Dreams with a sexual theme can be a surprising occurrence during an otherwise uneventful night asleep, but both men and women can experience them on a regular basis.
Multiple theories exist on whether dreams hold any significance. Sigmund Freud thought dreams to be the product of unacceptable desires, Erich Fromm believed them to be an expression of conflict, and Francis Crick wrote that dreams are “excretions of thought” – meaningless waste produced by the brain.
Sexual dreams can manifest themselves in many forms, involving a partner, an ex lover, a stranger, or a celebrity, and can induce a wide range of emotions.
Who Dreams More?
Who experiences sexual dreams more frequently – men or women? In order to find out, researchers questioned both male and female students about their erotic dream patterns. They found that the number of erotic dreams the students experienced were linked to the frequency with which they fantasized about sex during the day.
Men tended to have sex dreams more often than women, however, this gap has closed over the years, with a recent study showing that about 8% of both men and women’s dreams are sexual in nature.
What Do Dreams Mean?
According to sleep researcher Antonio Zadra, dreams “reflect a dreamer’s waking states and concerns” – they can hint at thoughts, desires, or fears that we experience while awake. When Zadra examined the content of men and women’s sexual dreams, he found that women were more likely to dream of partners, ex-lovers, or celebrities than men, but that men’s dreams featured sex with several partners twice as often as women. These patterns suggest differences in sexual thoughts or wishes between men and women and hint that the content of sexual fantasies may vary between the genders.
While some sex dreams may be the result of fantasy, others may be due to fears or insecurities. When one study questioned female students about their dreams, it found that women who had sex dreams associated with infidelity were more likely to have been cheated on in the past. Women who had feelings of jealousy or who were less satisfied in their relationships were also more likely to dream about sexual infidelity. Dreaming frequently about cheating may be a signal that a waking relationship is in trouble.
Whether due to subconscious hopes and desires, a reflection of what is observed during waking hours, or a manifestation of anxieties, sexuality in dreams can hint at our inner workings and help us learn about ourselves. Dreams are a window into our subconscious mind that can serve as a source of insight into our fears and desires – and maybe even inspire us to explore new ideas.