A man you're wildly attracted to pulls you to him and gently caresses your back. He's so close, you can feel his hot breath on your face. As he moves in for the kiss, you slowly open your eyes, only to discover that he's...Alan Greenspan?! You sit bolt upright, sweating, relieved, yet strangely aroused. It was only a dream.
But what was that about? Most of us have had erotic dreams, which can run the gamut from lovely and intriguing to just plain bizarre. Instead of writing off these reveries as a side effect of spicy Indian food, tune in to them. Your subconscious may be trying to tell you something.
The science of decoding dreams is based on centuries of research and professional anecdotal evaluation by psychology pioneers such as Freud and Jung. Although pooh-poohed by some experts as unreliable, dream interpretation is gaining credence among researchers and therapists as an intuitive tool. Many practitioners say figuring out what your dreams symbolize can help improve your life, especially your love life. "Dreams pick up where our waking attention leaves off and sometimes hint at things we can benefit from recognizing," explains Gillian Holloway, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Marylhurst University in Portland, Oregon. "They also allow us to explore options we haven't tried or even thought of."
So does that mean that dreaming of having love with your mailman is a sign you harbor secret feelings for him? Not necessarily, says Pam Spurr, Ph.D., a relationship psychologist in London. Erotic dreams can mean many things, depending on the dreamer and her life circumstances. In some cases, dreams involving romance aren't actually about love at all. So how do you know? If a specific interpretation is accurate, it will resonate with you and make a certain kind of sense. Below, nine women reveal their most exciting dreams. (We've withheld their last names; you'll know why after you take a peek into their subconscious.) The experts' analyses will help you decode your own nighttime visions so you can improve your life—in the bedroom and beyond. Sweet dreams!
Some serious horseplay
"I found myself in a stable and felt panicked because I didn't know if I was supposed to groom, feed or ride the horses," says Leslie, 26, a single teacher who has no waking interest in horses. "Jack—a married colleague I have a little crush on—walked in and sensed my panic. He said, 'Don't worry, the horses are here for your pleasure.' He helped me mount a big stallion. As Jack walked the horse around the yard, the saddle was stimulating me, and I started to say things like, 'This feels so good, don't stop.' I was completely embarrassed that I was saying sexual things, but Jack didn't seem to care."
The expert analysis
Whoa, Nellie! Leslie is likely feeling guilty about her growing attraction to Jack. "The horse in Leslie's dream is a symbol for what she secretly wants to do with him in real life," says Spurr, who is Leslie's life coach. "She'd like him to lead her into a sexual experience." By getting her feelings for Jack out into the open via her dream, Leslie can now acknowledge them—which often is enough to take their power away. Simply realizing she's attracted to someone inappropriate can let her work out the issue without stressing about it.