What your dreams mean IRL


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  • Is it a sexual fantasy or a repression of self identity?

    Hands up if you identify sexually as straight yet have had a super vivid dream in the past year or so and ended up Googling “sleeping with a woman in a dream meaning?”

    Don’t worry – you’re far from alone. One Psychol research paper found that lockdown triggered sleep issues and nightmares for around 50% of respondents, likely as a subconscious reaction to stress.

    But what about the steamier dream sequences? According to Google Trends data, “what do sex dreams mean” was Googled 9,900% more from February to March 2021 alone. That’s a lot.

    So, question: what’s really going on when you nod off and end up dreaming of sleeping with a woman? Or your ex? Or a co-worker?

    Read our guide to the most common sex dreams, and keep scrolling as we speak to psychologist and dream expert, doctor Keith M. T. Hearne, dreams expert and best-selling author Anna-Karin Bjorkl, and relationship therapist Zoé Williams at GearHungry to see what sleeping with a woman in a dream really means.

    Sleeping with a woman in a dream meaning: your guide

    Dr. Hearne, who conducted the world’s first sleep-lab research into lucid dreams, explains that dreams are probably best understood as symbolic messages. You dream for around two hours each night and, by-and-large, dream about normal, day-to-day things.

    “Dreams where you wake suddenly are probably best understood – not literally – but as symbolic messages, and verbal puns, from your wise unconscious. The emotion left on waking is probably the best indicator of whether the dream portrayed something good or bad,” he explains.

    “Our unconscious is very knowledgeable and is like a friend, guide and protector. It can encourage and prod us if we’re not achieving things it knows we can.”

    Williams, on the other hands, compares it to a hypnotherapy session and says that dreams can help to combat life problems in a slightly altered state.

    “The majority of dreaming – 90% – takes place when we’re in a REM state of sleep,” she explains. “When we’re in this state, our brain is just as active as when we’re awake during the day, though scientists attribute the strangeness of your dreams to the fact that, chemically, our brain is completely rewired when we sleep. Think of it as a hypnotherapy session that enables us to relax so we can combat problems and questions in an altered way.”

    Scenario one: Sex with another woman

    First things first here – even if you are a woman who identifies as straight and therefore attracted to men, there’s really no harm in having sexual dreams about someone of the same sex. All three experts maintain that it’s harmless and actually pretty common for guys to fantasise about sleeping with other men, too. Sexuality is a spectrum, after all.

    Sure, dreaming of having sex with another woman, as a woman, could indicate deeper sexual desires. Or, according to doctor Hearne, it could be a mirror of your inner conscious thoughts.

    “Sometimes, the ‘other person of the same sex’ may actually be representative of you, the dreamer,” he explains. Dreams can provide you with wise insights, such as:

    • Are you too self-centred?
    • Do you need to love yourself more?
    • Do you need to work on building your self-confidence?

    Top tip: Meditation on the topic of oneself may enable you to attain self-truths. says doctor Hearne.

    Bjorkland, on the other hand, explains that in Jungian psychology, everyone has both feminine and masculine aspects within us and feel best when these are balanced. “A man’s feminine side is called his “anima”, and a woman’s masculine side is her “animus”,” she shares.

    Find yourself sleeping with another woman in your dream and wondering what it means? It *could* just be you connecting with the feminine or masculine aspect of yourself in a dream, the expert suggests. “It can be very powerful, balancing, and healing,” she shares. “And further, a sexual encounter with a person of the same sex may be telling you that it’s time to embrace that side of yourself more.”

    Oh, and another thing – if you’re Googling “sleeping with a woman in a dream meaning” and keep having the same dream over and over, it may also be your subconscious telling you that it’s time to heal a situation with your same-sex parent or nurture that relationship, she concludes. “A romantic same-sex encounter could also help you see yourself in a new light, integrating the feminine or masculine side of yourself more fully, and healing your soul,” she shares. Got it?

    Scenario two: Sex with an authority figure

    A dream involving an authority figure – think your teacher or boss – can indicate a desire for more control in your life, shares Williams.

    “Perhaps you’re craving control that you don’t think you’re capable of giving yourself, or craving attention that you don’t feel you’re currently getting?”

    Scenario three: Adventurous sex

    Ever dreamt about having sex somewhere whacky – you know, in the middle of the ocean, or in a tree, or in the middle of the street?

    Yeah, apparently that’s more common than you’d think. “Sex dream involving a more adventurous type of sex that you would normally never imagine can indicate a person wanting to let go, and get out of their comfort zone, subconsciously desiring a life free from self-judgements,” explains Williams.

