It was an October evening when I first saw him. It was my second month of my first year of university, and I was walking up my dorm’s old-fashioned wooden stairs to my second floor room when he came out of the kitchen. “Mystery woman,” he said, which was kind of cute and funny and sweet and all that. Fast forward a few weeks and we were officially a couple. He was my first boyfriend, my first love, all that stuff. Even though it’s been forever since we broke up and I’m 100 percent over it, there’s one place that he still pops up: in some pretty weird dreams. Here’s why this one ex keeps showing up in my dreams. Maybe now that I’ve figured it out, it’ll stop (one can only hope).
1. He shows up out of the blue. A few years ago, halfway through my fourth year of school, I got a FB message from him congratulating me on the publication of my first novel and saying that he missed me. After about five minutes of wondering if this meant we should get back together, I politely responded and that was that. Or so I thought. A few weeks ago, I woke up on a Sunday morning to a friend request from him on FB. So of course in the majority of the dreams, I’m considering whether we should try again.
2. I’m ready for a real relationship. I’ve been single for a few years now, with some almost-relationships and many first dates in between. I was 18 when I met this guy, and now I’m 26. I’m definitely ready for something real, and since he was the only capital letter Boyfriend I’ve ever had, it’s no wonder he keeps showing up in a dream every few months or so.
3. I still cringe at some of our problems. No one is perfect and no relationship is either; 26-year-old millennial me with my writing career, TV obsession and iPhone addiction would definitely deal with relationship issues a lot differently than 18-year-old me did. Ultimately, our issues went unresolved because we were both young and pretty innocent and not ready to deal with them.
4. It was an old-school romance. We met in our dorm, I visited him in his small hometown over Christmas break, and he wrote messages on my Starbucks cups when I wasn’t looking. Basically, we had the kind of super romantic thing going that you’re not supposed to have now that it’s all swiping right and left and waiting for the next person to come along. I don’t want this particular relationship back – I just want something more than an almost-relationship and guys who are scared of calling me their girlfriend.
5. I refuse to settle. Like many single women, I don’t understand the concept of settling. I know that if this particular ex and I had stayed together, our problems would have gotten so tough that I would have eventually had to make a tough decision. I would have had to settle or say goodbye.
6. We planned for the future. We got serious pretty quickly and although it seems kind of naïve now, we seemed to believe we would definitely get married someday. At 18, I was interested in being with someone who wanted commitment, too. When society changed and a lot of people decided to go all anti-marriage and anti-commitment, I never changed my mind about wanting to find someone to share my life with, because I had been conditioned to want that from my ex.
7. I was 100 percent myself. One thing that I loved about our relationship was that I was always myself around him. He was super supportive of anything I did, he never made me feel bad, he was nice to my friends and parents, etc. We talked about everything under the sun and nothing was ever off-limits to discuss. I definitely still want to find someone just like that. If I can’t confess my deep love for 90s teen dramas or give an opinion, I don’t want to date you, let alone be in a relationship with you.
8. If you can’t work out your crap, you’re doomed. The cheesy, lovey-dovey stuff is awesome but not always enough to sustain a relationship. We would alternate between ignoring our problems and facing them halfway then pretending they didn’t exist again. That’s no way to live. In many dreams, considering getting back together involves wondering if those same issues will return (the answer is always yes).
9. Getting dumped sucked. Let’s just agree on this. It’s not much better being the person ending things, but seriously, when you’re broken up with, it’s an out-of-body experience. I coped by binge-watching several seasons of Beverly Hills 90210… which is probably how I would deal now so maybe I haven’t changed that much, after all.
10. Break-ups are never out of left field. If something’s wrong with your relationship, you definitely are aware of it. You could be in denial (I definitely was) or just unable to accept it because otherwise things were so awesome. My ex taught me to hope for love, to enjoy being in love, but to never shy away from the hard topics. So whoever my future boyfriend is, I’ll just be here, writing and watching TV and waiting for you. Hopefully things will work out so I don’t have to dream about you – because you’ll be right in front of me.