Dreaming about an ex can be a really odd experience. Sometimes they're nostalgic, sometimes they're sexual, sometimes they are so random and out of the blue that they throw you for a loop. An ex can play a lot of roles in your dream — whether you're imaging ex sex or they just randomly pop up buying celery at an underwater grocery store. But what does it mean if you dream about getting back together with an ex?
That's when things get a little more complicated. Luckily, those dreams don't necessarily mean you're actually hoping to get back together. Relationships can be very intense — and sometimes your brain just needs to sort through it all.
"Even in the most enlightened of breakups (which are few and far between), there are lingering feelings of guilt, shame, rejection, abandonment, and bruises to your sense of self-worth and still left in the balance," Kelly Sullivan Walden, a dream expert and author of Love, Sex, Relationship Dream Dictionary, tells Bustle. "Your dreams are so brilliant that they can help you retrieve all the magic, passion, innocence, trust, and retrieve all your joie de vivre you left on the chopping block, without you ever having to see that person, live in the flesh, or in Facebook or Instagram, ever again."
But do dreams about getting back together with an ex ever mean something more? Here's what the experts had to say.
Often, You're Just Processing
The good news? You may just be processing any parts of the relationship you didn't deal with at the time — that's totally normal. "Dreams of getting back together with an ex-lover don’t necessarily mean that you are still carrying a torch for that person or that you will ever be back in a relationship with them," Walden says to Bustle. "More often than not these dreams denote unfinished business."
That may mean that you still have feelings (more on that later), but it could be much more straightforward. So many of us have run over old arguments again and again, thinking about what we could have said — your dreams can be your brain's way of doing that for a whole relationship.
If It's A More Recent Ex, It Can Be Complicated
Let's face it, sometimes we do dream about people we're not over — and that can be especially true if the breakup is still fresh. "If you dream of getting back together with a recent ex, and you miss that ex, it is not only an expression of what you want but also a good indication you have not been able to move on," dream analyst Lauri Quinn Loewenberg tells Bustle. "In which case you should remind yourself that the relationship ended for a reason and that perhaps this one fell apart so that something better can fall together!" It can be hard when you're still in the brokenhearted, pining-away stages — but if breaking up was the right thing to do, then a dream doesn't change that.
Look For Parallels In Your Current Life
Sometimes the links between the dream and your ex can be more complicated. They might be more about the place you were in or the type of relationship it was — whether it was good or bad. "If you dream of getting back with an ex from long ago but have no desire to be with that ex again, ask yourself what stands out to you about that ex or about that relationship," Loewenberg tells Bustle. "There is something about them or something from back then that you may need now or are experiencing now."
In fact, these kinds of dreams can be a warning. "If you dream of getting back with a horrible or abusive ex, it could reflect an underlying concern that you are falling back into an unhealthy pattern with someone else," Loewenberg tells Bustle. "Ask yourself what is going on now that feels similar to then. Most importantly, ask yourself if YOU are the one being too hard, abusive or critical to yourself. When we go through an abusive relationship, it tears down our self-esteem and confidence and we get in the habit of very negative self-talk. Ask yourself if you are doing that to yourself."
Dreams can often be confusing — and even overwhelming. Dreams about an ex are no different. But usually it just means you're still processing something from that relationship — or even just that period of your life. But if you have feelings that are lingering, your dreams might be reminding you of that — let's face it, dreams can be annoying that way.