What does dreaming about cheating mean? We break it down

Dreaming about cheating—whether you are the one doing the act or are being cheated on—can be worrying. But what does it mean?

couple holding hands against a pink and green background
(Image credit: Getty)

Many of us are curious to find the deeper meanings to our dreams—particularly if the scenes we saw in the dream were upsetting or disturbing in some way. Dreaming about cheating, for example, be it either you or your partner committing the infidelity, can be the stuff of nightmares.

Not everyone remembers their dreams and those that do often find the memory is fleeting. Some dreams, however, stick with you—and a cheating dream nearly always lingers come the morning. In fact, dreams about cheating can be so vivid, that you might even wake up mad at your partner for something they didn't even do! While the best sleep aids can lull you back to sleep after a disturbed slumber, figuring out the meaning behind the dream can also seriously help.

You may wonder if the dreams are in some way prophetic; if you dream that your partner is cheating on you, does that mean they actually are? Or perhaps just as frightening, if you dream that you cheated, does that mean you want to cheat, or are more likely to do it in the future? Let’s investigate...

Dreaming about cheating: possible explanations

When it comes to dreams about infidelity, some experts believe it may be a sign that something in your life is not quite right. After all, such dreams can be distressing and can make it hard to fall back asleep.

That being said, it's important to remember that although scary, they do not necessarily mean that your relationship is in trouble in real life. Theresa Cheung (opens in new tab), a leading dream decoder and bestselling author, said: "This is an extremely common dream, and nothing to worry about, especially if you are in a relationship."

Remember, your subconscious is pretty random and dreams don’t necessarily mean what they appear to at face value. But what might it mean if you dream about a romantic betrayal?

1. If you are the cheater

If you are regularly having dreams about cheating on your partner, or have had one or two, experts say that this is usually a sign that something is missing in your life—and it’s not necessarily anything to do with your partner. 

Theresa Cheung told us: "If you dreamt that you cheated, you likely don’t want to actually cheat—but your dreaming mind does want you to consider what might be missing in your life. 

"The clue will be in the person you are cheating with. What do they represent? A sense of adventure, curiosity, passion, humor? Your dreaming mind wants you to find non-sexual ways to integrate these qualities into your life."

Of course, it is possible that there is a gap in your relationship that needs to be filled, but it’s more than likely not related to your love life at all. Dreams about cheating that bring back that excitement, for example, could simply be your brain's way of telling you to start having more fun again.

woman holding her hands over her face, distressed, whilst sat up in bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

On the other hand, if your actions in your dream made you feel guilty, it’s more likely that your brain is processing guilt somewhere else in your life.

Tyler Woodard, a health and wellness expert at Eden’s Gate (opens in new tab), explained: "Dreaming about cheating can sometimes suggest that you feel guilt over something. This could be how you dealt with a situation, or something you may have said." It could be related to an argument you had with your partner for example, or a feeling of guilt you experience with other family and friends.

2. If you are cheated on

On the other hand, dreams about your partner cheating could be related to the relationship itself—but never fear, it doesn't mean your partner is actually cheating IRL, or is even thinking about cheating!

Often, it can be to do with issues of trust and security. If you are insecure in your relationship or other aspects of your life, that anxiety may show itself in dreams about your partner's infidelity. Cheung explained: "If you are cheated on in your dream it doesn’t mean your partner is actually cheating—if you are in a relationship, it could simply suggest your partner is preoccupied with work, a hobby, etc., and you want deeper intimacy or more time with them. "

woman looking angry at her male partner as she lies in bed, and he sits up

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you are feeling insecure or anxious about yourself, a dream about your partner cheating could be a subconscious manifestation of those emotions playing out in a dream.

Woodward said: "It could be due to insecurities within yourself, and a lack of self-confidence. This can lead to negative and intrusive thoughts, manifesting in a dream. This can be treated by recognizing these feelings and speaking to a close friend or family member—or your partner—to overcome this."

Dreaming about your partner cheating on you could be your brain processing a betrayal elsewhere, outside of your romantic relationship. Perhaps you've just heard about the breakdown of an acquaintance's relationship due to cheating? If the concept of cheating has been a topic of discussion recently, your brain may simply be processing it, and all its implications, whilst you sleep.

If you have these dreams occasionally, it's probably best to chalk them up to your brain's attempt to blow off the steam accumulated throughout the day. 

However, if they are happening frequently or inhibiting your ability to get a good night's sleep, it might be time to do some self-reflecting on the issues that are causing this dream to pop up frequently.

Amy Hunt is a lifestyle writer and editor, and was previously Lifestyle Channel Editor at womanandhome.com, having been with the brand since 2015. She is passionate about everything from entertainment to books, to homes, food and wellness. When she isn't editing, researching or writing articles, he's busy burying her nose in a gripping thriller, practising yoga, or buying new homeware. 

With contributions from