What Do Dreams About Your Ex Mean?

Woman sleeping at home
Originally Published: 

You and your ex have been broken up for a while, and you're finally feeling better about the split — 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? Or has the current state of the world just got you thinking of your ex more frequently and it's starting to show up in you dreams?

Dreaming about an ex can be an extremely unnerving experience, especially if you're already in a relationship. But before you start worrying about what it all really means, Stephanie Gailing, dream life guide and author of The Complete Book of Dreams, tells Bustle, "It’s always important to consider the context of the waking-life experience when trying to understand what the dream may be reflecting."

For example, dreaming about an ex now could mean something completely different than if you had dreamt about that same ex a few months ago. "Waking-life context is instrumental in helping us to further understand the wisdom and insights our dreams are offering," Gailing says.

The good thing is that dreaming of an ex is very common, and, according to dream interpretation and analysis website Dream Moods, it doesn't necessarily mean you're still interested in them.

Here are some of the most common explanations for why exes show up in our dreams, long after they're no longer welcome in our lives.

Dreams About Seeing Your Ex

Just seeing an ex in a dream can mean a lot of things — some of them kinda intense, 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 thinking of the good memories you shared together.

Dreams About Hooking Up With Your Ex

Dreams about hooking up with your ex 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? DreamMoods says that's your subconscious telling you to move on — 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. Your dream of reuniting can be based on 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," DreamMoods explains. 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 having a partner and feel wanted.

Dreams Where Your Ex Is Missing You

Dreaming that 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 showing up in your dreams and giving you advice about your current partner? 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, DreamMoods says.

Dreams About Seeing Your Partner's Ex

A dream about your current partner'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 nursed an ex back to health, or even if you simply dream that they're in a hospital, you may be "still dealing with the breakup."

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 breakup, 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.

This article was originally published on