Most of us have either cheated or been cheated on in our dreams at one time or another.
If you’ve been in a relationship long enough, this might have happened a few times. You may have even woken up irrationally pissed off at your partner for it.
Is the dream picking up on infidelity? Is it about your own fear of being cheated on? Does it have an entirely different meaning? Or are you driving yourself insane trying to find out?
Most of us can attest to the latter.
But there’s good news… you’re not the only one waking up in cold sweats and spending a shocking amount of time cold-shouldering your partner – in fact, dreams about being cheated on are more common than you’d think.
So what do they mean?
Speaking exclusively to UNILAD, professional dream analyst and author Lauri Loewenberg says the dream is less often caused by actual cheating, and more often caused by something in the relationship that feels like a third wheel.
Lauri told UNILAD:
Practically every relationship has the issue, at some point, where one partner does not feel he or she is getting the time, attention or recognition they feel they deserve. Even the healthiest relationships have this sort of ‘jealousy’ that creeps in from time to time…There are seemingly endless scenarios that can drive a bit of a wedge into a relationship. And that is why this dream pops up so frequently.
Dream specialist Russell Grant agrees, telling us the dream more likely ‘relates to fears and anxieties in the dreamer than to actual circumstances’.
And it’s common. Very common.
In fact, the dream is so common that if it really were predictive, none of us would ever be in a relationship (unless cheating partners are your thing).
Here’s just how normal it is: In a study conducted of over 5,000 participants regarding commonplace dreams, Lauri says cheating came in at number one.
These numbers have been backed up by a 2013 Ibis hotel company poll. Out of 2,000 polled Brits, one in five women had recurring dreams about their partner cheating on them – and they’re three times more likely to dream it than men.
Worried it means your partner is actually cheating? Most times this isn’t the case, but if it is, the dream is most likely a reflection of your already-there suspicions, and not a premonition.
On the bright side, if you have had the dream, it can be healthy.
The dreaming mind is bringing this issue to the surface so you can address it with your partner and correct it. Your partner may not realise that you are feeling left out or neglected in this manner… that’s why in many of these cheating dreams, the partner is cheating right in front of the dreamer as if it is no big deal.
If you’re feeling neglected, it may be feeding your insecurities that your partner will leave you. If you feel like there’s a lack of trust in the relationship, the dream acts as a chance to examine your issues with trust. Or maybe you feel that your subconscious is picking up on cues that your partner is cheating, then the dream is offering you an opportunity to open the lines of communication before things go too far.
And if you do wake up irrationally angry at your partner for getting frisky with someone else in a dream, know that it’s a common reaction. Last year, researchers from the University of Maryland found that dreams about ‘bad relationship’ behavior – including infidelity – were associated with greater conflict and reduced intimacy in the days that followed.
So while the dream may make you wake up feeling like absolute shit, it’s not all bad. If you use it as an opportunity to communicate, your dream cheating may – ironically – end up saving your relationship.