I worked at a Christian boys camp a few summers back — quite the coming-of-age experience, to say the least. I chronicled much of that summer in the final chapters of my book, Struggle Central, including stories of homosexuality and male inferiority.

And yet I left out so much from that summer. I’m sure this blog will give me an outlet to tell more of these stories. Like today’s episode, for instance:

The one with other male counselors and their wet dreams.

During staff training at the start of the summer, I embarked on a team-building campout with some of my fellow counselors. It was a short hike to our campsite, though entirely uphill. By the time we summited, we were all sweating and panting amid the sweltering humidity of a North Carolina summer.

Before I could finish wiping my brow at the peak, half the other guys had already taken off some combination of their shirts, pants, or both. And I wondered what universe I’d unwittingly entered.

I was setting up camp alongside one guy without a shirt and another without pants, and the one without pants said, “I really hope I don’t have a wet dream tonight. I didn’t pack an extra pair of underwear.”

Said the one without a shirt: “Big mistake. You always bring extra underwear.”

The conversation continued down this path of wet dreams and why we as men experience them. The shirtless one summed it up thusly: “You only get wet dreams if you don’t masturbate regularly.”

I, of course, didn’t say a word as I played with sticks and leaves, my shirt and pants both firmly attached to my body. I’d never heard wet dreams and masturbation discussed so openly — so openly among men my age — Christian men my age — Christian men my age wearing varying levels of clothing.

Now, I’m not exactly well-versed in the anatomy of nocturnal emissions (I took physics instead of anatomy in high school), but in my own personal experience, Shirtless Guy’s statement proves accurate.

I don’t get wet dreams when I masturbate regularly; they only happen when I don’t.

Like when it happened last week.

I recently celebrated five months of sexual sobriety (but who’s counting?), including abstention from masturbation. Some days I don’t even think about it; others, it’s all I think about. In previous masturbation-free stretches, I’ve abstained for far fewer weeks before experiencing a wet dream to break the tension.

But for WHATEVER reason, this time it took my body five freaking months to finally give me a break.

It felt good. It was a relief. Five months is a long time to go without any kind of release. Before last week happened, I couldn’t tell you the last time I’d had a wet dream.

Maybe it’s silly or my obsessive searching for Jesus where He doesn’t dare exist, but I see wet dreams as an almost supernatural way to cope, as nudges for me to keep refraining and that my body — and God through my body — will provide all my needs. Sexual ones, included.

On the other hand, I can also see how wet dreams might be “distracting,” maybe even accompanied by a sexual dream or spurring sexual, lewd thoughts. This hasn’t been my experience, but I know of others who could speak more to this.

My wet dreams feel like a more natural outlet for seminal emissions than masturbation. I’ve written about masturbation before, that however I try to rationalize the act, it only ever succeeds in fueling my fantasy addiction.

So, I’m grateful for the releases as they come. Even if it takes five freaking months.

And, well, I suppose that’s all I’ve got to say about wet dreams.

What do you make of wet dreams? Do you get them with or without regular masturbation? How do you cope sexually? (This is a touchy subject, I know. So, if this is just too much for you…uh, what’d you eat for dinner last night?)

* Photo courtesy mr-numb, Creative Commons (cropped).

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    42 Comments
    • Reply bluzhawk

      16 September 2016, 1:08 am

      “Well, here I am, going all Kevin Frye on you guys with a post like this one.” Tom, your whole post just killed me man, I was smiling the whole way. I have nothing else to add except: scrambled egg wrap, lightly salted with a little ketchup.

    • Reply Kevin Frye

      16 September 2016, 1:27 am

      I guess I feel honored by this post. I at least appreciate the shout-out and your declaration of love for me, Tom. I love you, too. And kudos to you for breaking out into such touchy territory! I know that isn’t always easy for you. Good job, man! I loved reading this!
      Wet dreams have been an issue for me to reckon with over the years. I can understand their practicality and goodness and, like you said, how God uses them to provide for us what we need. I’ve heard people say that guys only get wet dreams when they don’t masturbate, but that hasn’t been my experience. There have been times when I’ve had wet dreams every night for three or four nights in a row, even when I was in a habit of masturbating. Plus, even after getting married, I’ve had wet dreams and streaks of them for two or three consecutive nights, even when I was having sex AND masturbating. It was like my dick just couldn’t get enough.
      And then the opposite has been true, too. There have been times when I’ve gone days or weeks without any sexual release and still had no wet dreams.
      Now, I like wet dreams. They’re messy and inconvenient sometimes, but they feel good and I can thank God for them. However, I typically don’t find them giving me the relief and satisfaction that many anti-masturbation Christian teachers say they give. Also, just as you said, my wet dreams are almost always accompanied by sexual dreams, often of a homosexual nature, filling my head with images I’d rather not hold onto. Only in the last few years has the homosexual aspect faded away. I often wake up hornier after a wet dream than I was before having the wet dream. So, for me, although I like wet dreams and I agree that they are good and can be real blessings to us, I’d rather find other ways to deal with my seminal build-up.
      Congratulations on your wet dream, dude! I feel like we should throw you a party to celebrate! Maybe I’ll get you a novelty T-shirt to commemorate the event.

