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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5334
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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I am a man who has trouble opening up with women and they

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I am a man who has trouble opening up with women and they often say I am withdrawing and don't still don't know the real me. I seem to play it safe with women I like and hold back the real me and unfortunately they get sick of this and want to break up. Is there any tips you can give me to break this pattern? Thanks

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.

First, let me say I can imagine how confusing and distressing this situation must be for you. I am working in therapy right now with a man who is in the same situation: the woman he was recently dating for a while who he really wanted to have the relationship succeed with ended it. Her reason was: who are you inside? I still don't know after all this time.

Clearly she liked him to keep trying. And I can tell you he's a very nice man with good values. But also clearly there is an "outside" and an "inside" and his are two separate entities. After a certain amount of time with him, this becomes clear. And you are describing the same dynamic.

Now, let's be as open and honest as we can here, okay? A person does not create a separate outside and inside casually. In his case, there was an alcoholic mother and a father who was emotionally not there and meek and just put up with the raging and alcohol. This is not the only scenario. But the point: there are important psychodynamic reasons, reasons in one's childhood and youth that drive a person to have an outer self and an inner self. One man I worked with was bullied throughout junior and high school, for example.

Keeping one's inner self "safe" is the number one reason for creating the inner/outer divide. And this is the problem: now that you are an adult, relationships require emotional intimacy. Not just sex, but emotional intimacy. And that means opening up one's boundaries and revealing and sharing one's inner self.

The first problem, then, is that this is not safe for those who have the inner/outer divide. The second problem is that after a number of years and decades, they themselves no longer are so sure of who that inner self is sometimes. It becomes a shadowy figure, someone who makes them do things but they are themselves not safe with. This is often what I need to work with in therapy with the man: who is he inside is not so accessible to him!

So, we are at a bit of a quandary. You are hoping for tips that I could give you. And I've described the situation as being something so intrinsic to who you are as a person that it is a very deep issue. It's not a matter of applying some surface tips like taking Vitamin D and increasing your exercise time. It's a challenge that you have to be wiling to take one: the accessing of who you really are inside and the courage and motivation to share it with others.

That is not to say that there is nothing you can do on your own. I mentioned motivation specifically. Because it is an area of self help that there are excellent resources for working on bringing out who we are inside. But I also recommend that you consider working in psychodynamic therapy on the inner/outer divide as well.

Motivation: I recommend you apply the principles in the following videos and books. So that you can be yourself with more confidence and share it with others. Coach yourself. Be your own life coach! I want you to get really into motivational videos and books. In other words, accept your past fears, accept your past worries and hurts and traumas. Accept them and focus on becoming who you WANT to be now. Here's a simple YouTube search I put together on "motivational speakers":

Some like Tony Robbins are the classic big guys. Some are newer. There are now wonderful women speakers as well. There are now great women speakers as well. Watch them all. Get inspired. Buy a book or two. Here are some possibilities, but they are only suggestions as there are so many good ones.

The first book is the father of all these type of books. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. There are classes in these books now! It was written in the 1930s and still has something to say to us today that is very worthwhile.

I think very highly of the second book on my list, which is a real classic: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It is the book that has helped more people than probably any other.

The third book is by Anthony Robbins. He's one of those speakers who fills up huge auditoriums. For a reason. He's a terrific speaker and writer. The particular book (if you like it, try his others): Awaken the Giant Within.

Psychotherapy: the opportunity here is to gain a greater insight yourself toward yourself, who you are inside, and how you might want to project it toward others. Let me give you two directories to look at that are good. You should focus on finding a psychologist or psychotherapist in your area who practices in a psychodynamic orientation.

Here is the web address for Psychology Today's therapist directory. You can sort by zip codes and when you see someone who seems like they might be helpful (because they seem smart and not so easily manipulatable!) look at the listing and see if they list psychodynamic therapy in their orientations.

Good Therapy is a non profit directory. Same idea as the one above:

I wish you the very best!

Please remember to click the green accept button because: even though you have made a deposit, I do not get paid for my time unless you press ACCEPT. Feel free to continue the discussion as my goal is to get you the best answer possible. You can continue the discussion even after pressing ACCEPT. Bonuses are always appreciated! If I can be of further help with any issue, just put "for Dr. Mark" in the front of your new question, and I'll be the one to answer it. All the best, ***** *****

Dr. Mark and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for your help Dr Mark. Yes, a girl I have been out with a few times said to me last night. "I still don't really know you yet". Usually this leads to "you're a nice guy" but I just don't feel any connection. Thankfully she still wants to see me to see how things go but unless I bring out more of the inner me and provide emotional intimacy it will finish the same way. This has happened dozens of times and left me confused.

I will take your advice and seek out some local help and work on bringing out of the inner me. I actually have the 'Win Friends' book already so I will have to read through again. Thanks again, Troy
All the best to you, Troy!

Dr. Mark