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Cheating Dreams Explained | What It Means to Cheat in a Dream

cheating dream symbolism

Cheating Dreams: what it means

[Reddit Dreamscast #1 also covers this topic. Use the link to listen now, or click play!]

Cheating in a relationship is a commonly reported dream theme. Rarely does it indicate actual cheating, though.

Instead, cheating is often related to insecurity. For example, you see your significant other getting friendly with someone and it sparks feelings of jealousy or raises insecurities about your desirability or the security of the relationship. You then dream about it as cheating. Cheating can also be used to symbolize any situation that feels unfair, such as a mate having other priorities or passions than the relationship. Or the theme can be used to describe situations that involve emotional or physical closeness with someone other than your mate, even if that closeness is completely innocent.what it means to cheat in a dream

Cheating dreams pop up a lot with people who have been cheated on in a relationship, either in a current or former relationship. Cheating dreams can even pop up in relationships that are very secure. Usually, cheating dreams have nothing to do with sexual fidelity.

Expand the idea of cheating and it can include other definitions of the word related to playing unfairly, breaking a rule, or doing something that your significant other disapproves. Playing unfairly can include a situation such as bringing up past transgressions to win an argument. Breaking a rule of the relationship can include a situation such as not calling when working late (which can raise suspicions, too). Doing something that your significant other disapproves—or vice-versa—can include a situation such as talking to someone that makes him or her jealous, envious, or leery.

cheating dreams

I bet they’re not renting a room for choir practice!

If you consider the possibilities for symbolism and they don’t ring a bell, it’s possible that you have picked up clues that your mate really is involved with someone else. Just don’t jump to conclusions—most dreams about cheating are symbolic.

Next is a sample of dreams I have interpreted at Reddit Dreams that cover a variety of possibilities for what cheating can symbolize. In some cases I summarize the post rather than copy it directly. The links are to the posts so you can read for yourself. My user name is RadOwl, fyi, if you want to follow the discussions.

Dream: I keep cheating in dreams with mutual friends — I have been in a committed relationship with my boyfriend for five years. It recently turned into a long-distance relationship, but we’ve been making it work. In fact, we are happier than ever. But since coming home for the holidays and seeing our old friends I have been dreaming about physically and emotionally cheating on my boyfriend with some of our close friends. The dreams about physically cheating are very sexual, and the emotional cheating ones involve talking about my own deep issues. I wake up conflicted.

Interpretation: These dreams are sparked by the dreamer talking about personal issues with mutual friends when she should be talking about them with her boyfriend. The dreams depict the situation as cheating because she establishes intimate closeness with those friends, combined with the fact that she’s not talking to her boyfriend about the issues she talks about with them. Cheating in this sense means “close intimacy with people other than my boyfriend.”

Dream: Cheating on my boyfriend — I have recurring dreams of cheating on my boyfriend of nine months, except no sex, I just meet these really interesting guys, feel a warmth from them, whether we end up watching a movie or dancing together it is really nice. When I wake up I almost have this urge to find the guy I dreamed about.

Interpretation: These cheating dreams are sparked by the dreamer’s interactions with guys at school. She spends a lot of time doing schoolwork with them and it establishes a friendly sort of closeness. Plus, with her heavy school and work schedule, the dreamer doesn’t have as much time to spend with her boyfriend and she knows it’s unfair to him.

Dream: Girlfriend in bed with another guy. — For the past week I have been having these dreams where my girlfriend is in my bed with another guy. It’s real annoying because I can never do anything about it. It’s almost like I get pushed out of the room.

Interpretation: “Cheating” in these dreams is a manifestation of the dreamer’s anxieties related to self-esteem issues. He’s unemployed and it makes him feel like a loser. Seeing his girlfriend in bed with another guy shows that he fears that someone more financially secure will come along and steal her away. He has been cheated on previously, so deep in his mind he expects it to happen again. Doesn’t matter how much his girl shows her love for him and tells him everything is all right.

Dream: Cheating on my girlfriendI had a nightmare that I cheated on my girlfriend. In the dream I knew it was wrong, but some force wouldn’t let me just say no or not do it. No I’m not cheating in real life.

Interpretation: This “cheating” nightmare is sparked by the dreamer talking with a girl at work that his girlfriend told him to avoid. His girlfriend is jealous of any female who is even remotely attractive. He said he only talks to the girl to be friendly with a coworker, but his motives do not matter. He knows if his girlfriend finds out there will be hell to pay.

Dreamed about my boyfriend cheating and he really is cheating! I had a dream my boyfriend was cheating on me while I was sleeping next to him in his bed. I woke up literally heartbroken. We have been together for five years. Anyway, I woke up and tried to ignore my feelings, but when I couldn’t do that anymore I told him about my dream. He shrugged it off. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was actually up. I kept prying at him because he didn’t seem to really care or understand how I was feeling. Finally I guess I had pried so much that he finally told me the truth. He WAS cheating on me with a girl he had met at school. I packed my things and left.

No interpretation needed. The dreamer either picked up on subtle clues that her boyfriend was cheating, or she has psychic ability.

