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Doctor Blake
Doctor Blake, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Ph.D., Ed.S., NCSP Clinical Psychologist; 15+ years of experience; dual licensure
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I am seeking advice for my girlfriend. I believe she has fears

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I am seeking advice for my girlfriend. I believe she has fears of abandonment and rejection. I am willing to pay for the advice as long as it is relatively inexpensive. Listed here is an article I placed on a forum recently:

I have been dating a woman (call her Alice) for almost a year now. Alice is 32 and I am 44. Alice moved in with me about 5 months ago. For the most part, we are happy and get along. But Alice has had a rough life since birth regarding family connections. She was adopted, and is convinced her biological parents didn’t want her. It isn’t that they had no money or environment to raise her. She thinks they flat out didn’t want her. Her adoptive parents had a bad marriage. For the most part, there was no expression of love or consideration between the parents or for Alice. Alice has an adoptive sister (call her Zelda) who is a bit older than her. They never got along, and Zelda pretty much hates Alice. And Zelda has her own personal problems. Alice has had maybe five boyfriends since high school, all ending within months or years. She married around 30, and divorced recently (has been separated for a while). Her ex-husband started ignoring her right after the honeymoon, and they lived pretty much as roommates until she moved out, into my place. Although I show her plenty of love and consideration, Alice has a tendency to ask many intimate questions about the few ex-girlfriends I’ve had. She seems to want to compare herself to them in different ways, needing to know she is better. She sometimes has a time accepting I have a few friends that are female (I rarely see them), and tries to control who I can and can’t spend time with. She made me get rid of any digital pictures I had of past girlfriends (as far back as high school), and even some of girls I hadn’t dated. I am limited to use the word “pretty” if describing a good-looking woman, never to use “beautiful”, “attractive” or similar adjectives. Lastly, she thinks I have no business looking at women in bikinis, underwear, or sex scenes in movies or on TV. She says I should avert my eyes because I should only want to look at her.

I am a pretty normal guy. I would never stare or gauk at an attractive woman, but I like to look for a moment. I don’t pry into her past or compare myself to any of her past relationships, respecting her privacy. Although I trust her implicitly, she has looked through my things and on my computer at just about everything. The arguments we have revolve around her sensitive emotional state regarding women, my past, and “people ganging up on her”. It is clear to me she has been deeply affected by her past although she won’t admit she has a problem.

I love Alice, but so far since we’ve been with each other, I’ve tried to break up seven or so times due to issues relating to her paranoia about women or my ideas about men-women relationships. Each time, we end up resolving, for the moment, the argument until the next time. But she freaks out each time, lashing out by yelling and cutting me off mid-sentence for any responses I can give. She is frantic during these arguments and I ask myself whether this is something I can help her defeat or if I should end it once and for all. If she won’t admit she has these issues, I can’t help. And to break up would devastate her. I guess I have hope that something can be done and so stay for the (mainly) good times and endure the bad ones.

I need advice on how I can deal with this problem. I certainly can’t live with it the rest of my life.

Good morning. Welcome to JA.


First of all, I think it's important for you to realize that it is inappropriate (and unethical) to diagnose a third party over the internet... so I can't provide any diagnostic insights to you here.


That being said, what you describe is worthy of considerable concern. 7-8 break-ups among two consenting adults within about 12 months time suggests that there are significant issues within the relationship and, perhaps, within individuals involved in that relationship.


I would strongly urge you to consider couples counseling. Any Licensed Mental Health Professional (LMHP) can provide counseling, but you would want to focus on someone who has real experience working with couples. An LMHP could be Psychiatrist, Psychologist, or Social Worker (and this reflects, generally speaking, the price from highest to lowest). You might also wish to consider working with a member of your clergy, if that is appropriate in your circumstance.


I suspect that, once involved in couples counseling, there *may be* reason for the therapist to suggest some individual counseling for your girlfriend, you, or both of you (again, individually). I would also suspect that a couples therapist would work hard to identify and correct the patterns of behavior and communication that keep you two dependent and enmeshed rather than interdependent and integrated (closer to the goal of couplehood). During that individual counseling, matters that impact upon Alice can get addressed... and perhaps issues impacting upon your life.


Finally, one last option is to consider checking out your local Community Mental Health Center. These tend to be located in each city, town, or county - and offer services at reduced fees, based upon income. If you are really REALLY restricted by financial concerns, you might want to consider a "couples book" such as Goldsmith's, "Emotional Fitness for Couples:10 minutes a day to a better relationship." I predict that this might be the kind of conversation started that might prompt Alice, or you, or both of you together - to explore therapy with a LMHP.


Your concerns are valid - for your health, for Alice's, and for you as a couple. I hope you'll consider taking some action that is helpful to you both rather than trying to "stick with it" and "hope for the best." You both need and deserve to take this time for yourselves and for one another to explore this with a professional.


I hope this was helpful. Thanks.



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