What is the Nature of Loving Relationships?

Brenda, 36

I pretty much decided years ago I didn't want to have children. My last serious relationship was with a divorced man with two children. I thought it was an ideal situation to be in because he didn't want to have anymore children. I'm not totally closed to the idea of having children, but I really don't think I want them. Plus, I feel I'm starting to get too old to start a family.

I've had a few dreams about babies lately. The first one I was with my sister and we came across an abandoned baby. I looked after it while she went to go find help. The police said if they didn't find family then he would go into foster care. I had this horrible guilt about leaving the baby and thinking it would go into foster care. I was seriously considering adopting him even though I really don't have the financial means to support a child. I woke up before the outcome was revealed.

My second one I was surrounded by many babies. I don't think I really knew the circumstances as to why they were there. That's all I recall about that one.

The other is about a man I was interested in a few years ago and is a co-worker of mine. He had a baby boy and brought him in for everyone to see. Nothing has ever happened between this man and myself even though there is mutual attraction. We were suppose to go on a date but then he backed out because office gossip is horrible where we work. I still catch him looking at me when we run into each other.

I had all three of these dreams in a matter of less than a two week span. I haven't been able to get them out of my head.

Mr Hagen's Response: Babies: Women's Bodies, Women's Dreams

Think of Helen Keller (read The World I Live In: Dreams of the Blind). When symbolic interactionism is installed into humans, a symbolic universe of interpersonal relationships opens up for us. Critics of the social interactionism model cite the problem of understanding the whole social interpersonal superstructure of our world our planet. This semiotic problem is easily overcome by using the dream as a sociological point of departure. The gates of the dream (1) allow us to enter, perceive and explore this symbolic and interpersonal universe. A sociology of dreams (2) exits and can be investigated using scientific methodology. The International Institute for Dream Research (IIDR) website attempts to shed psychodynamic light on interpersonal sociological and cultural patterns, relationships and communication found in dreams.

What is the nature of human relationships?

Researching the nature of human relationships on the planet, we find anthropological theories that in the primeval and pre-historical period of human development  relationships and communities were matriarchally based. In our modern culture, the patriarchal family structure has enjoyed a long tradition. Feminism and the feminist movement has over the last 250 years strongly criticized the patriarchal conception of the family. Can dreams inform us about the desire of having children and a family?

Open or Closed to the Idea of Having Children?

Your dreams do provide some insight how the desire for having a baby and a family becomes installed in the mind and body of women. You tell us, that consciously at least you have decided not to have children. You also state that in order not to have children you have sought out relationships where the possibility and probability of this happening is slim to none. This is perceived by you as being an "ideal situation". You do not really provide a rational justification for your decision not to have children, however we do find in your story (narrative) the need for excuse making and an easy way out; "Plus, I'm getting to old." You do state that you are; "not totally closed to the idea of having children." Now to your dream.

Women's Dreams -or- In a Different Voice

Your dreams speak in a different voice than your conscious one. Patricia Garfield Women's Bodies, Women's Dreams provides understanding how men and women's dreams differ. Garfield devotes a chapter to Pregnancy and Childbirth Dreams, she believes that; "Being pregnant is one of life's greatest adventures." "The dreams of a mother-to-be trace her momentous journey...." In your first dream you are with your sister and come across an abandoned child. The police tell you that if the family is not found, then the child will be put in foster care. Your interpersonal response is to feel "horrible guilt" and think about adopting the child. You also note that there are financial considerations that accompany having a child. Is this one of the reasons you decided not having children?

The horrible guilt that you feel motivates you to consider adopting. Can we see a so-called maternal instinct, a biological imperative taking hold in your dream? Nature in general is perceived and personified as being feminine, thus the archetypal idea and mythology of Mother Nature. It remains scientifically uncertain and unproven whether such an instinct exists or perhaps is a myth designed to aid the survival of the species.

Carol Gilligan In a Different Voice believes that psychologists have been blind to the differences of men's and women's experiences. Gilligan observes that there are differences in men and women fantasies and images that indicate differing ways of structuring relationships especially from a moral reasoning perspective. For Gilligan, the principle gender difference of self-perception, is found in women's moral development. Gilligan perceives women as growing up morally with the "ethics of care." While Gilligan's work has been criticized, it does find relevance in understanding how morals develop in children's, adolescent's and adult's dreams.

Do you feel "horrible guilt" in your dream because your family (your mother and sister/siblings) were abandoned by your father? Did your mother have financial problems keeping the family together? When you were younger, did you have a "serious relationship", where you did want to have a child and a family? Were you betrayed or abandoned by this man? Gilligan talks to us about a number of women's stories, perhaps similar to yours, that deals with loving and moral relationships, decisions, responsibility and the fear of abandonment. Gilligan sees the ethical differences between men's perception of loving relationships and women's are very different and oft-time demoralizing. Demoralizing to the point of; ‘Why Care?'. The IIDR has attempted to make these differences and problems visible from both perspectives of men's and women's dreams and dreaming.

Men's Dreams: The Desire for a Loving and Caring Relationship?              

The third dream that you have, is of a co-worker that once had his eye on you and perhaps still does? He brings in a baby boy to the office for all to see. He has no fear of showing the baby at the office, however apparently there was a fear of gossip about the both of you dating. A fear, that led him to cancel the date. Perhaps the fear of the gossip was in reality the fear of commitment to a relationship. Perhaps, bringing the child to work for all to see, means that he wants to show you and everyone else that he has overcome that fear. You state that mutual attraction is still alive and well between the both of you. A simple reality test can find out whether the dream has any legs. Ask him, if he would still consider going out...for a drink, for dinner or whatever he feels comfortable with. I think that because these dreams have been in your "head" you need to seriously ask yourself ; are you indeed to old to start a family? Are you really open to this idea? Is this man serious about having a family? Does he care about you, or is it just one more relationship based on hormonal attraction and not on a caring relationship?

From a popular music culture perspective Kelly Clarkson's Because of You (see music video)appears to fit the sentiments of your dream.

Hope that this provides some insight.

Mark H

(1). Geza Roheim, Gates of the Dream

(2). Roger Bastide, The Sociology of Dreams


All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.