Psychologists generally define love as an intense feeling of liking, affection or an enduring sentiment towards a person combined with a strong desire to be with that person. In dreams, sexual images are more frequent than the ephemeral images of love; it was this which encouraged Freud to develop his theories about sex and sexual energy as being more powerful in dreamland than love itself. The connection between love and the erotic is therefore often inescapable in Freudian dream analysis, and the sexual interpretation of dreams became for Freud the key to unlock their meaning.
Jung, on the other hand, saw the world of dreams and love quite differently from Freud. He rejected Freud’s heavy emphasis on sex and instead saw dreams not only as a way to understand what was wrong with a person, but also as a way to encourage the creative development of a person’s whole potential. Dreams could therefore be a way of improving and encouraging feelings of wholeness, love and tenderness towards oneself and others in waking life.
Most dream analysts draw on the theories of both Jung and Freud when exploring the concept of love and dreams but they also ask the question: is the person in your dream really the object of your intense feelings of love or is there another way to read the dream? For example, dreams in which you fall in love or are reminded of the passionate early days of a relationship may have nothing to do with actual relationships but may be urging you to inject some passion into your life. They may also suggest that you are yearning to be loved and cherished. Try to remember who or what aroused feelings of love or passion in your dream. If it was your partner and you are deeply in love in waking life, your dream may have been reaffirming your lasting affection. If, however, you are past those heady days of romance and passion, your dream may be reminding you of the chemistry that drew you to your partner and how easily it can be rekindled.
If you had a dream in which you found yourself in love with someone who in waking life is a friend, a colleague or someone you don’t really know but see on the journey to work every morning, you may find the experience unsettling, especially if you are in a committed relationship. It is possible that you feel drawn to that person in some unconscious way but are ignoring those feelings in waking life because they are inappropriate. Our dreams are often quickly prompted by a perhaps irrational attraction; if this is the case, your dreaming mind is allowing you to experience your desires in a safe environment in which no one can be hurt. If you are not in a relationship, however, then such a dream may be urging you to acknowledge or express your feelings for that person. Bear in mind, too, that you may not dream of the actual person but may find them represented symbolically. For example phallic symbols, such as spears, swords or tall buildings may represent the man a woman is attracted to. Look also for puns concerning the object of your desire. Your lover may also be represented by an animal such as a kitten in your dream. In waking life, do you feel the need to be protected and adored in the same way? Alternatively, if you are not attracted to the person in your dream in any way in waking life, there may be something about them that you admire and wish to cultivate yourself: for example, a way with words, a flair for fashion, a musical talent, an exciting job or a carefree lifestyle. Try to work out with which aspect of that person’s character and life your dreaming mind has pictured you falling in love. To sum up, as with most emotions, in your dreams love is usually an expression of that feeling or a compensation for not receiving it in waking life.
SYMBOLS OF LOVE
Love can be expressed in many ways in your dream and almost any symbol can be associated with it. Dreams of adopting or looking after a child, person or animal are often strongly associated with the idea of taking care of someone and are associated with love. To dream of shooting an arrow is also a love symbol. At whom or what were you shooting the arrow and whom or what do they represent? The arrow may also be a phallic symbol. As far as your emotional life is concerned, your dreams can sometimes tell you things of which you are not yet aware; it is worth paying attention to the suggestions that come to you in your sleep. For example, if you are undecided about whether to commit to a person, dreams in which bells feature or you hear bells chiming appear to be hinting at marriage or a deeper emotional commitment. You may, for instance, have a dream in which the door bell rings and your prospective husband, wife or partner is at the door. Bear in mind, however, that dreams are not always so literal; dreams of love are more difficult to understand than overtly sexual dreams, since almost any symbol can be associated with this area of your life. Pay attention to your feelings in the dream as they can help you see your potential partners and your feelings for what they really are. So if you have a feeling of dread when the door bell rings, this probably is not a good sign.
Bear in mind, too, that dreams that contain symbols closely related to home life, such as a beloved family object or a much-used room, are more likely to relate to a family member and your feelings towards them than to a potential lover. It may also be helpful to see how the feelings of love are being represented in your dream. If the emotional bond and closeness is more important than the sexual, this may be related to baby love. If great sexual drive and the fulfillment of your own needs is the theme along with a desire to explore and experiment, this suggests adolescent love. Adult love is represented by a dream sense of recognizing the needs of the partner and putting them before your own without losing your sense of direction or independence.