Getting over an ex is hard... especially when they start haunting you in your dreams. But don’t worry too much. Dreaming about an ex-partner is not some subliminal sign that you should get back together with them. It’s actually really common, and it’s not something you need to get too concerned about. Still, it can be distracting and frustrating. Fortunately, there are some ways to stop dreaming about your ex and put these nightmares to bed for good.
First, the big question: What does dreaming about your ex mean? According to Layne Dalfen, The Dream Analyst, “Dreaming about your ex is probably not even about them.” Typically, dreams are more metaphorical — so it’s less about your ex and more about “what they represent to you,” Dalfen explains.
Plus, having these kinds of dreams isn’t exactly unusual. Theresa Cheung, dream expert and bestselling author (whose upcoming book, How to Catch a Dream, will be out in the UK in January 2022), tells Elite Daily, “Dreaming of ex-partners is very common because your dreaming mind knows strong emotions are involved, and you are therefore more likely to recall this kind of dream.”
Addressing these emotions is the only way to stop these dreams for good. Dalfen tells Elite Daily, “Once you understand why [your subconscious is] using your ex in a dream, they disappear from your dream.” But in order to do that, you first have to figure out what the dream means. So let’s break it down.
The Dream’s Meaning Changes, Depending On The Ex
According to Lauri Loewenberg, a professional dream analyst, the meaning of the dream depends on what role that particular ex played in your life. She tells Elite Daily, “If it’s your most recent ex, you are likely dreaming about them because your subconscious is trying to help you come to terms with the ending of the relationship and help you to reach closure.”
But, per Loewenberg, this isn’t the most common type of ex-related dream. “The ex we tend to dream about the most, however, is our first love,” she says. “When that first love appears in a dream, it’s not really them. It is your own passion. And your subconscious just might be doing a comparison between your life then and now: Are you in a dry spell? Is your current relationship lacking spice?”
She adds, “Dreaming about your first love is your subconscious telling you that it’s time to reignite the flame either in your current relationship or perhaps even to find something that can bring this same sort of excitement into your life.”
On the other hand, if it’s a toxic relationship you’re remembering in your dreams, it probably means there are some lingering hurt feelings. “Dreaming of the abusive or cheating ex is a strong indication that you haven’t been able to let go of the distrust, the anger, and the resentment that they created,” Loewenberg says.
Dreaming About Your Ex Is Not A Sign To Get Back Together
No matter which ex you’re dreaming about or what happens in the dream, it doesn’t mean that you should still be together. I repeat: A dream about your ex is not a sign to get back together.
“It doesn’t mean you want to go back to that relationship,” Cheung says. It just might just mean that there are still some loose ends that need some closure. “Or, and this is more likely, the lessons you learned from that relationship need to be applied right now in your current relationships or waking life,” she adds.
On the other hand, it could be that “something about your ex’s personality needs to be integrated into yours to benefit your personal growth.” Either way, it’s not a sign that you’re secretly pining for your ex in your sleep.
Still, you probably want these dreams to stop, so here’s how to put them to rest once and for all.
How Can You Stop Dreaming About Your Ex?
Analyzing your dream to understand what your ex represents is important, but if you want them to stop, it’s equally important not to over-analyze these dreams. “I would say it is more about shifting your thoughts, your mindset,” Loewenberg says. “Your dreams are a continuation of your thought stream from the day. If you find yourself thinking about your ex or ruminating on how you are feeling in regards to your ex, your dreams will simply continue that thought process.”
Loewenberg recommends filtering out these thoughts before your head hits the pillow. “You do this by journaling right before you turn out your light to go to sleep. Get all your thoughts and frustrations out of you and onto paper,” she explains. “This allows you to sort out all those jumbled, upsetting thoughts. It gets them out of your head and onto paper.”
With a little dream analysis and some therapeutic journaling, you’ll be back to having sweet (and ex-free) dreams in no time.
Layne Dalfen, The Dream Analyst
Theresa Cheung, dream expert and bestselling author
Lauri Loewenberg, professional dream analyst