You dream about a very attractive man approaching you and stroking your back. As he leans over to kiss you, you realize he's your boss. You wake up in sweating, sexually aroused, knowing it was just a dream.
Most of us have erotic dreams, at least occasionally. The object can be someone we know or a total stranger. Sex can be - in the dream - conventional or bizarre, accompanied by sex toys familiar only from glances to the back pages of some newspapers. Nevertheless, the subject matter is always open to interpretation. Something our subconscious is trying to communicate.
Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung deciphered dreams in the last century. Even when diverting from the traditional text, most therapists still attach intuitive value to a dream's symbolism.
Spurr, a behaviorist from the University of London, analyzed several types of erotic dreams and offers a guide to interpreting them.
"Dreams dare take us to places we normally avoid," she says. "They evoke a desire for experiences above and beyond our daily repertoire as long as we familiarize ourselves with the language they use. The fact you dreamt about having wild sex with the postman does not necessarily mean that you are secretly attracted to him. Dreams have deeper meanings. Most often, they are symbolic."
Six of the participants in Spurr's research were willing to share their dreams and the interpretations they were offered.
Floating in the air
The dream: Dina (29), author: "I wait at the airport for my flight. A stranger sits next to me and we are chatting. Suddenly he pulls me to him with animalistic desire and we start making love under the row of chairs.
"We are surrounded by many people but we are indifferent. I experience an earthshaking orgasm, and the dream ends without me ever seeing the stranger's face."
Interpretation: It is indeed an erotic dream, but it has nothing to do with sex. The airport symbolizes the desire to reach for the stars. The dream indicates that Dina feels ready to break into a new arena in her life or upgrade an existing intimate relationship she is having. The man is faceless because Dina is intent on protecting her privacy. She is not ready just yet to expose her professional and personal ambitions.
Another clue: Erotic dreams located in airports symbolize feeling confident and lucky.
Cherchez la famme
The dream: Jane (37) divorcee, lab technologist: "I dreamt I was in a coffee shop ordering a cappuccino. While waiting I noticed the sunlight through the glass. A woman caught my eye. I took my coffee and sat next to her.
"I am sipping coffee and it's dripping from my lips all over me. The woman smiles, leans over and licks the coffee off my cheeks, lips and neck. We start making out passionately. I never had a lesbian experience, but it felt great."
Interpretation: The hot cappuccino symbolizes Jane's sexual desire to sense a warm liquid filling her. The licking of the face and lips indicates her desire to have a woman perform oral sex on her. There's no doubt Jane has fantasies about having sex with women. The sunlight through the glass is like an alarm clock going off, waking her up to her true desires.
Another clue: If a woman never had lesbian fantasies, a dream about sex with another woman might symbolize her holding on to parts of herself she lost throughout the years - a young look, tight body or the confidence in her looks.
Celebrity in my bed
The dream: Cathy (34), journalist: "When the film 'The Titanic' hit the screen, I dreamt I was having sex with Leonardo DiCaprio in the middle of a busy New York City street while my father and grandmother are watching. They are looking at me and I at them. They do not say a word and I continue to make love to DiCaprio. In fact, I have never lived in New York City, nor am I attracted to DiCaprio."
Interpretation: Even though DiCaprio is the ideal of romantic love, this dream is not about sex. Cathy feels controlled by the people around her. Family members probably demand that she be "a good girl" and here she is, having sexual intercourse in the middle of the street in front of them. She proves to herself and to them she is secure in her sexuality and that their criticism does not impede her.
Another clue: When you dream about having sex with a celebrity, ask yourself what qualities does that person symbolize. Somebody "cool" and arrogant, or romantic and sensitive. It might just clue you in as to the true object of your desire. Wanting a celebrity for a lover or partner - someone who is admired by many - is generated by the hope some of the glamor will rub off on you.
Appearances of relatives in an erotic dreams point at a connection or a schism between your sexual desires today and what you were taught about as a child.