I'm having sex dreams about a friend, what do they mean?

It doesn't make any sense personality wise and I'm still not attracted to them. So, what the fuck??

Here’s The Thing is an advice column/newsletter where I mostly beg people to either stop dating someone or to ask their crush out. Or I talk about weird things that came to my mind that no one is paying me to write about. I can never decide if I should capitalize the “the” in Here’s The Thing or not; apologies on lack of consistency. 


A PERFECT ANGEL:

I'm in a really great relationship of 3 years with my first love and only serious partner. We've been long distance for pretty much all of that and this past year we've really hit our stride with communication and organizing how we keep in touch without letting long distance rule our lives. I'm really happy with my partner, and genuinely feel that they bring nothing but joy into my life despite all the obstacles to that end. 

Separately, I've gotten a lot closer with a friend at school in the past year, partially due to shared experiences in the worst year of our lives. This friend historically pushes the boundary between friendships and relationships, and I've joked before (to other people, not to them) that the only reason we can be close is that I'm not single. Regardless, I think we both have been really important for each other this year and I greatly value our friendship. 

This friend has remarked to me about how they admire my partner from afar for a variety of reasons from career path to wearing a mullet, and it struck me as somewhat odd considering they've met only briefly, one time. My friend came out as bisexual and nonbinary in the year after my partner and also got a mullet recently. I want to make it clear that I DO NOT at all see my friend's choices or identity as invalid or "copying" my partner. Mullets are back in vogue and I don't have any doubts or concerns about their sexuality or gender, but I do notice the correlation and think it might have something to do with this next bit.

A few weeks ago my friend crashed on my couch, and that night I had a dream about the two of us being something more than friends. I don't remember the details but I woke up very confused and more than a bit uncomfortable that this person was in my house after I had just crossed a lot of lines in my head. The weirdness faded though as soon as we interacted and I remembered that I'm not remotely attracted to my friend.

Then just the other night (literally a day after getting back from my anniversary trip with my partner!!!) I had another dream about my friend, and in this one I was conscious of my actual partner and was conflicted about the prospect of cheating. I'm still confident in the fact that when I think about my friend and I together like that, it doesn't make any sense personality wise and I'm still not attracted to them. So, what the fuck?? I try not to read too much into my dreams because I don't think they necessarily mean anything. BUT, to have 2 dreams wrought with sexual tension and anxiety in a time when my relationship is going great and I'm not particularly stressed? 

These dreams are surfacing all these other concerns about my relationship that I haven't thought about in about a year. I'm spending my college years in a long distance relationship with no guarantee that things will even work out when we can finally live in the same city. Flirting and sexual tension is fun and exciting, and my relationship is so comfortable that while we have some pretty hot sex, it doesn't have that same excitement. How can I envision a life with this person when they're the only person I've ever been with romantically? But what if I broke it off to "explore" and found that nothing else measured up? Last year when my partner had to step away from me to take care of themselves, I was devastated and realized what breaking up would actually look like and I know I don't want that. What if I'm just not as emotionally invested as I used to be? Long distance has required me to subdue some of the intense longing and desire that made our connection so passionate earlier on, and now I wonder if this more easygoing, supportive and comfortable relationship is more like a really good friendship. 

Is my subconscious telling me something I don't want to hear? Why the fuck do I keep dreaming about almost kissing my friend? Am I just overthinking all of this and need to write in my journal? Probably the last one, but please lend your insight because I don't even know who I can talk to about this one!

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SOPHIA:

Howdy howdy howdy, welcome to another addition of Something Totally Normal That Feels Absolutely WILD When It Happens to You!

What you are experiencing could not possibly more normal. All of it! The dreams, the anxiety about the dreams, the concern over what said dreams mean, the questions about what actions you should take. All of it is extrêmement normal which is French for “extremely normal.” Sex dreams about friends/people you don’t plan on having sex dreams about are normal!

And I have (I think!) great news for you: you don’t need to do anything! Other than, well, figure out healthy outlets for your worries and learn how to try to tell the difference between Actual Relationship Concerns and Adjacent Anxieties That Are Spilling Over into the Relationship.

I do not in any, way, shape or form think that sex dreams about a friend are a sign that you and your partner are in trouble. I’ve had sex dreams about the absolute ODDEST people in my life. Frankly, it sounds like you’re horny which makes sense because of the whole…. long distance situation. I don’t know at all what works for you, but maybe this is a sign to masturbate more or differently, to buy a new sex toy, to try video sexting your partner, to watch or read more porn. Get creative! Have some fun! Enjoy the sex dreams! You aren’t cheating, you aren’t directing these dreams. It’s just horniness. I don’t think there’s almost any meaning in who you dreamt about other than that you probably feel comfortable around them and perhaps they maybe look a little bit like your partner. Conclusion: The sex dreams are not the problem at all.

What they have brought up is the problem. They’ve kicked up some anxiety about your relationship, worries that you say you had a year ago. I don’t know if you actually have these worries as much as you’re worried you should have these worries, or worried that you once had these worries. That doesn’t make your anxiety less real, I’m just saying that your job is to figure out if this anxiety is coming from an actual reasonable source—like a majoincompatibilityty between you and your partner, for example—or if instead you’re working backwards a bit and you had anxiety first and then filled in the blank with, Well, This Must Be About My Relationship.

