What does it mean when you dream about your ex? Has that question been keeping you up at night? Well, that makes the two of us! It’s been over a decade since I moved on from the last bad breakup, eventually found someone new, got married, and had a kid – The whole gamut. Even so, there are times when my exes pay me a visit in my dreams. Needless to say, I spend the better part of the next day (or days, depending on the context), wondering, “What does it mean to dream about an ex?” Sometimes, the dream is so vivid that I feel it happened IRL.
During therapy, I casually brought up dreaming about my exes, especially my first love. My therapist took it a lot more seriously than I could’ve imagined. I’m glad she did because it helped me decode the ‘what does it mean when an ex appears in your dream?’ mystery. I’m here to share some of those insights with you.
15 Reasons You Are Dreaming About Your Ex – And This Is What It Means
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We know that dreams involving former flames are a common occurrence in pop culture and individuals’ lives alike. In fact, dream analysts like Layne Dalfen and Gary Toub often note that dreaming about an ex is a really common dream theme, reflecting the influence of our waking life and experiences.
However, dreaming about an ex, no matter how distant or recent, can lead to a host of confusing emotions for most people. During our waking hours, feeling unsettled after such dreams is natural, whether they evoke fond memories of past relationships or distressful feelings. So, if you’re experiencing the same, you may start looking into the spiritual meaning of dreaming about your ex. Is it a sign that your ex is thinking about you? Does it mean they regret breaking up? Are you destined to be together?
Well, as wonderful as it may be to attach a deeper significance and look for the biblical meaning of dreaming about your ex, it’s not the truth. A dream about an ex is not the universe sending you a sign to get back together. Primarily, it is just your subconscious mind’s way of processing the latent emotions of the past and present.
It’s often said dreams are the way your unconscious mind communicates with your conscious one. Judging by how we immediately seem to forget the vivid memories of our dream a minute after waking up, we’d say it’s not the best mode of communication! Even so, having dreams about an ex can leave you sitting in the middle of your bed, trying to shake off that confused look on your face. To put this in perspective, let’s explore 15 common reasons you are dreaming about your ex and what they mean:
1. Dreaming about your ex when you’re in a new relationship
When you dream about your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend just as you’re at the cusp of a new relationship, it’s a sign that you’re worried about history repeating itself. Perhaps the breakup has left you feeling insecure in relationships, and a part of you is scared that your new partner will hurt or abandon you the same way your ex did.
Bad dreams about your ex, the kind where you two are fighting/mean to each other, signify that there are some unresolved emotions from that breakup and you’re worried they’ll pop up in your life again. This one will feel particularly confusing since you were convinced you’re falling for this new person. Suddenly, dreaming of your ex coming back to you, it makes you doubt if you ever really moved on.
2. Dreaming about your ex wanting you back
One of the most common and recurrent themes, when people dream about their exes, is of rekindling an old romance. The ex comes back into your life, they beg for your forgiveness, even use the right apology language, and want you back. You bury the hatchet and together, you embark on a new journey. If you’re dreaming of an ex-boyfriend or ex-wife in this manner, here’s some news.
When you do dream about you and your ex getting back together, it could signify a few things. Perhaps you’re developing feelings for them again, which mostly just means you’ve forgotten the reasons that you two broke up in the first place. Or you’ve learned all you needed to. What it means to dream of an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend couldn’t get more confusing!
3. Dreaming about falling in love with your ex
Dreaming about falling in love with your ex is different from when you simply dream about a previous relationship. In this case, you are reliving the same emotions and feelings you experienced when you first fell in love with them. As we all know, the experience of falling in love is characterized by a sense of new dreams, excitement, passion, desire, and hopes for a dreamy future. Perhaps, you acutely miss feeling those emotions.
This typically happens when you have been in a stable relationship long enough for the novelty and excitement to wear off. Or when you’re going through a bit of a dry spell sexually. So, if this particular thought – “Why do I keep dreaming about my ex when I’m happily married?” – has kept you up at night, this might be the reason.
4. Dreaming about your ex 2 nights in a row
If you’re trying to get over the breakup while it’s still fresh, you may have these dreams more consistently. Naturally, with your emotions still all over the place, when you dream about your ex 2 nights in a row or more, it can leave you very confused. It’s mental preparation to begin the process of healing. So, all in all, dreaming about an ex soon after a breakup can be considered good news. You may not have moved on yet, but on a subconscious level, your mind is laying the groundwork for it to happen.
Related Reading: 8 Things To Do When An Ex Contacts You Years Later
5. Dreaming about your ex apologizing to you
Are you dreaming about your ex texting you and apologizing profusely for hurting you? In this case, the ex doesn’t plead to get back together nor do you want them to. They just sit you down, offer some sort of an explanation for their actions, and seek your forgiveness. Maybe it ends with you wishing each other happiness in life and going your separate ways.
