Articles When People Appear in Dreams

One of the most common and misunderstood symbols in dreams is when people appear.  The usual response is to try to interpret the dream as literal. One example where this happened was when a lady told me about her dream where her friend’s husband was having an affair. Her first response was that she should tell her friend about the dream. This action caused her friend to become suspicious of her husband. 

I explained to her that the vast majority of dreams were subjective—the message should be considered from the internal and personal point of view—rather than objective—a message for someone else, as seen from the external point of view. It was important she understand the dream was more than likely a message for her and not her friend. When I explained what the symbol of an affair represented—betrayal, distrust, abandonment and rejection—she acknowledged that these feelings were what she was going through in her own life.

After our discussion, the lady assured me she would speak with her friend, making sure she understood the dream’s meaning was not related to her husband but to her, the dreamer.  

When people appear in your dreams it is uncommon for the dream to be directly and literally connected to them. In most cases it will be in context of your own life and circumstances rather than of the circumstances of the person you have dreamed about.

When you dream of someone else, you are looking into the mirror and seeing another person’s face, but most often, you will realise it is you. People in your dreams can represent a part of your life. The question you need to answer is: What attribute, quality or characteristic of your dream person exists in your own life?

For instance, if you dream of your grandfather and you consider him to be a mentor, is there an aspect of wisdom that you are embracing or neglecting. The meaning would depend on the context of your dream and current personal circumstances.

A young man who’d recently become a Christian had a dream where he was backing his car out of his driveway. He was about to drive off when a person appeared out of nowhere, ran towards his car and was trying to break in. The young man reached over to lock his door and every other door in the car, ensuring this person was unable to break in. The dream is easily understood when you recognise the identity of the person attempting to break in, and what that identity is symbolic for.

The person attempting to break in was someone the dreamer knew in real life—a womanizer and into fast and wild living. Prior to becoming a Christian this young man had lived the same sort of lifestyle, but upon coming to faith had turned away from it. The dream was communicating the message that his previous lifestyle of loose living, if given half a chance, would come back by way of temptation and seek a way back into his life. He needed to be guarded and ‘lock the door’ on those temptations.

Dreaming of a stranger may represent an aspect of yourself that you are unfamiliar with or haven’t yet acknowledged.  A stranger may also represent a part of yourself that is acting strangely or something within you that is strange and out of the ordinary.

One of the examples I refer to in my book, ‘In Your Dreams’, is of a lady who dreamed her husband was in bed with another woman. She started to choke this lady (a stranger) and was very upset, rejecting her husband as a consequence.

The woman she was choking in her dream was the playmate aspect of her life, that part of her she was struggling to acknowledge. She had been rejecting her husband’s advances in real life.

To interpret a dream where family members appear, or those who are close to you, it is helpful to understand the context of the dream and how it makes you feel.

In summary the questions you could ask yourself when people appear in your dreams are:

  • What aspect of myself does this person represent? Are they negative or positive? What is their outlook on life like?
  • What characteristic or quality of their life is either active or dominant in me? For example: are they disciplined or sloppy; wise or foolish; orderly or untidy etc.
  • What does their name mean and does it have any significance for me?
  • What do they represent in terms of their position, for example: police officer; teacher; coach; judge; pastor etc?