ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Interpreting the Ex as a Dream Symbol

Updated on January 26, 2013

Introduction to Ex Dreams

One of the more perplexing dreams that dreamers report having are those dealing with dreams involving exes.

No matter if the break-up was amicable or heart-wrenching, or if the dreamer was the leaver or the leavee, or if the break-up was years in the past or just a few days ago, dreams of exes always perplex dreamers--but for different reasons.

Those involved in a fresh break-up where emotions are still raw may see the dreams as indicators that a reunion is on the horizon.

Those for who the break-up happened so long ago they hardly think of the former partner may wonder why s/he is now a dream character.

Here are some ideas as to why exes appear in dreams and how to interpret them and the messages that bring--some of which may be surprising.

Ex Dreams as Wish Fulfilment

Wish Fulfillment
Wish Fulfillment | Source

Don't You Want Me, Baby?

Dreams Occurring After Recent Break-Ups

Dreams about exes--boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives, lovers--tend to occur most prolifically immediately following a breakup.

The reason?

Because one is still raw with emotion and the dreams following the dissolution of the relationship are more or less attempts to sort out and process the unresolved feelings left in the wake of the breakup.

Dreams following a breakup may be least likely to give much symbolic information, yet may provoke the strongest emotions.

If one still misses the ex, or if the breakup was not the dreamer's choice, dreaming about the ex may provoke feelings of longing or hope--especially if the dream indicates a reunion is imminent.

On the other hand, dreams of an ex with whom one experienced a bitter break-up or felt the sting of betrayal, are likely to invoke feelings of anger, resentment, rage or grief.

No matter how the dream manifests, the sad truth is that it is highly unlikely that the dream is a prophecy promoting a reunion.

In fact, most dreams about recent break-ups are know as "wish fulfillment" dreams, which are covered below.

Sterling Broken Heart Ring


Wear this as a reminder that even broken hearts remain whole deep on the inside.


Don't You Want Me, Baby? Wish Fulfillment Dreams

After the initial breakup, or rather, after the breakup that one finally comprehends is THE breakup, the one that is final and real, a certain feeling of denial sets in.

This is the stage of the breakup where one feels that peculiar, odd feeling of calmness, of detachment, of complete understanding that the relationship is over.

Moreover, there is an feeling that it is good that the relationship is over, and that one has reached a maturity level wherein one can completely accept the end of the relationship with no need for grief, pain, tears or remorse.

This feeling is the beauty known as denial.

Denial is that feeling that breaks the fall, that holds the dreamer in check until she can actually come to grips with the shock of some waking life event and grieve properly.

During the denial stage, dreamers are likely to experience very pleasant dreams of the ex--dreams of reconciliation, dreams of things being as they were prior to the breakup, dreams of complete resolution, of things being better than they were even when the relationship was going well.

Such optimistic dreams are likely to lead dreamers to see such dreams as prophecies--indications that somehow, someway, all that could not be worked out in the waking world somehow will.

Such dreams are likely to lead to feelings that one has been involved in a romance that one might equate to being one of soul mate quality with dreams offering proof of the that status.

Sadly, these dreams are more than likely not prophetic.

Instead reconciliation dreams shortly after a breakup likely fall into the category of dreams known as "wish fulfillment" dreams.

Wish fulfillment dreams occur when there is sever dissonance in what the waking world has dealt the dreamer instead of what the dream envisioned would be the outcome of a waking life experience.

To compensate for this dissonance, dreams that fulfill the dreamers wish occur to give a kind of balance to the overwhelming disappointment one feels but cannot process nor find an apt solution for in the waking world.

The reason so many wish fulfillment dreams feel so prophetic, feel so much like things that simply must come to pass is because there are specifically designed to make the dreamer feel that way--to feel the hope at least in the unconscious areas of the psyche so as to soften the conscious mind until it can regain its footing.

It is imperative not to view such dreams as prophecies because doing so will ultimately only cause the dream more pain--pain the dreams are specifically attempting to alleviate.

Bell Bottom Blues - Clapton, Derek and the Dominoes

Learning to Interpret the Ex Symbolically

At this point, the ex in the dream begins to give the dreamer more information and insight that previously when he or she was acting basically as a mirror to the actual waking life person known to the dreamer.

Some things to consider when attempting to understand what an ex means in a dream are:

  • The ex's career. Many people not only define themselves, but their partners by their careers. Instead of saying, "I practice medicine" most people make the declarative statement "I am a doctor." What was your ex's career? Was she a dentist? Did she sell used cars? Was he a therapist? A stand up comedian? Look at the career of the ex in the dream and ask what symbolic message that career holds. Remember--you are dreaming of an ex--if your ex was a stand-up comedian, is it possible that laughter has been excised from life?
  • Think back to the time period spent with the ex. What were the living circumstances back then? Were there financial problems? Were there goals dreamed of but never pursued? What significant life events took place at that time? The ex in a dream may be a stand in for either unresolved issues from that time or the ex may be reminding the dreamer to pursue forgotten goals.
  • What kind of abode was inhabited--an owned home, a rented apartment, a basement in a relatives house? Homes often stand-in for parts of the self or the body. If one is currently living in a home but dreaming of living in a basement with an ex, this could indicate that the dreamer still feels as if he is living underground, or could indicate some form of depression.
  • Outside of struggles with the ex, what other events were occurring? Were children born? Were new careers started? Think of the the ex in these terms and see if waking life is mirroring the past. See if there is any wisdom from the past that can be applied to current conditions.
  • Think of friends that were around during the time of the relationship. Are they still a part of one's life? If not, why?