To understand what dreaming of an ex-boyfriend apologizing to you means or when an ex appears in your dream in this manner, take a moment to reflect on whether you have questions about why the relationship ended. It’s possible that you desperately crave closure, to be able to put your past behind you, and move forward. Except your ex hasn’t given it to you.
6. Dreaming about your ex kissing you
When you dream about your ex-boyfriend kissing you or lovey-dovey moments with an ex-girlfriend or ex-partner, it reflects your longing for more intimate connections in your current life. Perhaps you’ve been single since the breakup or had a string of flings and casual hookups, but nothing deep or meaningful with emotions attached. Or perhaps you’re in a sexless marriage.
In such situations, you crave that intimacy you shared in an old relationship with your ex-partner. These dreams are ways of fulfilling that need that has gone unaddressed for far too long. Since this partner might be the closest thing to physical intimacy you’ve had recently, it’s obvious they’re the first person you’ll dream of when you crave it. When this happens, if you think you’re developing feelings for your ex again, dig a little deeper. It might just be the lust for your ex that’s making you dream about that ex calling you in the middle of the night, telling you there’s no one at their place right now, so…
7. Dreaming about getting along with your ex-spouse
When you dream about your ex-husband or ex-wife and see your equation with them surrounded by a halo of positivity, it indicates that you have the desire to build bridges with them. Well, not necessarily to revive the marriage you lost, but perhaps to hold on to some part of the journey you shared.
These dreams are typically more pronounced and frequent if you and your former spouse share custody of the children and when it was a divorce by mutual consent. Maybe for their sake, you wish to get along with your ex. If it isn’t happening in real life, your subconscious offers you solace by conjuring up that slice of an imperfectly perfect family in your dreams.
It’s possible that it could happen when you’re currently married to someone else. While married, trying to answer “Why do I keep dreaming about my ex when I’m happily married?” isn’t something you thought you’d be doing. However, it could just be because you’ve had children with that person.
Related Reading: What Does It Mean When You Dream About Your Crush?
8. Dreaming about sex with your ex
So, you dreamt of indulging in hot, passionate sex with your ex. Or maybe you dreamed of cheating on your partner with your ex. Understandably, this would lead to many confusing emotions, leaving you unsettled and shaken up (speaking from *cough cough* experience). You may feel guilty, almost as if you’ve actually cheated on your partner in your current love life.
Now, these sex dreams about an ex can indicate either longing or healing. It all depends on where you’re at in the healing and moving on process. If a part of you wishes to get back together with your ex (because you think it was a forced end to the relationship), then this dream could mean trouble. You’ll see this as a hopeful sign that your ex will come back. The desire to get your ex back is amplifying and taking up a lot of your headspace. You must make a conscious effort to rein in those feelings as soon as possible. On the other hand, if you’ve truly moved forward and have no desire to let your ex back in your life, then this dream could signify that you are done beating yourself up about your former lovers and past relationship choices.
9. Can’t stop dreaming about exes alongside your current partner
What does it mean when an ex appears in your dream alongside your current partner? To answer this question, you need to delve deeper into how you feel about your ex. Dreaming about an ex, your partner, and you together in any scenario – be it pleasant (all of you chilling together on a beach) or stressful (you trying to hide your ex from your partner) – points to unresolved feelings at play. When I say unresolved feelings, I don’t necessarily mean romantic ones.
Even if you still hold anger, hurt, or grudges toward your ex, in the subconscious mind, these emotions will have an impact on your present life and relationship. The dreams you’re having are just a reflection of that fact. Although it may not seem like it while all three of you are chilling together, certain bad dreams about the ex, like these, are telling you that the unresolved feelings are affecting your current relationship.
10. Dreaming about your ex texting you
Have you been controlling the urge to drunk text your ex? Is it taking every ounce of self-control in your being to not “U up?” them at 2 a.m.? When you dream about an ex texting you, it’s your mind’s way of channelizing that unmet desire. This usually happens more often when you’re fresh out of a relationship and trying to cope with the breakup. Even more so, if you’ve been having a hard time sticking to the no-contact rule and have no idea what your ex has been up to since the breakup or how they’re doing.
Related Reading: Why Would A Guy Reject You If He Likes You?
11. Dreaming about being in a toxic relationship with your ex again
Were you in a toxic or abusive relationship? Do you dream about still being stuck with your abusive ex, reliving the pain and trauma over and over again? First of all, I’m sorry that you had to go through that. I hope you’re on a path to reclaim your life. The truth is, a lot of people who have been in such damaging relationships dream about being stuck there all over again – Being beaten, abused, and locked up in a dark room by their ex. These dreams that you’ve been having could be a sign of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In lay terms, you have been traumatized and are carrying the effects of that trauma with you.
