When you’re in a monogamous relationship, you’d like to think you can trust your partner to be faithful. You love and respect one another too much to ever have an affair, emotional or sexual, with someone else. However, even if you know that logically, that doesn’t always dispel the fear that it might happen one day. So, what does it mean when you dream about your partner cheating? We spoke with a dream expert to find out the answer to that question and find out some tips on what to do about it.
What does it mean when you dream about your partner cheating?
When you wake up from a dream about your partner having sex with the barista at your local coffee spot or embarking on a torrid affair with the new receptionist at work, you might worry that there’s a reason this creeped out from your subconscious. Is your gut trying to tell you something? Could your partner really be cheating and you’ve been missing the signs in your waking life? Thankfully, that’s likely not the case.
Jean-Baptiste Beau, founder of dream journaling app Oniri, tells Bolde that there are likely other issues at play. It’s better to ask why it’s happening rather than what it might mean when you dream about your partner cheating. For instance, it may be about expectations or, more likely, fear.
“You might have this dream if you believe your partner is cheating on you in your waking life. Because your brain believes that, it creates a world in which that is the truth,” Beau explains. “Or, it may come from your fear. You are afraid that your partner could cheat on you. Fears are often represented in dreams, so this is the most likely reason. Revonsuo’s Threat Simulation Theory about the purpose of dreams is that they exist to train our brains to react to hard situations.”
Beau states that personal history can also influence what we dream about. For instance, if you’ve been cheated on in a past relationship, you’re much more likely to dream about it happening again. However, he adds that every person and situation is unique.
“It’s important to remember that there is no universal meaning to dreams. Rather, each dream should be interpreted with the dreamer’s context, and only the dreamer can give the final interpretation,” he says.
What to do if it’s recurring
Beau notes that if you have a recurring dream about your partner cheating, it may mean you have unresolved trauma that needs to be addressed. It’s your brain’s way of telling you that there’s a very serious issue at the center of your subconscious that needs attention and resolution. So, what can you do about it?
- Remember that dreams are not reality. Sometimes dreams can feel so real and all-encompassing that when you wake up, it’s hard to believe that what happened wasn’t real. However, it’s important to remember that dreams are not reality. No matter how reprehensible your partner’s behavior behind your closed eyelids, it didn’t really happen. Remembering this will help you regain your equilibrium and lessen the dream’s power.
- Keep a dream journal. Writing down what you dreamt and how it made you feel is a wonderful exercise. Not only will it allow you to express the strong emotion the dream evoked, but it also helps you to process it. Ask yourself what you were thinking in the dream. How did you feel? Why did you feel that way? What do you wish would have been different? What did you want to say or do in response? Let it all out.
- Talk to your partner about it. You may feel silly sharing this dream with your partner when you don’t understand what it might mean. However, this is another great way to lessen the dream’s power in your waking life. Saying it aloud may automatically make it feel a bit silly or ridiculous. Not only that, but your partner will likely be happy to offer some extra reassurance.
- If needed, consider seeing a professional therapist. If you feel overwhelmed by the dream and can’t seem to move on from it, it’s time to call in the professionals. “Talk about it with a specialist: if you don’t find the answers alone or with your partner, or even if you do, talking with a specialist often helps,” Beau suggests. “This is especially true if this dream reflects an emotional memory that your brain has trouble processing. Psychologists can really help with past events that keep weighing you down years later.”
Does this dream ever reflect reality?
It’s very likely that a dream about your partner cheating is a direct reflection of your own emotions and experiences rather than a legitimate betrayal in your waking life. However, it is possible that the dream is your subconscious’ way of warning you about red flags you’ve been ignoring or simply pretending not to see.
If you’ve noticed the signs your partner is cheating in real life, it may be cause for concern. For instance, if they’re suddenly “working late” a lot more, being secretive with their phone, or exhibiting other shady behavior, something could be going on. That being said, you should never use a dream as proof of perceived wrongdoing, as it usually isn’t.