Our dreams may reflect our subconscious mind. Thus, the question “Why do I keep dreaming about my ex?” needs to be answered.
Many of us struggle with this question, especially those stuck in the memories of their previous relationship. You might wonder if you are expressing your buried desire to have them back or just something weird and irrelevant like most dreams are.
A study conducted on 1612 dream reports from 425 students concluded that interactions with the ex-partner consisted of positive emotions and friendliness. 17% of the dreams had the partner of the dreamer, while the ex-partner showed up in around 5% of the dreams. Of the 425 participants, 15.76% reported at least one ex-partner dream in 14 days.
Most of the time, it results from your feelings toward them. Your subconscious mind surfaces your fantasies – the ideas you wish to bring to life but can’t. Therefore, your dreams can be because you desire something you cannot have, think will never come true, or are grieving a lost relationship. Find out why you dream of your ex right here.
In This Article
Why Do People Dream About Their Exes? The Possible Reasons
An explanation could be that you miss the bond and the life you shared – the love, the dreams, and what drove both of you. The dreams often remind you how your life was with them when you were together and how it is now. You may also think of what might happen in the future if your ex comes back and dream about it. Ronald Hoang, a Relationship and Family Counselor, explains, “One theory about dreams is that each element in the dream is representative of a part of yourself. And different parts are communicating or bringing things to your consciousness.”
He further adds, “Another theory about dreams is the evolutionary theory – dreams are like flight simulators, they bring you through scenarios so that you can work them out in your unconscious state. That unconscious processing helps you in your conscious state.”
Dreams make us think of all possibilities, and this is what people with past regrets want to find what they have lost. Dreams are what the brain does to remind us what we cannot do in real life. When you dream about your ex or a past relationship, it could mean many things, and there could be multiple reasons for that. Let’s take a look:
1. You Are Mourning The Relationship
You miss what you had with your ex or what you did not get to do when you were together. Your subconscious uses dreams to manifest and allow you to complete what is missing. In other words, your brain creates a scenario filling out the voids.
For example, you may dream about your ex dying, not because you want them to, but because you are mourning the ’death’ of that relationship. This is an important step in the grieving process. What does not get resolved during our waking hours is worked through while we sleep.
2. You Are Trying To Resolve Past Trauma
The unconscious and subconscious always try to resolve issues and think them over. For example, if your ex was cheating on you, the dream will let you understand what happened and how it could have been handled. Likewise, your mind may try to work on the trust issues and deep insecurities you might have in your relationship.
Your dreams about your ex can also be a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) if your ex was abusive. The emotional and physical trauma that your ex made you go through may keep occurring in your dreams as nightmares for quite a few months after the breakup. As a result, you may experience increased heart rate and profuse sweating while dreaming. In such circumstances, it is best to consult a therapist to help manage your trauma and its symptoms. At the same time, if you keep thinking about your relationship with your abusive ex when awake and keep trying to find a reason behind what happened, you might dream about them when asleep.
3. You Are Trying To Move On
Dreaming about your ex may not always mean you want them back. It may be an indication that you want to move on. If you dream about your ex, your brain may process the lessons you need to learn from the relationship. This is a way your mind tells you – whatever happened has happened, learn from the mistakes, and move on.
4. Your Ex May Symbolize Something Else
Consider how you feel about your ex and what memories you associate with them when you wake up from a dream. Those feelings may be the true focus of the dream rather than your ex. For example, analyze whether your ex raises emotions of tension or aggravation in your current life. Understand that feeling and analyze if it is related to any current situation you are dealing with.
5. Your Brain Is Refreshing Some Old Memories
Seeing your ex accidentally on social media or in-person may trigger their manifestation in your dreams. An ex showing up in your dreams may be part of memory consolidation, where your brain remembers something random. Research suggests that dreams are frequently linked with occurrences seven or 14 days after the event (1).
6. You Are Not Happy In Your Current Relationship
Dreams are nothing more than a metaphor for what you must deal with in life. All you need is a spiritual bond with family or close friends. However, the lack of warmth in your current circumstances may make you think of or dream about your ex lovingly in an attempt to fill what you lack in your daily life. Maybe your ex did something you wish your current partner did for you.
We often ignore our emotions and avoid processing them, especially if they are related to our past relationships. As a result, they often show up in our dreams. Irrespective of when you two broke up, it is time to do some soul-searching if you still dream of your ex. Here are some common dreams you may see about your ex.
Most Common Dreams People Have About Their Exes
- Dream About Ex In General: Seeing an ex in a dream could signify various things. Aside from the usual meaning of your ex’s presence in a dream, you want to keep track of your feelings during the dream, along with the settings, symbols, and other elements that appear throughout it. They might have some hidden significance and may relate to the current scenario in your life.
- Dream About Your First Love: People often dream about their first love. This might be because they miss them or were passionate and excited about the relationship.
