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The Only 4 Times It's Acceptable To Tell Someone Your Dream

Save the rest for a dream journal.

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Like so much about ourselves, our dreams are endlessly fascinating to us and no one else. For one thing, you're never going to be able to tell it as convincingly as you saw it in your own head. This is particularly true of "funny" dreams. A dream that strikes you as hilarious is almost always a quickly disappearing inside joke between you and your brain. "It was so funny," you'll say, a sure sign that it isn't anymore.

Still, we can't help ourselves. Dreams are sort of like gossip — most of the fun is in passing it on. The difference is that gossip has value. There has never been a dream so good it was repeated by someone who didn't have it.

If everyone wants to be able to tell someone their dreams, but nobody wants to hear anyone else's, what are we to do? There has to be some sort of social agreement: I will listen to your dumb dreams if you will listen to mine. But in order to spare each other as much inanity as possible, we have to be extremely selective. Here, a few ways to determine which dreams should make the cut.

1. Dreams Which Can Be Summarized In A Short Text Message

Texting is probably the ideal medium for dream-delivery because it asks very little of its recipient(s) beyond being seen. If you're texted a dream, you can text back "lol" or a cry-face emoji and be done with the whole thing. No sane person should expect more dream text feedback from you than that.

Here is how you know if your dream is short enough to text clearly: it fits in a single message no larger than the size of a phone screen — let's say up to iPhone 6, but smaller than Samsung S6. I'm generous, not crazy. If you think you need more space than that, take it to Diaryland. And don't flatter yourself. Whole books and movies are summarized in two sentences on the reg; you can do the same with your dream about singing succulents.

2. Sex Dreams Involving A Celebrity And/Or Notable Partner

Once I had a sex dream about Zayn Malik and I told, like, four people. (Did you think I could get through this thing without telling you one of my dreams? No! I'm hopeless like everyone else.) Because the likelihood of this happening in my waking life is (I'm sorry to say) extremely remote, I am allowed to come into work the next morning, open my various chat rooms, and proudly tell a few of my friends that I dreamed it.

The main requirement for sex dreams is that that your designated dream listeners (DDLs) are familiar with your sexual conquest — celebrity or not. That way, they're a fraction more likely to care. I told other adult fans of One Direction about my Zayn Malik dream because the best people to tell are people who will be jealous of the gift given to you by your brain. If you can't achieve jealous, aim for scandalized (telling a coworker you had dream-sex with your boss), and if that's not a viable outcome, settle for pity (telling a college friend you dream-banged your now-married-to-someone-else college boyfriend).

3. Dreams That Feature The Person You Want To Share It With

Omg, you were DREAMING about ME? [One thousand wink face emoticons]

This one's a gimme. Obviously you can tell anyone your dream if they were in it. It's like waking up the morning after a party and having a friend tell you what you did and said after you blacked out, but one million times less embarrassing, because it is fake, and therefore inoffensive at worst. At best, you get a short, delightful anecdote about you being wacky in a parallel universe. I would love to hear exactly what I got up to in your subconscious. I love hearing about me. Please remember everything. Take notes when you wake up.

4. Dreams That Make You Cry (Or Almost Cry)

There are many kinds of sad and scary dreams that do not cause lasting unease — ones that are mercifully forgotten or easily brushed off upon waking. But others can be hard to let go. Not even always the saddest and scariest ones! Knowing that you made it up yourself doesn't matter if you can still see it in your head hours later.

It could be a dream that you have a terrible argument with someone you love, or that someone still alive in real life dies, or that someone who has died is living again. Or maybe it was just something small and strange, the details of which are hazy apart from the fact that you were humiliated, and you still feel that way, and now it's the afternoon. This is the one category in which the story of the dream — the plot and characters and conflict — don't really matter very much. If all you are looking for is someone to tell you, "It's OK, it was just a dream," you are always allowed.

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