What Does It Mean When You Dream About Your Ex? 4 Possibilities

Updated January 2, 2023by ReGain Editorial Team

Many psychologists believe that dreams are simply the result of random firing neurons, and many other psychologists think it’s a profound revelation of your deepest subconscious thoughts and desires.

But if you’re dreaming about one specific person, and if those dreams come to you frequently, then it might be time to research the meaning of that dream.

There could be various reasons you’re dreaming about an ex. This article will explore some psychology behind dreams and touch on some possible remedies or solutions if these dreams have become a nuisance.

What Does It Mean When You Dream About Your Ex?

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1) You Have Unresolved Trauma

Some dream philosophers have pointed out that nightmares or recurring dreams about the past can be psychologically damaging to a person.

Remember that an unresolved lesson from the past does not mean that you need to get in touch with this person and find closure. Sometimes the best thing you can do is recognize that this person already played a role in your life. Many valuable life lessons come from relationships, even if one of those lessons is how to avoid a similar relationship in the future. You can be grateful for the things this person taught you, accept that a breakup is best for both parties, and move on.

For example, if you dream about an abusive ex, it is best if you do not take that dream as a sign that you should get back together. There could be plenty of reasons you’re dreaming about this person, and there are also many options to stop the dreams and expedite the process of accepting the past and moving forward with your life.

If you feel these dreams affect your quality of life and your happiness or otherwise lead to stressful, negative feelings, you should consider talking to a dream analyst. A dream analyst is a person who studied dream analysis and who can help you explore the reasons you’re dreaming about a particular place, person, or event.

A dream analyst will ask questions, get to know you, and help you discern what your dream represents. They will often ask you to keep a dream journal, a notebook that you write in as soon as you wake up. In a dream journal, you should record what type of dream you had, how you felt in the dream, and all the events, people, and places you can remember. With a dream journal, you may start to notice patterns.

Another option for handling unresolved trauma could be lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming occurs when parts of your conscious brain that are usually inactive while asleep wake up. As a result, you may realize that you are dreaming and begin to direct the dream to your will. Some people report that lucid dreaming helps them use their dreaming time to practice specific skills, explore new places, and understand themselves better.

However, remember that while lucid dreaming, certain parts of your brain cease to rest. This means that after many nights of lucid dreaming, you may find yourself tired and fatigued. Many experts suggest letting dreams play out as they will instead of trying to control them.

If you can’t stop dreaming about a traumatic person or occurrence, and you worry that it’s affecting your personal relationships, consider talking to a counselor on Regain.Us. A counselor can help you explore dream meaning and offer methods for moving on and resolving past traumas.

2) You Miss Them

Sigmund Freud famously called dreams “an attempted wish-fulfillment.”

If your ex keeps showing up in your dream, it may mean that you’d like to see them again. Maybe you believe that ending your relationship was a mistake. It’s also possible that that person feels the same way.

It is entirely reasonable to miss a person who you got to know in such an intimate way. If you genuinely believe that you made a mistake in ending the relationship, then don’t worry; there is a chance that you could meet up again and resolve your troubles. Some couples even report feeling stronger after a breakup. Losing someone can show you how much you should have valued them in the first place.

If your ex has explicitly asked you not to contact them, and if they’ve made it very clear that they are no longer interested in being in a relationship with you, then you should respect their wishes and find healthy ways to move on. This same advice applies if you were in a toxic relationship or a situation of abuse. The healthiest thing you can do is accept the lessons from the past and look forward to the future.

But if you believe your ex misses you as well, and there weren’t problems with emotional or physical abuse in the relationship, then there is no harm in reaching out to this person and asking to talk. You don’t need to spill your heart out, but a simple greeting can be enough to gauge if your ex is interested in getting to know you intimately again.

If you or someone you know is or may be experiencing abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24/7, at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. Live chat is also available on the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.

If you are very interested in dream interpretation, you could consider buying a dream dictionary, which includes hundreds to thousands of symbols and their meanings. Dream dictionaries can be biblical or psychoanalytic in nature, and they offer theories for the meaning of dreams and the symbols in them.

3) Nothing

Analyzing dreams have fallen out of fashion in the psychological world. 

Your brain has probably spent a lot of time focused on your ex, daydreaming about this person, listening to this person, and remembering this person. When you fall asleep, those familiar parts of your brain light up. Old habits die hard.

Often, during the deepest part of your REM cycle, your brain throws out random images, people, and places. Perhaps your brain tells you ‘tea’ and ‘first-grade teacher’ images that come from different regions of the brain and different memories. Although these things are unrelated, the more logical part of your brain attempts to form a reasonable narrative out of these things.

Suddenly, you find yourself dreaming that you’re drinking tea with your first-grade teacher. Does this mean you subconsciously believed your first-grade teacher loved tea? Not necessarily. It might just be your brain making sense of random neurons.

But even the psychologists who don’t believe dreams are symbolic still recognize the importance of dreaming and sleep. When you dream, you are experiencing your most restful state. It’s when your brain recuperates from the day, forms long-term memories, and even cleans itself up.  This is why dreams or night terrors mustn’t interfere with your ability to rest well and wake up feeling energized.

Maybe you are concerned that a dream about an ex means that you aren’t over that person, and perhaps you’re worried about it affecting your current relationship. But many psychologists will tell you not to worry because there’s a large chance that the dream doesn’t mean anything. Freud made dream analysis famous, but Freud also died in 1939. It’s your choice of how much weight you want to put on the significance of your dreams.

4) You're Learning And Growing

As mentioned before, dream time can be a time for your brain to grow and develop. This can also apply to emotional growth. Your brain may be using your dream time to resolve problems that you’ve been ignoring while you’re awake.

Perhaps your brain is trying to forgive your ex or trying to understand things that happened in the past so that you can avoid repeating them in the future. In other words, when you’re dreaming, you’re healing.

Need Help Moving On From An Ex? Want To Talk About Something Else?

If you believe this might be the case, then take some time to think about your behavior in this past relationship. What did you learn from this experience? How did you grow? What lessons do you want to stay with you?

After a difficult relationship or a difficult breakup, it can be very healthy to feel gratitude toward this person for the things you learned from them, forgive them for their mistakes, and accept the present.

Forgiving your ex doesn’t mean trying to get back together. Oftentimes, it really means forgiving yourself, then not simply thinking about it anymore. You’ve overcome the past, and you deserve to look forward to your bright and exciting future.

All these possibilities, of course, have to do with your dreams, personally. A dream where you’re fighting with your ex is different from a dream of sleeping with them.

There is no single perfect answer as to why your ex is showing up in your dreams. Oftentimes, your interpretation should depend on what best serves you at this moment.

If you want to believe that the dream means nothing, then believe that the dream means nothing. This practice takes away the power of dreams.

But if you want to believe that the dream means your ex is thinking of you, too, then perhaps you still miss this person, and you’d like to get back in touch.

If these dreams are plaguing you and causing you stress, then explore different methods like a dream journal, stress management, and lucid dreaming, which might help you take control over your unconscious hours.

Your dreams are part of you, and they can offer a window into parts of yourself that you don’t normally explore. Even if your dreams are disagreeable, we can still take an opportunity to be grateful for the insight they have to offer.

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