    • Reply Karl Jacob

      16 September 2016, 1:45 am

      I was talking about YOB to a friend and Kevin’s posts came up. It’s like there’s Kevin, and there’s the rest of the brothers. Kevin, you definitely stand out! (In a very awkward, but good, way lol)
      More serious comment coming shortly…

      • Reply Eddie

        16 September 2016, 6:14 am

        “It’s like there’s Kevin, and there’s the rest of the brothers.”
        That is kind of what I sounded like when I tried to explain this blog site to my therapist the last two times we met. Still love you Kevin!

    • Reply Karl Jacob

      16 September 2016, 1:52 am

      Wet dreams just aren’t that relieving to me, and, honestly, I can’t remember having any sexual dreams whatsoever accompanying them. That said, I gather that my sex drive is lower than a lot of guys, so that might be part of it. Oh, and dinner tonight was pork and rice, leftover from the fajitas I made the day before.

    • Reply mistaken identity

      16 September 2016, 2:02 am

      Great post, Tom, but that opening was my favorite. I didn’t look for the author, just assuming that Kevin had written this.
      5 months seems like an awful long time.
      Since i’m married, I should probably talk about my dinner. I only remember the wine, and I really don’t like wine that much. We were celebrating a cat returning home. We thought he was dead. So my daughter wanted to celebrate. Ah, I also seem to remember and energy bar. My wife and I ate at a world class restaurant on Monday, so I was taking it easy on calories the next couple of days.

    • Reply Jim Roberts

      16 September 2016, 9:15 am

      I started reading this post when I
      woke up – 4am to catch a flight home – and I kept thinking WHY are you going so long without a release when you are married?? OOOH , this Tom not Kevin! Lol
      I’ve only had one in my life. At age 13 – shortly before I discovered MB. It was accompanied by a vivid sexual dream – not SSA but maybe more disturbing… This was a year after having some inappropriate sexual experimentation and being abused rather sadistically by an older boy. I was still naive about what an orgasm was , until I had one by MB.
      I’ve only gone a few weeks “celibate” here and there as I’ve worked on sexual sobriety in my 50s. Doubt I’ll have another wet dream – but one never knows for sure.
      I am 47 days sober from the fantasy cybersex nasty stuff. I know how alluring that is. I do “allow” myself to MB every week or two. But last night I had some “nasty fantasies” while MBing, and well – probably should stop that too :-o.
      I never had any “straight” friends openly discuss MB or wet dreams – the former only in condescending ways. But I was often around peers that were half naked and so tempting. Especially when we were all high on drugs and/or alcohol. I was very shy about my body – I felt inferior. So shirts and pants stayed on. One time we were at a creek on a hot day, the other guys had stripped to their underwear to swim. I was wearing long jeans, and just watching. A girl there asked me “are you a pussy?” Well needless to say I wished I was invisible or dead. I know now that PTSD affected me. But at the time I really hated myself.
      I probably wrote too much. Deluxe chick-Fil-a sandwich and waffle fries…..

      • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

        17 September 2016, 2:58 pm

        Thanks for sharing some of your story, Jim. Congrats on 47 days. That’s huge. One day at a time, brother. Stay accountable with whoever you can. Connection is key.
        And I am ALL about the Chick-Fil-A dinner option.

    • Reply Brian

      16 September 2016, 12:44 pm

      I don’t have any straight friends that talk openly about those things either. I can honestly say I’ve never had a wet dream in my life. Its probably because I MB way too much.

      • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

        17 September 2016, 3:02 pm

        That’s interesting that you’ve never had one, Brian. I’m trying to remember the first time I experienced one. Somewhere in my teenage years, I imagine. And nobody ever told me something like that even happened. I just remember waking up feeling…ohhhh???

    • Reply Josh

      16 September 2016, 4:04 pm

      Great post, Tom! I had some BBQ chicken with mashed potatoes, and corn bread last night… ahhh comfort food!!

