For most people, sleep is the best, partially because it gives us a chance to relax and dream. But sometimes, those dreams can be the source of major stress, especially if you’re dreaming about someone you’d rather forget. One minute, you’re dreaming about eating the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted, and then, suddenly…your ex is there? What does it mean when you dream about your ex? It’s not always a sign that you subconsciously want to get back together.
Of course, it’s only natural to wonder the reasoning behind your dreams, and your curiosity probably doubles when someone unexpected pops up. But even if you’re happily in a new relationship (or feel like, in your waking hours, you’re super over that old boyfriend or girlfriend), it’s not that strange if you see an ex or two in your dreams.
Dreaming about an ex is actually really common — and it might not mean what you think. If you’ve found yourself wondering why your brain keeps bringing up a certain person when you’re asleep, one (or more) of these reasons might explain it.
1. You have unresolved feelings toward your ex.
Before you freak out too much about this one, remember that these feelings don’t necessarily have to be romantic ones. According to relationship expert Terri Orbuch, who spoke to Women’s Health, dreaming about an ex could mean that you’re looking for closure. Maybe you’re unsettled with the way things ended between the two of you, or maybe you’re still trying to work past the way your relationship ended in your mind.
2. You’re worried about being successful in a new relationship.
As Ally Mead — a psychic who has studied dream analysis — told The Huffington Post, there’s a good chance that if you dream about the ex when you’re starting a new relationship with someone else, you’re probably comparing the two in an effort to make sure that this time, things work out. “If you’re entering into a relationship with a new person, your psyche may still be trying to sort out the pluses and minuses of your old relationship,” Mead said. “In this situation, your psyche is trying to ensure success with your new relationship.”
3. It’s a symbol of a bigger problem.
“Most of the time, however, dreams are symbolic and not literal,” Mead said. “Your feelings are probably best directed toward healing whatever happened to make you exes in the first place.”
So basically, if you’re dreaming about your ex, think about why your relationship ended and what you could have done differently. If it was your fault — and even if it wasn’t — sorting that out and preventing it from happening in future relationships could put these dreams to an end.
4. You’re actually not over them.
Even though there are plenty of reasons you’re dreaming about your ex other than still having feelings for him or her, this is still an option. You might need to take a deep look inside yourself and figure out if you’re actually wishing you could get back together…and then figure out where to go from there.
5. It’s not about your ex, it’s about you.
According to Psychics Universe, there’s a chance that an ex in a dream represents a part of you. Maybe it means that you gave up too much of yourself and what you love in your past relationship, and it’s time to get that back. Or maybe it means that you’re neglecting yourself in some way. Either way, it can’t hurt to analyze your own behavior during the time you were with your ex and figure out if you need to make any major changes.
6. You’re afraid someone else will hurt you again.
For a lot of people, getting over an old relationship is difficult, simply because it comes with the fear of being hurt the same way again — especially if your breakup was particularly brutal. That might have something to do with your ex guest starring in your dreams. According to Exemplore, the dream might even be your way of realizing a new relationship is going down the same path. That might mean that you need to do what you can to change the relationship’s course, or that you haven’t had full emotional closure.
7. The ex in your dream is actually you, breaking up with yourself.
As you can probably tell by now, exes appearing in dreams can symbolize all kinds of things. Exemplore says it might just be your mind’s way of telling you that you’re repressing a different side of yourself — likely an opposite side of yourself — and that you need to get in touch with who you really are.
“Interpreting this type of dream as a sign that you should re-connect with your ex will not only leave this issue unresolved but will also complicate the issue further,” the site says. “This dream is giving you the message that you need to strengthen the relationship you have with yourself; don’t distract yourself by misplacing your energy into external relationships at the moment.”
8. You’re trying to forgive them after a bad breakup.
If things between the two of you didn’t end well and there was never an opportunity for forgiveness, the dream could be your brain’s way of creating that opportunity for you. According to Dreamstop, it might represent the fact that you need to make peace with your ex. Want the dreams to stop? Forgive your ex when you’re awake and conscious, and that might just do it.
9. You miss parts of your life with them.
According to Dreammoods Dream Dictionary, seeing your ex in a dream could mean that there’s something in your old life with that person that you miss — and you want it back. However, that missing piece isn’t necessarily the person; it could be where you lived, something you did together, or a place you used to visit often during that time in your life.
10. Something in your life is making you unhappy.
Dreammoods also adds that an ex in your dream could be a symbol of something else in your life that’s making you unhappy, something else you need to “break up with” in order to fully move on. If there’s anything you know for a fact is dragging you down, it might be a good idea to take steps to change
Dreaming about an ex can mean all kinds of things, but if you want to know what that dream is trying to tell you, it’s best to look inside yourself. You probably already have all the answers you’re looking for.