I get this question a lot: what does it mean when you dream about someone?
Whenever you dream about someone you are actually dreaming about aspects of yourself. This means that every person in your dream – in some way, shape, or form – is an unconscious aspect of your own personality.
By unconscious aspect of your personality, I mean that each character in your dream represents a quality of yourself; however, it is a quality that you have not recognized or accepted.
These unknown parts of ourselves can include anything that we are not aware of: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
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What does it mean when you dream about someone?
In almost every post, I cover how this looks in depth. In this post I wanted to address the question at more general level.
I recognize that there is some psychic factor active in me which eludes my conscious will in the most incredible manner. It can put extraordinary ideas into my head, induce in me unwanted and unwelcome moods and emotions, lead me to astonishing actions…C.G. Jung,I learned everything I know about dreams and dreaming from C.G. Jung, so when I speak about dream interpretation or dream meaning, it’s in his language.
Jung said that when we dream, we are dreaming mostly of ourselves. So when you’re asking the question, what does it mean when you dream about someone, keep this principle of Jung’s in mind.
Our psyche is populated with all kinds of characters, many times looking like something right out of American Horror Story. At any moment of one of those characters can autonomously act out, and there is nothing you can do to stop it, hence Jung’s quote.
In the most basic sense these unknown qualities are represented in our dreams by what Jung called shadow figures.
I’m using Jung’s term shadow here to mean everything about yourself of which you are unconscious. If you know anything about Jung, then you know that the concept of Shadow is much more precise. Here we are covering only the basics.
What does it mean when you dream about someone: Watch out for assholes
Many people want to know if dreaming about someone means that the person in their dream is also dreaming about them or if the person is thinking about them.
Dreaming about someone does not indicate anything like that. As I said, the dream is about you, not the other person.
Okay, before I go any further, let me amend that statement. On occasion your dreams will show you something about another person’s true nature. However, it’s RARE. Even when a dream does that, it typically shows you something about that person of which you are totally unaware.
So, if you are a morbidly jealous person who always worries about your partner cheating, then a dream that shows your partner cheating isn’t confirming your fears.
Here’s an example of what I mean. A woman on Quora shared a hilarious dream that illustrated this miraculous ability of the unconscious to see something in another person that we cannot see.
Dreams About Someone You Don’t Really Know: the Fantasy Game
The woman had developed an interest in a guy that she really didn’t know very well. Typically, when we are attracted to someone that we don’t know, we often project something into that person which really isn’t there.
We fantasize about how they are and then spin all kinds of stories about how a relationship with that person would be.
All of this is projection. We don’t do it consciously. Projection is something that happens. Our responsibility as conscious beings is to become aware that it’s happening.
So, this woman had probably started fantasizing about this man and how she might pursue him. Whenever our conscious minds become deeply engaged in this kind of fantasy activity, the unconscious will eventually respond with a dream.
It’s called compensation and there’s a whole theory about how this works and why it happens, but here is not the place for elaboration on that. In general, compensation is a self-correcting process in the psyche, aimed at restoring psychic balance.
What does it mean when you dream about someone you don’t really know: Watch out for assholes
In this woman’s dream, she saw this potential love interest in a locker room at a gym. His back was to her. He pulled down his shorts and bent over, so that all she could see was his big hairy anus.
Sorry to be so crude, but that was the dream image.
Her take away from that dream image was spot on: I figured that the dream was telling me that he was an asshole, so I stayed away from him.
This is one of those dream images that just is what it is. Sometimes the unconscious has a brilliant sense of humor.
The dream states very clearly – in opposition to what she saw from the front – here’s what this guy looks like from behind.
Sometimes in life, we have to face an asshole, but best that it not be a love interest.
What does it mean when you dream about someone: Watch your back
Here’s another example of an unconscious revelation about another person.
I have shared this dream in another post, but I will briefly recount it here:
In this dream, a trusted friend of one of my clients showed her true colors.
Before the dream, my client was already having suspicions about her friend, but she couldn’t bring herself to believe that her friend would actually betray her.
My client thought that something must be wrong with herself. She had not considered that her friend may not be her friend. The dreamer was going in and out of states of insecurity and self-loathing regarding this supposed friendship. While we should always do a self-check after a dream such as this one, falling into states of self-loathing is too much.
What does it mean when you dream about someone: Friends and shadow figures
The dream had made something very clear: there was something off in their friendship, and in the dream, it had nothing to do with my client.
