Shanelle Infante, Elite Daily

What Does It Mean When You Dream About Cheating On Your Partner?

Sex dreams are kind of the best. You can explore in an uninhibited way and they're literally the safest kind of sex you can have. But they can also be a little confusing, especially when they involve cheating on your partner. When that happens, it's natural to wonder what it means when you dream you're cheating. If you're getting it on with someone else in your dreams, does that mean you're not as happy as you thought in your real-world relationship? Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, nationally recognized psychotherapist and author of Training Your Love Intuition, says not to panic. Cheating dreams, like all dreams, can mean all sorts of things — but also nothing at all. "Your brain is wired for dreaming. Dreams allow us to perform many functions, including working out our problems, feelings, events, and more. But be careful about interpreting your dream literally," she tells Elite Daily. "Many dreams are expressed as symbolic stories, much like fairy tales that teach us a lesson. Dreams can also be a tangled mix of television shows you just watched, the events of your day, and the issues you're facing in your life. So, don't fall into the trap of thinking that your dreams are facts or instructions about what you should do."

While dreams may not be commands or prophecies, they can often be your subconscious working things out. And by examining them, you can gain some insight into yourself and what you're going through at the moment. That said, here's what the experts say could be behind all that illicit nocturnal nookie in your dreams.

Cheating dreams don’t always mean you want to cheat.

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If you’ve been dreaming about being unfaithful, don't panic. According to Karen Frazier, author of The Dream Interpretation Handbook, cheating dreams are actually relatively common and usually shouldn't be taken literally. “It’s symbolic. They can also indicate fears, worries, or desires, so many people have such dreams,” she tells Elite Daily.

Frazier explains that the most classic interpretation of these kinds of dreams is that you're processing a past betrayal, either of yourself or someone else. “The person you cheat with may also represent some aspect of yourself you've disowned that you need to integrate into your life,” she explains. In some cases, you may know exactly what person or aspect maybe, but it’s not always so clear. In that case, Frazier suggests looking for context clues in the dream to better understand the meaning. “[Like] where it takes place, who the other person is, etc. Ask yourself what’s going on in your life where you might feel like you’re betraying some important aspect of self,” she recommends.

These dreams can also be about unfulfilled desires.

While sex and cheating dreams might typically be symbolic, they can sometimes be a bit more straightforward. They can be a sign — not that you want to cheat, necessarily, but that you're not fully satisfied sexually or otherwise in your current relationship. “Sex dreams about cheating on your partner are common in relationships where there are sexual problems, sexual dysfunction, and even non-sexual conflicts and dysfunctions,” clinical psychologist Dr. John Mayer tells Elite Daily. He explains that dreams can also represent unfulfilled sexual desires. “On the surface, the couple may appear to have a happy and healthy sex life, but one may have secret fantasies of sex in different forms from what is the norm for this couple and sex dreams become an outlet for these sexual fantasies to be experienced,” he explains. In this case, cheating dreams are positive in some ways because, as Dr. Mayer explains, they allow those desires to be explored in a way that doesn’t require actual infidelity.

They could have nothing to do with sex at all.

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Again, since dreams are frequently not literal, cheating dreams can be your subconscious processing issues that have nothing to do with sex or even your relationship. “You might also be dreaming about cheating on your partner if you're having trouble facing important issues in your life, such as your career and your fear of making changes,” Dr. Wish explains. In some cases, the changes you need to make are in your relationship. According to Dr. Wish, this doesn’t necessarily mean you want to cheat; it's just your subconscious sending up a flag that something's not sitting well with you. “The dream might be your way of expressing your unhappiness or frustration with a recent incident, or your unhappiness in your current relationship. Use your dream as a message that you need to take emotional inventory about you and your life,” he advises. “Instead of falling into the trap of taking your dream literally, use your dream to review your life and fears and overall life goals. Focus on learning about you! Keep a diary and reread the sections, to learn about you.”

Dreaming about being unfaithful to your partner might be disconcerting, but the takeaway here is that it's not automatically cause for concern. It's often just an opportunity to learn something about yourself or to find an area in your life that needs a little attention. It could also just be a dream, so don’t sweat it.

Experts cited:

Karen Frazier, author of The Dream Interpretation Handbook

Dr. John Mayer, clinical psychologist

Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, nationally recognized psychotherapist and author of Training Your Love Intuition