An Expert Explains What Your Cheating Dream Really Means
It's not what you think.
What do you dream about when you go to sleep? Sometimes we have vivid, almost life-like dreams, while other times, it's a total blur. But many times, it's the scandalous dreams that we remember most—and nothing's more scandalous than a dream in which you're cheating on your partner or your partner is cheating on you.
As it turns out, having a cheating dream isn't uncommon. According to a study of 1,000 individuals by sleep company Leesa, 57 percent of women and 45 percent of men report having dreams about cheating on a significant other. A similar 2017 survey conducted by Amerisleep found that both men and women commonly experience dreams that are sexual or intimate in nature.
Needless to say, if you've ever woken up in a cold sweat wondering if your cheating dream means something deeper about you or your relationship, you're not alone. That's why we took to the experts to find out what cheating dreams really mean—and put to bed whether they're really that bad after all.
What does my cheating dream mean?
First things first: While the Amerisleep survey showed that roughly 1 in 4 women (and slightly more men) said they thought their dreams meant they secretly had feelings for someone else, that's rarely the truth. It's important to remind yourself that just because you had a dream that you (or your partner) cheated does not mean that a.) you want it to happen or b.) that it is happening.
"As upsetting as these dreams can be, the good news is that they rarely indicate that your mate is getting pleasure elsewhere," says dream expert Lauri Loewenberg. "They do indicate, however, that the dreamer feels as though there is a third wheel in the relationship, and not getting the level of attention or commitment they desire," she says.
More often than not, it's something rather than someone who is taking the time and attention away from their partner (think: work, a new baby, even fantasy football).
"The subconscious will present this issue in the form of cheating because the dreamer is essentially feeling 'cheated' out of that precious time by this other activity," Loewenberg explains.
Regardless of who is doing the actual cheating in the dream, "These dreams are telling you that you and your mate need to find a way to spend more time together and appreciate one another more," Lowenberg writes on her website.
So the good news is if you go to bed in a loving, committed relationship and wake up feeling upset after a cheating dream, you don't suddenly need to reevaluate the entire partnership. In fact, "The dream is most common, ironically, when the relationship is going well," therapist and dream analysis specialist Delphi Ellis told Mirror UK.
"This is particularly the case where someone has been unfaithful in the past in real life, reflecting an insecurity it could happen again," she says.
What should I do if I have a cheating dream?
Ellis's advice? "If in doubt, put the elephant in the room and talk with your partner about it. If nothing is going on, they'll gladly reassure you that you have nothing to worry about."
Ultimately, having a cheating dream does not signal the impending end of the relationship, but it may signal something deeper that's worth taking a look at.
"There can be a variety of reasons why someone might dream about cheating on their partner," says Adina Mahalli, a certified relationship expert and mental health consultant for Maple Holistics. "The important thing to analyze is your feelings following the dream."
Take a look at yourself and the relationship and think about whether you felt guilty, excited, or both after having the dream. The root of the dream may be an insecurity in the relationship, a fear of not being able to resist physical temptations, or that there may be an emotional or physical element missing in the relationship. A counter option may be you are attracted to someone else and your subconscious wanted to fulfill your fantasy in your dream, and there is nothing to worry about.
Regardless, once you've snapped back to consciousness, don't panic. It was all a dream…
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