We've all been there. Waking up feeling hurt, confused and likely a little bit miffed having dreamt of your partner cheating on you.
You can't help but wonder what it all means and whether you're having some sort of premenition that your other half is cheating on you in real life, leaving you stuck between wanting to hug them for reassurance or boot them out of bed.
If this sounds achingly familiar, you're certainly not alone, particularly in the period surrounding Valentine's Day when interest in dreams about infidelity seems to spike.
In the days following V-Day 2023 Google Trends indicated a staggering 97% rise in people searching for the meaning behind ‘cheating dreams’, leaving a lot of couples pondering their significance, and how they play a role in our emotional landscape.
Dreaming of your other half in a tangle with someone else likely isn't the only bad thought you're having in your lucid mind around this time of year.
But what do those unsettling dreams really mean and why are we more likely to have them around February 14?
Sammy Margo, sleep expert at Dreams, reveals the reasons behind cheating dreams and shares tips on conquering other common nightmares as the most romantic day of the year approaches.
Valentine's dreams decoded
Dreaming of a partner cheating
Dreams (or nightmares) featuring a partner's infidelity can be particularly distressing, sparking fears and doubts and leaving you feeling unsettled.
Recent research found that almost two fifths of respondents have woken up in the past from a nightmare about a partner feeling like it really happened, with nearly a quarter admitting that they’ve been in a mood with their other half because of something they did in a dream or nightmare.
To get over the upset Margo suggests interpreting these dreams as a reflection of personal insecurities rather than a prediction of real-life events.
"Dreams about infidelity often stem from feelings of vulnerability or fear of abandonment," she explains. "Understanding that these dreams are not a direct reflection of your partner's actions can help alleviate anxiety."
Communication becomes a key tool when you wake up after a cheating dream. Margo recommends discussing what happened with your partner to foster understanding and strengthen the emotional bond.
"Building trust through open dialogue can provide reassurance and pave the way for healthier relationships," she adds.
Dreaming of an ex-partner
Whilst Valentine's Day is a time to celebrate love and romance, it can also make you think of relationships past.
It's little wonder, therefore, that as we approach the most romantic day of the year many Brits are dreaming of their ex.
But this prevalent dream scenario can spark questions about its significance, leaving you feeling unsettled.
According to Margo, dreaming about an ex may be linked to unresolved emotions or a desire for closure. "Dreams often serve as a mirror to our subconscious," explains Margo. "Seeing an ex in a dream may signify lingering emotions that need attention, or an internal exploration of lessons learned from past relationships."
To navigate these dreams, Margo suggests journaling to identify any recurring patterns or emotions associated with the dream.
"Engaging in open and honest conversations with current partners about feelings and expectations may also be beneficial," she explains.
How to cope with general bad dreams
For those grappling with more general unsettling nightmares, Margo emphasises the importance of prioritising emotional wellbeing.
She suggests incorporating relaxation techniques, such as meditation, cognitive shuffling (a cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) technique designed to distract the mind from thoughts that are preventing you from falling asleep), or deep breathing exercises, before bedtime which may help to promote restful sleep.
"Additionally, creating a calming bedtime routine and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule contribute to overall sleep quality," she adds.
"Dreams, as enigmatic as they may be, can offer valuable insights into our emotional landscapes. By approaching them with curiosity and understanding, individuals can navigate the complexities of love, both past and present, leading to more restful and fulfilling sleep."
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