Dream interpretation: cheating on a partner
A common dream theme I encounter as an interpreter is “cheating” on a partner, whether the partner is a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, whatever. The dreamers wake up feeling guilty and conflicted. Here is a prime example from a dream I interpreted:
I have been having a recurring dream of cheating on my old boyfriend with my new one. I wake up feeling terrible.
“Cheating” in a dream is not often equivalent to “cheating” in waking life. If you copulate with a dream lover, well, as they say, it’s only a dream. I’ve known married couples to dream of other lovers, and the majority of the time the “dream lover” is actually a part of the dreamers’ psyches. Bonding with a dream lover in that situation is desirable because it reflects union between the ego and the unconscious.
However, “cheating” might be an appropriate word to describe what happens in our example dream. Because the dream is recurring, I’m immediately clued in that the dreamer has an ongoing internal conflict. So I ask the dreamer, “Did you leave the ex boyfriend you’re dreaming about to be with your new boyfriend? Were they friends before you came between them?”
The answer to both questions is “yes.” The two guys in the dream had been friends until the dreamer came between them. She left her ex to be with his best friend, and the friendship between the guys went up in flames. So now she feels guilty. Dreams call that “cheating.”
Dreams are known to play with the meaning of words, so a dream of “cheating” might actually be about any underhanded behavior that “breaks the rules.” For example, a male student respects his female teacher but cheats on a test and feels guilty about it. That night he dreams that the teacher accuses him of “cheating” with a girl sitting in his lap that he doesn’t know. He wakes up wondering “WTF?!” because a). He doesn’t have a girlfriend, and b). He doesn’t have a romantic relationship with the teacher. In this case, the girl in his lap represents his guilty feelings.
The student has a bond of implicit trust with the teacher, and he takes advantage of it to cheat on the test. Maybe because he’s otherwise a good student, the teacher would never suspect him of cheating on a test. In which case “cheating” is appropriate on two levels because he cheats on the test and cheats by taking advantage of the trust of the teacher.
Dreams sometimes present a scenario of cheating on a spouse as a warning sign. Cheating is often about opportunity, and the dreaming mind knows when danger is ahead. It might then create a dream scenario of cheating to show the dreamer what would happen if the opportunity arose.
I discuss cheating and other relationship dreams in my book Dreams 1-2-3: Remember, Interpret, and Live Your Dreams. Click on the cover to see the book at Amazon.
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