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nikipedia's avatar

What are people looking for when they ask what a dream means?

Asked by nikipedia (27509points) March 21st, 2011

It seems like we get at least one of these questions every day:

I had a dream about a boy I like/my dead relative/ponies! What does it mean!?

What are these askers looking for? Do they actually believe that dreams represent some kind of communication device, and there’s an embedded message in the dream? If so, why would we strangers be able to interpret it?

Does it seriously not occur to these people that these dreams, just like those weird dreams where you’re running away from pacman and then all of a sudden the sidewalk turns into lava but it’s kind of like jello pudding… are just nonsense?

What are they looking for? And can we please make them stop?

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41 Answers

Kardamom's avatar

I think the folks that think that dreams have actual meanings (rather than just being a part of a person’s normal dreaming sequences and subconscious, which would mean dreams are different for different people, but don’t have any meaning beyond the chemical reactions that they are) are the same folks that believe in astrology. They want there to be meaning, because then the world becomes less scary and less mysterious. I think religion exists for the same reason. Some people just cannot live comfortably if they don’t have an explanation for why things happen, rather than just accepting that certain things do just happen.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I think they are looking for the “answer”. Unfortunately with dreams there is no answer. They’re random happenings of the brain at rest.

Facade's avatar

Those who ask questions about dreams obviously do not agree with your viewpoint and think they do mean something. They are looking for opinions on interpretations (obviously). If a person don’t have an opinion on an interpretation, they can simply bypass the question (obviously).

picante's avatar

@Kardamom said it perfectly! People want easy answers. They want explanations for things that simply require no explanation (because they carry no “real” meaning). Life is so much easier when everything happens for reasons that are external to oneself. A girl can dream ;-)

ucme's avatar

I only know I wouldn’t dream of requesting such advice.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

Yes, dreams are just your mind trying to work things out. BUT, that being said, people dream very (and I do mean VERY) symbolically. So what people are asking is “what does this “symbol” symbolize. The symbols are not always immediately apparent. Take for instance my last dream. I was dreaming that my two grown daughters were both robbed by a gang of con artists. The next thing I knew, these people were in my house. I was in bed, and one of the con artist girls came in and peed on my bed! I was so mad. Then I woke up and realized that she really “pissed me off.” Ha-ha.

crisw's avatar

I think most of them are impressionable, romantic, teenage girls.

Mariah's avatar

“It means he was thinking about you before he fell asleep! That’s how dreams work :D!”~

nikipedia's avatar

What really gets me is the very literal dreams. “I had a dream that a guy I like kissed me! What does it mean?!” There’s no symbolism there and nothing to interpret. Are they hoping we’ll say that the universe is sending a sign that he was thinking about her too? Or something? And if we did, would they believe it?

crisw's avatar


“Are they hoping we’ll say that the universe is sending a sign that he was thinking about her too?”

Yes. Ah, the angst of unrequited teenage love…

bob_'s avatar

I, for one, support banning all dream-related questions.

tinyfaery's avatar

Validation of their own interpretation.

Joker94's avatar

Did someone say unrequited teenage love? :D
Oh, and what @tinyfaery said.

janbb's avatar

They are looking for us to say it means “he likes you” or “she likes you.” I go back and forth between “Get these fucking idiotic questions off Fluther” and “They’re only kids; humor them.”

Kardamom's avatar

Symbols and interpretations of symbols are all just made up stuff by humans, again to attempt to explain things that are un-explainable and don’t need to be explained.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. But if you need it to be something more, then you will call it a symbol for something else. Symbols only have meaning, because humans give them meaning. It’s interesting because there’s all sorts of symbols in the world, but they are not universal. One society has a meaning for a particular symbol that is not recognized in another society. Just like one religion says God is like X,Y and Z and another religion says that God is like A, B and C. But God forbid (pun intended) that if you don’t believe in him/her, you are doomed.

cookieman's avatar

Have you ever met someone who swears their dreams foretell the future and are always right? Yeah, me too.

Ever want to bludgeon them with a salami? Yeah, me too.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

“It means that you need more fiber in your diet”

Kardamom's avatar

@Michael_Huntington Or that they want and enjoy sandwiches for dinner. I know I do.

bkcunningham's avatar

Last night, I dreamed someone would ask this question. But in the dream, someone was interested in someone who they weren’t sure liked them; they were opposed to big corporations and believed in supporting the poor through transcendental meditation; they were confused about atheists and Christians, evolution and God; wanted a good vegetarian recipe for tofu and needed some medical advise about a vagina nose. What do you think that means?

Joker94's avatar

@bkcunningham It means we’ve all been INCEPTION’D.

Kardamom's avatar

@bkcunningham It means that they were dreaming in Fluther-vision. Or they were having Fluther-tations from Dog.

bkcunningham's avatar

Fluther-vision…hee hee. @Joker94 are we sharing the same dream? lol

Joker94's avatar

@bkcunningham Quite possible. You may very well be dreaming now. BAM, blew your mind!

chyna's avatar

It’s usually a teenager that wants validation of her crush crushing on her/him.

mrentropy's avatar

I don’t doubt that dreams might have a meaning but I would think that meaning is centered around the person who had the dream. I think it’s bullocks that one symbol in a dream has the same meaning to billions of people.

