Dream Meanings: Why Do I Dream About My Ex?

By Donna Stannard|Updated August 10, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Laura Angers, NCC, LPC

Dreaming About Your Ex

I Keep Dreaming About My Ex, Is That Bad?

The things you dream about can say a lot about you and unresolved feelings you have during your waking life. Dreaming about an ex can even be a way of exploring something you feel about your current partner. Your dreams can indicate the intense emotions that you are unwilling to face or express when you are conscious and are a way for the subconscious mind to explore negative experiences in your past or current life. The emotions represented in dreams can run deeply and may have more of an effect on you than you realize. Such strong emotions can include joy, stress, fear, sexuality, anguish, and even romantic ones about a person from your past.  However, it is the context of these dreams that explain why you are dreaming about them in the first place. A licensed mental health professional can be a powerful tool to help you figure out the underlying causes for dreaming about your ex (such as unresolved trauma about an abusive ex or feelings of physical attraction).

Why Do I Dream About My Ex?

There are several common interpretations regarding dreams about exes. Some are self-explanatory. For example, if in your dream you want your recent ex-boyfriend back, it could signifies that you miss him. On the other hand, it could also mean you miss being in a relationship or miss some of the positive parts of being in that relationship, and your subconscious is saying you want a new relationship and not necessarily that you want your old relationship back. You could have dreams about your ex-partner proposing to you, but that does not have to mean you wish to marry your ex or get back together. Instead, it could mean that you want to feel safe, happy, and complete again.

In other circumstances, you could dream that your ex has been hurt. If the person was hurt and in a hospital, then it could your subconscious mind’s way of saying you have a desire for a new relationship with your ex. However, if you’re dreaming about an ex who is hurt but not at a hospital,it could mean that you are over the relationship.

If you dream about your ex being pregnant, it can mean many things. For example, if the baby is yours, it might express that you wish to restart the relationship with your ex. On the contrary, if the baby is not yours in the dream, it could suggest you have moved on and maybe are looking forward to future relationships. The meaning of dreams depends on many factors, especially the associations you have with the dream images.

For example, dreaming about an ex from a long time ago where you went through a breakup you didn’t want could be about the anger you still feel as your unconscious mind tries to make peace with these events. For someone else, the same dream about an ex could be more about relationships in the present, and the old relationship is standing in for the new one in the dream. The exact meaning for you when you’re dreaming about your ex has to do with the associations you have about that person and what the relationship meant to you when it was forced to end.

It is also possible that when you dream about an ex it has nothing much to do with that person or difficult emotions like anger toward them. Many researches think that most dreams are more about random memories that get triggered while the brain cleans up at the end of the day. A dream about an ex might be nothing more than a process of sorting memories and organizing associations and not anything meaningful about past relationships with a person you were once involved with or a break up you had.

Having dreams about an ex-husband, ex-wife, or other recent ex may not necessarily imply that you still have any desire to get back together with them or want to rekindle a new relationship with the person. It could mean that you are facing difficulties in your life or you feel as if you are making the same mistakes in your current relationship as you did from your past relationship.

As you see, there are many reasons why you would have a dream about your ex, most of which can seem overwhelming to absorb and quite confusing if you try to interpret them by yourself. If you want to talk to someone about your dreams, you can always speak with a certified therapist at BetterHelp.By talking to a therapist there, you can express your concerns about your dreams or to look for answers about why you are dreaming about your ex and gain a professional’s perspective.

How Dreams Were Viewed In Earlier Times

In the past, Egyptian and Greek societies as far back as 3000 years ago attached special meanings to dreams. Dreams were thought to be omens of future happenings and could offer predictions of what was to come. Prophets and shamans were revered for their special powers to interpret dreams and were sought by rulers who made military decisions based on the meanings of dreams. Artemidors, a dream interpreter, was engaged to interpret the dreams of Alexander the Great. He predicted Alexander would lead his troops and conquer foreign lands to the glory of Greece. Many folks in ancient Greek society believed that the sick and injured could be cured by paying attention to their dreams while they slept in temples for the sick, called Asclepieions.

In the Middle Ages, many Muslim scholars, such as IbuSirin, Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, Ibn Shaheen and others wrote books of dream interpretations. The idea that dreams had meaning spread throughout their societies. Long ago in the 16th century, Chen Shiyuan wrote a book on the traditional dream-interpretations followed by early societies of China. Some questions raised by early Chinese scholars are the basis of modern cognitive neuroscience.

