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Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience:  Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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Hi I need some relationship advise please from a psychologist

Resolved Question:

Hi I need some relationship advise please from a psychologist

I have been with my boyfriend for 4 years, but lately i have been feeling very independent and very distant from him. I'm not sure why i feel like this but it is upsetting me. I don't know if i just want to be on my own but i also love my boyfriend very much. I'm very confused why i feel like this. I understand its common to feel more independent as you go through your relationship and through the stages, but its more of a niggling feeling that something is not right.

I have only every been in 2 relationships in my life the one i'm in now and the one i was in from the age of 14 to 18 i am now 22 years old and met my now boyfriend when i was 18.

The only thing is i was not really ready to get into a new relationship when i got with my now boyfriend but i really liked him and he was moving to university and it felt right at the time to go into a new relationship. Now i am thinking did i give it enough time between my relationships ? was i single long enough? at the end of the day i was only single for about 6 months in-between.

I know the guy i am with now is definatley what they call 'the one' and i see him in my future and i can see myself getting married to him and even having kids with him, but for some reason i feel like there is something missing and i am not sure what it is :(, its so frustrating, its not that i want to be in a new relationship with someone else.

Yesterday i spoke to my boyfriend about how i have been feeling again, he already knew i haven't been feeling myself lately within the relationship, hes even noticed saying he feel like he is giving 100% to the relationship and for some reason im only giving 80% which is true something like a wall is in between us getting in the way of me wanting to give 100% but i do not know what? i decided yesterday that i needed a break, he was very angry at first but after he had calmed down and when i explained to him that i need time to find out what i am feeling and thinking then come to a conclusion on whether i should still be in this relationship or not. so we are still currently a couple but im just not spending time with him at the moment until i have worked things out in my head, i dont feel its fair to him im not giving the 100% he is he deserves 100% from me.

i get upset just thinking about it because i cannot understand why i feel like this i have the most amazing caring loyal boyfriend and yet i cannot feel the connection i used to have for him but i know i still love him because i do not want to give him up.Everyone says that he is a good guy that there are very few as genuine as he is. his personality in my opinion is spot on hes so much like me its sometimes scary.

i see single people having such fun flirting and so on and just being their own person and i do get a jealous. I even find myself asking people in relationships how long they have been together to see if they have been in a relationship longer than me and my current boyfriend.

I have felt similar a year into our relationship but it passed maybe this will too? Maybe i should be on my own? Im so scared of losing this amazing man and making a big mistake!


Any advice would be appreciated

Thanks
hannah
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. L replied 11 months ago.

Dr. L :

Hello,

Dr. L :

I would be very happy to help you with your question.

Dr. L :

After reading through your posting, it seems that you are feeling some level of fear about the relationship. You clearly love him...he loves you...but there is this niggling doubt that has crept in. It seems that the doubt comes from fearing that the break between relationships was not long enough and so you are worried if you healed properly before getting in to this relationship.

Dr. L :

Let me ask a few questions so that we can pinpoint better what the issue is. Okay?

Customer:

yes please

Dr. L :

Tell me if you think about your first relationship any more? Do you miss that person? You were in a long relationship with him...but you were also very young.

Customer:

I do think about it sometimes but i do not miss that person anymore

Dr. L :

What was it like when you broke up? Where you heartbroken and devastated? Were you still feeling broken when you met your current boyfriend? Do you think that your new boyfriend was a way to distract yourself from the pain?

Customer:

i was with my ex a long time about the same time as i am currently with my current boyfriend

Dr. L :

Okay...that's good that you do not have lingering feelings for the first boyfriend.

Dr. L :

That's a milestone worth pursuing...that "anniversary" of sorts may be a trigger here....

Customer:

i was broken hearted he left me for someone else but we were argueing all the time, no i was over my ex by the time i got with my current boyfriend but i was unsure whether to get in a new relationship so shortly after my last was only about 6 months between each

Dr. L :

It's not the time on the calendar that makes a difference...it's the work that you have done to grieve the ending of a relationship and an openness to love again.

Dr. L :

Does that make sense?

Customer:

yes a little

Dr. L :

So...what from you have said...it seems that you are worried that you did not give yourself enough of a break between relationships.

