Getting an over ex can be short and sweet — or it can be what feels like a never-ending battle. Sometimes it can seem incredible (and a little worrying), to find that an ex keeps popping up in your head, even months or years after you think you're over it. And one place where exes can definitely keep rearing their ugly heads is in your dreams. What does it mean if you have recurring dreams about an ex? It's easy to start panicking and assuming that you're still in love with them — or even that you need to get back together with them. But the reality is much more complicated.
The first thing to remember is that having dreams about your ex — even having recurring dreams about your ex — is really, really normal. “We all have a cast of characters who play in our dream theatre. And all of us have (at least) one ex with a recurring role," Kelly Sullivan Walden, a dream expert and author of Love, Sex, Relationship Dream Dictionary told Bustle. "This is partially due to (mental) habit, partially due to what your ex represents to you, and partially due to an attempt to heal unresolved issues (perhaps the reason for breakup).” So, at one point, you thought about this person a lot — your brain might just be bringing them up again and again out of habit. But sometimes, there's a deeper meaning at play — so here's what you need to keep in mind.
It Can Be More About You Than About Them
Sometimes, you internalize things about an ex — especially if you were so close that you viewed them almost as a foundational part of who you are. “When we fall in love with anyone, we project onto them qualities and traits we admire or detest, and essentially use them to hold pieces of our own psyche and to learn more about the missing or incomplete parts of ourselves,” Dr. Jennifer Freed, a family behavioral specialist, tells Bustle.
Because of this intimate connection, if you're having recurring dreams about them, it may be that you're trying to deal with the parts of yourself that you view in relation to your ex. “Dreaming of your ex is actually a sign that you are making your best effort to own the parts of you that you gave over to them, whether good or bad, and that you have an opportunity to to become more whole,” Freed says. So don't use these dreams as an excuse to text them.
What If You Dream About Cheating On Your Current Partner With Your Ex?
Having recurring dreams about an ex gets more complicated if you're in a new relationship. Dreaming about someone else is always a little awkward when you're in a relationship, but it gets even weirder if it's an ex that you've had trouble getting over. But try not to overthink it. "It's important not to get down on yourself for the contents of your dream," Chris Brantner, Certified Sleep Science Coach at SleepZoo.com, tells Bustle. "You can't control them. Just because you dream you cheated on your significant other doesn't mean you will. It doesn't even necessarily mean it's crossed your mind. You have nothing to feel guilty about (assuming you haven't actually been cheating!). What does cheating in your dream mean? First, it's worth noting that while dreams are full of symbols, there's no one-size-fits-all interpretation. Your dreams and symbols have to be looked at through a personal filter."
The one thing that you might want to pay attention to is if your dreams about your ex — or dreams about anything — involve things you feel guilty about, because that can be a sign that you're feeling guilty more generally. "That being said, cheating in your dream could mean that there's something you feel guilty about in real life," Brantner says. "It could be something wrong you did or a situation or relationship where you feel like you aren't giving your all. After you calm down from the shock of your dream, take a few moments to look inward and really consider any guilty feelings you have and where they could possibly stem from."
If you're having a recurring dream about your ex, it's easy to think that the only answer is that you're not over them yet — but a lot of the time that's just not the case. Maybe you're feeling guilty, maybe you're processing something about the breakup or how you felt about them, or maybe it's just a habit your brain has gotten used to. You know in your gut if you're not over your ex — a dream just isn't worth panicking about, no matter how often you have it.