So you and your ex have been broken up for a while, and you're finally feeling better about the whole thing— you're moving on with your life, you're no longer hung up on why or how your relationship ended, and your ex, to quote the great existential philosopher Hilary Duff, is so yesterday. So why is your ex still showing up in your dreams? Is it horrible and irrefutable proof that you're not over them?
Dreaming about an ex is an extremely unnerving experience, and the phenomenon isn't limited to exes you've recently split from. A few days ago, I woke up next to my boyfriend of four years, panicked because I'd just dreamed of a passionate reunion with an ex that I had barely spoken to since The Ashlee Simpson Show went off the air. The few waking thoughts that I have about this particular ex are about how he still owes me $200 — so why was our dream reunion like a deleted scene from The Notebook?
The good news is that as it runs out, dreaming of an ex is very common — we're actually more likely to dream of an ex than our current partner. The even better news is that it doesn't mean that you're somehow being emotionally unfaithful to your current partner, and, according to dream interpretation and analysis website Dream Moods, it does not even necessarily mean you're still interested in your ex. But even so: why do the people we've cut out of our waking lives pop up so often when we're unconscious? Let's go through some of Dream Moods' most common explanations for why exes show up in our dreams, long after they're no longer welcome in our lives.
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Dreams about SEEING YOUR EX
Just seeing an ex in a dream can mean a lot of things—some of them kinda internse, and some of them totally harmless. Sometimes a dream visit from an ex can mean that you're encountering someone in your waking life with some of their qualities, who is "bringing out similar feelings you felt during that relationship with your ex," according to DreamMoods. But much more innocently, "you may be reflecting on the positive experiences and good times that you shared with your past love."
Dreams about HOOKING UP WITH YOUR EX
Apparently, ex sex dreams often are connected to "your reservations about embarking in a new relationship or situation.”
dreams about BEING IGNORED BY YOUR EX
Dreaming that your ex is ignoring you ... just like she did for the last two weeks you were actually dating? That's your subconscious "telling you to move on with
your life and stop thinking about your ex" (you know, just like your friends in the waking world keep saying).
dreams about FIGHTING WITH YOUR EX
Fighting with a dream ex can mean that "something or someone in your current life is bringing out similar feelings you felt during that relationship with your ex."
dreams about GETTING BACK TOGETHER WITH AN EX
This dream does not necessarily mean that you secretly want to try again with the person whose name you've changed to CAPTAIN ASSFACE in your phone. Your dream of reuniting can be based in real-life longing, but it also "may be triggered by some major change in your current relationship and how far you have come from those past relationships." This is why so many brides-to-be dream of exes right before their weddings.
dreams about MISSING YOUR EX
Yes, dreaming about how you want to get back together with an ex sometimes does mean that you're still carrying a torch for them. But it can also just mean that "you miss being in a relationship" and feeling wanted.
dreams where YOUR EX IS MISSING YOU
Dreaming than an ex is still hung up on you can imply that "you 'miss' some aspect of that past relationship"... but alternatively, it could just mean that "you have moved on with your life."
dreams where AN EX GIVEs YOU ADVICE
Why on earth is the dude who dumped you while you were shopping for Christmas decorations at Target now showing up in your dreams and giving you advice about your current love? That's just your "subconscious ... telling you not to repeat the same mistakes that you had made with this ex."
dreams about SEEING An ancient EX
Dreaming of the person who frenched you at your middle school's Winter Wonderland dance, then broke up with you during pre-algebra the next day? Dreaming of an ex from childhood can mean that you want to "recapture the excitement, freedom, and vitality of youth," either in your current relationship, or just in your overall life.
dreams about SEEING YOUR PARTNER'S EX
A dream about your current boo's ex may mean that "you are comparing yourself to the
ex." Since dreams often draw from issues that preoccupy us while we're awake, this one can probably be handled by attempting to come to terms with your feelings about your love's old flame.
dreams about SEEING YOUR EX'S FAMILY
An ex's mother making a cameo in a dream can mean that you may still have some "unresolved issues" with your former love.
dreams where YOUR EX IS SICK
If you dream that you nurse an ex back to health, or even if you simply dream that they are in a hospital, you may be "still dealing with the break-up."
dreams where your EX dies
This one is a real doozy. Dreaming of the death of anyone you know can be terrifying — and dreaming about the death of someone you were once close to, even if you'd like to never talk to them again, can be even worse. Throw in some of the rougher stuff we sometimes say in the heat of the moment right after a break-up, and a dream about an ex's death can be a recipe for a guilt hangover the entire next day.
But don't worry — a dream like this is generally just "a metaphor for how you have let go of the past and are ready to move on and fully devote yourself to new relationships." So it (probably) does NOT mean you'd like your ex to actually die, no matter what you may have said to your friends the last time you were three margaritas deep into a happy hour. Phew.
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