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The next example is about recurring dreams of his wife leaving him for another man. The theme is similar to cheating dreams, and shows the feelings and dynamics of a personal situation that can spark such dreams.

Weird dreams about wife leaving me: I have a recurring dream that my wife is cheating on me. I’m pretty sure she is not actually cheating on me, yet I dream about it repeatedly and it’s really disturbing. In one dream she told me she was leaving me because we don’t share the same interests or profession (she is a transplant nurse). In another dream she has broken up with me and texts to tell me about dates she goes on with other guys.

Interpretation: This recurring dream is sparked by the wife’s work situation. As a transplant nurse she works long hours and is often on-call. The dreamer knows the long hours away from each other and frequent interruptions of their home life are part of the job, but he can’t rationalize away his feelings. His dreams portray the situation as cheating because it feels unfair that his wife has to be away from him so much for her job. Also, some jealousy might be involved because she works closely with highly successful and desirable surgeons, while the dreamer is out of work because of illness. I think that explains the reference to not sharing the same interests or profession.

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Pretty fascinating, eh? The symbolism of cheating can apply to a wide variety of situations. If you have dreams about cheating, please share them in the comments.


19 thoughts on “Cheating Dreams Explained | What It Means to Cheat in a Dream”

  1. Backstory: it’s about former lab partner from college who I met years before I met my husband. We were clearly interested in eachother but never dated or had any sort of relationship. I recently added him on instagram after not talking for 10 ish years. Then I dreamt I cheated on my husband with him and felt no guilt at all, and no real feelings for the man I was cheating with either. He confessed his deep love for me and said he wants to get married and have babies. I said I already have that but if you’re serious I’ll leave my husband for you and kind of kept them both in limbo waiting to see who would offer me the best life. Again, I felt no guilt at all and no feelings for either man. Am I a sociopath?!

    1. Nah, nothing sociopathic that I see in this dream. It could represent a conflict brought up the recent encounter with your old lab partner. One, it might feel sorta like cheating to get in touch with someone you thought at one time could be a dating prospect. Your mind then goes to thoughts like “how would my life be different now if we’d dated?” It’s a way of saying you are exploring the thoughts, even though that road is closed to you now. It’s natural to wonder these things and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it, and I think you know that while dreaming and that’s why you don’t feel guilty — you know it’s all hypothetical. If it was my dream, I’d focus on what I feel like is missing from my life now. A theme of the dream is, who can offer you the best life? If you had everything in your life now that you want, there’d be no question, right? But because something is missing, you go along with this scenario in the dream. Next step is to ask yourself what’s missing and how do you find it.

  2. What does it mean to dream of encouraging your Husband to go on a blind date that his brother set up. And then backing down say don’t do it after he already called her.

    1. I’m reminded of situations I’ve seen where a spouse or significant other will think, hey, if he or she wants to be with someone else, more power to ’em. But then when they really search their feelings they find they don’t feel that casual about it.

      But dreams tend to be more clever. Your dream could simply show that you changed your mind about something. Start there and search your memory. What sounds OK in theory but when the real possibility of it comes up, it’s not OK anymore?

  3. About two weeks ago, I found out that my younger sister’s boyfriend proposed to her. While that may be good news for her, I’m finding it hard to be happy for her. She has had tons of boyfriends over the years (7-8), whereas I have had only 1. (She is 29, and I’m 33.) That relationship ended in June 2011, and I have not been on a single date since then. (Men have ignored me for the majority of my life. They just started noticing me a while back and flirting.) In the last few weeks, I have had 2 different dreams where I caught my sister cheating on him with a different man. In the first dream, they were having sex in the hot tub at our parents’ house. In the second dream, she slept with a mystery man on her wedding day–AFTER getting married at the reception afterwards. (Note: If she actually DOES end up cheating on him in real life, I would not be the least bit surprised. She tends to hop from man to man very fast.) Does this mean I sense something about her that no one else does? (On an unrelated note, my ex-best friend (female) slept with 2 different men I was interested in within 2 months of each other last year. She would only admit to sleeping with the first guy, but my gut tells me it happened with the second guy as well. I completely cut her out of my life, as I have absolutely zero trust and respect for her.) Could I be projecting this onto my sister? Or is it something else entirely?

    1. The dreams appear to be bringing up an issue for you related to why you can’t be happy for her. While you know what’s likely to happen in the long run with her engagement/marriage, how do you step back and just be supportive? The issue appears to be that it’s hard for you because you aren’t happy with your love life. I don’t see anything deeper in the dreams, though that’s not to say it’s not there. Focus on your feelings. How does it feel when you see your sister cheating right after getting married? This is a good opportunity for you to look in the mirror figuratively and see what you like and don’t like about yourself.

  4. I was shaking this morning when I woke up from a terrible dream of jealousy. It was about my boyfriend of 5 years who had to travel to Miami last minute for some reason and I couldn’t go so I encouraged him to go and stay at my best friends house who lives there. At some point I realized he never called that whole day to check in on me so I call and call and at 3 am he answers and he asks what do I want, in a drunk voice. I say Whay the hell is going on and that’s when I hear my best friends voice in the background telling him to just hang up on me already. I didn’t actually see any cheating on the dream but I woke up heartbroken and I felt so helpless and confused. My boyfriend and I are not having any issues whatsoever right now and we’re happy and Closer than ever but he did cheat on my 4 years ago. What does this mean?

