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 start to walk over to talk to them, but they turn away and leave the room without acknowledging you. You watch as they exit the building, realising you’ll never see them again. And then you wake up 😒

What’s the significance of dreaming about your ex? Why do these dreams evoke negative feelings in you? 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. Sometimes, dreams are just reliving memories as you sleep. Dreams can also serve as a representation of your current thoughts and emotions towards an ex. For instance, you may wake up feeling upset because your ex appears happily married with children in your dream.

What if your dreams don’t fall into either of the categories mentioned?

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 spend 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 to the 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, have you had more time lately? Are you daydreaming about your ex? Are you dwelling on the past? If so, it’s likely that your daytime thoughts are invading your nighttime dreams.

—You’re grieving or lamenting about 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 impacted us.

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

—You’re anxious

Having anxiety in life means having anxiety in dreams. After all, one theory we have about dreams is that they are an activity where the brain tries to process and resolve our problems.

If you are facing uncertainty in your daily life, such as work or financial issues, you will go to bed carrying that burden in your mind. In turn, your brain may replay other anxious-based events from the past (for example, a breakup.)

Does Dreaming Of My Ex Mean I Have Unresolved Issues?

Your frequent dreams about your ex may be due to unresolved breakup issues.

Such underlying issues can include:

  • Resentment: You’ll feel resentment if you believe your ex treated you unfairly. If you don’t resolve it, resentment can haunt your dreams.
  • Sadness: Anything we can gain in life, we can also lose. The result of this is sadness. And so, when you lose your ex, it is normal to reflect on what you lost, seek comfort, or attempt to make sense of the loss. In any case, the increase in mental energy directed at 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 long to feel special to someone. Well, sometimes our ex will be the last person we feel genuinely special around, and this longing can cause us to dream of what we once had.
  • Shame: If your ex knows something negative about you or your actions, you may 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.

These are the most common reasons 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. To begin, assess how authentic the details of your dreams feel to you.

Let’s look at that now…

Are All the Details Accurate?

Dreams can be vivid and detailed, sometimes leaving you feeling like you’re still in them when you wake up. Before accepting your dream as reality, ask yourself: Is everything I’m dreaming of actually true? The answer may surprise you. For instance, if your ex gave you a disapproving look in your dream, it doesn’t necessarily reflect their true feelings in reality. 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 approach can enhance your ability to interpret your dreams with greater insight and perception.

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. Until you can analyze what your subconscious was trying to tell you through symbolism and actions in your dream, you should approach everything with caution.

What Did You Learn From This Experience?

Having dreams about your ex may indicate that you still care about them. Even though it’s common to dream about someone important, it can mean you still have relationship issues. Either way, use your dreams as a tool to work through these emotions and finally make a clean break from them if needed. After waking up, take some time to reflect on the specific aspects of your past relationship that appeared in your dreams. Write down any new or interesting insights you gain. Do not ignore what comes up during these moments, as they could provide valuable information about 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.