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. Michael Your Own Question
Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
Dr. Michael is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I have just recently felt strong /love for my 22 yr old

Resolved Question:

I have just recently felt strong sexual/love for my 22 yr old stepdaughter. I am married but its not a strong marriage, and this feeling for my stepdaughter has been one of the most difficult senarios. I can't help thinking of her all the time but have so far not informed her, but I want to in the worst way. Very difficult. There is certainly more to the story & no I'm not a nut, I just did not see this coming. Any advise would be very helpful.
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 7 years ago.
Let me try to answer your question.

You are most certainly not "nuts" for having such feelings. You experience feelings of attraction, recognize them, and realize they are inappropriate, but have a hard time managing them. Males do this. You are doing a number of things correctly i.e., talking to your Pastor (though you may find that it adds an additional, helpful barrier of inhibition between you and your stepdaughter if you actually told him the whole story); and you have talked to a counselor, who has provided at least one point of sound advice (NEVER tell your stepdaughter---to do so would likely make a real mess of your life and would unfairly burden her emotionally); and, you understand that acting on any of your feelings would be seriously inappropriate for you. So, you are doing some things that are helpful, but the struggle for you continues.

I'm not sure what your reference to anti-depressants in your post is about----you recognize that you may be significantly depressed (?) or someone has told you that you may be and suggested medication (?) What is the context for this reference, if you can say?

You may find it helpful to think long and hard about the following idea: You find that you are fundamentally unhappy in your marriage, or there is something missing that in all likelihood, you are trying to "fill" or compensate for. The focal point of your attempt to fill the gap in the intimacy domain of your life happened to be your stepdaughter, but you know this to be an inappropriate remedy for your needs.

You are wise enough to have already contemplated the idea of marital therapy to improve your marriage and repair the gap in the emotional intimacy arena of your life. Have you done this and in all honesty, do you want to try to improve this marriage, if it was possible? This is a question I'd like you to address?

When people feel they may be stuck or resigned to an unhappy situation they must learn to accept (a marriage they feel they cannot break up because their personal or religious values do not allow it), it IS important to think about making the acceptance more palatable through compensation. Literally, if I have to accept the fact that I'm going to be in this unhappy marriage, are there any possibilities for me to feel happier than I do----what compensation can I be allowed for having to accept this circumstance? So, some people who have given up and stay together in the face of what they feel are irreconcilable differences with transfer time and energy away from the relationship an home, having fully accepted that they do not want to divorce under any circumstance, and yet, they believe there are irreconcilable differences. They compensate by taking on new hobbies, are bit more selfish with their time so they can seek/derive more moments of happiness each week through some new activity (one guy bought a motorcycle and began planning cycle tours with other over-50 men in his area).

I very much believe every marriage can be improved, regardless of personal differences, if each spouse is willing to work on learning better communication, how to compromise better, how to be mindful of trying to be complimentary toward one another, and other actions. Changing actions and behavior is a very well documented mechanism for changing our feelings, incidentally.

Let me pause here and make sure I'm not overlooking an important aspect of your question, and give you a chance to answer my questions..............
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

The councilor that I seen (once) stated I should consider a anit-depressant. I guess I'm just not sure..I never took them so far & got by without them, but I admit this is more challenging for sure, maybe I should, today I feel really down. But all it would take is for my stepdaughter to say, hey Dad lets do something together & I'm on top of the world, happy as could be! She makes me feel like a new man!!

After feeling this type of love, I don't see my wife & me ever having it. My wife is a good woman but I would be surprised if we found joy in each others bodies. We do have sex about 3 times a month, we talk etc but wow I just did not know how strong love can really be. We have a 15 yr Son that really makes it complicated also.

I feel lonely when I'm with my wife, not good. I care for her much & don't want to hurt her. This situation is very tough.

Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 7 years ago.
It most certainly cannot hurt for you to try one of the antidepressant medications in the "SSRI family". They are similar in molecular structure and work quite similarly, but individuals find particular ones seem to work better for them than others, and they report different side effect profiles for many people. I'd think you'd want to visit your physician and ask whether they would feel comfortable working with you to try one or more medications for depression. However, the ideal that your stepdaughter can alleviate your depressed mood quite completely, and for lengthy periods of time, by spending time with you, says that situational factors are much more important in "causing" your depressed mood. It is a clear sign that your marital situation is the primary precipitant----which of course, you already know.

Unfortunately, your options are limited: 1) try to persuade your wife to join you in marital therapy; things may NEVER be great, but I'm quite sure they can at least be improved in small ways, and that is at least better than the status quo; 2) divorce, realizing that it is possible for you to feel more excitement and love toward someone other than your wife, if you feel you really must have the chance to find such a relationship; 3) do marital therapy together or not, but begin to try to compensate for not having the relationship you want. You will perhaps never stop having romantic feelings toward your stepdaughter but you may want to reassure yourself that while inappropriate, you at least will not under any circumstance act on them.

I hope this has answered your question adequately. The options for you are truly not numerous and I know this is a terrible dilemma for you. But you know that NO MATTER WHAT ELSE YOU DECIDE TO DO in your life going forward, you must make the personal sacrifice (for the sake of your stepdaughter) to never act on how you feel toward her.

Let me know if I've overlooked anything you expected to see in my response.

"PLEASE....Be respectful of your expert. If the information they shared with you was useful, confirm this by Accepting their answer and provide Feedback. Thank you!"
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

You have been helpful, 1 more question, is there anything you would suggest that I can use as a mental tool when plagued by thoughts about my step daughter? I feel if there was just something I could remember & think about when needed, it would help.

Thanks much!

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Also, just need to ask, I noticed when I checked the web that there are numerous successful Father & Step-Daughter relationships. Why is it considered so bad?

Don't get me wrong, I feel the need to keep my mouth shut, but just need to know.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Just want to say thank you very much for this service, I'm trying to get as much help as I can. Your advise is taken seriously and needed.


Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Sorry if I asked one too many questions, just really need the help. I hit accept answer gladly next turn.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 7 years ago.
That's o.k. I sent an answer. Best of luck to you. I know this won't be easy for you.
Dr. Michael and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.

No it won't, but thanks again Dr. Michael. Did you send a response to my last question? Didn't see it, so just wondering.