretations in
books on dreams or psychology. In real life, we have sex for all sorts of different reasons. It may be used to re-affirm a bond to
someone; perhaps based on need because we are afraid of losing the security we get from them. It may be for excitement, or to be
dominated or to dominate. We may be driven by pure animal lust or deep spiritual love, or we may just feel it's our duty. We may even
do it because secretly we like to feel exposed and vulnerable. Sometimes people do it for money. To be sure, human sex is rarely
conducted with the intention of simply producing offspring, although it's always worth bearing in mind that, on a somatic level, this is its
only purpose. In all these respects, dream sex is no different and so the only person who can correctly interpret the meaning of their
sexual dream is the dreamer.
DO WE DREAM OF SEX WHEN WE'RE TEMPORARILY CELIBATE?
Some people might think that we will always dream of sex if we are lacking it in our everyday life. It is perhaps true that some dream
sex will be what Freud termed "wish fulfilment", but in my experience this is often not the case. It may be that physical changes in the
body stimulate dream sex and it would be interesting for a research study to find out whether or not dreams about sex occur more
frequently during the reproductive years. So, for instance, is it likely that a woman is more prone to dream of having sex when her
oestrogen levels are high? To my knowledge there haven't been any research studies done on this. It is worth noting, however, that
there are indications that the reproductive hormones may, in some way, be involved in the sleep/wake cycle.
However, experiential evidence suggests there's something much deeper going on, and that perhaps we are not just dealing with the
physical act of procreation or gratification. There are cases of people who are celibate, though not through choice, who rarely dream
of having sex. A man may dream of being castrated if he feels he is losing his masculinity; perhaps his testosterone levels have
dropped or maybe he just feels ineffectual in the presence of his wife or mother. On the other hand he may dream of having sex with
his female boss to compensate for the way she makes him feel emasculated in the everyday world. Or maybe he dreams of having
sex with a close friend simply because there is a platonic intimacy between them in real life.
ARE SEXUAL DREAMS REALLY ABOUT SEX?
So, as you can see, interpretation of sexual dreams is inherently difficult because it may be that the dream sex is nothing to do with
sex at all; it may be a personal issue of a very different nature. For example, if I feel someone is trying to penetrate my emotional
barriers, I might dream that they attempt to rape me, or perhaps lure me into a sexual encounter against my better judgement. After all,
for most people, most of the time, the sex act is intimate and revealing, nothing can be hidden, and there may be consequences to us
revealing ourselves in this way. Of course, sex with a stranger, whether in our dreams or in real life, needn't be like this. It can actually
be an anonymous act without consequences, in which case it can be very liberating. If we dream of such an encounter, it's probably
not because we're a covert nymphomaniac, it may just be that we desire more freedom in our life to express ourselves without
inhibition and without being judged by others. It's also worth bearing in mind that men and women experience the act of sex differently.
A woman must take the man into her own body and this can be experienced as an act of violation or a beautiful surrender, or anything
in between those two extremes. For men, they are traditionally the invaders, the aggressors, the conquerors. All these associations
must be explored if you are to find a satisfactory interpretation for your dream.
WHY ARE MANY LUCID DREAMS OF A SEXUAL NATURE?
Research studies show that many reported lucid dreams contain a sexual encounter. This is a very interesting observation that has not
yet been satisfactorily explained.
Lucid dreams are those dreams in which we are consciously aware that we are dreaming. Stephen LaBerge, the biggest name in
Lucid Dreaming, has conducted research into this aspect of lucidity. Vaginal and penile probes were attached to lucid dreamers in
order to detect orgasms whilst they slept. The results showed that the women in the study reported orgasm in lucid dreams much more
frequently than men did, even though men reported having more dreams about sex overall. This research was only conducted with a
few subjects but all of them reported that their lucid dream sex felt exactly the same as "real sex". Sounds like an interesting way to
spend the night!
WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN I DREAM OF HAVING SEX WITH SOMEONE OF THE SAME
GENDER? DOES IT MEAN I'M A HOMOSEXUAL/LESBIAN?
