Having a dream about an ex-partner can make you feel quite uncomfortable. However, dream analysts from the American Sleep Association say that every dream tends to have a symbolic meaning that is associated with the needs in our real life.
Some propose that you might be repeating similar patterns from your previous relationship to the present one. However, others tend to have a completely different point of view. They feel that every dream is symbolic and implies that these kinds of dreams are ‘an act of letting go.’
Keep reading this post as we tell you what it means when you dream about your ex.
Dreaming About An Ex: 25 Reasons
Sigmund Freud, in his book, Dream Psychology, Psychoanalysis for Beginners, mentions a study on one of his patients where he analyzed him and his actions in every way. He concluded, “…there was in every dream the attempted or successful gratification of some wish, conscious or unconscious.” Here are a few other reasons that could be behind your dreams about your ex.
1. You have more leisure time
Everyone’s lives have become quite individualistic, and the amount of socialization has become considerably less. This has given you more leisure time, and as a result, you tend to contemplate a lot of things, including your past relationships. These thoughts then get manifested into your dreams.
2. Your sleeping hours have increased
Having a busy schedule is quite normal, and hitting the snooze button after your alarm goes off or sleeping in during the weekends is pretty common. Now, with the change of lifestyle, you may tend to be lazier, which is why you might not be waking up in your usual hours, leading to a deeper sleep cycle. Dreams occur during the REM cycle, so if you have been reminiscing about your past relationships during your idle time, you are bound to see your ex-partner in your dreams.
3. You feel despondent
If you’re sad with everything around you, it is not uncommon for you to dream about the previous people that were in your life. Therefore, a familiar face or your ex is who you end up dreaming about.
4. You feel lonely
The lockdowns might have led you to spend little to no time with your loved ones. Also, you may bein a state of loneliness even if you are amidst people. Your subconscious is trying to comfort you by reminding you of those times when you felt loved and were happier. Thus, you may be having dreams related to your ex.
5. You feel anxious
With the worldwide chaos around, it is quite natural for you to worry about your loved ones or those you care about. If you were in deep love with your ex, you might fantasize about them even now, and so you may still get dreams about your ex.
6. You require closure for your mental health
Your subconscious mind tends to project things from your real life into your dreams in a manner that can make you quite confused. If you constantly dream about your ex in different scenarios, then it means that you have not fully recovered from the breakup. Keeping a dream journal and writing about those feelings might provide you with peace of mind.
Now that you know some common reasons behind your dreaming about your ex, we have found some co-relations for some specific dreams.
7. You miss your ex
If you continue to have dreams about you missing your former partner even when you are in a new relationship, it would mean that you are looking for your current partner to fulfill specific requirements.
8. You get dreams of your first love
According to dream analysts, dreaming about our first love reflects a symbolic meaning. Not only does your first love represent the feeling of passion and desire but also those butterflies in your stomach that we get when we first fall in love with somebody.
9. You dream of fighting with your ex
If you dream of fighting with your ex-partner, then you are probably beating yourself up for the things that might have led to you guys breaking up. It means that you are getting rid of any hold your previous relationship had over you.
10. You dream of your ex dying
The simple explanation for this is that any feelings you have had previously for your ex-partner are now gone. It is a metaphor indicating that you have moved on and are ready for a new start with someone else.
11. You dream about an abusive ex
Dreaming about an abusive ex is often a sign that you’re still experiencing the trauma left behind by your previous relationship. If your subconscious mind keeps on bringing your former partner into your dreams who was abusive to you, then it is because they are still affecting you to the present day. Also, you might have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) as a result of it. Thus, the dream may be a sign that you should seek therapy.
12. You dream about being near your ex
Experiencing dreams where you are just present in the scenario with your ex from not long ago, be it in the backseat of the car or somewhere in the background, could indicate that you are still carrying some remnants from your past relationship. But if your ex is someone from quite a long time ago, then it could mean that some actions from your present relationship might have triggered those memories.
13. You dream about your ex in another relationship
Another scenario of you dreaming about your ex-lover having an intimate relationship with another person is quite common. It is the subconscious mind, which is trying to tell you that your ex-partner has moved on with their life, and so should you. It could also reflect a breakup or a conflict.
14. You dream of a recent ex
Experts refer to this kind of dream as the “wish-fulfillment dream.” If your former lover is constantly apologizing or fighting for your attention, then your subconscious mind is living out its desired situation. As weird as it might sound, this is just a way your subconscious mind is telling you to get into a relationship as soon as possible.
15. You dream of a long-time ex
Dreaming about a partner from quite a long time ago could mean there were certain aspects of that relationship you may need in your current relationship. Or, it could also mean that certain qualities that you admired about your former ex are not present in your current partner. If that is a good or a bad thing, it is completely up to you to decide.
16. You dream about your ex wanting you back
This can have a significant meaning since these dreams might reflect what you are facing in real life. It could indicate that you are giving in to the temptation of getting back with your ex who you have broken up with. It is the time when you should have a conversation with yourself or seek advice from someone else.
