Are You Dreaming About an Ex? Here's What it Means!

articles lifestyle Mar 01, 2020

What does it mean to dream about your ex?  At one time or another, most of us have experienced a rendezvous with a past lover in dream-time. Sometimes the wound of a break-up is fresh, and seeing the dream boyfriend or girlfriend we've recently cut ties with can tear that wound right open again. Other times we may revisit an ex from a time deep in our past, causing us to question whether we've truly moved on.  

To wonder what such dreams are trying to tell you is only natural. These sleep-time explorations are mysterious gateways into the realms of the emotions and the psyche. While visions about breaking up or being back with an ex again could be literal, the code language of dreaming is usually metaphorical. Before we look at some specific ex dreams, let's take a quick look at the art of dream interpretation. 


 A Quick Primer on Dream Interpretation:

1) Exercise Caution with Dream Dictionaries:  Whatever dream dictionaries promise in simplicity and directness, they can often lack diversity and depth of insight.  

Freud and Jung were expert analysts of the human psyche, and their interpretations of common dream symbols center on extensive clinical research and sound philosophy. These famous psychiatric doctors focused on the archetypal meaning that exists across the collective unconscious we all share. We might consider Freudian or Jungian dream definitions as more likely to offer helpful insights.

With your standard free dream dictionaries, however, take content with a grain of salt. Or as Dreamworker and author Toko-Pa Turner puts it, "My guess as to why 'dream dictionaries' remains so popular is that they give the dreamer a static, junk food answer to their dream which saves them from doing any real chewing."

2) Focus on Setting, Emotions, and Characters Dream symbols don't exist as independent entities. They are integral components of the whole fabric from which our mind weaves the narrative.  

One person may dream of bananas and may determine this is a phallic symbol because of other clues and associations in the dream. Someone else may dream of bananas and determine this symbolizes their father, who told repeated stories of growing banana trees in his youth.

Before jumping to any conclusions, ask yourself where you are in this dream, how you are feeling, and who else is there. If you're at a museum, what is your unique association with that place? If the dream features a lot of pinks, feel into your association with the color and how it makes you feel. Your feelings in the scenes of your dream-time will reveal a great deal about their meaning.

3)  Allow the Dream to Remain Whole:  Turner (who is brilliant, by the way) suggests that rather than 'dissecting' a dream and reducing its complexity, that we learn actually to court our dreams.  

She suggests getting comfortable with the mysterious quality of dreams, saying, "While it takes practice to allow some part of the unknown to remain, it is ultimately more gratifying. Unlike giving our dream images a static definition, we treat them as living, breathing symbols.

Now, you're still wondering, what does it mean when you keep dreaming about someone? What does it mean to dream about an ex? Here we offer some foundational frameworks to interpret your common ex dreams.  


5 Possible Meanings when your ex appears in your dreams

1) Dreams about Breaking Up:  

Perhaps the dream boyfriend you see yourself breaking up with is not your ex in real life but a relationship that's still intact. So what gives?

Keep in mind that our psyche speaks in the secret language of metaphor. You don't necessarily need to worry that a break-up is imminent. Could the break-up you're dreaming about symbolize something within yourself that you need to shed or transform? Do you need to 'break up' with your negative self-talk or dead-end job? Investigate the other details of the dream for clues that might suggest what you need to consider breaking up with.

If you feel this dream suggests you will or need to break up with your current partner, consider if the relationship is flawed, one-sided, or is blocking your personal growth.

2) A Warning about a Cycle Repeating: You're no longer with the woman or man you keep dreaming about; why can't your nighttime consciousness move on too?  

Dreaming of an ex may signify your inability or unwillingness to break a negative cycle. We've all seen or been part of those couples who continuously break up and get back together. Sadly, many of us are in a similar relationship with our self-defeating habits.  

If you had a damaging or adverse relationship with the ex you are dreaming about, seeing them pop back up in the dream may be drawing your attention to areas in your life where you are off-balance.

3) Your Ex Holds the key to Your Power: 

One of the significant challenges with letting a past lover go can be letting go of the unique version of yourself you were with them. When these previous partners appear in our dreams, they can symbolize this part of ourselves.

Each person with whom we share an intimate connection acts like a key to our inner being. Personal relationships can feel so good-or bad- because of the aspect of ourselves that comes to life with them. One person may help you unlock your creative potential while another can lead you to a depth of sexual passion to which you were previously unaware.  

When this person re-appears in your dreams, the story may not indeed be about that person but instead could be about the part of yourself that they highlighted, helped develop, or unveiled. In a sense, this aspect of your dynamic personality is making a cameo to ask for more real-life expressions or to share an insight.

4) You Haven't Fully Moved On:  One of the most obvious ways to interpret a dream featuring your ex is to conclude that you aren't entirely over it.

In your waking life, you may be months or years out from a bad break-up or may even be seeing someone new. Yet, dreams reveal the hidden content of our minds. So what does it mean when you keep dreaming about someone?

Take an honest look at whether the cessation of the relationship is still eating away at you. If there are unresolved issues you have with this person, such as unforgiveness, resentment, hurt self-esteem, and so on, your dream may be bringing your attention to these matters.

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