    1. This dream appears to show anxieties. In the back of your mind you wonder what could happen with the two of them together. That’s the obvious interpretation.

  5. My mate keeps waking up in the middle of the night frantically stating he just heard/saw me texting. This frequently occurs, after passionate sex. Can you explain this?

  6. My husband told me the other day he had a dream where we had a 3 way and it included at one point me,himself and my close cousin and then after she left I invited my maid of honor. He was hesitant to tell me at first for 3-4 days and then I reassured him that “its just a dream and doesn’t necessarily have to mean you actually want intimacy in that sense (sexually)with those people (I like to research a lot of things before jumping the gun) maybe just have a closer platonic relationship because that’s how they are with me”.
    He said he felt he cheated on me and felt bad about that but that he also did enjoy the dream because i was being encouraging for him to receive the sexual pleasures and how open i was in the situation. I mention “oh I always had a 3 way fantasy but you’re my husband so I don’t know how well I can deal with that” and his response was that for some reason he felt the need to want to tell those two people about his dream and that “if we were to have one in the future it would be with people I know or the two in the dream”.
    At that point I felt furious because I felt he has other intentions and he then added to mention “he feels he should have one now that I voiced having had fantasies myself and because of the dream making him want it more”. After, I explained he did not need to express the dream to anyone else because it would make for circumstances to become awkward, especially when I see those women at least twice a month and most times he’s around.

    1. You are correct to first think that his dream is symbolism for something. A three-way with you and two women you are close to can be a way of saying “I feel close and intimate with all of you.” That you are getting closer. Or that somehow the influence of all these women around him is rubbing off on him. Sex in dreams often boils down to what you accept into your personality. He said he enjoyed the dream because of how you as a dream character were open to everything. Open can mean “receive into oneself.”

      The feeling guilty part … that’s a typical reaction. Question is though, was it after the fact — after the dream? If so, that could just be him twisting everything up in his head. But if it was during the dream, then perhaps the dream scenario is really about that feeling. Dreams can begin with a feeling and build a scenario around it. So if he feels guilty for something involving you, the dream could create a scenario of cheating. Could be anything he feels guilty about, but dreams often create the scenarios around some sort of central idea. Perhaps he feels inadequate as a lover or something like that.

      He really stepped in it by trying to turn the dream into an exploration of having a three-way with your closest friend and wanting to mention the dream to them. Bad idea on all fronts. I suggest that you take the tact of just letting it go so in the future he’ll continue to tell you about his dreams. Otherwise, he might clam up.

  7. I had a dream that I had a secret relationship whilst with my current partner. This other person was lovely, I was attracted to not just their physicalities but their personality, just we clicked. I remember kissing my current partner goodbye and that I’d meet them later and then I ran across the road and met the other person, who had no clue. People that I knew saw but I didn’t care. I went out with the other person and we cuddled and kissed and just had a lovely time, although I made sure we sat somewhere hidden. As they were sitting on me, I looked over and saw my current partner and rushed to bring the other girl to another room. I made an excuse that had holes and then rushed to see my actual gf and was scared so started deleted texts with the new girl. Spent some time and then spent the whole night going between the two lying bare. I felt so close to the new one but i didnt want to let go of the current one. What does this dream mean? What does it mean about my relationship?

    1. Judging by the scenario created by the dream, it appears that you have something else in your life that you consider to be more attractive in the personal sense than your current partner. Something has come along that really excites and interests you, and you are willing to hide it from your current partner in order to continue. The trick is to step back from the “having an affair” aspect of the dream and see that as symbolism for something that you do in secret or at least that you hide from your partner, and it’s something quite attractive to you. Like in the dream, it fits your personality. It clicks with you.

      Let me give a quick example. Let’s say that your partner is a very conventional person who isn’t into any of the “strange” stuff, and you take a sudden interest in UFO research. The subject really lights you up, really attracts you. This type of research fits your personality. But what would your partner say? In your dream you seem to be asked to choose between something new and interesting and something familiar and, well, comfortable. You don’t want to have to give up one to have the other.

      Now, start there and think about your life. How are you being asked to choose? And remember, it’s possible that your partner in the dream could symbolize something, too, so it’s possible that the choice has nothing to do with your relationship and instead boils down to feeling like you have to choose between something new and something familiar.

  8. I had a dream about cheating on my husband with another woman. He shows up and I remember being so annoyed my him

    1. Does your husband have a way of spoiling your fun with your girlfriends? Dreams can create scenarios that tie in with your life based on feelings, so you begin by asking, what does he do that annoys me, and how does it involve other women? Then you might ask, do you feel like you are cheating in any sense with a woman or the women in your life? For example, you spend more time or feel closer with them than with him and you feel guilty. Let me know if anything comes to mind.

As Dr. Frasier Crane says, I'm listening. Leave a comment.

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