Why Am I Dreaming About My Ex?


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Perhaps you’ve been through a break up recently or it’s been many years since your last relationship, you feel great but for some reason, you’re having dreams about your ex. You wake up the next morning feeling strange about it and you’re struggling with one obvious question, why am I dreaming about my ex?

Understandably, most of the results you find on the internet will paint three common scenarios. You’re dreaming about your ex because you’re seeking closure, you’re still in love with your ex or you’re just having a meaningless dream about someone from your past. 

All of these possible explanations are logical, rational and true. 

It could be any one of those reasons or it could be all of them.

Let’s be honest with ourselves, we’ll always hold some degree of care for our exes. What does change is the form of care and love we feel for our exes.

I do believe that romantic love can change into something completely platonic.

You could think about your ex, dream about them, wonder about them and still not have any desire to be with them because you moved on.

It’s possible and I’m sure a lot of people actually go through this.

The problem is that we assign too much meaning to dreams.

Yes, it could be indicative of something more or it could be indicative of nothing.

But does that mean you ought to discard all the work you’ve done on yourself and on your life over a dream based on residual feelings for an ex? I don’t think so!

I find it to be dangerous for someone who has to move on from a breakup to overanalyze their dreams.

When you are going through a difficult breakup that was not initiated by you, it’s very likely that your brain desperately searches for any excuse to run back to your ex.

This behavior is not grounded in reality.

In actuality, it’s based on desperation and a desire to escape the discomfort of change. 

With that being said, let’s talk about those three reasons why you’re dreaming about your ex followed by some interesting facts about dreams and the subconscious mind. 

1. You are seeking closure

I wish I could sit here and tell you with certainty that there is a step by step guide or proven blueprint on how to get closure after a breakup.

Unfortunately, there isn’t. It’s not a one size fits all kind of solution.

The only thing I know for certain is that true peace comes from acceptance.

Which begs the question, how does one actively accept the end of a relationship?

I believe there are daily affirmations one could repeat to encourage acceptance.

The act of setting new goals and pursuing them is a practical technique for moving on. 

But it’s also the realization that only a certain number of things in life are within our control. 

Still, however, none of these things break down a system of how to process, accept and move on from certain feelings.

That’s where the subconscious mind kicks in.

Dreams could be the mechanism of the mind that facilitates the acceptance of a breakup.

Through dreams, the emotions we ignore bubble to the surface enough for us to feel, accept and move on from them.

I also believe it has to do with rationalizing the entire breakup.

Some relationships end due to an emotional impulse and rationale.

Your ex’s reasons for ending the relationship or hurting you could be something you can’t wrap your mind around normally.

So, one could argue that your dreams are a manifestation of that struggle as well as an attempt to run through the different scenarios until you find some form of solace or explanation that allows you to make peace with the breakup.

2. You still have feelings for your ex

To some extent, you may still care about your ex and these dreams are just a manifestation of these feelings. 

Either you’re trying to process those feelings to move on or your brain is simply simulating a scenario that you desire based on your feelings for your ex. 

There’s only so many people who make an impact in our lives.

Those who we once valued and still value will often be on our minds when we are awake.

Naturally, what we think about when we are awake is bound to influence what we dream about, especially if we still care about those things or people. 

Related post: How to let go of someone you love

3. It’s just a random dream

Even though we are constantly exposed to different stimuli and a host of information on a daily basis, we only store a small amount in our long term memory.

Most things are processed into our short term memory and forgotten.

So when we dream, it’s very possible that the information used to fuel or stimulate our dreams are drawn from our long term memory. 

As such, it could just be a randomized manifestation of long term memory. It may have absolutely nothing to do with how you actually feel. 

This can further be corroborated by how unnatural some dreams can be. 

They may take place in the most random of settings with people who have no tie to each other outside of you.

As such, the dream is less about your ex and more about you!

Why do we dream?

Researchers and scientists alike often don’t agree as to the reason or purpose for dreams.

It’s still a topic of discussion with multiple differing theories and opinions. 

One of the most common of these theories is that dreams are therapeutic in nature.

Your brain is capable of confronting and dealing with emotions at a more heightened state when you are asleep. 

Put simply, dreams help you confront situations that cause you emotional upheaval when you are unable to deal with them in reality. 

Alternately, dreams are basically a manifestation of the information your brain stores during sleep.

Your brain processes experiences, emotions, conversations and textual information when asleep which triggers dreams that help you sort through and remember these things. 

Another common theory is built around the amygdala which is shown to be more active when you are asleep.

The amygdala is known to be associated with your fight or flight response and as such, can be viewed as a defense mechanism for issues in your life. 

Interestingly, none of these theories are problematic.

None of them indicate that you are desperately in need for your ex or that there’s a supernatural element influencing your dreams about an ex. 

We can make the argument that our dreams are actually a subconscious mechanism designed to help us remember special moments and process complex emotions that are problematic for us in reality.

Not an actualization of our true desire or a path to lead us in reality. 

A senior training analyst from the C.G.Jung Institute of Colorado by the name of Gary Toub (Ph.D.) has the following to say about dreams. “The biggest mistake you can make when trying to interpret your dream is to think it’s actually about the person you just dreamt about.

He further adds, “Your subconscious mind, or your dream, picks the best possible representation for something that it’s trying to symbolize, so if the content is about your ex, you need to look at how that ex symbolizes something within yourself.”

