Have you ever woken up rattled after dreaming about an ex partner? The good news is you’re not alone, which means dream experts have had plenty of opportunities to analyze what dreaming about an ex might mean—and no, it’s not necessarily a sign the two of you should get back together. (Even if you dream about having sex with them!)
“Dreaming about an ex is very common, especially when there’s been a recent breakup,” says Lauri Loewenberg, a certified dream analyst who’s analyzed and researched over 75,000 dreams from people across the globe. “In these cases, the subconscious is trying to help us come to terms with the end of the relationship.”
Don’t panic if you find yourself dreaming about your high-school sweetheart; it’s also normal to dream about someone you dated years ago.
“Everything within a dream is there for a reason to provide a message to you, from you, about you, to improve you,” Loewenberg says. “And even though there may be elements in your dream from your distant past (such as an ex), there is something about it that the subconscious feels is relevant to you now.”
Whether you’ve dreamed about having sex with an ex, or something else involving a person you used to date, know that these dreams are totally normal. Here are eight of the most common dreams people have about their exes and what they might mean, according to Loewenberg.
A dream where you’re breaking into your ex’s home
This one tends to happen shortly after a breakup, especially when you are the dumpee instead of the one who did the dumping. This dream is a sign that your brain is trying to find closure.
“The ex’s home represents their psyche and their personality construct,” Loewenberg says. “To break in suggests you are trying to get into their mindset and understand their reasoning.”
A dream where your ex dies
“If it is a recent ex, then this dream signifies that the ex is ‘no longer living’ rent-free in your psyche,” Loewenberg says. They are no longer an issue for you, and you have naturally moved on. “If it is an ex from long ago, ask yourself what you remember most about that person or about your time with them. Does any of that seem relevant or similar to you or to your life right now? And if so, does it now seem to be becoming less of a presence?”
Perhaps that ex was particularly controlling, for example. In this case, to dream of them dying would suggest some current restrictive part of your own life is lessening. “Remember, anytime the subconscious brings up the past, it’s because there is something in your present that seems similar to that past event or person.”
A dream where you murder your ex
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you’re harboring any secret violent tendencies! “While death in a dream often means a natural change or ending is happening in your life or within you, murder can mean a change or ending is being forced, just as murder is a forced death.”
If you are murdering a recent ex in a dream, odds are you are actively trying to end all ties to this person. Perhaps, in your waking life, you’ve been deleting texts and contact info, or throwing out all the stuff they left at your place; you’ve been working to “kill” the hold that ex had over you, Loewenberg explains.
“Murdering an ex from long ago would likely indicate that you are purposefully ending or making a change within yourself and that particular ex represents that which you are changing,” she says. “Did a certain behavior or mindset begin when you were with them? Perhaps they represent a ‘type’ you keep getting involved with and are now trying to avoid.” Basically, this dream is a sign of progress!
A dream about your first love
“This is the ex we tend to dream about the most, and is also a good example of how most everything in our dreams represents a part of our self,” Loewenberg says. When we fall in love, we feel alive! Life is exciting, and we feel good about ourselves. We carry around a yearning for the other person and want to spend all our time with them. “These are very powerful feelings and the first person that brings them out of us, well, their image gets imprinted into our psyche, and they will forever be the embodiment of all that hot burning desire that is still alive and well within us.”
When you dream about your first love a bunch of years later, it’s not necessarily because you’re still pining for them—it could be because you’re remembering the passion you felt.
“Your subconscious just might be doing a comparison between your life then and now,” Loewenberg says. “Are you in a dry spell? Is your current relationship lacking ‘spice?’ Whatever the case, your subconscious is telling you it’s time to reignite the flame either in your current relationship or to find something that can bring the same sort of excitement into your life.”
A dream about an abusive or cheating ex
“If the abusive or cheating ex makes frequent appearances in your dreams, it’s a strong indication that you haven’t been able to let go of the distrust, anger, and resentment that they created,” Loewenberg says. Remember, it’s not about the ex anymore, but about what remains within you since they were in your life. “These dreams can serve as a warning that you may be bringing all those negative feelings into your current relationship, which is not fair to either of you.”
A dream where you and your ex are fighting
Any sort of conflict in a dream—whether it is an argument, a fistfight, or a gun battle—will be connected to a current conflict in your waking life, Loewenberg explains. “Therefore, dreaming of fighting with a recent ex may mean you’re fighting with yourself over that relationship,” she says. “If it’s a physical fight, it may mean you are beating yourself up over something regarding the relationship. If it’s a verbal argument, pay very close attention to what is being said because it will reveal a lot about your current state of mind.”
If you are fighting with an ex from long ago, it will most likely reflect a current internal conflict, so your job is to figure out which conflict that ex represents. What do you remember the most about that ex? How would you describe that relationship? What were you like when you were with that person? “Something from back then is similar to something in your life right now, and your subconscious isn’t terribly happy about it,” Loewenberg explains.
A dream where your ex is pregnant with your child
Don’t freak out; pregnancy dreams with an ex are usually positive. “Most often, it means that you have learned something from that relationship, and that lesson—that wisdom—is what is now growing in your life,” Loewenberg says. “But if it’s a recent ex you’re dreaming about, you should also examine whether there are issues or repercussions that may have taken root and are growing.”
A dream where you have sex with your ex
Ah, the classic sex-with-your-ex dream! By now, you should know that this dream doesn’t mean that you want to get back together with them, or that you’re secretly pining for their love and attention. These dreams are rarely about the ex at all, Loewenberg says. “They are more about what they represent: love, excitement, passion, being desired.”
That’s why she recommends analyzing what’s going on in your waking life to see what sparks are lacking. Maybe you’re single and in a dry spell, or your current relationship leaves something to be desired. This dream is telling you that you need to spice things up in your current love life.
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