Customer:

yes i remember how much fun i had during those 6 months of not being with anyone i felt free and happy

Dr. L :

There really is no rule here about how many months or days. It really depends on whether you have dealt with the painful feelings of ending a relationship and have come to learn your part in the breakup.

Dr. L :

Okay...so are you worried that you will never feel free and happy again if you stay with your boyfriend?

Dr. L :

Are you feeling locked into a relationship?

Customer:

i keep looking back yes thinking if i made the right decision will i always crave the fun i had back then

Customer:

?

Dr. L :

Part of the fun you had back then likely was because of the fighting and hurt from that relationship.

Dr. L :

You had been in an unhealthy relationship and were finally free of it. It hurt. But it also felt good not to be tied into that unhealthy situation. So what you felt was a release from the pain and trouble.

Dr. L :

I encourage you to keep that first relationship separate from your new relationship.

Customer:

yes i did feel free

Dr. L :

Your current boyfriend is not the same as your first boyfriend. The two relationships are different. You are not the same person ... you have changed, matured, are older and hopefully wiser.

Customer:

i agree but why do i feel like if i dont go back to being single i will never know if its what i truely want?

Customer:

its hard because i know i love him i do not want to loose him but cannot get rid of this unhappy niggling in my mind about it

Dr. L :

I would say that is about fear. Fear of the unknown. There certainly is risk in committing yourself in a relationship. And that's the way things seem to be heading..into a permanent relationship.

Dr. L :

It is only normal to wonder whether going forward is the right thing to do.

Customer:

yes i always joke about committing and how i am scared of it

Dr. L :

Let me put it to you another way...

Dr. L :

You have one, and only one, life to live.

Dr. L :

Life is full of mystery and wonder. It is also frightening at times...particular when we are talking about relationships.

Dr. L :

In your one and only life...do you see yourself with your boyfriend? Do you see him as the man you want to be with forever?

Dr. L :

I don't expect a quick answer. This is something for you to think carefully about.

Dr. L :

On the one hand, if he loves you he will wait for you.

Dr. L :

On the other hand, if you are not clear what your intentions are...it may lead to mistrust between the two of you.

Customer:

I can see him as that person yes thats why i do not want to let go but i dont know how else i will see if i do not go back and know for sure

Customer:

but i do not want to loose him and he get with someone else and i make a huge mistake

Dr. L :

If the break you desire is your fear talking...then you need to get over that fear by moving towards security...not by moving towards uncertainty.

Customer:

i do agree that he will probably wait for me he says he would still try to be in my life if we ever split

Dr. L :

I understand what you are saying. You are caught in two worlds...the one that fears commitment and the end of freedom and the other that fears making a bad decision.

Customer:

yes that is exactly where i am :(

Customer:

its so upsetting and frustrating

Dr. L :

Yes. It truly is.

Customer:

do you believe that this break away from him will help me see things more clearly? i mean we are still in a relationship currently

Dr. L :

To be perfectly honest...no...I don't think the break will help you see things more clearly.

Dr. L :

I think the fear of a commitment is leading you in the wrong direction. The fear is telling you to run away so that you don't have to face this. Rather...the correct course is to head into the fear and to defeat it. If you don't face it today..you will face it another day and it may become how you handle lots of tough issues in your life...work, family, friendship.

Customer:

yes i have heard of this fight or flight response

Dr. L :

You deserve to have a happy, fulfilling, and loving relationship. The more you let fear take ahold of your life...the harder it will be to have these things.

Customer:

how am i suppose to go into the dear with this niggle in the back of my mind that i cannot get ride of?

Dr. L :

And yes...there is something of fight or flight going on.

Customer:

fear sorry

Dr. L :

Good question. What I encourage you to do is to have an honest talk with your boyfriend about the fears you are feeling and to ask for his understanding, support, and love.

Dr. L :

What is needed is to feel "safe" and "secure".

Dr. L :

I encourage you to write out your fears and to show him your list.

Customer:

i have already and he understands i feel like this but he doesnt know what to advise

Dr. L :

Okay. Let's look at some of the fears you have expressed in this post:

Dr. L :

Fear of:

Dr. L :

never feeling free

Customer:

i always feel safe and secure with him

Dr. L :

never having fun

Dr. L :

not giving yourself enough time between relationships

Dr. L :

committing

Dr. L :

losing yourself to a relationship

Customer:

yep

Customer:

all of them

Dr. L :

that he will find another love

Dr. L :

that you will lose him

Customer:

yep

Dr. L :

that you are capable of making a bad decision

Dr. L :

What is missing here is trust...in yourself. Trust in your relationship. Trust in your ability to have a happy today and a happy future.

