How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Dr. Norman Brown Your Own Question

Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 879
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
55153673
Type Your Relationship Question Here...
Dr. Norman Brown is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Hiya, I am wondering if you can help me. Once again a question

Resolved Question:

Hiya, I am wondering if you can help me. Once again a question about an ex-boyfriend. I ended it after we came back from a trip away. I had been thinking about it 4 weeks leading up to it. And I did pull away emotionally. But a number of unresolved issues had left a bad taste in my mouth. Anyway, the breakup was fairly amicable. We agreed to be friends with benefits. He has a very strong sex drive. However, after being away for 11 days after the break up I realized that that probably didn't make sense and when I returned we spent some concentrated time together and I told him that I couldn't do the friends with benefits thing because it caused me to be emotionally attached and wanting more and not knowing if that was right. We ended up having an ugly argument and reducing just to friendship. I had intended not to see him for awhile as I was feeling very blue and confused. He was already on dating sites. And was actively looking. All last week he kept showing up in places that I was at which added to my confusing as I still care deeply for him. Then my girlfriend was visiting and she asked if I thought I might be ensuring my long term narrative of men hurting me and relationships not working out was behind my perceptions and interpretations of the difficulties in our relationship. THat is possible that I sabotaged things. So now I am wondering if I should give it another chance. Although I know he is already dating. He is known for that - to pick up and move on quite swiftly and seemingly not care. I am meeting him tomorrow but I don't know if I am making an error in reconsidering. I feel sad a lot but even sadder that he seems to have had to have very little grieving time. He's 45. Not a child. We only dated for 4 months but it was pretty intense.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 1 year ago.

Dr. Norman Brown :

How old are you? Four months is the normal time for women to ask the guy for serious commitment, and guys to commit or dodge. The fact that your former guy has no consideration at all is a very bad sign for ANY continuation.

Customer:

I am 47. what do you mean that he has no consideration?

Customer:

I had felt about a month prior that perhaps the relationship couldn't work because of some encounters we had and his inability to see the role his behaviour played in them. And then I continued to apologize and take most of the blame for the most part. But then I could choose to interpret his behaviour that way as it allows me to say "see, once again a guy hurts me"

Customer:

It is possible he does not go very deep with his emotional attachment and when hurt that it didn't seem to work out he was able to reconcile in a day or two and move on, meanwhile I am processing the whole relationship and trying to decide where perhaps I caused problems and how I can fix that

Dr. Norman Brown :

I don't think I'll need to get into analyzing your behavior to assess how much you contributed to the crash of your relationship, because the relationship would probably continue to be destructive if you continued it.

Customer:

But if I change my behaviour than perhaps it can work. I don't understand your perception of him having no consideration

Dr. Norman Brown :

I do think that your choice to delve into your own behavior with men is a very good one, and a commitment to actually working with a professional therapist to understand yourself is the best way to insure a better future for you in relationships.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I'm saying that a man who blames you for everything that goes wrong has not matured enough in 45 years to be worth your trying to please him.

Customer:

Yes but I am still unclear as to whether it makes sense to have this discussion with him and see if he is open to trying once more. His actions and words have not been aligning and it confuses me.

Customer:

Well he didn't blame me for everything, but he does not really see how he plays a role

Dr. Norman Brown :

What do you think he would say if you said you want to discuss resuming your relationship in the presence of a trained couple counselor, so you can both understand your difficulties with working things out when there are differences between you?

Customer:

I am totally guessing here, but I would hazzard a guess that he would say if we have to do that so early in the relationship then that is not a good sign. I would also guess that he would be hesitant to do so. He has gone to counsellors in the past for the end of his marriage for sure, not sure of the other times, but he never was too interested about what I had to say about personality types and behaviour and trying to understand him and our interrelating. So I am also guessing it would be a little bit of a battle. But then again I don't like confrontation and I don't know that that would be the case. I can only suggest I guess

Customer:

He doesn't like deep emotional discussions. He would rather just be happy

Dr. Norman Brown :

Two comments also: It is normal for totally unreflective men to remain blissfully unaware of anything they've done that affects their partner; and for normal women to self-blame more than blaming their partner, and accordingly to do self-reflection and try to improve themselves. This imbalance in self-monitoring creates a very unbalanced relationship that can lock a woman into trying improvement strategy after improvement strategy and never getting her man to try much of anything.

