Here’s What It *Really* Means if You Have Dreams About Cheating, According to Dream Experts

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A nightmare can disrupt an otherwise peaceful night of sleep—and while being chased by a monster or being late for a final exam are terrible ones to have, perhaps the worst nightmares are dreams about your partner cheating. Infidelity dreams are an extremely common experience, but can they indicate relationship problems IRL? Are they nothing more than nonsensical narratives conjured up by our subconscious, or are they omens that a relationship is doomed to fail?

Experts In This Article

Good news: Despite feeling very real, these dreams aren’t prophetic. “Many cheating dreams are likely not prophetic but rather shining a light on related concerns,” says Stephanie Gailing, a dream analyst, astrologer, and author of The Complete Book of Dreams. “After all, our dreams can be a mirror of our subconscious feelings, a canvas through which we express concerns and desires.”

The thing about dreams is that they all have meanings. So, while your infidelity dream isn’t necessarily saying your partner is cheating on you, it does hold deeper meaning about something. What that something actually is depends on various factors, like who your partner is cheating on you with in your dream, or if this is a recurring dream versus a one-off experience.

If you’re ready to get to the root of the problem and figure out why your subconscious is torturing you with infidelity dreams, read ahead. Below, dream experts break down the details of infidelity dreams and what that means for you (and your relationship).

What is the spiritual meaning of cheating in a dream?

The spiritual meaning of cheating in a dream, depending on the dreamer, might be something wholly separate from the actual act of infidelity. While it’s super unsettling to see your partner stepping out on your relationship, it doesn’t mean they're doing *it* in real life; dreams aren't meant to be taken literally, suggests Gailing.

That said, dreams about cheating do hold spiritual and symbolic significance in regards to your waking life. In the case of dreams about your partner cheating on you, one of the most common meanings is that there’s a third party in your relationship of some kind—that could be something or someone, says certified dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg. “It could be anything from spending too much time to a new baby that is taking up all the time and attention in the relationship,” she says. “It could even be that distrust is the third wheel if there is cheating in the past.”

To interpret a dream correctly, it’s important to pay attention to the details. For example, if you’re dreaming that you're the adulterer instead of your partner, Lowenberg says it might indicate that “you are actively working on spiritual growth and your partner is not, and this excitement is being directed at your spiritual journey rather than at your relationship.”

Dream expert Theresa Cheung agrees, noting that dreams about your partner cheating often signify energy imbalance, in either your relationship or yourself. “Cheating-themed dreams are about a spiritual energy imbalance within yourself and neglecting to focus on what really matters in your life,” she explains.

Why do I have dreams about my partner cheating?

If you're having dreams about your partner cheating, take it as a sign that your subconscious is trying to tell you something. Our subconscious uses dreams to convey important messages about unresolved conflicts or areas of stress in our waking life, and their messages can be decoded by paying attention to the details of your dream. “The meaning will be found in the specifics," says Loewenberg. The person who is cheating, who they are cheating with, the setting in which the cheating occurs, and other aspects of the dream can reveal what your subconscious is trying to tell you, says Loewenberg. “Each of these elements is a piece of the puzzle that needs to be put together to get the complete message the subconscious is conveying.”

Because the meaning of dreams relies on the details, it can be frustrating to determine what exactly your mind is trying to tell you. For that reason, we’ve broken down some of the most common cheating dreams and what each signifies.

Dreams about your partner cheating with a stranger

Cheung says that these dreams wherein your partner is cheating on you with a stranger often indicate that there’s neglect of some kind in the relationship. This neglect can be from changing priorities, like a new job or routine, or be neglect of affection or intimacy. Whatever the case, it’s important to communicate your needs to your partner and ask for more quality time together.

Dreams about your partner cheating with their ex

Dreaming about an ex can be puzzling, but dreaming about your partner hooking up with their ex is even worse. These dreams, especially if they are recurring, signal that there’s insecurity in the relationship. “This is a strong indication that either you or your partner is allowing the ex to be an issue in the relationship,” Loewenberg explains. “Is it because one of you is constantly bringing the ex up or comparing you to the ex? Or is the ex still a part of your partner's life because of children or work or other circumstances?”

Until there is communication where your needs and fears are addressed, these dreams will continue.

