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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4278
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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DoctorZ--- I have just another question on the subject of assertiveness

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DoctorZ--- I have just another question on the subject of assertiveness with Stephen after some more stuff yesterday. Last night he came over and I was continuing to feel good about letting him know about boundaries so it happened again…(I had a really nice day bike riding with Paige btw, we took almost the entire day which felt really good :))…..anyway, he was pushing things with how he touches me, like always, only this time I said to him, more like blurted out to him, “You know its within my rights to ask you not to keep touching me like that”. And his response I thought was really sort of one a total a*& would say, that I wasn’t expecting, and he said “ you know its within my rights to rape you”….like he was being funny and a smart ass back to me, only it felt really harsh and came out of nowhere, and he really wasn’t laughing. I just said “Oh yeah? And when is this going to happen?” And he said “I can’t tell you when, you don’t understand how this works”. He said this while Paige was gone and we were alone, I don’t think he would’ve said that in front of her. Why would a guy say that to a girl that is supposed to be his best friend? for one thing…and for another he knows I have a reason for that statement to really bother me in particular? Anyway I don’t want to make a bigger deal out of it than it maybe is? but it was really disturbing to me at the time and I guess it still sort of is because here I am wanting to talk to you about it now….I’m having lots of anxiety right now but I’m not even sure what it’s related to exactly
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 10 months ago.

DoctorZ :

Hi Kyra,

DoctorZ :

Wow, I cannot believe Stephen said that, there is no reason for that to be said to you in the way he did. I mean on very rare occasions would a guy say that as a joke, but it is usually not a very tasteful joke

DoctorZ :

Did you ask him if he was joking?

Customer:

No I didn't, i think i was just really taken back and sort of let it go, but i didn't feel good even being around him after that

DoctorZ :

I would be shocked too if someone said that to me as well, and I think you have every reason to not feel good around him and your anxiety is perfectly understandable, especially given your history without that subject matter. I think this was his way of being "passive aggressive" with your assertiveness because he was making a hostile/aggressive remark, but not directly at your new assertiveness.

DoctorZ :

I know you were in shock, but next time you can ask him to leave your place. In fact, I think for a period of time, you should do your best not to be alone with him if you decide you want to continue the friendship

Customer:

Its just sometimes he can be so caring and nice and all of those things you want in a friend so its confusing...but you think I should probably not be alone with him? because thats kind of how I was feeling, I'm not sure I want to be alone with him

Customer:

I do know he likes being in control so maybe me being assertive has really upset him

DoctorZ :

I do not think he will try anything, but I think you should not be alone with him for your anxiety and safety, and I think he will show more appropriate boundaries in public and will not react like the way he did in public.

DoctorZ :

I think that is why he was so nice and caring for so long with you is because he was always in control and initiating, and he probably thought you liked his boundary crossing too, but now that you are becoming more independent and assertive, it challenges him and it is something he is not used to and I think this is why he is acting the way he is.

Customer:

That makes a lot of sense, I mean, he really, really hates it I think when he's not calling all the shots...and yeah, maybe he did think i liked it , although i never reacted like i liked it either? I just sort of put up with it more than anything

Customer:

Do you think that is where all of this anxiety tonight is coming from?

Customer:

I hate taking the klonopin but i am really close to it right now

Customer:

He is in charge of people at work too, so he's definitely not used to being challenged

DoctorZ :

I do not think you reacted like you did like it all, but I think Stephen may have some narcissistic tendencies and in his mind he thought that you liked it, not matter what the objective evidence showed. I think the anxiety is because he violated your boundaries and did not act like your best friend should

DoctorZ :

I know that you hate taking a klonopin, but if all of your coping strategies do not work and you still feel anxious, then the klonopin can be an option. But know that you did nothing wrong in this situation, you were just in what you did.

DoctorZ :

Stephen was the one who did not respect you enough to support your assertiveness and instead he felt threatened by it and lashed out with a very immature comment.

Customer:

Thank you for saying that, i think , as usual, i was feeling maybe i did something to deserve him saying that, or that i was guilty because i keep upseting him

DoctorZ :

I know, but you did not do anything wrong in this situation. Can I ask did you explain to him that you are working on yourself in therapy and trying to be more assertive and that is why you are telling him that you do not like his physical and affectionate touching because it makes you feel uncomfortable?

