Whether we remember them or not, everyone dreams. Often, our dreams include others—people we know, and even those we have never met.
When we dream about someone, what does that mean, especially when it is someone we don’t even know?
From Biblical times, humankind has looked to find meaning in our dreams. Some believe that dreams can foretell the future.
There is also the idea that dreams are the way our subconscious mind communicates with our conscious self. Evidence exists that dreams can also tell us about our past lives.
With all this interest in dreams, it may surprise you to learn that interpreting dreams is not a science.
There are plenty of dream analysts who will tell you what your dreams mean. Keep in mind, though, that this is just a “best guess” (and when hard pressed, they would have to admit that).
Still, it can be useful to explore these “best guesses” as a starting point for trying to see what wisdom our dreams can give.
Death: dreaming about someone dying
Dreams about death are normal and very common. After all, it is a significant life event that is not dealt with in many cultures. As a result, people naturally feel anxious and even afraid.
1. It’s an ending
One interpretation is that the person dying represents something which is ending in your waking life.
For example, if you are leaving your job, you might dream about your boss or colleague dying. So, while there is a “death”, it is of a lifestyle event and not a person.
2. Is it your partner or significant other?
According to Carl Jung, the person you are dreaming about and yourself share some characteristics.
So, dreaming that your partner or significant other died could be interpreted to mean that some part of your inner self (some personal characteristic or behavior) is changing or needs to change.
If you are on good terms with your partner, then the characteristic is something you like but is not serving you that well.
3. Perhaps it is yourself who is dying.
The majority opinion is that this is not a premonition of your own death. In other words, you are not being shown the future. Rather, there is a major change happening in your life, and this is part of the way in which your mind is dealing with it.
Another explanation for you being the person dying has to do with negative feelings you have for yourself.
You may be anxious or angry at yourself over something you have done, are doing, or are thinking of doing. It could be that you are disappointed in yourself for not fulfilling a commitment.
4. It isn’t always someone you know, either.
The person dying the dream death could be someone you have never seen before but who is relevant to the change or ending in your life.
If you are quitting smoking, for instance, your dreams might “kill off” people in the medical profession.
5. Communication from the dead
What if the person dying in the dream is already dead? There are those who feel it is the actual spirit of the deceased that is reaching out in communication.
Others do not share this idea. They feel that we may dream of dead loved ones because we miss them or just because our minds are trying to find ways to deal with such a life-changing milestone.
Driving: is someone driving you or are you doing the driving?
Consider the phrase “in the driver’s seat.” The one who is in the driver’s seat is the one who is in control, right? In these dreams, too, it is important who is doing the steering.
1. You are dreaming of someone driving you.
Are you in the back seat; in other words, totally in the other’s hands? Or perhaps you are a front-seat passenger; a “co-pilot” on the journey?
Is the driver someone who could be your partner or significant other…or exactly that person? Does the driver resemble one of your parents or another authority figure?
What about the trip… Is the driver driving safely or is the vehicle out of control with possible danger at every moment?
Answering all these questions honestly will give you a picture of whether or not you are happy about the situation you are in and what you need to do if you are not.
2. The driver is you.
In this case, you definitely are in control, yet, how stable is it? Again, is the road smooth or full of bumps? If bumpy, how are you handling this challenge?
In general, do you feel able to guide the vehicle safely to your destination or are you fearful of danger at every turn or bend?
While you may be calling the shots, you may not feel that you are doing a good job. Perhaps you believe that this “thing” (symbolized by the car) which you are trying to control is very hard for you to handle or just too much altogether.
Haircutting: dreams about someone cutting your hair
Who is cutting your hair? And which gender do you identify with?
These are important questions that will influence the possible interpretation of your haircutting dream.
1. You identify as a male.
A well-known men’s magazine reported that such dreams could be echoing the Biblical story of Sampson.
For anyone who doesn’t remember, Sampson’s strength was in his long hair. When that was cut, he was powerless… and it was a female who did the snipping.
2. Any woman cutting your hair
You are feeling limited in some way. It could be a physical lack of strength or it could be a symbolic reduction in control.
Perhaps you are feeling that you can’t speak your mind or make enough decisions on your own behalf.
3. A woman you know cutting your hair
If it’s a woman you know, then most likely you are feeling that this particular person is responsible for your new powerlessness.
4. You identify as another gender.
For you, these dreams can most likely be interpreted as “away with the old” in a positive way. In other words, old ideas, beliefs, and thoughts are being removed.
Organization: dreaming about people giving you directions or instructions
1. During times of stress, many dreams can involve authority figures giving you directions or instructions.
For example, a Harvard researcher has found that many people stressed about the continuing COVID-19 situation are having dreams in which national leaders are instructing them to do this in order to stay safe from “swarms of bugs, shooters in the street, or fires breaking out.”
All of these dreams are expressions of stress over the coronavirus.
Pregnancy: dreaming about someone having a child
1. You are the pregnant person in the dream.
If you are actually pregnant and know about it, your mind might just be reviewing this event while you sleep. If you are pregnant but you don’t know about it, this dream may be your body’s way of letting you into the loop.
