Are You Dreaming About Your Ex?

Are you disconcerted to realise that you’re dreaming about your ex in spite of your best efforts to move on from the relationship?

An interesting 2023 survey by Get Laid Beds has revealed that Dreaming About an Ex is a very ‘popular’ dream, highlighting how many of us use our dreamscape to work through unfinished business, as well as process associated hurts and emotions connected to the breakup. We may feel bad about our part in the failure of the relationship, wonder if we'll ever love again, be concerned about our future prospects of finding happiness,  all aiming to be resolved whilst we dream.

We may have thought that sleep was only for resting our bodies, the time when we finally get to take the weight off our feet and collapse into oblivion, but in reality, there's much more happening when we're asleep.

We use our sleep to digest food, to heal and renew our bodies, to detoxify and grow new cells. But, dreams and dreaming are also an integral part of our wellbeing, enabling us to also process what's happening in our daily lives.

How often have you heard the phrase, 'sleep on it, see how you feel in the morning', prompting you to pause when you're thinking about reacting hastily to something, possibly contentious, that's happening in your life. And often, the next day, after a good night’s sleep, you have a very different perspective on what to do next.  

Various research projects, most notably at Hull University, have discovered that we all dream approximately six dreams each night, but are programmed to forget them upon awakening. This is crucial as it stops us from confusing our dreams with reality. But sometimes our dreams are so vivid that we do remember them when we awaken.  

Dreams are the time to come to terms and find answers to unresolved issues, sometimes meaning that they’re quite repetitive, as we aim over time to reconcile our situation, perhaps by finding a new love or doing things that allow us to feel better about ourselves.

Repetitive dreams can be triggered when we encounter a familiar pattern with a recognisable, ‘here we go again’ element to it. Or when a situation cannot easily be resolved; we’re perhaps stuck in a boring, stressful job or a difficult relationship with limited options for the immediate future. Being on a frustrating treadmill can prompt our unconscious minds to try to find ways to resolve the situation.            

If you're interested in remembering your dreams in order to reflect on their messages and meanings for you, you could keep a notepad by your bed and write them down immediately upon awakening. That way you've a good chance of understanding what's uppermost on your mind, what you're working on during your sleep time.

Ultimately, you’re the best person to interpret your dreams, to sift through the storyline and discover what the underlying issues are; what feels good, bad or especially significant.

There are several commonly recognised symbols used in dreams which convey information.

Water often references emotions; whether it’s deep or shallow, smooth or turbulent, calm or threatening. Connect water in dreams to situations where heightened emotions are involved.

Houses and rooms often refer to ourselves; new rooms that we’ve never explored, or that have been left to become dusty and unused. Is now the time to enter and open some new doors to your potential? 

Familiar people may be those we have a problem with, as in poor communications, underlying tensions and issues. Or there may be characteristics and traits that we envy and aspire to adopt for ourselves. We can explore either in our dreams.

Celebrities are often people we’ve never met but who’ve been ascribed certain qualities and patterns of behaviour. They may, in our dreams, handle problems and situations in a particularly successful way, allowing us to acquire and model those traits, so moving forward from being stuck.       

 Animals in our dreams may have their associated ways of reacting and responding, enabling the introduction of resources and problem solving skills. An aggressive dog, playful kitten, passive sheep may bring helpful characteristics into a dream, in order to move something forward or resolve a matter.

Dreams may well include ‘magical’ skills and talents to allow us to cover impossible distances in order to remedy a problem. Flying, leaping great distances, falling, swimming underwater, fighting battles may all feature in our dreams as our unconscious allows us discover ways to move forward from our present situation. We don’t need to know how or why we acquired those skills. Sometimes it’s enough to simply be able to move forward.

Support your dreams by having a comfortable, uncluttered bedroom and give yourself time to wind down before bed. Then follow a regular routine where you treat sleep with respect. Allow your dreams to improve the quality of your life and you’ll become clearer about why you’re dreaming about your ex.

Relax and appreciate that dreaming about your ex is an important part of your healing process.


Susan Leigh, Altrincham, South Manchester Counsellor & Hypnotherapist