Customer:

why has this only just come up now this feeling and will it pass?

Dr. L :

The fear has you not enjoying today. It has you believing that you've made some mistakes in your past relationship and you are bound to do that again if you don't take a break.

Dr. L :

I think a trigger might be the fact that this relationship has moved closer and closer to a commitment.

Customer:

why do i get jealous of single people and that i could be having that fun

Dr. L :

It's like you are standing on the top of a hill and trying to decide to go back or go forward.

Customer:

yes soon as iv hit 4 years its become very much real

Dr. L :

Because they are not in the position to make a commitment!

Dr. L :

Yes...and you may likely be feeling some pressure from family, friends or others to move on to marriage...

Customer:

you think im jealous of them because i dont want to commit like i dont want to commit

Dr. L :

Whether people are saying it outloud or not...you know what is on people's mind when a relationship lasts that long...

Dr. L :

Yes...I think the possibility is that you see them as free...acting as if they have no one to answer to or to care about...

Dr. L :

and that part of you that fears commitment wants to be like them....no pressure...

Dr. L :

free as a bird...

Customer:

i do get jealous that they seem to get alot of compliment from others and can flirt with whoever makes me feel like i am missing out

Dr. L :

Yes...I see that...

Customer:

i do think you have a very good point about that i see them as free

Dr. L :

But...you are loved by someone who care deeply about you and who provides you with a sense of security and safety.

Dr. L :

It seems to me that the fear has you convinced that free equals fun and that commitment equals unhappiness.

Customer:

perhaps

Customer:

because i remember was so much fun within those 6 months

Dr. L :

And because you felt free and happy after you broke up with your first boyfriend that you fear that those days are long gone and you will never get to flirt, be complimented, have fun, etc.

Customer:

i fear i will never have that kind of feeling of fun again

Dr. L :

Yes...they were fun. That's true.

Customer:

i look at my sister and i feel sorry for her because she has been wanting a boyfriend for 4 years and has had such bad luck with men

Dr. L :

And this is the point where you have to decide if the kind of fun and love and good feelings you have with your boyfriend are enough for you...enough to plan a lifetime around. Or...if on the other hand...the relationship does not offer you all that you want from life.

Customer:

but then i see how much fun she has had

Dr. L :

This isn't easy stuff to figure out...but it needs to happen.

Dr. L :

But is life about fun? Or is life about living?

Customer:

was 6 months enough fun though ?

Customer:

i agree life is for living

Dr. L :

Life has it's ups and downs. That's reality. There are good times, hard times, bad times. There is tremendous joy and terrible sorrow.

Dr. L :

Good question about the 6 months. Part of the issue here is that you got into a relationship at a young age - 14 - and then were tied up in that relationship during the important years of discovery and maturing. So...you lost out on some things.

Customer:

i feel terribly selfish he has been nothing but amazing to me it makes feel sad

Dr. L :

Take those feelings as a sign that you are human...

Customer:

yeh i was very young i kinda ask my mum why she let me get so serious with someone at that age lol

Customer:

i felt like i knew who i really was when i had those 6 months

Dr. L :

Yes...it would have been better not to have been so involved at such a young age. But...it is over now and you are not that same person.

Customer:

i had so many friends and was having the time of my life

Dr. L :

Yes...that likely is true that you were able to discover what you had lost.

Dr. L :

But...please remember that what you were attempting to do was to make up for lost time. So you attempted to pack into those 6 months several years of living and exploring...

Customer:

sometimes i feel maybe i should just see it as a good time and leave it as that as good times dont always stay good times

Dr. L :

Do you truly see yourself as doing the same thing now? Going out with friends...partying...etc?

Customer:

at 22 i do see that

Dr. L :

Yes...I agree. In a way...you are looking back on that 6 months as magical and as the best time of your life. If you were to try to do that same thing I doubt it would be exactly the same.

Customer:

but sometimes do we not need to experience it for ourselves to be sure?

Dr. L :

I say that because you have now experienced real love with your boyfriend and I believe that has changed you.

