Dear Dream Doctor -
I am a 45-year-old, married, black female professional. I have been having an
online "affair," if you will call it that, for 3 years with a white
man. My husband, who is also a professional, travels a lot with his job. I have
met my online lover, and although we have shared embraces, we have not shared a
This dream begins with me on my bed and my husband in the sitting room that
is off our bedroom. There is a curtain there, so I cannot actually see him but I
hear him as he moves about. He is watching TV. My lover enters my bedroom
wearing just a long tee shirt and crawls onto the bed with me. I am not
surprised to see him; it is as if he does this often. He snuggles up behind me
and is very amorous. I am watching the crack in the curtain. I suggest that we
go to another room.
We go the bathroom that is just beyond my laundry room. There is a cot set up
for him. He apparently stays here often. But the washer has been moved into the
bathroom and I am concerned that my husband will come into this room to tend to
the washer. So I am emptying the washer and taking clothes from the toilet(?)
that appear to be clean. I am trying frantically to stay ahead of my husband in
I hear him come into the laundry room and he is doing something with the
dryer. My lover is starting to say something and I am signaling him not to talk
but he continues to whisper. My husband is close enough that I could touch him
if there were no wall and I am almost crazed that I can't seem to make my lover
understand that he should not talk AT ALL.
He finally makes me understand that he has left his belt out in the house
somewhere. He thinks maybe my bedroom, and he is not sure where his pants are.
My head is about spin off as I try to imagine where he might have left his
things and if I can get to them before my husband sees them - as they are not
the same body types and do not share a sense of style. Help me understand this
-Confused, Age 45, Married, Female, North Carolina, USA
Is this dream really so hard to understand? Affairs, while they may be exciting,
are hard work! There is so much lying, pretending, and covering up to do! It can
be exhausting-just trying to keep your story straight!
Your dream uses a familiar metaphor to show the proximity, mentally, of your
spouse. Even when you are in bed with your lover, your husband never is far from
your thoughts. In the opening scene he is located in another room, just behind a
"curtain." Then, when you move with your lover to a bathroom for
privacy, your husband's presence still is felt. He comes in to tend to the dryer
in the next room, and you are about to "lose your mind"-for fear of
Houses in dreams are common symbols for the self, and it appears that your
affair has created a house divided. A curtain hangs between your bedroom and
sitting room (a curtain of silence, that hangs between your private and public
lives?), while your lover's cot in the bathroom suggests that he too occupies a
compartmentalized arrangement in your mind.
Bathrooms in dreams are locations where private acts and behaviors, that we
frequently feel ashamed of, are performed. Accordingly, the location of your
lover's cot in the bathroom suggests he is an activity that is private, and that
you are not especially proud of. In the same light, your attempts to pull
laundry (clean) from the toilet bowl may symbolize your efforts to
"wash" and "keep clean" guilty feelings you hold about your
Finally, the belt in your dream is a reminder that, no matter how hard you
work to conceal your footsteps, affairs always cause us to look twice in the
mirror (or in the bedroom), to see if any traces of our clandestine activities
Your dream is confusing because you wonder if it is precognitive. (Will this
nightmare happen in real life?) If the stress of maintaining a secret from your
husband is growing to be a burden, why don't you take this dream as a sign that
it's time to seize control of your future yourself? In other words, it may be
time to tell your online friend-to "log off." The thrill isn't worth
it, and your partner deserves better.
Once this odyssey is over, you will be able to sit back and enjoy all the things
you don't have to worry about. Then you will truly understand the wisdom of the
old saying: "You can't buy peace of mind."
Charles McPhee, Ph.D.
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