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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4883
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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Hi there, This is a question Ive been afraid to ask for

Resolved Question:

Hi there,
This is a question I've been afraid to ask for some time now because it concerns my boyfriend who I've been in love with for about 3 years now. He is one of the smartest, most caring men I've ever met and in many aspects we have a really wonderful relationship.

However he has a huge problem with commitment, not just to me, but to anything, that is really beginning to scare me. We live in Los Angeles and his father is a very famous actor and not just a working actor but an Oscar winning movie star. I feel like he has spent his whole like trying to gain the approval of his dad, which is hard to do when you compare everything you do to one of the more famous people in the world.

This has become a borderline obsession with him and he is constantly trying to break into the business, but having lived off a trust fund much of his life, just doesn't have very good skills at following through on things and tends to give up as soon as there's a roadblock, which makes me wonder if it really is important or just a distraction? I could even handle that but he doesn't allow himself to enjoy any other parts of his life in the meantime, everything from talking about the possibility of a family with me to us getting a dog seems to terrify him and he answers almost every question with "I'll think about it" and gets upset when I press him for an answer or even just to have a conversation about any aspect of the future.

He's very slow to make decisions of any sort no matter how small and is oddly OCD about letting me sleep over at his home or coming into mine at all, even though we sleep together all the time when we travel, which we often do.

I know this all sounds a little crazy and most women wouldn't probably given up years ago but I myself have OCD and I recognize something in his behavior that goes beyond just male non-commitment. I've dealt with that before but this doesn't feel the same, this time I feel like he really does care about me but just can't explain all these odd quirks he has, a feeling I myself know well from dealing with OCD for years.

I'm not even asking for how to fix it because I imagine that would take a whole other conversation but can you give me any hints at all about if his behavior could be due to some kind of psychological phobia or anxiety problem? I feel like just understanding what was going on in his head would help a lot. Thanks.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 11 months ago.

Dr. Z :

Hello I believe I can help you with your concern

Dr. Z :

I am sorry that you boyfriend is currently exhibiting these symptoms, I can imagine how much this distresses you.

Customer:

It really does. It's become really hard to tell if i'm just kidding myself and should give up or to keep trying to understand.

Dr. Z :

It sounds like your boyfriend has an issue of low self-confidence by how he is trying to prove his worth to his father. This low self confidence most likely caused an anxiety disorder in him where he is own worst enemy because he doubts himself and this causes him to get anxious. So when you talk about the future with him, this creates doubts in his mind if he can be that man that you deserve and this causes him to be anxious, which forces him to avoid the subject entirely.

Dr. Z :

This is not an uncommon pattern and actually very easily treatable through the use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

Customer:

That makes sense, he is a very good actor and puts on a confident front for everyone else, including his dad but sometimes it seems like he has so much to prove. My biggest fear is that we are never going to have a family until he can prove that he deserved to be a part of the one he was born into.

Dr. Z :

I can recommend some good books that can help him and also I used to go to school in LA, so I can also recommend some good CBT therapists too

Customer:

That's another issue, one of the hardest really, he refuses to admit its a problem. it's my fault for not just enjoying our relationship as it is, even if it never grows.

Dr. Z :

Oh that is difficult when he does not think he has a problem. You can try going to therapy jointly, may be he would feel more confident if he had you there for support. I still recommend CBT therapy because CBT has a premise that your symptoms are caused by negative thoughts, so if we change your thought process to be more positive and objective as well, then your symptoms will lessen

Customer:

I've offered, I think he's embarassed. As much as our culture worships fame, in his case it really screwed up some aspects of his life, he's learned to be very gaurded and sort of secretive with his personal affairs. He grew up in a world where anything you say or do can end up in a magazine. I think part of the problem also goes back to the fact that his dad and mom got divorced and had a really rough relationship. He's always saying he is afraid to overpromise and underdeliver. Well the problem is I know he cares about me but not much more than that as far as if this is going anywhere.

Customer:

And if it helps, another thing i've noticed is he seems terrified to make decisions because it's almost like he thinks they can't be changed, does that make any sense?

Dr. Z :

Well you both can try self-therapy together, this way it would not get into the tabloids. There should be nothing embarrassing about trying to better yourself.

Dr. Z :

He is not necessarily afraid of making decision, he is afraid of making the wrong decision, this is the anxiety and lack of self-confidence talking because if he made a wrong decision, then it would hurt his self-confidence more and he does not want that.

Customer:

Ah, okay. Yeah I guess that makes sense. How is he ever going to have a life of any sort of he never makes decisions?:( or doesn't follow through on the ones he does?

Dr. Z :

Well he will not have a great life if he does cannot do that. Life is supposed to be full of risky and bold decisions, that he should have the confidence to make, but he doesn't. Therapy will help him, but you said that he is nervous and embarrassed about going to therapy, so i would suggest talking to him about possible self-help therapy. I know some good books that have step-by step techniques for what he is going through

Customer:

okay, i'll definitely read them if nothing else, are there things in there that i could use to help him? Like i said he's not great with follow-through lol, so most books I get him end up as coffee cup holders but I'd do anything if I thought it would help.

Dr. Z :

Well you both can go through the books together and then practice the techniques together, also when you see him slipping, then you can remind him about the techniques. A good key phrase for these techniques is to think objectively because right now he is letting the negative thoughts control him

Dr. Z :

Give me a minute to get you the links for the books.

Customer:

sounds great, thank you so much! Also just out of curiosity does the part i mentioned about him not letting me stay over at night at his place tie into the same thing? i should probably come back for a whole other session on what that's done to my self confidence as a woman lol

Dr. Z :

Also these books may help your boyfriend become more open to therapy later as he starts to understand why it can be helpful for him

Dr. Z :

Him not letting you stay over could be a self-confidence issue, but I would have to speak with him to really understand his reasoning for it. Does he ever stay the whole night at your place?

Customer:

he literally won't even come in my door. The nearest i can figure, he's afraid i'll start expecting it and want to stay over more than he's comfortable with or move in or whatever but it's a little bizarre and super hurtful, we've been together for literally years now.

Dr. Z :

Well I would not take it personally, although I understand why you would. This is definitely him with low self-confidence and anxiety. May be he has mini panic attacks at night that he does not want anyone to see, there are a lot of reasons for this. But he will have to open up to you eventually if you want this relationship to succeed and I admire that you are trying to get him help

Customer:

Thanks so much:) Really appreciate the advice on the books, these look like they'd be helpful to me too.

Dr. Z :

I hope they are. Is there anything else I can do for you tonight?

Customer:

i think i'm good for now, we will see how this goes. Thanks so much for your time:)

Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 4883
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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