The Symbolism Behind Promiscuity

A woman dreamed,

I am with my daughter, Sarah, in a large underground cavern. The area seems suffused with daylight, although I cannot make out its source. The rock walls are a deep forest green, rounded and smooth, as if the space has been carved out of the earth and then polished. It is divided into rooms and she takes me on a tour. In each room we see a different couple having sex in a variety of positions. When we get to the last room it is just she and I. She moves towards me in a sexually inviting way. I quickly step away and affirm a clear boundary. “That is inappropriate,” I say. “You are my daughter and we are not having sex.”

This was, as it would be for most mothers, a rather unsettling and confusing dream to the dreamer. Sometimes the unconscious likes to use provocative themes or images to get your attention while simultaneously communicating important messages about life.

In dreams, sex is typically used to symbolize a union between two parts of your personality. It represents a psychological integration of one energy or perspective with another. In these types of dreams it is important to pay attention to whom you are having sex for this reflects the attitude you are incorporating into your own worldview, or which you are being asked to incorporate. Thus, such a dream can be giving encouragement or issuing a warning depending upon the characteristics of the person you are having sex with.

The underground space has sculpted walls of polished rock. It is a symbol of the unconscious that also evokes associations to the womb. Here, growth is taking place. Masculine and feminine aspects of the personality are uniting, generating creative energy and the potential for new life.

When asked for her thoughts regarding her daughter, the dreamer said that Sarah had been promiscuous as a teenager and young adult. This would suggest that the dreamer is being asked to integrate or incorporate promiscuity into her own life, the thought of which she immediately recoils from. She sees her daughter’s invitation to physical and sexual intimacy as taboo, a boundary which must not be crossed.

But, looked at symbolically, what is the invitation to promiscuity really about? It is not about sexual encounters in the outer world. It is not about having sex with her daughter. It is, rather, concerned with integrating more of the energy and wisdom of her inner self into her conscious life, a kind of symbolic or psychological promiscuity. Understandably, the ego, symbolized by the dreamer, finds this idea threatening and taboo. This is because greater consciousness and development of your deeper self can have a transformative effect upon your life. Such transformations are typically experienced by the ego as a kind of death. A lesser state of being and perceiving is being sacrificed so that the larger personality can emerge.

This inner drive of personality growth through the integration of undeveloped potentials is frequently the hidden basis of promiscuous behavior in outer life. We are drawn to undeveloped aspects of our own personality which we encounter in other people. Put differently, we project unconscious attributes of our own self onto individuals in our outer life who embody these attributes. Sexual relationship with these individuals would then seem to serve the integration of those characteristics into our own personality. Unfortunately, this is rarely what happens because awareness of what we are really seeking and why we are seeking it is rarely present. What the deeper personality wants is not another sexual encounter so much as a deepened awareness of why we are attracted to the people we are and what aspects of ourselves they represent. With this knowledge we can more consciously develop the attributes and abilities awakened in ourselves through our attraction to others.

Copyright © Andy Drymalski, Ed.D.
Excerpts may be used provided full and clear credit is given author with link to original article.

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