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Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1200
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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I had a very bad dream about my ex girlfriend and I feel dire

Customer Question

I had a very bad dream about my ex girlfriend and I feel dire now, what could I do to fix this please?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 3 years ago.

Dr. Norman Brown :

You haven't written Anything about what was actually in the dream. Your desperate question implies that you broke up very recently, and your dream makes it seem like something is very wrong or dangerous, such as that she is in some danger of dying. But her dying could imply only that the relationship is beginning to die on the inside, as somebody made it start to die on the outside. So if you want to find out what your dream is showing & saying to you, you'll need to write it down, and ALSO explain the circumstances that led to the point when you had the dream. It's quite common for post-breakup dreams to reflect the dreamer's worries about whether he should try to bring the relationship back to life or not; but the content of the dream has much more valuable information than just that. It’s usually pretty easy to establish some connections between your waking life and knowledge and the dream IF I can ask you about some of those connections. But the keys to the dream’s deeper meanings, that will actually reach beyond what you could know before the dream’s arrival, are found by comparing what your waking consciousness is aware of with what the dream shows you AND makes you think and feel and focusing in on where your waking awareness and your dream are in DISAGREEMENT.

Customer:

Hello

Dr. Norman Brown :

OK. I'm on line. Please tell me your actual dream in as much detail as you can.

Customer:

The dream is just basically

Customer:

Of her getting a new boyfriend

Customer:

We met up

Customer:

I was still close with her

Customer:

But then her boyfriend was mocking me

Customer:

That's it

Dr. Norman Brown :

Who initiated the breakup, you or her?

Dr. Norman Brown :

And how long were you together? And how long is it since the breakup?

Dr. Norman Brown :

Does it seem realistic to you that she could have a new boyfriend now already?

Customer:

2 years

Customer:

well we were still close but not official until end of january

Customer:

well i dont speak to her anymore so i can't comment on that :)

Dr. Norman Brown :

So you went together for 2 years? Or you broke up 2 years ago, but were still in close contact until January?

Customer:

Broke up officially on September 2013

Customer:

No

Customer:

July

Customer:

But still together until end of january

Customer:

we were together for 2 years indeed

Customer:

then again i had a weird dream of another boy friend

Customer:

i guess it's just my underlying fear?

Dr. Norman Brown :

One of the problems that couples have when they "break up officially" but stay in frequent contact "as friends" afterwards is that the watered-down "friendship" enables one or both partners to coast along inside as if the other were always ready to be there when needed.

Customer:

yeah.

Customer:

Exactly

Customer:

but we dont communicate anymore.

Dr. Norman Brown :

But when you've actually stopped connecting via phone or internet, it's a pretty good sign that at least one partner wants to look elsewhere for that feeling of being wanted.

Customer:

Yeah...

Customer:

No more attachment

Dr. Norman Brown :

So your dream that she has a new BF who is mocking you is the WORST OUTCOME you could imagine for not talking regularly--because the "good friends" expectation protects you from the rejected feeling when there's somebody else inside that woman's house guarding her against you.

Customer:

Just need to overcome it..

Customer:

Yeah

Customer:

well we are no longer friends

Customer:

like it's gone to a stage that we dont talk anymore because i have done something wrong

Dr. Norman Brown :

What most young people DON'T know, because nobody's around to teach them, is that when you've been lovers for 2 years, you can't be casual friends--and that Sept to January period you've had was just the"cooling off" time when you could both pretend it wasn't going to be "cold turkey" with no hope of feeling that old romantic love ever again. But "not ever" doesn't even mean NEVER. It's just the slow process of coming uncoupled.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Behind the scenes of your actual communication with each other, it's normal for each partner to have his or her own means of getting over the initial grief (which is also a process we're given very little humane training for). And when you're thinking about what's next, each person is likely to hope the other will never stop loving them, and they'll never stop liking her either. And IF one partner is actually going to find somebody new, YOU'LL be the first to find someone (because you don't want to imagine that you're NOT as lovable as your exGF), and YOU'LL also find a BETTER GF (prettier, smarter, more ideally suited to you, more loyally devoted) than your exGF will find in a new BF.

Dr. Norman Brown :

What was the "something wrong" that you have done?

Customer:

I guess i have helped her for a lot of things

Customer:

and i used it against her to keep her with me

Dr. Norman Brown :

So was she in need of a lot of help when you met her? So you were somewhat of a RESCUER for her?

Customer:

it's just help for her future

Dr. Norman Brown :

Do you mean financial help? Or help with getting thru school or getting a job? If she felt one-down to you in the beginning, and you were doing more for her than she could do for you, then she could want to escape from that "needs help" position.

