Some of your sexiest thoughts could well be occurring in your sleep. It is during this time that some of the mind’s lustiest manifestations are revealed to us. If we’re lucky, we wake up completely satisfied, with a half-smile on our lips.

But we may also find ourselves baffled by our nightly visions. What just happened? And what does it all mean?

Erotic dreams are not simply the stimulating ideas we know as fantasies. They are much more abstract. These dreams incorporate more unexpected events, taking us on some of the most thrilling — and unnerving — sexual safaris of our lives.

Erotic dreams are more symbolic and from the soul. They speak to our inner workings. And for that reason, you may feel completely blameless for your naughty night visions. Or you may feel downright disturbed by the “kinky” ideas you mysteriously cough up.

Whether you embrace or deny your erotic dreams, recognize that they do offer you benefits in and out of the bedroom. Erotic dreams:

— Can show us what’s fun and why, increasing our pleasure potential.

— Can invite a deeper connection with one’s sexual self and lover, resulting in more satisfying relations.

— Can put us in tune with passions we’ve never known in symbolizing potentials we have within ourselves.

— Can offer solutions to our problems, given they often focus on a current situation.

According to Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, author of "So, What Did You Dream Last Night?,” our dreams can be key in our ability to make better decisions. Thus, learning the language of dream interpretation is vital for stronger relationships, greater confidence and an overall better life.

So what are some common sex dreams? And, perhaps more importantly, what do they mean?

The Faceless Lover – In this dream, one’s sexual partner is impossible to identify. The sex is magnificent – so much so that you have no need to see a face. With this interaction involving absolutely no requirements, you’re able to simply enjoy the moment. You can relish the greatest of sexual pleasure and desire unlike any in the waking world.

In interpreting this dream, analyze what it is you like about the interaction. Physically and emotionally, what’s turning you on? The qualities and behaviors of this fantasy lover are ones you actually desire in real life. These dreams can also mean that your own love life’s picture is incomplete. You may need more time in realizing what you want, and not necessarily with the person you’re with.

The Celebrity Lover – More common among young people, these dreams are about erotic recognition. Sex with Brad Pitt or Cameron Diaz, for example, is not about the star so much as about your own needs for personal fulfillment. (Note: these aren’t necessarily sexual ones).

Famous people often represent qualities in the self that go unrealized. So consider well what it is about this celebrity that you like so much. If you’re drawn to a role an actor played, what is it about the character that you find so compelling? This dream-induced rendezvous is more about your own unfinished dreams and pursuits than anything else.

The Old Flame – Dreams involving an ex or old lover are perhaps the trickiest to decipher, since there are so many different ways to interpret them. Overall, people have the tendency to dream about significant firsts and their most recent relationship, or love affairs that marked a life era. Some dream experts will tell you that these dreams are more about your relationships in general and your sexuality than the actual person.

If you’ve recently gotten out of a love affair, it’s only natural to be tormented by these dreams. They often appear when you’re trying to make sense not only of the situation, but of your new life in general. If you’re in a relationship, especially a new one, your inner psyche may be warning you to proceed with caution. It’s asking you to be mindful and to take care of yourself. No matter what your relationship status, if you had a meaningful love life with this ex, these dreams can signal progress. You’re moving toward passion in feeling whole again. Finally, no matter what your relationship status or how long it has been, you may still be pining for somebody – or a situation – that is simply unfinished business.

Multiple Partners – While seemingly complicated to sort through, given all of the action, threesomes, foursomes, etc., are really quite simple to interpret. They’re also quite non-sexual at the end of the day (or should I say night?). Full of power and passions, these dreams are about your need to feel supported. They urge you to undertake a periodic reevaluation of your life, help you to re-sort priorities, desires and options. They can help us to clarify our feelings and what’s right for us, given our choices.

Sex in Public – No matter where your mind takes you, sexual dream scenarios that involve great exhibitionism and risk can be interpreted in one of two ways. One, such dreams are a reminder that your sexuality is still alive. You’re thriving off of the great excitement of going against the grain of “normal” life and what’s expected in getting wild. And two, you have a need for an audience.

Sex With Friends or Co-Workers – Since these dreams involve people we know, but usually are not intimate with, these dreams can freak us out the most. Rest assured that these dreams are typically not about a deep-seated desire for sexual union, but your admiration for a person’s character or abilities. This person simply represents an interest you desire – one that you need to unite with. These dreams also offer you a sign as to what you long for when it comes to relationship compatibility. While you don’t necessarily want more than a friendship or work relationship with this person, he or she may envelop qualities you want in a romantic partner.

Partner of a Different/Same Gender – Having a dream involving a person of a gender you weren’t expecting can make you question your sexual orientation. Rarely do these dreams point to an actual tendency. Rather they’re related to your need to be particularly feminine or masculine, or the fact that you’re feeling quite male or female at the moment. The person you’re having sex with in your dream represents your union with a gender’s known qualities, and nothing more than that.

In figuring out your dreams, realize that these interpretations are very general. Since we’re all so unique and our lives are so different, there can be any number of ways to listen to what your dreams are trying to tell you. Many are drawn from unfinished business, recurring dilemmas, desires or frustrations. In deciphering your dreams’ cryptic codes, consider keeping a dream journal. If anything, it will give you a wealth of ideas for actual passion play!

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In the Know Sex News

Sex lives of single women examined. Research published in the March 2008 issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health states that one-third of American women ages 20 to 44 are single, with nine out of 10 sexually experienced. While the rate of sexual experience has remained practically the same since the late 1980s, the median age of first marriage has risen from 22 in 1980 to 25.3 in 2002. Women are therefore sexually active for a longer period of time prior to tying the knot, something, experts say, school sex education strategies need to consider.

Early sex and having an older partner a bad combination. As reported by the Guttmacher Institute, teenage women who have had a partner three or more years their senior have a higher risk of getting pregnant, giving birth, and acquiring an STD than those whose partners are the same age or no more than two years older. Researchers concluded that, in protecting women’s health, greater awareness is needed around this issue.

Sexual health text messaging service a hit. SEXINFO, an information and referral service offered by Internet Sexuality Information Services and the San Francisco Department of Public Health, is getting greater usage than expected. Originally intended for at-risk adolescents around San Francisco, SEXINFO can be accessed by texting “SEXINFO” to a 5-digit number from any wireless phone.

Dr. Yvonne Kristín Fulbright is a sex educator, relationship expert, columnist and founder of Sexuality Source Inc. She is the author of several books including, "Touch Me There! A Hands-On Guide to Your Orgasmic Hot Spots."

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