If you’ve ever woken up from a dream and thought, "What the heck did that mean?", you’re not alone. Dreams can be profound, impactful, and even terrifying. And breakup dreams — depending on your current relationship situation — can be all of the above. They can leave you wondering what breakup dreams really mean, and why you're having one in the first place. If you’re currently in a relationship, does dreaming about breaking things off with your partner mean the romance is doomed? If you keep dreaming about a past breakup, does it mean you’re not really over it? And if you're currently single and still dreaming of breakups, what in the world could that possibly be about?
To answer these questions, it's important to understand the role dreams can play in helping you process things on a subconscious level. "Dreams are often opportunities to work out issues and events that concern you," Dr. LeslieBeth Wish, nationally recognized psychotherapist and author of Training Your Love Intuition, tells Elite Daily. "But don't make the mistake of thinking that the 'script' of your dream is a prediction of what will happen or a warning of what you should do. Dreams are not necessarily fortune-tellers or wise seers. Dreams are one of humans' great, common tools as symbolic reminders and wake up calls about things that require your attention. They're similar to children's fairy tales that have a warning or message about life, people, and our basic human fears such as abandonment." With that in mind, here's what the experts say all those breakup dreams you've been having really mean.
Having Breakup Dreams When You’re In A Relationship
Dreaming about breaking up with your partner can be the most unsettling type of breakup dream, but don't panic. While Karen Frazier, author of The Dream Interpretation Handbook, says that sometimes these dreams can be literal and indicate it's time to end your relationship, oftentimes they're much less straightforward. “A breakup dream could also signify that it’s time to end certain patterns in your relationship or to take your relationship to a new level," Frazier tells Elite Daily. "These dreams don’t necessarily foretell the end of a relationship. They might also be telling you it’s time to let certain aspects of your relationship go so you can move onto something that serves you better."
These dreams could also be a warning sign from your subconscious that you're feeling insecure in the relationship, clinical psychologist Dr. John Mayer tells Elite Daily. “Such dreams can identify some performance anxiety you may harbor about your actions and feelings in the relationship, and performance anxiety can make us motivated to do better in the relationship. If you're overconfident in the relationship and therefore, not have a breakup dream, you can take the other person for granted and that can doom a relationship."
And finally, in some cases, a breakup dream can be a red flag from your subconscious that you need to take a closer look at the relationship, says Dr. Wish. “Your dream might be telling you to think about you, your partner, and recent and past issues,” she explains. “Breaking up could be the best thing to do if your partner's not a good match or a good person, but your dream could also be about breaking up because you don't want to face your issues. Use your dream as a prompt to do some deep, serious, and brave self-exploration.”
Having Breakup Dreams When You're Single
Even though you can't technically break up with someone when you're single, you can still dream about breakups. However, these dreams are more likely to mean something different. “A breakup dream when you’re not partnered is most likely symbolic,” says Frazier. “The most common interpretation is that there’s something in your life that's no longer serving you, and it’s time to let that go.” To learn what that could be, Frazier says to try to remember the surrounding details in your dream. They could be clues. “For example, look for dominant traits of the person you’re breaking up with, [or] the place the breakup is occurring. These are context clues that can help you to better understand what the dream is suggesting it’s time to let go of."
These dreams can also represent how you feel about relationships in general at the moment, says Dr. Wish. “It could be about your fears of committing. Heed the message that you need to take a self-inventory about you and your fears and doubts about your life,” she advises.
Dreaming About Past Breakups
If a past breakup is still haunting your dreams, Frazier says it's likely because you're still processing residual emotions from that relationship ending. “[These dreams] can also show you that you are still living in the past, or that you’re still clinging to something that doesn’t serve you. The dreams remind you that until you let go, you won’t be able to move forward,” she explains. While this process may be painful, Dr. Mayer says these dreams can be "great learning tools and mechanisms for growth."
Breakup dreams, ultimately, are like every other kind of dream in that they can provide real insight into your subconscious, says Dr. Wish. “Dreams are your brain's way of ringing the bell and tapping on your door, to wake up and answer the call to do some deep and effective self-exploration of you and your life. Most of us are afraid to face ourselves, and when we dream about specific topics, such as breaking up, the dream allows our fears to rise to the surface."
Next time you have a dream that you feel is especially meaningful — about breakups or otherwise — don’t be afraid to take a closer look at what it could mean, because you are the best interpreter of your own dreams, says Frazier. “If you suspect a dream means something, you’re probably right. Dreams come from your subconscious, and nobody knows your conscious and subconscious mind better than you. The reason we need our subconscious minds to intervene through dreams is because we often fail to acknowledge consciously what we know in the back of our minds. Our dreams are here to provide us with insight about ourselves,” she explains. “Trust yourself and listen to your dreams. Chances are, you understand them better than you think you do.”
Dr. John Mayer, clinical psychologist