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I had a dream about a week ago and I keep thinking about it because it felt so realistic and upsetting that I woke up crying and in a sweat. 

*I dreamt that a girl called me from my boyfriend’s (of two years) phone and said that he was leaving me for her. If that wasn’t upsetting enough, I next saw my boyfriend and the girl out in public. It was an awkward situation — he said he was ending things with me but wouldn’t give any explanation. I, of course, was upset and in the dream I ended up getting a multiple page text from my boyfriend, explaining why he was ending things with me and why he had been cheating on me.* I woke up extremely upset and it felt realistic enough that I immediately checked my phone to make sure the breakup text wasn’t there. 

I tried doing a little dream research and saw SO many “causes” for a dream where a significant other cheats. I would love your opinion, though, after reading your analyses.


Dear C,

Ugh, I can feel the distress of the cheating dream through the screen! Those are the worst! Though before you get too carried away with suspicions of your boyfriend’s fidelity, take some comfort in knowing that you can’t really have a cheating dream unless you’re far along enough in a relationship to fear being cheated on. It’s not unlike the dream where you realize you have unfinished school credits so you didn’t really graduate — you have to have achieved something in order to dream it could be taken away. So maybe you can relax a little and regard your cheating dream as a sign of relationship progress. 


At the same time, a relationship progressing is a big deal! One can’t help but wonder, where is it progressing to? Deepening intimacy can be as wonderful as it is terrifying. Learning to trust your partner can feel bumpy at best, and at other times, like reaching into your chest, pulling out your heart, and handing

it over to the other person to take care of. I wonder how you’d describe the “trust climate” in your relationship and its evolution over the past two years. You wrote that you woke up and checked your phone to make sure “the breakup text” wasn’t there, which leads me to wonder if breaking up over text is still within the realm of possibility between you two? If we were working together in therapy, we’d be exploring your relationship communication patterns, your own history with trust, jealousy, and “other girls,” as well as your own potentially masked wishes to cheat, leave, or upset the status quo of your relationship. Sometimes in dreams we displace onto others impulses that are too risky to bear ourselves.

The beauty of dreamwork is it’s kind of like a playground where any aspect of the dream is fair game to imagine as an aspect of the dreamer herself. We might discover that you in fact are the one with some urges to leave the relationship, or that you and the “other girl” are somehow interconnected. Maybe you have pages worth of texts you could send him as to what’s frustrating you about your relationship, or maybe this dream was an opportunity to rehearse the worst case scenario and how you’d survive it. You may find that this dream occurred as a result of feeling more connected to him, thus you’re more vulnerable.

Overall, this dream seems to be an alarm call alerting you to wake up to something in your relationship. The “other girl” seemed to be the most direct communicator of the three of you, so maybe take her lead and “cheat” your current system of communicating for something more vulnerable, intimate, and direct.

*DISCLAIMER: Dreamwork is a collaborative process that relies entirely on the associations of the dreamer to create a dream meaning. Without the dreamer’s input, I can only describe my personal associations and amplify the dream images as they exist symbolically on a cultural level.

See original post on the Free People blog here

Illustration by Erica Prince

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