Customer:

No

Customer:

Just getting through school

Customer:

Yeah I am doing it for her and she got a good future ahead partly cause of my help

Customer:

but of course what i did is not permitted in terms of academics

Customer:

and then i kind of used it against her to keep her here

Customer:

but this is after break up already

Customer:

i shouldnt have helped her

Dr. Norman Brown :

The "mocking" that her imaginary new boyfriend was doing towards you could represent an unconscious reversal of the one-up position you may have occupied in that relationship. That is, if you were better to her than she was to you, then the mocking was "getting even"--or the Higher Power that composes and directs our dreams was punishing you for what you feel guilty about.

Customer:

Right what is a good way to completely give up on this relationship and forget abouti t and move on?

Customer:

it

Dr. Norman Brown :

I appreciate your honest confession. I guess you'd call it "academic cheating." Well, I've done it too. I've never cheated for my OWN academic gain. But when I was 31 I once wrote an entire English paper for my hyperanxious girlfriend, who was 23. And now, because I need to earn money to support myself and wife and daughter, I've been doing more than half of the homework and test answers for a 40 yr old online engineering student from Ghana--because he has the money to pay me and I won't have to declare it and pay taxes. When I was a college professor or a high school teacher in person, I would never have cheated for pay from a student. But now that online education allows everyone to cheat, and I am getting money for using my brain, I am doing it.

Customer:

I appreciate your story

Customer:

As i understand it's common

Customer:

It really isnt fair for others who worked hard for everytihing

Dr. Norman Brown :

I guess one of the lessons is that "there's no honor among thieves." So no one should expect gratitude to keep a girl loving them.

Customer:

Hm

Customer:

No I wrote it for her

Customer:

If ther'es any confusion

Customer:

there's

Dr. Norman Brown :

I worked hard for my Bachelors, 2 Masters degrees, and 2 PhDs. And I'm losing my house anyway, so I'm woking hard to help this Ghanaian man get his Bachelors and achieve his ambitions, even though he will know very little Chemistry, very little Statistics, and almost zero German, but his speech and philosophy writing might be a little better from my tutoring--because he is motivated when it comes to writing in English.

Dr. Norman Brown :

What did you write for her?

Customer:

College applications.

Customer:

and she got into all of her choices

Customer:

with my essay

Dr. Norman Brown :

That's not cheating; I'd say that's just like what a parent would do that wants to make sure his daughter gets accepted. You must be pretty young yourself. My own college students were absolutist about what is moral and what's not, at least with respect to cheating in love relationships. Yet half or more HAD cheated on a lover.

Customer:

I'm still in college

Customer:

She hasn't cheated on me

Customer:

Fortunately

Dr. Norman Brown :

And when it came to cheating on tests and assignments in college courses, I would sometimes ask in class "how many of you have NEVER cheated on any test or assignment in college?" And at most 1 person would raise her or his hand--then everybody else would glare at her or him and insist that s/he's lying.

Customer:

Yeah I know

Customer:

But it is still a huge favour

Customer:

Parents have limited academic ability to assist a full success in applications

Customer:

I guess?

Dr. Norman Brown :

Of course it is.

Customer:

So how should i forget about it

Customer:

That's what i kind of want to achieve

Dr. Norman Brown :

You're also very likely to lose your love during her first or second semester in college. For she has entered a new environment, and part of that new environment is usually starting over with love.

Customer:

Well it's not because of that

Customer:

It's just that I miss her

Customer:

despite we have no point of contact anymore

Customer:

not on facebook

Customer:

no phone

Customer:

etc.

Dr. Norman Brown :

You probably can't find the textbook I wrote on love relationships in a library in UK. You can write letters to her to say all the things you'd like to say, do the letter shortly before going to sleep, and then watch for a symbolic response in your dreams. Or sometimes you can write a letter or two and then decide which parts of it you actually want to send to her to say goodbye in the way that you want to.

Customer:

Nah it's better if we do not contact

Customer:

At all

Customer:

and I always have an urge to check on her

Customer:

but i need that to stop

Dr. Norman Brown :

You'll need to get rid of all but a few remembrances you have of her.

Customer:

ok

Dr. Norman Brown :

But First Great Loves often take 1-2 years to get over, before you're ready to love someone else as fervently as you loved your first love.

