Sleep is amazing, right? We get to relax, turn off our monkey brains, and just enjoy our wildest dreams. But let’s be honest: our dreams can get pretty weird. And what might look like a bunch of abstract scenarios and wacky characters can actually shed light on what’s going on in our waking lives, including our relationships. For example, that cute dog that just popped up in your dream might be symbolize the current state of your relationship—because your subconscious knows a lot when it comes to what’s going on between you and bae.
“Our dreams give us the brutally honest truth about all areas and issues of our lives, especially the relationship area,” Lauri Quinn Loewenberg, professional dream analyst, told HelloGiggles.
It’s natural for us to ponder the deeper meanings of our relationships and wonder if there’s something we’re not seeing. Dreams can help with this. After all, Freud did say that “the interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind.”
Curious to know if your dreams might be showing you a relationship red flag you missed in waking life? Here are four elements you should pay attention to in your dreams:
“What I have found in my research is that what will reveal the most about our relationships is dreaming of dogs,” said Loewenberg. “Whether it’s your actual dog, a dog you used to have, or some dream dog, a dog often represents a relationship in your life where there should be loyalty, companionship, and friendship, as these are the qualities we attribute to dogs.”
Loewenberg said the behavior and nature of the dog in the dream will reflect what is really going on in a current relationship.
A sick, injured, or dying dog suggests your relationship is not well and needs attention. Loewenberg suggested asking yourself if the relationship is worth saving. If so, what can you do to heal it?
An angry, threatening, or attacking dog is a warning that your relationship is not good for you. “Do you constantly feel under attack in real life? Are you always having to be cautious or walk on egg shells so as not to upset the beast, so to speak?”
And, lastly, a friendly, happy dog in a dream is a reflection of what a healthy relationship should be: enjoyable, safe, trusting.
“When you get a dog in your dream, compare its condition, the way it is behaving, as well as your reaction to the dog to your waking-life relationship,” Loewenberg said. “This can include friendships and family relationships, too. The dog in your dream will be an honest reflection of how the relationship is in real life.”
2. Ships and boats
According to Loewenberg, there’s a reason why it’s called a “relationSHIP.”
“The love boat, two ships passing in the night, these common phrases and play on words is why a ship or a boat in a dream can tell you a lot about your relationship,” said Loewenberg. “Plus, water in dreams will often represent our emotions and since boats travel on water, and relationships are highly emotional, this is yet another reason to listen to what your boat dreams are telling you.”
Loewenbeg warned that a sinking ship could mean that your relationship is going under.
“Probably because you have taken on way too much drama or negativity, just as a sinking ship has taken on too much water,” she said.
A ship that is drifting or lost indicates your relationship is in limbo rather than progressing. A battle ship is a tell-tale sign that there is too much fighting and conflict in the relationship.
“Compare the type of ship, the condition of the ship, and how well or poorly it is being driven to your current relationship and odds are you will find many similarities,” Loewenberg said.
“Cats will often symbolize the sexual energy within a relationship,” said Loewenberg. “In particular, the sexual energy of the female in the relationship.”
If the cat(s) in your dream are sick, injured, dead, or dying, Loewenberg said that’s a good sign the sexual energy in your relationship is dead or dying as well. An angry or attacking cat could be a warning the sexual side of the relationship is harmful or that you may be angry about it for some reason. Do some digging to discover how you might really be feeling about your sex life.
“If you and your partner are in a car together in a dream, pay attention to who is behind the wheel as that will reveal who is the driving force in the relationship, or at least who is driving any current issue within the relationship,” said Loewenberg. She added that the behavior of the driver will indicate how well he or she is handling current relationship issues.
An out-of-control car indicates the relationship, or an issue within the relationship, needs to be contained and that someone needs to take control.
Brakes not working? That indicates that something needs to stop—it’s most likely a sign of a recurring behavior pattern in your relationship. A car that won’t start or that gets stuck is telling you the relationship is in limbo and not progressing. If that’s the case, Loewenberg suggested it might be time to have a talk and find out how to make it more exciting.
A lost or stolen car could mean the relationship has lost direction or that you or your partner is no longer energized or motivated by the relationship.
A crashing car? Well, according to Loewenberg, that’s a pretty big warning your relationship is about to crash and burn. “Again, you want to compare the condition of the car, the behavior of the driver, etc. in the dream to your relationship and you will see that it will reflect reality,” she said. “And perhaps a reality you may have been turning a blind eye towards.”
Dreams can lead us to a whole different perspective on our lives, including our relationships. In the end, it’s important to trust your gut and follow your intuition. And when in doubt, talk to your partner.