Dear Amy:

I am a male in my early 20s.

I have never had any sexual interest in men.

Even though my relationships with women have been few and far between, I have always been attracted to them. Recently, I had a dream that I was with another man.

Since then I have been very confused. My sex drive has diminished, and I find that I am questioning my sexual preference.

I have no desire to be with a man, but the fact that I had a dream like that has left me flustered and wondering how something like that could have come into my head.

Is there something going on in my subconscious, or was this a random occurrence that I shouldn't worry about?

ConfusedOur dreams are gifts -- not necessarily because of what they reveal about our subconscious but because of what they force us to consider as we interpret them with our conscious mind.

When hearing about a dream, a therapist's first question often is, "What do you think it means?"

Your interpretation is more important than someone else's.

Erotic, same-sex dreams don't necessarily reveal any one thing about your sexuality (at least, that's how I explain my fantasy romp on the beach with Charlize Theron).

The sexual confusion in your waking life that this dream has prompted is significant. You would benefit from sitting down with a therapist -- not necessarily to discover what, exactly, this particular dream means, but to discuss your relationships in general. To answer life's toughest questions -- "What do I want?" and "How can I get it?" -- you need to start this journey.

Dear Amy:

After a rocky 40-year marriage, my parents divorced a few years ago.

I live in the same city as my parents, so I visit both of them at least every other weekend, and I check in by phone a couple of times during the week.

My mom has not developed many close friendships in her life, so after the divorce she stated that she expects my six siblings and I to provide her with companionship.

To me, companionship means going to dinner, seeing a movie and perhaps a weekend getaway.

My mother thinks that companionship includes being invited along on business trips and weeklong vacations.

I know from experience that my mom and I have different ideas about enjoyable vacations, and she also insists that we share a room.

My three sisters and my mother's sister have called to tell me that I am self-centered and that I should invite my mom along on vacations.

Am I a selfish daughter?

Vacationing SeparatelyIf your mother has seven children, and each child invites her along on business trips and vacations, then she will certainly never have time to figure out how to make and maintain friendships.

However, it sounds as if your brothers don't participate in the vacation companionship plan, and your sisters (perhaps because they have children) are also somehow off the hook.

You should honor and respect your mother and make sure that the two of you do things together that she enjoys. But no, you are not obligated to bring her along with you when you travel for a business conference, and you don't need to bring her on your kayaking vacation.

Do give your mother a boost, however. Do a little research and find an Elderhostel retreat that you think she would enjoy (one great resource is http://www.elderhostel.org). Perhaps you would be willing to accompany her, but certainly not if you are guilt-tripped into it.

Dear Amy:

I love the question of who pays for the wedding.

My husband and I were married in a simple wedding in the '60s. We have three daughters.

Once it dawned on us what is considered a normal wedding these days, we sat our girls down for a chat (long before any weddings were on the horizon).

We told them that we were helping them to pay for college, which in our opinion was more important than a fancy wedding, and that we would be making a contribution toward their weddings, but nothing that would pay for sit-down dinners and expensive dresses.

Our two married daughters and their husbands financed the weddings they wanted, with a little help from their families.

These adults took responsibility for their own weddings, which I think is a sign of maturity. But I think that the key is discussing the issue before it becomes an imminent event.

DianeThis is exactly how functioning families should work and how mature adults are supposed to behave. Well done.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

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