Customer:

So because he really does not enjoy delving into our emotional quagmire, I am guessing he would prefer to opt out of that option.

Customer:

Interesting comments. How do I know how much he reflects? Can we ever really know?

Dr. Norman Brown :

Second comment: Friends with Benefits is an awful way to conduct a relationship, because SOME men pride themselves in being able to split sex and love. And any kind of "friendship" with him will probably deteriorate quickly since sex is what he's looking for, and perhaps the emotional intensity (ups of course) that comes with that.

Customer:

I guess perhaps it just hurts to see that he seems to be able to just 'reconcile' and move on. Does not make me feel the relationship was real in any way. And because he has such a strong sex drive he will find whomever he can as fast as possible - although he claims he is particular he seems to get opportunity.

Customer:

Yes he does go on and on about happy endorphins after he has had sex as that seems to be his main driver and he is pretty insatiable. He was never unfaithful but his need was a bit much for his age. That was one of our issues. 3 times a day every day is a bit much for any person I think

Customer:

Yes he is not malicious and has lots of friends and is a nice guy. Lots of people seem to like him. So it makes me feel like I am missing something.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I think that because YOU want to get a better handle on how you may be sabotaging yourself in love relationships, you should hold out for a partner who either has already begun that process for himself as well, or who wants to do that. The process of personal growth is halting and painful, and you need a partner who's willing to go there with you, at least some of the time.

Customer:

But I am 47 and have been repetitively unsuccessful so I wonder if really he is a pretty good guy and better than many and maybe the best I can hope for.

Dr. Norman Brown :

No you are not missing something. He is a loyal Sex Addict. The endorphins thing is true, but he's substituting sex for dealing with other aspects of his life that would be problematic if he faced them.

Customer:

Ah, that's very interesting. I will need to write that down. I think he plays a good game that has worked for him because in the relationship when I tried to talk to him about the sex issue he said no other woman had ever had a problem yet I met with an ex of his the other day and she said she had talked to him about it.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I suppose it feeds your vulnerable self-esteem to be so avidly desired sexually. But the shallowness of that desire is evident from his frantic momentum to find another receiver for his lust.

Customer:

I know I have pretty high expectations in a relationship regarding what I hope for in a partner but I have high expectations of myself. But perhaps I am consistently setting myself up for failure.

Dr. Norman Brown :

It's not you that he desires so avidly, it's a fantastically willing sex partner who's pretty enough and "fun-loving enough."

Dr. Norman Brown :

Tell me what your high expectations are in a relationship. I think that high expectations are a very good thing, as long as there's a piece of the population that could fit.

Customer:

Another good point. Thank you. I guess he has a good stable job, owns his home, has no children ergo no connections to past girlfriends on that sort of level, is fairly healthy and kind and I think there are not many out there at my age so I should not throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak, just because of some quirky personality traits

Customer:

My expectations? A loyal loving and affectionate partner, who likes to have a healthy sex life (just not to his degree), is adventurous and curious about life, open minded about different perspectives and viewpoints, is self-aware and believes in continual self-improvement, takes good care of himself, can handle emotional discussions and is okay with emotional intimacy. Is financially responsible and has a half decent job. I would also like them to be able to handle my intellect and to not be intimidated by me. A man who respects me, has fun with me, makes me feel safe, is easy to communicate with and to whom I am physically attracted

Customer:

A pretty big list perhaps

Dr. Norman Brown :

I would add some interests in common that enhance your pair-activity time, certainly not nothing but sex. I would also say that the most problematic expectations are "no children." At mid40s & beyond the children are about fully grown, so past "baggage" is manageable.

Dr. Norman Brown :

Your recent guy is NOT self-aware, does not believe in self-improvement, cannot handle emotional discussions if they're not "happy."

Customer:

True - I guess the answer is apparent then. So then why does he keep showing up where ever I am even though he is dating and says he is not jealous if I move on etc...

Dr. Norman Brown :

There should be a good group of older men who can handle your intellect and not be intimidated by your beauty or success. But guys like that have normally been happily married--might even be widowers--and therefore are likely to have considerable offspring and family connections. I could be wrong about the children issue being a deal-breaker for the kind of man you want. But a man who has enough selfawareness to have worked through separating from the mother of his children would make you feel safe and cherished.

