What It Means When You Have a Dream About Being Chased, According to Dream Experts

Woman waking up from a scary dream about being chased and wondering what it means

When you close your eyes and drift off to sleep, where do you go? The dreamscape is a mysterious place, full of strange scenarios, settings and emotions. If you've woken up from a dream feeling perplexed by what you experienced behind closed eyes, you're certainly not alone. No matter how strange, our dreams often symbolize something we're dealing with in reality. 

Dreams about being chased are one of the most common dreams (or nightmares) people have, providing a haunting, panicky feeling upon waking. Whether running from another person or a powerful animal, it likely has you wondering the meaning of dreams about being chased. 

spoke with dream experts to fully understand the meaning behind dreams about being chased. Spoiler alert: your chaser may take living form, but you're likely "running" from something else. 

Related: 57 Hidden Meanings Behind the Most Common Dreams

'Why Am I Being Chased in My Dream?'

Dreams about being chased are quite common, so there can be many different meanings to this anxiety-inducing dream. According to dream expert and spiritual director Pam Muller, some of the most common reasons you may be being chased in a dream are:

  • Impending conflict or confrontation

  • Refusing to face a situation in real life

  • Something from your past has resurfaced or is catching up with you

  • Anxious about something upcoming

"Sometimes, negative dreams act as a pressure valve, releasing some pent-up fear of being caught," Muller explains. "So, if there are situations in waking life making you feel guilty, a chase dream might get triggered."

Additionally, Muller says context plays a critical role in interpreting your dreams' meanings. Being chased can be a positive or negative experience, so the best way to determine its meaning is by considering how the dreamer felt. If being chased in your dream felt more like a fun game of tag, the dream conveys a more playful interpretation. 

If you don't feel that you are dealing with any of the above scenarios, reflect upon the content you are consuming in your daily life. Have you recently watched a horror film that included someone being chased? 

The contents of dreams expand far beyond subconscious thoughts and worries. Many aspects of our daily lives and what we consume can show up in our dreamscapes, including things we've watched on TV or read.

What Does It Mean When You Dream of Someone Chasing You?

Dream expert and author Lauri Loewenberg agrees that being chased by someone is often caused by avoidance in real life. This may be avoiding a tough situation you don't want to deal with, such as a difficult confrontation or obligation. 

Ultimately, the dream illustrates that you are running from the issue rather than facing it head-on. What—or who—is chasing you will always provide more information about your current waking life situation.

"Sometimes, these dreams can be about the need to distance yourself from an unpleasant past in hopes you can put it 'behind you' once and for all," Loewenberg explains, adding: "Self-preservation is the dominant feature of the being chased dream, which means these dreams boil down to the preservation of your peace of mind in real life—avoiding something that causes discomfort or distress."

Related: The Spiritual Meaning of Dreaming About Your Ex, According to a Dream Analyst

If You Dream You're Chased by an Animal

If you dream you're chased by an animal, it represents some root instinct that you need to consider or one you need to be aware of in yourself. Consider the particular qualities or natural adaptations the animal possesses to help it survive, as the meaning will depend on the animal.

For example, running from a predatory animal, like a lion or tiger, can often mean you are running from your own predatory skills—your ability to get out there and hunt down what you want in your life right now. Contrastingly, running from a snake may suggest avoiding a toxic person in your life.

"Being chased by a dog would most likely mean you are running from some sort of relationship issue, as dogs tend to represent loyalty and companionship," Loewenberg elaborates. "Are you scared of commitment? Or is something going on in the relationship that is causing you distress?"

If You Dream You're Being Chased Down a Dead End Street

Picture this: you're running for your life, impressed by your speed, until you're chased down a dead-end street. Now what? 

"If you dream you're being chased down a dead-end street, it may suggest an impending confrontation," Muller explains. "It may also suggest that it is time to get closure on something or put an end to it."

Interestingly enough, the end of the street might also represent that the dream is bringing you right up to the present moment in real life—when the future is unknown to you. The end of the chase is not clear, and so it is symbolically at a dead-end.

Related: If You Keep Having Crazy Dreams, Here’s What Might Be Going On

If You Dream You're Being Chased in a Car

The chase being taken from feet to wheels may be more significant than you'd think. Muller explains that cars in dreams can represent the outer shell of ourselves—perhaps the persona or "mask" you wear to protect your true self. 

"If you dream you're being chased in a car, it suggests that the threat is more of a surface-level threat," Muller says. "Cars also represent the faster pace in your life, so a car chase symbolizes something in waking life that is unfolding quickly." 

Loewenberg agrees, saying, "It's a fast-moving issue rather than one that is just lingering. Rather than being an issue where you are simply procrastinating, things are evolving and moving forward at a fast pace."

'Why Did I Dream of Being Chased and Hiding?'

If you dream of being chased and hiding, you may be avoiding conflict or need assistance to deal with the threat. It may also imply you have something to hide in your waking life. 

Loewenberg urges victims of recurring chase dreams to ask themselves an important question: Is your continued avoidance in real life going to put an end to the issue?

After all, running and hiding is no way to go through life. Avoidance often adds more anxiety. If this is a frequent and lifelong recurring theme for you, avoidance is likely a recurring behavior pattern and something your subconscious wants you to correct. "Remember, dreams are messages from you, to you, about you—in order to improve you," she explains.

Next Up: If You See a Blue Jay, Here's the True, Unexpected Significance of Them Appearing in Your Life