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Norman M.
Norman M., Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 2543
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DHP, ECP, UKCP Registered, 10 years in relationship counselling, over 2,000 satisfied mental health customers.
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Im concerned my boyfriend is obsessed with me. We met online

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I'm concerned my boyfriend is obsessed with me. We met online and he asked me to spend thanksgiving with him. Since I am new to the area, I had no other plans. At first I did not intend to go out with him, but he regularly invited me over and I would accept for a lack of anything else.

Soon he was showing up at my door uninvited. At the end of the day I would have to kick him out to get to sleep.

He asked me to spend a whole weekend with him for his birthday, I accepted. It became normal that every weekend was spent entirely with him. He would continue to say it would be nice to have a whle weekend together and I would tell him that we are doing that every weekend. He would say, yes but we are busy doing things.

He insisted if I wanted time for my own friends he would give me time. When I would ask for this he would plan to come along. I said I'd really rather some time alone with them, away from him. He told me this would be ok. I once asked for some time alone and he wanted to know how long I would be. When I said 2 hours he wanted to know why I was going to be away so long, and proposed alternatives that would take less time, since his son is coming for dinner.

Things seemed to change when I complained about feeling smothered by him. He called me one night and told me if I wanted to not come to see him friday night I could. Wanting to support that he had finally recongnized my need for space I said I would visit, but not spend the night. He has praised me for being so loving, yet everytime I come to visit he insists I spend the night, even suggesting to me he"d buy things I need for spending the night.

Things got a little better when I noticed his posted hours on his shop included hours he would spend with me on Saturday. He told me he has his number on the door and a sign saying to call if assistance is needed. I said that is a terrible way to run a business and I was concerned that I may be causing his business to fail. Since I was not spending the nights on Fridays, he would work on Saturdays and we would get together saturday nights.

He did insist I call him on Firday nights once I got home. If I was not at his place on Saturday by 6pm he would get upset with me wanting to know where I was, even when I would tell him I will be late.

I had a trip planned to move the last of my things from my old home in the summer. He asked if he could come along. I told him I would consider it. As the trip neared he pressured me if he was coming along. I told him I would like a few days together with friends and family, and asked him if he would come out a few days later. He would get very insistant that he would like to meet my friends and family, and travel together with me. I wanted some time with friends and family to talk about our relationship, but that would be difficult with him there. He insisted all I had to do was ask for some time alone and he would give me the time. I proposed a few compromses, but all involved me spending some time away from him. He would get upset and say he was looking forward to travelling together, and meeting my friends and family.

In the end I told him he could not come along. Then he got him really upset, and he told me he had made plans for his son and a friend to cover his shop while we where gon, and his son had taken time off work and already arranged someone to cover for him. After much arguements I told him he could come out later, and he finally accepted this compromise.

After this our relatioship really seemed to be improving. When we got back we went on a lots of dates to concerts, with his friends and his son. He would suggest we need to spend all weekend together, and I would again point out we were spending a lot of time together but he would insist, it did not count since we were not alone.

I took a Tuesday off to go to a day long music festival with him and his son. Wednesday morning as I was leaving for work, he asked me what we should do for dinner. I said I had spent so much time with him I needed some time alone, to get my things unpacked from my garage. I pointed out we had been spending so much time together I had not gotten anything done in the last 2 weeks. While at work he sent me a text message telling me what he planned for dinner. When I got home, he was in my apartment arguing with his sister about problems with their father, who they had just moved into an assisted living facility. She was going crazy with everything that was going on. I held off on letting him know how upset I was about him showing up despite asking for time to get things done.

I just came on a 1 week business trip, and he wants me to come home a day early to see him rather than see some friends. He has said it is to give me time to relax, or that helping his son get to collage, will be to difficult to schedule. He also said his week was busy closing his shop out and needs my support.

I've told him I feel smoothered, but he says I can take time any time I need it.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Norman M. replied 2 years ago.

This man clearly is very needy, and to an extent, dominating.