Dreams about your partner cheating on you with someone you know

Dreams wherein your other half cheats on you with someone you know could indicate stress or insecurity about their relationship IRL. It doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an inappropriate relationship festering between the two, but it may indicate that you have an issue with their relationship.

Dreams about your partner cheating on you with a celebrity

Loewenberg recommends leaning into curiosity in order to determine the meaning of dreams where your partner cheats on you with a celebrity. To get to the bottom of it, ask yourself the following questions: What comes to mind when you think about this particular celebrity? Were they in a recent movie you’ve seen? What are they known for? Asking yourself these questions will help you determine how the dream “correlates to your current life or your current state of mind,” she says.

Take Jennifer Lawrence, for an example. “If you dream your partner is cheating with Jennifer Lawrence, consider what you associate with her,” Loewenberg says. If you associate her with beauty and success, it might indicate you're insecure about your own appearance or status, perhaps in regards to your relationship. If your mind immediately goes to her fierce fighter role in The Hunger Games, perhaps you're concerned about different battle of some kind in your relationship.

Dreams about a hypothetical partner cheating on you

Gailing says that dreams about a hypothetical partner committing adultery indicate fears of trust and infidelity. These fears can be spawned from being cheated on before to feeling neglected in a past relationship.

Should I tell my partner I had a dream that they cheated on me?

Determining if you should tell your partner that you had a cheating dream about them depends largely on the strength of your relationship. If you and your boo are open and honest with one another and have reached a stage of intimacy where you think you can express this dream to them without causing them concern, then go for it. But if this is unfamiliar territory for the two of you, consider if there’s a risk in sharing it with them. In the wrong circumstances, telling your partner that they cheated on you in your dream could be taken as an accusation of real infidelity.

If these dreams are causing you stress, but you're unsure about whether you should tell your partner, consider reaching out to a trusted loved one or mental health professional first. “There may be something really deeply expressing itself to you about your feelings of fidelity or trust,” Gailing says. “Perhaps that’s something that you work through in your own personal therapeutic work; a therapist, notably one that is skilled in couple’s counseling, can be of great help.”

Gailing adds that if you do decide to share the dream with your partner, express it in the most gentle and caring way. Try not to accuse them of anything and instead, offer a reflection of your dream and an exploration of your feelings.

How do I stop dreaming about my partner cheating?

To stop dreaming about your partner cheating, you must first identify why your subconscious is sending you cheating dreams. Do you need more quality time with your S.O.? Are you feeling insecure because your partner has a new friend?

Reflecting and asking yourself questions on what you’re feeling and why can help you understand what your dream is trying to tell you. And once you identify the root cause of these dreams, you can then address it. That may look like having a conversation with your partner about your unmet needs, reinforcing your boundaries, and doing inner healing work to address any insecurities or anxieties your mind has been holding onto.

On the flip side, sometimes your subconscious just wants you to accept how you feel, rather than address some hidden, unresolved issue in your waking life, says Gailing. “Perhaps even just the acknowledgment of a certain feeling that has been arising under the surface itself will not only help you to address the dream and move forward but also then release the need for the dream to appear,” she says. To get back in touch with your subconscious and address what your dreams are trying to tell you, Gailing recommends “journaling about the dream [and] asking what treasures of awareness about yourself it is bringing you.”

How to address the dreams and move forward

The first step towards moving on from dreams about your partner cheating is to accept the dreams for what they are, says Cheung. She recommends looking at these dreams as opportunities to grow, either within yourself or in your relationship. “Sometimes your dreaming mind resorts to tough love or disturbing tactics to get a message across to ensure you actually recall the dream and address the issues or red flags,” she says.

Next step is to understand what your dream mind is telling you. Remember, the details of your dreams matter and are rarely literal interpretations. By taking them into context, you’re able to understand the subliminal messages your subconscious is trying to convey.

Lastly, confront the problem. These dreams won’t stop if the issue isn’t addressed. Communicate with your partner if you’re feeling neglected. Address any fear or mistrust in your relationship. Try individual or couples counseling if there are deeper problems in your relationship. Addressing the issue—whether it’s a lack of trust or a deep-rooted insecurity—head one is the key to stopping these unsettling dreams from happening again and again.

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