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What your dreams say about your relationship

Susan Baragia, M.A. received a degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Nevada-Reno. She is a trained family therapist, educational counselor and dreams expert.

How many times have you turned to someone and said "I had the weirdest dream last night," yet turned the other cheek to what this dream actually means? Whether we want to believe it or not, our dreams (both the good and the bad) ultimately reveal our emotions.

They show us what's unhealthy and healthy in our lives; what's unresolved in our emotional lives and, in turn, what we're really thinking about our relationships. In our dreams, there are often symbols, metaphors, puns... a masked dreams language that isn't always easy to decode on our own. But understanding our dreams language is extremely important as dreams can tell us if we're on the right path and warn us if we're on the wrong path in our waking lives, and that applies to relationships, especially. Everything we experience in our daily lives, every interaction with someone, can trigger a dream; an event in our day-to-day life can prompt something unresolved in our past or something in our future, to appear in a dream.

Looking at the topic of dreaming about relationships, Americans are dreaming about ex-lovers (29 percent) more than current lovers (25 percent), according to a survey we recently conducted with YouGov. But why? While we can learn a lot about ourselves in our dreams, often they feature other people. Take a relationship with a past significant other, for instance. We tend to carry an image of this person that appears subconsciously in our dreams (this could be someone in our dream walking around with the face of an ex). This provokes questions specific to each relationship; for example, if the dream was negative, was the relationship toxic? It's important to reflect on the image of any person that appears in a dream and what this image means for that relationship.

Something that is very commonly discussed in the dreams space is the topic of cheating, both being the cheater and being cheated on. While many people often turn a blind eye to these dreams, it is crucial to spend time to discover their meaning, as their meanings can truly shine light on the situation of your relationship. Thus, the only way to really know what dreams of cheating mean is to investigate them in waking life. If you look at the characters in a dream as parts of yourself, for instance you see your partner cheating on you, there are a number of different ways to look at what this means. Ask yourself: Do I feel cheated (the language here is a pun) in some aspect of my waking life? How? Why do I feel insecure? Many times, cheating dreams are not about the person we're dreaming about but rather more of an internal affair (again, the language here is a pun).

Similarly, in dreams where we ourselves are cheating on a partner, a natural reaction is to take the dream quite literally, and begin to worry. However, having a dream of cheating does not mean we want to live out the affair. More importantly, we should examine what it is about that person who we are cheating with that we identify with and admire. Ask yourself: What is it about my relationship with this person that would generate this dream scenario?

As the experiences of the individual dreamer will always shape the interpretation of a dream, it is important to reflect on what is happening in our dreams and search for clues that can help us figure out what is and isn’t working in our relationships, both current and past. With that said, we should not sweep dreams of our relationships (even exes) under the rug; it is crucial to face these dreams head-on rather than avoid them.

A dream expert for DreamsCloud, the world's leading online dream resource, with an interactive database of more than 1.8 million dreams, Susan Baragia, M.A. received a degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Nevada-Reno. A trained marriage and family therapist and educational counselor, she has worked with dreams in the therapeutic setting for 15 years.

Photo credit: B2M Productions/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

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