My dream concerns my boss at work. I have been with the company for over 3 years and just started reporting to him about 9 months ago. He is a great boss, but I don’t have any romantic feelings for him. He and I work very well together and he is probably the best manager that I have had thus far in my career. He thinks highly of me and expects a lot from me. There has never been any reference or exchange of anything remotely close to attraction or flirting between us.

I recently became engaged and was really taken back by this dream! My only explanation is that my fiance is totally different than my boss, yet there are qualities and things about my boss that I wish my fiance shared also. Could this dream indicate some hidden attraction for my boss? Should I be concerned?

In my dream I was in a room with my boss that had a couch and TV. He is married, and his wife was in the next room (not sure how I know that, I just remember it being known to us during the dream). He was on the couch with me and lay back to get comfortable, laying his head on my leg. At some point during the movie, he looked up at me and began to kiss me. When he pulled back, he said, “Welcome to the company. I welcome all my direct reports this way.”

When I woke up, it was like it had really happened. I found myself lying in bed, wondering how in the world I was going to face him the next day at work. Finally, it came to me that I had only dreamt it and it was not real.

–ann, age 33, single, female, GA

Hi Ann,

It’s always a little strange when we dream about sex with a co-worker. Will we ever look at them in the same way? Does it mean we really are attracted to them, or they to us? And if we do admit to an attraction, isn’t this a dangerous blurring of boundaries in our professional workplace?

Sex in dreams rarely is a disguised symbol. Accordingly, if we dream of sex with a friend or acquaintance, we generally should remain open to the possibility that we find this person attractive, even if the dream, at first, takes us by surprise. Judging by your report, there are several reasons why you may currently find your boss attractive. You have recently developed a close working relationship, and enjoy the day-to-day interaction. Is it strange that your mind occasionally wonders “what if?”

Sex in dreams also can be a metaphor for “good chemistry.” For example, people who work together in the entertainment industry, who have to “come together” and “put on a good show” for an audience, frequently dream of sex with their co-workers, even when there really is no romantic interest. Is it possible your recent promotion — reporting “directly to the boss” — has placed your performance in a similar spotlight? (He approves of your work!)

Finally, your recent engagement is big news — and is bound to cause some “wedding nerves.” Couples often dream of ex-lovers and other romantic liaisons upon becoming engaged. Does it mean they wish to go back in time, or cancel their plans for the future? Fortunately, the answer is neither. With the big day approaching, they are simply nervous about making the right decision.

Your boss may have qualities you find attractive, but his wife’s presence throughout the dream (in the adjoining room) shows you clearly are aware of his unavailability. What’s the message of this dream? You’re getting married soon — and you are fortunate to have a good relationship with your boss. The only person who can interfere with your future is — yourself!

Charles McPhee is a graduate of Princeton University and holds a master’s in communication management from the University of Southern California. He received his board certification to perform polysomnographic testing for the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders in 1992. McPhee is the former Director of the Sleep Apnea Patient Treatment Program at the Sleep Disorders Center of Santa Barbara, California; the former coordinator of the Sleep Disorders Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA , and the former coordinator of the sleep research laboratory at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, MD. Please visit his website for further information.