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Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2009

Dream Come True?

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I've been in a relationship with my girlfriend for about six months now. I've always asked her to tell me what turns her on and what turns her off because I want our sex life to be healthy and frequent for as long as possible. I've recently discovered that she often has erotic dreams of other guys (mainly celebrities), and she actually has orgasms while dreaming. I'm not sure how to react to this! I guess I get a little jealous about it-I mean, how would you feel if your boyfriend often dreamed he was having sex with other women and he had wet dreams all the time? She's never admitted that I was the guy in her dreams; it's always someone else. When I have an erotic dream, it sticks with me for days or even weeks, and I think about it often. Any advice for me?

My advice in a nutshell would be: Don't waste your time being jealous. Everyone has dreams or fantasies, and for most people they are very far away from ever becoming reality.

Let's talk about dreams first. Dreams that we have while asleep are usually involuntary, meaning that we can't control their content. It's normal for people to have erotic dreams and to become aroused by these dreams, but sometimes we wake up and think, "Why the hell did I just dream about that?" It might not be anything that we'd give a second thought to when we're awake. Sometimes erotic dreams are even disturbing and something we'd prefer not to think about. While the types of dreams we have can sometimes be clues to the workings of our unconscious mind, they can also be random associations with no profound meaning. So, don't hold your girlfriend responsible for the content of her dreams.

The term "fantasy" is usually used to describe a waking dream with erotic content, which we have more control over. But even if your girlfriend is having fantasies about sex with celebrities while she's bored at work, I still don't think it's anything to be jealous about. Sexual fantasies about celebrities are incredibly common. For many of us, our first sexual awakening might be a crush on an unreachable celebrity (just look at the hordes of preteen girls currently swooning over anything related to Robert Pattinson in Twilight). This is a safe way for us to explore our newfound erotic potential without the possibility of harmful consequences. It's not that different when we're adults-fantasizing about Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie or both at once allows us some sexual variety without putting our relationships or sexual safety at risk. As long as people are not fixating on a fantasy so much that it's becoming more important than their real relationships, then it's relatively harmless.

Many people even fantasize about having sex with a celebrity while they're actually having sex with a partner. Sometimes that extra fantasy is what someone needs to get over the top and have a great orgasm or sexual experience. Again, I don't think this is anything to be jealous about, and it could actually help spice up a couple's sex life and add some zing to a sexual relationship.

The important thing to keep in mind is that fantasy is not reality, and for most people a fantasy is not something that they'd actually want or expect to become reality. It is so unlikely that an average person would get a chance to have sex with a celebrity that it's not worth getting jealous over.

One final reason not to be jealous is that these dreams and fantasies probably don't have anything to do with you. Your girlfriend most likely had them long before she met you, and it's doubtful that they are a reflection on your relationship or how attracted she is to you. In addition, her memories of her dreams may or may not be like yours-she may have an erotic dream and forget about it soon after waking, rather than thinking about it frequently, as you do. Neither experience is inherently better or worse, just different. Be careful not to attribute your own behaviors to someone else when their experiences might be dissimilar to your own; that's a recipe for misunderstanding.

You established good, open communication about your girlfriend's desires and sexual fantasies. That's healthy and a great foundation for a relationship. Don't ruin it by reacting negatively to her dreams and fantasies, which are normal and really don't have anything to do with you.

Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them tolaura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.

Laura Anne Stuart has a master's degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than a decade. She owns theTool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee's East Side.