Why You Keep Dreaming About Your College Ex… in Your 30s

Dreaming about this certain ex is totally normal, an expert reveals. Here's what it means.

Sexy dreams are one thing, but recurring ones about your college ex when you’re in your thirties? Nah, that’s not going to fly.

Visits from your ex in your sleep are nightmares in their own right, and not to mention, so confusing. Is my college ex still thinking about me? Am I still in love with my college ex? What does it all mean?

As much as we love Rihanna, belting the chorus of “SOS” is not how any of us hope to start our mornings. “You got me tossing and turning, can’t sleep at night,” and it ain’t okay!

So, what’s up with your throwback dream? Well, for starters, you should know that dreaming about your college ex is very common, and in most cases, experts say, it doesn’t mean you’re still crushing on this person. *sigh of relief*

“Past exes are generally a reflection of one’s relationship dos and dont’s,” JustAnswer dream interpretation expert Ashleigh Sacks tells HelloGiggles. “Your dream may focus on your college ex, but that doesn’t mean you have feelings for your ex or are still in love with them.”

Rather, these dream types are a nudge to look at the bigger picture.

“Dreams talk in the language of symbols. So a dream about your ex is a representational construct of something within you that needs to be understood and perhaps addressed,” Sacks says.

For example, a dream about your college ex can come as a reminder to not repeat past mistakes or as a warning to look out for unhealthy personality traits in your partner (or potential partner).

“This reminder of a college ex is used to mirror and compare current and desired relationships,” she says.

couple snacking in bed

Dreams can also be a reflection of a single moment in a college relationship that was destructive or traumatic.

Perhaps those red flags are starting to bubble to the surface in your current relationship. In other words, it’s your subconscious’s way of saying, “Hey, remember that awful person? Yeah, don’t ever let anyone make you feel that way again.”

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In contrast, you could be reminded of moments with your college ex when you felt incredibly loved. These dreamy inklings could be hinting at something you want in a future partner. “They can inform you of the way you felt and the intimacy you would like to have in a new relationship,” Sacks explains.

Dreams about your college ex may also identify things that you feel are missing in your life, such as things you may have had in your teens but don’t have now. “Things such as freedom, spontaneity, adventure, security, comfort, and familiarity,” she adds.

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The Collegee Ex Files

Additionally, Sacks points out that major life events can also trigger dreams about your college ex.

These nighttime reveries may challenge you to look inward; but strong emotions and milestones can result in you waking up hot and bothered, thinking about your ex as well.

According to Sacks, here are a few reasons why you may be seeing your college ex during shut-eye:

  • Feeling discontent in your life or relationship
  • Feeling stuck in a job or a relationship
  • Major life transitions
  • Relationship difficulties
  • Recent breakup
  • Returning to your family home
  • The desire for a relationship
  • Seeing your college ex
  • Facing major life decisions

Basically, life is one big trigger, LOL.

The good news? There are actionable steps you can take to prevent these recurring dreams.

“The people in your dreams are representations of ideas, emotions, and experiences within yourself. If we look at dreams as messages from our subconscious, then the natural conclusion is that when we acknowledge the message, we accept it and make peace with it,” Sacks explains.

If you’re able to come to a resolution (i.e. you’re repeating the same mistakes from your previous relationship or the love you have now is greater), you can naturally move away from recurring type dreams.

“These dreams are messages about your wants, needs, and hopes about relationships and life experiences that may have been present at an earlier stage of your life,” Sacks reiterates. “Your subconscious is using this dream as a means to help you reflect on this.”

As twisted as it may seem, dreaming about your college ex is a good nudge from your subconscious. So, pop open a bottle of wine and get to debriefing with your girlies — or, even better, your therapist.

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more