Customer:

Well I am not against children but since I don't have any of my own, the men I have been involved with in the past have put me down the priority list after their children and their ex and being 4th in line of importance in my primary relationship does not sit well with me or my self esteem.

Customer:

So it is not deal-breaker - but as you say more the latter part of your sentence.

Customer:

So then why does he keep showing up where ever I am even though he is dating and says he is not jealous if I move on etc...

Dr. Norman Brown :

I don't know what happened in your family of origin that might have handicapped your early choices for marital partners, or how much your not having children of your own makes you reactive to a partner having what you don't have. It is a well-known problem for American women who are high career achievers that too many of the men who have reached their career level or higher are power-hungry and therefore don't want a partner who is their equal and demands an equal-power relationship; power-hungry men are likely to have serial marriages. But the high achiever men who are not power-hungry may be overly devoted to their career (like doctors, psychotherapists or researchers), women-phobic, or happily married with children unless their wives were bad mate choices & went nuts or addicted, or ran away, or were destroyed by disease.

Dr. Norman Brown :

It may be that your most undermining expectation is that the man must not be weighted down by his own past attachments--since your present man HAS no past attachements other than what's between his own legs and those of any woman.

Customer:

I am pretty clear and cognizant on what happened in my family of origin and I know the source of my struggles. Knowing and having the tools and capability to stop repeating the same narrative is not my challenge.

Customer:

I have not minded partners having children but typically they were still every embroiled with their ex and the power struggle of the children being use as pawns in a game of hateful chess and I just became unimportant in the situation. So that has been my experience to date. But as you say - if they can make me feel safe and cherished that would certainly work. Now let's see if any of them are out there.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I'd guess your former guy is showing up because he wants to hedge his bets and keep you from moving on until he's SURE he's got his needs covered with somebody that's as good (FOR HIM) as you have been, and preferably without your expectations of those pesky emotional intimacy things, self-awareness, and self-improvement--which frankly is UNCOMFORTABLE.

Customer:

You make me laugh. Thank you. "frankly is UNCOMFORTABLE" Don't I know it. You have given me some really good food for thought and some very good interpretations in regards XXXXX XXXXX I have been experiencing. I thank you for that. I think I have a better grounded position and feel I have some power back as to know what to do. It is that loss of power, confusion and subsequent feelings of desperation that seems to put me in these places of anxiety and loss and low self-esteem

Dr. Norman Brown :

I would also suggest that you hedge your own bets. But not by keeping yourself open to his addiction. I advise 2 main movements: 1. Make it a significant early conversation topic to find out how a new man is coping with his children's needs and his ex, if there is one. That probably means the children are in their 20s at least.

Customer:

and the second?

Dr. Norman Brown :

2. The other hedge is way different. In case you don't find the man outside of you who can give you the complete life you're longing for, finding the man on the inside, by which I mean Jungian analysis. That means dream interpretation, delving into the archetypal structure of your personality, leaning into the pain you that has forged what Jungian thought considers the "provisional personality" that you formed to get past your family of origin and into independent adulthood. There's a Jungian book on the Midlife transition that slips my mind right now that explains that.

Dr. Norman Brown :

It's the analytic process, that is mythically represented in Dante's Divine Comedy, Inferno, that enables midlife people to take apart their provisional personality and rebuild themselves in the loving container of the analytic relationship (a male therapist might be the more challenging and successful choice, and UK has a strong Jungian Analytic presence).

Customer:

Excellent. Thank you for this. I am definitely curious and interested and yes I agree a male therapist at this point in my life would be better for this sort of work. I shall look into that. Thanks so much Dr. Brown I greatly appreciate your time and help tonight.

Dr. Norman Brown :

My wife had analysis with Linda Leonard, whose book The Wounded Woman dealt with several varieties of female adaptation to her father complex, and my wife's constellation was a musical, feminine-developed engineer&musician&spiritual-father who died when she was 11 and a malevolent narcissistic mother who's still living, having now carried 3 husbands to their graves in 14 years each.

Dr. Norman Brown :

The downside of the Jungian growth-image called Individuation (a unique personal connection to a higher power than the ego that's available inside through dreams, synchronicities, creativity, and world religions, mythology and folklore.

