Most dreams you’ll have in your lifetime, whether you remember them or not, will feature people. After all, isn’t that what we’re most familiar with?
There is evidence to suggest that you cannot dream about someone you’ve never seen before, that the brain is incapable of inventing faces within your dreams.
This is an interesting thought. You may wonder where all of these faces come from, but they are repressed information, your brain logging all of these different faces you see in waking life, using them for dreams later.
But what do people actually mean in a dream?
How People Appear In Dreams
Before we get to people as a dream symbol, it’s worth looking at how people appear within your dreams, as there’s only a few categories.
This is perfect when it comes to trying to narrow down the meaning behind your dream, as you should be able to tell the difference fairly easily, when you think about your specific dream.
Projections of Yourself
The most important category is that people in your dreams appear as projections of yourself, as this is usually the prominent reason why your subconscious populates your dreams with people.
These projections may completely contradict each other, representing conflicting opinions or ideas, and you can look at their behavior as a way of understanding yourself better.
These dreams can also point to flaws in your own mindset or approach.
If you dream of someone who you are afraid of, but cannot escape from, this is a representation of how you’re trying to avoid yourself, or a situation in waking life. Your dream is telling you that you cannot move on until you confront it, or reconcile yourself.
Dreams involving people you know can act as your perception of them, instead of what or who they actually are, and these two concepts can be wildly different.
People as Traits or Ideals
While people in dreams usually represent the dreamer, they can also embody traits, outlooks, or ideas which you associate with these people or their behavior.
This is especially true of people you know in waking life. If there is someone in particular that you know, and you keep dreaming about them, what do they immediately remind you of?
Are they kind, strong-willed, stubborn, cruel? Are they in a position of power, or authority? Do they seemingly have very little control over their own life?
Maybe your subconscious is suggesting that you’re too stubborn, like this person you’re dreaming of, or that you need to adopt some of their more positive qualities, and this will help you in waking life.
People As Themselves
Things in dreams are rarely as they seem, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible at all. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the one that is the most accurate.
People appearing in your dreams can simply represent themselves, in which case your dream may be drawing your attention to your behaviors or reactions towards them.
This dream may be telling you that you haven’t forgiven them for something they did, even if it was an accident. Or, you’re worried that a mistake you made will never be forgotten.
Perhaps your relationship has changed on some level, and this dream is your way of processing the change.
Maybe you’ve been thinking a lot about them lately, in which case your dream may just mirror this, or there’s a situation in your waking life which actively involves them, and you’re wondering how they will react.
People as a Dream Symbol
People appearing in your dreams can be as complex a reason as people in waking life. They may have multiple levels of meaning, even if you dream of a stranger, or someone you know in waking life.
Here are just a few of the most common representations people may take in your dream.
Your Subconscious Giving You Advice
A dream is the perfect way for you to connect with your unconscious mind, allowing any thoughts, memories, or realizations which usually reside there to come to the surface of your dream.
In waking life, we can often pick up on subtle cues about a person or a situation, all the while not making the connections that make up the bigger picture, until we dream.
Maybe you have a vague impression that something isn’t right about what someone says and what they do, where they don’t quite match up to each other.
Perhaps you’ve had a bad feeling about a situation in waking life, and while you can’t pinpoint why, sometimes these things just slot into place when you’ve had a dream.
Your Ideal Version Of Yourself
Rarely, in dreams, do we actually inhabit dreams as the person we are in waking life. If you want to be quite different from who you feel you are in waking life, you may appear as exactly your ideal version of yourself.
You may be better, faster, smarter, or stronger than you feel you are in waking life. Maybe you feel more capable, or ‘seen’ for who you really are.
This dream can be useful in that you might become aware of the person you subconsciously want to be, and you can then start to adjust things to make this happen, if this is something you also consciously want.
Meeting Your Ideal Partner
People appearing in your dream can also be a wish-fulfillment dream, where you meet someone who you feel is perfect for you in every way.
This is a very common dream, especially if you’re actively searching for a partner in waking life, or your current relationship is breaking down.
You wish things were as easy as breathing, and they probably will get better, but it’s important to remember that it’s unlikely that you will be happy together all of the time.
Your Fears or Hopes Concerning People
How people act in your dream can be your subconscious playing out your greatest hopes or fears about how they may act.
This is your subconscious’s way of gauging how you might react to this, so you feel better prepared when these things might happen in waking life.
You might dream of people who treat you awfully, in which case this is a reflection of your fears, or even a representation of how you see yourself. Putting yourself down will only serve to hurt you, rather than actually help you in any way.
Maybe you’ve been at the mercy of other people before, and they haven’t exactly been kind, and you’re worried about it happening again.
This dream can also represent your greatest hopes about people. You may dream of someone you love finally being happy or succeeding in something they’ve struggled with for a good while.
Maybe they help you achieve something within the dreams, or they are there to support you in a difficult situation within the dream.
How to Understand what the People in Your Dream Mean
Following your own feelings in your dream can be one of the easiest ways to find the meaning behind it, but that isn’t quite the case when it comes to dreams involving people.
Your emotions within the dream can be representations of how you think you should feel about someone, or how you think they feel towards you, rather than determining if a dream is good or bad.
Here are some things to think about, to get you started on the symbolism behind your specific dream.
Look at Their Behavior
One of the most interesting things you can do in dreams is to watch other people. It’s also the most difficult, as you rarely stand by and watch things happen in dreams. They just happen to you.
If you can remember how someone was acting, this can help pinpoint whether they represent themselves, a part of yourself, or an ideal that you admire and should use in waking life.
People’s appearances within your dreams, while they may not be important at first glance, are one of the best signifiers you have, after their behavior.
Someone being well-dressed in your dream is a positive dream symbol. It can indicate that you should be more like them in order to ease some of life’s troubles.
Perhaps they are very organized, or they are very blunt and to the point, cutting to the heart of a matter without wasting time. Maybe there’s a situation in waking life that you could use this approach to benefit you.
Dreaming of someone being down on their luck can represent your fears of being unable to control your path in life. You worry about a dire situation which would be out of your power to affect, and the consequences this situation may have.
Your Relationship with Them in Waking Life
It’s also helpful to consider your waking life relationship with this person, and if anything may differ in your dream.
For example, if you dream of someone you know acting suspiciously, maybe you’ve picked up on some subtle cues about something not being quite right with them in waking life.
Maybe they’ve made a decision that’s not usually in their character, or they are struggling with something that’s affecting their behavior.
If you dream of being very close to someone who you have no desire to be close to in waking life, this implies that you should consider adapting your behavior.
The key to success may lie within adopting a trait that you think this person is known for, whether that’s being very optimistic, stubborn, kind, or very honest.
Dreaming of falling out with someone who you are very close to in waking life mirrors your own fears about this relationship breaking down, where you’re worried about no longer wanting to be with them, or them with you.