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Ask Dr. Norman Brown Your Own Question

Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1144
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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I have known my boyfriend for 10 years and have been going

Customer Question

I have known my boyfriend for 10 years and have been going out with him for a year now. I thought he was sincere, honest, loyal, nice and has high moral values.

We were planning to get married and I was looking forward to having a life with him. He would act like he's absolutely crazy about me and would say things like I am the best thing to have ever happened to him and how he is the luckiest man to have me, and I believed him, never doubted these were his true feelings. However at the same time, I have always felt like I am not special to him for some reason.

I was away for 6 weeks or so and found out something he did behind my back (he bad-mouthed about me and told people I am crazy etc), and I was shocked because the trust I had in him was the thing I valued the most in our relationship. I was very angry and broke off our engagement. We have been having discussions about the problems and trust issues since (this all happened 4 weeks ago) and he promised he would be completely honest and open with me but failed to do that multiple times when I caught him lying during discussions and in the end, he said he would send me a list of things he has done behind my back, I was shocked to the core and was shaking after I read the list. Compared to what he confessed, the previous problems I was angry about seemed like nothing all of a sudden.

He confessed to making out with a girl after a dinner party while we were trying to sort out our problems and partied until 3am in the morning when I was crying my eyes out because I was troubled by the him bad-mouthing me behind my back. He confessed to paying for multiple hand jobs and blow jobs with prostitutes and sleeping with one when I was away (I've been away three times for work since we started going out, once in February once in March/April and once in Sep/Oct) and he paid for these services every time. He said he thought I wouldn't have a problem with him paying for the first two types of service and that it was never his intention to sleep with the prostitute.

I am very hurt and shocked and disappointed. He turned out to be the complete opposite of what I thought he is. He has shattered the trust I had in him completely. He still says he cares about me and can't imagine a life without me. He said he wasn't thinking when he was doing the things and all he wanted from the prostitutes was them stimulating him physical and he didn't even look at them. But the thought of him going through the trouble to pick out the girls online then call them then go all the way to their places to do this just hurts. I asked him what was in his mind when he was on his way to visit the prostitute he slept with, he said he remembered thinking he wished I wasn't away.

He also confessed to having a drink with a girl months ago when everything was going well in our relationship and didn't mention to her that he had a girlfriend. Why would he do this unless he wanted her to think that he was available?

I don't know what I should do, I keep playing the images of him cheating over and over in my head and can't seem to stop. One of the reasons I didn't doubt for a second his love and affection for me was how he relocated to a different country for me, we weren't even going out then but he gave up everything at home and came out here just to have a chance with me.

Can people truly in love cheat on someone who is supposed to be the most important person in the world to them? Can you really visit prostitutes without thinking it's wrong? He has been talking about how he needs to be honest with himself and get some counselling to help him understand himself more, can someone really not know their intentions and motivations when they search deep down in their heart?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 2 years ago.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Hello, I am Rafael. Thanks for asking your question - I'm here to support you. (Information posted here is not private or confidential but public).

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

I am very sorry to know about this overwhelmingly sad and painful situation.

Rafael M.T.Therapist :

Could you please tell me how do you feel now that you know about this overwhelming reality, once it goes against everything you though and felt about this person and your relationship?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I was very shocked and I don't really know what to do now


Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I am still in shock, I don't know what to think. We were very excited planning our honeymoon

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I was determined to leave him but then I'd change my mind

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I think that's because a little part of me still wants to believe that he's still the nice person I thought he was. I am not sure if I am deluding myself

Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 2 years ago.
I am very sorry for delaying further reply. Your question was changed to another category making it impossible for me to continue replying. Now this issue has been corrected.

I will continue replying now. Thank you for your patience.
Expert:  Rafael M.T.Therapist replied 2 years ago.
What I see from your story is that I don't see anything wrong you may have done in this relationship to cause or deserve all these serious issues, but that you just were not aware of them at all because of your boyfriend's ability to be this dishonest and manipulative.

his behaviors show serious mental health problems, including personality disorders and addictive-compulsive behaviors; from lying to having promiscuous sex, to bad-mouthing you. Each one of these behaviors independently are very concerning, but when happening together tell a very serious story, about a person with severe mental health problems, which would not just go away in a couple of months. These could be serious chronic mental health problems, which would require regular psychological treatment, for him to work on hi rehabilitation process.

As you said, you do not recognize the person you felt in love with, because the the person you have right now in front of you, the real one, happens to be the opposite of the old ideal one you knew. For anybody in your shoes to face the fact that this was an illusion, not because you were not yourself, but exclusively because this person was not honest at all, is very painful, but you need to come to terms with this reality otherwise you could expose yourself to be literally used, abused, manipulated and neglected even more. Because this is not about an isolate event, a one night stand with another woman, but about a serious pattern of sexual promiscuity, dishonesty and manipulation, where he was being abusive literally undermining your image and integrity behind your back, and there is nothing that could justify any of all those serious behaviors.

You do not know is he would truly commit to his rehabilitation process, and if this would work, only time would show it, it would take hard work with professional support through individual and group psychotherapy, then active participation in a support group once group therapy gets completed. But again, this would only work if he really chooses to work on it, and would take a long period of time.

You need to reassess what you are willing and able to afford here from now on, since you do not want to suffer even more because of him. Counseling only would be helpless here, he requires a complete psychological evaluation and from there intensive psychotherapy, including both individual and group sessions. You do not know which personality disorders he may have, if he has a sex addiction, compulsive lying, or any other disorder, which use to be chronic, but again, rehabilitation is possible, but only a few could make it, and those are the ones who fully take responsibility for their actions afford painful consequences, otherwise it would be unrealistic to expect them to change due to the severity of these disorders.

Does it make sense?
Expert:  Dr. Norman Brown replied 2 years ago.

I want to present a different viewpoint to that of Rafael, though I do expect that you would be at too much risk if you don't sever your connection with your boyfriend. But what's been left out of this interchange between you and rafael is CULTURE. I don't know if you're a Euroamerican or Chinese, British, or what, and what your boyfriend's background and culture is. If he comes from a country where prostitution is an accepted outlet for men, it would be expected that one lies about it to protect the relationship one really wants.


There are still some vicious backstories that aren't explained by a potentially prostitution-friendly background (I know a 30 yr old Australian former student who thinks it's fine to go to the legal brothels in Australia, and of course not tell his Japanese live-in girlfriend about it. I don't like his morals, but I'm an American, and I'm not willing to diagnose his personality because I'm not his therapist.)


One man's normal masculine prowess may be another man's personality disorder. But re Personality Disorder: It's only a PD if the person won't work on himself to change his behavior, and in your BF's culture there may be "nothing wrong" with the behavior that has shocked and sickened you--as it would me as well. It IS QUITE POSSIBLE that within a culture that's permissive of prostitution and hidden male cheatingt (and male cheating is quietly occurring in at least 80% of cultures world-wide, tho resisted by men in modern times in some) your BF has developed very dysfunctional sexual habits due to psychological issues in childhood and adolescence--but that's still not a personality disorder, unless he is unwilling to take on the challenge of changing his attitudes and behavior to fit with the expectations of the woman he wants to marry.


So I'd present both Rafael's and my thoughts to him and ask him what he wants to do. You also may have a good challenge to find the right therapist in Hong Kong, but at least you should be able to find someone who's got a good grasp on different cultural models for manhood.


Respond if you have any questions you'd like to discuss--and perhaps Rafael and I can discuss with each other on here as well.

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