However, even after a dream such as that one, I would never advise anyone to break off a friendship, but we did take it as a clue to be aware and pay careful attention to this woman.
As I said in the article where I expand on this dream, my clients so-called friend did eventually betray her, not only personally, but also professionally.
When it finally happened, my client was already aware that it might happen. And while the betrayal by her former friend was painful, it deepened my client’s relationship to her inner life.
She had a new friend she could count on: her dream life.
What does it mean when you dream about someone: Friends and shadow figures dream interpretation
The dream had paved the way for her understanding of that possible situation, so my client was not blindsided when it actually happened.
Now here’s the other thing about dreams like this. While the dream had made an objective statement about this so-called friend of hers, it also made a very strong statement about my client’s psychic situation. She herself had some kind of inner figure who was a betrayer.
This is not as clear-cut as you may be thinking right now. I am not saying that my client had a tendency to betray other women.
Before I elaborate, take a moment to consider what it might mean that my client has an inner betrayer in herself.
The one whom my client betrays is herself. This was not the first time that it had happened. She had a habit of getting involved with women who ultimately betrayed her.
So, again even though my client dreamed about the truth of someone else, the person in her dream was twofold. The betrayer was both her friend in the objective world and herself as the inner betrayer.
In order for my client to stop attracting the kind of women who would betray her, she first had to resolve why she continually betrayed herself. This dynamic in my client had to do with the women in her family, which is something I will discuss in another post.
What does it mean when you dream about someone in your family?
The family milieu, is the model for the big world. The more intensely the family sets its stamp on the child, the more he will be emotionally inclined, as an adult, to see in the great world his former small world.C.G. Jung,Our families have a profound psychic impact on how we see and relate to the world. So deep is this impact, that people do not even know that their worldview isn’t even their own.
Simple examples of this are children who are raised in a strict vegetarian household growing up to be strict vegetarians, or, the children of fanatically religious parents growing up to be religious fanatics themselves.
People who have adopted their parents’ attitude often consider themselves to be self-examined adults, but this is rarely – if ever – the case. To the psychologically-minded outsider, this lack of self-reflection is very clear. If they are lucky, eventually, their true personality breaks through. An unconscious conflict arises in these people and they become anxious, depressed, or neurotic.
What does it mean when you dream about someone in your family: Family Complexes
The most profound ways in which our family dynamic affects our lives aren’t so obvious. For instance, a woman who had a terrible mother will likely suffer from a negative mother complex.
A negative mother complex manifests in all kinds of ways, from an inability to relate to women to unbearable feelings of bitterness, self-loathing, and lack of belonging in the world.
A woman who suffers from a negative mother complex will continue to be affected by that relationship until she realizes that terrible mother in herself. Now, I don’t mean that the woman herself is a literal terrible mother (though she certainly can be). I mean that the imprint of her mother is a psychological dynamic underlying her feelings of bitterness, self-loathing, and lack of belonging in the world. This complex is the reason behind her inability to relate to women.
Here’s an short dream example of a woman with a negative mother complex:
I dreamed that was climbing a mountain. I was carrying all of my things in my arms and my mother on my back.
Fathers and Authority Figures
Our fathers have different effects on our lives.
In general, the father represents your attitude toward life. An attitude is our normal point of reference toward life, how we respond to typical life events without even thinking about it. It can be both conscious and unconscious. Whatever your father represents has something to do with how you see, not only yourself, but also the world around you.
The father effectively superimposes a perspective on all aspects of life, and because of this, he can sometimes appear as an oppressive authority in dreams. However he appears, his power is insistence, whether conscious or not, on a particular way of being in the world and a refusal or inability to see or accept the possibility of change or difference.
So, whenever you dream of your father, ask yourself: what aspects of my father’s worldview dominate my own worldview? For example: Do you hear his voice of disapproval playing out in your head? The influence of the father could also be subtler. For example, it could be an overall feeling that nothing will ever work out for you.
It doesn’t matter if your father was a positive or a negative figure in your life. Eventually, you will have to break free from his influence and become your true self, with your own ideas, thoughts, and feelings about life.
What does it mean when you dream about someone: Final Thoughts and Article Suggestions for More Information
So, consider this a basic introduction and answer to the question, what does it mean you dream about someone. If you want to know more about the people in your dreams, check out the posts in my category, Dreams About People. Always feel free to post a dream or ask a question.
Want to learn more about working with dreams or Jungian Psychology?
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