We had peace for a night at least, but the trouble starts today...
February 21, 2010 9:26 AM   Subscribe

I keep having dreams about someone I don't want to dream about. Is my subconscious trying to drive me crazy?

Boring backstory starts here.

I have been friends with a boy for seven years. We shall call him Lars. Lars is a self-centered, depressive introvert 75% of the time. But he's also charming, intelligent, witty, and a lot of fun to be around, when you can actually get him out of the house.

Lars rarely returns phone calls, e-mails, IM, or texts. He's always been this way, and it's not just with me. I've always found this frustrating, but let it go most of the time. However, this meant that the friendship was pretty much on his terms. I would initiate contact and he would respond when it suited him, sometimes days or weeks after the initial conact.

A month ago, I got fed up and called him on it. I had sent a text asking him a question and he never responded. I know he read it because he checks his iPhone obsessively. He just couldn't be bothered to reply, not even with a "No, I have no idea." When I pointed this out to him, he replied that I shouldn't get upset about his qualities that I already know irritate me.

And that was when I DTMFA. Friendships are a two-way street. If I am supposed to know and accept that he's that way, then shouldn't he know and accept that I get my feelings hurt when he doesn't respond? I'm sure there are plenty of people in the world that are happy to be friends with Lars only when he wants to, unfortunately I am not one of those people.

Anyway. Complicating matters is my unrequited love for him that developed about a year ago. I never told him about it because I didn't want to ruin our friendship (irony!). I was also scared and 99% sure that he was absolutely not interested in me, and not telling him saved me some embarrassment and rejection.

Now here comes to part related to my question. Since cutting off contact with him, I have dreamt about him nearly every night. Sometimes I wake up with just a sense that he was in my dream, sometimes I wake up and the dream was so vivid that I can replay it in my head. It's not the same dream every night; he's just always in them, no matter what they're about. Some of them are even lucid dreams, but I can never make myself do anything. I just helplessly watch everything unfold, knowing it's a dream the entire time.

Why is this happening? Is it my brain telling me that I left things unsaid? Or is my subconscious just obsessing over it because the whole situation upsets me so much? Is there a Lars implant in my head? How do I make it stop?

Throwaway e-mail: umademeforgetmydreams@gmail.com
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
My guess: Your life is stressful right now, and your mind gets the opportunity to work out some of that stress while you're asleep. Lars is both a cause of that stress and a handy symbol for "stressful thing," so he's cast regularly.
posted by sallybrown at 9:34 AM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Heidegger said, "We pursue that which retreats from us".

Nobody here can say anything about your subconscious mind, though we can be certain there is no Lars implant in your head. What you are experiencing is perfectly normal. You (secretly) desired somebody and they did not reciprocate. You wanted their approval in the form of their attention, desire, and time, and they did not reciprocate.

You still want those things, and you are still not getting them. But now, your desire to have them isn't manifesting in the form of numerous invitations, hint-ful letters, and so on, your desire is manifesting in a new form because those old ways of interacting don't apply now that he's rejected you.

Do yourself a favor -- and I say this as someone often in Lars' position -- move on. You can label him an introvert, antisocial, jerk motherfucker, and you can be bothered by the fact that he checks his iPhone obsessively but doesn't answer you -- but you cannot know what really goes on in his world. You cannot know if it is specific to you -- that he doesn't like you personally, or so, or that something horrible is taking his time and attention, like me (one of my family members has just been given a death sentence). You cannot know and you will not know -- it is a basic condition of humanity that we all live together, separately -- and so, given what you know and what you've done, the best you can do is move on.

Find another love, and you'll likely find love. You're certainly not going to find it here. Good luck and godspeed.
posted by fake at 9:46 AM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

now that he's rejected you.

or you, him. Sorry about the mixup.
posted by fake at 9:47 AM on February 21, 2010

I am very happily married and am one hundred percent certain that I am not pining for the people from any of my past relationships.

And yet, it is not at all uncommon for past girlfriends to show up prominently in my dream.

I wake up in the morning, mumble "What the fuck, brain?" and get on with my day. I recommend you do the same.
posted by 256 at 9:57 AM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

You're obsessed with a guy, so you think about him a lot, so you dream about him, and that makes you obsess about him even more, think about him even more, dream about him even more. Because you believe dreams mean something, every dream piles more false meaning on to your heap of worry. But your brain isn't telling you anything through dreams. Your dreams are just the detritus of all this thinking about a guy you can't have and who probably doesn't spend one thousandth as much time thinking about you as you spend thinking about him.

The cure is to crowd him out of your head with other people, other ideas, other things to worry about. Don't talk about him to anyone. Don't think about him. Download some recorded stories and listen to them at bedtime.
posted by pracowity at 10:04 AM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, your subconscious is trying to drive you crazy.

