What It Means When You Have a Bad Dream About Your Partner

Nearly all dreams feature societal scenarios, and many of these dreamed interactions involve family, friends, and frequently, our intimate partners. Some dream researchers think that dreaming of a close friend or partner acts as a simulation of a real life relationship, and these dreamed simulations are a method for people to practice socializing with others and build relationships while we sleep. But could dreams also be detrimental to relationships?

A recent study published in The Journal of Personality Science and Social Psychological evaluated dreaming of a significant other may influence the way we act toward that partner the following day: the very next day, Does a dreamed argument predict a disagreement? The next day, does closeness that is dreamed make you more caring?

What It Means When You Have a Bad Dream

The students kept both a daily record of these interactions plus a day-to-day dream diary with their partner for 14 days. For their dream reports, they were requested to jot down their dreams immediately upon awakening and to contain as much detail as you possibly can. They were requested to define the characters involved with the dreams, along with any thoughts or feelings they had concerning the interactions in the dream. Regarding the dream’s emotion, subjects responded to a survey following the report that was written. They rated the amounts of negative emotion (anger, nervousness, pressure, frustration, sadness); positive emotion (joy, affection, eroticism, calmness); jealousy (jealousy or treachery); and guilt (guilt or embarrassment) in their dreams.

At the conclusion of the day, subjects also recorded all of their waking interactions using their partner. They reported a daily measure of love/intimacy (e.g., How much love did you feel for/from your partner today?). Ultimately, any struggles that were day-to-day were reported by them.

Subsequent to the daily logs and dream reports were collected by the researchers, judges themselves rated the dreams. Judges scored the written dream reports for the existence or lack of any content involving associates. Eventually, the dreams were scored for specific content, such as lack or the presence of contradiction arguments, or infidelity.

Generally, the frequency of dreaming in regards to a partner was associated with more interaction with them the following day. But, the researchers found that two dream variants predicted disagreement on the next day:

Dream emotion that was covetous was related to more disagreement on a subsequent day.
Disagreement in dreams was related to more conflict on the following day.
Besides disagreement, the authors also found a day later that dreamed infidelity forecast less love/closeness. It is crucial that you note these correlations were unidirectional: It was the dreamed emotion that called the next days’ interactions, and not vice versa.

Overall, the results indicate that negative dream content regarding an associate— infidelity, conflict, and particularly jealousy —have damaging effects on another day’s interactions using a partner. On the other hand, more general emotions such as misery that was dreamed weren’t related to the next day’s interactions.

It’s probably that its accompanying jealousy and dreamed infidelity are difficult to brush aside upon awakening. Instead, these emotions behave as a trigger for arguments and may linger beneath the surface following a dream throughout the day, or at the very least, get in the way of closeness. Maybe the best option would be to take note these emotions linger and remember to attribute them to the right culprit—your dream, not your partner.

Dreamed infidelity may reflect inherent insecurities about a relationship that subsequently manifest in the dream. To put it differently, if you’re stressed or afraid of losing someone, you will be more likely to really have a negative dream about that person in which they are unfaithful or leave you. This only further exacerbates stress and insecurity in your waking life. Dreaming about your partner cheated on you does not make your partner guilty. It only says that you are anxious or insecure about the relationship.

Being aware of and discussing dream content and emotions can be a valuable way to work through problems or insecurities in a relationship together. Ideally, with time, after discussing and facing many of these insecurities, your dreams will also become favorable and more intimate.