When I opened the door to our apartment, my boyfriend was getting it on with Ilana from Broad City. "I'm just swinging!" he yelled in his defense, to which I retorted, "It's not swinging if I don't consent!" If you haven't guessed, this wasn't real life; it was a cheating dream — a very common kind of dream to have. So what does it all mean?
As dream analyst Lauri Quinn Loewenberg tells Bustle, being cheated on is one of the five most common dreams her clients report. And, while potentially disturbing or upsetting in the moment, can actually be quite helpful. "Whatever the case may be, the cheating dream is good for you because it is shining a light on an issue in your relationship that needs to be corrected," she says. "Once you are able to connect the dots between the cheating dream and the issue that triggered it, you need to work to correct it."
So find time to talk to your partner about it. "Your dreams will always serve as a guide to every part of your life, letting you know what is wrong and what is right, what direction to take and what direction to avoid," Loewenberg says. "Look at your dreams as your second brain that is much wiser and much more honest with you than your waking brain."
The good thing is that while there may be a chance it's a psychic premonition (if you believe in that), your cheating dream is most likely not literal. Loewenberg suggests asking yourself if you have a reason to suspect your partner's cheating. If you don't, chances are they're not. Here are a few things that a dream about your partner cheating could mean.
1. You're Scared They'll Cheat
According to Loewenberg, this is the most obvious explanation. Those with frequent cheating dreams may feel insecure about their own desirability and fear their partner will find someone better. If this is something you worry about frequently during the day, it makes sense that your concerns will find their way into your dreams at night.
Whatever the source of the fear, the dream may indicate a real-life fear that you could benefit from discussing with your partner. It isn't easy to admit insecurities, much less talk about cheating. But if you can get it off your chest and let your partner know how you've been feeling, it could result in more trust and support — and few fewer cheating dreams.
2. You've Been Cheated On Before And Aren't Over It
People who have been cheated on often later have cheating dreams, Loewenberg says. If your partner has cheated before, a cheating dream may indicate that you have yet to rebuild trust. If someone else has cheated on you, you may be afraid your partner will do the same.
While one cheating dream may not be a sign of a problem, if you keep having them it'll be worth it to take the time to think about the impact cheating has had on your life, and take the time to sort it out.
3. There's A "Third Wheel" In The Relationship
Even if your partner doesn't have another partner or romantic interest, you may feel that someone or something is getting between you. This could be a friend of theirs, their job, a baby, or anything that makes you feel "cheated" out of the time you feel they owe you, says Loewenberg.
The dream serves as a way for your brain to suss it all out. Even if you're just feeling cheated out of their time, this type of dream often isn't far behind.
4. You Feel Betrayed
If you keep having cheating dreams, you might've recently had a fight with your partner that made you feel betrayed, if not in the typical sense, Loewenberg says.
You may feel, for example, that you didn't see eye-to-eye or that they weren't prioritizing you. This betrayal will come to the surface in your dreams.
5. You Actually Suspect They're Cheating
OK, so now for the bad part: Sometimes, cheating dreams indicate a subconscious belief that your partner really could be cheating, Loewenberg says.
Maybe you've ignored the signs of cheating — like the fact they're hiding their phone, changing their appearance, less interested in sex, etc. — because you don't want to face them in your waking life, but it's harder to suppress your feelings when you're sleeping.
6. You Feel Like They Don't Care About Any Of This
Many cheating dreams, like the one I recently had, involve a surprising nonchalance on the partner's part, Loewenberg says. Often, the cheater's cheating right out in the open. And his likely reflects your partner's lack of awareness or concern that they're hurting you in some way, she says.
You may feel like they're not acknowledging the pain they're causing. If this is the case, the dream may be a call to approach them so that they can be more aware of how their behavior is affecting you and the relationship.
Whatever the meaning of the dream, it can be a conversation-starter to discuss issues in your relationship, so consider sharing it with your partner. At the very least, if it's anything like mine, you can get a good laugh out of it.
Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, dream analyst
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