    • Reply Eddie

      17 September 2016, 3:09 pm

      Like Brian I can’t say I had a wet dream ever either that I recall and I do MB myself quite a bit (not a saint here). My memory is pretty good but not up to par with the likes of Sheldon Cooper. After consulting WebMD, it sounds like you could very well be fine Tom. If it does become an issue/problem I would consult a doctor like a urologist. My 2 cents. Dinner? It was chili cheese fries from Wendy’s.

    • Reply naturgesetz

      17 September 2016, 3:39 pm

      Great post, Tom, and great question.
      It was leftover lobster scampi with linguini and grilled asparagus from a restaurant dinner on Wednesday. I used to be able to have an appetizer, a big main course, and dessert at a restaurant, and finish it all. We’re talking regular restaurants here, not fast food places. Several years ago, there wasn’t room for dessert anymore. Now I find I’m taking leftovers home. And the other day, I didn’t want to finish the small italian sub from the sandwich shop, so I saved about a quarter of it for lunch.
      Where were we? Oh yes, wet dreams. I don’t masturbate, and I haven’t noticed a regular pattern. If I kept a diary. it could be interesting to record, and see if there was a pattern. Maybe you should do that, Tom. 😉 All I can say is I get several over the course of a year. There is usually some erotic content of a homosexual nature. Once it was based on the opening scene of the movie “The Lost Boys.”
      I agree with you that they are the natural way the body deals with an excess of semen. The discussion reminds me that the body also reabsorbs unused fluid, and the idea that some bodies do it more efficiently than others makes a lot of sense. That fact that people get them even when they are getting plenty of sex and masturbating frequently suggests that those things can stimulate the body to produce more semen than when there is no “demand” for it. The infrequency of wet dreams among many who don’t masturbate or have sex seems to mean that the idea that we need “release” is hogwash. People may want it, and enjoy it, but that doesn’t mean they need it.

    • Reply Alan Gingery

      22 September 2016, 2:10 pm

      Last night I had mac & cheese. Ha ha ha!
      I probably had a wet dream or two as a teen, but don’t remember any occasion exactly…so maybe yes and maybe no. I masturbated a lot as a teen.
      And I have had regular ejaculations often enough that my body never had a natural need for a release. Till last year. I was off porn and not masturbating, when I had the first wet dream I can definitely say I remember. I had another one following that, but it wasn’t as intense.
      So how do I cope sexually? Well, at the risk of being controversial, I masturbate. I do my best to do it honestly and without lust. You can reference Kevin Frye’s posts on masturbation for more background…
      I don’t use porn, fantasy, sexting, chat rooms, video-cams, etc. Just good old jacking off. I would rather have sex with my wife, but she is not responsive to me sexually. I grieve that, but it is the way things are. So, I manage my sexual energy alone and I do my best to keep my mind clear of lust–and if there is something lustful, to stop until my thoughts are under control. OK. Yeah, mac & cheese! A great dinner, don’t you think?

    • Reply Anon

      24 September 2016, 1:30 am

      Love this question. The last time I had a wet dream was when I was 10 or 12? I don’t have sexual dreams very often.
      I will tell you the last time I had sexual dream was a few months ago. I dreamt that I was with a man, making out, and a little more than that. I woke up, SO HARD. Really unusual for me though.
      What do I do to cope? I don’t really cope. I usually stay in the moment and finish what I started.
      The guilt voice inside of me says that’s a sin. Heck, that’s probably my conscience. So it’s a little :/ overall.

      • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

        24 September 2016, 12:47 pm

        Hey, thanks for sharing Anon. I hear you on the “staying in the moment.” It can be so hard to break away when you’re sucked into temptation and distraction. Changing my scenery helps sometimes: stepping outside, going for a walk, even simply closing my eyes and taking deeper breaths. It isn’t wrong to have sexual thoughts and feelings — we are sexual creatures, after all. But keeping a healthy focus can be a challenge.
        Hope to hear more from you, brother.

