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An expert decodes those very confusing dreams about your ex

Don’t worry, you don’t necessarily want to hook up with them just because they showed up in your REM cycle.

As someone who wasn’t blessed with the weird-flexing ability to remember my dreams the next morning, I now make a conscious effort to jot them down before I go back to sleep. That being said, when I wake up and take a look, those scribbled thoughts look like: “Teeth falling out. Ow” and “Naked at work, wtf.” Big yikes. The good news is, these types of dreams are totally normal. And before you freak out, dreams about your exes are too.

“When we dream, the psyche is processing information on many levels. Sometimes the psyche is simply ‘processing and filing’ information that has not been given attention during waking hours,” says clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD. “The psyche is working through information on a symbolic level—to which the person in the dream is simply a representation of a certain issue.”


So, no, dreaming about the ex you took to homecoming your freshman year of high school doesn’t necessarily mean you need to slide back into his or her DMs. Then again, maybe you have an underlying issue with them that you do need to address—in which case, you should absolutely slide on back (I don’t make the rules, Freud does). But if you want to decode a specific dream about an ex, here are the 10 most common ones and what they may mean for you:

You went to pound town in dreamland with your ex.

Um, so this is awkward. You probably woke up in a cold sweat wondering why the f*ck you just had sex with your ex who couldn’t even make you orgasm in the first place. “In general, this may mean that you want to have a connection with your ex—or at least some aspect of your ex,” says Manly. This doesn’t mean you fully want to “u up?” them, but mayyybe you just want to catch up and grab some super chill coffee.

Your ex is literally ignoring you.

This one is a bit more obvious, but it probably means that you have the perception that your ex is ignoring you. If they just recently blocked you or removed you from their social media profiles, this could def be the culprit. “This could also mean that you’re ignoring something from that past relationship that needs to come into awareness,” says Manly.

You’re fighting with your ex. Again. What’s new?

Considering this person is an ex for a reason, things were probably left, shall I say, not on the best terms? Perhaps from an argument? “Fighting with an ex in a dream can be about resolving the vestiges of an actual fight with an ex,” says Manly. TL;DR: You’re still pissed they missed your cousin’s wedding and they never apologized.

Your ex is cheating on you.


Okay, it’s one thing to have this happen to you IRL…but to see it in a dream? Yikes. “This type of dream can allow the psyche to process feelings of betrayal,” says Manly. So maybe they didn’t cheat, but you still feel betrayed they picked their bros over you that one Saturday night (FWIW: totally justified).

You are getting back together with them.

Again, you probably just low-key miss them. It doesn’t necessarily mean you want to get back together with them—more that you miss their family and sending each other dog memes. “This could also mean the dreamer is reconnecting with an important part of the self that was cast aside during the relationship or in the present,” says Manly.

You high-key miss them.

Whether this is true in your actual life or just during your snooze fest, this dream is a natural way for the psyche to process the loss of an ended relationship says Manly. “It could be that the dreamer feels a certain amount of personal identity was ‘lost’ in the relationship.”

They miss you.

“Such a dream can indicate that the dreamer desires to be wanted and missed,” says Manly. I’m no psychic, but if I had to guess, your love language is probably words of affirmation, huh? But anyway, again, don’t focus on the fact that your ex was in this dream; you could be ready for desire and attention elsewhere (read: a bunch of Tinder matches sending you The Office pickup lines).

You meet your ex’s new S.O. who you had “nothing to worry about” while in the relationship. Sure, Jan.

If your ex in reality is with someone new, this probs means that you’re feeling replaced and rejected. But if not, meeting the future new bae of someone (who once meant a lot to you) can be a super-anxiety-inducing experience. “The psyche sometimes works out possible responses beforehand to use the dream as a forum,” says Manly. Basically, your dream is prepping you for the inevitable that will happen. Kind of cool, huh?