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The science of sleep 

Are odd dreams due to deceased dad's criminal behavior?

My dad just died. He was a pedophile. A lot of stuff is coming up for both my brother and me now. There are many things he did that we know about, but some things happened when we were so young that we're not sure about. My bro just said he's had dreams throughout his life — many more of them lately — about a cock being in his mouth. He's hetero and has been married for more than 20 years. He wonders if any other straight men have dreams like this or if it is some manifestation of the abuse. He is too afraid to ask any of his straight male friends. So I ask you: Do straight men ever have dreams of a cock in their mouth? Or is it odd? Gay? What?

The Brothers Grim

"I am very sorry for TBG's loss, as complicated as it is," said Dr. James Cantor, a psychologist, associate professor at the University of Toronto, and editor in chief of Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment. "The quick answer to his question: no. Although it is unusual, having dreams like that does not, by itself, mean a man is gay or otherwise into penises. (OK, technically, it's "penes.") Although there haven't been any formal surveys, gay men usually dream (and fantasize while masturbating) about men in general: muscles and faces, celebrities and crushes, the range of their favorite sex acts, etc. I haven't heard a gay man — friend or client — describe dreams restricted lifelong to just penis-in-mouth."

Dr. Cantor offers a caveat for other readers: "For a long time, many folks believed that such dreams were repressed memories trying to surface. But there was never any good evidence for it. In fact, a great deal of harm has been done by well-meaning 'therapists' who, instead of helping clients to recover lost memories, wound up creating false memories of abuse and destroying whole families." So very clearly and for the record: "Having such dreams, by itself, does not mean a person was abused."

What is odd, however, is the long-standing, repetitive nature of your dreams.

"Although dreams do not tell us anything specific (again, these are not memories-in-waiting or great symbolic themes), they can suggest that there is something on his mind," said Dr. Cantor. "If life is going generally well, and this is just a harmless eccentricity, so be it. If, however, your brother is experiencing more general distress, then that distress — whether fallout from childhood abuse, from the death of your father, or from something else — could be targeted with a bona fide, licensed therapist. Complicated situations like yours almost always involve multiple strong and conflicting emotions. Because you say lots of stuff (other than these dreams) is coming up for you both, an objective outsider/listener can indeed be of great help in sorting it out."

I am a 29-year-old lesbian. My best friend has an incredibly hot sister to whom I am very attracted. Let's call her Gladys. Gladys is about 10 years older than me and happily married to a man. We talk about life on Facebook and text each other frequently. Recently, things have gotten a bit more flirtatious. I am dying to say to her, "I am super-attracted to you and I don't want to assume anything about your agreements with your hubby. If you ever want to explore your sexuality with a girl, I would love to be that girl." It seems like a delicate situation. I love my best friend's entire family. I love their mom. I have spent holidays at their house and vacationed with them. I don't want to embarrass myself. But I know she couldn't ask me that same thing. It just wouldn't be right from her side, since I am her little sister's best friend. Is there a way to roll this out?

Lesbian Under Straight Tease

Let's do a quick risk/reward analysis, LUST. By hitting on this woman, you're risking your relationship with your best friend, your best friend's sister, your best friend's mom, and all future family holiday/vacation invites for the potential reward of getting into the pants of your best friend's hot married older sister once or twice. Seems like a lot to risk if you ask me, LUST, and you did. That said, there are a lot of married bi women out there. But if Gladys has an open relationship with her husband — or if they're actively searching for a unicorn — it would be better if they made the first move. So keep flirting and live in hope.

Recently on the Savage Lovecast: Dan speaks with Daniel Bergner about foot fetish shame; and do bisexuals need a new label? It's all at savagelovecast.com.

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