There is nothing quite as jarring as being in the thick of things, close to climax, with Ben Affleck’s chiseled body over yours, writhing in ecstasy, and then suddenly -- you wake up.
Oh, sex dreams, the greatest mysteries of the sleep world.
Kelly Sullivan Walden, dream expert and and author of The Love, Sex and Relationship Dream Dictionary, helped me decode some of our wildest sex dreams. And it turns out, that dream starring Ben (circa the Daredevil days) isn't so weird after all.
"Sex dreams are like the sex that we can have if we're not actually having sex in waking reality,” Kelly says. "Our dreams are always helping us to be better versions of ourselves; and sex dreams are right at the heart of that." Here are Kelly's interpretations of some of the most common sex dreams.
Sex with a co-worker
The people we have sex with in dreams are symbols or representations of ourselves -- NOT necessarily people we'd actually want to sleep with. "If it's somebody that you work with, it's like you're breaking down the walls, the barriers of the ego of connecting with them and usually with the intent that it make you more productive, more powerful, and more integrated [at work]," Kelly says.
Sex with an ex
Having sex with an ex in a dream is pretty jarring, especially when things didn't end well and you really think you're over it. Kelly says we use these dreams to cope:
"Often we're left with baggage from past relationships," Kelly says. "There's a place in our heart that is still wounded, or where we've given our power away; and those dreams are an attempt to help us heal that or to bring that energy back in so that we're not limping around through our lives. So that we can come to peace with that."
So don't fret if you've recently had a dream (or recurring dream) about that jerk who broke your heart. He or she is just a symbol inside your mind that you're using to get better adjusted and more grounded.
"Whenever you love somebody, there's a little bit of yourself that you leave with them," Kelly says. "And sometimes these dreams about sex with an ex are an attempt to help get that energy back because it belongs to you."
Sex with someone famous
Kelly says these dreams are all about symbolism and your personal journey.
"Being a celebrity is a symbol unto itself," she says. "A celebrity is somebody who tends to be very public… Might this dream also be helping you? Giving you a success formula for what it would take to get you more self-expressed? Maybe to be more successful in your own life, maybe stand in the spotlight and not get in your own way. It's also about you deeply connecting with the celebrity aspect of yourself."
Scary dreams you really wish you'd never had
Sometimes sex dreams can be dark and disturbing -- not some Ryan Gosling fantasy at all. But according to Kelly, dreams involving traumatic experiences like rape can actually be a way to deal with our pasts -- or improve our futures.
"Some people may be having these dreams if they'd ever experienced something similar to these in their waking reality," she says. "It can be a dream where you replay an actual traumatic scenario for the purpose of trying to find your way through it psychologically, so that you can feel that you've become so aware that you'll never let that happen to you again."
Kelly says it's important to look at a dream literally and symbolically to fully understand its meaning. "Sometimes [dreams] can help us on either end -- to process the past or to prevent something in the future. But if neither of those scenarios seems relevant then it's symbolic of where somebody in your life has taken your power from you. And sex isn't necessarily... from a sexual situation. It could be work-oriented. It could be where you gave your creative power away to somebody."
Sex with a friend
"Remember that dreams are symbolic and not literal," Kelly says. "Did you recently have a fight with this family member or friend? Joining with him or her in your dream could be symbolic of reconciliation, empathy, or merging with and understanding their point of view or the qualities they represent."
Sex with a friend's S.O.
"In dreams you can explore secret attractions without having to act on them and face the consequences of those actions in the waking world," Kelly says. "Remember, when you see this person and blush crimson, you have nothing to be ashamed of."
And while having a dream with your friend's significant other can be hot, it's probably best to keep that one to yourself.
Sex with someone of a gender you do not normally have sex with
Sex with varying genders can mean different things depending on what your sexual proclivities are and where you are in your life.
"Dreams are attempting to help us to become more balanced, so that we can be a more powerful fully-functioning version of ourselves," Kelly says. "That's one of the primary functions of dreams. If you're having a lot of dreams that feature the same-sex feature and you're not into it, then it might be showing you where you are a woman that is being too feminine in your life. It's up to the dreamer to see whether the prescription of the dream is to integrate more of that energy or to say, 'Wow, this is really showing me where I'm out of balance.'"
Of course, there is always the possibility that your dream could be telling you that want to try something you haven't tried before. "It is a wonderful opportunity to explore a realm that you've maybe not explored in your waking life for the purpose of you becoming more whole or more awake and more fully yourself."
Sex in an adventurous place
"Dreams of having a sexual encounter in an adventurous place could be a message to see sex, yourself, and your loved one from an out-of-the-box perspective. They may be a prescription from the dream realm to add spice to your relationship, go outside the boundaries of your normal comfort zone, and learn a new trick or two."
Bonus: Kelly suggests sharing any exhibitionist dreams with your S.O. to spice things up a bit in your romance.
Sex with your boss
Even if your boss is icky, having sex with him or her in a dream could actually mean good things for your career. "It doesn't necessarily mean that you're the type to sleep your way to the top," Kelly says. "Dreams of sleeping with your boss could represent that you are craving an intimate connection with the leadership aspect of you. By incorporating the energy of this dream, you will be one step closer to that raise and to empowering yourself to take charge of your career."