Customer:

No I didn't explain any of that, actually, when i think about it he tries to control so much with me, like an example he thinks i don't eat enough or weigh enough so he tries to force me to eat when i'm not hungry , like i'm a 5 year old

DoctorZ :

That is very controlling. I can understand why you would be uncomfortable with that. Well next time you see him or talk to him, you can try explaining some of these things about trying to be more assertive and vocal about things that make you feel uncomfortable, maybe that will give him some perspective and will help him understand what you are going through. Because I know he is a good friend to you and I do not want you to lose that, so this may be a way to help him understand and to give him a chance to be more supportive of this assertiveness you are trying to achieve.

Customer:

Ok I can do that, and yeah I probably should have already.....i do still want to be friends with him, but at the same time i want to be able to feel safe when I am with him too, maybe it will just take some time after what he said yesterday to feel that way again?

DoctorZ :

Yeah I definitely understand you anxiety and fear to be alone with him and I think that will take time till you feel comfortable to be with him like that again. I think taking a step back and meeting in public places or with groups of friends will be good for both of you because this can keep his boundary issues in check and help him be accountable, also he will get used to these new boundaries and they will become more habitual to him and replace the previous non-existant boundaries. I think you should still be friends and give him a chance to redeem himself

Customer:

Ok, yeah, thats a good idea that I would be comfortable with, I know he would never do or say the things he does sometimes infront of other people

Customer:

I haven't said anything at all about this to Paige, because then I know i would be forced to give up the friendship altogether with him

Customer:

in fact i think a lot of people would be surprised if they knew some of the stuff concerning

Customer:

him

DoctorZ :

I think that is a good idea not to say anything about this to Paige, I think she may overreact and demand that you cease your friendship with him. But if his behavior continues or gets worse, then I think you should think about ending the friendship

Customer:

yes you are right, i really hope it doesn't come to that, i don't think he would want it to come to that either

Customer:

when i think about seeing him, right now, at this moment, it sort of makes me feel a little queasy and very anxious, but that should pass after some time right? i really hate feeling this way

Customer:

he said what he said but it was just words, thats what I'm telling myself

DoctorZ :

It will pass, but you definitely deserve some space from him right now.

Customer:

should i tell him why i need the space too? and in that way confront him on what he said?

DoctorZ :

I think that would be a good idea, but tell him over the phone to help with your anxiety regarding him.

Customer:

why do you think he said the second part? that he couldn't tell me when it would happen and that i didn't understand how this works? i think I thought he would just say, i was just joking at that point, but he kept going with that second part

DoctorZ :

This will also be good practice for you to be assertive as well

DoctorZ :

I honestly think he was trying to scare you, I think he was angry, but instead of confronting the issue head on he said those comments to scare you and retaliate in that way to you.

DoctorZ :

From what you have told me about him, it seems uncharacteristic of him.

Customer:

it was very uncharacteristic of him, mostly, i mean i think thats why I expected him to at least at some point say it was a joke

Customer:

when he's held me and pretended to do things before he was definitely joking, laughing about it....but yeah he was angry this time, you are right

DoctorZ :

I think he was angry, but was unable to tell you the actual reason he was angry and this was his way to scare you and express his anger to you

Customer:

ok you telling me that does make me feel better, i can handle that, something that was just said in anger

Customer:

I am already feeling much better, less anxious

DoctorZ :

I believe it was just said in anger because this is uncharacteristic of him

DoctorZ :

That is good, I am glad I am helping you feel less anxious

Customer:

I am probably not going to be able to sleep for a while yet but talking to you has definitely helped......I really appreciate your help

DoctorZ :

Anytime, I am always here for you Kyra. Is there anything else you want to talk about or that I can help you with?

Customer:

no I think that is pretty much it now

DoctorZ :

Alright, well good luck with everything and I do hope you get at least a little sleep tonight :)

Customer:

thank you DoctorZ :) I"m going to try in any case....I hope you have a great rest of the evening and start of the week :)

DoctorZ :

You have a great evening too and good Monday tomorrow :)

Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4278
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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