By the 19th century in Europe, interpreting dreams was part of psychoanalysis. One of the most important works on dreams was written by Sigmund Freud and is still followed today. In 2009, a paper written by C. Morewedge and M. Norton was published in a psychology journal. In their scientific studies, they determined that most people, regardless of their nationality and education, believed that their dreams reveal hidden truths, and those dreams are more important than their thoughts while awake, a very Freudian view. However, not all dreams have the same importance; people tend to give more importance to dreams that confirm the beliefs and morals they hold in an awakened state.

Currently, there are many people who write books, blogs, and do podcasts on the subject of dreams and what they mean. One such person is Lori Loewenberg, a certified dream analyst who has spent much of her life thinking about dreaming and what is all about. Loewenberg suggests that many dreams are prompts from the subconscious to move us toward something we need to do in real life.  Similarly, other dream analysts like Keith Stevens believe that dreams have a functional role to get us to attend to something we want or need in life.

Most modern theorists do not believe that dreams have hidden meanings. However, that has not stopped people from offering interpretations of dreams, and it has become a source of entertainment. It would be wrong to base your life on trying to find the meanings of your dreams. However, dream analysis can be fun to do, and some dreams can shed light on concerns in our walking life. There are a host of books of dream themes and their meanings, but none should be taken too seriously if you are wondering why you keep dreaming about an ex.

In spite of many people pondering the question, it has never been determined exactly why we dream. We all dream, maybe not every night, and not everyone recalls their dreams when they wake. Some believe that we dream of snippets of ideas that we had the day before or of some anxiety, fear, or anger that is unresolved. Some believe that it is our brain’s way of processing events and ideas of what happened before going to sleep. Often, our dreams are sparked by an event, a word, a conversation with a friend, or something we saw on television or read in a book or newspaper. Dreams seem to be a method for our subconscious mind to work out what happens to us in our waking hours.

How To Stop Bad Dreams

I Keep Dreaming About My Ex, Is That Bad?

Getting enough sleep is essential in stopping bad dreams. Many people often try to avoid sleep when struggling with dreaming about unpleasant issues, but avoiding sleep to try to stop dreaming about your ex or anything else can make the problem worse.  There are a few reasons for this. For one, if you are exhausted, your brain will be overloaded when it is time to go to bed. This causes you to have more active brain patterns while you sleep, causing dreams to occur more frequently, and another dream about your ex could be part of the mix.

Certain real life activities can also help make dreaming more pleasant and might help if your dream life is filled with memories of a past relationship. Taking a run or doing some light exercise before bed can help drain your batteries enough for a restful sleep. Exercise has also been shown to release endorphins to your brain, increasing feelings of overall happiness. Turning off electronic devices an hour before bed and turning down lights, music, and anything else that’s stimulating can also help relax you and get your subconscious mind into a better place before you go to bed.

If the dreams you are having are causing you anxiety, another option is to try deep breathing exercises. This can help lower your blood pressure and puts you at ease. There are many different exercises you can try, making it easy to find the one that’s going to work for you.

If nothing you seems to work to bring you peace, it may be time to get a professional involved. The guidance of a trained counselor or therapist could be the key to stopping bad dreams about an old relationship that are creating a problem for you or your current partner. The counselors atBetterHelp are trained to help people develop healthy cognitive function (which includes dreams). These counselors have thousands of hours of experience and have chosen to dedicate their lives to helping others. With BetterHelp, you don’t need to worry about sitting in traffic or taking time out of your workday to drive to an appointment. You can accessBetterHelp from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

“Rachia is not the type to just tell you what you want to hear. She has helped me face a lot whether I like it or not, and I do feel enlightened, stronger, and sleep better.”

“Julia is a very open-minded, understanding and warm-hearted person. She listened with kindness and without judgement. Her advice helped me tremendously through a bad break up and ensuing personal problems. Her advice and understanding has been very helpful in guiding me to a healthier mind frame.”


Although dreams about an ex can be confusing and frustrating, they don’t have to take over your life. Understanding the reasons why this occurs can offer a lot of comfort to you. If you still need help after trying to solve problems on your own, a therapist can help. With the right tools, you can enjoy truly fulfilling relationships. Take the first step today.


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