Exploring your dreams can involve delving into fears, aspirations, hopes, and readiness for emotional support. Dreams can have many layers and meaning can emerge from both literal and symbolic representations.
A hugging dream, for instance, can have multiple meanings depending on the context of the dream itself and the person that is hugging you. But an embrace is a symbolic gesture so there is an underlying feeling of interconnectedness that you're likely to experience if you are hugged in a dream or if you're dreaming of hugging someone else.
Most of what psychology knows about dreams today comes from psychiatrist Carl Jung, whose work in dream analysis remains influential to this day. Jung advocated that dreams must be interpreted on an individual level, taking into context the dreamer and their unique life.
Jung approached dreams from two different perspectives and believed that the dreamer was the only person who could identify which category the dream fell into in order to uncover its deeper meaning.
- Objective - The objective approach identifies objects and people in the dream as exactly what they appear to be. In other words, they are to be taken literally, where the person in your dream means exactly what they do in real life. For example, a dream of hugging your parent is just a dream about hugging your parent.
- Subjective - In the subjective context, the person, place, or thing represents something else, which can be interpreted by the dreamer and has a figurative meaning. For example, a dream of hugging your parent may mean that you want to work on restoring your connection to your inner child or that you are facing stressors in your life and want comfort.
How to Understand Hugging Dreams
The meaning and emotions surrounding a hug in a dream can change depending on a variety of factors. Research shows that people often dream of hugging people who they miss or feel they have a close relationship with. The person in your hugging dream and whether or not you are receiving or giving the hug are important factors as well.
Hugging Someone Else in a Dream
Various research studies have provided insight into the possible meaning of a dream where you hug someone else. The person that you are hugging may help you interpret the meaning. Some examples include:
- Hugging someone you care about may bring insight into your readiness to offer help and support to that person.
- Hugging an enemy or someone you don't trust symbolizes a need to reach out before betrayal occurs.
- Hugging a stranger may be a warning against opening yourself to the unknown.
- Hugging someone you know/like can show that you miss physical touch and connection.
- Hugging someone from a previous intimate relationship can be an expression of grief and loss.
- Hugging a stranger can represent the encouragement to be open to new relationships.
- Hugging someone and experiencing feelings of anxiety or worry could illustrate the need to press past personal barriers for the new experience.
Receiving a Hug in a Dream
Receiving a hug in a dream can have a different meaning than giving a hug to someone else. This may be a sign that you are wanting or seeking something in your life, which is playing a role in the content of your unconscious dreams. Some examples are:
- Being hugged by someone close to you can be a sign that you want to resolve conflict with them.
- Being hugged by someone you like may be a sign that you are stressed or seeking social support.
- Being hugged by someone who makes you feel trapped, confined, or uncomfortable could be a warning sign to avoid a situation.
- Reaching out for an embrace at the same time as the other person in your dream may be an encouragement to accept opportunities when they come your way, such as a chance at a new job, a new education, or something else.
Dreaming of Hugging a Child
It's not uncommon for mothers or caregivers to dream of hugging their children. In fact, studies have found that people who are pregnant often have dreams involving maternal figures, seeing themselves depicted as a mother, and involving children. Dreaming about hugging a child can be a sign of many things, including:
- A strong bond in the parent-child relationship
- Your role as a caregiver providing comfort or protection to a child
- The desire to be a good parental figure to your child and others
Interpreting Your Hugging Dream
If you find yourself experiencing a hugging dream and it particularly strikes you as interesting, unusual, or moves you in any way, it's normal to become curious about uncovering its deeper meaning. Look at aspects of your life that Jung believed influenced your dreams, such as your internal feelings, social circle, and overall environment. Some questions you may want to explore in order to better understand your dream are:
- Do I think this dream is supposed to be taken objectively or subjectively?
- How am I feeling emotionally right now and what kind of headspace am I in?
- Are there any stressors in my life that are causing changes in my life or causing me to worry?
- Could I use more comfort and safety in my daily life?
- Do I know this person in my dream? How am I connected to them?
- Has this person been in my life or on my mind lately?
- Do I have any expectations or hope about what this dream could mean?
According to Jung, the dreamer is the best person to turn to in order to gain a better understanding of what a dream means. You may have to turn inward and decide if the dream was meant to be taken literally, or if it is a subjective dream that needs further interpretation. Remembering the specific aspects of your dream, the role that you played, the place where the hug happened, and how you felt in the dream afterward may help you find a greater sense of meaning.