How Erotic Dreams Are Connected To Pornography Use And Sexual Behavior

couple-sleeping-dreaming.jpg

Most people have had dreams about sex before. However, there’s a lot of variability in the kinds of sex dreams that people have. So where does all of that variation come from? Psychologists believe it’s because our sex dreams are, to some extent, a reflection of our waking sexual interests. In other words, the things that we’re attracted to in our everyday life have a tendency to carry over into our dreams. As some evidence of this, a recent study examined how men’s actual sexual behaviors and the type of porn they watch are related to the content of their sex dreams.

In this study, 306 young Chinese men (average age of 20; 92% heterosexual) completed a survey in which they were asked about the frequency with which they have sex dreams involving various people and activities. They were also asked how often they watch pornography featuring a number of themes and how frequently they engage in certain sex acts.

What they found was that there were indeed many connections between waking sexual activities and the activities that took place in people’s dreams. For example, participants who had erotic dreams (accompanied by ejaculation) that involved vaginal intercourse, manual stimulation, oral sex, anal sex, and “mammary intercourse” (rubbing one’s penis on a woman’s breasts) were the most likely to report having watched porn featuring these same acts.

Likewise, men who had sex dreams (accompanied by ejaculation) about older women tended to watch more porn in the MILF and “mature woman” genre.

Sex dreams were also related to men’s actual sexual behaviors, though the associations that dreaming had with porn consumption were stronger in most cases. I suspect this may be due to the fact that the sample was relatively young and, therefore, not particularly experienced with sex. In an older sample, perhaps the links between dreaming and actual sexual behavior would be stronger. 

Aside from the fact that we can’t generalize the findings to older adults, this study is obviously also limited in that only men were surveyed.

While the results of this research suggest an important connection between sex dreams and waking sexual behavior, it’s important to note that not all sex dreams reflect people’s real life sexual interests. For example, some people may dream about sexual activities--like incest--without ever having engaged in such activities and, further, without having the desire to do so. In fact, people who dream about incest may find the idea of it to be disgusting when they wake up. As such, it’s wise not to read too much into any given dream (whether it's sexual in nature or not) because we don’t fully understand where all of our dream content comes from. So, while erotic dreams might reflect our sexual interests much of the time, they don’t invariably do so.

Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (facebook.com/psychologyofsex), Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit (reddit.com/r/psychologyofsex) to receive updates.

To learn more about this research, see: Yu, C. K. C. (2013). Lust, pornography, and erotic dreams. Dreaming23(3), 175-193.

Image Source: 123RF/luckybusiness

You Might Also Like: