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Ask Dr. Z Your Own Question

Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 10630
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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I have serious issues in building new relationships and trusting

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I have serious issues in building new relationships and trusting people. I was molested as a child and feel like this prevents me from ever trusting anyone. I met someone about 6 months ago who I dated and they cheated me. They were my first boyfriend (im gay) and did and said all the right things but finally betrayed me. Even so, I still love him and think about him everyday. I'm also educated and from a good family, but I feel like I have no meaningful relationships to rely on. Since breaking up with my ex I've been on several dates, with some really nice guys. One was really great and 'came back to' my place, but I couldn't 'get excited'. I feel even more ashamed about myself now. I just don't 'feel' anything, other than feeling empty and worthless. I can't see anyone ever loving me. How do I start to take steps to building meaningful relationships? How do I start to 'like' people and be interested in things again?

DoctorZ :

Hello I believe I can help you with your issues and concerns

DoctorZ :

I am so sorry that you were molested as a child and I understand how that can effect you in building relationships

DoctorZ :

It sounds like the reason for your disinterest in these men that you have dated after your break up is because you still have strong feelings for your ex...in basic terms you are not over him

Customer:

I guess I'm just at the point where i'm prepared to try and face things, but I don't know really where to start... I appear to be quite 'confident' on the outside, but I just don't 'feel' much to anything, like i've made myself numb to feeling emotion

DoctorZ :

Before you met your ex-boyfriend how were you in relationships?

Customer:

He was the first person I ever 'really' opened up to ...it actually makes me feel phsyically sick when I think about him

Customer:

I wasn't. I never allowed myself to be in a relationship really. I had slept with a few guys, but for the most part just ignored that part of my life. Focused on study and other things to distract me from it.

DoctorZ :

So is it safe to say that he was your first love?

Customer:

I would say that is the case, yes

DoctorZ :

Why do you think your ex was different? Why do you think you opened up to him and not the other guys you dated before him?

Customer:

There was just something exciting about him. He had everything I would've wanted in a partner. Smart, interesting, confident, attractive. But I guess the over-riding feeling is that he really seemed to actually like me. Take a 'real' interest in what I do. He portrayed himself as loyal and honest. And that's what I found so attractive. But obviously, in the end, he wasn't.

DoctorZ :

I am sorry he betrayed your trust like that

DoctorZ :

Meaningful relationships start with mutual attraction and trust typically

DoctorZ :

It is hard to form relationships because you have to be vulnerable to that person, and its even harder when people you were vulnerable to in the past took advantage of that

Customer:

I am trying to make a conscious effort to be more open with people. It's taken me a long time to get to the point where I was confident enough to enter a relationship. And when I do I am betrayed. I am willing to try and be open, in an attempt to form a meaningful relationship, i'm just finding it near impossible to open up. Is there anything I can do to address the issues specifically? Or to help to be more open?

DoctorZ :

Well there are some things that you can do. I would definitely not recommend being so open right away, you should build trust with your partner.

DoctorZ :

Share some things that are personal at first that you wouldnt just tell anyone.

DoctorZ :

Be confident in the relationship too, do things that he wants to do and things you want to do, this shows mutual connection and help you feel more comfortable with him and then you feel more inclined to open up

DoctorZ :

Reinforce yourself too, if you open up to someone congratulate yourself and acknowledge that you took a big step no matter what the result is

DoctorZ :

I know that things did not work out with your ex, but you have to acknowledge that you took a big step opening up and being in a relationship with someone. While it ended badly, that was not your fault or your choice and it doesnt negate the positive steps you took to open up to someone

Customer:

Thank you. I have one more question in this regard. I broke up with my ex, but i still talk to him. Every time I do it makes me feel alot of pain, because I still like him so much. Part of me wants to cut him out my life completely. I feel like by ignoring him entirely it will allow me to start to work towards getting over him and moving on. On the other hand, I don't know how I feel about throwing away a relationship like this. Part of me 'thinks' that I could get back together with im. But i KNOW this is not going to be the best option. Should I just respectfully XXXXX XXXXX it hurts too much to continue talking to him and that we should go our separate ways? Or should I try be mature and maintain a good friendship?

DoctorZ :

Well this is a tricky area and it really depends on you and your level of comfort. I agree with everything you said and that its possible keeping him in your life may prevent you from moving on, but will continue a friendship and that letting him go could mean ending a strong friendship, but will allow you to move on. I think you have to weigh the benefits and costs...if you feel you can still maintain a friendship with him and move on, then I say keep him in your life. If you think it is just too painful with him being in your life and that you need to let him go to move on, then I see let him go. One compromise you can do to help give yourself perspective is tell him that you need some space and that you want to see how you do by not talking with him for at least a couple weeks

DoctorZ :

This will allow you to see what it is like without him in your life, but it wont be as permanent as saying I never want to see you again, so you can always go back to a friendship

Customer:

Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX a lot of sense and I guess it's always difficult to have the 'right answers'. I will at least try give myself some space from him. I think it will help to just alleviate some of the stress, and if he isn't wiling to accept that then I can deal with the fact he wasn't worth it to begin with. IN your view, what would you recommend by way of treatment or therapy for my issues. I'm not talking about just my 'relationship blues'. I think I have some more deep seeded issues as a result of being molested as a child, being gay (not entirely openly) which have culminated into my issues in relationships. Other feelings i have include feelings that i can't achieve anything, or feeling tired and having no motivation. These have been around for years, and sort've come in waves of good and bad times. Not 'intense' waves, but they've been regular for a while. Do you think this is depression? I've never asked anyone about it or spoken to a doctor or anything about this.

DoctorZ :

I would recommend a therapist that specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, this will help with the past child abuse you suffered, the difficulties of coming out, and your relationship issues

Customer:

what would this involve? Would I need to speak to a doctor about this first?

DoctorZ :

As far as your symptoms it could be a possible mild form of PTSD from your past abuse as a child, but I am leaning towards a diagnosis of Dysthymic Disorder, which is a mild form of depression, but longer lasting

DoctorZ :

Well I can help you out with possibly finding someone, can I ask what city and state you live in?

Customer:

I live in Brisbane, Australia. We have free medical here for the most part, I also have private health care, but am a student so can't afford alot. I have never really known where to look to find these things, but I would really like to start addressing these issues and overcoming them.

DoctorZ :

Okay give me a minute to see what I can find for you. Most therapists give a sliding scale for patients that are low income especially students, so that can be an option for you

DoctorZ :

So here is one place that looks good

Customer:

I didn't know that, thank you. I'm also really surprised, I am reading about Dysthymia and it rings very, very, true with my situation and feelings. Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX like this has been really positive in helping me to understanding why I feel the way I do.

DoctorZ :

No problem I am happy to help in anyway I can. Let me see if I can find some more therapists for you

DoctorZ :

In addition, you said you were a student. Sometimes colleges/universities provide free mental health care on campus, so that is one option as well

DoctorZ :

Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Customer:

Thank you. I've saved the links. The first one is actually really close to where I live. Ill make a booking with that and go from there. No, you've given me what I needed, just an understanding of 'where to go from here', so thank you.

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