Deciphering dreams has always fascinated me. When we dream, our subconscious mind alerts us to a particular problem. Dreams use visual clues and hidden messages; a kind of code we have to analyse to understand the message.

Dreams draw our attention to aspects of our life that need fixing. In other words, you dream about whatever is important in your life, whether you are aware of the importance or not.

So, what does dreaming about people from your past mean? Well, it depends on a few things; the person, your connection to them, what they represent to you, and what is going on in your life right now.

“The subconscious mind will often pull a particular memory or person, etc. from our past when something is happening in our present. There was a lesson from then we need to apply now.” Lauri Loewenberg – Dream Expert

6 things dreaming about people from your past means

  1. Dreaming about someone from your past

To decipher the dream, think about the person in particular. What did they mean to you in the past? Was it a happy relationship? Was it platonic or romantic? How did you part company?

Now, think about the present. How does this person fit in with what’s happening right now? Are there aspects in your life that remind you of this person?

For example, imagine being handcuffed to a person from your past, and you cannot find the keys to free yourself. The message behind this literal dream is that you feel trapped.

It is possible that someone in your past has a hold over you, or that you are in a situation you can’t escape from.

  1. Dreaming about a friend you haven’t seen in a while

Sometimes the people we dream about in our past represent important figures in our lives. I had a friend that was a lot older than me, but she was a substitute for my mother.

Perhaps that friend of yours represents an archetypal figure you miss in your life. Maybe they were a mentor to you or helped you in the past and you could do with that kind of support in the present.

Or it could be a quality you admired in your friend that you wished you had yourself. This type of dream could indicate a lack of confidence or self-esteem. Look deeply into the friend’s attributes; this is where you’ll find answers.

  1. Dreaming about someone you are no longer friends with

Analysing this dream depends on how you feel about the friend and how the friendship ended.

Do you regret breaking the friendship or did they instigate it? Do you want to be friends with them? Are you unhappy about how it ended? Do you think there is unfinished business with this friend?

If this is a recurring dream, your subconscious tells you that you are not acknowledging some aspect of the break-up. Did you do something wrong to cause the end of the friendship? Did they or you want an apology? Whatever it is, it is unresolved.

  1. Dreaming about a dead person

My best friend died last year, and I dream of him often. He was my platonic soulmate. In real life, we were never tactile, but when I dream of him, I hug him tightly. I don’t want to let him go. I hope that through the tightness of my hug, he understands how much I love and miss him.

Eventually, he tells me I have to let him go. Even to an amateur psychologist, the message here is clear.

Dreaming about people from your past who are dead, whether you loved them or not, is the brain’s way of processing difficult emotions. But, if the death is recent, that person will consume your daily thoughts. It is not surprising to dream about them at night.

  1. Dreaming about someone you don’t talk to anymore

This is a dream about emotions. What was your emotional state in the dream? Were you happy to see this person or did they make you feel fearful or angry?

If you felt happy in the dream, it means you have cherished memories of this person, even if you don’t speak to them anymore. Maybe it’s time for you to reconnect?

If you felt angry in the dream, it indicates resentment from some past grievance. You may have been hurt or betrayed, and although you think you have moved forward, your subconscious is telling you that you haven’t.

  1. Dreaming about your ex

I often dream about my ex (a jealous control freak). In my dream, we are back together, but I know it is wrong for me to be with him. I resign myself to the fact we are going to stay together.

I believe this is my regret at staying with him for so long. We were together for 10 years, but I should have left much earlier than that. Perhaps I am still angry with myself for not having the strength to leave sooner.

Dreaming about a toxic relationship with an ex-partner is your subconscious mind helping you through the trauma. You may have unresolved issues that are still circulating through your mind.

In this case, your dream is trying to resolve them for you. It prompts you to move forward and away from the past.

Why do I keep dreaming about someone from my past?

This person represents unfinished business for you. If you keep dreaming about someone from your past, think back to what they meant to you at the time. How did you interact with them? What were you like when you were with them?

There are common reasons why we dream about people from our past:

  • We miss them and want them back in our lives
  • This person represents something lacking in our lives
  • There is trauma attached to this person
  • We have unresolved issues with this person
  • The person represents a quality in our lives

Analysing dreams about people from your past

Sigmund Freud believed that there are obvious clues (manifest content) and hidden messages (latent content) in our dreams.

If you are frequently dreaming about people from your past, look at the obvious signs in your dream first. Examine the literal parts, the visuals, symbols and story-line of the dream. Then look below the surface. Take these symbols and decipher them.

For example, you are driving a car passing someone from your past. They wave at you, but you carry on driving. The driving symbolises your journey through life. Because you continued driving, despite them waving at you, you have left this person behind for a good reason.

Final thoughts

Some people live in the past and will, therefore, have more dreams about people from their past. However, dreams that involve the past are a message from your subconscious that something needs fixing.

I hope the explanations above will help you move forward.


  1. Sleep Foundation
  3. Scientific American 

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jessica

    Hello Janey,

    I wholeheartedly believe that we dream about things that occupy our minds during the day. Too many times have I dreamt about things that flashed in my mind but didn’t give a second thought to, only for them to pop up in my dreams usually that night, sometimes a night or two later. Or the other side of the spectrum, if the subject occupies your mind a big chunk of the day. I once even dreamed the solution to a sudoku that I couldn’t solve! At least my conscious mind couldn’t haha.

    Dreaming of people IMO certainly means that we have unresolved ties either with them, or what they represented in our lives. If it bothers the reader, find out what exactly in you that person is awakening or latching on to. Resolve that and they will go away.

    Happy dreams,

  2. PM

    I can only reiterate how important it is that stressful dreams are opportunities to sleuth your way to an unresolved situation and resolve it, simply through balanced empathy. It’s successful when the dreams and thoughts vanish.

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