In other words, everything and everyone you dream about represents something within yourself. 

We could also argue that dreams are an escape from reality.

Perhaps right now, you’re going through a difficult time.

You might be feeling lonely and craving the feeling of love and comfort from another person.

And your brain is probably tapping into memories of the last time you were happy which was with your ex. 

Rather than it being a case of feeling nostalgic or hung up on your ex, you’re actually just reliving a time when you were with someone who made you happy.

This is just a way to escape the fact that you’re currently not in the best place in your life. 

That isn’t something to be ashamed of or overly worried about.

If it’s truly the case, then once you improve the conditions of your life and find happiness within yourself, those dreams of your ex will slow down and eventually stop altogether. 

I remember going through a similar situation.

It was a few months after a long and serious relationship ended and I was honestly miserable.

Nothing was going right in my life and for some reason, I attributed that breakup as the start of my downfall. 

During that time, not only did I think about my ex often but I also dreamt about her quite often. 

I mistook this to mean that I was hung up on her but as soon as I started coming to grips with my situation and put in the work to be happy in my life, those dreams slowed down and eventually stopped altogether. 

The different types of dreams about an ex

Let’s talk about some of interesting dreams about your ex that may be concerning you.

I’ll share my opinion on these dreams which stem from personal experience as well as some research.

1. Dreams about your first love

Your first love is special and will represent acceptance, love and desire.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are pining for them.

On the contrary, it could represent a desire for love and a reminder that you can and will find love again.

2. Dreams about an abusive ex

Usually, dreams about an abusive ex would indicate that you haven’t been able to find peace from the trauma of the past.

An abusive ex often exercises unhealthy and toxic control over you and even though they aren’t in your life anymore, that control could still be wrapped around your mind.

Put simply, your abusive ex still has rental space in your mind.

Alternatively, if these dreams are not traumatic then we could assume that you have conquered the demons from your past which is why you are able to confront them in your dreams.

3. Sexual dreams about an ex

Having sexual dreams about strangers is as common as having them about an ex.

It’s so random that I wouldn’t read into it.

These dreams could represent pent up sexual energy and is a representation of what you desire right now.

However, if you keep having recurring sexual dreams about an ex, it could be indicative that your sex life is lacking in some way, especially if you’re in a relationship and this happens all the time.

I would suggest seeking out counseling and having an honest conversation with your current partner about ways to improve your sex life so that you feel completely satisfied and content.

How to stop dreaming about my ex

Now that we have an answer to why am I dreaming about my ex, let’s talk about how to stop dreaming about them. It would be highly beneficial if you limited the amount of time you spent thinking about your ex.

This may be difficult at first, especially after a recent breakup but it is important for you to find some balance in your life. 

The less you think about your ex, the easier it becomes to take in other information that could change dreams.

Next, I would suggest limiting the amount of exposure to your ex.

This would entail avoiding your ex on all social networking apps as well as removing any reminders like photos of them from your phone or immediate vicinity.

The no contact rule is the most effective tool for moving on from someone and I highly recommend it.

I would then recommend getting a journal and documenting your feelings and thoughts, even about your ex. 

By doing this, perhaps you can empty those thoughts from your brain which are sticking to you like glue and influencing your dreams.

From what I’ve experienced, journaling has tremendous therapeutic properties that actually facilitate emotional healing.

Most of my epiphanies that helped me to move on from an ex were preceded by journaling my thoughts. 

Lastly, don’t take your dreams so seriously.

It’s a natural phenomenon that you don’t have too much control over. 

You can do things to influence your dreams but that’s as far as it goes.

They’re just fantasies and simulations created by your brain. They don’t have to mean anything to you.

The less importance you give to these dreams, the less impact they have on your well being. 

The more you obsess over something, the more mental real estate it gains. 

And if you’re someone who tends to overthink, you’re just amassing ridiculous amounts of ideas and fears for your brain to work through which you’re probably not all that equipped to do when you’re awake.

Very few of us actually engage in mindfulness or meditation long enough to find clarity on subjects that bother us. 

If anything, we try to drown those thoughts out with distractions. 

So, you’re leaving your brain with no option other than to work through all those thoughts and feelings via its built-in problem-solving mechanism called dreams.

In the instance when you have a recurring dream, it would be beneficial to analyze the deeper meaning of that dream as in pertains only to you.

Try to figure out what your ex signifies in these dreams and what your brain is trying to tell you in hopes of finding solace and peace.

In conclusion

I don’t think dreams about your ex are cause for too much concern, especially if they don’t happen as often.

Most of what we dream about has to do with how we feel and think. It’s not indicative of anything more than that. I certainly don’t think that dreams of an ex is delivered via divine intervention as a guidance back to them.

Especially if that ex was toxic and abusive.

I’m not saying all dreams are meaningless, it’s possible that you can get guidance from them but not on a regular or daily basis.

Far too many of our dreams are inconsequential for it to be otherwise.

Be that as it may, I would encourage you to engage in some introspection and try to identify feelings or thoughts that may be affecting you.

And if you’re actually just hung up over your ex, make a decision to either move on or get them back.

With that being said, I hope you no longer have to be asking ‘why am I dreaming about my ex’ and that you found some interesting insight and comfort from this article. Please feel free to leave your questions or comments down below.

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