He’s haunting my dreams

Dear Meredith,

I started dating Jake about six years ago. We had a very immature, young, and passionate relationship. I had so much fun with him but also lost most of my identity as an individual (and self-respect). It unfortunately ended abruptly and horribly with betrayal, confusion, and many unanswered questions. This break-up happened about two years ago. To be completely honest (don't judge me), our break-up was basically hugging good-bye after a party, and blocking each other's Facebook and phone numbers. There was no confrontation. It was almost as though we both knew it was over and felt there was nothing to talk about.

Fast-forward to now. I am doing well with a guy who I have been seeing for a year. I am my own person and I have no regrets. I am honestly much happier without Jake. Or so I consciously think ...

From the break-up to now I have had tons of dreams about Jake. It is the same dream in different forms. For instance, one night I had a dream that we were in a grocery store. Jake walked up to me and told me he wanted to talk things out. He told me to meet him in a certain aisle, but we never seemed to be in the same aisle at the same time. Similar dreams include Jake asking me to talk things out but my mouth is severely taped shut and the tape won't peal, being in a forest and losing each other mid-sentence because a tree crashed in between us, and being in a parking lot and getting into different cars. After I wake up from the dream, even if I realize that I am a better, healthier person without him, I get the same gut feeling a heartbroken person feels. I go about my day feeling as though someone just dumped me.

Have I mentioned it's been almost two years!!

There have been no encounters with Jake because he does not want to see me. Even if I tried to contact him, I would 100% be ignored. He moved out of town and changed his phone number. He even stopped talking to mutual friends so I literally have no connection to him. Therefore, trying to seek closure with him face-to-face is NOT an option. He is a different, cruel person now and I don't even think talking with him would even make the dreams go away. I only have the dreams about three or four times a month, but even that seems like way too many.

I don't understand why I continue to have these dreams. I really do think I'm over Jake and I am much more grateful to have found my current boyfriend. Can I find closure without facing Jake? This is not only a problem for my own mental state, but my boyfriend is getting angry. He understands that I cannot help what I dream about, but he views dreams as random, and far from meaningful. He hates when I analyze them and try to figure them out. It makes him think I still have feelings for Jake. We have been arguing about it frequently and I feel trapped in my own sleep. Please help me!

– Dreaming in Derry

My first piece of advice is to stop talking to your boyfriend about these dreams. He doesn't want to sit around and analyze this stuff. You're supposed to call platonic friends for that kind of conversation.

My second piece of advice is to accept that these dreams mean many things, and that we're all prone to having dreams over and over again. The Jake in your dreams seems to represent guilt, loss, anger, and insecurity. You feel bad that you didn't get to end it right, so poor Mr. Jake has become of symbol of all that you can't fix. The Jake in these dreams is also the old Jake, the one you fell in love with. That Jake is gone. You wake up to that reality. That's why you feel dumped.

To some extent, these dreams are also about fear of the new. You seem to be serious with this new guy, and whether you're happy or not, there's bound to be some anxiety about settling down. That's OK.

I've got to say, I'm with your boyfriend on this. The less you sit around analyzing Jake's dreaminess, the less your brain will be focused on using him as a symbol. Give your brain -- and your boyfriend -- a rest. Stop the discussion and focus on what's running through your mind when your eyes are open.

Readers? Why is Jake in these dreams? Should she try to find the real Jake and reach out? What about talking to her boyfriend about these dreams? Think she's really happy with the new guy? Analyze.

– Meredith