Customer:

I guess

Dr. Norman Brown :

I studied relationship patterns of several hundred students, and found the typical pattern was for increasingly passionate, intimate and committed relationships until the First Great Love, which usually lasted around 2-4 years. Then the next one or two relationships would start out very hopeful, but quickly (3-6months) get disappointed, because they weren't enough like the FGL and the tendency to comparison hadn't subsided. It would typically take 2 to 5 years before a second great love could happen. But that one would be more passionate often than the first, because you would be more mature and confident yourself in loving, so you'd be less likely to wrap yourself around the first girl that seemed safe enough against rejecting you. In your case perhaps because she needed you to feel secure, and she looked up to you. In my case (when I was 20.5 yrs old) because she didn't think she was attractive enough, but she was smart, so she liked smart, and she'd be my Girl Friday to get loved.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Since you wrote that you keep having the urge to check on your exGF, then the mocking new BF in your dream may be recruited by your Higher Power DreamDirector to warn you against checking up on her anymore: "Knock on her door again, even in your mind, and you won't like who's going to answer." So you could practice a thought-changing move: Each time you think about her, you are in effect openingt the door to that room in the mansion of your mind where the spirit of the girl you loved lives--just to peek in on her. But that mocking punk will be with her if you open that door; so just "walk on by." Each time you find yourself thinking about your exGF, just walk on by and change the subject. Make a short list of what/whom you'd change the subject to, and include some new aspects of yourself that you're branching out to in college.

Customer:

Hi sorry was away

Customer:

that sounds like good advice

Dr. Norman Brown :

Take your time reading and ask me anything.

Customer:

done i read quick

Customer:

it's good advice

Customer:

i guess keep myself busy is a good tactic too

Dr. Norman Brown :

You get to fall in love with other ways to expand your personality: activities, explorations, subjects of study, people to cultivate; trying out platonic female relationships is really good.

Customer:

yes

Customer:

sounds good

Customer:

not the end of the world anyways

Customer:

be glad that it has happened

Customer:

:)

Customer:

i guess

Dr. Norman Brown :

I think online "friendships" are also a good way to loosen one's grasping for the past. But online relationships are a seductive substitute for inperson relating.

Customer:

it was the happiest time of my life anyways

Customer:

Yeah

Customer:

I will stay out of those

Customer:

they dont tend to fair well

Dr. Norman Brown :

I found that travel and admiring nature and art, as well as physical work and athletics are good alternatives to the emotional intensity of loving. Creavitve projects actually activate the same sort of emotional energy as loving. They call up the inner image of the female side of yourself to stimulate your growth-energy. In dreams there is an outer female image (the beloved) and an inner femal image (the muse for your creativity and personality expansion). So when you stop focusing on an outside female, you can conjure up your inner female side, as you devote yourself to some projects that further your development in career, hobbies, arts and personal growth.

Customer:

Indeed

Customer:

Trying to hit myself to the gym already

Dr. Norman Brown :

That might sound strange, but loving does further your own inner development whether you're loving a female or a creative adventure. And I'm going to the gym right now, tho for me it's not so much creative as it is fulfilling workout, and then a sauna to burn out my Spring allergies.

Customer:

You give very good advice compared too other experts

Customer:

Hahahha good

Dr. Norman Brown :

Thank you. I've been at it for over 40 years. When you've done something that long and you still like it, you're going to be good at it. I've also done cross-country hiking and pathfinding for over 60 years, as a personal sport, so I really like that too.

Customer:

You give very golden advice

Customer:

What is your occupation ?

Dr. Norman Brown :

Oh, and my wife said Carl Jung said this about loneliness: You're not lonely when there's nobody around you. But you are lonely when there are people around you, but there's nobody around that you can talk to about what really matters to you.

Customer:

Interesting

Dr. Norman Brown :

My occupations have been: 1. teacher (English, high school math & science, German & European cultural history (PhD), Psychology (PhD), piano playing)-50yrs 2. psychotherapist-40yrs

Customer:

Nice

Dr. Norman Brown :

I don't want to miss my workout, and I need to knock out my Spring allergies so I can go hiking again sooner rather than later. Life is pretty d good when you've developed a lot of things that you love to do. And developing more things that you love to do by yourself is ONE of the investments you can make in your future happiness now while you're also finding things to do that can fulfill you in different ways than what you had with your GF.