- Dream About Marrying Your Ex: When you dream about getting married to your ex, this symbolizes how strong your relationship was. It also means you still harbor feelings for them or may signify what happened in the past was what you both wanted and what brought you together.
- Dream About Hooking Up With Your Ex: Intimate dreams with your ex signify that you are still apprehensive about forming new ties. However, if you are in a committed relationship and dreaming of your ex, it might mean you are not so satisfied with the passion in your current relationship.
- Dream About Fighting With Your Ex: A conflict in a dream is often linked to a current problem in your life. It may indicate you are blaming yourself for something in the relationship (if it is a physical altercation). If you dream about arguments, keep your ears open and pay attention to the verbal exchanges. What you or they say can reveal a lot about your current mental state.
- Dream About Your Ex Breaking Up With You: While you will wake up feeling awful, this dream is usually imbued with a good meaning. It implies that you are moving forward in your relationship by ending it. It signals that you are ready to start afresh and may do something exciting, such as buying a house, getting married, or simply saying “I love you” to your partner for the first time.
- Dream About Your Ex Crying: How did you feel when you saw your ex weeping in a dream? Did you feel rage, satisfaction, or compassion when they shed tears? You may feel relieved and proud since they are missing you. Alternatively, you could wish to get back together because you don’t want to see them cry.
- Dreaming About Your Ex Wanting To Get Back: If your ex reappears in a dream and wants to get back together again, this suggests your inner desire of them wanting to return to you. It means you are still waiting for them to return or at least wish that they will return.
- Dream Where Your Ex Dies: Dreaming about your ex’s death symbolizes the death of your relationship. It means you are over it, have come to terms with the breakup, and now, you want to bury your past and move on.
- Dream That Your Ex Has A New Partner: If you dream that your ex is in a relationship with someone else, it may indicate your insecurity and why you lost your partner. It may also signify your realization that the relationship is over.
You don’t have control over your subconscious. If you frequently dream about your ex, you should probably focus on your present and try to move on. Once you accept the truth and process your emotions, the dreams will stop. Here are a few more things you can do to stop dreaming about your ex.
Things You Can Do To Stop Dreaming About Your Ex
- Focus On Self-Improvement: If you are feeling lonely right now, the first thing you should do is figure out what is causing it. If your relationship is unfulfilling, perhaps it is time to talk to your partner and try to improve it. On the other hand, if you are single, focus on yourself. You will gain more confidence and discover someone who is a great match for you.
- Acknowledge You Weren’t Meant To Be: The first step in dealing with dreams about your ex is to accept the past and get over it. Acceptance does not imply that you must erase all of your precious love for someone or remain in touch with them. It simply means that you accept the situation and acknowledge that the relationship was never meant to last.
- Forgive Them (If You Can): If your relationship was meant to be, it would have worked out, but it didn’t. It makes no difference who was at fault. Blaming each other is not going to change anything or make anyone happy. You have to let it go and move on. And the best way to let go is by forgiveness – forgive your ex, forgive yourself, and don’t be so tough on yourself.
If you keep dreaming about your ex, it is most probably due to a lack of closure, unmet expectations, or unresolved anger. Even though you may have moved on in life, there could be certain lingering unresolved issues that you still have not processed. You should understand that dreaming about your ex does not imply that you still have feelings for them. You should not dwell on it too long as it can start affecting your current or future relationships. Give yourself some time to work through your issues, accept that the relationship has ended for good, and move on. But don’t forget to let go of the dream and embrace the now. Don’t abandon yourself just because someone else did. Focus on who you need to be to create the future you want.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you have the same dream twice?
Yes, it is possible to have the same dream twice. These dreams are called recurring dreams. It may symbolize unresolved conflicts or emotions in one’s life.
How long do dreams last?
It is estimated that humans spend upto two hours dreaming.
Can a dream come true?
Yes, dreams may come true sometimes. It may be attributed to coincidence. Some theories state that dreams may allow you to subconsciously go through facts and predict likely outcomes that may play out in real life.
Why do some dreams feel so real?
Dreams may feel real because we use the same part of our brains to process real sensory information when we are awake while dreaming.
What does it mean when you dream about someone constantly?
While the interpretation of dreams is subjective, the common belief is that you may have unresolved issues with the person or symbolize a certain stressor you are going through.
- You may dream about your ex because you miss the connection and life you experienced – the affection, the goals, and what motivated both of you.
- It could also be a sign that you’re ready to move on.
- However, to stop dreaming about your ex, focus on yourself, accept the situation and acknowledge that the relationship was never meant to last, and finally, forgive your ex, forgive yourself, and don’t be so tough on yourself.
Have you been seeing your ex in dreams a lot lately? Don’t beat yourself up over it, wondering what it means. Check out the following video to understand the possible reasons behind that.
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- Experimental research on dreaming: state of the art and neuropsychoanalytic perspectives