When you find yourself dreaming about someone you’re no longer friends with or haven't seen in a long time, you'll probably wake up confused. Dreams about someone from your past may have you wondering if you should reconnect with that person, or what it even means when they enter your nighttime thoughts. But, in reality, a dream about someone you don’t talk to anymore isn’t really about the ghosts from your past — it has more to do with yourself.
It's actually common to dream about people who are currently in your life. Theresa Cheung, the author of The Dream Dictionary From A To Z, previously wrote for Bustle: “Friends typically play an important part in your life so, of course, they are going to meet you and you are going to meet them again and again in your dreams.” When you appear in other people’s dreams, it feels good to know that they’re thinking about you. According to Jungian dream interpretation, the people who appear in dreams reflect your inner life and aspects of your own personality.
For many reasons, it can be jarring when the ghost of someone you don’t speak to anymore reappears in a dream, especially if you stopped speaking for painful reasons. When you occasionally find yourself dreaming about people from your past that you haven't seen or even thought of in a long time, it can have you overthinking in spirals. "The thing to remember about dreams is that everything and everyone in your dream represents some part of you or something that directly affects you," professional dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg tells Bustle. "That being said, when you dream of a person you haven't seen in forever, or a person you don't deal with on a daily basis, or someone who doesn't even actually exist, they will represent a part of your personality."
Dreaming about other people can be a way for you to gain a better understanding of yourself and your behavior. If there's something that needs to be worked through and addressed in your waking life, it might show up in your dream in some way. Many times, it will show up in the form of a person in your past or present, even if you are no longer friends. Before you rush to conclusions, here's what dream experts have to say.
What It Means If You Dream About Someone You Don’t Talk To Anymore
Many people will dream about old friends and classmates from all the way back in elementary school. It can be a little strange, especially if you haven't seen or heard from a particular person in years. Does it mean that you should rush to get back in touch with them? According to Cheung, no. “Their appearance in your dream scene is a metaphor for some neglected or forgotten aspect of yourself that you'd like to reconnect with or could benefit from reconnecting with,” she wrote. Think about the person that you once knew and the traits they have that stick out to you the most. According to Loewenberg, that outstanding quality or fault is a trait that you may have or want.
"There was a time when I kept dreaming about this kid named Jeff from third grade," Loewenberg says. "I don't remember his last name, but I do remember that he was the shyest person I've ever known. I realized, he would show up in my dreams when I wasn't speaking up about something in real life ... on something I needed to. My subconscious was saying to me, 'Well you may as well just be Jeff.'" Maybe there are qualities in that person that you either wish you had more of or less of in your life. Identifying that in yourself is the first step when you wake up–not reaching for Facebook to see what they’re up to now.
It doesn't matter what the person is like now. They're showing up in your dream as a way for you to pay attention to something important that needs to be addressed in your life at the moment. Studies show that your dream consciousness is very similar to your waking consciousness, so dreaming about someone you don’t talk to anymore points to daily emotions you’re currently feeling (and may need to process). In some cases, perhaps there is something left unresolved with either the person who is no longer in your life or yourself that you need to deal with.
You should also take note of how people from your past are acting in your dream. For instance, are they helping you, or are they angry? According to Loewenberg, their behavior in the dream will be directly connected to how a part of you is behaving in real life. "They're showing you this behavior from a different perspective so you can better understand yourself," she says. Analyzing the dream and turning it into your own life is one method to get to the root of what's been on your mind lately.
People will randomly show up in your dreams for all kinds of different reasons. If you're into astrology, Joy Strong, transformation life coach and professional dream analyst, tells Bustle that planetary retrogrades can stimulate subconscious thoughts from the past to reappear.
"It's important to consider that just because someone shows up in your awareness does not dictate whether or not they should have a current role in your life," Strong says. This is important to keep in mind if you find yourself dreaming about an ex you haven't thought about in forever and you're wondering if you should reach out. If you don’t talk to that person anymore, there’s likely a very good reason, and reminding yourself of that is key for inner peace.
Dreams have more to say about you than the people in them. So if you find yourself dreaming about anyone from your past or present, think about what they could represent in your own life. If they're showing up in your dream, there's something worth paying attention to.
Additional reporting by Marianne Eloise
Franklin, M.S. (2005). The Role of Dreams in the Evolution of the Human Mind, Sage Journals, https://doi.org/10.1177/147470490500300106.
Nir, Y. (2010), Dreaming and the brain: from phenomenology to neurophysiology, Trends Cogn Sci., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2814941/.
Lauri Loewenberg, dream expert, author of Dream on It, Unlock Your Dreams Change Your Life
Joy Strong, transformation life coach and professional dream analyst