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Rafael M.T.Therapist
Rafael M.T.Therapist, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3189
Experience:  MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
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I need help with my boyfriend. We live together, been dating 3 years, and plan to marry do

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I need help with my boyfriend. We live together, been dating 3 years, and plan to marry down the road. The past few years were rough for me but managed to get back on track w/ his help and support. He will communicating about me, but shuts down when the focus is on him. He decided very early last applied to grad school, but seemed to lack the motivation/confidence to apply — he broke important agreements we'd made about where he'd apply (so the long-term move would work me, too). We seemed to b on the same page. I then found out that his only acceptance was in a location I specifically said would be hurtful for my career and asked that he not apply to. He says he made a mistake but refused to talk to me about what was going on with him - and this caused a lot of friction. Since he refused to discuss anything with me, I asked that he see a therapist. My gut is telling me he's hiding something more serious that is getting in his way.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 1 year ago.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I am very sorry to know about this sad and frustrating situation.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Unhappily if both partners are not totally honest and open with each other, specially when it is about serious matters, there is no way for the relationship to heal, grow and get stronger, as a healthy and fulfilling one.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

It's hopeful to know couples counseling did help, but very concerning to know he left that process and has not been working on himself, and whenever that's the case, unresolved personal issues would always create problems in the relationship.

Customer:

The counseling was not for couples, it was for him only. I encouraged him to go alone (at least for the time being) because it was clear to me that whatever is bothering him, he did not want to discuss with me and wanted to keep in the dark. I thought that if he could discuss his issues with a professional, it would help but it didn't. I didn't expect him to tell me what happened in his sessions, but from what he did say on occasion and what I could see, the conversation didn't get very deep. He completed worksheets on anger and discussed communicating more effectively, but from what I could tell, the conversation didn't get very deep.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

When he decided to break the agreements you made together, he chose to stop working with you as a real team in the relationship, and focus on what he wanted as an individual, regardless of how positive or unhealthy his plans happened to be.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I see.

Customer:

I can see that, yes. He and his therapist discussed his lack of motivation and set up a loose plan to start his school applications, but didn't seem to look into where the lack of motivation or confidence stemmed from. He didn't follow through with the plan for school unfortunately (beginning last December), and we're now in August having the same issues again.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Then regardless of how long you have been together he has not allowed you to truly get that close to him, work on being very open and honest about himself, nor worked on creating this level of intimacy so necessary for your relationship to grow.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

counseling and psychotherapy could be very necessary and helpful but if the person chooses not to be truly honest and willing to work on changes, taking full responsibility for his choices, feelings and actions, it would be useless. The same happens in relationships.

Customer:

If the move was shorter term, I would be less concerned, but the degree will take 4-5 years, and that is a long time to be tied down in a place that may be hurtful for my career. For that reason, I've tried to be very proactive and communicate with him. He has asked me to go to couples counseling, but I'm concerned about spending money (i don't have frankly) when his individual therapy didn't seem to help much at all.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I agree. sadly as long as he does not take full responsibility for his action and in the relationship, any investment or effort you may make would not truly help.

Customer:

The problem isn't that we don't know how to communicate well— we do most of the time now and have our ups and downs, but I feel that the problem is that he is withholding information. He isn't particularly insightful about his own feelings. I'm not sure how to approach the subject but feel that maybe a different therapist could help? He seems open to the idea.

Customer:

I just don't know how to delicately tell him that I think he wasted his money on the last person he was seeing and provide reason to see another therapist with a different specialty (obviously thats how i really feel!)

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Right, and when holding information means he is not being truly honest and open towards you when communicating. I do support your sugegstion, a more competent therapist could be able to confront and address these core issues much better.

Customer:

i think the may be open to specific therapist if I suggest one. Is there a particular specialty I should look for?

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

That again takes mutual trust, open communication, and a good level of intimacy in your relationship. It takes time but is necessary, just be honest, empathic and supportive, everything else depends on how well he chooses to take care of himself and to play or not a healthy role in the relationship.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Based on your description, he should be a professional psychotherapist with expertise in individual counseling-therapy for mood disorders, anger management and self-development.

