Although most people dream about three to six times per night, 95% of these dreams are forgotten until the following morning. According to Matthew Walker, famous neuroscientist and author of “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Dreams”, people have their “most vivid, hallucinogenic, narrative, memory-laden dreams” when the brain is most active during the “REM” stage. It’s during this time that our brains replay events from the previous day and try to make sense of them.
Why do we Dream About People? Do Dreams Mean Anything?
If in the past, dreams were thought to deliver messages from the gods or supernatural beings, today, researchers know that dreams represent a mix of our innermost desires and subconscious thoughts.
In this article, we analyze the meaning of dreams involving different people, whether it’s someone we know or total strangers. Do all these dreams have special significance? And if so, what do they mean?
How do you Know When Dreaming of Someone is Significant and When it Means Nothing?
When it comes to the interpretation of dreams, several theories have been put forward. According to the Activation-Synthesis Hypothesis by Harvard psychiatrists John Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley, dreams don’t mean anything at all, they’re just the brain’s response to the neural activity during sleep. However, Sigmund Freud thought differently: the famous psychologist believed that dreams are the imagery of a wish or impulse from childhood that has since been repressed. This is why Freud used dream analysis to understand the unconscious mind.
Another theory related to the meaning of dreams is the Threat Simulation Theory which suggests that dreams are a survival tactic used by the brain to prepare us for real-life dangers. This theory claims that recurring nightmares may be an indication that your brain is preparing you for real-life situations where the threat posed in the dream is similar to an event or person in your real life.
Keep a Dream Journal
A practical way to decypher dream meanings, suggested by dream psychologist Lauri Quinn Loewenber and author of ”Dream on It: Unlock Your Dreams, Change Your Life” is that you start keeping a day journal and a dream journal.
This way, you can make connections between your dream imagery and your daily activities. For example, if you get promoted at work, you might dream that you just won the lottery. Or, if you are really afraid of an exam, you might dream that you are attacked by a monster. According to L. Q. Lowenberg, decoding dreams is very important, as it helps us better understand ourselves so we can overcome our most difficult waking life issues.
What Does it Mean to Dream About Someone you Know?
Have you recently had a dream about someone you know? Why do you think that happened? According to specialists, dreaming about people you know, whether they’re friends, family members or coworkers, can have some special significance compared to dreaming about strangers.
The words of licensed psychotherapist and dream analyst Carder Stout explain it best: “when you dream about someone you know “you’re not actually dreaming of them—instead you’re dreaming of a symbol that represents the feelings that you have towards your relationship with them.” So, the dream can be looked at as a symbolic representation of the ways in which you are interacting with that person.
For example, if this person was your boss in the dream, it may show how that person makes you feel in the workplace.
If you’re curious about the possible meanings of the most common dreams involving known or unknown people, you’ll find some explanations below — along with a few tips for decoding your own dreams.
Dreaming About Someone you Know
Dreaming About a Family Member
We often dream about the members of our family, whether it’s our mother, our father, our siblings or a distant family member. Dreaming of your mom, your father, your brother or sister may be connected with some aspect of your relationship with them.
For instance, many teenagers dream about their mom dying, which signifies their fear of coming out from under her wing, as they grow up and experience serious changes. What is actually “dying” is the old dynamics of their mother-son relationship.
If you see your brother in a dream, this might be connected with some aspect of your relationship with your brother, or it might represent something you see in yourself but you don’t accept about yourself (so you depict it at a distance). If you don’t have a brother but dream about one, you should look at areas of your life that might be underdeveloped and that you need to focus on.
If you are a woman and you dream of your brother, this can refer to anti-social qualities that are difficult to express. If you are a man and dream of your brother, it indicates the challenges that await you and the positive outcome they will bring.
Dreaming About Someone you Like
It is quite common to dream about seeing or talking with a person you like. If you have been thinking a lot about a particular person, your subconscious may not want to take away that person’s prominence, not even during your dreams. When you dream about someone you like, your subconscious might also tell you that the person you fancy is in need of attention right now.
Dreaming About a Colleague
When you dream about a co-worker, this is probably linked to some work aspect (a recent event that took place at work, an on-going issue that your colleague is somehow related to). Also, dreaming of a co-worker you know may symbolize something about yourself (your job situation, your social skills, your hard work).
For instance, if you tell your co-worker in a dream that they’re going to get fired, that probably symbolizes your own job insecurity. Dreaming about an ambitious colleague may be connected to your own ambition and a fictional colleague may represent a personality trait that helps you in your work: your ability to organize, your reliability, your adaptability.
Dreaming About a Crush / Boyfriend / Girlfriend
If you dream about someone who you are currently dating in a romantic way, then this can be a sign that your relationship has a good chance of making it to the next stage. However, if you don’t have a relationship at the moment, dreaming about a special someone may mean you are craving more intimacy and attention than you are currently receiving. And if you dream of someone who is currently in a relationship with someone else, this may indicate a general lack of passion in your life (and is not necessarily linked to a desire for that person). If you have been in an abusive relationship, chances are you will still dream about being back with your ex, which signifies that, deep inside, you are not over it completely.
Dreaming About an Affair
If you dream about cheating on your girlfriend or boyfriend, it does not necessarily mean that you will. It may suggest however that there are some feelings of regret or guilt related to a past or current relationship, that are still affecting your subconscious. The cheating dream may also suggest that you feel neglected by your partner or that your relationship is too one-sided at times. Dreaming about an affair may also represent something more than romantic love, such as how your boss or significant other treats you.
