Dreams about Cheating
You’ll see a lot of dream sites that say dreams about cheating symbolize a guilty conscience, fears about cheating, a desire to cheat, or low self-esteem, but in my experience none of those are true. You don’t interpret dreams that literally.
While it’s true that your dream may constellate your fear, jealousy, or insecurity, we have to look at those feelings symbolically – not literally. Fear, jealousy, and insecurity about another person can be a signal that you need to realize that person’s qualities in yourself. In other words, that person represents a value in yourself that you have not yet recognized.
Dreams about cheating: what’s missing from your personality?
Like all dreams, dreams about cheating symbolize an unconscious dynamic in yourself. They are saying something about an imbalance in your personality or your conscious attitude. When I use the word personality, I mean something far more than persona. I mean you as a unique being in this world.
I come from the perspective that dreams show you something about yourself that you do not already know. For example, most people who are afraid of their partner cheating are well-aware of this fear. You would gain no insight into yourself by dreams of your partner cheating.
Your dreams about cheating show you how you can become more whole, not the trustworthiness of your partner (or yourself if you are cheating in your dreams). The person you see your partner with or the person you are with in your cheating dreams represent some aspect of yourself that needs to be realized.
This unrealized aspect of your personality can be either a desirable or an undesirable character trait, as you’ll see below in our dream examples. Every image in the dream gives you information about yourself, not your partner.
Introduction to dreams about cheating: the people in our dreams
Every person and process in our dream is a representation of our own personality. More importantly, they are a representation of something we do not know about ourselves. In the most general terms, we call these unknown aspects of our personality shadow figures.
We can break those shadow figures into male and female elements, and those gender elements will mean different things to the men and women who dream them. Typically, when a woman dreams of another woman, she is dreaming about her personal shadow. The same is true for men who dream about other men.
Dreams about cheating: our personal shadow
Our personal shadow represents everything we don’t see in ourselves: the good, the bad, as well as the ugly and beautiful. Many women dream of the unknown cool girl or interesting woman. Men have dreams of strong or brave men. These are positive shadow figures, and very often the ones our partners are cheating with in our dreams. It’s also important that we acknowledge our not so nice sides. If you dream of your partner cheating with someone who is awful, then you need to explore that as well.
Dreams about cheating: the meaning of characters of the opposite sex
Our gender opposites, what Jung called the anima and the animus, represent deeper layers of our personalities.
I won’t go too deep into the jargon here, but instead try to give you some general ideas of how these dynamics work in our psyche.
Often a woman in a man’s dream is an image for authentic relatedness and feeling. She is also a representation for how he sees women in general.
In a woman’s dream, a man can be an image for her inner masculine power and her ability to step into the world and make something concrete happen. He is also an image for what and how she thinks about life.
More importantly, at the subjective, psychological level, our partners and/or lovers are also inner figures. It is through our relationship to the inner figures that we develop ourselves. Often, we first meet the inner figure through a projection in the outer world. Many relationships begin with us projecting that inner figure onto the people we have relationships with. When the projections fall away, we realize they are nothing like we imagined. This is the root of many relationship issues. When we realize our projections, we can either choose to have a real relationship with the real person or walk away from it.
Dreams about cheating: who’s that person cheating with my partner?
A man recently asked me why he dreamed his love was with another man. He was very distressed and wondered if the dream was a warning.
As I told him, this is a common dream theme for all of us. Its meaning can run deep. In your dream interpretation, the first thing you have to do is explore the qualities of the person your partner is with. These could be qualities which you can develop in yourself, and thus, deepen your actual relationship to your partner.
Anytime we deepen a relationship with another person, we simultaneously deepen our relationship with ourselves. We develop into more expanded human beings. This is true even if those qualities are unappealing (as you will see below in another dream)! Our goal is not to become a better person, but rather to become a more whole person, someone who recognizes both their light and dark sides.
In my dream, my husband is with another woman. In this dream, my husband is a representation of my inner masculine. At the time of this dream, I was not at all confident about my ability to make my way in this world. In the dream, my insecurity was imaged in the way my husband was walking, which was awkward and uncomfortable. He makes a connection with another woman, so I have to realize a new way of relating to my inner masculine. During this phase of my life I was extremely hard on myself – even to the point of self-loathing.