Dr. L :

Yes. Sometimes we have to get it out of our bones. You are right.

Customer:

yes i do love him very much

Customer:

so how do i get it out of my bones

Dr. L :

So perhaps what you do here is to ask your boyfriend for a short break. Put a time limit on your exploration.

Dr. L :

Say...3 months. Then during that time you try to recapture the fun and excitement.

Dr. L :

You will need to set some guidelines...for example, no sexual intimacy with another partner, that sort of thing.

Dr. L :

And you need to be very clear about your goals for this period and allow him to set his own goals.

Dr. L :

There needs to be fairness here. If you want to go out and party...then he should be allowed the same thing.

Customer:

but i will not feel free to flirt like before

Dr. L :

You will also have to decide if you have any contact, and if so, what that contact will be./

Dr. L :

Why is that?

Customer:

because he would be very angry

Customer:

it would hurt him

Dr. L :

okay...but isn't that what you want...to be able to flirt, party, be out meeting other people?

Customer:

he says if he found out i done anything like that he would not want to be with me again

Dr. L :

And I would assume you would say the same thing about him...that you would not want him out flirting and such with other women?

Customer:

yes i guess so

Dr. L :

This is why this gets very difficult. That is why you need very clear goals and agreement about how you will spend this time.

Dr. L :

My suggestion is that you sit down with him again to work out the arrangements of this temporary break. Set guidelines on what each of you is allowed to do. What your goals are. How you will communicate during the break and so forth.

Dr. L :

Then and only then should you move forward with your plan.

Customer:

yeh well we are already on a kind of break at the moment but still in a relationship

Dr. L :

yes...so what I am suggesting is that you make it a little clearer so that there is no misunderstanding.

Customer:

you mean say we are not in a relationship but have rules?

Customer:

is if fair to make him wait 3 months?

Dr. L :

No...I mean you put your relationship on hold so that each of you can take a break and get to explore life so that you can decide whether to move on to a commitment.

Customer:

im a little confused

Dr. L :

From what you have written...3 months will give you enough time to decide which direction to go with your life.

Customer:

sorry to be so thick

Dr. L :

Okay...where did you get confused?

Dr. L :

It's okay.

Customer:

so as im on a break with him now but in a relationship what would we be within that break ?

Dr. L :

You are still in a relationship. You have not broken up completely. You are simply taking some time apart. You love him. He loves you.

Dr. L :

It's like a temporary separation.

Dr. L :

A temporary time apart.

Customer:

yeh i think thats a bit like what we have decided to do but did you say that was not a good idea?

Dr. L :

Yes. I do think that breaks like that can end a relationship because its easy to lose trust. But...you are very insistent that you want to recapture the fun and freedom of those 6 months. It seems to me that you are stuck at that point and unless you take this break you will forever be fearful.

Dr. L :

What I am saying is that it is risky. And...I want you to be fully aware of the risk.

Dr. L :

The choice is up to you how you.

Dr. L :

...sorry...how you proceed.

Dr. L :

Risk and fear are not the same.

Customer:

yeh that is true do you believe im too far intot he fear to let the fun go ?

Dr. L :

You are taking a chance with this temporary separation...

Dr. L :

I think you are letting the fear keep you from seeing today as wonderful and providing all the joy, fun and happiness you need.

Dr. L :

Like I said earlier, it's like you are standing on a hill...not knowing which direction to go.

Dr. L :

It's a painful place to be. And we tend to think that the past is safer because we've already survived it. The future is full of unknowns.

Customer:

ok i wont keep you any longer thank you for helping look at it from a different point of view i have not been able to see before i will definatley take what you have said into account about the fear and what it is holding me back from you are very intelligent man and very understanding so thank you for taking your time to answer me it has helped :) i am going to go along on my break and speak to my boyfriend about the rules so we are clear but at the same time i will think long and hard about if what i want is really what i used to have

Dr. L :

Very good.

Dr. L :

It was my pleasure to help you today.

Dr. L :

Take care!

Customer:

thank you again

Dr. L :

You are very, very welcome!

Customer:

bye

Customer:

hello sorry how do i rate your service and pay you it is not allowing me to do so at the moment >

Customer:

?

Dr. L :

Sorry. I had this the pay feature disabled. It is now open.

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1166
Experience: Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist
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