Dreaming about someone you used to know
Have you recently dreamt of someone you don’t talk to anymore? When you dream about someone you’re no longer friends with or haven’t seen in a long time, this is your brain’s way of reminding you of something about them, or possibly something about yourself that you like or dislike. If someone from your past enters your mind in an unexpected moment, it can symbolize a particular quality that they possess that you feel is lacking in your current friendships. Other times, you dream of an old flame or an old friend you lost touch with because there are some issues you need to resolve with them (they treated you unfairly, they moved far away, they blocked you). So your subconscious is processing the past events and tries to deal with what happened.
Dreaming about someone you used to date
Previous partners can show up in your dreams for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes, it means you’re still processing something that happened in the past relationship. Other times, it might signify unresolved feelings, or it may represent your subconscious mind’s way of telling you that you need more « spice » in your life (the ex becomes a symbol of passion or uninhibited desire). If the relationship ended because it wasn’t a healthy one, you may dream about that person as a way of reminding yourself to be aware of how you choose your next partner.
Dream About Someone you don’t know at all
Dreaming about people you barely know can be very confusing. However, such dreams are pretty common, according to dream analysts and psychologists. If you dream of someone you hardly know, it means your mind is trying to fulfill some subconscious needs. For instance, if the person you dream about is positive and cheerful, it may represent your desire to have someone happy and cheerful in your real life. If they are chasing you in your dream, it could mean that you are concerned that an unknown person is trying to work against you or do things that are not in your favor. If you dream that are you in love or in a relationship with a person that you do not know, it may mean that you have a strong desire for a new romance or relationship in your life.
Dreaming about Losing Someone
We all have a fear somewhere deep down that we just don’t quite have a grasp on. This fear can be expressed in our dreams in the form of a loss of someone we love. When you dream of losing someone, it is a clear sign of your anxiety and your inability to rely on yourself. Dreaming of losing someone can also be a sign of sexual frustration, especially for men. When a man dreams of losing his girlfriend, this may mean the couple has some communication issues, which results in an unfulfilled relationship. For a woman, dreaming about losing someone she loves could mean a lack of attention from her partner.
Dreaming about Someone Repeatedly
When you dream about someone often, it may mean that, for some reason, they are constantly on your subconscious mind. This may be because you’re in love with that person, you want to correct an embarrassing situation that happened in the past, you feel guildty towards that person or you want someone who is far away or even deceased to come back.
Other Common Dreams about People – What Do They Mean?
- Dreaming of someone getting married
Dreaming of someone getting married can be a representation of your desire for a happy relationship. The dream may also be related to growth, bearing great responsibilities and maturity. The wedding dream may also signify your fear of being restrained and losing freedom, as well as your dissatisfaction with the current relationship.
- What do dreams about dead people mean?
According to dream interpreters, dreaming about someone dead, in general, is a sign of unexpected news or changes in your life. If you dream about a dead person coming back to life, it means something lost will soon return (whether it’s money, a job, or even social status). And if you dream about the same dead person over and over again, it means that the person respresents certain feelings or emotions that you’ve had and that you want back.
- Dreaming about someone criticizing you
If someone else criticizes or judges you in a dream, it might be a way your unconscious mind tells you about some hidden parts of yourself that need discipline or improvement. It may also mean that you are feeling intimidated by someone that has more power and status than yourself.
- Dreaming about someone cheating on you
If you have recurrent dreams about someone cheating on you, this might be linked to your own insecurities about the relationship. If you constantly worry that your relationship might not work out, or that your partner isn’t really happy with you, you might experience such cheating dreams. If you have been cheated on in the past, these dreams may indicate that you fear your current partner will do the same. Or maybe you are not compeletly over the trauma caused by the past betrayal. Sometimes, even if your partner is not romantically interested in another person, if something is getting between the two of you (whether it’s a job, a hobby, a pet), this type of dreams may appear.
Other Reasons for Dreaming About Someone
There are many reasons for dreaming about someone, from unfulfilled emotional needs to unresolved conflict or simply the desire to celebrate your relationship with that person. Here are some of the most common reasons you might be dreaming of someone :
- You Want the Person to Like/Admire you
You may dream about a particular person because you want them to like or admire you. You want this person to notice your qualities and features, so you imagine that in a dream. this type of dream may represent feelings of vulnerability or a strong desire to be loved, accepted and approved of.
- Your Life Would be Different if you Were With Them
Sometimes, you keep dreaming about a certain person because, deep down inside, you believe that your life could be different with them in it. It might be a long lost love from your past, an ex you are still in love with, or could be even a deceased relative. Whatever the case may be, if you are still keeping that person in your thoughts and heart, it would be only natural for your brain to carry on those thoughts through the night in form of dreams.
- You Feel Lonely/Left out
You keep dreaming about having a special someone and you don’t know why. You might be feeling lonely and left out. Perhaps you’re missing someone who used to be with you. Or, maybe you’re simply wishing for that special someone to come into your life. And your unconscious mind is trying to compensate for what’s going on in your waking life.
When you dream about someone are they thinking of you?
There is no specific evidence that dreaming about someone means they are thinking about you. These people ypu dream of could symbolise qualities or feelings that you want in your life and do not have, or they could represent positive/negative feelings you felt with them.
There are many reasons why you may experience dreams about someone, especially recurring dreams. It could be for positive or negative reasons (romantic feelings, admiration, or feelings of guilt and regret). But the persons you are dreaming about are not always who you think they are. In most instances, that special person in your dream represents an aspect of your own personality.
Reading an online dream dictionary is one way to find out what your dreams may mean, but speaking with a professional dream analyst can offer you even more insight. We hope that our article has also shed some light on possible interpretation of the most common dreams.