Experts Decode 8 Common Relationship Dreams and What They Mean
Dreams about cheating don't necessarily indicate infidelity.
Have you ever woken up angry at your partner because of a fight you had in a dream? If so, you're not alone. When we dream about turmoil in our relationships, it can be hard to shake the feeling that something is wrong, even if you're getting along just fine in real life. However, if we pay close attention to our dreams, they often do represent the state of our relationships and emotions—just not always in the most literal of ways. So we talked with Lauri Loewenberg, professional dream expert and member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams, and sex and relationship therapist Megan Fleming, Ph.D., to get some more clarity on common relationship dreams.
One important thing to remember, Dr. Fleming says, is that "just because you experience something in your dream does not mean that it's true." So instead of stressing that what happens in your dream—like infidelity or death—is going to happen in real life, use dreams as an opportunity to pay attention to emotions or concerns that need to be examined on a deeper level. Furthermore: "Dreams are a conversation with the self," Loewenberg says. While your partner may be closely connected to the dream, these visions will reflect your personal anxieties, fears, and experiences more than anything. So analyzing what these dreams might represent can help you to confront your wants, needs, and emotions and give you a way to share those with your partner.
Whether you're having cute dreams about your partner or relationship nightmares, keep reading for interpretations of some of the most common scenarios and symbols.
If you dream that your partner is cheating on you.
Loewenberg says cheating dreams are one of the most common types she gets asked about, and there are multiple interpretations. If you've been cheated on in the past, dreaming about your partner cheating is "a very strong indication that you have not healed from [the infidelity] and that you still carry the distrust and the pain with you," she says. Whether the infidelity happened in a past relationship or your current one, this dream signals that you need to dedicate more time to working through this pain and trauma so that you're able to move forward with your current relationship.
However, sometimes cheating dreams aren't about literal infidelity at all. "If you're having a [cheating] dream and there's no cheating [currently happening], don't let it cause suspicion, especially if there are no other red flags," Loewenberg says. Instead of signaling that your partner is being unfaithful, this dream "is alerting you to the fact that there is something that feels like a third wheel in the relationship—and it's not necessarily another person." The cheating in the dream could instead represent something that's consuming a lot of your partner's time and energy, like work, a side hustle, gaming, or even your kids or a new baby.
While the dream may feel a little alarming, Loewenberg says it can be a good conversation starter. This doesn't mean you should walk up to your partner and say, "You cheated on me in my dream;" instead, take the opportunity to let them know that you're feeling a little left out or cheated out of the time and energy you deserve. Loewenberg suggests saying something like, "Let's find a way where we can have more time together, or if we can't have more time, then let's make our time have more quality to it."
If you dream you're cheating on your partner.
Don't worry, you don't need to feel guilty for dreaming about cheating on your partner—no matter how hot and steamy that dream may get. However, Loewenberg says you should ask yourself, "Where is there guilt on my part in the relationship?" If you dream about cheating, it doesn't necessarily indicate that you're having sexual or romantic feelings for someone else but that you might be feeling guilty that you aren't giving your partner enough time and energy.
So, to better understand the reason behind this dream, try to pinpoint areas in your relationship that you may be neglecting and see what's in the way of you committing yourself and your attention to your partner.
If you dream you and your partner broke up.
Don't stress; dreaming about a breakup doesn't mean you and your partner are headed toward the end or even that you secretly want to break up. If a breakup dream seems to be coming out of nowhere and you aren't facing significant trouble in your IRL relationship, it may just indicate that something is a little off.
"These [dreams] usually come on the heels of some kind of disagreement in real life. It could be something where you just fought over where you were going to go for dinner, or it could be something bigger where you feel like your partner is breaking with you on some common ground," Loewenberg says. So, when you get this dream, she recommends asking yourself, "Where is the break in my relationship?" and "Where am I feeling divided?" Confronting these questions could help you unravel some issues that you and your partner need to discuss.
If you dream that you and your partner are fighting.
Similar to the breakup dreams, dreaming about fighting with your partner may not be connected to an actual fight you had but, instead, some underlying tension or anger. When analyzing your dream, Dr. Fleming says to remember that "generally you're everybody in the dream." While that may sound confusing, it really just means that your dream is a reflection of your own thoughts and emotions. So sometimes, the characteristics your partner exhibits in a dream "can really be different parts of yourself that you're projecting onto your partner," she adds.
Loewenberg agrees, explaining, "Even though your partner in the dream may be exhibiting anger, that anger in the dream is really your anger, because this is your creation. It's coming from you."
To understand these dreams, Loewenberg says a good rule of thumb is to look at yourself and your own feelings of anger first. "Pay very close attention to the words that are being said in the dream," she says. "Whatever your partner is saying to you, whatever you're saying to your partner, this would more likely be some kind of anger and fight with yourself." If you aren't feeling any anger toward yourself, then you can start to work outward and see if the things being said in the dream apply to your relationship. "You can gain so much insight by paying close attention to things that are said in the dream," Loewenberg adds.
Plus, remember that before wondering what dreams to tell your partner about, you should always start by working through your own emotions and what the dream meant for you first.
If you dream your partner dies or is dying.
If you've had one of these morbid dreams—or, more accurately, nightmares—you were probably quick to Google "what does it mean when you dream about your partner dying." So we're here to set your mind at ease. "Remember, dreams are symbolic," Loewenberg says. "If you look at them literally, you're going to miss the message, and you're going to freak yourself out unnecessarily."
"Death and dying to the dreaming mind is not about actual physical death," she continues. "It is about something changing or ending." So if you dream about your partner dying, this might represent a change in the dynamic of your relationship. For example, maybe your partner got a more time-consuming job and isn't as present or your sex life together hasn't been as active, and then you dream your partner died. "That's because the way things used to be has ended," Loewenberg says.
To understand this dream, ask yourself, "Where's the death in the relationship? Where's the ending or the change?"
If you dream that you and your partner are having a baby.
Dreaming about babies can bring up a lot of emotions, but they shouldn't be taken literally. These dreams "can be alarming if you are not ready [to have a baby], but it doesn't mean you need to go pee on a stick," said Loewenberg. "It means that, rather than something ending, there is something new happening."
The baby in the dream may mean that your relationship has changed in a way that has positioned you to have more responsibility. For example, maybe you're currently the breadwinner in the relationship or you're supporting a sick spouse.
If you dream you're in a vehicle with your partner.
Cars and vehicles are common symbols in literature and film, and they are in dreams as well. If you dream you're in a car or another vehicle with your partner, Loewenberg says to pay attention to how the drive is going. "Who's behind the wheel? That will usually indicate who's the more dominant one in the relationship," she says. "How well is the car or vehicle performing? Are you driving along just fine? That's a great sign. Or are the brakes not working? That's a good indication that somewhere in the relationship, you need to put the brakes on something, you need to slow down in some way, or something within the relationship is out of control."
If you dream about dogs.
A dream about a dog may seem like just that, but Loewenberg says dogs can actually be common symbols indicating the state of your relationships. "In a dream with a dog—whether it's your own actual dog, a dog you used to have, or just some random dream dog—the dog will typically represent the loyalty, friendship, and companionship within a relationship," she says. She explains that it's important to pay attention to the condition and the behavior of the dog as that will directly reflect the condition and nature of your relationship. "If the dog is sick and dying, that's not a good sign. Something in the relationship is unhealthy," she says. "If the dog is super playful and loving and friendly or talking, that's a reflection that your relationship is healthy and happy."
No matter what scenarios you and your partner (or even a dog) get up to in your subconscious mind, remember that the emotions and feelings expressed in the dream are more important than the exact circumstances.