    • Reply Gaurav Balli

      24 September 2016, 7:00 pm

      Tom, a HUGE congrats on five months of sexual sobriety man! That is so AWESOME!!!
      Yeah I experience the same. Wet dreams only occur for me when I abstain from masturbation. And I have to abstain from masturbation. I can’t “just do it” so innocently, without sexual fantasies beginning to spew inside my head. But hey ho! I’ve been trying (and also failing) [miserably] at sexual sobriety. Literally like you said, some days I don’t even think about it. And other days it’s the only thing on my damn mind, no matter how much I try to divert my thoughts otherwise. But I will not quit!
      Your abstinence is really encouraging.
      Very grateful for this post. I guess wet dreams are a small ray of hope along the way.
      (You know those sentences you never think you’d say in life? Yeah, the above was one of them.)
      Congrats again bro, I’m like, so proud of you lol! Keep going. Prayin’ for ya!! 🙂

      • Reply Thomas Mark Zuniga

        25 September 2016, 3:41 pm

        Hey, thanks Gaurav. Your prayers and support mean so much. Please keep them coming. I need them everyday. I can definitely relate with you about motoring right along with sexual sobriety…and then other days it’s a constant struggle.

    • Reply Charlie

      29 September 2016, 5:35 pm

      I only remember one when I was about 12 (ish. . ?) a year or two before I figured out how to operate it manually. I have no idea if I’ll ever have another, my body seems very able to adapt to demand, whether it’s 6 months or 6 times a day.

    • Reply Jerry Reiter

      28 October 2016, 11:27 pm

      I grew up in a great Christian home and did not know what a gay person was when puberty arrived (a long time ago). I began having wet dreams, all of guys I treated like they were women. I was not masturbating, had never viewed porn, never been molested, never had taken part in sex in any way. I did not know where such ideas came from, did not want them, butt there they were. Awakening to one’s homosexuality can be frightening, but it will always be a part of our lives.

    • Reply Bradley Joel Morton

      12 January 2017, 11:58 pm

      I hate wet dreams. When they happen, I feel out of control. My body is doing somthing that I have no conscious control over. At least when I masturbate I am in some control, and can determine the determine the duration. My lurid fantasies of having sex with other men are unregulated during a wet dream, things and ideas that I would rather not think about.
      Beef soup with tomatos and bell peppers – my wife tried to cook. More successful this time, other times, oh the humanity!

    • Reply Dean Bailey

      13 September 2017, 2:49 pm

      Do I even dare to touch this… Awww heck, why not!
      How’s two nights ago for ya! It woke me up immediately, too… which, of course, also allowed me to remember the dream that I was having. That’s what I’ll come back to in a minute.
      And no, I didn’t go intentionally looking for a YOB posting on wet dreams, either. I just sort of stumbled across Tom’s post on “page 11,” as I’m reading back through all of the blogs I’ve missed, before finding YOB.
      So, I read through all the comments as well, and no one else really touched on what I’m about to. Has anyone else ever felt guilty over a dream, before?
      I mean, the fact of the sexual enjoyment… there’s no denying it! I mean, just look at what happened at the end of the dream! So, the fact that the dream involved another guy does weigh somewhat heavily on me, both spiritually and emotionally.
      I mean, yeah, I “get it” and all, that there’s not a whole lot of control we can ultimately have over a dream. But it raises moral questions inside of me about how my daily thought life, and my 53 years of good and bad choices in life, have effected the dreams that I might otherwise experience?
      Anyway, I humbly admit that the very first words out of my mouth after I woke up ejaculating, were, “God… please forgive me!”
      Was that even necessary to pray? I honestly don’t know that it is, brothers. But it was necessary for me, personally, in the moment, knowing I’d just had an erotic dream about being with another guy.
      There’s certainly been no lapse in other opportunities to ejaculate in recent days, leading up to the dream, either. And it had been years and years since I had a wet dream! But then, all the sudden, just like that, tharrrrr she blows!
      Oh, and did I mention that I also sleep naked?… How’s that for “too much information!” So yeah, I also had a mess to clean up.
      My wife was actually in our bathroom getting her bath when it happened, and it hadn’t been very long that I’d even been asleep, at that point. So then, I also got to explain why I was suddenly awake again, and cleaning ejaculate off of myself. What fun!… And, as if that wasn’t embarassing enough, guess what she asks me…
      Yup! You guessed it… “What were you dreaming?”
      Needless to say, my lightning-fast brain reasoned quite quickly that there’s just some personal matters which are indeed better left unrevealed to one’s wife. And so I answered that I didn’t remember.
      I don’t know what triggered the wet dream. But I guess it does make for a “worthy” addition to these other comments, under this particular blog post.

    • Reply Marty Bass

      31 August 2019, 9:26 am

      I used to have many wet dreams as a teenage boy, being woken up by crunching ejaculations and a feeling of confusion of what’s just been happening to me but I got used to them. I still have them like once or twice a month and I’m 41, sometime it wakes me up and sometime I sleep through it.

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