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Ask Dr. L Your Own Question

Dr. L
Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1165
Experience:  Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
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I am having trouble with my gfs relatinoship with her coach

Customer Question

I am having trouble with my gf's relatinoship with her coach and her coaches family. I need some advice.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. L replied 1 year ago.

Dr. L :

Hello,

Dr. L :

I would like to help you with your question.

Dr. L :

What is happening with the coach and his family?

Dr. L :

I see you are typing...thanks...

Customer:

I will start at square one. I have been dating my gf for almost a year. She is a professional tennis player. Her tennis coach is a guy. her fitness coach is a woman which is also the wife of the tennis coach. She has known them for four years now. We can touch on subjects later as well, but to start off I met the coach in person this past August. As soon as i met him I got the wierdest vibe and feeling ever. That feeling I know everybody has had at least once or twice in there lifetime. the only times i have had these feelings it always turned out they were the correct feelings. I held it in and held it in while pretending, for my gf, that everything was ok and that i didn't mind her coach and family. Things keep happenening and i keep finding out more and more about them that just keep making my feelings worse and worse. She has a contract with them and she has even asked me if i want her to fire them. But i don't want that at all. I know that in the long run if i ask her to fire them it will come back to bite me. And I want the long run with her. So I am trying to protect that, but i feel so strongly about these people that it is almostkilling me inside.

Dr. L :

Okay...what is it that you are feeling? That they are abusive....what are the "vibes"?

Customer:

That he mentally manipulates her. She is only 22 now and he first started working with her when she was only 18. And as time went on, I met her dad and the dad strongly dislikes the coach as well. So, i that made me feel not as crazy for the vibes that i was getting. There is just so much to say here I am not sure where all to begin. I will give you a small background. I am a professional boxer and been on hbo, espn, all the major networks. I am a small town kid my whole life. I am 29 and my gf is 22 and will be 23 in a couple months. We leave a couple states away from each other as well. So we have a long distance relationship as well.

Customer:

My typing is horrible and my grammar. We live, not leave...

Dr. L :

don't worry about the grammar or spelling...not a problem

Dr. L :

So what does dad feel is going on?

Dr. L :

Why did Dad agree to this contract?

Customer:

That is the thing. The dad didnt agree to the contract. But the daughter is of age and now lives near the coach and in a different state than all her family. I feel as though the coach has isolated her so much, away from family and loved ones. She is sucha sweet and trusting girl and is just so deep in it she cant see it. OF course she believes the dad is the way he is because he is just being a dad. But the dad pulled me aside on many occasions and told me differently. Beleives the coach is shady and not a good coach and all that. The dad even tried to talk to the coach on the phone as a man. the dad called the coach and specifically asked the coach not to tell my gf that they were talking. Then the coach hung up and called my gf immediately and would no longer answer the dads phone calls. To me, that seems not right.

Customer:

Please keep asking me questions and i will answer. There is so much.

Customer:

I just dont know how to let it all out.

Dr. L :

Would dad be willing to have a face-to-face with the coach...and perhaps with his daughter and you present as well? If you and dad have these bad vibes...a phone call isn't going to do it. A face to face is the way to handle this so that you can air out all your issues and come to a point of making a decision as to the future.

Dr. L :

That would also mean that someone has to read the contract, find out if it is possible to break the contract, and what the consequences would be. That would include not only financial considerations, but who would then coach this girl?

Customer:

I am glad you said that. I am a man and know maybe my vibes are not all correct. So, i told my gf that i wanted to have a face to face sit down conversation with the coach and he wanted nothign to do with it. made every excuse in the world. Which made me further think something wasnt right. He wont even talk to the dad and now not even me. He is very manipulative with his words and controlling.

Dr. L :

As a competitive athelete you understand coaching...and you understand the bond between the coach and "pupil". You understand that the coach has tremendous control over that person and that the loyalty is overwhelming. So...this girl is going to need some outside help (meaning not you or dad) in seeing reality.

Dr. L :

Yes...I can see why the coach is shutting you out. His contract is with her...not you not dad...but he is trying to maintain his control over her and her loyalty to him.

Dr. L :

But...as you point out...she's too naive here and she "buys" his excuses.

Dr. L :

So...my thought would be:

Dr. L :

1. Get her into individual therapy so that she can work with a psychologist to better see what is happening to her. This will only work, of course, if she feels upset/disturbed with how you and dad don't like the coach and is feeling internal pain about this.

