Dreams are bittersweet. In dreams we can do nearly anything—travel into space, fight zombies, become president, and get married. All that could happen in one dream, and then it's gone.
Our enigmatic subconscious treats us to wild adventures. Sometimes mundane, sometimes horrifying, and sometimes so startlingly real that we wake in denial that it was all fake. Like the Pevensie children returning from Narnia, it can be hard to return to reality after the fantastic life we just lived. Blink. An instant and the dream has receded back into the depths of your mind. That's why experiencing love in a dream can be so harsh. Like real love it's sweet until it's over.
There are two types of love people experience in dreams: they fall in love with a stranger or they fall in love with someone they know. Perhaps you think you've known the stranger for years, maybe you think the person you know is someone else entirely. It varies wildly from dream to dream—person to person.
When I write “fall in love,” I mean a feeling of euphoric attachment associated with a specific individual whom you want to hold close and do nothing else but be with them. Love, essentially. The feeling certainly differs, as some people may dream of marriage, others of a third date, and plenty of a first kiss. I'm writing this article with information I've gathered from lucid dreaming websites, Reddit forums, online articles, and my own experiences. I've been married and dated in dreams. In my dreams I've kissed girls as often as I've flown.
A stranger in a dream has a face in reality, yet a familiar person in a dream could be no one at all. Dreams trick us by playing with our memories. The mind rearranges its stock of remembered faces and old experiences to create something new. Because of this, the person you feel a sudden rapture of affection for could equally be nobody in particular or someone. Your mind generates a romantic scenario and fills it with your friend from back home, a stranger you passed in the grocery store, a stunning celebrity, or that person you've had a crush on for years.
People typically respond to falling in love in dreams well, since they discern what's real and move on. Some suffer from their artificial infatuation. They yearn to relive the deep euphoria of love or desire to connect with someone as well as with their dream partner. Sometimes people fall in love with someone they know in reality and struggle to reconcile the dream person with the real one. Maybe it was a friend and now you're trying to figure out if you have feelings for them. Maybe you just feel awkward dreaming intimately about someone you know.
In the brief experience of fifteen minutes, you could have dreamed of finally asking out the person you've loved for years and going on that wonderful first date. It's cruel of the mind to entertain that fantasy against your will. It will hurt when you wake up alone. I found plenty of people online asking how to get over their dream partners, one had even seen a psychologist about it.
I've been lucky. I love writing down my dreams and experiencing new things in them, so I enjoy recording my dream romances. I remember three. The first was when I was five and dreamt of saying goodbye to my girlfriend who was moving out next door. It was unusually intimate for a five year old who liked dinosaurs and aliens. The second was when I was sixteen and had the mature, lucid perspective of a hormonal teenager. I dreamt of falling in love at camp. Our relationship lasted a week before we split up. All in one dream.
This January I had a uniquely clear dream about falling in love. It started with me talking with a friend who worked with me, then inviting her to a party. The clearest part I remember was when we kissed at the party. I was slipping into lucidity before that, but I fully bought into the dream when we kissed. We held each other for a while, then left to have a picnic at the park. It started raining and I woke up. I appreciate those bittersweet dreams.