Should you tell your friend you dreamt about them?
How would you approach the topic without scaring them off?
Here’s The Thing is an advice column/newsletter where I mostly yell at people to either stop dating someone or ask their crush out or to go through their grief. Or I talk about weird things that came to my mind that no one is paying me to write about. I can never decide if I should capitalize the “the” in Here’s The Thing or not; apologies on lack of consistency.
Should you tell a friend if you dream about them? Not dirty necessarily, but more so revealing of extra feelings you have for them. Hypothetically speaking, if you were to wake up because you were crying in a dream where they dropped two bombs on you: they have a significant other you’d never heard a word about, and they’re having a baby with this suddenly serious SO! You were maybe crying because A) all the news was so unexpected and B) you’re upset that this means you may never have a chance with them.
Of course it was all a bad dream for now, but do you advise saying something? How would you approach the topic without scaring them off? Or just keep it to yourself and hope you don’t turn out to have psychic powers and wake up to living the real life nightmare someday?
Get it? Because he was singing along to “Dreams” in the video. Ok I’m brilliant.
I love this question because it’s fairly low-stakes and about a crush and because I have an answer! I don’t always have an answer right away when I get a letter; I often spend a lot of time lazing around my house thinking about what I should say to someone in a certain situation, agonizing over what they need to hear. And then I count that time as “writing time” because I’m a little weasel.
But I know what to tell you!
It’s my firm but not particularly dire opinion that you should not tell your friend about your dream. There are a few reasons, but probably the most pressing is that it is a very, very intense dream and the type most likely to… well… creep your friend out. That’s nothing against you at all! It’s just that telling someone (even if you’re hinting at it) that you are jealous of a potential partner they had in a dream of yours is a little much, ESPECIALLY if that person is not your romantic partner. It could come across as very possessive and again, since you’re only friends right now, I don’t think that’s the vibe you’re going for.
If the dream were, say, “Hey, I dreamt we went to Target and Cher was there and she was really sick and you helped her and then she invited us to a concert but the concert was at my high school and you showed up wearing a bumble bee costume for some reason???” then yeah, that’s fine to tell someone (although, they likely won’t get that you have a crush on them). But to use emotionally intense dreams—dreams where you woke up crying!— to reveal feelings to a person isn’t exactly kind/subtle/fair. In fact, using anything other than direct communication to express feelings for someone isn’t exactly kind/subtle/fair.
And it sounds like you want to share your feelings with your friend. Great! Cool! You don’t need to hint at it or mention a dream. You can say something like, “Hey, I know we’ve been hanging out a lot recently and I was wondering if you’d ever want to go out some time on a date. If not, and you’d rather just keep this platonic, no big deal. I’m just interested and thought I’d let you know.” Alternatively, you can do the Cowards Ask Out and keep inviting them to do things with you one on one until either they get the hint (which may be never) or until you both have a bunch of vodka one night and make out while watching Flicka. It’s very unclear from your letter what you actually want. Do you want to date them? Hook up a few times and see where it goes? Match your actions to what you’re looking for and figure out how you’re going to move forward if their feelings aren’t matched. It’s normal and fine to ask a friend out and for them to say “no thanks, I like being friends only” and for you both to move on and stay friends. It happens all the time.
One thing I feel I must address however—and I hope I can convey this to you with my true lack of judgement because there by the grace of God I have been many, many, many times—is just how intense your crush seems to be on this friend. To be frank with you, it seems like a lot. (Again, I had many Too Intense Crushes on friends in my life so please know that it’s ok!!!). To say that a friend not dating you would be “a nightmare” is a bit much, although I’m assuming it’s somewhat hyperbole.
My questions are: Why haven’t you told them? Why hasn’t anything ever happened between the two of you (be honest with yourself!)? Is this person going to be able to match the intensity of feeling you seem to have built up around a potential romance? Keep in mind that while you may have had these feelings for months or years, your friend may have had no romantic inclinations. That doesn’t mean they won’t have them, but they may be playing catch up. Lastly, should you two enter into a romantic entanglement, how can you make sure that you’re not holding the real person up to the standards of the crush in your head? I ask this because dating a real, actual person is much harder and more fraught (and often more boring) than having a fantasy of what it’s like to date said person.
Please remember, even though I’m sure you know this mentally, it’s often hard to keep the truth in your heart, that no one owes you romantic feelings in return, and especially not in exchange for friendship or kindness. You don’t get “a chance” with a person like you do with waiting on standby for concert tickets; they are not a game you can just show up early to and wait in line for. That’s not how things work. Either you two work together romantically or you don’t; either you mutually decide that you want to kiss/date/marry/fuck/sit on the couch and watch The Crown or you don’t. Please remember that while it may absolutely feel as if you know what a relationship with this person would be like (YOU’VE IMAGINED IT SO MANY TIMES! YOU ARE ALREADY FRIENDS!!!!!) that you do not. Because a relationship is something two people make together.
Lastly, not that falling for someone romantically invalidates this at all, but please keep in mind that friendship is its own reward and often much more fulfilling than romance. Being friends with someone is a delight, and I hope you are checking in with yourself to make sure that you are being a good friend and not just someone who is hanging around someone in case they will like them back. Being a “friend” only with the hopes that it will turn into “more” (romantic love isn’t more than friendship love, but you get me) is NOT actual friendship. Remember to be a friend.
With all that said: Good luck!!! You will have lots of love in your life even if it is not with this person!!! I hope it works out in ways that make you unimaginably happy!!!
You can submit your own question—or yell at me about how I’m wrong—by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org