If you have a look at his past behavior patterns, it is most likely that they will continue, with the eventual outcome that you will feel even more controlled and smothered.

If you feel that you can handle that in a relationship, all well and good, but if you are at all doubtful, you need to be considering whether this relationship is going to be good for you in the long term.

I have three suggestions for you.

Firstly, you need tobecome more assertive, so, I would like you to use this tool:

This Bill of Rights was one of the tools used by Virginia Satir, a well-known family therapist. Containing some really basic psychological rights belonging to every person, it really helps to identify and deal with areas in which we have problems.

Read the statements. Note down any immediate thoughts or feelings that come to you and reflect on how they affect you.

Look at yourself in a mirror and read it out loud to yourself. Listen to your voice grow in strength and volume so that you can really start to feel it inside. In the beginning, you may feel silly or embarrassed. You may hear the inner voice say, "That's not the truth". Just hang in there and keep doing it - you'll notice the change within six weeks, if you do it regularly.

1. I do not have to feel guilty just because someone else does not like what I

do, say, think or feel.

2. It is OK for me to feel angry and to express it in responsible ways.

3. I do not have to assume full responsibility for making decisions, particularly where others share responsibility for making the decisions.

4. I have the right to say "I don't understand" without feeling stupid or guilty.

5. I have the right to say NO.

6. I have the right to say No without feeling guilty.

7. I do not have to apologize or give reasons when I say NO.

8. I have the right to refuse requests which others make of me.

9. I have the right to tell others when I think they are manipulating, conning, or treating me unfairly.

10. I have the right to refuse additional responsibilities without feeling guilty.

11. I have a right to tell others when their behaviour annoys me.

12. I do not have to compromise my personal integrity.

13. I have a right to make mistakes and be responsible for them. I have a right to be wrong.

14. I do not have to be liked, admired, or respected by everyone for everything I do.

Finally, I’m going to suggest that you would benefit from some Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

CBT is based on the fact that what we think in any given situation generates beliefs about, and reactions to that situation, and also causes the behaviour and feelings which flow from those beliefs and reactions. It would help you to see the wood from the trees with more clarity, and make your decions from a position of strength.

These ‘automatic thoughts’ are so fast that generally, we are unaware that we have even had them. We call them ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) for short.

If the pattern of thinking we use, or our beliefs about our situation are even slightly distorted,

the resulting emotions and actions that flow from them can be extremely negative and unhelpful. The object of CBT is to identify these ‘automatic thoughts’ then to re-adjust our thoughts and beliefs so that they are entirely realistic and correspond to the realities of our lives, and that therefore, the resulting emotions, feelings and actions we have will be more useful and helpful.

Cognitive therapists do not usually interpret or seek for unconscious motivations but bring cognitions and beliefs into the current focus of attention and through guided discovery encourage clients to gently re-evaluate their thinking.

Therapy is not seen as something “done to” the client. CBT is not about trying to prove a client wrong and the therapist right, or getting into unhelpful debates. Through collaboration, questioning and re-evaluating their views, clients come to see for themselves that there are alternatives and that they can change.

Clients try things out in between therapy sessions, putting what has been learned into practice, learning how therapy translates into real life improvement.

Please visit this website for much more detailed information on CBT:

http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfoforall/treatments/cbt.aspx

If you cannot afford to see a therapist, there are good free CBT based self-help resources here:

http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/cbtstep1.htm

Also, there is a book called ”Feeling good - the new mood therapy” by Dr. David Burns. It has a hand book which gives you practical exercises to work through and further instructions on how to better use CBT. I really do recommend it.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook for Dummies By Rhena Branch, Rob Willson is also pretty good.

I’m sure that these two courses of action would really help.

Let him see that you mean to have your own space and time when and how you want it, and don't just rely on words. Show him!

Best wishes, NormanM

Norman M., Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 2543
Experience: ADHP(NC), DHP, ECP, UKCP Registered, 10 years in relationship counselling, over 2,000 satisfied mental health customers.
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