What does it mean when you dream about someone? There are a number of reasons why another person might appear in your dreams, and the purpose for their presence comes down to interpretation and the type of dream you are having.

What Does It Mean When You Dream About Someone?

When people appear in your dreams, they often represent something else. Sometimes, however, they may also be themselves. Here are the top reasons someone might appear in your dreams.

They Represent an Aspect of Self

Dreams tend to be quite self-centered; that is, they are often all about you. This is especially true of symbolic dreams, which happen when your subconscious mind is trying to communicate an important message to your conscious self. Therefore, it’s a commonly held dream theory that people appearing in dreams (including strangers) represent some aspect of yourself or your personality. One of the first things you can do when interpreting your dreams about other people is to ask, "What does this person represent to me?" Then, think about aspects you share in common with that representation. Chances are, if you’re having a symbolic dream, this common thread between you and the other person is the characteristic of self your subconscious is trying to communicate to you.

People in Dreams Can Be Archetypes

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung forwarded the theory that people in dreams often represented archetypes. What is an archetype? In psychology (which is the field that most closely relates to dream interpretation), it’s a model of thinking, behavior, conditioning, and psychological underpinnings common among all people. A number of major archetypes may appear in dreams.

Dreaming about someone archetype chart

You Meet During Astral Travels

Some people experience astral travel in their dreams, in which their soul leaves their body and travels around the universe. During these nocturnal journeys, you may meet other people who are also astrally projecting. If you see somebody you know and you feel comfortable asking them, then check with them the next day to see if they had a similar dream. Otherwise, you might be able to identify astral travel dreams by their hyper-real quality and by sensing a hypnagogic jerk when you snap back into your body or just before you wake up.

You’re Processing Your Daily Life

Some dreams are simply your brain processing your daily life and sorting your memories while you sleep. In fact, this is the most common source of dreams, and these are the dreams you’re the least likely to remember since you’re mostly replaying the day’s events. So if you dream about somebody you know in your daily life doing the things they are most likely to do each day, and there’s nothing particularly memorable or interesting about the dream, chances are seeing that person in your dream is simply your brain sorting through the day’s memories while you sleep.

You’re Being Visited by a Loved One

Visitation dreams occur when the soul of a person (either living or dead) communicates with you during your dream state. So, if you have a hyperrealistic dream about someone you love, they may be visiting you while you sleep.

Distorted portrait of female

Your Spirit Guides Are Imparting Wisdom

Some people may encounter their spirit guides in their dreams. Spirit guides may come to offer guidance while you sleep because it is the easiest way to get through to you. These dreams tend to have characteristics that are similar to visitation dreams, although the spirit guide might seem familiar but not be someone you know in your waking life. If you wake from such a dream with new insights, there’s a good chance you’ve had a nighttime visit from your spirit guides.

You’re Fulfilling a Wish

Neurologist Sigmund Freud, who is widely considered the father of modern dream interpretation, believed that dreams are a form of wish fulfillment in which your unconscious mind is bringing to light desires that your conscious mind has suppressed. So, if your dream is a form of wish fulfillment, then the people appearing in your dreams are manifestations of those wishes and desires. Some examples of wish fulfillment reasons for dreaming of someone include:

  • That person has aspects or character traits you wish to embody.
  • You want to get to know that person better or desire a relationship with them.
  • You’re feeling lonely and longing for deeper relationships or more relationships.
  • You miss them and want to see them or spend more time with them.
  • You wish to communicate something to the person you’re dreaming about, and you feel unable to do it in waking life.
  • You are interested in someone and wish to know more about them.
Riding on a sofa rocketship

You’re Resolving Relationship Issues

In some cases, it isn’t possible to solve relationship issues while you’re awake. This may occur because the person is no longer in your life, or you just may be out of touch or feel unable to communicate. Therefore, these people might show up in your dreams instead, where you can work out any relationship issues while you sleep. This doesn’t mean you’re actually communicating with that person (although you might be). Rather, you are working out those issues from your side so you can find resolution.

It’s Bringing to Light Things You Don’t Recognize While You’re Awake

People have a tendency to not see others clearly. Some people always see the best in other people, while others usually see the worst. But most people aren’t all one thing or another, and it can be difficult to see people clearly when you’re awake and your ego is running the show. Therefore, while you dream, your subconscious may point out characteristics of other people you’re unable to notice while you’re awake to provide you with a more balanced perspective.

You’re Having a Premonition

Some people experience precognitive dreams, in which their dreams impart important information about potential future events. The people appearing in precognitive dreams are often those who will be involved in or affected by the event. People who have precognitive dreams tend to have premotions about similar types of events (such as natural disasters), so they learn to recognize the dreams as precognitive after they’ve had a few. However, anyone can have a precognitive dream, although it’s difficult to recognize until after the fact. Precognitive dreams may seem either more surreal or more hyper-real than other types of dreams, and they’ll often have common elements from dream to dream to tell you it’s precognitive. Likewise, a certain person or archetype may always appear in precognitive dreams to alert you to the premonition.

How to Dream About Someone

Your subconscious mind is powerful and often has far greater wisdom than your waking brain. So, deliberately attempting to dream about another person can help you grain better understanding into both yourself and another. You can try to dream about someone using either lucid dreaming (where you learn to control your dreams) or by setting an intention before you go to sleep that you will dream of that person. To set the intention, before you go to sleep each night, simply affirm aloud, in your mind, or in writing, "Tonight, I will dream about…." It may take a few nights, but with consistent attention to that intention, your subconscious mind will get the memo, and you’ll dream about that person.

What to Notice in Your Dreams About People

The best way to understand why you’re dreaming about somebody else is to notice additional details that can offer further clues to why they are in your dream. Things to notice to provide more context include:

  • What they wear
  • Hair and eye color
  • Unusual features
  • What they say
  • What they do
  • How they sound
  • How they move
  • How they make you feel
  • Where you encounter them

Meeting Others in Your Dreams

There are all kinds of reasons you dream about other people, ranging from receiving important messages from your subconscious to sorting through a day’s memories. One of the best ways to begin to understand the content of your dreams is to keep a dream journal and to use a dream dictionary to interpret the symbols. By doing this regularly, patterns and meanings begin to emerge to show you what your sleeping mind is trying to tell you.