Sex dreams tend to follow common themes—from hooking up with an ex to having an orgy—and each one can trigger questions. So we asked the dream analysis and mental health professionals to take us through the scenarios most likely to show up in your subconscious and explain what some common sex dreams might mean. What do sex dreams mean spiritually and literally? Find out.

Sex with an ex

This one might leave you waking up in a panic depending on how things ended with said ex. Sure, you might just miss that person (or the good sex), but dreaming about an ex-partner does not necessarily mean you want to get back together—especially if you’re well into a new relationship. Loewenberg says dreams like this could be stemming from similarities between your past and current relationship. “A lot of us tend to keep going for the same type of person,” she says. “These dreams are helping you determine if this ‘type’ is good for you or not.”

Cue a sigh of relief. So this doesn’t mean you should ring up your ex out of the blue and confess that your burning passion still lingers or ask if they’re up for a reunion romp. More pressing is the opportunity to take a deep dive within.

Sex with a friend

So you’ve had an amazing conversation with your bestie and then suddenly they have a starring role in your wet dream. Sexual acts in a dream with someone you know can be particularly mind-boggling for a lot of reasons: Maybe you’ve never thought of them that way before in real life, or maybe said friend isn’t even the gender that you’re typically attracted to.

In dreamland, none of that matters. “A sex dream can come on the heels of having connected with someone on some level emotionally or psychologically,” says Loewenberg. Your dream isn’t necessarily unleashing a hidden desire for sexy time with your friend—it’s more likely this is your mind’s way of processing the intimacy of your relationship and reflecting it back.

Sex with a coworker

If you find yourself dreaming of wild sexual activity with a coworker you’ve always admired but don’t find in the least attractive, it doesn’t mean you’re subconsciously smitten. Remember, a lot of the time sex dreams are “more about a psychological connection you need rather than a physical connection you want,” says Loewenberg. In other words, the sex dream meaning could be more about desiring a quality or personality trait that the coworker has, like their stellar work ethic, she says. So instead of an indecent proposal, suggest coffee.

Sex with multiple people at once

“A threesome or an orgy can mean you have too many things going on in your life or in your mind and you need to focus on one thing at a time,” says Loewenberg. It makes sense—if you’re feeling particularly anxious before heading to sleep, you can start to feel like your stress is taking up way too much space in the room. When you sleep—especially when you get to REM sleep—the anxiety over multiple obligations can be suddenly transformed into sexy strangers eager for a ménage à trois.

Sex with your boss

As we’ve said before, dreaming of having sex with your boss doesn’t mean you’re attracted to them (though it can!). Rather, says Sacks, it could mean you’re vying for their role. “Sex often shows where someone’s desires are focused,” she explains. “There’s an attraction to being in control, not having to take orders from superiors, and owning one’s time. Often, those that have leadership qualities see themselves having sex with their boss in their dreams because they are highly attracted to the qualities that the boss represents, including power, financial well-being, reaching the height of one’s profession, or having skills to manage and control people in order to empower one’s business and financial stability.”

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