October | In Your Dreams
A DREAM COLUMN
Halloween is around the corner, and we’re still deciding which of our nightmares to dress up as. A person whose teeth are falling out? A forgotten, long-overdue bill? Our best friend, but like a really, really mean version? While we consider, we’ve got a question about the ultimate jump scare…
I dreamt of my ex for the first time in years since our breakup. We're in a crowded room and I never actually see him, but I can sense he's looming nearby. When I finally look over to acknowledge him there, his face is blurred out. He's the only one whose face I can't see clearly. When I look away, there's a sense of relief. What could that mean?
The Dream of the Faceless Ex. Terrifying. Also, perhaps the title of one of those nostalgic Choose Your Own Adventure novels, found at yard sales and in old mountain cabins.
Memories of former partners are tied to a wealth of emotion, which makes them both a common and agitating dream subject. Love, lust, anger, sadness, betrayal, joy, they’re all in the mix. Seeing an ex in a dream is bound to stir up the dust a bit, even if you thought you’d moved on from the whole thing. Chemistry exists in all the wrong places after all. But if you’re having troubling feelings, it’s likely not as simple as “I’m not over this guy.” (Unless, of course, it is that simple.)
For this analysis, much depends on details about your relationship that you know and we can only guess. Like, for instance, do you wish him well? Or does his memory have you screaming along to Olivia Rodrigo? Your answer changes the meaning of the dream. We’ll lay out some possible scenarios, so you can choose your own psychic adventure.
If you’re a little riled up but you’re pretty sure you’re over him…
You broke up years ago. That’s plenty of time to heal and grow and nurture new connections. And you’re not a saint about it. You’re still angry and disappointed when you remember the ways he fell short for you, and you regret the ways you fell short, too. But overall, he doesn’t cross your mind like he once did. In fact, now that you think about it, you heard “Ants Marching” at CVS the other day, which made you think of your ex, who’s seen Dave Matthews Band thirty-seven times. (This was not the reason you broke up, but it wasn’t not the reason.) His cameo was just neurons processing data, that’s all. Carry on.
If you’re stuck on the no-face thing…
We don’t blame you. It’s laying the dread on thick, like a directorial choice by Ryan Murphy. But beyond the creep factor, that partial anonymity helps your ex represent something beyond himself. He’s not there to be his recognizable self. He’s been disfigured and simplified into a symbol of this particular era of your life. Consider your identity during the relationship — your goals, your friendships, how you spent your time. You might feel like the same person with the same priorities, or you might not. Time has passed. Are there parts of you that you wish to return to? And which parts are you glad to have grown beyond?
If you’re not 100% over him but wtf, this is so annoying, you’ve actually been really happy…
It’s like when you go on a great first date and then an old flame texts you out of the blue, as if they didn’t disappear without a trace ten months ago. Brilliant timing, always, these people.
You were doing so well. But self-sabotage is tempting, it can creep in disguised as logic. Finding peace in any area of your life — a new relationship, financial stability, burgeoning self-worth — means that suddenly your anxiety is looking for something to do. Stability feels unfamiliar. Time to run a fire drill in the middle of the night! Oh, we’re in love with Pierre now? Are we sure? What if we ran into Jacques at a party, what then?! Let’s run a simulation and find out.
Resist the urge to complicate your happiness. See what happens if you push beyond your comfort zone to see how safety feels. Start by following the lead of your own dream, and see what relief you can find by looking elsewhere
If you’ve ever woken up from a dream like, what the hell was that?, and would like to be featured in the next In Your Dreams, contact us at email@example.com with a detailed description of the inner workings of your unconscious mind. We're dreaming of hearing from you.