Are you trying to become pregnant? This dream could be your mind’s way of looking forward to the time when your wish will come true.
Have you finished with having children? You could be expressing fears about becoming pregnant against your desire.
2. Someone else is pregnant in your dream.
Again, your dream could be connected to current reality (the person you are dreaming about is actually pregnant) or “wishful thinking” (that they will become so).
The pregnancy is symbolic.
3. You are the pregnant person in the dream.
Then, this dream pregnancy is all about creativity. In this case, all genders could dream themselves as pregnant, whether or not they could physically become so.
One interpretation is that you are currently involved in bringing “life” to a project or desire to do that in the future.
Your project could be on any scale, from home improvements and personal changes to starting a new business or working on a collaborative venture whether for profit or not.
Another meaning connects to abandoned goals and passions. For whatever reason(s), you may have put aside dreams and desires.
You may find yourself dreaming you are pregnant until you consciously agree to get back on track to fulfilling those.
4. Dreams about abortion or miscarriage.
If you dream about yourself or someone else losing a fetus, it can be literal (actual) or figurative (symbolic).
People who are actually pregnant but have lost unborn children in the past may have these dreams out of anxiety or fear.
However, it could just be symbolic, representing something which you must “remove or cut out” of your life.
This could be a behavior (excessive food / alcohol / clubbing), a habit (being down on yourself for every little thing), or even a person who is no good for you at all.
Romance: dreaming about your ex
If this person is our ex, then why in the world are we dreaming about them?!?!
1. Simply put, we miss them or something about that relationship.
Just because someone is our ex does not mean that everything was bad.
Perhaps your dream is simply voicing a regret you have about this “lost” relationship. Maybe there were nice parts that you wish you still had.
Another option is that you feel very connected to that person and would like to get back into some sort of relationship.
2. It’s a symbol of an unfilled need.
Exes are people we lack (don’t have). Thus, they are great symbols for people and things we wish we had in our waking lives but don’t at the moment.
It could also be interpreted as tangible (physical) lacks such as a home of your own or a job you are passionate about.
3. The connection is with your current, romantic relationship.
Is there something you feel lacking in your current partner? Dreaming of your ex may be the way your mind is expressing this feeling.
It is not connected to whether or not your ex actually had the trait or behavior you feel is lacking.
Just as you no longer have this partner, your current partner does not have this quality you are missing and wish there was.
4. These dreams symbolize anxiety and fear.
In cases in which the “ex-relationship” was not very positive or fulfilling, dreaming about your ex could be a way of expressing worries or fears about your current life or current partner.
Royalty: dreaming about kings and queens
1. You might be dreaming about your parents
While it could be that you are simply a “royalaphile” and obsessed with anything regal, chances are you are dreaming about your parents (according to Freud).
As children, our parents “rule” our worlds. As adults, our moms and dads often continue to greatly influence our lives.
The interpretation of this dream will depend on what is actually happening in your waking world.
Sex: dreams about physical relations with someone
Of course, it could be just old-fashioned “wish fulfillment” about that person you’ve been fantasizing about or not getting enough of. Yet, it is often a little more involved.
1. The person you are sleeping with already
So if you’ve got them, why are you dreaming about them? The common interpretation is that you are attracted to one of their personal qualities, most often something spiritual or emotional.
2. The person you are sleeping with already… cheating on you
It is probably NOT a premonition or a warning. It most likely reflects doubts and insecurities you have about your relationship. Maybe you are not happy with your appearance or feel that your partner is losing interest in you.
3. Your boss
It appears that dreaming about having physical relations with your boss is the most common sex dream. While this could mean a physical attraction, it more likely means that your subconscious mind is empowering you as a leader, able to make your own decisions.
4. A celebrity
Dream analysts say that the main reason for such dreams is that your mind believes you two have something in common.
5. Family members and friends
Again, like with the celeb, your mind identifies with a characteristic of this person and is bringing that to your attention.
6. A stranger
Dreaming about having sex with a stranger speaks to hidden talents or qualities lacking. On the one hand, such dreams may be telling you that it is time to reveal a talent you have been keeping in the shadows. On the other hand, these dreams may be working on talents you would like in your “dream partner” or the one you already have.
Violence: dreams about all kinds of cruelty
Dreams about someone being violent towards you are often called “nightmares”. They can be so vivid that you wake up, convinced that you are in danger. Yet, there is usually no connection between dream violence and the threat of waking life violence.
Most often, the type of violence you dream about is a symbol for how you feel when you are awake.
1. You know the person who is dream strangling, killing, or shouting at you.
Examine what is going on day-to-day. How is this person “killing”, “suffocating”, or “yelling at” you?
It could be literal such as a boss who shouts at you constantly. It could be figurative such as a spouse who is too needy and not giving you enough “air”.
2. You never saw the violent person before.
These dreams tend to point to general life situations that are threatening to you. You may feel persecuted by internal thoughts and feelings you keep having which are not serving you well.
