‘He has been in my dreams every night’

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I was with this guy for around three years. We broke up in November 2020, and while broken up, a close friend of mine broke up with his girlfriend, as well. We got close and then ... did the deed. Keep in mind, I liked this guy from when I was 12 to about 17. Unfortunately, after this, he moved about 600 miles away, and I've only seen him once since. He just got out of a seven-year relationship (which is why he moved away).

Now my ex and I have been slowly mending things, mainly for our son and his mother who has just been diagnosed with cancer. Ever since I've come back to my ex, I can't stop dreaming about my other friend. He has been in my dreams every night for the past week or so. I have no idea what any of this means. The other friend and I agreed to just be platonic. (Sorry that was a roller coaster.)

– Dreaming

One of the most popular letters in Love Letters history is about dreams. It has surfaced on every year's list of the most read letters ever since it ran in 2017. The letter writer asks about seeing someone other than your partner in dreams. "I just can't get him out of my head for some reason," the letter writer says, of someone from the past.

Because of the popularity of that letter – the fact that so many people seek it out via Google – I can tell you that many people's brains are focused on exes and crushes after they fall asleep. These dreams don't have to mean much. If you spend all day thinking about the them, they become something else, but you can choose not to do that.

It sounds like the reboot of your relationship with your ex requires work, maturity, compromise, and intense emotions. It doesn't sound like the mending is light and fun. That tracks, given what you're going through. But the tone of the relationship might make you more prone to romanticize the night you spent with your teen crush. That experience fulfilled a wish and offered some great excitement. It makes sense that you'd think of it as an escape from the big work you're doing now.

Ignore the dreams and focus on the real-life relationship. If the partnership with your ex doesn't feel right a second time around – if your brain is looking for any kind of distraction, awake or asleep – you can think about committing in a new way, as a friend.

– Meredith

Readers? Dreams? What do they have to do with reality here?