If you are heterosexual and you dream that you are having sex with someone of the same sex, it does not usually portray homosexual
desire. It may simply be that you feel spiritually attuned to that person or it could be an expression of increased self love or
acceptance. If this doesn't sound right for your dream, then it may just be telling you that you need to get in touch with your feminine or
To tease out the true meaning of your dream, ask yourself, who was my dream sex partner? How do I feel about him/her in real life?
Does he/she have any qualities that I admire and would like to emulate? Have we recently had an argument or disagreement?
If you dream that you were someone of the opposite sex, or had the reproductive organs of the opposite sex, ask yourself if you need
to incorporate the qualities of the opposite sex into your life. How did it feel to be a man or a woman? In which life situation do you
need those qualities and in what ways can you strengthen them within yourself? Alternatively, your dream may be warning you of the
dangers of allowing your masculine/femine side to dominate a certain situation or relationship.
Many dream workers believe that all dream images are parts of the self and need to be integrated and loved. So don't censor
yourself because the object(s) of your desire is unacceptable to your ego. Try and identify the thought process that gave rise to the
dream and bring that desire into consciousness with understanding. It is unlikely that your dreams are portraying issues of
homosexuality, incest or promiscuity so try and see these activities metaphorically or symbolically, as different aspects of the
In the words of Carl Jung:
|"... the dream is a symbolic representation of an unconscious content . . . Further
researches . . . have shown that the sexual language of dreams is not always to be
interpreted in a concretistic way - that it is, in fact, an archaic language which naturally
uses all the analogies readiest to hand . . . It is therefore unjustifiable to take the sexual
language of dreams literally under all circumstances, while other contents are explained
as symbolic". (p51 Dreams Routledge 2006)
ANIMALS HAVING SEX
If you see animals having sex in your dream, it may be portraying a desire to be more lustful and less emotionally involved in your
sexual relationships. Of course, the type of animals involved will have a bearing on the interpretation. For instance; a dream of
tigers having sex will not carry the same associations as a pair of rabbits partaking of the pleasures of the flesh! Remember too,
that, the dream may not directly be about sex at all. Being an observer of any dream action, rather than a participant, usually
suggests that we feel a need to examine a personal issue more objectively. By removing ourselves from a situation that we find too
difficult or embarrassing to deal with, we find it much easier to examine the pros and cons of the situation if it is happening to
someone or something else. This is usually done in dreams because it is more acceptable to the waking (ego) consciousness.
In the event of your having this type of dream, be sure to check out the Dream Animals page, as it is likely that an understanding of
the "energy" associated with the animal(s) will be very relevant to the meaning of the dream.
Physiologically, sex in dreams can cause the same reactions in the body as real life sex. Respiration increases, blood flow
increases and muscles contract. So, if nothing else, a full blown sexual encounter in your dreams can be a very healthy release.
But, to interpret a dream where sex was paramount, you will usually need to go beyond this and examine your own personal
feelings about sex, attempting to remove any barriers or taboos you may be harbouring. You must be honest with yourself and be
prepared to consider aspects of your life and your sexuality that, on the surface, you may not think has much relevance. Sexual
encounters speak of an intimacy that is hard to experience in any other area of our life. Remember, dreams use metaphor and all
our human activities are fair game for inclusion in a dream story, including sex. If we dream we are raped, we need to examine who
or what was violating us and attempt, on a conscious level, to relate this to our waking life. We need to ask, in what life situation
are we feeling that something is being done to us without our consent? What in our life is causing us to feel such disempowerment
/ violation / trauma? Who or what is using us for their own gratification without considering our feelings? The answers to these
questions will always uncover a real life situation that gave rise to the dream. Similarly, if we dream about consenting sex we need
to ask why we are having sex? Who are we having sex with? Is our dreaming self enjoying it? What purpose is it serving? What
metaphorical associations can you make? The answers you get will not necessarily be the ones your ego is expecting to hear.
Copyright J C Harthan (2006)