Customer:

Right

Dr. Norman Brown and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 3 years ago.
I just lost a huge paragraph and it's 3:36 am my time. So I give up for tonight.
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 3 years ago.
What I was writing last night was this: Psychological theories include one on cognitive development by Piaget, and piggybacked by Moral Development by Kohlberg. But Kohlberg theorized that the top stage of moral development was the abstraction of "Egual justice for all." But in fact that's a "normal attitude" mainly for men, while women normally bend the rules of justice to excuse and take care of those they love (like Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo's novel, who stole a loaf of bread to feed his family). Then there are the RICH, who also bend the rules to keep their wealth and power intact. What you did was for love. And once the not-rich discover how the game of justice is skewed, they'll cheat when they can do it too. America is much worse than UK, because since Ronald Reagan in the 1980s the wealth-table has tilted ever further toward the rich, as they pay less and less taxes compared to the dwindling middle-class and burgeoning poor. Your UK novelist Follett has penned some monster histories that show how corrupted the rich and powerful have been in Europe and USA since the Middle Ages. I lived in Germany, Greece, Spain, Exeter County, and Switzerland (plus 12-15 months of hitchhiking travel) for 5 yrs total, and I esteem the economic & political systems of W. Europe above my own, because the balance is better between Socialism and Capitalism--no matter how flawed any country's system continues to be. America's for robber-barrons by comparison.

That said, the purely online educational system is also Much Worse than on-campus education, aided perhaps by online features. The key irreplaceable feature of on-campus is face-to-face dialogue with professors, assistants and tutors. For many of these are well-rounded (or super-specialized) human beings whose 2-5 decades of practice have made them as good and inspiring at what they do as a couple thousand students knew me to be (especially thru my psychology of relationships class, and personality development class, as well as European History of Civilization & Culture).

I didn't get to teach dream interpretation publically--since conservative academic management doesn't trust it. But I'll be assembling a book that teaches my methods of dream interpretation, mostly Jungian-symbolism, plus my own focus on uncovering the uniqueness of each symbol through questioning. I'm going to use only dreams about beloved people who have died, or about the end or aftermath of marriage or intimate romantic relationships, where your dream might appear. I presume that if I had asked you "What was the most SURPRISING or SHOCKING moment in your dream?" you would have answered "The appearance of a new boyfriend that was mocking me." If that's true, then that was the MOST IMPORTANT NEW NEWS in your dream; and its purpose (the purpose of that invented character, whether matched by something in her reality or not) was to warn you off from "checking up on her" anymore.

But why would he "mock" you? How would you have felt in the dream if he had greeted you warmly and comforted you on your loss of the girl that you had loved so long, and on losing "the happiest time of your life?" And how did you feel when he mocked you? There may be one more emotionally FORWARDING impetus in your responses to these questions, so give them a soliloquoy, as if your dream-ego were the Shakespearian hero of this dream.
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 3 years ago.
I hoped you'd answer the last question about mocking in comparison to being warmly supportive, because it's one key method I use to pinpoint the most important forward-direction-pointer in the dream. But I think you got it already, because you wrote "I wasw still close . . . but then the boyfriend was mocking me." So you're being immediately punished for staying close. Many widows and widowers stay close to their dead partners for the rest of their lives and so never get ready to love anyone else as a mate.
With an expartner who's alive it's common to do that too, but the result is a fluctuating mood between 1. imaginary reunions with joy and potential hope, esp if there are means of temporary contact [which is why you need to shut down on these momentary joy-flames by WALKING ON BY each time you come close to your door toward your ex], and 2. renewed disappointments and despair that reinforce your depressed mood, that keeps you from enjoying life without her and from feeling love for anyone who doesn't somehow trigger something like she once did.
The mocking pushes you right back into depression, so the best way forward is to turn away and look for new sources of joy and love. Expand your enjoyment (endorphins) in things you do alone (use mirrors at the gym so you associate how you look with the workout endorphins), immersion in art, beauty, Nature, excellence, interesting things. Meditation produces endorphins, so show you that YOU can make yourself happy without even an external focus. Then go to Virtues In Action (Positive Psychology self-test on 24 personality strengths) take the test and start spending 1 week each on 1 or 2 of your less-used virtues, because doing that expands your personality and produces self-liking moments.
You'll never just forget your first love. But by the time you're ready to love again, you can be a much more expanded personality and therefore you'll seek out and attract a more developed partner, so your second great love can be much more fulfilling than your first.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I'll chat with you sometime again about my emotional state? Or are you free now to chat on a new question?

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 3 years ago.
I just came in to work on my emotional psychology&neuroscience book The emotional Dynamics of Love. But if you ask me a new question I'll respond a little now and more tomorrow.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Let's chat tomorrow then Norman.

Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 3 years ago.
OK. Ask your new question and request me specifically, either5 thru Relationships Experts or Dream Interpretation.

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