How To Stop Dreaming About Someone

Photo: Getty
woman in bed looking down

While humans typically do their best when they’re in a relationship, unfortunately, not all relationships are built to last.

Many of us have been through multiple breakups that can leave us thinking about someone even when we don't want to, especially at night, when we're most vulnerable.

It's easy to fall prey to insomnia out of fear that you might have yet another dream about your ex. You can feel exhausted, overwrought and unsure of how to move on.

RELATED: 15 Ways To Get Someone Out Of Your Head

If you can't stop thinking and dreaming about an ex, and you're ready to move on to peace and acceptance, here's how to leave them behind, along with the past they have you stuck in, night after toss-and-turning night.

Before you can stop dreaming about someone for good, here are a few things you need to accept in life:

1. Who you are and how you’re made

Too often we think we can be Superman and override our innate wiring! No, you can’t fly, and no, you can’t remove your past. I like to say, "Welcome to the human race!"

You’ve got a mind that remembers the good times and a memory that remembers the bad times, which includes the good sex, the not-so-good sex, the fighting, the romantic evenings, that time they first gave you that irresistible smile and the first of many times they hurt you to the core.

Pending a serious brain injury or a lobotomy, you are going to remember who you loved and the romance you shared long after the union has ended. Our human minds just work that way.

2. Your innate strength

What makes you think you can’t override your thoughts? Oh, and while we’re on it, why do you believe all of them anyway? In other words, are those thoughts and fantasies even true?

I have clients who tell me they dream of having sex with their exes all the time and swear that, if given the chance, they would! It takes a moment or two of me reminding them that they’re in fantasy mode, lying to themselves because in truth, almost without exception, if actually given the chance to jump their ex’s bones in reality, they don’t. And they haven’t.

Their minds are playing tricks on them. Which is fun and exciting — I mean, there are a few celebrities I’d like to curl up with in my mind and in my fantasies.

But for some idealized perception, we don’t think we’re supposed to be imagining sleeping with the person who hurt us. It’s simply not true. It’s also way too much pressure.

Of course, you’re going to remember having sex with them. Of course, you’re going to use them to feed your fantasies, especially if you’re not with another person. (I’m not even discussing what happens when you’re with another person and you’re still fantasizing about them.)

But we have to use the formidable strength of our minds during times like these to remember this is fantasy — not something we would ever want in reality.

3. You can't always control your dreams but they are working for you, not against you.

Seriously, when was the last time you were able to control your hair without product, a few tools, and a great hairdresser? Now, back to dreaming... Do you really think you have the power and ability to control your subconscious dream state? Didn't think so.

What are dreams? Dreams are as confusing to those who study them as for those having them.

However, a study published in 2020 revealed that dreaming about a partner who had passed away was instrumental in the grieving process.

Apparently, dreams do everything from helping us manage stress to remembering stuff dealt with during the day and acting as a filing system for the brain to effectively process thoughts and emotions.

Which means, stop fretting! You’re going to dream about your exes until you don’t. You’re going to think you want to have sex with them but you won’t (or you will and then you’ll deal with that in reality) and you’ll miss them.

But your brain is working for you — not against you — to process what happened, your feelings, and ultimately phase out this person in your life over time.

4. Missing them is the worst part of a breakup.

It’s the thing that hurts our insides. Congratulations, you are not a worm, or a bird, or even a dog. You are a human being and you experience being vulnerable, imperfect, and at times, even broken-hearted.

It hurts when we remember our exes, especially if we only recall the fond, fun or sexy moments. It hurts until you can focus on yourself and your future. It hurts until you’re ready to love someone else or you can remember the entire story — the good parts and the bad parts, and understand that they are interwoven as part of the larger story, rather than belonging in separate boxes.

Too often, we separate all the good things we remember about an ex into one box and all the bad things into another and we only remember one box at a time. Once we can understand more cohesively that our exes are represented by a combination of good and bad things, and we stop taking them up and down from a pedestal, we can find ourselves on an even playing field.

