We’ve all been there, right? You fall asleep next to your partner whom you (mostly) love, only to wake up in the night momentarily convinced that you had it off with the gal from HR or the guy the makes you your morning cup of coffee in Pret. Awks.
Affair dreams are very common, but despite the fact we’ve probably all had them at one point or another, they can leave us feeling pretty unsettled. What do cheating dreams mean? Do I not fancy my partner anymore? Do I want to have sex with someone else? Is my subconscious actually madly in love with the gal from HR?
“In the decades I’ve worked as a dream decoder and author, cheating dreams have been a constant theme – in fact, I would say they are among the top 10 most commonly reported dreams,” says Theresa Cheung, Sunday Times bestselling author of The A to Z Dream Dictionary. “However, during and since Covid lockdowns, the messages about dream affairs have more than tripled. These days, it’s rare for a day to go by without someone anxiously asking me to help them understand the meaning of a cheating dream.”
So, here’s what it means if you dream about cheating on your partner, according to Theresa…
You might be lacking something, either in your relationship or within yourself
Firstly, it’s important to note that everyone – even those in the most committed and happy relationship – can have a cheating dream. It is perfectly natural and healthy; your dreaming mind could just be encouraging you to think carefully about what cheating means to you. Cheating dreams help you reflect on your relationship with both yourself and your partner.
If you’re the one cheating in the dream, are you cheating on yourself in some way? For example, are you doing the very best you can, or are you taking short cuts? Are you cheating yourself out of the self-care or quality time you need for your personal growth?
And if you are being cheated on in the dream, are you or your partner preoccupied with work, friends, an interest or even a pet? Do you feel cheated out of quality time with them or their full attention?
Cheating dreams could simply suggest that something is missing, and you need to inject a little more adventure into your relationship. That’s why people often dream of their first love or an ex. It doesn’t mean they want to go back to that ex, but they want the heady passion and bliss; the feeling of being deeply in love back.
Your mind is preparing you in case it ever does happen
Cheating dreams can feel incredibly realistic, so you are likely to wake up feeling distressed – but that’s the reason your dreaming mind sends you a cheating dream. It wants you to understand how cheating can have such a negative impact on youm so if you are ever tempted to cheat in real life, you think twice.
Or if you are cheated on by your partner in your dream, you experience those devastating worst-case-scenario feelings in the dream state so if it does happen in real life, you know you’ve been there before, woken up and survived. In short, your dreaming mind is trying to show you that you are always stronger emotionally than you think. Your dreaming mind really is your best friend.
You may be attracted the person you dream-cheated with IRL, but chances are, they’re more symbolic
Sometimes, a cheating dream can mean you are attracted to that person, and there’s nothing wrong with a harmless crush. But more often than not, if you’re cheating on your partner in a dream, the dream lover is symbolic/ psychological. They represent an aspect of yourself that you need to heal, integrate or resolve in order to evolve.
For example, if you are a shy person and you dream of having a passionate affair with your flamboyant boss, this doesn’t mean you fancy your boss, just that you need to break out of your shell a little and perhaps integrate some assertiveness into your personality.
The only time cheating dreams do indicate that your relationship is in trouble is if you dream about cheating most nights, and are also thinking about cheating during the day, too. If this is the case, talk to your partner – or a couple’s therapist – about your feelings and your cheating dreams before someone gets hurt.