Okay, not really. Your subconscious is fed by what you give it, it rattles around in there nonsensically. I dream about people in, um, highly inappropriate ways pretty frequently. "What the fuck, brain?" indeed. Shake it off and go back to moving on with your life.
posted by desuetude at 11:47 AM on February 21, 2010

One course of action, which I'm not really recommending, just suggesting, would be to actually go and admit your interest in him so that he would reject you and maybe make things seem a bit more final. Despite that Heidegger quote above, I've found it way easier to get over people when I know they aren't interested in me. This allows my brain to say, "Well, fuck them!" and move on. Where there is doubt there is possibility.
posted by ropeladder at 12:29 PM on February 21, 2010

When I've had cycles of dreaming about someone like that, I try to go sleep-deprived for a few days. Only get 4-5 hours of sleep for a few nights, and you don't dream. That generally stops it for me.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:15 PM on February 21, 2010

Your brain is purging. If you had a thing for him for a very long time, he probably got filed under some obsess/default button and is coming up in these dreams now because your neurons are housecleaning or something.

Happened to me all the time when I was in those situations where I got fed up and walked away. You might want to try your journaling and, while looking over entries, ask yourself these questions:
Why were you interested in Lars in the first place?
What other people does Lars remind you of?
How is your relationship with Lars similar to those other people?
Why did you want attention from him?
What did you think would be the end result of his attention?
Is there a way you can fill those needs yourself without relying on Lars?

I've always considered dreams reports from my subconscious about stuff I need to pay attention to, but the people they use in casting usually have nothing to do with the messages they contain.
posted by medea42 at 1:20 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you just keep dreaming about Lars, he will eventually run true to type and refuse to show up in there as well, in which case, no problem. If he doesn't do this, then clearly the person you are dreaming about is not Lars even though you initially mistook him for Lars, in which case, no problem. So, don't sweat it.
posted by flabdablet at 3:31 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

My best guess, though I am not a neuroscientist.

This is your brain's equivalent of the tear-jerker movie that you like to watch when you feel like a good cry. You go to bed with a lot of intense hormones and chemicals rolling around in there and your brain latches onto something that it associates with those chemicals. This dude, unfortunately. It'll probably settle down when you are in a more mellow place overall, so try not to sweat it.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:44 PM on February 21, 2010

If I don't process things about people thoroughly through the day, I WILL dream about them at night. It seems that when I go through things like breakups (which this is, even if it's just a friend-breakup), I need to spend X amount of time dealing with it, and if I don't do it during the day, I do it in my dreams.
posted by distracts at 4:52 PM on February 21, 2010

I'm sure there are plenty of people in the world that are happy to be friends with Lars only when he wants to, unfortunately fortunately I am not one of those people.

There. Fixed that for you.

Also, sometimes we dream about folks when we are processing the event. Perhaps something reminded you of something, which triggered your subconcious, which caused you to "dream process" Lars and his drama.

Alternate theory - the technique Lars uses (only communicating on his terms) is a VERY potent mindfuck. Yes, a Lars-implant. That's about the size of it.

You counter-act this implant by reading Neil Strauss' Rules Of The Game, or nearly anything about the techniques of pick-up artist culture online, and then realizing what an asshole dweeb Lars really is.

Reading that book will certainly make you teflon to any similar lame behavior in the future.
posted by jbenben at 5:32 PM on February 21, 2010

And that was when I DTMFA. Friendships are a two-way street. If I am supposed to know and accept that he's that way, then shouldn't he know and accept that I get my feelings hurt when he doesn't respond? I'm sure there are plenty of people in the world that are happy to be friends with Lars only when he wants to, unfortunately I am not one of those people.

If you're anything like me, you're still having this argument with him in your head, over and over.

When I have those in-my-head arguments, I'm often relishing the feeling that I'm Right and the other person is Wrong and they are so clearly an Asshole. I'm also avoiding the feeling that I liked him and he rejected me and it still hurts, asshole or not.

So long as you push those feelings down, you can't move on, and your brain will hit repeat on that dream character once again in an effort to sort it out.
posted by heatherann at 6:37 PM on February 21, 2010

This is a little different from the other advice you have gotten here. Does the dream have a plot? Are there goals you have to accomplish, tasks to do? Does Lars recur in the same role every time, or in a similar fashion?

Tell yourself that the next time you dream, you will make a different choice about dream-Lars. If you are avoiding him in the dream, embrace him. If you are embracing him in the dream, tell him to go away. Whatever you need to do to make a change. Choose something you may be afraid to choose.

This works - at least for me - in all kinds of dreams. In very scary dreams, I stop running and allow whatever is after me to "get" me. If I fall off a building, I enjoy the sensation of falling. That kind of thing. I am not talking about lucid dreaming, by the way. I am talking about making different choices before you go to bed. You'll remember when you need to, even if you never realize you are dreaming at the time.

If anything, it's worth a shot, and it's not something you have to wait for. If you take control of the situation with dream-Lars, it may help put your subconscious at ease that you have control over how you feel about the real one.
posted by Xoebe at 10:20 PM on February 21, 2010

to my opinion it tells that your subconscience is still dealing with it, you should face the situation by talking about him or even with him
posted by SilverSunrise at 1:17 PM on February 22, 2010

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