Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a 35% increase in dream recall and a 15% increase in negative dreams, according to researchers from the Lyon Neuroscience Research Center and health coaches in Elverta CA. Many people are referring to these abnormally vivid dreams as pandemic dreams. Since social routines have been disrupted, many of these dreams are centered around relationships.

Dreams are the gateway to our unconscious desires and feelings, so they won’t always align with everyday reality.  For example, some people may be having great sex in their dreams but not in waking life.  Others may have stressful dreams about their partner without recognizing trouble spots while awake.

So, are these relationship-focused dreams trying to tell us something deeper?  Or are they just pandemic-related anxieties playing themselves out while we sleep?

What are your dreams trying to tell you about your relationship?

Dreams can have many meanings, so there isn’t one clear answer – as much as we’d like for there
to be. The anxious energy built up from quarantine can trigger stress dreams without deeper significance, whereas other dreams may be sending messages about what matters and what needs to change.

Dreams that repeat themselves or grab your attention more than others probably fall into the latter group.  Pay attention to
these, as they are generally sourced from our deeper subconscious.

While dreams vary in details and context, there are some common themes. Here are three common relationship dreams, plus what they may be trying to tell you:

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Steamy sex dreams

One of the most common relationship-centered dreams is the steamy sex dream, but what does it mean?  To better understand, ask yourself:

  • Are you and your partner having good sex right now?
  • Have you hardly touched each other with the pandemic stress weighing you down?

Distinguishing these two experiences is important.  Dreams may reflect built-up and unexpressed desires – especially if you haven’t been having much sex and wish you were.

If you and your partner feel stressed from COVID-19 and haven’t found time for the bedroom, put a sex date on the calendar.  Agree to set up an atmosphere at home that gets you both in the mood, and find ways to build anticipation throughout the week.

That said, sex dreams aren’t always just about sex.  These dreams may also stem from a yearning for emotional connection.  After all, good sex is born from connection.  When was the last time you and your partner slowed down to connect in a meaningful way, or experienced nonsexual touch like hugging, cuddles, and soft arm tickles?

If it’s been a while, make some time to connect with your partner at the end of your day before going to sleep.  Share something you enjoyed about your day or something your partner did that you appreciated. Be specific and genuine.  This simple act can begin to rebuild emotional intimacy frayed from the pandemic.

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Conflict and Tension Dreams

Dreams in which you and your partner are arguing or experiencing tension can usually be explained by two common themes. To understand them, pay attention to the frustrations, fears, and feelings expressed in the dream.  It may be possible that those feelings are bubbling under the surface during waking life. Preoccupations with work, child care, and other day-to-day tasks may be masking these underlying feelings, or simply making it easier to bottle them.

Those unacknowledged feelings may be showing up in the dream since the subtle signs are overlooked while awake.  If that’s the case, take some time to journal out your feelings, taking note of feelings that may be stemming from personal needs, as well as needs not being met by your partner.  Addressing these early on can prevent further conflict down the line.

Dreams where you’re unable to reach the other person by phone

The final common relationship dream is a bit more abstract but may signal a lack of connection with your partner.

Have you had a dream recently where you try to reach your partner on the phone and can’t get through?  Sometimes in these dreams, people will dial the numbers but can’t seem to get them right.  Others will dial and get through, but their partner can’t hear them on the other side.

This dream may be a sign that you’re feeling underappreciated, undervalued, or ignored in your relationship.  These feelings could stem from a struggle with work-life balance or you or your partner checking out in front of the TV at the end of a workday. If any of these feelings ring true, consider creating a post-work ritual with your partner.

Rituals help align our intentions into action. Committing to a ritual together can empower you both to shift out of work mode and be truly present with each other. This may be a short meditation, lighting or blowing out a candle together, or even changing clothes at the same time.

Bottom line.

Your relationship-themed dreams are a sign that you care – both about yourself and your partner.  When you embrace these dreams with a sense of curiosity rather than judgment, they can become powerful sources of transformation, healing, and change.