These Five Common Sex Dreams Aren't Actually About Sex

March 22nd 2016

Lucy Tiven

Waking up from a sex dream can feel like returning from a fantasy or recovering from an excruciatingly revealing nightmare. According to a 2007 study conducted by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, close to eight percent of men and women's dreams involved sex, Science Daily reported. But these dreams need not always be taken at face value.

While some psychologists maintain that dreams illustrate subconscious desires, others believe that they reflect more than wishful thinking. ATTN: looked into common sex dreams and their psychological interpretations.

These five sex dreams aren't always about sex.

1. Sex with your boss

If you've dreamed of having sex with your boss, it doesn't necessarily mean you're longing for a workplace romance. Dream psychologist Ian Wallace told Everyday Health that work-related sex dreams are some of the most common ones, and that can mean that you're thinking about advancing in your professional life.

“Sure, you may be sexually attracted to your boss,” Wallace told Everyday Health. “But if you’re having sex with him in a dream, your subconscious is probably becoming aware of your own ability to make decisions and act as a leader.”

2. Cheating

Cheating in a dream typically signals that you're feeling either guilty or insecure about your relationship, Ami Angelowicz wrote on the Frisky. If you're the cheater, you may be feeling like you've been a poor partner, while being cheated on can suggest that you're worried that your partner is unfaithful, not that they've cheated already.

"I'm often approached by people who have dreamt their partner is cheating and are worried their subconscious is trying to communicate this to them," therapist Delphi Ellis told the Mirror. "Whilst it's fair to say we receive messages from our subconscious on many levels, this dream usually suggests a fear a partner will cheat, rather than evidence they're actually doing that."

3. Sex with your best friend

According to Dr. Debby Herbenick, a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute and the Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, many women dream about having sex with close female friends. These dreams may reflect pop cultural fascination with lesbian relationships and sexuality or reflect a desire to be closer platonically, Dr. Herbenick told Women's Day.

"Same-sex sex dreams can also be sparked by the emotional closeness that many women have with their best friends," she told Women's Day. "In dreams, sometimes this closeness may take on a different level but it is unlikely to mean anything about your sexual orientation, unless you also — in waking life — find that you are interested in women."

4. Incest

Incest may be the most unsettling sexual act to dream about. If you've woken up horrified from a dream about sex with a parent or other family member, it doesn't mean that you are sexually attracted to them on a subconscious level.

These dreams tend to reflect tension or distance in familial relationships, Amy Angelowicz wrote on the Frisky. "Sex with a parent may have to do with transitioning into adulthood or becoming a parent yourself," Angelowicz said. "Sex with any family member can be about acceptance, deep forgiveness, a longing to be closer or heal a rift."

5. Sex with a celebrity

Who hasn't woken up from at least one steamy tryst with Idris Elba or Ryan Gosling? Though it's particularly easy to take these dreams literally, there can be more to them than which star you're crushing on.

Wallace told Everyday Health that celebrities also appeared particularly frequently in sex dreams, and that these dreams signaled perceived similarity with the star.

"Even though a romp in the hay with Jennifer Aniston or Denzel Washington may sound like a dream come true, your psyche is simply recognizing a talent you have in common with the star," reporter Katie Kerns concluded.

Angelowitz pointed out that celebrity sex dreams can also indicate a desire to be famous or popular. "Dreaming about getting it on with a celebrity is all about your desire to attain more fame, fortune, recognition or bolster your social status," she wrote.