What Your Dreams Mean For Your Relationship

True story: once when I was dating my ex, I had a dream that he was cheating on me and lying about it even though I caught him red-handed (major sad face). I woke up feeling irrationally irritated and angry, my cheeks flushed and my hands clenched together, as though this was really going on in real life. Then I turned over, grabbed my phone and texted him something like, “you’re so mean” before I realized it was all just a dream. I would say it ended there, but actually I spent the rest of the morning feeling oddly annoyed and suddenly a little bit worried about my relationship.

Apparently, I’m not alone in letting my dreams affect my relationship. Which, really, is a relief, because I’ve done this more than a few times and I was starting to feel like I was crazy. (Also, it makes my boyfriend mad and so then we end up fighting about the meanings of my dreams.) A new study shows that science is backing me up here – what goes on in your dreams really can affect your relationship.

Researcher Dylan Selterman did a study on 61 people in relationships by having them keep dream journals. They also wrote down the quality of their relationship each day. What he found was that what happens in your dreams can determine what your relationship will be like the next day. So if you have a nightmare about your boyfriend, you two are more likely to get in a fight the next day. Similarly, if you have a great sex dream about your BF, you’re more likely to feel more loving towards him the next day. So, as it turns out, I am not crazy! At least in this instance.

Why does this happen? Apparently Dylan thinks that “these correlations are the result of ‘priming,’ the process by which a stimulus evokes a related response. For instance, previous research has shown that placing someone on a wobbly chair triggers a desire for stable relationship partners. This mechanism, of course, operates on a largely unconscious level.”

So what exactly does this mean? Do our dreams really have deeper meanings? If you dream about your BF cheating on you, does that mean he really is? Um, no – our dreams aren’t magic (I wish they were though). But it is possible that if you’re frequently dreaming about your BF cheating, that could be your real-life distrust of him carrying over to dreamland. It could be a sign that maybe you really don’t trust this guy.

The good news is that if you’re in a good relationship, you don’t feel these negative effects as much after a nightmare. That completely makes sense to me. I constantly used to have nightmares about my ex – obviously, we eventually broke up because we didn’t have a great relationship. Now, when I have nightmares about my current boyfriend, I’m less likely to wake up in a rage ready to fight with him over something that never happened – because I know he wouldn’t actually do that to me.

The moral of the story is this: you shouldn’t feel so bad if a dream causes you to actually fight with your partner. Apparently, it’s not really your fault! But, in all seriousness, try to keep in mind that your dream is not real before you start asking him if he’s ever cheated on you or whatever.

Do you ever have nightmares about your partner? If you do, does that make you guys fight the next day? Have you ever fought with anyone over a dream? Tell me in the comments!


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  • Jjj

    Boy could I write a book about my boyfriend. We met 8th grade year, instantly we felt something toward each other and the first day we met we were already holding hands and kissing in the rain (corny right? I know) but we knew back then, we werent in any way shape or form to be together, and it felt like everyone and everything was trying to keep us apart. We would talk on and off for years, we would talk for a few weeks and when we did we’d be on the phone all night, talking about so many things, and he always called me his “lover” even when he was in a relationship. Then we would stop talking for months or weeks at a time and for some reason it would bother me but it wouldn’t because we were both experiencing our own problems at those times, going through our own relationships and what not, when I was 16 I got pregnant with my ex boyfriend, I now have a 3 year old, well when I got pregnant, I never thought he would care but apparently he was super upset, we used to always agree that he should’ve been the one to take my virginity. Well now my daughter is 3 and never did I think we would actually be together or that I would be living at his mothers house while he’s getting ready to join the army and we start our life together. Of course in the passed there were those times he would push me away or I would push him away, do something to hurt each other or make it look like we didn’t care for the other (I’m so glad we never dated back then or else we wouldn’t be together today) but we recently lost our baby, it was hard for the both of us, me because the doctor wouldn’t just go ahead and get a DNC, he made me pass it on my own, took a month to pass it and I went through hell, at one point I thought I was going to die because I had lost so much blood, and through all of that he held my hand and stayed by my side, I knew it hurt him just as much as it did me, imagine having to see the woman you love going through so much pain, bearing your unborn child that the both of you wanted and were so excited for. It was probably the worst experience for us both but we stayed strong for each other, I can’t say we have a bad relationship because we communicate pretty well and are able to talk about anything and everything to each other but of course I have my insecurities, I guess from the passed, I can’t lie we did some pretty hard things to each other to keep us away from one another, I’m telling you people would do or say anything about one of us to the other to keep us from each other, but we always knew something was there, just by looking at each other, I hate that I think the way that I do, I love my boyfriend dearly, and I couldn’t imagine my life without him, in all honesty. He’s so loving, caring and always, always makes me laugh. It makes it so hard to be mad at him. He even potty trained my daughter and she calls him daddy, to her he is her daddy. (Her real father isn’t involved) it helped to read this because it shows that it’s just my insecurities getting the best of me. I know he loves me or else I wouldn’t be living with his mom, and he wouldn’t be joining the army for us. I love him too much, he drives me crazy in all the right ways. I just need to learn to get over my insecurities.

  • Steph

    Me and my boyfriend have been together for 2 and a half years now. He has always been my best friend, and love of my life. I have been cheated on with someone after a year and a half in the past because of his friends influencing him and he changed blah blah blah basically I have had these things happen to me from a guy I really thought was a good one. The guy I’m with now actually was my friend during that and helped me through it all and then we started dating.
    About 6 months ago I started having horrible dreams with him in them… Cheating, calling me names, pushing me, treating me like I was nothing to him. I would always tell him about my dreams because I would wake up with an elevated heart rate hands sweating sometimes crying because it felt so real. He would always laugh it off and assure me it wasn’t true.
    About two months ago he started hanging out with this guy who hangs out with girls down at his dorm and I started to get these feelings again but in real life, and I started to get really uneasy with him going down there.
    We were at an all time low when I looked through his phone after he told me about getting drunk with these girls and seeing tons of pictures of them and him telling his friend about how much shit he talked on me while he was down there. I owe this all to my dreams. We got in a huge fight because he was hiding things, I was being too jealous. Blah blah.

    Spring break rolls around, he wants his friend to come along with us to the lake house his family owns.
    I have to spend a week with this guy, and actually after meeting him and opening up to him I messaged his friend on Facebook telling him thanks for respecting our relationship and he told me that he respects people in relationships and would never put him in any situation to cheat on me.

    I felt the biggest sense of relief and things between me and my man have never been better. You need TRUST and COMMUNICATION to have a healthy relationship.

    Moral of the story, I woke up this morning after a usual dream of him cheating on me kicking me out, all that stuff.
    It’ll never happen. I did not feel one bit bad after this, actually good because I know how much my man loves me and how he would never do this to me.

  • Kaps

    My partner keeps dreaming that we argue every day and that I try to stab him and attack his son. We hardly argue in real life and I’d never hurt him or his son as I love him like my own.