Most times when we dream of other people, we don’t actually dream of their faces in detail. What’s even more bizarre is that we often don’t even know the exact identity of the people we see in our dreams or their identities sometimes shift midway through the dream. Other times, however, we dream of a specific person and we see them very clearly.
In either case, if you’ve seen someone in a dream, be it briefly or throughout the whole length of the dream, you may wonder what that means for you in your real life. Does this signify certain emotions you, as the dreamer, have toward that person? Or is the dream a prediction of the future of some kind? Here are 7 reasons why people appear in your dreams.
Why do people appear in your dreams?
What dreams mean typically has to do with how we feel about a certain topic or person, or what has recently impressed our subconscious mind. Often it’s something minor but other times, when we get deep into REM sleep, we have the type of dream that heralds heavy emotional turmoil.
So, as you go through the stages of sleep tonight and reach the rapid eye movement part of the REM stage, you may have a dream about your best friend or a family member. If you’re wondering what that might mean, here are the 7 most common interpretations:
1. Your subconscious is telling you to pay closer attention to that person
This can seem like a no-brainer at first but this is often all there is to a dream about another person – they have left an impression on your subconscious and now it’s conjuring up a dream telling you to watch over that person as they are interesting.
Some dreams do have major significance regarding our emotional state and aspects of our own life but that phenomenon doesn’t always need to be all that significant. Sometimes, a person has left an impression on us and that’s all there is to it.
It may be that the person in question performed a certain feat in front of you, made a memorable mistake, or even just wore something silly – either way, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise if you see them again in a dream. This interpretation is usually correct if the person’s appearance in your dream was minor and they aren’t someone all that close to you in your waking life.
2. The dream indicates how you feel about them
On the other end of the significance spectrum, many dreams about other people serve to remind us how we feel about them. This is very common when we dream of someone close to us we’ve been ignoring for some time. So, for example, you might dream about your mom or dad, about a close friend you’re developing a crush on, and so on.
Usually, a dream like that is the way our subconscious mind informs us that we have to do something about our feelings toward that person. Maybe it’s been a while since you’ve called your mom or dad and your subconscious is reminding you that you love and miss them. Or, you haven’t yet fully realized that you are falling for someone but your subconscious is ahead of you and is letting you know.
Properly recognizing and understanding such a dream can give you a great headstart in such situations. If you miss the hint, however, you may end up behind the current and miss out on an opportunity or worse – accidentally let your relationship with someone go sour.
3. There is a connection between the two of you that you’ve missed
Another likely dream interpretation is that your subconscious mind has noticed a connection between you and a person in your life that your conscious mind has missed. Or, even if it hasn’t, your subconscious has still felt the need to point it out.
That connection can be anything from a light and broad similarity your subconscious has found interesting to something deep and personal. It may be that both you and the other person have gone through similar trauma, both of you share the same problems or goals, or both of you were recently in a similar situation or place.
Whatever the case, noting that connection can sometimes be irrelevant and just curious but in some cases it can be important – so don’t sleep on it, so to speak.
4. They may represent something else entirely
A very common interpretation of this dream is that it’s not the person you’re actually dreaming about – it’s what they represent. That’s because our subconscious is very “symbol-minded” and perceives everything and everyone through its symbolism. So, a lot of the things we dream about are usually metaphors or allegories for something else.
Some people we dream about can be our boss or co-worker, representing our job or career. This can happen if you’ve been overworked recently and your subconscious wants to bring attention to your burnout, for example.
Similarly, an old classmate or teacher in your dream can represent our high school, some painful memories we have from there, certain regrets, fears, or past dreams, and so on.
In other cases, a movie celebrity can represent certain personality traits we may associate with that movie or a character in it. This is especially true for movies we’ve seen a while back such as in our childhood or teen years as we tend to associate those with certain emotions or situations.
5. You are subconsciously or consciously concerned about their well-being
Another obvious interpretation of a dream about a particular person is that you are just worried about them. It doesn’t take a group of dream analysts to realize that if you dream of a close friend in an unpleasant situation, you likely just fear for them. The clues as to what exactly your fear is can be found in the dream but it can be anything from their physical health to their emotional well-being.
A related interpretation is that you are grieving after someone and you wish you could spend time with them again. Grief is, after all, one of the hardest emotions to deal with on a subconscious level, and our subconscious minds can carry it for decades even if we’ve already processed it on a rational level. Such a dream is usually even easier to recognize and interpret from the imagery in it, however.
6. You have strong feelings about them – even if you haven’t internalized them yet
Some other common dreams, especially when it’s a recurring dream, tend to signify the attraction we’re experiencing toward someone, be it a classmate, co-worker, friend, or a stranger we’ve just met. Depending on your current situation and the details of your dream, the extent of your crush on them can vary but, more importantly, the obviousness of it can vary too.
In some dreams, it can be clear that you have a crush on the person you’re dreaming about because the whole scenario of the dream is centered around that. In other dreams, the crush is never implicitly stated or hinted at. In that case, it’s up to you to analyze your views and feelings about that person, and how they related to the dream you just had.
7. There are some unresolved issues or regret between you and the other person
Regret is another very powerful emotion that often haunts our dreams. Most commonly, this is regret over a past breakup or mistakes we’ve made in social situations such as in school or toward a former friend. Our subconscious mind likes to recall such situations seemingly in an effort to torment us with a nightmare every now and then.
Still, the lingering anxiety we can have over a long-lost ex can also lead to a pretty symbolic dream about the inability to let go, difficulties accepting past mistakes, and hardships with current relationships. Going over such issues can be quite useful and fulfilling so it is worth it to pay closer attention to such seemingly simple dreams.
In conclusion – why do certain people appear in your dreams?
Psychologists and professional dream analysts disagree on a lot but one thing they are on the same page about is that the exact scenario of your dream can tell you a lot about your deep emotional state, fears, regrets, anxieties, and dreams – but only if it’s read well. That’s why keeping a dream journal is key as it allows us to hold on to as many details about our dreams as possible.
From there, it’s all a matter of getting the right analysis. The 7 dream interpretations above don’t exhaust all possibilities but cover the most common explanations if you analyze your dream properly and get its details right.