Customer:

Is it ever particularly helpful to see an individual therapist and one as a couple at the same time, if at some point we do have the money to do so?

Customer:

he does have a history of mental illness in his family, I did forget to mention that. ADHD was also ruled out pre-therapist.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

My suggestions is for the person to first work on resolving the personal issues, in order to be able to address ineffective way the couple's problems, since they are the consequence of his personal issues and limitations. Otherwise couples counseling could be no beneficial at all.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

He seems to have anger control problems, probably depression and anxiety too, and for sure difficulties around his sense of self-worthiness and self-esteem.

Customer:

Ok— that is very helpful and sounds very exact to what I'm seeing.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I am glad to know it's been helpful.

Customer:

Lastly —If he is unable to see a therapist and we cant make progress that way in the next few months before his school application — what is the best thing I can do to help the situation? I know I can't control his actions or dictate how things turn out, but seeing as how anything I say doesn't seem to help, I don't know whether to continue to to encourage him or stay completely uninvolved. I tried the hands-off approach early this year while he was still seeing his therapist (they were down to 2 sessions a month, then 1...) — I literally didnt say a word about his plans for school or studying, and he literally did nothing to work on the "plan" until I started repeatedly asking for info that I needed (which schools he was interested in, so that I could research the jobs in surrounding area)

Customer:

the silence on my part went on for several months.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Yes, you cannot and should not try to control him at all, but you need to set healthy and clear boundaries and limits based on your core needs and expectations in this relationship. If he continues to dismiss them and make his own choices against the relationship well-being, then you would have to come to terms with the fact that it would not work in the long run either.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

The behaviors you describe show a person who is not truly into the relationship but focused on his individual life dismissing the relationship, and your feelings, needs and expectations, breaking your agreement and the very basic requirements every couple needs to respect for the relationship to develop and grow fine and fulfilling.

Customer:

Sadly that is very true. Thank you for pointing that out. I know I have made big mistakes in past relationships, and believe that people can change if they want to (which is why I have probably been so patient). In all other aspects of the relationship, he has tried to show me that he's focused on making things better and has really tried, but I can't seem to get him to understand why this lofty application has such an impact on me.

Customer:

I guess I just want to know that I've done all I can do so that if I have to step away, I'm not leaving with any regrets.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I understand you but only you know how tough and painful it's been for you. Please focus on what depends on you taking full responsibility for it, while hoping he would do the same. You can only promote his insight and motivation, but he is the only one with the power and responsibility to decide what he does with his personal life and the relationship.

Customer:

His answer to this whole thing is that if the application doesn't work out — if he isn't accepted aywhere or if it doesn't work out somehow, then he just won't go to grad school —so, no big deal. But the initial damage has been done, so that just seems like sidetracking a bigger problem in the longrun.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Correct, it is very sad and frustrating but it is real, and it is showing you the approach he chooses to take about things,and how it affects and would continue to affect your relationship, unless he work s on changes.

Customer:

I feel sad for him a bit, because he did turn down a full offer for the school he was accepted to in his first application, he says, because it wasnt the best option for us.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Take this painful situation as a chance to reassess your reality and work on necessary changes as much as possible, then time will show you how well both of you happen to work or not, but you would know you did your best.

Customer:

Ok, that sounds like a good idea.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Right it was very sad, but he needs to learn from his mistakes and pain, and if he is willing to change and make improvements, his personal life and relationship would also improve.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Thank you for your trust.

Customer:

Ok — I will bite my tounge for 4 months coming, oh the difficulty in that! Thank you for all your help. I'll cross my fingers and hope it works out.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I do support you and hope the best. Just be realistic and optimistic at the same time, focusing on what depends on you, being very gentle, compassionate and proactive, not codependent at all. Bye for now.

Customer:

thanks again, bye for now.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

You're welcome. Bye for now. Please do not forget to rate support before leaving chat session, Thanks.

Rafael M.T.Therapist, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 3189
Experience: MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
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