Why Your Dreams Aren’t Always Nightmares

Most of us have experienced a dream that we’re very relieved to wake from. One where our partner either leaves us, betrays us or is just not there for us when we need them to be. The good news here is that these dreams very rarely turn out to be precognitions of an event that is to come. New scientific research shows that these kinds of dreams actually stem from our own subconscious fears and insecurities.

Dr. Dylan Selterman and researchers at the University of Maryland decided to study the kind of dreams people have about their romantic partners and how those dreams related to their level of security (or lack) in their relationship. Dr. Selterman and his colleagues asked a sample group of people all in committed relationships to keep a record of their dreams for two weeks. The group also completed a storytelling task designed to measure how secure they were with their partners. As we are always saying – you thoughts create your world and your experiences. People who are secure in their relationships are confident their partners are supportive but people who are insecure worry their partners will betray or abandon them – which often leads to negative emotions which fuel conflicts.

The researchers went through the dream journals looking for dreams that involved the respondent’s current partners. On average it turned out people had between three to four dreams involving their significant others over the two week test period. In other words – people tend to dream about their current partners once every three to four days. The team then rated these dreams as to whether they reflected positive or negative attachment behaviours. In other words – those people who had shown they felt secure in their relationships had dreams that reflected this – in their dreams they could turn to their partners for support and were comfortable with each other – usually in pleasant dream scenarios. However, those who felt insecure in their relationships in waking life had distressing dreams of their partners which often included conflicts and abandonment. So, the more secure the relationship was in waking life, the more secure the relationship was in dreams – and vice versa.

Many people do have prophetic dreams but often these are not literal but the information is given symbolically. This is the trick to interpreting dreams. Sometimes dreams have held the key to problems – Einstein’s theory of relativity was inspired by a dream. Hannibal based his war against the Romans on a prophetic dream – and was defeated by Scipio, a warning perhaps to treat the messages we receive in dreams with caution. But if your dream lover left you last night the chances are that your nightmare is just your subconscious playing out a deep insecurity. It doesn’t necessarily follow that they will abandon us in reality but the dream is most likely asking us to look closely at why we feel insecure. Very often it has nothing to do with our present partner but comes from an older, deeper wound. By looking at this in the calm light of day we can better understand the message behind our dream, heal any insecurities we may have around relationships and arrive at the point where our dreams really do mirror our waking life.

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