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Why does your ex keep popping up in your dreams? A dream interpreter explains

Spoiler: Dreams about past relationships are more about you than about your ex.

Has your ex been appearing in your dreams? This kind of nocturnal haunting is not uncommon. The reasons your ex is showing up in your dreams are varied, ranging from unresolved feelings to a sense of growth.

As a professional dream interpreter, I believe our dreams have messages that need to be heard. If your past boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife or partner is showing up, it's for a reason. But why? The answer is different depending on the scenario.

Dreams help us work out what we're really feeling, but perhaps can't admit logically. Through interpreting dreams, we can process and move forward. No matter the scenario, ask yourself: How did this dream make me feel?

Below, let's break down some of the possible meanings of an ex in a dream.

What did my ex appear in my dreams just as I started a new relationship?

New relationships can bring up all sorts of emotions, beliefs and patterned ways for relating.

If your relationship with your ex was a loving and compassionate one but it just didn’t work out, then your psyche may just be alerting you to the fact that this new relationship has the potential for love just like your previous relationship did, but this time you’ll have to do something different for it to last.  

On the other hand, if your past relationship was difficult or toxic, the dream may appear to help you work out any fear that you are experiencing in opening up yourself to a new partner.

Focus on the newness of the relationship but honor the wisdom of your past.

What does it mean if my ex was chasing me in a dream?

You’re trying to get away from your ex — and all the baggage that comes with that relationship — but somehow there they are in your dreams chasing you. What gives?

If your ex was running after you in your dream, this could be your psyche’s way of alerting you something in your current relationship making you feel like a pattern is repeating. Does your new relationship mimic the old one? Is your new partner treating you like your the past one did?

In this case, the dream message is clear: It's high time to confront your relationship patterns and address what you (and your current partner, if you're in one) need to do.

The same pattern will keep showing up if you keep behaving, or reacting, in the same manner.

What does it mean if I dream my ex is trying to get back together?

If you're single and you have this kind of dream, this may be a sign you're longing for a relationship. Perhaps you're still working on lingering sadness, grief or anger from the breakup. The dream acts as a kind of wish fulfillment.

Alternatively, you might not feel as if the relationship is over. There may be a subconscious wish to reunite with your ex, have the last word, or to have them want you so badly so that any feelings of rejection are lessened.

If you're in a relationship and you have a dream where your ex is trying to get back with you, then reflect on how your current relationship is making you feel.

This kind of dream could indicate that you're participating in escapism — retreating to the comfort of your past. What in your current relationship is allowing that door to remain open, if not in reality, perhaps just then in your mind? 

What does it mean if I dream my ex is breaking up with me?

It doesn't matter what actually happened in your breakup with said ex — this dream is about rejection of all sorts.

If this dream comes up, that means something, or someone, is making you feel unwanted.

There’s a sense of endings and loss in a dream like this. Reflect on what is happening in your life across arenas of love and career. Is there a place where you don't feel in control of an ending?

What does it mean if my ex is trying to kill me in a dream?

A dream like this is a loud message from your subconscious alerting you to the possibility that you may need to reclaim something that was lost in the relationship. In other words, the reclaiming of something that was "killed" during the course of the relationship.

This could be something as simple as allowing yourself to feel hopeful as opposed to jaded when you enter new relationships. Perhaps you stopped doing something you loved to please your partner, or you tried to mold yourself into something you weren’t and so this nightmare comes along to tell you to stop allowing that internalized figure, your ex, to have control over your life.

This is message to move towards life giving activities that bring you joy. What activities lights you up? Go and cultivate those things in your life.

This dream also comes to alert you to the status of your emotional world. It may be helpful to talk to someone about what went down in the relationship, and how it all made you feel so that you can process any anger, loss, rage, or disappointment. Nightmare figures (like an ex trying to kill you) can be worked with in a way so as to release you from any heavy feelings that may be keeping you in a stalled pattern.    

Why am I dreaming of my ex and his or her family?

When a relationship ends, other relationships end too.

Perhaps you got used to spending time with your ex’s family and being part of their unit. The breakup changed all of that.

This kind of dream alerts you to underlying feelings of sadness that you may be experiencing so that you can work through it and move forward positively.  

I cheated on my ex and the relationship ended, so why do I keep dreaming of them?

Cheating often brings up feelings of betrayal (especially for those who are cheated on), so perhaps you need to reflect on how you may have affected your partner at the time.

Did you hurt them? Or did you cheat in reaction to something that they were doing? Or was the relationship so unhealthy that in some way you knew it would end if you cheated?

Relationship dynamics are often complex, and so a dream like this isn’t about judgment so much as it is about self-reflection. What was it in you that drove you to cheat, do you need to make amends (for your peace of mind as well as their healing)? Only you can know that answer, so unpack this dream further and rely on honesty to illuminate the path forward. 

My ex broke up with me out of the blue, and then never spoke to me again. Why am I still dreaming of them?

The dream may be trying to help you find closure — without the aid of your ex.

Rather than wait for an apology that may never come, the dream is trying to give you an avenue to move on, showing you scenarios that can help you resolve this inner conflict.

I dreamed my ex was really ill. What does that mean? 

Illness in dreams often alert us to the need for the healing. I

So, if you haven’t spoken to or seen your ex recently and there's no reason to believe he or she is sick, then the dream may be saying it's time for you to heal. Your ex is a symbol of your past.

The dream may actually have nothing to do with your ex and everything to do with you. In other words, it’s time to heal from your past. 

Is dreaming of an ex a sign that I should get back together with them? 

Not necessarily.

Reflect on the quality of the relationship and why it ended in the first place. More often than not, these kinds of dreams are simply your subconscious’s way of telling you that something in your life right now is a remnant of an experience or emotion that was deeply felt during the relationship.

Ask yourself, why this dream in this way right now. Our dreams come to help us. A dream of an ex is no different.