What Does It Mean If You Dream About Cheating on Your Partner?

Here's how to figure out the root cause.

Once the sun comes up you open your eyes and look at your partner sleeping next to you — only to realize you just had a dream that you spent the night with someone else. You may laugh it off, smile at the memory of finally hooking up with your celebrity crush or feel so ashamed you want to pull the covers over your head.

While you don’t have any control over your dreams, what you dream about may hold a deeper meaning. If you can’t shake off a dream about being unfaithful, it’s worth exploring why you spent your night imagining you were with someone else — even if you did so unconsciously. You might just need to spice things up for date night or you might need to figure out each other’s love languages.

According to Matt Langdon, Chief of Wellness & Mental Health at The Great Brain Experiment, “dreams about cheating can have a variety of different meanings, depending on the individual’s own personal context and life experience.” Langdon thinks it’s important to figure what caused you to have the dream in the first place so that you can figure out how to address the root cause.

RELATED: 10 Reasons Why You’re Dreaming About Your Ex

How Did The Dream Make You Feel?

The first step to figuring out what your cheating dream means is to think about how it made you feel when you woke up. Kevin Darné dating coach and author of My Cat Won’t Bark! (A Relationship Epiphany) suggests spending some time reflecting on how you reacted to the dream. Did you find the dream to be disturbing? Enjoyable? Irrational? Were you sad because it was only a dream? Or were you relieved because it was just a dream? Figuring this out will provide some important clues about what the dream means.

It Could Be All About You

Dr. Carder Stout, a Los Angeles Based psychologist who specializes in dream analysis as well as relationships, says that cheating dreams are often not about cheating at all.

“In dreams, often our partner is representing something else entirely such as a habit, a decision we have to make [or] a quality in ourselves that we must contend with,” says Dr. Stout. When this happens, the “cheating” correlates to our ability to be honest with ourselves. If you have a cheating dream, Dr. Stout says to ask yourself, “Am I being deceptive about certain aspects of my life?” She notes that many of us aren’t completely honest with ourselves about everything and that’s OK. Is it time to change jobs? Kick the drinking habit? Break up with a toxic friend? A cheating dream may be your mind’s way of getting you to focus on your self-deception and to connect to a more honest place inside yourself.

Woman Sleeping

What Does the Person You Cheated With Represent?

Consider what the romantic partner in your dream represents.  Are they successful financially? That could indicate you are worried about cash flow. Is it someone who exudes confidence? That could be an indication you need to work on recognizing your own self-worth. Is it the most fun person you know? It might be time to find a better balance in your life and see friends more.

You Feel Guilty About Something

Rachel Sommer, Ph.D., clinical sexologist, and co-founder of My Sex Toy Guide says that for most people, dreams about cheating signal feelings of guilt and self-betrayal. They usually appear when someone has compromised their integrity or beliefs, romantically or otherwise. Did you do something questionably ethical at work? Did you exclude a good friend from a girl’s night out? Even though these feelings have guilt have nothing to do with your partner, they might manifest themselves as a dream where you cheat on your partner.

There Could Be a Problem in Your Relationship

Most people who have a dream about cheating on their partner are worried that the dream indicates there’s a problem in their relationship. This may be the case. Chris Tompkins a marriage and family therapist with Theara says such dreams may suggest you feel unfilled in your relationship. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you wish to be unfaithful in real life. Instead, the dream might be your mind’s way of highlighting issues in your relationship that need attention.

Who you were cheating with could be a clue as to the deeper meaning of the dream. Were you cheating with someone who is very affectionate? Maybe your partner has been withdrawn. Thinking about what the other person in your dream represents could be  clue as to what is missing in your current relationship. These types of  dreams could also indicate a fear of abandonment or other insecurities in your relationship. A dream about cheating might also occur if you recently had a fight with your partner.

A Dream Is Just a Dream

Sometimes a dream is just a dream.  Dr. Brenda Wade, psychologist, founder of the Modern Love and Relationship Training Programs and author of four books on love, thinks that often you don’t need to read too much into a cheating dream. “You basically have no control over your dreams. It’s something your brain does when you’re unconscious. Just ignore them,” she says. Dr. Wade believes that if you are in a strong relationship and love your partner, you probably already know to brush off things that make you think about cheating and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize the relationship. If you are still worried about the dream, Dr. Wade recommends fantasizing about your partner.

Should You Tell Your Partner?

Dr. Caroline Madden, a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and author of three books on infidelity, thinks that sharing your dream can only lead to trouble. “While [your partner] knows you know you have no control over your dreams, they also know you do have control over telling them,” says Dr. Madden. If you choose to tell your partner about your dream, they will want to know why. Is it because you want to be with someone else? Are you threatening to cheat? Some things are better kept to yourself. If you really need to talk about your dream, discuss it with a friend or your therapist.




Jamie Davis Smith
Jamie is a mother of four, writer and attorney. Read more
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