I've been in a serious relationship with my boyfriend for a year now and things have been great. But a few months ago, I had a dream that he was cheating on me. Ever since I've kept getting these unfounded ideas in my head that he might be doing things that I don't approve of. Recently my paranoia turned into serious jealousy when I found out that there were going to be strippers at his soon-to-be brother-in-law's bachelor party.
I expressed my concern and he decided not to go even though his sister and brother-in-law were disappointed, and his parents told him that they thought I was being too controlling. Then recently, he made a joke to his brother about checking out other girls, but I still felt a little miffed and told him so — my dream kept echoing in the back of my head. He said that he would never act on it, but that he didn't think it was a big deal to notice a pretty girl.
I totally disagree with him, and find that kind of behavior very disrespectful of me and our relationship. Now he thinks that I'm overly jealous and that I don't trust him at all. I really don't want to be controlling and harsh, but I do want him to respect my feelings. I just can't get this dream out of my head! All of these issues never existed before, and now they won't go away. How can I control my jealousy and paranoia?
— Paranoid Dreamer Delia
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Dear Paranoid Dreamer Delia,
I consider dreams more of an expression of our own anxieties and desires that hide back in the farthest reaches of our consciousness, rather than some kind of crystal ball that reveals the future. Most likely, the dream about your boyfriend has brought up a lot of insecurities that you already had but weren't able to acknowledge. Jealousy is completely natural, but when it starts to negatively affect your relationship and your emotions, it's time to take a step back.
To move past this terrible dream, I'd start focusing all of your attention on the reality of your situation. Just as your dream doesn't become real simply because you had it, your boyfriend casually glancing at a pretty woman doesn't make him capable of infidelity because you're feeling notably more paranoid than usual.
There's nothing wrong with expressing your concerns about the bachelor party, but it's important to also acknowledge that your boyfriend chose to disappoint his family in order to avoid hurting you. I think that shows a great deal of respect for your feelings and your relationship. The more you note the way the emotions around your dream are affecting your relationship and blocking you from thinking about things rationally, the easier it will be to properly react to a situation.