Falling in love (infatuation) with a dream person.
July 10, 2010 9:46 AM   Subscribe

I've had the experience occasionally of having a dream about someone and then waking up feeling a very strong longing and attraction for them. It can be a person I've encountered casually in real life, or someone who I knew only from the dream. If it's a real person, I may not have been aware I had any such feelings for them. The feeling can last for a few hours or go on for some days. How common is this phenomenon? Have any of you had a similar experience? Is there a name for it? Has it been studied?
posted by danascot to Human Relations (34 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Twenty years ago I had a dream about Gene Wilder*. But he wasn't over Gilda yet.
I've looked at him differently ever since.

*No, I don't know why.
posted by SLC Mom at 9:52 AM on July 10, 2010

I have similar experiences where I get angry at someone in a dream and then the anger extends past waking up. It never lasts very long though...
posted by tweedle at 9:55 AM on July 10, 2010 [4 favorites]

Yeah, I think that's pretty normal.
posted by amro at 10:09 AM on July 10, 2010

I've had that happen too, both the infatuation version and the anger version. If it's somebody I know in real life, I usually try to avoid them (without going to awkward lengths) until the feeling goes away. The infatuation-dream has a troubling ability to turn into thoughts of "well does that mean I DO have feelings for that person, and I just haven't realized it yet?" which leads to overthinking and further perpetuation of the weirdness. Avoid letting those thoughts take hold.
posted by vytae at 10:14 AM on July 10, 2010

This happens to me fairly regularly, both with people I know and people I've made up.
posted by alligatorman at 10:15 AM on July 10, 2010

I have had these dreams and in my younger years took way too much stock in them. Like I would force relationships based on dreams. I have quite powerful "dream hangover" where I flash back to dreams for weeks, even years. I have searched for some explanation of this for years or for people experiencing the same thing and haven't come up with anything or anyone. At this point, I think it may be either brain damage or another physiological explanation. I guess it's really had to study dreams, so there isn't a lot of research yet.
posted by Duffington at 10:20 AM on July 10, 2010

Yeah, I've had this happen - as well the anger-version tweedle and vytae mention.

Why does it feel so real or influence waking life? That's a great question.

Dreaming remains unexplained. I have felt differently about people after a dream and wonder if it's based on buried (waking) feelings or ones purely a product of the dream. If the dreaming is really me, my feelings, etc.

One way to look at it as just another factor that influences your feelings about people/situations. Because clearly it does have an influence. The idea that dreams are based on our fears or desires could lend such a dream credibility as a sound influence. That depends on how you feel about your own dreams.
posted by marimeko at 10:36 AM on July 10, 2010

I've had a couple (I think two) very long and extensive dreams where I fell in love with someone (no one I knew in real life) quite passionately. The dreams seemed to span the course of a significant period of time and when I woke up, I realized it was all a dream and actually felt heart broken and would go through a grieving process. I remember one time it took me months to get over the dream I had. I do occasionally have sexual dreams about people I know that I'm not attracted to but after having the dream have a bit of a crush on them for a little bit afterward but it seems to fade after a few weeks.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:40 AM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Wow, I never thought this phenomenon would be so common! Yep. Happens to me a few times a year and I kind of like it.
posted by murrey at 10:46 AM on July 10, 2010

Me too! Sometimes its more than infatuation. I've woken up feeling full-on in love with imaginary dream people. Fades in a day. So weird.
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 10:55 AM on July 10, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have had both the love and hate versions, and have actually acted on the love one(s).

Dreams really can come true.
posted by kidelo at 10:58 AM on July 10, 2010

I've experienced this as well. Might I recommend the following fantastic book on dreams and consciousness? The Head Trip by Jeff Warren.
posted by infinityjinx at 11:16 AM on July 10, 2010

I've had these "dream hangovers" as well (a great term for them, by the by) and have had them hang around for several days, sometimes even as long as a week.

I actually enjoy them, to a certain extent, but they also cause me a certain amount of discomfort. How can I feel so strongly for someone (usually someone whom I know) based off of a reality that doesn't exist? Yet, I try to hold on to the feeling as long as I can.

For me, the best thing that comes out of my dream hangovers is the strong urge to capture that feeling in writing. The only short story I've ever written to completion was based off of one of those hangovers and -- if I do say so, myself, -- managed to capture that romantic, slightly surreal mood.

Enjoy them while they last, use them for inspiration, don't mourn their passing.
posted by jpolchlopek at 11:29 AM on July 10, 2010

Yes! This has happened to me several times and I kind of like it too. The weirdest one was with Mike Tyson. He was in love with me too and wrote me a love letter. The writing was kind of girly swirly. I don't think he had tattoos on his face though. Ever since then I still have a little soft spot for the crazy mofo.
posted by mokeydraws at 11:30 AM on July 10, 2010 [2 favorites]

Happens to me as well, both the "falling in love" and "anger" versions. When NYPD Blue first aired I soon after had a dream about David Caruso that also gave me a soft spot for him.

