Psychological Reasons Why You Dream About Sex

Updated April 4, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Many of us have or have had dreams relating to sex. According to a study in the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, about 8% of people’s dreams are sex-related. A sex dream isn’t always about sexual intimacy, though, and can often include people we’ve never had sex with or people we don’t want to have sex with in reality. That’s because the people we are having sex with in our dreams may represent things we want in our waking life. Ian Wallace, a dream psychologist, says that the people we dream about probably possess something we want to possess ourselves. For example, perhaps your intimate dream involved someone you perceive as having happiness and success, which are things you yourself would like to achieve.

Psychologists are finding that our dreams can tell us more about what’s going on in our life that we are subconsciously working through. Below, we’ll explore the various reasons why we may have intimate dreams, as well as the psychology of sex and how our brains process all of this.

1. Big life changes

There are many reasons why you may dream about sex

If you’ve had big changes in your life recently, or are about to, you might be dreaming about sex. Getting married, for instance, could increase these dreams because of how much change your life may be going through with planning the wedding and starting new lives together. But it could also be a big promotion at work, moving to a new city, or other big changes that happen in our lives. Dr. Clare Johnson, a lucid dream researcher, says that a sex type of dream may be our subconscious working through all the newness in our lives. It can manifest in a vulnerable and exciting way, such as with our crush or lover.

2. Lack of sex

If you crave sexual intimacy, you may experience dreams relating to that. If you’re too busy to have sex or are single and haven’t had sex in a while, or maybe your relationship is in a dry spell, your subconscious may try to satisfy your sexual needs while you are asleep. Did you know that you can orgasm while you are dreaming? These dreams can be with your partner(s) or people you don’t know very well, such as a random stranger you saw at the store or a professor of a class you’re taking. It doesn’t mean that you are attracted to these people, though; our brains work on processing and filing away the events of the day as we sleep, which can incorporate some seemingly random people and things into our dreams.

3. You’ve been feeling creative

Are you a creative person? Maybe you’ve been inspired to paint more recently, or you’re writing up a storm, or you catch yourself belting out tunes in the shower. Either way, a burst of creative energy can also create a burst of sexual dreams. You could also have sexual dreams if you want to be more creative. This could be your subconscious’ way of building desire in you and opening your creative thought process.

4. You are attracted to someone

No surprise here. If you are crushing hard on someone, it’s very possible that you will have an intimate dream about them. If you think about them often and desire to be physical with them in real life, your dreams can manifest that reality for you. 

5. You’re feeling capable and self sufficient

So, let’s say you have a sexual dream about your boss. Although it may sound disconcerting and may tempt you to avoid your boss, rest assured that the dream probably has little or nothing to do with them. When you have a sexual dream about someone who has power over you, it may indicate that you’re gaining self-confidence and are seeking to show them how capable you are. This could be your brain’s way of telling you that you should work hard and step up at your work. It could also indicate that you are seeking validation from them regarding your work.

6. You want to develop a skill


Dream psychologist Lauri Loewenberg suggests you think about the traits you like about someone when you have a sexual dream about them. No matter the person, what the dream may be telling you is that you want to embody some of the traits or skills that the person has. The people could be coworkers, acquaintances, and even people you aren’t attracted to. It’s just that there’s something about them that interests you, and that’s what is manifesting in your dream. Take some time to consider what you like about the person and why and see what you can emulate for yourself.

7. You’re repeating bad habits

What about an ex? If you have sexual dreams about an ex-partner, does that mean anything? It could mean a few things. One is that you are in a new relationship that is repeating old habits. If an ex shows up in a dream and you’re in a new relationship, examine how similar the two relationships are. Does your new partner have some habits your old partner had? Is there something about your current relationship that needs to change? This could explain your ex popping into your dreams.

8. You’re feeling insecure

Dreaming about your ex could also mean that you’re feeling insecure. Especially if this ex was your first love, your mind is looking for something familiar to cling to. You could be in a new relationship or be single. If you’re feeling lonely or craving intimacy, this could manifest in your dreams as a way of searching for comfort in a past love or familiar experience. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are still in love with your ex, just that you perhaps miss feeling comfortable and safe with someone else.

9. You’re looking for excitement

Have you ever woken up from a sex dream and thought about what happened before and after? Was the dream romantic? Exciting? Did you feel courted or wooed in a way that you haven’t in a while? This dream could mean you are looking for more in your life. Maybe you’re in a relationship that’s gone stale, or you’re not in a relationship at all and miss it. Your mind is essentially creating something exciting for you. An ex might be featured in this kind of dream, but a stranger, friend, or coworker could also be present.

10. You’re still grieving a lost relationship

There are many reasons why you may dream about sex

Sometimes, our exes or old crushes may show up in our dreams because we’re still not quite over them on some level. They may show up in all kinds of dreams because of this, not just ones sexually related. It can be hard to move on from a relationship, especially one that lasted for a while. If you loved them and then lost them, it’s not surprising that they star in your dreams. This can be your mind’s way of working through your grief, remembering the good times, and processing the bad. 

Explore the connection between dreams and sex in therapy

Sexual dreams are rarely just about sex, and sometimes they’re not about sex at all. Instead, they may be about things that we want and need in our lives. The people we dream about often embody traits that we admire and want to emulate. If you can remember your dreams, try writing them down to reflect on later. Think about the people in the dream and the things you like about them. You might be surprised by what your mind is trying to work through while you are sleeping.

If you are having sex dreams and aren’t sure what they mean, have you considered talking to a professional about them? There is an easy way to do so with Regain, an online therapy platform that allows you to have web-based conversations with a certified therapist. You can talk through a chatroom or even schedule phone and video sessions. Regain is affordable and can be used on a monthly subscription basis. All you need to do is fill out a short survey that will match you with the therapist that best fits your needs. If you find that you don’t click with the one you are matched with, you can easily switch. 

Online therapy has been heavily studied, particularly within the past decade. One review of studies focused on online cognitive behavioral found that online treatment is just as effective as in-person therapy for a variety of conditions and concerns, and is able to significantly reduce symptoms of mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more.

To get started with Regain, go to

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