Events and situations over which you have little, or no, control are another category of threats. The lack of power you feel in these real-life occurrences are being expressed as violence in your dreams.
The accurate interpretation will be linked to what is going on in your life at the moment.
NOTE OF CAUTION
In some cases, people who have Obstructive Sleep Apnea-hypopnea Syndrome (OSAHS) may dream that someone is choking or suffocating them. In these cases, the dream is linked to a real and present, dangerous, physical reality.
Those with OSAHS are unable to breathe properly while sleeping. While there are several reasons for this condition, the result is that their bodies are not getting sufficient oxygen. Hence the accurate feeling of suffocation.
If you think this could be the reason, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
It’s not uncommon to dream about people you know, but what does it all mean?
It could be that you’re thinking about them subconsciously or being reminded of a time that something happened, but more often than not, your dreams are simply reflections of your deeper thoughts.
You can learn a lot about yourself, how you really feel, and where you should focus your attention by paying attention to your dreams.
Some people like to keep dream journals near their beds so they can write down what they dreamed about in the middle of the night or first thing in the morning.
This makes it easier to dissect dreams and figure out what they mean. Here’s a spoiler alert for you: dreams can mean whatever you want them to mean.
You just have to be willing to do the work to discover what that is exactly.
So to conclude, dreaming about someone may mean…..
Your life in general
Dreams can be representative of a lot of things, including simple reenactments of your day, week, or life in general.
There’s no rhyme or reason to dreams and that’s why you’ll find yourself dreaming about certain times in your life and certain people when it seems unexpected.
But dreaming about a particular period of your life could mean that you long to be with someone from your past or that you have unfinished business with someone.
If you have a nagging feeling that accompanies your dream, it could be that you feel something is still needing your attention and you should talk to this person.
Of course, that all assumes you know who this person in your dream is because it’s also very likely that you dream about people you won’t yet know or of whom you’ve only seen in passing. So what could it all mean?
We all play a character, a role, in the lives of other people. So the first thing you want to do is decide what character role this person is playing in your dream.
Are they someone who is helping you? Hurting you? Freezing you out or welcoming you with warm arms.
Do they owe you something or you, them? Do they want to have a conversation or are they there to listen? Do you miss this person or dread having them around? Are they the villain in your dream or are they the hero?
They’re showing up in your dreams for a reason. Asking simple questions of their appearance can help direct your thoughts.
As you do this exercise, be careful not to assume anything.
Don’t assume you know what your dream means because you’ve had a bad experience with this person in the past.
Allow questions to guide your understanding and meaning-making. You might be surprised by what you find.
What is its purpose?
Think about the scene of the dream and the plot of what has gone on. Remember, dreams are just stories, weaving in and out of our consciousness.
Part of the dream may not be familiar to us while other parts make us feel at home.
When you look around your brain at what’s happening in the dream, try to focus on what was the scenario.
Ask yourself what was happening?
Not just with the people, but in the background.
Sometimes, we pay attention to what people are saying or doing when really we should be focusing on what’s happening under the surface.
If someone is a nurse in your dream, it might mean that you need to take better care of yourself or a loved one.
It might mean that you need to nurture yourself or take a break.
If someone has died in your dream, it might mean that you need to spend more time with them in real life.
If you’re at a birthday party, explore what the other party guests were doing, not just the people in the foreground.
There is so much information in a dream and our brains are capable of seeing it all. This is true of life as well.
One of the most interesting things about dreams is that they can act as a mirror of our lives.
The person in our dream might not be someone we know, yet we feel drawn to them and connected to them in a way we can’t understand.
Often, we personify our feelings in others in our dreams to face truths about ourselves that we otherwise couldn’t face in real life.
If we’re hard on ourselves or have low self-esteem, that might show up in our dreams from time to time as an indicator to pay more attention to what our needs and wants are in this life.
Dreams give us signs about ourselves all the time, but because it’s rarely looking in a mirror, we think these messages are about other people, and we project that fear or frustration onto them.
Here’s the thing: your dreams mean what you want them to mean, but don’t let your imagination get away from you.
Take what you need from the experience to move forward, close a gap, or forgive something or someone.
It can be tremendously rewarding to reflect on your dreams and find something that is missing or that you needed to feel confident in yourself, but it can also drag you into the depths of your brain that you don’t want to visit.
Be vigilant and make meaning with intention. What do you need? What do you want? What moves you forward? Focus on that.
A last word…
While your dreams could indeed be revealing your subconscious to your conscious mind, they all could be nothing more than products of the way you sleep. Current research is exploring what is called “the self-organization theory of dreaming.”
This theory puts forth the idea that our physical and mental state while sleeping is what gives rise to our dreams. Moreover, it is created as our brains attempt to process and organize the information received during our waking state. As a result, dreams may (or may not) reveal hidden meanings.
Putting that all together means that while it is very interesting (and often very helpful) to interpret our dreams, we should not get carried away and obsess over what they might mean.