Sometimes I get confused with little inconsequential details and events of a dream. Was that particular detail real or not real, did it happen or not happen? I will actually have to ask someone if this detail or little event really happened.
posted by batonthefueltank at 12:09 PM on July 10, 2010

I had one of these about Axl Rose. <3
posted by thirteenkiller at 12:19 PM on July 10, 2010

I had intense love dreams when I was younger and single, usually about people who (AFAIK) did not exist except in that dream. As someone else noted, they can be inspirational. In my life, I have used them as a form of therapy, finding from them glimpses of needs in my life. Usually, the dream guy gave me something I didn't know how to give myself or did not believe I could ask for in a relationship (and NO, I don't mean oral sex, although I'm sure that's what it sounded like! :) )
posted by lleachie at 2:29 PM on July 10, 2010

I've had those. When it's about someone I know, the feeling fades after a few days and then I'm more like, "ewww, them." The only time I've acted on such dreams were ones in which I already had a thing for the person before the dream.
posted by ishotjr at 2:30 PM on July 10, 2010

I have recurring dreams about a particular house that I've just moved into, as well as a piece of land that I own in my dream. I figure if I ever run across either in real life, something life-changing will happen. But I've also had dreams where I've gotten angry at people and it carried over into the day, and dreams where I couldn't figure out what was real and what was not. Dreams are weird.
posted by Addlepated at 2:55 PM on July 10, 2010

Freud wrote the book on this, The Interpretation of Dreams. Some of his ideas might seem a bit dated now, but he really opened up some interesting ways of looking at dreams.
posted by ovvl at 2:59 PM on July 10, 2010

Yes! I dreamed about Morpheus from Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics once. He handed me a book, and I stole a tiny kiss, to his disapproval. Woke up with intense feelings of loss and longing for Dream. Bit of a head trip, too, since a tiny part of me was convinced that meeting Dream in a dream must be portentous. I still every once in awhile hope that I'll dream of Dream again.

It makes sense that if a dream is able to trigger the neurotransmitter cascade that feels like being in love, or feels like any other strong emotion, that that emotional/neurochemical set would hang around for a bit.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 3:00 PM on July 10, 2010

I have often dreamed that my very sweet husband has done something really cartoon-villain awful, and then woken up angry. But it's happened often enough that we've turned it into a joke and he gets a kick out of me telling him about it. Clearly, we don't really think it means anything deep or meaningful, except maybe I fear deep down he really isn't as nice as he is, which I think is just your garden-variety human insecurity.

On the other hand, I often dream about both of my parents, who are gone, and in my dream I don't remember that they are dead, and those dreams are very comforting.

I did write some horrible poetry once about a boy I didn't know at school but had a romantic dream about :).

Nice to hear this is all so normal, really.
posted by emjaybee at 3:02 PM on July 10, 2010

I can have massive dream hangovers (awesome term, I'm so using this from now on), which can be a problem if the dream was a scary one [sudden seemingly irrational fears of common household objects that were scary in a dream more than a week ago is hard to explain to people nearby]

I've had love dreams too, and in my dreams I often speak fluent French which is really annoying because I don't know a word of French. Many moons ago I had a dream that I passionately kissed my seventh grade teacher, and having to face him in school after that was a royal pain (complete with beet red face) for at least a month. Especially since I really hated that teacher. Only after I left school did it dawn on me that my most hated teacher was the one who saw my potential, and was the best teacher I had at the time.

Haven't had a proper love dream for a while, but I was riding high and doing the usual infatuated giggle-thing for weeks after my last one. I miss 'em.
posted by dabitch at 3:37 PM on July 10, 2010

I used to have a recurring dream that I was utterly in love with a (didn't exist outside the dream) woman who was a perfect fit for me, and about to get married to her.

Something would go wrong - she would get stuck in another era, turned into a swan etc - and I would lose her forever.

I would wake up with feelings of deep sadness and loss.
posted by Year of meteors at 4:26 PM on July 10, 2010

It happens to me every so often. If it is about someone I know, I do feel a bit awkward around them for a day or so.
posted by SisterHavana at 5:30 PM on July 10, 2010

I've had this with feelings of love/attraction and hate. Usually fades by lunch for me.
posted by Brodiggitty at 5:43 PM on July 10, 2010

I haven't had the falling in love version, but I've totally had the getting mad at someone kind. I even call it having a dream hangover, and I usually have to tell the person involved because I can never shake the feeling until I talk it out in real life.

Dreams are totally weird.
posted by Space Kitty at 8:56 PM on July 10, 2010

Ooh, Chad Lowe back when he had cancer on Life Goes On. Still remember the dream vividly. Most recently Hugh Laurie, American version. Still not totally over it.
posted by shopefowler at 8:57 PM on July 10, 2010

I've had those dreams a bunch of times, sometimes though it's particularly intense, both in the dream itself and in the absolute conviction that I have, on waking, that the dream is about someone who actually exists in the world. So that makes me feel hopeful for awhile, but then again, I've never run into any of them if they are real. So that's not so great.
posted by hap_hazard at 9:43 PM on July 10, 2010

I've had so, so many dreams like that. I've fallen in love with men in my dreams and woken up heartbroken that it wasn't real. I'm not even exaggerating. I once had a dream about an old friend I'd lost touch with, and wound up depressed for days. I longed for him so badly.

Oh well, there's always this.
posted by keep it under cover at 11:31 PM on July 10, 2010

Yeah, I had that, too. Once I had a girl (no equivalent in reality) appear in different dreams over a time period of maybe a month or two. And yeah, I did have a big dream-crush on her.

Pro-Tip: If something like this happens to you, don't tell your girlfriend. It will not end well.
posted by dominik at 1:14 AM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing the experience of "dream hangovers," although mine are usually about being reunited with cats that had died or gone missing in real life instead of about people. Sometimes these dreams are so realistic and powerful that when I wake up I spend several minutes searching my house for the cat because it feels so strongly like my cat was JUST THERE, until I fully wake up and the feeling fades.

I miss my dead/missing cats. :(
posted by Jacqueline at 6:00 AM on July 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have had this happen as well, usually for people I know but only as acquaintances.
posted by danb at 10:21 AM on July 11, 2010

Yup. Had a dream about a boy in my class in seventh grade and ended up crushing on him for the next four years or so.

As an adult, I've only had one really intense equivalent dream, but about an imaginary person. But oh how I wish he was real. I still think about him sometimes.
posted by timoni at 1:45 AM on July 12, 2010

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