In the real world, you'd never dream of stepping out on your honey, but when you go to sleep, suddenly you're Don Draper, rolling through dream after dream where you are cheating on your significant other. You wake up confused, ashamed — and wondering what exactly these cheating dreams could possibly mean.
Do you actually want a side piece and just not know it? Or is this all just more kooky dream nonsense, like that time you dreamed you went hot-air ballooning with Coolio? And what about dreams where your significant other is cheating on you? Do they justify freaking out when you wake up and reading through all of their text messages? ("Who is this 'Mom' woman who's always telling you that she loves you?!")
If you've wasted a truly shocking amount of daylight hours trying to make sense of cheating dreams, you're not alone. "These dreams are quite common," Nancy B. Irwin, Psy.D., C.Ht., a licensed clinical psychologist, previously told Bustle. In fact, dreams about being cheated on are one of the top five most common dream topics out there.
Luckily, cheating dreams rarely have anything to do with infidelity — rather, according to Irwin, they "typically represent something else." Read on below to learn about the seven most common cheating dreams, but remember to take it all with a grain of salt. After all, sometimes, the only thing our wildest dreams mean is that we ate too much three-alarm chili before bed.
Dreams where you're cheating on your significant other
Why were you putting the moves on another in your dreams? Dreams where you're the cheater often signal that you have feelings of guilt and self-betrayal or that you have compromised your beliefs or integrity. And it doesn't have to have anything to do with your romantic life.
Sometimes cheating dreams represent a situation where you cheated or where you were being dishonest. "The mind at night will use metaphors," Irwin says, and it's up to you to connect the dots, and figure out what it all might mean.
Dreams where you cheat on your significant other with someone you know
A dream where you go at it with an ex, a friend, or your boss can make you feel even worse than a cheating dream about a stranger. And they can also make it pretty awkward the next time you see your dream-cheating partner IRL.
But cheer up — these dreams definitely don't mean you want to hook up with your boss. Instead, these kind of dreams often mean you're giving too much time and attention to something else in your life, to the detriment of your relationship.
Dream expert Lauri Loewenberg believes that these kinds of cheating dreams can symbolize something that is (mentally or physically) "cheating" your boo out of quality time with you, like maybe you've been working too hard lately or leaving your partner hanging on the weekends. To give your sleeping mind a break, you might just need to spend more quality time together.
Dreams where your significant other cheats on you
One in five women has dreamed of being cheated on, so rest assured there doesn't have to be anything shady afoot in your actual relationship for this dream to pop up. If it keeps happening, though, Irwin suggests asking yourself, "Am I projecting my own history of cheating onto my partner?"
It might be that your releasing your own guilt or anxiety by dreaming your partner is going behind your back, she says, instead of the dream hinting that your partner is cheating. Remember, she says, that "dreams are always about the dreamer."
Dreams where you get caught cheating
Did you just dream that you got caught with your hand in the proverbial cookie jar? Loewenberg thinks that "the guilt you feel in the dream is going to be directly connected to something in waking life you feel guilty about."
That's why clearing your conscience about how you lied your way out of that speeding ticket — or whatever else you did recently, that felt a bit "off" — may help you clear your sleeping mind.
Dreams where you're the "other person"
It's also not uncommon to dream that you're "the other person" in a relationship — and not in the fun "starring in a Cameron Diaz movie" kind of way. So what do dreams that you are someone's side piece mean?
Often, says Loewenberg, they can mean that "you are not feeling valued," especially if the dream affair makes you feel dirty or guilty. If that's the case, talking to your partner about ways to feel more connected can certainly help.
Dreams where you're cheating with multiple people at once
Fell asleep and accidentally dropped into the orgy scene from Eyes Wide Shut? Dreams of cheating in a group situation may just mean that you're feeling insecure or guilty, but they can also mean that you may have a need to experiment.
As Irwin says, "Trust your mind is always, always, always on your side, helping you to release, or be reminded of something you need, or to resolve something."
Dreams where you're partner swapping
Ever have that dream where you and your partner are on a double-date with Brad and Angelina, and then they invite you to come check out their wine cellar, and, you know, one thing leads to another? Well, that dream may simply mean that you may be in a rut and need to add some spice to your relationship, according to the dream interpreting site Dream Moods. Or, that you just really, really, really liked Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
We'll leave interpreting that one up to you, little dreamer.
Nancy B. Irwin, Psy.D., C.Ht., licensed clinical psychologist
Lauri Loewenberg, dream expert
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