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Elliott, LPCC, NCC
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 7662
Experience:  35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
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I need help with a relationship issue.

Customer Question

I need help with a relationship issue.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 1 year ago.
Seeking expert testimony is a sign of strength. A personal relationship with a caring professional is proven clinically effective

Dear friend,

I believe that I can help.

Please reply with all of the details that you can about the nature of your relationship, family relationships, and anything that impacts how you both related to each other.

Tell me what is best about the relationshipl, what is worst, and where you see the breakdown.

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Warm regards,

Elliott, MAE, LPCC, NCC, CCMHC
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi thanks for writing,


 


So here is my issue. I will try to be as clear as possible. I have been seeing a woman now for about a year. Relatively early on in our relationship she asked if I had ever been in a threesome. I wanted to be honest with her and so I told her yes. This experience happened in a previous relationship (about 2 years before we started dating…it happened twice). While over the course of our relationship she has expressed concerns over my past and it never has been a large issue. I need to make clear that I have NEVER been happier in a relationship (I am 31 and have had 4 long term relationships) and through this entire relationship I have been honest, loving, kind, and compassionate. I am certain my girlfriend would agree. This is a woman I see a permanent future with (again, this a first for me). I have NEVER been sure like this before. An unfortunate aspect of our relationship is that we have always been geographically separated. I live overseas and she lives in the United States. Two days ago she asked me a little more detail about my threesome saying it was something she had never been able to shake. I again was torn, I didn’t want to tell her but I see her as someone I want to spend the rest of my life with…I don't want there to be any lies. So I told her (over email…because she is not with me physically now). She told me she felt as though she was going to vomit and over the course of the morning said she could never look at me the same again. She says she loves me but that this is a fundamental issue that she doesn’t think she can get over. I am beyond devastated. I explained to her that this happened in a previous relationship which I didn’t foresee lasting and that I never want an experience like that again. She has repeatedly said she wants us to take a break…I am trying to be understanding and empathetic because if I were in her shoes I would be upset too. I just explained to her that in a relationship like ours where we really both see a future together (and we REALLY did before this), you don’t back away from a problem but try to resolve it together. She has barely spoken to me ( I can’t call because of phone connectivity). I realize I may just need to give her space but I am grasping at straws to try to find some way to help her through this so we can be happy or at least move on. I am also deeply upset because I am being judged for actions I did in a previous relationship. I know this is complicated but anything to help US is something.


 


I grew up in a happy family. No issues i can think of (I don't know if it matters but I am college graduate and employed) . My girlfriend was born when her mother was a teenager and didn't meet her father until she was much older. She has always moved around a lot. She is also a college graduate and until recently worked in retail.


 


Thank you.

Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 1 year ago.
Dear friend,

You have stated your situation very clearly and articulately and I understand what is going on. I have seen this both as a therapist and in my own personal life.

This woman, despite all of her wonderful characteristics with which you are very taken, has a serious flaw that she has, fortunately, revealed to you.

I say fortunately not because I wish to minimize or discount the great anguish you are not feeling. I understand that and feel deeply for your feelings. I say fortunately because this trait would eventually come out and continue to come out.

This woman will find ways to sabotabe your relationship. She deeply fears having a relationship and was looking for a way to sabotage this one. Not understanding she was this way, you were truthful with her about a bygone issue that, really, in the scheme of things is nothing significant and does not show you to be dishonorable, dangerous, risky, untruthful, or anything that shows a negative trait. It shows you to be honest.

I believe that even if she does get over this one, there will be others in her life that will bring you back to this feeling that all of a sudden your world has collapsed, and the sure footing you were standing on has suddenly turned to dust and you are falling free.

This is fundamental to her, she says. Holding her judgment so that she should not be judged is not fundamental. Forgiveness (and you did nothing to her or even when you knew her) is not fundamental to her either.

She asked you more detail the other day. She did not use this to be understanding but rather as more evidence against you.

This is so easy to do to someone, to destroy their confidence and ultimately to control them.

Perhaps she has a personality disorder such as Narcissistic PD (where this is a means of domination or control), or Borderline PD (where a person has extreme fear of abandonment or rejection).

I would have to know more about her to be more specific.

However, I do know that this will be a very troubled relationship. This is a significant turning point in your relationship - not because you had a threesome sometime in the past, but because she is using this small issue to destroy your relationship and cause YOU the great emotional distress.

