What Does It Mean When You Dream About Someone?

Martin Caparrotta
By Martin Caparrotta
Updated on October 12, 2020
Expert Content

What does it really mean when you dream about someone?

We all dream about people we know from time to time, but what does it really mean?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. The human mind is incredibly complex and interpreting our own dreams is no easy task.

We asked a group of experts to deliver their advice and shed some light on their experience when it comes to dreaming about specific people. Here’s what they said.

Interpreting Our Dreams Is More Of An Art Than A Science

Dr Wyatt Fisher, Marriage Counselor and Founder of App for Couples

Dreams are often our mind’s way of recycling through the various thoughts, feelings, and experiences we had from the day.

Therefore, the cause of dreaming about someone could range from having no significance to having a lot of significance, depending on the dream.

For example, if you dream about the seafood clerk at the grocery store briefly it may mean nothing more than she was just a part of of your experience from the day.

However, if you dream about her extensively it may indicate you have a crush on her and felt anxiety when interacting with her from the day.

Understanding the meaning of dreams is more of an art than a science.

It Depends On What You Believe About Your Dreams

Gina Handley Schmitt, Psychotherapist, Professor and Author

I think the inquiry about dreams is an interesting one, as the answer really depends on your theoretical orientation.

Sigmund Freud believed that dreams were a way for the unconscious to work out its wish fulfilment, so according to this view, dreaming about someone specific would mean that you had some unfulfilled desires related to that person.

Other dream theorists would say that dreams are merely a manifestation of our brains’ pons attaching to unconscious thoughts, as they continue to activate without external things to attach to.

So according to this view, dreaming about someone would essentially have no deeper meaning.

If you look at dreams from a more spiritual lens, some might say that they are akin to seeing into the future, and thus, preparing us for something to come. So according to this view, dreaming of someone could signify a call to action.

There are many approaches to dream interpretation, so it really falls to each person to decide how they frame their dreams.

When I teach on this topic in my introduction to psychology course, I have some students who wholeheartedly adhere to a specific dream theory, and I have others who think dreams may have significance at times and not at others.

In my experience, dream interpretation is a fascinating study, but ultimately, only as useful as the dreamer believes it to be.

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Dreams Can Tell Us About Our Not Yet Conscious Conflicts And Desires

Leide Porcu, Psychotherapist

There are many theories about dreams, including the theory that dreams are just the waste product of sleep’s mental processing and organizing.

But as someone who received classical analytic training, I would follow the footsteps of Sigmund Freud and declare with him that dreams are “the royal road to the unconscious”.

We can use dream analysis as a space where we can suspend logic and engage the less used parts of our brain.

Dreams can tell us about our not yet conscious conflicts and desires and hint to the way we really feel.

Though we should not necessarily take them literally, we can play with dreams and see what comes to mind for each element of the dream.

The people in our dreams can be a placeholder for other people, I would not take any person too literally. These characters may also represent different parts of yourself.

Think metaphorically: is there any part of your experience where you feel like or have felt like in the dream?

Akin to meditation, the practice of dream interpretation can be another way to get in touch with yourself and make friend with your thoughts and feelings.

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Dreams Are A Product Of Our Deep Subconscious Thoughts

Girish Dutt Shukla, Digital Marketer and Author of Maroon In A Sky Of Blue

Dreams are said to be a product of our deep subconscious thoughts.

Often, we experience dreams that are extremely vague and weird. But every single detail of your dream has some significance and purpose pertaining to your life, especially when you dream about someone other than you.

When you see someone in your dreams, you are not dreaming about them. Instead it is a manifestation of aspects of your own life. Our dreams are about ourselves and have nothing to do with the other person.

For example – if you are dreaming about someone you care about and you admire their courage, you are dreaming about your own courageous side. This means that you are thinking about your own characteristics through other people.

Sometimes, you dream of people you have never thought about in years. This is because during the course of the day you saw something that reminded you of that person, and this information got automatically stored in your brain. And hence it doesn’t have any deep significant meaning.

Dreaming about people you hate may indicate unresolved issues within yourself like resentment, anger, jealousy, insecurity, etc. It is often about your own inability to accept or deal with your shortcomings.

Dreams about people who have passed away may indicate feelings of sadness or guilt. It may alternatively indicate huge changes in your life or some good news.

Positive dreams about the people you love may indicate that you are finally accepting yourself and are confident in your choices.

Negative dreams about loved ones can indicate underlying problems like trust issues or lack of communication. Dreaming about the death of a person you know may indicate that you feel they have changed or are moving away from you.

Whatever your dreams are, they shouldn’t interfere with reality. They have nothing to do with other people, and instead only depend on your deep thoughts and emotions.

Dreaming About Someone Is More About You Than Them

Chris Norris, Certified Sleep Science Coach and Founder of SleepStandards.com

As a mental health expert, I believe that dreaming about someone has less to do with the person specifically, but is more on your subconscious thoughts and feelings.

During sleep, the brain sorts and repairs memories, and this process is often manifested in our dreams.

At times they are related to our feelings towards a person, if we have unresolved issues, or haven’t made contact with them in a while.

Our brain also casts characters from our memories to enact emotional phases we are experiencing, subconsciously or otherwise.

For example, a dream about someone dying can mean we are experiencing heightened anxiety about an upcoming crucial event at work, drawing on the fear of the unknown.

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There May Be A Deeper Reason For Dreaming About Someone

Dr Giuseppe Aragona, General Practitioner at Prescription Doctor

Dreaming about someone can mean a number of things, but the most likely reason is because they are on your mind – whether consciously or subconsciously.

This could be from as simple as scrolling past on old friends face on Instagram to seeing someone who looks familiar to someone you know.

Whatever the reason is, the fact they subconsciously enter your dream is likely for a deeper reason such as realising you haven’t spoken to someone in a while, or regretting that you are no longer in contact.

How You Feel In A Dream Is The Key To How You’re Feeling In Real Life

Dr Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills Family and Relationship Psychotherapist

Dreams are not predictions. They are metaphors and symbols for conflicts that we are struggling to wrestle with, make sense of, and resolve.

How you feel in the dream is the key to how you are feeling in real life.

For instance, if you dream that your significant other is cheating and in the dream you feel betrayed, hurt, and angry, you need to ask yourself where in your current life you are feeling betrayed, hurt, and angry.

You may be surprised that it has nothing to do with your significant other. You may be feeling these emotions with a co-worker or employer, or your mother!

There is no dream that is ‘inappropriate’. For instance, if you dream about someone who is married and off limits, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you want that specific person.

You should ask yourself what meaningful person or ‘thing’ do you long for currently in your life that you are missing.

If you dream about being in high school, the question looms: were you happy in high school? Were you isolated? Popular, humiliated or ashamed? Where in your current life are those same feelings alive and operating?

If you dream about getting into a car crash, where in your life now do you feel ‘out of control’ and about to lose it?

These are the symbolic metaphors that the unconscious mind is wrestling with and attempting to resolve through our dreams.

Dreams are symbols and metaphors for the unresolved conflicts we are struggling with that occur during the day.

For instance, if you have a fight with your boss or a misunderstanding with your boyfriend and were upset it is highly likely that you will dream about it in metaphors and symbols with other people and characters representing real life people.