Study Finds Dreams May Affect Relationship Behaviors

C. Price

Written by: C. Price

C. Price

C. Price is part of DatingAdvice.com's content team. She writes advice articles, how-to guides, and studies — all relating to dating, relationships, love, sex, and more.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

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If you’ve ever woken up from a dream feeling anger or guilt toward your partner, you might relate to the latest study on dreams and relationships.

New research led by Dylan Selterman, a psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, finds our dreams can have a real-world effect on how we behave in relationships.

For instance, a person who dreams of being cheated on may respond differently toward their partner in subsequent days following the dream based on the imagined slight.

The study, which was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, had participants maintain “dream journals” and keep a record of their activity with their partner for 14 days.

Each participant ranged in ages between 17 and 42 and had been in a romantic relationship for more than six months.

“Our dreams can have a real-world effect

on how we behave in relationships.”

The findings indicate respondents’ recalled dreams of their partners were connected to subsequent interaction in the relationship. These were determined to be independent of other confounding factors, including recent past history and overall relationship security.

“People’s activity changes as a function of the dream they had the night before – specifically within the realm of their close relationships,” Selterman said. “A lot of people don’t pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind. Now we have evidence that there is this association.”

Selterman points out our interactions based on dreams are also largely unconscious. He admits the idea for the study came to him after a former girlfriend got upset with him based on his behavior in a dream.

“Because we already know there’s a high correlation between sexual satisfaction and relationship satisfaction, this might be another manifestation of that,” he said. “Sex can be good or bad in a dream in the same way that it can be good or bad in real life.”

Info from The University of Maryland.

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