Even in this sexually ‘open’ age, people are often worried because they’ve had dreams with a sexual content. Find out why we have sex dreams
Over the years, we have found that the commonest sexual dreams reported by patients and clients are those that involve:
Your own spouse or partner – often in crazy situations
Having sex with a film star or TV personality
Being unfaithful to your partner with a friend or neighbour
Someone of the same sex as yourself
A partner of long ago
Being involved in an orgy or threesome – sometimes along with your current partner
Having sex with someone who in real life you can’t stand
Very disturbingly, dreams of having sex with a close relative
Also distressing, sex dreams involving violence.
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Even in this sexually ‘open’ age, people are often worried because they’ve had dreams with a sexual content.
In particular, it can be very disturbing indeed if, in a dream, you do something that would be totally shocking for you in real life!
For instance, a woman who leads an extremely chaste and respectable life may be troubled by dreams in which she has rampaging orgasmic sex with dozens of handsome males – or with her husband’s best friend.
Similarly, a man who prides himself on being ‘straight’ and who greatly fears homosexuality, may be quite shattered to find that he has dreams in which he is engaging in sexual fondling with some good-looking guy.
However, a lot of people are not disturbed by their sexual dreams and simply enjoy them for what they are. This is usually the best attitude to take – except where the dreams contain genuinely unpleasant material.
Why do we have sexual dreams?
We dream because of the intense activity that is constantly going on in our subconscious minds.
And since sex is one of the most powerful of all human drives, it’s not surprising that so many dreams have a strong sexual content.
If we have deep urges to do certain things, they are highly likely to come out in our dreams – where our consciences cannot prevent them happening.
But isn’t it true that our consciences ‘censor’ sexy dreams?
Yes. The mind has something called a ‘dream censor’, which tends to ‘clean up’ dreams.
So, if people who have a very strict puritanical outlook start to have a sexy dream, their dream censor may alter it – so that very ‘rude’ things are replaced by symbols.
Thus, a man of strict sexual morals may have a deep, unconscious desire to have sex with beautiful women. Instead of dreaming about vaginas, he will keep dreaming about tunnels and subways. Instead of dreaming about breasts he will dream about pleasant hillocks and mounds – and so on.
Similarly, a woman whose sexual morality is very strict probably won’t dream of penises. Instead, she’ll dream of penile symbols, like:
However, in our experience, this kind of ‘dream symbolism’ seems to be less common than it used to be.
People are less hung up than they were a generation or two ago – which is why they tend to dream about explicit sex, rather than symbols.
Do people have orgasms in dreams?
Definitely! Women don’t do this very often, but it does happen – especially at times when they’re highly charged sexually.
When we were writing our book The Big ‘O’ (Hodder: 1995), a sizeable number of women reported to us that their first ever orgasm was in a dream.
However, it’s more common for women just to get very excited during a dream – and then to wake up on the brink of orgasm, and perhaps even ‘finish themselves off’ by self-stroking.
What about men?
Most males (though certainly not all) have many erotic dreams in their teens, 20s and 30s. Dr Alfred Kinsey, who researched human sexuality, found that among unmarried males aged 21 to 25, over 70 per cent had sex dreams accompanied by nocturnal emissions.
This expression ‘nocturnal emission’ means an erotic dream in which the guy actually climaxes and ejaculates. The common name for that experience is a ‘wet dream’.
The frequency of these dreams tends to get less with age, but a lot of sexually-charged males continue to experience pleasant erotic dreams far into their 60s and 70s. Kinsey discovered that occasionally men as old as 86 reported orgasmic dreams.
An ejaculatory dream can be quite an embarrassment for a young man, especially if he keeps on staining the sheets. But there’s nothing that can be done to stop wet dreams. If stains are a problem, it’s not a bad idea to wear shorts in bed.
However, in the case of very young males who produce large quantities of semen, staining of the sheets is almost impossible to avoid. Sleeping on a really thick towel may be helpful.
Are wet dreams harmful?
No. But a lot of young men who are of Asian extraction believe that they are.
They have been told – often by friends – that loss of semen weakens the body or shortens one’s life or ‘uses up the supply of sperm’.
But this is quite untrue. Wet dreams are just the body’s natural response to its hormones – much as periods occur in women. They do not harm your health or indeed your future fertility.
In recent years, we have noticed that quite a few young eastern men are worried and distressed by wet dreams. This is because there are schools of Islamic thought which teach that sexual dreams are the work of Satan.
Whatever your religion, if you find it difficult to reconcile your erotic dreaming with the precepts of your faith, it’s probably best to talk the matter over carefully with a recognised teacher from your own religious community.
What should you do about disturbing sex dreams?
Most sex dreams are fun, and should just be enjoyed.
Sometimes they involve activities that you may feel you’d never get up to in real life – like lesbianism or homosexuality. But this doesn’t matter.
However, some people do get very distressing sex dreams – about such disturbing subjects as incest, violence or rape. If this keeps on happening to you, there must be some psychological reason behind it.
If you are upset by these dreams, and you want to find out the reason for them, then it’s essential to consult a therapist.
Traditionally, those therapists with analytic backgrounds (especially Jungians) have been more in tune with – and experienced in – people’s dream worlds.
But some hypnotherapists are adept at helping a person gain control of their dreams by ‘re-designing’ them during hypnosis so that they end differently and are therefore less disturbing.
There are two articles on this site that will help if you want to find a suitable therapist.
Also read this: How to Maintaining a Healthy, Happy Relationship in Five Steps
Dreams of love
Sometimes people have dreams where they are being taken care of, loved very deeply or cuddled – dreams that are not overtly sexual but which leave the dreamer feeling very drawn to the person in the dream who was being so affectionate.
These dreams can leave an individual feeling very shaken up and confused because often the love interest in the dream is not a regular partner.
In our experience, such dreams can tell us a great deal. We believe they’re often there as some manifestation that all is not entirely well with our current situation. They often express a hankering for a loving experience that is absent from a marriage or long-term relationship.
If you have this kind of recurrent dream and feel disturbed by it, you may want to see a relationship therapist to explore why you are having these night-time experiences.
Of course we all have dreams in which incongruous things happen with people we are not attached to in real life, but when these dreams haunt our waking moments through the next day and beyond, it’s wise to take note of the possible message behind them, and to seek professional help.
One interesting claim that emerged was an assertion that pregnant women are particularly likely to experience erotic dreams. This may possibly be true, and if so it may be that it happens because the blood supply to the genital regions is increased during pregnancy.
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