One thing of note to me is that you’re just past the two year mark, which is usually when relationships leave what some call the limerence period. Basically, after about 18 months to two years (possibly longer if you’re long distance), couples usually feel a decrease in the Hot and Horny Excitement Feelings. Things settle into a more contented version of love1. And frankly, love is pretty…boring. That’s often something that is difficult to grapple with as a young person, especially when we’re told that good experiences are all THRILLING!!!! But some good things are just… kind of boring. They’re stable and solid and every day, which are all fabulous things for long term love to be, even if they don’t feel as glitzy as new love.

So, let’s answer some of your questions:

Flirting and sexual tension is fun and exciting, and my relationship is so comfortable that while we have some pretty hot sex, it doesn't have that same excitement. YEP! I’m not trying to be a pessimist or downer at all, but love changes many many many times over the course of years and sometimes that means less excitement. Often, as cliche as it is, your feelings loop around again and you feel that early rush of love and horniness again for your partner. But you likely aren’t going to sustain extreme desperate heat and passion for a person for years and years. I just don’t think that’s a very reasonable goal. Part of desperation and desire is the anxiety of the unknown, the fear of rejection which is not really there once you know a person and are in a committed relationship.

How can I envision a life with[out] this person when they're the only person I've ever been with romantically? I assume you mean how can you envision a life without this person. If you do decide that you’re not into being in a relationship, you don’t need to know what life is going to look like without them! You don’t know! You can’t know! At first it’s going to look like grief. BUT THEN!!!! You will discover new things about yourself, new hobbies, new jobs, new friends, new people you’re into. And slowly you’ll figure out who you are without them. And it will be different. Not better or worse, just different!

But what if I broke it off to "explore" and found that nothing else measured up? Well, it’s certainly possible, but I think very unlikely. I’m sure there are people who have ended relationships who regret it. But you can either choose to bring everything to a screeching halt and live in the belief that nothing else will ever measure up, or you can keep building your life and building your life and let good things in.

Last year when my partner had to step away from me to take care of themselves, I was devastated and realized what breaking up would actually look like and I know I don't want that. Ok! Great! You know you don’t want that right now. Maybe in the future you do! It’s great that you have this info about what you don’t want. Fab!

What if I'm just not as emotionally invested as I used to be? I would say that it might be because long distance is haaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrdddddd as fuuuuuuuuuuck. Talk to your partner about how you’re feeling distant and lonely. See if there are mini-fixes (not solutions, but ways to address this) that make you feel closer to them, that bring back a smidge of excitement or sweetness that might be missing right now.

Long distance has required me to subdue some of the intense longing and desire that made our connection so passionate earlier on, and now I wonder if this more easygoing, supportive and comfortable relationship is more like a really good friendship. I say this humbly, because I’m sure many people disagree with this —so please take this with a whole salt shaker’s worth of salt—but I think there’s a lot of overlap between friendship and romantic relationships. Any deep relationship, really. This is NOT to suggest that you shouldn’t feel hot and horny towards your partner. If you work with your partner on bringing some romance and longing back and it still isn’t feeling non-platonic, that’s absolutely something to address. But I think easygoing support is a really really strong place for a romantic relationship of three years to be.

Is my subconscious telling me something I don't want to hear? About your horniness level, yes, but not about your relationship!

Why the fuck do I keep dreaming about almost kissing my friend? You’re horny and romantically and sexually stymied and your friend is a comforting person, which makes them nice to dream about.

Am I just overthinking all of this and need to write in my journal? You’re asking exquisite questions. You’re introspective and curious and you’re paying attention to your relationship and what you give it and what it gives you. THAT’S GOOD! Let’s not diminish ourselves by labeling that as overthinking. Will a journal help with complex feelings and worries? YES! We love a journal!

Anyway, if your concerns are nebulous worries about A Relationship, rather than this relationship, which seems to be the case, I actually think is a pretty good sign. That is not to say that sometimes people figure out that they are not ready for or interested in A Relationship—a realization which is often as heartbreaking as it is liberating—but I don’t think you’re there yet. You may get there some day, but you don’t need to try to artificially speed up realizations about who you are as a person just in case that might hurt someone else in the future. You don’t have to come into a relationship in your 20s as the person you are going to be at 80 years old, fully formed with absolutely no space for growth. That would be… weird. Is there some chance that you grow more and discover that either this relationship specifically or relationships in general is2 not for you? YES! But right now, it’s working for you—your whole first paragraph is about how great it’s going!

Is long distance hard and shitty? YES, at times. Is there a chance that at the end of this, you two end up in the same city and it doesn’t work out? Also YES. But you don’t live in that future now. You can’t make decisions on knowledge you might have the future.

Talk to your partner about connecting more on a romance level. Open up about your concerns, especially if/when they feel like something you want to take action on. Don’t worry about your sex dreams; there will probably be more—possibly with other people you aren’t exactly jazzed about having sex dreams about! If only we could control our sex dreams!

Essentially: you’re doing amazing sweetie.


You can submit your own question—or yell at me about how I’m wrong—by emailing me at 1followernodad@substack.com

1

Note: this is a general pattern, not a rigid or exact truth for every single couple ever.

2

“Is” is grammatically correct here, pls don’t @ me.