Customer:

Very interesting. My father was an alcoholic but essentially a leader personality (left brained) with a need for control and my mother is a socializer (right emotional brain) with a need to connect who only wants to be liked and aside from being a codependent has a great matyrdom thing happening. Raised by guilt I was more a mother to my mother than she was to me and my father although a great provider was essentially emotionally distant or numb

Customer:

In turn I am a performer (rational right brain) emotional empath who was highly sensitive and needed bonding when being the last of four children - no one really had time for me. As such a feeling of not being of value permeated. Despite I know that I am valuable but viscerally hard to feel. Also not being allowed to feel my feelings (being told you shouldn't feel that way or you are wrong) from birth onwards has made it hard to trust my gut and intuition. Thus my life long counselling need to reach outside of myself to help me get in touch with my gut.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I've just been reading vol 1 of Psyche's Stories, with Jungian interpretations of great fairy tales like Cupid & Psyche, Beauty & the Beast & Grimm's Goose Girl. I used to teach folklore to college freshmen and always used Jungian interpretation to show the developmental paths laid out in the tales.

Customer:

Very interesting. I shall look into all of that.

Dr. Norman Brown :

ALcoholic families always suppress the children's feelings, "don't make waves."

Customer:

Tell me about it. My life long battle of trying to stand up for myself and not immediately regretting it when it results in me being rejected or abandoned.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I need to look into my books a bit. And get back to you later with better selections. Everybody likes Jung's own selections-from-autobiography (which he did not consider an autobiography) Memories, Dreams, Reflections. The most published of his female followers is Maria Louisa von Franz, who wrote most about dreams and fairy tales. The fact that you've had counseling for decades should give you a tremendous boost in self-knowledge, and every analytical journey is unique. The best source of basic Jungian concepts is Man & His Symbols, with 4 big chapters by Jung, von Franz, and 2 other major folks.

Customer:

Thanks Dr. Norman. Much appreciated

Dr. Norman Brown :

The down side of Jungian Individuation is that it's not comfortable to partner up with anyone who's not willing to delve into self at all. But you've already found that out. Dream interpretation is WONDERFUL, because the presence of Higher Power (Jung provided that word for the divine to the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous) is very palpable in dreams, because of the amazing wisdom and guidance that can be discovered through thorough interpretation. Next to relationships (where I've written one textbook, and now an emotional dynamics book on love itself, all kinds), dream interpretation is my greatest love in psychology, and it's what qualified me to become my wife's husband (when she was 33 and I was 41). She had to bend my ear for several years, around 5 in fact, before I went deeply enough into Jungian dream interpretation to discover that that was where it's at for me also.

Customer:

Wow, that's really interesting. I have very active and regular dreaming. Every night. I have always been fascinated by my dreams as they are so vivid and consistent and I cannot imagine those who do not have dreams

Customer:

I shall look into your books. I don't want to keep you much longer as you have been generous with your time.

Dr. Norman Brown :

I invite you to send a dream into JustAnswer.com Dream Interpretation and ask for me. A more lingering conversation than this one, stretching over 2 or 3 days (because I get more insight when I sleep after working with a client on a dream) might show you how inspiring that can be, and whet your appetite for a kind of therapeutic connection that could potentiate what you've accomplished so far. Now I'm going to import a few sentences from a presentation I did for Marriage therapists last Friday on dream interpretation. I'd love to interpret your dreams, but that should be done by a person you can meet face to face. I could do it by Skype or email, but in person--with a good fit would be better.

Customer:

I would find that fascinating. As I did this counselling as just a one off, I don't a regular subscription. So not sure how that works. I would like to do such counselling. If you know of anyone over here that would be good to know, otherwise, we could do skype. I assume that would be separate from this? How do you charge such an endeavour?

Dr. Norman Brown :

Yes separate. Can't talk about that here. Here's what I used to introduce my 2hr presentation;

Dr. Norman Brown :

Jungian: If you’re regularly connecting consciously with your unconscious mind, through dreams and art, you are likely to be on a path of psychospiritual growth, aka Individuation.