Dr. L :

2. You and dad work out a date and time when you can meet to confront the coach and his wife.

Dr. L :

Did she sign the coaching contract? or did Dad?

Dr. L :

That could make a difference?

Dr. L :

Who pays the coach? Dad or daughter?

Customer:

She signed it. She just signed a one year deal in december. daughter handles all finances.

Dr. L :

Ugh.

Customer:

and just the coach and my gf negotiated her contract. Like i said, he has total control. And she is so smart and intelligent in every other aspect of life. That is why it is so weird how this coach has this hold on her.

Dr. L :

Okay...Dad can still sit down at the table with the coach and so can you...you all have vested interest in a good outcome for her career and her life...and so he should not refuse you based on that mutual interest.

Customer:

He wont do it thought Dr. L. i flew 800 miles soley to meet with him and wheni got there he refused to meet. Made every excuse in the book and made the gf believe it was ok that he not meet with me. And to top it all off, she has been progressiviely losing for an entire year. She went from being 80 in the world to now almost 200 in a matter of six months.

Customer:

There are even pros on tour that reached out to me now and said they have no idea while she is still with him adn they wish she would fire him. But, they even told me that i should not influence the firing at all. it will bite me in the ass down the line. I agree. I dont want to ever negatively affect her or her career. But at what point do i draw the line.

Customer:

This guy and his wife even has her passwords to a bank account, and passwords to other stuff.

Dr. L :

I agree that you should NOT be the reason for her firing the coach. That would - as you say - bite you later down the line. But...Dad is in a different position. She could be very angry with him...but in the end she will not chose coach over dad. That's for him to decide how he wants to handle that...

Dr. L :

That was disrespectful and rude of him to be unwilling to meet with you. And...very unfortunate that she is willing to let him do so.

Dr. L :

As to where to draw the line...

Dr. L :

That is likely a conversation you can have with her...

Dr. L :

Such as:

Dr. L :

Honey, I am 100% here for you. At what point would you want me to step in and voice my concerns about your coach and how you are doing on tour? I will never, ever push this issue until - and unless - you want me to become involved.

Dr. L :

The sad thing here is that coach can point to you and dad as reasons why here ranking has dropped. He can easily say...well if your dad and bf kept their noses out of this you would be doing better.

Dr. L :

You see my point?

Dr. L :

As to those other pros who are giving you advice...tell them to talk to her. She needs to hear this feedback directly because at this point in time..she seems to only be listening to her coach.

Dr. L :

As to the passwords...does Dad know about this? Unless she keeps only very limited funds in that account...it would seem quite unreasonable for them to have direct access to her finances. How does she explain this to you?

Customer:

had that talk already Dr. L. And I said it almost word for word as you just typed it. I told her no matter what I have your back 100%. And i respect your decision. But it is now eating me up more and more every day. Especially now that she has been losing so much. And she has been soley training her but offwith him. They were in australia for an entiremonth. Jst them and she is still losing. She is unhappy and i can feel it. that is what kills me and i dont have the heart to tell her it is maybe her coach. I have no credentials in tennis to say that. her dad cant say it either because she will just think he is tryign to be a dad and control her. And i dont want her to think i am trying to control her either. And her reason for them knowingher credit card information is because they might need it to book flights in such. All of which my gf does her self anyways. She doesnt like change, as most of us dont, but i wish she didnt have to learn the hard way. All of this is slowly pushing me away from her. And this is not what i want. I have even talked to my dad about marryign this girl... But, i cant even think about that nor should i until this is resolved. But i dont know the resolution.

Customer:

Should i try and sit down with a therapist face to face to go further in depth?

Customer:

I jsut want to do right by her and for myself. I am trying to be responsible and do the best long term for our relationship because at the end of the day I love her very much.

Customer:

And that is why i would never tell her or influence her to fire him. But at this point, that is honestly what i want...

Dr. L :

When you ask her why she is unhappy..what does she say?

Dr. L :

And yes...I do think you're seeing a therapist is a good idea so that you can continue to work through these feelings of frustration and anger. You are - to some degree - in a no win situation. If you tell her to fire the coach you will have to live with those consequences. If you keep your mouth shut you live with the pain of thinking that she is being hurt and used.

Dr. L :

Is there any other family member that understands what is going on? Mom? Siblings?

Dr. L :

Or even past coaches?

Dr. L :

And absolutely...I can understand that you see a future ahead of you with her and you want to keep moving toward that future...but the coach and his wife are in the way of that future.

