The dream starts out in the bedroom of my boyfriend (of three years). I just stopped by to give a kiss before I went home. When I get to his room, he is sitting on his bed in a T-shirt and white boxer shorts. He says hello. I ask what’s wrong and he says he doesn’t know how to tell me this without hurting my feelings. I plead with him to tell me. So he confesses to me that he has been kissing someone else.

I feel stunned by this information and then he proceeds to tell me that he has been having oral sex with this person. At that moment Josh, one of my friends from school (who in real life is gay), comes out of Stephen’s, my boyfriend, closet with the same t-shirt and underwear as Stephen. I was baffled.

Then the dream changes. I am at this park for a party which I could back out of and Stephen kept following me around trying to tell me he was sorry, and chasing behind him was Josh trying to get him back (think Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding.)

I finally agree to talk with Stephen; and we are all three sitting on the top of a picnic table. I see this spider-bee-thing fly at me and it stings me on the neck. I swat at it and it lands on Stephen’s cheek and stings him on his hip. The sting leaves this red/purple wax-like boil. Then someone comes and tells us that the bee was poisonous, and that there was nothing anyone could do — we were going to die. When I woke up I was crying.

–holly, age 19, single, female, morgantown, WV

Hi Holly,

I am sorry to learn of your disturbing dream. It had a gloomy ending, but I’m not sure that’s how it will end in real life!

Your dream reflects concerns that Steve, your boyfriend of three years now, may be hiding something in his “closet.” When he opens the door and Josh emerges (who is gay in real life), Steve’s dilemma is exposed. Steve is attracted to men, in addition to being attracted to you!

A simple interpretation of your dream is that you have recognized, at a subconscious level, that Steve really is gay, and that he is keeping this information from you (hidden in the closet). Continuing on this theme, you may suspect Josh is Steve’s lover in real life, or he may simply represent (because he is gay) a general fear that Steve is attracted to men.

Once you learn that Josh and Steve “wear the same clothes,” a “spider-bee-thing” flies along and stings you both. Spiders in dreams often are associated with “creepy” people and feelings — things we wish to avoid in our waking lives. Similarly, bees tend to “bug us,” and they carry a sting. If the creepy feeling that has been bugging you is your suspicion that Steve is gay, your dream suggests this suspicion may “kill” your relationship, represented by your deaths at the end of the dream.

Before you worry too much about the meaning of this dream, it’s time to do a feelings check. If you genuinely are suspicious of Steve’s sexual orientation, this dream is a sign that it is time to bring the topic “out of the closet” and “onto the table.” If Steve tells you he is attracted to other men, your dream suggests his interest may be a “deal breaker.” (Translation: Break-up time!)

If Steve is uncertain of his feelings, you both may want to take a break, to allow each other to explore your emotions. Finally, if you think the only reason you had this dream is because you are worried about losing Steve, and because some of your other male friends are gay (Josh), it may be time to bring some of your own fears out of the closet. Just because Josh and Steve are friends, doesn’t mean Steve also is gay, or that Josh is trying to steal him away!

What’s the message of this dream? It’s time for you and Steve to talk. You may end up saying good-bye, but you also may wind up having a very good laugh!

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.