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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 7664
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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My girlfriend and I have been together for about 6 months.

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My girlfriend and I have been together for about 6 months. She and I have very good chemistry and we both really want to be together. I have started to notice something about her that could grow into a deal breaker for me. She is CONSUMED by fear! We are college students around 21 years old. She lives with her parents who are extremely overbearing. Every time she steps a toe out of line, she gets punished. When we are out and about together, she doesn't want us to show affection because she thinks her parents will have followed her (the parents don't want her dating right now). She also has severe epilepsy, which often forces her to skip class because if she drives when she feels sick, she can lose control. She started doing poorly in school, so she had to withdraw from a few classes. She knew her parents wouldn't like that, so she is constantly worried about that too. She doesn't have much money because she must take time off the job for her health, so she is worried about that as well.

The problem arrives when I try to help her. I want to help her find a way to be more independent because she allows her parents to control everything in her life. She doesn't know how to do taxes, how to find her extensive medical history, or how to apply for disability. She refuses to work anyplace where she doesn't like her coworkers and signed over power of attorney over her money to her parents as well. When I try to teach her a way to pay for her independence or try to help her learn something about money, she doesn't want to listen.

With all this, I come to the meat of the issue: she's started asking me for money. She doesn't want to go back to work because she doesn't know when she will feel sick again. She doesn't want to try to apply for disability because her mother doesn't want her to. She knows I have a decent job and I mentioned how much money I have in my account, but I live on my own. I pay for everything from college to living expenses out of pocket, and it comes to tens of thousands a year all while trying to finish college classes. She keeps saying things like, "it's only $40" or "I only need it to make it through the week." She doesn't seem to understand that I don't have a lot to spare! I want her to try to find a solution to her many problems and I feel like giving her money would just give her an easy way out, so she wouldn't try. I offer her all the knowledge and support I have, but she doesn't seem to want to change her situation. I'm afraid to start giving her money in bits and pieces because I know it will set a precedent and she will just keep asking me for more every month. What can I do? Is it alright to give her a little just to get by for now until she finds a better job, or do I ask her to look for another way?

Separate from those issues is that she is afraid to try anything unfamiliar. The instant I suggest something, she has already pre-judged it and usually says she doesn't want to try it. This happens with everything from reading to movies to food to sporty activites we can do together. She just refuses to try new things, and I'm worried that won't change. I really like her and I want to make it work, but I also want to be able to share experiences with her. How can I do that if she won't even give something a first try before stubbornly refusing to take part? What can I do?
Seeking expert testimony is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective

Dear friend,

You friend seems to have enough criteria to be diagnosed with Dependent Personality Disorder.

Here are the "official" criteria from the psychiatric diagnostic manual, the DSM-IV.

Diagnostic criteria for 301.6 Dependent Personality Disorder


A pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of that leads to submissive and clinging behavior and fears of separation, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

(1) has difficulty making everyday decisions without an excessive amount of advice and reassurance from others

(2) needs others to assume responsibility for most major areas of his or her life

(3) has difficulty expressing disagreement with others because of fear of loss of support or approval.
Note: Do not include realistic fears of retribution.

(4) has difficulty initiating projects or doing things on his or her own (because of a lack of self-confidence in judgment or abilities rather than a lack of motivation or energy)

(5) goes to excessive lengths to obtain nurturance and support from others, to the point of volunteering to do things that are unpleasant

(6) feels uncomfortable or helpless when alone because of exaggerated fears of being unable to care for himself or herself

(7) urgently seeks another relationship as a source of care and support when a close relationship ends

(8) is unrealistically preoccupied with fears of being left to take care of himself or herself

You cannot help to undo what her parents have been responsible for, at least in part. She is looking perhaps to jump from them to you. If you want her to jump then you will have to take care of her and possibly get her help - if she can change.

It is a big committment that you are facing.

If you want a scholarly book to see what you are facing you could get this one:

Product Details

The Dependent Personality by Bornstein

If you want a general personality disorder workbook to work with her you could get this one:

Product Details

The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Workbook for Personality Disorders: A Step-by-Step Program (New Harbinger Self-Help... by XXXXX XXXXX PsyD


Now that you know something about what you are facing, and have sources to get more information, it is up to you. Know your heart and what kind of committment you are willing to make.


I shall keep you both in my prayers.


Warm regards,



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