As hard as it may seem to reach out to someone and talk about those painful experiences and negative feelings, I speak from experience when I say that going into therapy can be liberating. It helps you get in touch with and process a lot of latent emotions in a manner that they don’t hold sway over you anymore. The therapist can help you with a dream analysis to reach to the root cause. Allowing yourself to embark on this journey will also enable you to make peace with your past, move forward in life, and be available for future relationships.
12. Dreaming about breaking up with your ex
What does it mean when you dream about a special ex breaking up with you all over again? Well, for one, it is absolutely brutal. There is a good chance the emotions you experience in your dream will leave a bad aftertaste for days. To understand what it means, you have to assess the dream vis-à-vis your present circumstances.
If the breakup happened a long time ago, take a closer look at your circumstances. Have you faced rejection in any form recently? Perhaps you didn’t get a job you had interviewed for. Your pitch for a project didn’t get accepted. A friend has stopped talking to you properly. It could be any number of scenarios where you’re feeling rejected. Since your mind associates the pain of rejection with that breakup, the dream is a way to process the other setback you’ve recently experienced. On the other hand, if the breakup was recent, then it’s your mind’s way of coping with the loss. You’re not over this ex and the pain of being dumped. Your mind is releasing some of that pain through these conjured-up scenarios.
13. Dreaming about your ex reaching out to you during hardships
If you dream about your old or recent ex reaching out and you leave everything at the drop of the hat to rush to be by their side, it is a strong indicator that you still care about them a lot. It may have been years since you broke up, but you still cherish the bond you shared with them and value them. This happens in cases where the breakup was on good terms, and driven by something else like external circumstances – such as the hardships of a long-distance relationship – rather than your feelings for each other. You may have moved on, but somewhere you’ve held on to that part of your life.
14. Can’t stop dreaming about exes being in a new relationship
What if you dream of your ex being in a new relationship, that too with someone they always said you had no reason to worry about? You dream of crossing paths with both of them, stopping by to say hello, perhaps even sharing a drink, and then, you go your separate ways. Well, the dream can feel oddly liberating. If you’ve had it, you know what I mean. A strange sense of relief washes over you. Well, that’s exactly what it signifies. When you dream about your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend in a new relationship without being affected by it, it’s a sign that you’re letting go of that part of your past and embracing how things ended.
15. Dreaming about your ex dying
Ever dreamed of your ex dying in front of your eyes while you do nothing to save them? Or maybe about killing them with your own hands? Breathe easy, such dreams do not mean that you’re a sinister, evil person wishing death on someone. On the contrary, these unpleasant dreams about your ex could be good news.
This means that you’re finally free of all the resentment, anger, frustration, or grudges you may have held against your ex all along. You’ve forgiven them for whatever wrong they did to you. And you’ve forgiven yourself for whatever part you played in the relationship going awry. You’re free from the clutches of the past, ready to turn over a new leaf in earnest.
- Dreaming about an ex years later or just after the breakup can have a deeper meaning, especially if the dreams are recurring
- If you have not healed from a bad relationship, dreams about an ex could be your subconscious mind’s way of seeking closure
- Recurring dreams of sex with a former partner may stem from unresolved issues, evoke a complex or wonderful feeling, and even signal a longing for reconciliation
- When people become stagnant in a relationship, they often dream of an ex just to feel the adrenaline rush of a new love
- Instead of taking your dreams about an ex too literally and letting them affect your future/present relationships, delve deeper into your own emotional needs
What does it mean when you dream about your ex? The answer to this question is always contextual. It depends on the quality of your past relationship, your current state of mind, how long it has been since you broke up, and so on. That said, dreams about an ex are always about you and not the other person. Dream journaling could be a good way to make notes and understand where your dreams are rooted. I hope this article has helped you get some answers to your dreams about an ex and can help you move forward, toward a happy and healthy relationship.
This article was updated in August 2023.
Dreaming about an ex years later or soon after the breakup has nothing to do with them and it’s more about you. Maybe you haven’t moved on from them and secretly desire for them to miss you.
Dreams are the product of our own subconscious thoughts and experiences, which means that when we dream about someone, it is not because they are thinking about us, but rather because we are subconsciously thinking about them.
If you dream about a previous lover you don’t talk to anymore, it signifies they’re still on your mind, whether you both shared a serious relationship or not. It also implies an unsolved issue between the two of you. Such dreams about an old flame or an ex may provide insights into your emotional state and where you stand with your past. They serve as reminders of your history, both pleasant and challenging, and offer an opportunity to reflect on your personal journey.