Dreaming About An Ex
6 min read
Last Modified 13 April 2022 First Added 20 December 2021
Dreaming of an ex is a highly common dream which most of us will experience at some point as some ex-partners may have been a major part of our lives, especially a first love.
You may wonder what such dreams might mean if you’re in a happy relationship, or even if you’re single. How is dreaming about a person you once had a relationship with in the past relevant to your present?
This article will take a close look at some of the different reasons for why you could be dreaming about your ex-partner and look at what their significance could be to your waking life. This is often not what you might think.
You’re in a small countryside chapel, beautifully dressed for your wedding. You feel overwhelmed with happiness; it’s finally your big day and you’ve been looking forward to this moment your whole life. Now it’s arrived and everything is perfect. The sun’s out, the sky’s blue, all the people you love are together in one room. Life is perfect and all your dreams are coming true.
You look up to meet the gaze of your beloved. How you’ve both longed for this moment. But then a strange feeling takes hold. Wait a minute, this isn’t your fiancée! You’re looking into the eyes of your ex-partner, someone whom you broke up with more than 10 years ago. This just feels so…. wrong!
You wake up with a start. Beside you under the duvet is your partner of the last three years. The dream wedding was just that – only a dream. But you’re deeply in love with your partner so what could it all mean?
First of all there’s really no need to panic. There are many different ways in which an ex can come to appear in your dreams. For instance, the person you dream of could be your first love or a recent ex-partner.
Research by the Sleep Foundation found the occurrence of an ex in dreams depends on your relationship status at the time of the dream. A study found 35% of people in a relationship dreamed about their current partner or an ex. However, just over 17% of single people dreamed about former partners.
The interactions in the dream can vary widely. You could be arguing, falling in love or getting back together, your ex could be apologising, or the dream could even get physical.
Many of us are interested in deciphering whether there’s any significance in such dream meanings. There are many different theories when it comes to dream interpretation and whether they mean something, and most of those theories offer different views.
See Dream Meanings 101: What Dreams Mean & Why We Have Them? to learn more.
Dreaming about your ex doesn’t have to mean that deep down in your heart you want to get back together, but it often has some kind of link to how you’re feeling in your day-to-day life.
These dreams can show that you’re emotionally or sexually dissatisfied, or you may have unresolved feelings, not necessarily of longing, for your ex that your subconscious mind is working through. Although the meaning of this dream can vary widely, as the dream itself can differ, the underlying meaning is usually something emotional.
It could be easy to interpret seeing your ex in a dream to mean you’re not completely over them. In reality your real-world feelings toward your ex don’t necessarily have to be romantic. You may also experience emotions such as jealousy, anger and frustration.
We look at some of the more precise meanings of specific dreams about an ex below:
It’s highly likely that this is your subconscious working through the breakup, in order that you can move on without a problematic emotional attachment.
You may feel like your subconscious mind is trying to undo all of the efforts you’re making in real life to get over this person. However, it’s possible that your subconscious is actually trying to help you heal and the dream may help you to process your true feelings about the breakup.
Dreaming about your first love is more likely to represent the incredible excitement you felt at the time, rather than the person they are. In the dream they embody what first love feels like: the passion, the excitement and the desire, that wonderful feeling.
If you have this kind of dream it could be worth examining why you broke up.
If the dream is about a recent ex that you still miss, it may just be an expression of your desire to have them back in your life. Otherwise it could indicate there’s something about an old relationship or that time in your life that you’re reconnecting with now. You may ask yourself if there are aspects of your past relationship that you could bring into your current life or relationship.
Although there may not be a definite meaning, your brain is processing things as you sleep, so it can show areas that need your attention.
If you ever have a dream about an abusive ex you may well benefit from counselling, as you need to work through this issue. As most ex dreams show an emotional dissatisfaction, it could be useful to get out of the rut you are in, whether in a current relationship or if you’re on your own.
It’s interesting to consider the way that the ‘ex’ is often depicted in popular culture. Think rom-coms where the lead can’t stop thinking about their ex, or even wants to get back together, such as in Bridget Jones Diary 3, or where someone is trying to get over their ex, as Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet are in The Holiday.
It’s not unheard of for ex’s to remain an important part of people’s lives, and so popular culture is bound to reflect this.