    Sex dream meaning: A couple sit on a roof kissing

    Scenario four: Cheating

    Spoiler alert: doctor Hearne reckons that occasionally, such dreams can indicate to the dreamer that cheating is indeed happening. “The subconscious is sensitive to subtle clues, like pheromones, that go unnoticed consciously, and the dream can sometimes be the only channel of communication to the consciousness,” he shares.

    Obviously, this isn’t always the case, and often it’s just what it says on the tin – a dream. Plus, if a person is lacking in trust, they’re more likely to project the issue into their relationship. “If the dream occurs in multiple relationship scenarios, the cause is more likely to be the latter,” he shares.

    Scenario five: Sex with a co-worker

    Fun fact: it’s not unusual for human beings to be attracted to each other. “In the long-term situation of a work-place, little fantasies and flirtations often occur,” shares doctor Hearne. “This one can be common as most dreams are about what happens in our daily lives, and you likely se your colleagues regularly,” he says.

    Sex dream meaning: Two colleagues kissing

    Scenario six: Being naked in public

    You know those dreams you have that are really heavy in metaphor? You know, where you feel embarrassed or shameful?

    “These dreams are often revealing the essential emotion,” shares doctor Hearne. “The content can symbolically display the cause of your dream.”

    In this case, the doctor advises you focus on what you’ve done or said in recent days, and how this made you feel, as a result. “This may be a rebuke from the unconscious of unacceptable social behaviour,” he explains. “However, if the feeling is more of exhilaration, it may represent perhaps a new-found sense of freedom.”

    Scenario seven: Sex with an ex

    Now this one’s more common than you’d think.

    “In a relationship, a sort of addictive sexual behaviour builds up over time,” explains doctor Hearne. “In fact, it’s a powerful activity that promotes emotional and psychological closeness.”

    Should the relationship break up – well, your initial sexual attraction doesn’t just disappear. “Dreams can regress you to earlier times, so it’s not unusual to dream about your ex for months after a relationship, especially if there is sexual frustration there, too,” the doctor shares.

    Sex dream meanings: A couple kissing on a beach

    Scenario eight: Sex in public

    So, you want to know the sex dream meaning for sex in public. First things first, do know that some people are highly exhibitionistic, and the dream-world is a safe place for fantasies, or so says doctor Hearne.

    “Do note, though – that superego part of you is more likely to be intervening to warn that you’ve been exposing yourself recklessly about aspects of your life and made yourself vulnerable to social criticism,” he shares.

    “Nudity is one thing, perhaps revealing a wish to be free, but public sex may indicate a desire to shock other people – or display attention-seeking behaviour.”

    Sex dreams meaning: A couple kiss on a floating flamingo

    Scenario nine: Sex with someone you hate

    In short, as we’ve touched on, your day-to-day life massively impacts your dreams – and so if you’ve been thinking about someone you dislike a lot, there’s a high chance they’ll end up in your dreams, whether that be a sex one or not.

    “Verbal puns are also powerful directors of the dream content,” explains doctor Hearne. “They can take over a dream, for example. Should the disliked person have scored some victory over you, say in an argument (and the encounter may have had nothing to do with sex), the essential unconscious descriptive thought about the episode might have been ‘I’m f***ed’.”

    And then – yep, you guessed it – the phrase evokes images of sex and changes the context of the dream entirely.

    “Sometimes, it’s merely a projection of the dream thought,” shares the doctor.

    Why do I keep having sex dreams? 

    If you’re straight, for example, and Googling “sleeping with a woman in a dream meaning”, you’re wondering why you keep dreaming about it. Is it a sexual fantasy? Or simply a repression of a part of your identity?

    Good question – and not one that’s particularly easy to answer, according to the experts.

    “Of course, many sex dreams simply reflect a wish for sexual gratification, but sometimes they are so illogical – you may really dislike the person (from real life) with whom you are making love in the dream,” shares doctor Hearne. 

    Sound familiar?

    And what can sex dreams teach us?

    Dreams can be complex, maddening, blurring and sometimes just plain illogical, right? “Traversing the valuable from the pointless is, occasionally, an arduous task that can result in very little info for the amount or research you put in,” explains Williams.

    Bottom line: dreaming about having sex with someone doesn’t mean you fancy them, but may mean you find them attractive subconsciously (or in many cases, consciously). “Where things get a bit more interesting is what type of sex dream you have with someone,” the relationship expert shares.

    Are some sex dreams ever completely meaningless?

    Do note here: dreams don’t always mean something – that is, not all dreams have conclusions. “If you keep dreaming about being on a date with a shark in Spain, maybe don’t waste time delving into your childhood for answers,” advises Williams.

    But if they’re recurring and feel significant, things like keeping a dream journal and analysing if your subconscious is trying to tell you something can be helpful, according to the expert. Sleeping with a woman in a dream meaning may be something as simple as you need to spend more time working on your own self-love and confidence, for example.

    Or…. you could just drift back to sleep…



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