By humanizing them, we can do the same for ourselves and allow ourselves to let go and move on.

5. We remember reality in strange ways that dreams make clear to us.

We dismiss details, minimize information, and delete the stuff we’d rather forget. Which I suppose is why the dream state is so important — it helps keep us on track.

After breaking up with one of my lovers, I was told he was a user of certain drugs I wouldn't want around me and my children. I couldn't recall a single time I had seen him using, and was stunned by this revelation.

Then, slowly, over the course of the next three months (maybe longer... I can’t remember), I recalled how other people had tried to tip me off. Certain scenes started coming back to me.

We traveled a lot and I remembered how there were these moments when I felt as if I had witnessed something being packed in a bag I shouldn't have seen. And then I recalled the day I was in a pool looking up at the balcony forty stories up and seeing a man — my friend — on his balcony, smoking. I was told it was a cigar.

When we broke up several months later, it took a long time for me to work through all the good memories, my sadness, and my forlorn state to finally stumble upon the reality that I had been living. I had been lied to over and over again. It all came back to me as if I was going through the file cabinet of my mind. Image after image, memory after memory.

I had loved a person in my mind I could never have had in my actual life. It was all a lie. This realization came to me in my dream state and it began the healing component of this breakup.

RELATED: 5 Ways To Finally Stop Obsessing Over The Guy You Like When He Won't Give You The Time Of Day

I share this with you, not as a condemnation of users, but because I had completely blanked out the memories until I was asleep or in that dream state just before waking. It took my dreams to help me come back to reality.

If your thoughts are consumed with your ex day and night, and you're finally ready to move on, here's how to stop dreaming about someone:

1. Be sure you’re ready to let go.

There may be something inside that’s not quite ready to let go. A lesson, a thought, a feeling you need to become grounded again in your intuition and higher power.

You’re not a fool for ending or letting go of someone who doesn't love you. You need to know what the lessons were to begin the healing process so you can consciously remove yourself from them.

2. Before bed, you can pray, call someone, or write down your thoughts.

Before going to bed, say a prayer or have the thought that, for tonight, you’re asking your higher power to release them from your dreams. Ask your higher power to look over your ex and to take care of them. Then ask to be watched and guided as well.

There were many times during my breakups that I asked for an ex to be granted some dignity that I couldn't give them, while bargaining for a little help myself!

There's always professional help you can seek to make sense of your dreams, as well as the thoughts you have during the day that creep into your mind at night. You could also call a close friend or family member you trust to talk about whatever is on your mind.

Journaling is another great idea. Or, try writing a letter to your ex to get some closure. (And no stamps needed — you don't have to send it to feel a sense of closure. You can burn it, bury it, or do whatever you want with it when you're finished saying everything you felt was left unsaid.)

3. Keep looking forward and take ownership of new dreams.

Too often, we stay fixated on our past lovers for fear of being hurt again. We shield our hearts from being vulnerable. We imagine going on a date as being given kryptonite.

None of that is true. If you don’t wish to be in a relationship, you don’t have to be.

But one of the best ways not to dream about your ex is to be in a new relationship with someone who adores you.

We pretend we can handle being alone with our cats and our dogs. We worry about caring for our children and not letting them be abandoned by someone in the crossfire of another fallout. We imagine that we’re better off alone than with someone who could potentially hurt us.

Only you get to make that decision for your life. But it's your decision — own it.

By owning your destiny, you dictate your choices and your mindset, and your new dreams will reflect this. Be ready and open to chasing those new dreams.

RELATED: How To Stop Obsessive Thoughts About Your Ex So You Can Move On & Be Happy Again

Laura Bonarrigo is a Certified Life Coach and Certified Divorce Coach. She is also a writer, public speaker and the founder of Doing Divorce School.

Sign up for YourTango's free newsletter!

This article was originally published at Laura Bonarrigo. Reprinted with permission from the author.