 


A1. Dreams are bucketfuls of holy water from our unconscious aquifer (underground waterpath of life). If we do things in conscious life to join with its unconscious flow, to move in directions our dream guidance is pointing, then our lives will develop in inner/outer harmony and through the openings in our inner world we can be in sync with the cosmos (as in taosim and the I-Ching). But if we don’t act on our inner flow in outer life, the underground waters just pass us by.


 


A2. Dream interpretation is a conversation between the dreamer’s higher source of dream content, the dreamer, and the interpreter. So the dreamer’s understanding of dream-symbol language will adapt to what the interpreter knows, or learns from dreamers. D.I. is a subjective discipline, because dreams are communication between the dreamer’s unconscious and conscious mind. The best criterion for validity: Is it psychoactive? Does it stimulate the dreamer to “move forward” in life in conjunction with the unconscious flow?

Customer:

Do you have my email or do I contact you?

Customer:

I like that. Makes sense - especially considering that I consider myself a taoist.Do you have my email or do I contact you?

Dr. Norman Brown :

Nobody's email can be transmitted over this system. But you can look up my medical research article under my name and Low Dose Naltrexone for Disease Prevention, since I'm the corresponding author with email.

Dr. Norman Brown :

If you're a taoist, then you might be into the I-Ching, as I am. I consult it when I know my intellect is not equal to the decision I need to make.

Customer:

Thanks I will do that. I have copied this all for my benefit and reference as I need to deal with this person tomorrow and want to be clear on my heart and thoughts and not be drawn in my his very successful process that he uses.

Customer:

Yes I think I shall have to delve into that again. Thanks again. I will rate this now and follow-up on all your valuable insight. I am truly grateful.

Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 879
Experience: Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
Dr. Norman Brown and 3 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
< Last | Next >
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
  • This expert is wonderful. They truly know what they are talking about, and they actually care about you. They really helped put my nerves at ease. Thank you so much!!!! Alex Los Angeles, CA
  • Thank you for all your help. It is nice to know that this service is here for people like myself, who need answers fast and are not sure who to consult. GP Hesperia, CA
  • I couldn't be more satisfied! This is the site I will always come to when I need a second opinion. Justin Kernersville, NC
  • Just let me say that this encounter has been entirely professional and most helpful. I liked that I could ask additional questions and get answered in a very short turn around. Esther Woodstock, NY
  • Thank you so much for taking your time and knowledge to support my concerns. Not only did you answer my questions, you even took it a step further with replying with more pertinent information I needed to know. Robin Elkton, Maryland
  • He answered my question promptly and gave me accurate, detailed information. If all of your experts are half as good, you have a great thing going here. Diane Dallas, TX
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Dear Debra

    Advice Columnist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1719
    I have been an Advice columnist for 14 years. My column is published weekly in local newpapers.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/DE/deedeeham/2011-1-24_51523_408.64x64.JPG Dear Debra's Avatar

    Dear Debra

    Advice Columnist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1719
    I have been an Advice columnist for 14 years. My column is published weekly in local newpapers.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/formybunch/2010-12-06_191055_img_0975.jpg Kate McCoy's Avatar

    Kate McCoy

    Counselor

    Satisfied Customers:

    1235
    Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RE/resolutions66/2011-1-17_05728_IMG8202smilingeditedforJustAnswer.64x64.jpg Elliott, LPCC, NCC's Avatar

    Elliott, LPCC, NCC

    Psychotherapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1215
    35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/CO/CoachJenK/2012-3-9_31019_Jen.64x64.jpg Coach Jen K.'s Avatar

    Coach Jen K.

    LMSW, CPC

    Satisfied Customers:

    726
    Providing the utmost care and support.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/IN/intrapsyc.com/2012-2-20_161928_RGMTPicturex5002012.64x64.png Rafael M.T.Therapist's Avatar

    Rafael M.T.Therapist

    Psychotherapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    549
    MHT-MHRS-MS-MA Integral Psychotherapist & Life Coach
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/HU/hungryjack20/IMG_1281_edit_2.64x64.jpg Dr. L's Avatar

    Dr. L

    Psychologist

    Satisfied Customers:

    349
    Licensed as a Psychologist and Marriage & Family Therapist.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/SU/suzmsw/2011-9-2_184634_Thisone.64x64.JPG Suzanne's Avatar

    Suzanne

    Therapist, LCSW

    Satisfied Customers:

    338
    Experienced in treating trauma, relationship issues, co-dependency