What Does It Mean When You Dream Of Your Ex?

Updated December 12, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Have you ever woken up in the morning and thought, "WHY am I STILL dreaming about my ex?" For some people, dreaming of an ex can make them feel like they might made the wrong decision in walking away from the relationship. Or, on the other hand, it could lead some to obsess about the negative aspects of the former relationship.

Whatever the reason, many people may relate over the interest, confusion, or distress over such dreams because they are such common occurrences. Dreams are a strange phenomenon. There are endless theories and speculations about what dreams may or may not mean, and a common conclusion is that dreams are a complex way for your brain to filter day to day activities and memories, and nothing more.

So, don't worry, dreams about an ex can happen to anyone. Here are some of the possible explanations as to what it all means.

Do You Have Unanswered Questions About Past Relationships?

Dreaming You Were Still Together

One of the most common ways people might interpret a happy dream about an ex is later wishing they were still together. That could be the case. You might be reliving pleasant memories you created with your former partner or the feelings that came from your good times together. This could be a likely conclusion if it was your partner who ended the relationship. 

While these dreams can be frustrating, confusing, and painful, they could be part of your grieving process. Everyone can grieve differently. The important thing may be to reflect on the reasons you broke up in the first place.

If you do have a dream about an ex, remind yourself that it was just a dream and that it does not change reality. Remember the reasons you two broke up. Why was it? Because a happy dream about an ex might lead to you rushing back into positive thoughts about the relationship.

Dealing With Trauma From The Past Relationship

What if the dream made you feel afraid, sad, or angry? There's a good chance that you remember the pain from the relationship. You might be processing trauma from an unhealthy relationship so that you can wholeheartedly move onto a new one. A few dreams here and there are normal. If you find they are happening more often than you feel comfortable with, it might be time to talk to a professional about it. Read on for who you might consider talking with to navigate your dreams.

Ex Dying In Dream

Have you ever had a dream in which your ex has passed away? Dreaming that your ex has died isn't any indication that you're a psychic. More likely than not, you are simply becoming aware that any old feelings for your former partner have “died.” The pain no longer hurts you, and the happy times no longer bring you joy. Again, if these dreams are disturbing or are bothering you, talk about how you are feeling with someone you trust.

Current Relationship Bringing Up Old Feelings

If you’re in a new happy relationship, you might dream about your ex. Your dream might be more about the feelings you had when you were with your ex though than your feelings for them as an individual. If you're feeling the same emotions you did then, but with someone new, you may feel subconsciously or consciously worried that you're putting yourself into another bond that could end badly. If the feelings are more joyful, it might mean that you found a person who can give you the same happiness as before, as you deserve.

Trying To Decide Whether To Continue A New Relationship

Your mind may be working out the pros and cons of continuing forward in a new relationship that began after you broke up with your ex. In this case, your dream may be an attempt to help you resolve the issue of whether to stay in the new relationship or to enjoy your single life for a while. It can be important to use these dreams as a starting point for consideration and personal thought, not as definitive guidance on making life decisions. While you don't want to rely on your dreams to make decisions that could impact your life, you can journal about how you felt in your dreams. Keep a record of your dreams, and note what they were about, who was in them, and as many details as you can remember when you wake up. You can then talk to family and friends or a professional counselor if you need to.

Moved On From Past Experiences

The meaning of your dream may have nothing at all to do with your ex, aside from them making an appearance. It may simply be that you've left all experiences with your ex in the past and are ready for a fresh start. Maybe your dream is showing that you've healed and moved on. You may have trouble identifying what the future holds for you, but when you do, you can enjoy the happiness it brings.

This All Makes Sense, So What Do I Do About It?

Some people feel connected to their dreams and put stock in their personal meaning. Other people, including most modern medical professionals, believe that dreams are nothing more than a rinse cycle of the day or random brain activity that occurs during sleep without a deeper meaning. If your dreams negatively impact your sleep or day-to-day activities, it may be important to reach out and talk to someone. You could mention what you’re going through to a family, a friend, a close coworker, or perhaps someone from a church or another social group you belong to.

Do You Have Unanswered Questions About Past Relationships?

Takeaway

The significance or lack thereof of a dream might be hard to determine. If the dream is especially troubling or if it takes you out of your present reality, talking to a professional counselor is a good option. They can help you explore what you need to know in order to live an emotionally healthy life. In addition, a counselor can take you out of just the dream aspect and help you figure out how you feel during waking hours.

Recent studies show that electronically delivered cognitive behavioral therapy reduced depression and anxiety symptom severity more effectively than face-to-face therapy. The analysis considered 17 randomized controlled study trials, “evaluating the clinical effectiveness of eCBT compared to face-to-face and considered a wide range of outcomes including severity of symptoms, adverse outcomes, clinically relevant outcomes, global functionality, participant satisfaction, quality of life, and affordability.”

If you are interested in working with a counselor to find out more about why you dream about your ex and what it all means, consider reaching out to one of the thousands of licensed professionals at BetterHelp. Working with a BetterHelp counselor is extremely convenient, so you can fit therapy into your busy lifestyle. You can connect with your counselor in multiple formats, whether by phone, messenger, or video chat. Below are two counselor reviews from people who have been helped.

Counselor Reviews

“Laura was a really perceptive counsellor - and within a matter of the first week she helped me have some really deep realisations. She was very kind at the times I was struggling with feelings of shame and gently helped me gain some really helpful insights about what I was experiencing and why. I also appreciated the human way she allowed me to explore my emotions and think differently about how I was interpreting them. She is clearly knowledgeable and experienced and knew how to read between the lines. I really appreciated her clear but gentle approach. We did text chat-based counselling, which I was a little apprehensive of at first, but it worked well and gave me the chance to say some things I might have struggled with face to face. I would really recommend Laura to a friend!”

“Jammie is an exceptional active listener. She takes what I say and repeats it back to me so I know that she understands what I am saying. That way she helps me interpret what I am feeling which helps me put my anxieties into perspective.”

Though the current scientific consensus is that dreams do not have strong clinical relevance, an important factor remains how you feel about those dreams. If a dream is upsetting or troubling, if it affects your day to day, if it affects your sleep, or there is any other negative consequence, it may be important to ask for help.

A dream may affect our daily lives in negatives ways. Dreaming about your ex can be troubling but with the right tools and perspective, you'll be well on your way to sweet sleeps and restful nights. Take the first step today.

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