I doubt that it’s meaningless random rubbish that the brain is throwing around. More often than not it’s probably stuff bouncing in the back of your head or things you’ve seen that haven’t really registered to the conscious mind. Like, there may be a billion books that say riding a horse means you want to have an orgasm but in reality you were talking to someone and you caught a glimpse of a horse on TV but didn’t consciously realize it. You haven’t ridden a horse (at all or in a long time) so you dream about riding a horse.

In terms of Fluther, I think the usual staple of dream questions is a giddy (pre)teenager who is giddy at the thought of a boy or girl kissing them, talking to them, not ignoring them, and they just have to “get it out there” and share with the world. Like most “status update” non-questions.

wundayatta's avatar

Most of the people asking for dream interpretations seem to be pretty young. Maybe they don’t know any better. They buy into the myth that the dream means something important.

But really, I think people either are disturbed by the dream, and wonder how not to let it bother them, or are really excited by the dream and hope it really presages the future. But they don’t really believe these things, so they ask the question hoping their hopes will become reality and their fears are just dreams.

The truth, as always, is never as clear as that.

Aethelwine's avatar

One of the most important lessons to learn when Fluthering is to learn how to ignore the shit that bothers you, otherwise you look like a whiny bitch/ass if you start complaining. (not you personally, you in general)

Some people like to talk about their dreams and interpret them. I’m not going to tell them they’re stupid for doing so. That’s a bit arrogant if you do, isn’t it?

cookieman's avatar

@jonsblond: Can I still hit them with a salami?

janbb's avatar

@cprevite Aw – have a cookie instead.

Avray's avatar

I am guessing they want your attention and they are looking for love. It’s sweet, if annoying. Be brave.

Haleth's avatar

For those “girl/guy I like” dreams, when young people have a crush on someone, sometimes it’s all they can think about. They want to talk about that crush to anyone who will listen, analyze every little detail with their friends, see if their astrological signs match… Asking about a dream with the girl/guy they like is just a symptom of that.

I actually hope dreams don’t mean anything, and that just it’s our brains organizing themselves after the day is done. I really don’t want the dream where I’m being chased by a giant carrot wielding a pair of scissors to have some symbolic meaning.

deni's avatar

They are looking to be told that what they want it to mean is what it means.

“uMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMmmmMM wat does it mean if i dream about my crush likin me?”

Clearly it means he’s in love with you, girlfriend! Why else would you dream about the person you like? It seems sssssooooooooooo insane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NOW!! I’m not saying dreams don’t necessarily ever mean anything, but most of the Fluther dream interpretation questions are pretty much exactly my example above, and that is why I say that when people ask those, they just want someone to say that, of course, it means you’re going to fall deeply in love and marry him and have babies.

cockswain's avatar

Would it be wrong if, from now on, we entertain ourselves with dream interpretation questions? In other words, one of us confidently puts forward an absurd (preferably humorous, twisted, or both) explanation, and then the rest of us back it up, convincing the target of the ‘real’ interpretation.

Or would that be wrong? I’m not a good judge of what is appropriate in general.

deni's avatar

@cockswain I keep thinking of doing it, then I click on it and read the responses and people actually interpret the dreams and then I get discouraged from being mean. lolol

cockswain's avatar

I sometimes entertain myself with dickish answers like this one.

augustlan's avatar

@cockswain Yeah, I’m thinking that would be wrong. :p

To answer the actual question:

The thing is, while it’s impossible to know what these (mainly young) people are looking for when they ask us to interpret their dreams, I think we can be pretty confident that they are not looking to be misled or belittled.

They think (or hope) their dreams have meaning. Many people only cling tighter to their beliefs when aggressively challenged for holding them in the first place. If we don’t rationally explain why we think they don’t have any meaning at all, how will they ever believe anything different? Think of it as an educational service you’re providing. Be kind, be informative. Get these kids to stick around, and they might learn a thing or two, or we might.

Or, just ignore the questions altogether.

Kardamom's avatar

@augustlan I agree with you completely. I think that it is our responsibility to be kind and educational. Most of us can remember what it was like to be young and hopeful. Sometimes we had some ridiculous notions about things, but if we were lucky, we found someone that could introduce us to the truth without ridiculing us.

And if some of the kids who don’t want to hear the truth, they will just open a new Fluther account with a different avatar and ask the same question in a slightly different way and hope that we don’t realize that it’s still them.

I’m not saying that this has ever happened, but it could

wundayatta's avatar

Sometimes it gets to be too much, and I will come down hard on the dream or on the wishes of the questioner. Other times, I’ll play “what would this mean if I could take it seriously?” Both games are mildly entertaining. But then, I like telling lies. (But I also like statistics, so where does that put me?)

Inspired_2write's avatar

Same thing that your looking for ..answers.
It puzzles them upon waking and feel obliged to seek out a
suitable answer to give them peace of mind.

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