What Do Dreams About Cheating Mean?

Are cheating dreams a bad sign?
on October 05, 2023
Read time: 10 mins
by Moraya Seeger DeGeare

Dreams are incredibly visual and thought-provoking manifestations of our subconscious minds. So if dreams are supposed to act as signals or warning signs, what do dreams about cheating mean? 

While dream interpretation is more of an art than an exact science, there are still some very interesting revelations to be pulled from your subconscious mind. 

What does it mean if your partner is cheating on you in your dreams? Or what if your ex-lover is making unwanted appearances in your subconscious sex dreams? We’ve got to the bottom of dreams about cheating (and what it all means) in our guide!  

Is cheating in a dream considered cheating?

Every relationship defines cheating differently. Depending on the boundaries that are put in place, some couples could consider sexting cheating, while others are open to more non-monogamous partnerships

"Something that I have been asked in many therapy sessions is, 'I had this  dream, did I do something wrong?' I take a moment to remind my clients that we can't control every thought, dream, or feeling of attraction we have,” says Moraya Seeger DeGeare, a licensed marriage and family therapist and In-House Expert at Paired.

“In fact the more we try to control them the harder it can be to not think about it. Thoughts enter our minds for various reasons. What matters more is what we do next.” 

However, dreams of cheating are widely not considered to be cheating on your partner. While you can look into dream interpretation, these thoughts occur in the subconscious mind and are out of our control. Even though it can be distressing to have sex dreams about someone outside of your relationship, it does not qualify as actual infidelity. 

What is the difference between cheating in a dream and cheating in real life?

This is a very easy one to answer. 

Cheating in a dream is a common phenomenon, where you might find yourself engaging in intimacy with a person who is not your significant other. However, even though dreams can be very visual and convincing, they do not occur in your waking life and are therefore not a part of your reality. 

To be considered a cheater, you have to commit an offense or cross a boundary outside of your dreaming mind. While recurring dreams can feel like infidelity, or like a betrayal, they are different from cheating in reality. 

So, even if you wake up angry at your partner for cheating on you in a very vivid dream, remember that they didn’t actually do anything wrong! 

What does it mean if you dream about cheating?

Even though cheating dreams can leave you waking up feeling confused and guilty, they are actually some of the most common dreams that people have — so you’re not alone! 

recent study revealed that while 59% of people regularly have dreams about their sex life, 22% dream about cheating on their partner, with a further 23% dream about their partner being unfaithful to them. 

While these dreams are incredibly common, there is no one explanation for what a cheating dream means. For example, they could reflect some insecurities in your current relationship, an unresolved argument or rift between you and your partner, or perhaps a sign of a lack of trust within yourself. 

“In times of elevated stress, our minds have a tendency to amplify our greatest fears,” says Seeger DeGeare. 

“It is not uncommon for various thoughts and dreams to arise, yet it is often the ones that resonate with us on a deeper level that remain in our memory.” 

What does it mean if you dream about cheating with someone you know?

Waking up with a start after cheating in your dream is freaky enough — adding someone you know to your dream fantasy can be even more confusing. 

Even though it’s uncomfortable, this kind of dream is very common and isn’t something to be ashamed of!

Instead of freaking out, it’s important to ask yourself a few questions to resolve why they made this guest appearance in the first place. Are you attracted to this person? Have you recently started a flirtation with this person in real life? Or, do you feel an emotional connection with this person that you don’t want to admit? 

If you answer any of these questions in the affirmative, your subconscious mind could be urging you to be honest with yourself. 

On the other hand, it could have nothing to do with the person in question but is your subconscious mind’s way of signaling some unmet needs with your current partner. According to Freud’s theory of dream analysis, dreams are a way for your unconscious mind to visualize your repressed worries, which could include your doubts or fears about your current relationship. 

Another common dream is where you’re cheating on your current partner with your ex. Now this one can really sting, and make you feel even more guilty. 

However, according to dream analysts, this doesn’t necessarily mean you want to go back to your past partner. Instead, it could just mean that you’re still healing from a past relationship, and this is how your brain is visualizing those emotions. 

While all of these dreams are uncomfortable and can raise questions about the validity of your relationship, they take place in your unconscious mind and are out of your control. This only enters red flag territory when you start thinking about acting on your dream fantasies. 

What does it mean if you dream about your partner cheating on you?

Dreaming about your partner cheating on you can probably categorized as a nightmare category, with your worst infidelity fears confronting you in visual form. 

When you experience these dreams for the first time, it can be very overwhelming and extremely stressful. Especially since no matter how many times you tell yourself, it’s not real — it can still pack quite a punch! 

In some cases, individuals can interpret these dreams as a reflection of reality, with their dreams alerting them to issues in their relationships. While we would never disrespect the power of a gut feeling, these dreams are more likely a manifestation of your fears. 

Studies show that while a third of women had dreamed that their significant other had cheated on them within the past year, this same scenario didn’t feature highly in men’s dreams. 

Dreams where your loved one cheats on you likely denote a fear of abandonment, trust issues, and low self-esteem — even if your partner hasn’t explicitly done anything that suggests they would be unfaithful or are considering a breakup. 

Should I tell my boyfriend I had a dream he cheated on me?

Remember, your partner dreams too, and it’s likely they’ve had similar dreams in their past and won’t take these dreams as an accusation. 

If these kinds of dreams are constantly recurring and are causing you to lose sleep, it’s best to chat it through with your loved one. As your best friend and confidante, they shouldn’t react negatively to these dreams but should provide reassurance that there is no truth to these subconscious thoughts. 

However, if your partner has an over-the-top reaction to these conversations, it could be a sign that they’re hiding something from you. If your gut starts tugging at you, it’s likely you won’t need a dream analyst to interpret this kind of response. 

“It could be an opportunity to revisit conversations about affection or flirtation, which might have caused feelings of blame,” says Seeger DeGeare. 

“Additionally, if you and your partner find yourselves intrigued by dreams, it might indicate that the real conversation you want to have is about your sex life. This could involve exploring fantasies or discussing desires, leading to deeper discussions on trust and desire.”

While dreams can be an indicator of our relationship satisfaction, it’s best not to take these thoughts too seriously — even if they can be a good starting point for self-reflection. 

+50k reviews
Learn more about your connection!
Download the #1 app for couples to guide you in the process.
petal decoration

Enjoying this article?

A happier relationship starts here.

Question with locked answer