What Does It Mean When You Dream About Your Ex?

What does it mean when you dream about your ex? You’re at a party with your friends, and you spot your ex across the room. You begin to walk over to talk, but they turn away from you and stroll out of the room without acknowledging your presence. You watch as they exit the building, realising you’ll never see them again. And then you wake up 😒

Why do you dream about seeing your ex? And why do those dreams make you feel bad? Below I will give some answers to common questions about why we dream about our ex.

Why Do People Have Dreams About Their Ex?

Research has shown that people can dream about a past love in one of two ways. In some cases, dreams are actually memories that get replayed while you sleep. In other instances, dreams represent your current thoughts and emotions about an ex. For example, you might have a dream where your ex seems to be happily married with kids, and for some reason, it bothers you enough to wake you up.

What if your dreams don’t quite fit into either of these categories?

In that case, they can indicate a new phase in your emotional journey following a breakup.

Many things can trigger you to dream of your former lover. For example, a significant life event or shift in perspective can cause you to dig up the past. It’s important to consider what else might be going on in your life when you have a dream.

What Factors Can Cause Me to Dream About My Ex?

Let’s run through a few factors that can contribute to dreams of this nature.

—You’re sleeping more

If you’re getting more sleep, odds are you will dream more, too. And, if you are clocking more time in bed, you are more likely to hit the late stages of sleep, where dreams are easier to remember.

Are you getting more sleep? Has your sleep routine changed? If so, it could be a contributing factor toward these dreams you are having.

—You have more time to think

If you have more time to think and reflect, there’s a good chance you’ll use that time to think about your past relationships. And seeing how what we think about during the day can become what we dream about at night…

Yeah. That can explain it for sure. So, do you have more time lately? Are you day-dreaming about your ex? Are you dwelling on the past? If you are, it’s likely your daytime thoughts are invading your night-time dreams.

—You’re grieving or lamenting of times past

When we mourn or experience the loss of life as we know it (hello pandemic,) we grieve and become sad. And clearly, with sadness, our minds become more susceptible to dwelling on the people who made an impact on us.

So, if you are mourning someone, or you are lamenting “the old days,” you might well find your ex popping up in your dreams.

—You’re anxious

If you have anxiety in your life, you can expect to have anxiety in your dreams, too. After all, one theory we have on dreams is that it is an activity where the brain tries to process and resolve our problems.

If you are dealing with uncertainty in daily life, like problems with work or finance etc., you will be hitting the sack with that weight on your mind. In turn, your brain may replay other anxious-based events from the past (say, a breakup…)

Does Dreaming Of My Ex Mean I Have Unresolved Issues?

If you are having frequent dreams about your ex, it is likely because you have unresolved issues around your ex and the breakup.

Such underlying issues can include:

  • Resentment: If you feel you were treated unfairly by your ex, you will feel resentment. And, until you make peace with that, resentment can pick away at you, and manifest in your dreams.
  • Sadness: Anything we can gain in life, we can also lose. The result of which is sadness. And so, when you lost your ex, it is normal to reflect on what you lost, to seek comfort, or attempt to make sense of the loss. In any case, the increase in mental energy toward the source of your sadness can lead to dreams of the same nature.
  • Guilt: If you feel responsible for bringing harm to your ex, you may feel guilty. And, in turn, you may fixate on your transgression (which can later feed your dreams.)
  • Loneliness: If you feel like no one cares about you, you may feel lonely, and therefore long to feel special to someone. Well… Sometimes, our ex will be the last person we felt genuinely special around, and this longing can cause us to dream of what we once had.
  • Shame: If your ex knows something bad about you or something you did, you will feel shame. In which case, it is not unreasonable for you to revisit this uncomfortable feeling in your sleep, manifesting as a dream about your ex.
  • Anger: If you were harmed or offended by your ex, and you remain dissatisfied with how things were concluded? Then yes, you will carry unresolved feelings to your bed.

The above covers the most common underlying causes for dreaming about an ex. Still, regardless of whether you can explain why you have these dreams, it is arguably more important to investigate the content of your dreams. And for that, I would start by looking at how accurate the details feel to you.

Let’s look at that now…

Are All the Details Accurate?

Dreams can be vivid and detailed, and sometimes you’ll wake up and still feel like you’re there. But before you take your dream as fact, it’s worth asking yourself: Is all of what I’m dreaming about true? The answer may surprise you. For example, if your ex gave you a dirty look in your dream, that does not mean they feel this way in real life. A careful examination will reveal whether or not an event is accurate —or if it is similar to something that happened but probably happened differently. This technique will help you become more perceptive when examining your dreams.

Often, your dreams are symbolic, so you have to spend some time deciphering them. For example, if you dream of someone who looks like your ex, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is your ex or even a real person. Take everything with a grain of salt until you can analyse what your subconscious was trying to tell you through symbolism and actions in your dream.

What Did You Learn From This Experience?

If you have found yourself dreaming about your ex, then there is a chance that you still have feelings for them. Although it is common to dream about someone important in your life, it can also signify that you still have unresolved issues from the relationship. Either way, use your dreams as a tool to work through these emotions and to finally make a clean break from them if needed. Take time after you awake to see what specific parts of your past relationship come up in your dreams, and write down any new or interesting insights. Do not ignore what comes up during these moments, as they could provide valuable information into how you feel now and where you need help moving forward.

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About the author: i’m a relationship coach specialising in breakup recovery. i’ve been doing this for 12+ years helping thousands worldwide. i created the Breakup Dojo, a popular program with over 1,000 members. i’ve authored several in-demand breakup recovery products, drawing from my deep fascination with psychology. i also publish the “ex-communication” newsletter that’s packed with actionable advice to over 10,000 subscribers worldwide.