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What Does It Mean When You Dream About Your Ex

Dreaming of an ex is a common theme in dreams, and while your dream may feature your ex, the meaning of the dream itself may have nothing to do with them. Often, such dreams are about you and your current life. How you deal with the dream depends on your specific situation and relationship with your ex, but if you want to end these dreams, it’s important to understand what’s behind them. 

Dreams about your ex mean

General Meanings of Dreams About Exes

Dreams about an ex can be jarring and confusing, forcing you to wrestle with a topic that you may have closed the door on. With such a personal topic as relationships, the interpretation of dreams will obviously rely a great deal on your own experience and your own relationship with your ex. This means that it is you who will have to come up with the ultimate interpretation.

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However, there are some characteristics of dreams about exes that are common to all. Have you ever heard the phrase “We’ve all been there”? With exes, more times than not, we have. We’ve all had dreams about them, so a few things can be said that will be true for everyone.

Dreaming about your ex can be symbolic of your repressed longing or desire. It could be that the love you felt for your ex couldn’t be expressed to your heart’s content. There can be something you wish you had done or that had happened while you were with them, something that mattered to you and could have made an impact on your relationship – these longings can trigger your subconscious to find a way to let you live out an alternate reality.

A situation in your present life might have triggered memories (happy or sad) of similar problems you might have had. This dream may be your subconscious telling you to remember how you handled them in the past, so you can deal with your current situation in a satisfactory way. Your dream ex can also express negative aspects that you are trying to avoid in new relationships or showing you the path that your current relationship is taking.

Girl dreaming about her ex

If you wake up and feel at peace, it might just be that you are in fact getting over them, finally finding closure, or forgiving them (or you) for what happened in the past.

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According to dream analyst Lauri Loewenberg, “Whatever’s going on in the dream is going to reflect not necessarily (what’s going on) between you and your ex, but what’s going on with you”. These dreams are more about you and your emotional state.

Dreaming about an ex could represent issues with a current relationship – an escape of sorts, a solace, or a comparison between two different people, each with a unique effect on how you perceive relationships.

Alternatively, such dreams may indicate conflicts that you couldn’t resolve with your ex and a lack of closure that you’re experiencing. For example, there may have been something you couldn’t express in an argument to clarify your point or to end it on a good note. You  may be subconsciously wishing you had a second chance to do things the ‘right’ way.

Some dream analysts link such dreams to emotional dissatisfaction that you may be experiencing in a new relationship. By connecting past and present experiences, this indicates that an unhappy present can make people revisit their past.

Loewenberg says in Psychology Today that it’s normal to dream about your ex. If you have more time on  your hands, dreaming of ex could be a result of thinking about your past. When you lack company, you like to think about the times when you had a companion. It’s natural to compare your experiences of loneliness with those of companionship. Dreams about exes could be reminders of what you’re capable of having or what you lack in the present. It’s your subconscious inviting your conscious to seek what you desire and deserve.

Dream Scenarios Involving Your Ex

Dreaming of past ex

Falling for your ex again:  If you dream about falling for your ex all over again, it could mean that you’re not able to experience the same passion, excitement, and love in any present relationship. Perhaps, it’s your subconscious reminding you of the times you felt happier, understood, and loved.

Your ex apologizing: If you dream about your ex apologizing, your subconscious mind is living out a scenario that it wishes would take place. This apology could be a possibility you had been thinking about for a while. This dream doesn’t mean your ex is thinking of apologizing, but rather what you desire would occur.

Your ex’s most irritating habit: If you dream about your ex’s most annoying habit, it could be that your partner has a similar habit. As the brain stores our experiences, you’re more likely to be reminded of habits you couldn’t get along with in your past. 

Breaking up with your ex again: Your subconscious mind may be telling you that you’re not over your ex and your relationship. You haven’t received closure or moved on from the past. On the other hand, you may have experienced rejection of some sort in the present which is making you replay the breakup.

Your ex is in danger and you’re saving them: If you dream about saving your ex, your subconscious is nudging you to utilize the various lessons that you gained from the relationship. There may be something from the relationship that you could save and use as lessons learned.

Your ex is in danger and you choose not to save them:  If you dream of your ex in a dangerous situation or needing to be saved, but you choose not to help them, your dream may be telling you that you have let go of the pain you felt after the breakup. A good sign, it could mean you’re moving on in life satisfactorily.

Your ex dating someone else: This has both positive and negative interpretations if you’re currently dating someone else. The positive interpretation is that you’re happy for your ex. On the contrary, it could also indicate that you’re still bothered about your ex’s whereabouts. Consider the feelings you had in the dream – were you jealous, sad, happy, nostalgic? These feelings can indicate how you feel about your ex dating someone.

Killing your ex: If you dream about killing your ex, it could mean that you probably need to let go of the grudges you’re holding against them. This is a solid reminder to let go of the bitterness and hatred.

Your ex killing you: Death in dreams symbolizes transformation and change. This dream could be a nudge to understand how the breakup changed you. What changed about you with the death of the relationship? By exploring these questions, you can then consider how to resuscitate those aspects of your life and personality that were affected by the relationship.

Dreaming of wanting to have sex with your ex: This dream could indicate that you still have feelings for your ex. If you feel like you could still take your ex back this dream is telling you to address these feelings.

Dreaming of your ex leaving: Ending a relationship can be incredibly hurtful and difficult, regardless of who initiated the breakup. If you dream of your ex leaving you, you may be struggling with issues of abandonment and rejection. If the relationship ended because of them, it’s normal to dream of them leaving you. After all, much of our dreams are made up of what we experience in our waking reality.

Dreaming of a home you shared with your ex: How the home appears can be indicative of how you feel about the relationship. If the house appears dilapidated or changed, you’re acknowledging that that period of your life is in the past never to return. You may wish to revisit it, but it’s irrevocably changed. This dream evokes nostalgia and a sense of sadness for what was once your reality.  

What Can You Do About Such Dreams?

stop dreaming about your ex

Dreams about your ex may indicate a lack of closure, love, anger, resentment, or fondness towards your ex. But sometimes, it may have more to do with your current situation than your past.

These dreams may indicate that you’ve moved on from your ex or are ready to do so.

They could also highlight that you’re dissatisfied with your current relationship and life in general, making you long for a time in the past that you may feel was better.

However, it’s common to view the past with rose-colored glasses. The negative aspects of the past often fade away in our memories and we simply remember the positives. While the dream might evoke nostalgia for the past and dissatisfaction with your current relationship, remember that there is a reason your ex became your ex.

Can You Avoid or Prevent the Dreams of An Ex?

Not every dream about an ex is terrible – sometimes you might want to revisit somebody that you used to know. You may have fond memories of the relationship and cherish that period in your life.

However, for some, these dreams could be traumatic to the point of hindering their efforts of moving on. In this regard, it would be best to explore any repressed emotions and get done with it once and for all.

Talking and sharing with friends and close ones is another way to accept the past and embrace the present as it is. Talking with a therapist is also a great idea, especially if you’re struggling to move on from your ex or if these dreams are recurring.

Wrapping Up

In dreams, the three main layers of meaning are: Text, Subtext, and Context. The text is what you dreamt of. We have explored subtext in some depth here, naming all the possible scenarios and their implications. But with context, the only one who really understands it is you. It is you who knows how your relationship was when you were together, and also how you felt when you had the dream.

Affiliate Disclosures

Apsara Palit
Apsara Palit

After completing her post-grad in Values, Ethics and Indian Culture, Apsara is sharing her knowledge of symbolism, mythology, history and culture through her blogs. Apsara lives in India and believes in getting a first-hand understanding of culture through travelling.