Dr. L :

What if you told her...I have decided to go to therapy because I am having such a difficult time sitting back and saying nothing when I feel that the coach/coach's wife do not seem to be the right people for you to have in your life. How would she "hear" that and respond to that?

Customer:

Because my bf doesnt like my coach. When she told that to me about two months ago it killed me. So, i have done everythign i possibly can for her to not think that. That is why i even agreed to meet her coach in person to squash it all. he declined that. He wouldnt even have a phone conversation with me. So, she just had me call him from her phone one night because she knew he would answer and i did that. Had an hour long conversation with him and when i got done talkign with him i felt even worse. I made him think i was ok and made her think it was all ok. But during that phone call, all i did was apologize and said i am here for my gf and want the best for her. he still has yet to meet with me. And the gf is still losing and still not happy.

Dr. L :

How would you feel if she was winning? Would that change how you feel about the coach?

Dr. L :

And what doesn't she like about your coach?

Customer:

That is the thing. that is why i think the dad doesnt like the coach is becauseof the losing. I dont like him because i think he negatively impacts her personal life and she loves my coach. He is a good guy and she respects him and likes him. That is thing, i dont have to like her coach at all, but i want to be able to respect him, and i dont. he wont even sit down withthe father or now the bf? i think that is shady. It is like pulling a weak one from the heard and isolating her so you can do what you want andcontrol what you want. The coach even told her that tennis needs to come first. Over family and personal life. that blew me away. I know the dedication that it takes to compete at a high level, but in know way would i ever put my career over my family. And i dont respect him because my gf is the first pro he ever coached and the only. I think he has manipulated her so much that he knows he isnt a good coach anymore, but yet he gets 30% of her income... and she made a ton of money last year.. then he tells her things like, i am losing money every time i travle with you andmakes herfeel like he makes this huge huge sacrifice.. he has this tennis academy, which is like 20 people, little kids, that he coaches when he isnt on the road. i think that is unprofessional to tell a girl you are coaching and making a ton of money off of that you are losing money andmakeher feel guilty for the time he spends away from his family..

Dr. L :

I agree with you:

Dr. L :

You don't have to love her coach...but you definately want to respect him and respect the working relationship they have.

Dr. L :

Him badgering her about money is unreasonable!! The contract should be clear about all these details so that they both feel that the financial arrangement benefits each of them.

Customer:

Alright Doc, bare with me here, but this is what i almost believe. I think the guy is a sociopath. I looked the term up and i think he is.

Customer:

he also uses her as advertisement for his tennis academy.. she is his credibility.

Dr. L :

While I can see how some coaches would put the sport over the family...that is not realistic in this case unless her goal was to become #1 in the world and SHE wants to forgo family for the sport. This should be her decision not his.

Dr. L :

And absolutely..his unwillingness to meet you is unreasonable and only contributes to you feeling negative about him. If he really cared about her and her future..he would do all he could to make sure you and dad felt comfortable.

Dr. L :

And does she participate in the academy?

Dr. L :

Does she coach or work with the other students?

Customer:

agreed doc. i think if he cared for her he would go out of his way to make it ok. I know other coaches perosnally on tour and i like them. none of them give me wierd vibes or have a relationship like my gf has with her coach.


i say he is a sociopath because he never played professional tennis. he wasnt even a head coach at any college. He was a volunteer assistant coach when he met my gf. Then he stole her away from thehead coach and never told him what he was doing.

Dr. L :

Why in the world would she hire a coach like that? Why did she think he would do a good job?

Customer:

forget the sociopath comments, i want to go with this other stuff real quick\

Dr. L :

Why didn't her dad but an end to that situation?

Customer:

I think he got close to her when she was only 18 and away from her family.

Customer:

Got in her head.

Dr. L :

And certainly we would say that she was vulnerable and not capable of making a major decision like that.

Customer:

That is what i think too.

Dr. L :

What does dad say about the fact the coach never played pro?

Customer:

he does not like it.

Dr. L :

There is lots of research about the brain that would say she had NO ability to make that decision....

Dr. L :

What would happen if Dad went down there and pulled her out?

Dr. L :

Would she fight dad?

Dr. L :

Can the contract be broken?

Dr. L :

What does your own coach say about all of this?

Customer:

every contract can be broken. My coach thinks two things... 1. the coach has an inappropriate romantic relationship with her.... or 2. he is milking her for all the money he can.. thats why he is controlling her

Customer:

I think 2.

Dr. L :

Yup...#2.

Dr. L :

Yes...there is always an "out" clause.

Dr. L :

So..what stops Dad from going out there and taking her home?