This is why I think narcissism because a narcissist will play the victim and make the other person the perpetrator, when in reality, the narcissist is controlling the situation.

She does not care about your feelings, and if she is a narcissist she is not capable of feeling the pain of others.

You cannot explain this situation in normal rational terms UNLESS you understand that there may be a personality disorder causing this: Hers, not yours.

Please get back to me and I shall help you to resolve things. You may want to look over this website to see if it offers any insight. If I am on the right track I will suggest some books to read.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narcissistic_personality_disorder

http://narc-attack.blogspot.com/2008/04/blaming-victim-of-narcissism.html

This situation seems very difficult, and I am here to help you.

Warm regards,

Elliott
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Elliot,


 


Thank you for the response. I understand that my logic may be compromised by this event and thus my words may not be a true reflection of what is going on but i'd like to think that i am presently logical and objective as i can be in regards XXXXX XXXXX issue. With this in mind and after reading your response my gf does not exhibit any of the qualities of narcissism Quite the contrary, i have always known her to be unassuming, not desirous of attention, and gracious. Her friends all exhibit a similar warmth. This also has been the only issue that is bothered her... fear of abandonment and thus pushing me away before she can get hurt...that seems more likely. For the sake of the discussion and also since this is something that would normally be handled in conversation. Let's say it is not as you speculated based on my email...what would suggest to a couple that came to you with this issue and desired to resolve it? Because that is what i am trying to do...I want to resolve this.


 


Thank you

Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 1 year ago.
Dear friend,

Thanks for getting back to me and for explaining how her behavior is not indicative of NPD.

Fear of abandonment and pushing others away (self-sabotage) is indicative of another personality disorder, and that would be Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

The main trigger in borderline is fear of abandonment based on real or imagined abandonment and could stem from childhood abandonment or neglect, or a previous relationship with those elements in them.

She would not want to share you with another woman. The fact that you did so in the past means, in her thinking, that this is what you like and would do it again. She would rather have NO relationship with you than to take that risk.

Of course this does not sound logical. That is why BPD is called a disorder.

She may not have the full criteria for diagnosis but she can still have those traits.

Other possible traits would be a tendency to get very angry, to engage in reckless behavior (shopping or driving), and self-injury (cutting or anorexia), and mood swings.

She does react illogically and defensively to this "threat" which is not really a threat at all, and if she has this tendency, it will not be an isolated incident.

If you feel that you have to "walk on eggshells" with her, then this can be an indication that she does have some borderline traits.

If you both came into my office, I would ask the both of you (but I would be interested in her response) about any kind of childhood neglect, abandonment, or abuse and to see if she had underlyng causes or basis for this behavior.

I would ask about issues of anger, self destructive behavior in terms of any self-inflicted injuries, any abuse in the past, any eating disorders, any tendencies to spend recklessly, drive recklessly, or engage in reckless sex.

I would ask you (both) about your views on forgiveness, and tendencies to have broken up relationships in the past, and on your views on what was more important: youthful mistakes or current behavior.

Having the desire to resolve an issue is crucial to success, but alas, does not guarantee succeess.

Being far away on two continents makes this type of approach impossible at the moment. She has closed the door, it seems.

I am wondering if she will ever completely forget your past? In my experience, issues like this only become dormant and then re-emerge later on down the line.

She has told you that she does not think that she can get over this and that she cannot look at you the same way and that your past actions disgust her to the point of nausea. This is a very strong condemnation.

The goal of couples therapy is to save a relationship when possible, but also to shed light on reality when it is not possible. I wish I had you both in my office and I would do my best to try to resolve this, but there is a lot of work to do just to get her to see you for the good man that you are.

In my professional opinion, her behavior since not narcissistic is borderline. Sometimes traits from several personality disorders can also be found in one person.

Only through several assessment sessions could the complexities of her personality be understood. However, people with personality disorders often do not accept that they need help, and this makes them hard to treat.

In the meantime, you could take her up on that idea of a break, which will let her feel the loss of your presence in her life. This may bring her back more quickly that these fruitless communications whicn seem to exacerbate the situation.

My best wishes and empathy are with you. I have been there too.

Warm regards.

Elliott
Elliott, LPCC, NCC, Psychotherapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 7662
Experience: 35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
Elliott, LPCC, NCC and 2 other Relationship Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Elliott, LPCC, NCC replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. May God bless you. Elliott

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