No, You’re Not a Horny Monster For Dreaming About Your Ex While Sleeping Next to Your Partner

Seeing your ex during shut-eye? Here's why, according to experts.

Whether a seasoned dater, a long-term monogamist or something in between, chances are you’ve acquired an ex or two somewhere along the path of your romantic history. And whether a fun fling, a summer romance or a long-term steady relationship, there’s no telling when an ex may pop up.

It could be at a mutual friend’s wedding, it could be at a new hot yoga class (but we hope for your sake it isn’t) or it could be at the cute coffee shop on the corner at an ungodly hour of the morning. But for many of us — and this may come as no surprise — they may appear when you’re sleeping.

Yes, that’s right, those pesky ex-partners can sometimes pop up unexpectedly in your dreams. If this has happened to you – whether sleeping solo or in the loving arms of your new beau — you may be wondering what it means, and we’re here to reassure you that no, you’re not a horny monster for dreaming about your ex while sleeping next to your partner.

From the dreaded unfinished business (we’ve all been there) to similar relationship concerns, we consulted with a dream expert and a psychologist to find out exactly what dreaming about your ex might mean.

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It could mean you’re processing life lessons

“Dreams are windows into the workings of our minds. Sometimes they’d be mystical, sometimes they’d be prophetic, but in most instances, they’ll show us how we process past emotions, both positive and negative,” says Inbaal Honigman, a celebrity psychic and dreams expert.

Because when we dream about a past relationship, this can be a subconscious way of processing the life lessons we experienced with our ex-partner. And if it was a good relationship, this can be indicative of feeling empowered. But if the ex-partner was more problematic, “we catalogue the lessons we learned from being with them, from leaving them, and from getting over them,” says Honigman.

She goes on to explain that dreaming about an ex can be very common because our hearts remember the experience of falling in love, and all the previous outcomes that stemmed from this emotion. “In processing those old feelings, we are better equipped to deal with the new love situation,” says Honigman. “There’s no need to pretend that we never loved anyone before, because experience is a useful tool to have when navigating the tricky oceans of love.”

IRL relationship concerns

Manuella Schmitten, a psychologist at Inner Space Psychology says “if your ex appears in your dream, it may be that you have similar relationship concerns with your current significant other.”

This is because some elements of a relationship can manifest in a dream, which means that if you’ve been cheated on in your past, the idea of infidelity is more likely to show up while you’re asleep. In short, we dream about what concerns us most, and, according to Schmitten, “you’re more likely to dream about your ex than your current partner.”

Unhappy Couple

If you’ve bumped into your ex

In the age of social media, it’s more than likely that while you may have left a relationship in your past, the person in question may still be in your present. Whether their story popped up on your Instagram or you bumped into them at a late-night bar, if you see an ex in your dream, this could simply have been triggered by seeing them.

There’s unfinished business

“Sometimes, dreaming about an ex-partner can mean there’s unresolved issues from your past relationship,” says Schmitten. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you still have feelings for your partner. Sometimes it simply means that there’s now a void in your life that your ex used to fill.

In other instances, it could mean that your current relationship could use some work. “If you dream about fighting with an ex, this could mean that you’re grappling with something in your current relationship that needs to be addressed,” Schmitten explains. It’s worth asking yourself if you’re currently feeling fulfilled with your new partner and assessing what might be missing – for both of you.

Couple Woman Stressed

You’re craving more intimacy

Depending on the circumstances under which your ex appeared in your dream – and I think you know where we’re going with this – it could mean that you’re after a little more intimacy in your real life.

What does your romantic life look like with your current partner? Are you carving out enough time for the two of you to get up close and personal on the regular? Because if not, says Schmitten, “having dreams about your ex in which your behavior is affectionate could be an indicator that you need some more intimacy in real life.”

Lucy Pearson
Lucy Pearson is a freelance writer, book blogger and host of The Bondi Literary Salon based in Bondi. Read more
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