Customer:

i say no. 2, not as a nieve trusting bf, but for many other reasons.

Customer:

She is 22 almost 23 and he doesnt want her to hate him.

Customer:

He only has two daughters and they are both older and away from home. But, he complains about the coach to my gf every chance hegets. So i dont think it would do any good for him. I think he has screwed himselfinher beleiving anything he has to say about the coach. honestly

Dr. L :

Okay...so here is another angle to think about...

Customer:

This is a tough one doc. I know it.

Dr. L :

The more you and dad complain about the coach the more resistant she is going to get. This is called "psychological reactance" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactance_%28psychology%29

Dr. L :

In short it says...the more we try to pressure someone the more they will resist

Customer:

i agree..

Dr. L :

Okay...so you and dad are trying to pressure her into firing him...and she is resisting you because in her eyes she is a big girl now and ought to be in charge of her life and her decisions...blah blah blah.

Dr. L :

On the other hand, coach has a stranglehold on her.

Customer:

I am not pressuring her. But I am sure she feels it subconsciously

Customer:

he has a crazy hold on her

Dr. L :

Right...she knows you don't like him and so that is on her mind. Same with dad.

Customer:

Thank you so much for taking this time with me. Doc, i need this so bad. I need perspective

Dr. L :

So...what is she to do? The theory would say that she will continue to resist you and dad...until and unless the pressure that gets put on her is such that she "breaks". You can darn bet that the coach is threatening her in every way he can to get her to stay...that's his cash cow.

Dr. L :

So...the best strategy for you and dad is to say...

Dr. L :

Honey, I trust you. I trust your decisions. If you have felt pressured by me...I need you to know that I am letting go of that in favor of trusting and believing in you. I am here...I will continue to be here. I only want the best for you..and for us.

Dr. L :

And then you continue to reinforce that point that you are open to talking about this any time she wants/needs...but that you will not pressure her.

Dr. L :

I know you have already said this. But you need to keep saying it. And Dad has got to get on this train as well. Please read the link I gave you so that you get this solidly in your head.

Customer:

When you say those things it makes me feel great. I did exactly that tow months ago. I did see a change too. She actually started talkign about her coach with me again and telling stories in such. And i just go with the flow of things. But, it is getting to me so much. So much that me and the gf just last week started talkign about moving in with each other. We both decided about four months ago that Florida is the place we want. Now, she says no i want to live here where my coach is. I said hmm, well how long do you think that will be... now she says for a long time. yet she has told me numerous times she wants to be closer to her family and she does not like where she is living now. And the thign about tennis coaches is thatyou dont have to live by them because you are constantly on the road with them anyways. She has maybe two months out of the year, not all at once, where she is home. But other than that, it is it. Every other pro i know doesnt live by there coach. but, the coach obviously knows if he lets her move, she will end up out of his control .

Dr. L :

Exactly...he is trying to control her living arrangements because he is afraid she will come to her senses!!!!

Dr. L :

I had a strong sense that you were already thinking along the same lines...giving her the freedom to make decisions about this aspect of her life...and that is the key here she absolutely must feel "free" to make this coaching decision.

Customer:

The thing about it that gets me too Doc, she is the most considrate woman i have ever met. i am not a jealous guy at all. But the first time i was with her at a tennis match, she hurt her butt muscle, and when we were walking to the trainer she actually stopped me and asked me permission if it was ok that the trainer rub her butt... i was blown away because i was like, oh my gosh, yes that is totally fine. i thought she wasnuts. She wont even let a guy give her professional massages as well. But when it comes to this coach, it feels like she is a not the same girl. its liek when she is around him, she thinks and has the same views as him, but then away from them she is a different person.

Dr. L :

One of the ways you might help to encourage her to move away from him is to keep painting the picture of life together...making plans with her to see her family...that sort of thing where you help to build up an alternative picture of life for her. If she originally liked the idea of Florida...start pulling out pictures of various cities that might be a good choice for "home base"...maybe plan a little vacation where she actually looks at homes/apartments...get her excited about this part of her life.

Dr. L :

What you witness when she is around him and when she talks/thinks/acts like him is due to the amount of control he has over her.

Customer:

i am in the process of that. i actually got a really big job offer for orlando. Which is only a 50 minute flight from where her coach lives. So i am trying to go for that an be happy myself. Honestly, if i respected the coach i would ina heart beat move to where she is now to be closer to her, but i know that i am a brutally honest guy and if i seen him every day i would not hold back. And then that would be bad for me. LOL.

