What does it mean if you dream about having sex with your ex?
It happens to the best of us—whether we’re struggling with a recent breakup or think we’ve totally gotten over an ex, he or she appears uninvited in our sleep. Dreaming about having sex with an ex can be disconcerting and confusing and, for many people, it leads to questions about the former relationship—especially if we’re currently seeing someone else.
As it turns out, these dreams are not out of the ordinary. A 2017 survey conducted by Amerisleep found that both men and women commonly experience dreams that are sexual or intimate in nature, with 55 percent of the ladies surveyed listing that topic as their most common type of dream.
So what exactly do dreams about sex with an ex mean? Experts say it varies depending on the person, but it’s not cause for alarm.
Dr. Latisha Rowe, physician and founder of RoweDocs, told HelloGiggles that our dreams are manifestations of our conscious, unconscious, and subconscious minds.
"If you had a tumultuous relationship or you had an extremely passionate yet not necessarily fulfilling sexual experience with an ex, your subconscious and unconscious might try to right that wrong," Rowe explained. "On some level, these dreams are revisionist and give you imagery of what you may have truly desired but didn't get from the relationship."
Anne Hodder, a multi-certified sex educator who has also trained as a dreamworker, told HelloGiggles that some of the most common sex dreams are ones that involve having sex with an ex-partner. Her advice is to focus on how you felt during the dream.
"Were you super aroused and turned on in this dream? Did you feel intense love for your ex? Did you feel like you were doing something wrong? Whatever you were feeling in this dream is entirely yours," Hodder said. "Rather than dwelling on lost love or wondering if you should send [your ex] a quick text, ask yourself if any of those feelings might be missing from — or incredibly present in — your waking life. When do you feel that same intense eroticism, love, or uncertainty in your waking life?"
If you’re currently in a relationship, dreaming about sex with an ex can be especially disconcerting.
If it’s a one-time dream, Rowe said there’s probably not much substance to it. On the other hand, repeated dreams about sex with your ex can sometimes — but certainly not always — be a red flag. You may still be revisiting something that you’re trying to make right, but these dreams could also mean you’re revisiting the relationship because the sex was extremely pleasurable and that’s where your consciousness chooses to reside.
"What does that mean for your current relationship? That all depends," Rowe said. "Ask yourself if you're truly satisfied with the person that you're with. Is there a constant comparison between your ex and the person that you're currently with?"
Hodder told HelloGiggles that even if you’re dreaming about an ex multiple times each week, it doesn’t mean you secretly want to rekindle the relationship. “That’s just not what dreams are all about,” she said. “Regardless of what happened in the dream and with whom, the most valuable way to interpret a dream is to focus on how you felt during it — and to keep an open mind, stay curious, and leave the self-judgment behind.”
When you ask yourself these questions, Hodder recommends writing the answers down in a journal so you can refer to them later on. She said answering these questions with genuine truth can help you reveal important information about yourself, your emotions, your behaviors, and your love life.
"Often, you’ll end up learning something about yourself that doesn’t directly or specifically apply to your sex or love life," Hodder said. "You can even apply this newfound personal knowledge to your relationships, especially if you’re trying to cultivate something romantic or sexual with someone new in your life."
The experts have spoken: Dreaming about sex with an ex is totally normal. If it’s a frequent occurrence, take the time to ask yourself some questions about your feelings and then reflect on your answers. As Hodder said, you’ll learn about more than just your sexual desires and love life — you can also learn important things about yourself as an individual.