17. You dream of becoming pregnant with your ex’s child
You need not freak out if you have had a recent dream just like this one. This dream is quite symbolic since it means that the wisdom you had gained from your previous relationship is growing inside you, making you more responsible and wiser. Dreams like this could also mean that you have unfulfilled wishes from your distant past or present.
18. You dream of stealing from your former partner
As absurd as it might sound, this dream is quite recurrent with several people. Dreams of you stealing from your ex have quite an interesting metaphor to them. If your ex has broken up with you without any closure, then this dream could mean that you are trying to get inside their mind to understand the reason for the breakup.
19. You dream of being intimate with your ex
In a psychotherapy session, it was seen that several people tend to have dreams about your ex, which are mostly “negatively toned” compared to the dreams of your present partner. Moreover, when you have intense experiences that are emotional, they are known to play a major part in your dreams. Many dream analysts feel that when it comes to a dream of you having sex with your former partner, it could mean that you want to reconnect with them or are in the process of doing so.
20. You dream of your partner cheating on you or vice-versa
In reality, if your previous partner had cheated on you and you are dreaming about it, then it means you might be having trust issues with your current partner. However, if your former partner had not cheated on you, yet you still end up dreaming about it, it could mean that there might be something in your current relationship that might be making you feel like dead weight.
21. You dream of your ex murdering you
Our wishes and fears that take birth from our instincts lay the basic foundation of our dreams.Our instincts of race proliferation and self-preservation lead to a lot of our desires, thoughts, conducts, and feelings while we are asleep and awake. When you are asleep, the sensations on your skin, dyspnea, or viscera can lead to self-preservation, which in turn can lead you to dream about choking, murder, hanging, or impending death. So if you dream about your ex-partner murdering you, this could be the reason why.
22. You dream about breaking up with your ex
If you have been having recurring dreams about breaking up with your ex all over again, it might be because it was quite recent, and you are still processing it. Ensure you talk to someone about it.
23. You dream of your ex being in danger
If your ex is playing the part of being a damsel in distress in your dreams and you have not played your part of a knight in shining armor, then it could be a sign you’re letting go of all the remnants left behind from your past relationship. However, if it’s the opposite, you might still not be over them.
24. You dream about falling in love with your ex
You might be feeling lonely, which makes it normal for you to crave love and affection. However, your subconscious mind could be projecting those needs into a dream such as this one.
25. You dream about your ex ignoring you
If your former partner has blocked you from all of their social media profiles quite recently, then this could be the root of your dream. It also could mean that you are ignoring a thing or two in your past relationship, which needs to be addressed.
What Does It Mean When You Dream About Your Ex?
The American Sleep Association explains a dream to be a series of ideas, images, emotions, and sensations, which tend to occur in the subconscious mind during different stages of sleep. So the question arises,“What is the main reason for dreaming about an ex?” Depending on the kind of dream you have, each one has a different interpretation.
Most of your dreams about an ex-partner do not necessarily mean that you want something to do with them. The spectrum is broader because they tend to replicate your needs from a romantic partnership. The feelings, motives, thoughts, or values you have—all tend to affect your dreams in some way or another. Dreams are symbolic, which is why the characters we tend to see in dreams are merely a representation of what we want in our real life.
What Can You Do About The Dreams?
Having dreams about your ex is not uncommon. To stop them, you must understand the root cause behind them. Addressing the issues that might lead to dreams like these is important.
- You could keep a journal. This way it will let you see more clearly how you feel and what is causing such emotions.
- Listening to calming music is another way to have a better sleep if you are suffering from nightmares. The autonomic part of your nervous system becomes calm when listening to music, thereby inducing better sleep.
- If you are still staggering from traumas caused by your former partner, the best thing you can do is to seek therapy. Dreams are often complicated, which is why a counselor or a therapist is always a choice you can opt for.
Do not ignore your dreams if they occur every single night or every other night. You might be having a hard time shaking away the feeling of distress right after you wake up from one of your dreams, which is why getting professional help is always recommended.
Every dream has a different symbolic meaning of its own, which is why dream analysts advise people not to jump to conclusions. Dreams are only a manifestation of all the situations that you have to face in real life or have faced previously. Some dreams tend to give you subtle hints about the disagreements you might be having with your current partner, or they may also give you clues about the things that are being missed out.
Whatever it might be, it is always advised that you do not ignore your hidden wishes. Forgiving any wrongdoings that might have occurred earlier is your first step to acceptance and leading a healthy and happy life.
2.W Zhand and B Gua; Freud’s Dream Interpretation: A Different Perspective Based on the Self-Organization Theory of Dreaming; School of Psychology (2018);
3. REM Sleep: Why is it important?; American Sleep Association
4. W S Walsh; The Psychology Of Dreams (1920)
5.T G Stevens; Rise Above Anxiety
6. T Ryan; How to Interpret Your Dreams
7. R Newsom; How Trauma Affects Dreams
8. M Schredi and LC Wood; Partners and Ex-Partners in Dreams: A Diary Study
9. Wish Fulfilment; Freud Museum London
10. The Infantile Sources of Dreams; Freud Museum London
11. Dreams: What They Mean & Psychology Behind Them; American Sleep Association
12. Dreams; International Association for the Study of Dreams (1983)
13. R Newsom; Music and Sleep