I know the qualities of the other woman are what my inner masculine needs because as he develops confidence, he changes the way he walks in the world. This is highly symbolic: it means that *I* must change the way I walk in this world. When a woman is in touch with the energy which her inner masculine represents, she knows what she wants out of life and how to make it happen.
This is the nature of the symbolic masculine: action in the world. When it’s really developed, this action is fueled by a living spiritual principle. I’ll go into the meaning of a living spiritual principle in another article, but just keep in mind for now.
In the dream, I see this woman and how my husband thrives with this woman. When I reflect on this consciously, I know my inner masculine would thrive if only I can integrate the qualities of this other woman. I ask myself something like, “how can I be better related and more giving to my life’s passion?”
As I find more ways to integrate the qualities of this other woman into my conscious life, my inner masculine continues to develop. Suddenly, I have creative energy to put into the projects that I want to bring into the world. I feel completed by my work and confident in my path, and thus, change the way I walk in the world. Consequently, now I am better to my husband because I feel better about myself.
That is the real meaning of finding our knight in shining armor – that longed-for soul mate so many women dream of. When we are related to that inner image, then we are really tapped into our fullest potential. It is when we are at our best, just being who we are.
Wholeness is not so much perfection as completeness. Assimilation of the shadow gives a man body, so to speak; the animal sphere of instinct, as well as the primitive or archaic psycheC.G. Jung, The Practice of Psychotherapy
Dreams about cheating with unsavory people
I received an interesting response to a cheating dream interpretation from the man, who shared the short dream above. The reason I want to share it with is to show you how to use the dream interpretations that I give you as guidelines for extracting your own meaning.
In his dream we have an image of a process: the woman in his life is running off with a creep. This says something about both his actual relationship with his girlfriend and his relationship to his inner feminine.
He told me that he couldn’t for the life of him work out what part of that horrible guy he should integrate. What he realized was this:
Your mention of the masculine unearthed the reason behind my dream, as well. I’ve been devoting an unbalanced amount of energy to my feminine side lately and the masculine has, of course, dwindled as a result. It seems this dream was reminding me to be comfortable taking action in the world, as you said. Being okay with taking the reigns once in a while.
Dreams about Cheating: Paying attention to all of the dream images
Below, I share another one of my own dreams. It is also from around the same time period as the dream I shared above. It’s a bit long, but I want to show you how to find the healing gold in dreams that make you feel uncomfortable, jealous, or insecure.
Cheating Dreams: Finding the healing message
In this dream, there is a lot of tension – a tension which was a living part of my life. I was never worried that my husband would have an affair, so I had to get to what I was really insecure about.
The tree in this dream was the healing image. In this tree is the divine union of the male and female, something we see in the two trunks coming together, the whispering male figure, and the name of the Moon Goddess, Selene.
The Tree is symbolic of a slow-growing, natural process which is at one with itself. In addition, the tree is symbolic of an earth mother: a natural, creative process which can realize itself through me when I let go of my ego and all of its fears about life. Remember, I was in a dark phase at that time.
The symbolism of the Moon also had an effect on me. According the Pythagorean Tarot:
The moon symbolizes the last trial before rebirth, the final plunge into the unconscious sea and confrontation with its monsters before the climactic journey into the new dawn. As a consequence, ambivalence between opportunity and danger pervades the scene. We are at the far edge of Ocean, the deep salt sea at the outer limits of the world; its brine is bitter, poisonous, yet the very stuff of which we are made and from which earthly life emerged. Our baptism in Ocean is rejuvenating, yet if we do not leave its womb-like fluids, we will shrivel and die.
I had to stop indulging in my fear (lest I shrivel up and die) and trust the natural process which was clearly unfolding in me (symbolized by the tree). We must learn to orient ourselves to the supra-personal power of the unconscious, which appears in a dream image that holds us in a state of awe. In this way, we create a “set and setting” which constellates the higher Self and connects us to it.
All of your dreams have this aim. It is this connection to the something greater than we are that opens us to new perspectives, not only about ourselves, but also the world around us.
Want to learn more about working with dreams or Jungian Psychology?
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