Dr. L :

And you can subtly encourage her "real" self...by keeping discussions/chats/talks about those things that do not include her coach.

Dr. L :

Yes...you don't want to continue on this negative path with the coach. Try as much as you can to act neutral when she talks about him and to keep your focus on HER...not on him.

Dr. L :

I do think going to therapy might be a way to work through these feelings you have so that you don't get caught up in the negativity.

Dr. L :

Is there any last thought you have?

Customer:

The only disaggreements we have ever had, me and the gf, have revolved soley around the coach. What is my first step Doc in this? Just keep going about things right now and not voice an opinion at all to her about him? It scares me that in the long run i set back and let this all happen to her, when typically i am the guy that takes a stand and will always stand up for what is right, but this is a sticky no win situation.. right?

Dr. L :

Your first step is to continue as you have...saying nothing negative about the coach, reminding her that you trust her decisions and will support her choices, and helping her to see the future with you.

Dr. L :

What might be important to say to her is what I wrote earlier:

Dr. L :

At what point would you be comfortable with me voicing a negative opinion about the coaching you are getting? Put it on her shoulders to give you that direction...then you can't be in trouble!

Dr. L :

This is a sticky situation! The best you can do here is to support her...and when necessary to say, "Would you like me to help you think through that thought/choice so that you look at all of the positives and all of the consequences?" Keep asking if she wants your help...if you ask..then she is free to say yes or no.

Customer:

Ok Dr. L. that is great advice. I am thankful for you professional opinion. One last question. This is a big what if.. lets say I find a solution of moving to florida. It is a good fit for me, and there is plenty of tennis pros she can practice with there and still see her coach when needed and be close to her family, because i am a huge family guy as well. My family is numero uno in my life.... My question is, if she still decides to remain near her coach, is my only move to just do whats right for me and move on?

Dr. L :

If by saying "what's right for me and move on" you are meaning to end the relationship...then I say NO.

Dr. L :

If by saying "what's right for me and move on" you mean move to Florida and keep up with the long distance relationship..I say YES.

Dr. L :

Seems to me that you love this gal and that you can see a future together. It may take her some time to decide that living in Florida with you is a far better choice then keeping to the present arrangement. Remember he is going to put lots of pressure on her to remain with him. If that pressure builds ...and she feels that he is restricting her freedom to make choices about her life...guess what...she will break the contract. Read the article on psychological reactance!

Customer:

Love her very much. Never even thought about marriage until i met her.... I am willing to do all that. I am reading the wiki pedia link you sent me already.. makes me want to pick up the phone and call her right now. lol. Instead i am going to go work out and ponder all that we have talked about.. i really felt you would say most everything you did. But it is good to have the reassurance sometimes in that department..

Customer:

real quick, she told me that her previous coach when she was 16 mentally controlled her and such, so much that the dad did rip her away and fire them.. but she was only 16.. that is why i think it has happened again, and she even told her now coach that and he keeps saying he has to deal withthat baggage from a past coach.. even though that past coach was six years ago... her now coach keeps making excuses and excuses... and knowing that she was mentally controlled before makes me believe he is doing it now even though my gf thinks him and his family love her very much..

Dr. L :

Glad I could reassure you. Yes...mull all of this over...take some time to think it through and adjust your strategy if necessary.

Dr. L :

I think the more focus you put on having a good life in Florida together...her getting to see her family more often...getting to know and love your family the better.

Dr. L :

Don't let this guy come between you...and between your dreams...

Customer:

I have a wise father and very good friends around me that say the same thing.. makes me confident of the feeligns and intuations i have with other people. thanks Doc.. You did an amazing job.. i appreciate you more than you know.

Dr. L :

Yup...sounds like she has let him into her life in an inappropriate way...let's use the word "exploit"...

Dr. L :

His talking about old baggage and how that impacts today is disrespectful...

Dr. L :

It is sad how she has been taken in by the coach and his family...very sad.

Dr. L :

You must show her a different kind of love...one that is not controlling...

Dr. L :

You know what I mean here.

Dr. L :

Take care.

Dr. L :

If you should ever want to chat again, just ask for me by name and then I will be notified.

Dr. L :

Good luck!

Customer:

I do. I will be checking in Doc.. Thank you again. You took so much time her for me and i am gratefull.

Customer:

high marks for sure. thank you and you will behearingform me again

Dr. L, Psychologist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1165
Experience: Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
Dr. L and other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Something new has happened. I really need your advice..

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Dr. We broke up yesterday.

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