Wet Dreams May Come

Photo by Nick Gordon on Unsplash

The first shame is waking up wet.

We spend our early childhoods avoiding this experience. We are taught how not to wet the bed or our pants. We learn that being dry is a sign of maturity, of responsibility. Being dry is an accomplishment. Being wet is a failure.

So even though there is no actual, rational judgment involved in being an adult and waking up to sticky genitals and soggy pajamas, there’s still the primal toilet-training violation: our body was bad.

The second shame is when it doesn’t stop after puberty.

We expect awkward experiences as our teenage bodies grow into themselves. We understand that hormones are raging beyond our control, and that explosive but unpreventable eruptions will occur: acne, emotions, nocturnal emissions. But (the adults promise us), it will all be finished soon, resolved into a reliable stasis of discipline and accountability. Our faces will clear. Our emotions will cool. Our penises will keep their contents to themselves until we choose a more appropriate moment of release.

And so we endure wet dreams every single night for ten years, comforted only by the certainty that eventually this obnoxious phase shall pass.

And I guess it does for most people? As far as I know, I’m an exception to the rule: a thirty-something guy who still has an average of one wet dream per month. I’ve spent well over a decade waiting for them to go away, with no luck. They happen randomly and unpredictably, regardless of masturbation frequency, partnered sex, hydration, mood, or anything else — including dreams.

And that’s the worst.

The third shame is having a wet dream without the damn dream.

I have extremely vivid dreams every night of the week. They are surreal and stressful, and I can almost always remember each alarming detail after waking the next morning… except for the wet dreams. Not only are they rarely erotic, but they’re also rarely memorable. Instead of waking to echoes of flying and falling, or losing my teeth, or being naked at work, I wake on these particular mornings to a blurry watercolor in my brain and a soggy watercolor between my legs. I do not come during the climax of erotic nocturnal fantasies of the most impossible imaginative variety. I do not come to rousing recreations of pleasurable sex with past partners. I simply wake up deflated and defiled, with sore balls and frustrated emotions.

I’ve seen other writers here (mostly women) express delight in the unexpected pleasure of having wet dreams and sleep orgasms throughout adulthood, and I’m not trying to suggest it can’t be a rewarding experience for most folks. And I’m not trying to exercise some kind of tantric (or paranoid) control over my bodily fluids.

But if I have to wake up gross every few weeks for the rest of my life, I’d at least like to involve a porn-worthy dream beforehand, each time, to make it worth the bother and laundry.

’Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

Mild-mannered reports from below the belt and beyond. Cisgender/pansexual/medium-aged/Left Coast of North America.

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