When an ex appears in a dream, attempt to analyze him or her precisely as one would any other dream character--one must forget that the person one was involved with personally and think of the ex as a person one knows just like any other person from waking life.

Attempt to describe, with complete objectivity the ex to person who as never met him or her before. Describe what s/he did, does, where s/he is now (if known), what s/he was passionate about, etc.

This is important because as odd as it sounds, by the time one has recovered from the grief of the lost relationship, the ex may be standing in as an anima/animus figure--the hidden male within the female.

More on the anima/animus can be found in the "Dig Deeper" section below.

When the Ex Becomes a Symbol

However, dreams of exes that occur after extended periods of absence from the ex generally carry completely different meanings and are often give far more profitable information to help the dreamer gain greater personal insight and power.

Once the initial phase of dreaming of a recent ex has passed, one may still experience dreams about one's ex, however, at this point, the ex has generally become more of a symbol for something rather than representing the actual person the ex was.

It is at this point that the ex can begin to be a source of valuable symbolic information rather than a source of grief or pain.

Read on to discover howl

Exes as Carry Overs of Old Patterns

As previously pointed out, one of the questions dreamers should ask when attempting to interpret the ex as a symbol, key questions to ask and ponder are those that involve an introspective look at the time, time period and activities one spent with one's ex.

One must not only account for daily activities and life events, but one must also think back to the emotions one experienced during that time.

Once this has been done, one should look to the waking world and see if similar situations exist, even on a symbolic level, in the current waking world.

The reason this is important is that the ex may be communicating the message that one's life is existing, that one's reactions are on par with, that one's life circumstances are precisely the same as they were when one was with one's ex.

What this can mean is that one is continuing to carry on with habits and ways of life one swore off after leaving the ex behind.

The reason this analysis is important is because all too often people in general blame their life failures on the connections they have made with the wrong mate.

All too often one feels that if only one had not been involved with the ex, things would have gone much better. The ex is blamed for anything failed or sabotaged in life.

While it is certainly true that they are companions who are vindictive for no reason and who carry malice in their hearts, the truth is that the only constant in any relationship is you. Characters may come and go from one's life, but one remains the same no matter who enters and exits the house of the soul.

Dreams of exes may painfully be pointing out ways in which the dreamer is like the ex or alternatively they may point out the behaviours, thoughts, and beliefs that the dreamer has that almost magically conjure the type of person that will reinforce one's negative opinion of one's self and keep one locked in a space of static non growth and eternal return of repeated mistakes.

It is important to look at the time one spent with the ex to see if there are any similarities between that time and the present.



Dreams about exes usually fall into three categories:

  • Wish fulfillment dreams--dreams that attempt to compensate for the loss in the waking life by fulfilling the dreamer's desire in the realm of sleep.
  • Dreams that are processing the issues related to the break-up thereby assisting the dreamer with resolving relationship issues so that the process of going forward without can move more swiftly and the dreamer can resolve the relationship and continue moving forward in life.
  • Dreams where the ex is showing up in a highly symbolic capacity and needs to be interpreted from a lens that extends beyond the physical person the dreamer knew in the waking world.

It is up to the dreamer to determine which category the ex in the dream falls into. It is also imperative that the dreamer not leap to the conclusion that dreams of exes are prophecies of reunion so as to avoid adding more heartache on top of heartbreak.

With or WIthout You - U2


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 

      3 years ago from Rochester, New York

      It is interesting that people can see how the mind works in overdrive even as the body rests and rebuilds itself. We are "fearfully and wonderfully made." Well, I have constant dreams of the ex and of my current wife and they interchange randomly throughout stories. In fact faces change as many as 10 or twenty times if I sit and remember quickly enough. I imagine there are more faces that I forget. That has me a little perplexed just wondering why so many people appear in my memory from all years of my life and I treat them all as if it is the same person. Weird to me. And now the disturbing part for me is that my dreams are getting more physical and I am thrashing around or rolling out of bed. The other night I was up on the top of a staircase and the staircase disappeared. I jumped down from one level to the bottom and landed (with a thud) on the floor. I knew that my body was aware where it was and made up the coming fall. Wow, am I strange or what? hahaha

      I voted up and interesting. Bob.

    • EsmeSanBona profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Macon

      You're a star!

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      4 years ago from North Carolina

      You Bet Esme...and do think you'll get a lot of them.

    • EsmeSanBona profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Macon

      Thank you Alastar! All the emanations I can get will make me happy. I'm glad the ex has lost her role in your dreams.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      4 years ago from North Carolina

      That's okay. She's been replaced in dreamland anyway. I wondered what happened to you and am glad to see you back. My intuitions say you will be successful in your battle. Positive emanations sending forth.:)

    • EsmeSanBona profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Macon

      Hi Alastar--I know it has been a LONG TIME since you wrote your comment. I wasn't being rude or ignoring it, I've been battling some health problems and haven't been online. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      5 years ago from North Carolina

      This has really helped me to understand why I still occasionally have an ex -fiance in dreams despite the relationship ending some 25 years ago. She was the true first love-lust woman in my life and it took a long time to get over the 3 year union. By the way, the real trouble started when I admitted to kissing a girl in Europe, nothing further happened between us, however- and it was the only time something like that happened- I really was faithful. Anyway an evil and jealous relative saw an opening with this and spread rumors I was cheating on her back home. She believed her and that was that. These dreams she appears in now aren't sexual so much as just the both of us going through sub-consciously created situations.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)