“Any specific detail in a dream is not random,” certified dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg tells me on a phone call. To be clear, that means that anytime you’ve woken up certain that your dreams involved sexy times, chasing a giant slice of avocado toast up the stairs of the Eiffel Tower, or reliving a scarring memory from middle school, it wasn’t a random coincidence. Loewenberg says that each dream contains one or more key takeaways for waking life.
There are millions of permutations for somnolent occurrences. Of the 75,000 dreams Loewenberg has studied in her career, she says that seven arise most commonly among clients. “Your dreams are like your second brain. They’re always on alert, they’re always paying attention,” explains Loewenberg. “The things we ignore during the day rise to the surface at night when we’re dreaming and try to talk to us. To give us information about what’s happening in our lives.” Ready to listen? Here’s the deal with common dream meanings: the good, the bad, and the just plain wacky.
Ready to hear the 7 most common dream meanings?
1. If you’re falling in dream, you feel let down IRL.
You can take these types of dreams literally. “This sort of dream is connected to having some kind of let down in real life,” says the dream psychologist. “Someone [or something] let you down.” If you’re merrily walking across a sun-soaked beach and a black hole suddenly swallows you up, you can take that as an indication that something you had high hopes for has been bashed.
2. If your partner cheats on you, you’re not acknowledging a third wheel in your relationship.
“The cheating one has caused a lot of people to be slapped first thing in the morning seemingly for no reason,” says Loewenberg with a laugh. But don’t take these dreams as a signal you need to revoke your trust in your significant other. The dream expert says this dream signifies a third wheel in your relationship that’s usually not a person. “Unless you have good reason to suspect your partner’s cheating, or you’ve been cheated on in the past and are just very distrustful, it doesn’t typically mean that your significant other is getting his or her pleasures elsewhere,” she tells me.
Such subconscious warnings are a sign that you feel like something in your partner’s life is encroaching on time you should be spending with them. They’re logging too many hours at work, or ignoring you in bed in favor of appsturbating on social media. So before you give them a shiner, consider what, not who, is infringing on your relationship.
3. If you’re flying, you’re flying.
Flying in a dream feels euphoric—and it’s a sign that you’re feeling weightless in your everyday life, too. “We’ll get a flying dream when we’ve risen above something that had previously been weighing us down, bringing us down, making life hard and heavy. We can get it when we’ve accomplished something and we’ve realized our own power to reach our high goals,” says Loewenberg. Send me all the Superwoman dreams, please.
4. If you’re being chased, you’re procrastinating or avoiding something in everyday life.
If there’s a pursuer fast on our heels when we’re asleep, you’re more than likely avoiding, avoiding, avoiding out here in the real world. Whether you’re doing everything in your power to stall a confrontation, or procrastinating your to-do list at work, this dream knows.
What’s chasing you can also be indicative of what or who you’re attempting to side-step. When I tell the Loewenberg that I often dream of being chased by snakes, in particular, she tells me that they’re symbolic of toxic people (particularly men) who are hard for me to shake.
5. If you’re having nightmares about school, something’s off at work.
“This dream will continue 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years since you’ve been in school,” says the psychologist. “I have found in my research that the back to school dream is most-often caused by something going on in your job or in your career, because school was your first job and it was where you learn the dynamics of what a job or career entails.” If—oh, my god!—you’re late to class and you can’t find your locker anywhere, that could be a sign that you’re not where you want to be when it comes to your professional goals.
6. If your teeth are falling out, you said something you regret. Or got caught up in gossip.
Any dream involving your mouth means, oops!, you have some major regrets about a passing comment or gossip sesh from earlier in the day. “If you dream of your teeth falling out, the most common thing that means is loose speech. You’ve allowed something out of your mouth that should have stayed in there permanently, like your teeth,” says Loewenberg.
If your pearly whites crumble, that might be an indication that you didn’t communicate a point as well as you had hoped.
7. If you or a loved one dies, take that as a signal that something in your life has changed in a big way.
Death in a dream is not foreshadowing! You’re not going to die! You’re fine!
“People worry that maybe they’re seeing the future or something, but remember, dreams are symbolic. If you look at them literally, you’re completely missing the message,” Loewenberg says. It simply means that a chapter in your life is closing. It’s a sign of finality. (And rebirth!)
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