We asked a psychiatrist why everyone seems to be dreaming about their ex in lockdown
Does it mean we should get back together?! DOES IT?!?!
Lockdown has made our dreams weird. Like, weird. The other day I dreamed that I was holding on to the edge of an elevator shaft and dodging corner sofas (specifically corner sofas, not regular shaped sofas, this was very important to the core principal of the dream) that came hurtling towards me down this elevator shaft. Then I dreamed I was in the Sims. Then I dreamt I was with my ex. “Woah – wait what?” Is exactly the thought that crossed my mind when I awoke. I have literally no care for this man, I mean he’s great, but I very rarely consciously think about him, I have no reason to – so why am I dreaming about him? I consulted multiple female friends – they had all experienced the same thing, including sex dreams about an ex, too. Ex dreams. And sex dreams. Ex and sex dreams everywhere, I tell you!
I sensed a group of women in need. But also who knows, men all across the world may have been having ex dreams too and I just didn’t consult them. Regardless, explanation is required. Do these ex dreams mean something? What if it’s sex dreams about an ex? If you dream about your ex, are you not truly over them? Should you get back with them? Most importantly: why them of all people? In search for answers I sought the help of Dr Elle Vooght, a sexual wellness doctor with a background in psychiatry, mental health and relationships.
Firstly, Dr Vooght explained that dreaming in lockdown has been straight up strange for everyone. “Covid-19 has meant we are living in a state of heightened anxiety” Dr Vooght told The Tab. “Loss of our work-life balance is impacting upon our sleep, leading us to have more intense and vivid dreams.”
So why the exes popping up all over the place then, huh? Turns out it has to do with social distancing. Not Boris and his 2m rule as such (thank God), but more the lack of loved ones and potential loneliness experienced in lockdown. “We are socially isolated from those we care about,” Dr Vooght explained. “Potentially, our exes represented a time where we felt safe and certain as well as cared about. These are things that many of us have lacked during the pandemic.”
And you know one thing you wish you DIDN’T have to hear about ever again? Your exe’s sex face. But turns out that’s part of it too, and might explain if you’ve been have sex dreams about an ex too. Dr Vooght told The Tab: “Our brain isn’t always as clever as we think it is. When we are craving comfort and stress relief, it can create a sexual scenario in our dreams to emulate those feelings (totally understandable) but every face we see in a dream is one that we have seen somewhere before. The brain cannot create new faces. It’s unsurprising that it is going to pick someone whose sex face we’ve seen many times before.” Yikes.
And as for what these dreams mean, or if we should act on them, Dr Vooght’s advice is simple: “These dreams may not mean anything at all, but it’s important that you tap into how it makes you feel. If you’re in a relationship and it is just a ‘weird’ thing that’s happened, it’s no different to any other dream. You are not obliged to tell your partner! You haven’t done anything wrong. If you have the kind of relationship where your partner will help you laugh it off or soothe your anxiety regarding it, a candid chat can be really therapeutic.
“It’s a trickier position if it has raised old feelings in regards to a previous partner or made you notice inadequacies in your current relationship. Take a breath and a moment. Don’t make any rash decisions but take the opportunity to evaluate what you want. These same feelings of indifference vs distress apply when you’re single. Not feeling much? Don’t worry! Feeling something? Address it. You never know, they might be having sex dreams about you too.”