A Therapeutic Coach Tells Us Why Exes Might Appear In Your Dreams (& What To Do About It)

Whether you've recently gone through a breakup or haven't seen your ex in a decade, you've probably experienced the ick factor that comes with dreaming about at least one of your former partners. Even if you've managed to have a successful friendship with the ex who's popping up in your subconscious as you sleep, the experience can feel downright uncanny. If you have these dreams regularly, you might find yourself wondering what it all means and whether it reflects on your actual waking feelings.


In order to get an accurate breakdown of the meaning of this all-too-common dream scenario, Glam spoke exclusively to Delphi Ellis of Helping You Sparkle. As a therapeutic coach and the author of "Answers in the Dark: Grief, Sleep and How Dreams Can Help You Heal," Ellis has a unique perspective on why people sometimes dream about partners from the past and what it might mean if you can't shake these nocturnal visits from your ex. 

What does it mean to dream of an ex?

According to Delphi Ellis, there's no singular cause of dreams about exes. However, the phenomenon tends to boil down to one of three themes. The first? Not understanding what happened during the relationship or surrounding the breakup. "Unfinished business can sometimes show up in our dreams because we still feel we're owed an apology," she exclusively tells Glam. "Sometimes, our dreams give us the 'sorry' we never got, or we can give the apology we never got the chance to give."


Second is the possibility that you were recently exposed to something that your brain still associates with your ex, like a favorite song, movie, or food. Finally, there's the chance that your current relationship is triggering anxieties associated with the previous one. For example, Ellis points out that this could be "a fear that if an ex-partner cheated, it will happen again."

How to process dreams of a former partner

The only person who can truly interpret the dreams of your ex with complete accuracy is you. If you really want to become acquainted with your own subconscious, Delphi Ellis recommends writing down your dreams in a dream journal. "Keeping a dream diary can be key to understanding our dreams because it helps us spot patterns," she exclusively tells us. "If you're able to correlate what happened during the day with what showed up at night, it makes translating them a lot easier."


Ellis insists that dreaming about an ex doesn't mean that you aren't happy in your new relationship or that you should reach out to the ex in question. "People sometimes have these dreams because they're so happy," she explains, "but the dream perhaps reflects a fear that something could go wrong." She then reiterates that she doesn't recommend reaching out to an ex just because you've been dreaming about them. "Do the work of understanding why, rather than making it about them," she advises. Ultimately, our dreams appear to be ways of looking out for ourselves, and this is no different when it comes to past relationships.