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DrJackiePhD, Doctor
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 368
Experience:  I have been doing research in relational/interpersonal communication since 1998. My Ph.D. is in interpersonal communication.
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I have been with my girlfriend 4 years on and off. She has

Customer Question

I have been with my girlfriend for about 4 years on and off. She has been nothing but good to me. I went through a brutal divorce when I was 14 that made me angry towards my mom for cheating on my dad. I still love her but never have been able to treat
her the same. We have grown apart over the years and sometimes I ignore her calls when she calls. My parents we divorced for 7 years and then got back together. 5 years after that (this last December) my Dad ask my mom to marry her again. Everything was okay
until one day my dad kicked her out of the house with the same accusations and are now going through another break up/divorce. Both times I have been put in the middle and I think it has affected the way I feel toward women. I am scared to death to get married
because I don't want to put anybody through what I went through as a kid and now again at 28. I live on my own and have a successful career. For some reason I am never happy though. I cant be faithful to my girlfriend even though I want to be. I tell her I
love her but I dont know if I do. I am with her because I feel like if I broke up with her it would break her heart into pieces and I honestly dont have a reason to break up with her. I dont even know what to do or who to talk to. Am I incapable of feeling
love? I feel like i bottle everything up and when I get drunk I get very emotional and cry. I can go on for days and I dont think you can help me because you dont know me, but I promised my dad I would see someone about this... So here I am. Thoughts?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Relationship
Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.


I'm Dr. Jackie, an interpersonal communication researcher/professor and relationship expert. And let me just say--please do not think you are alone or that you cannot be helped. Everyone, and I mean everyone including THERAPISTS and relationship counselors, need to talk to someone at some times. No one is perfect--we all need help with something. So please do get that thought out of your head. you are not "helpless" in that everyone can be helped.

Second, I don't want to substitute for face-to-face counseling. But we do offer phone and Skype support that may make it easier versus this Q&A/email type format. I'll send you my information via the JA form after I am finished here.

Third, you are not reacting in any way different or abnormal from what I would expect someone growing up with the situation with your parents. The fact that you still have a girlfriend and appreciate her and are so sensitive to her feelings reveal your capacity to care, love, and feel emotion--these are VERY GOOD THINGS. So if ANYONE can learn and grow and be a better relationship partner, from what you have shared, it is YOU!

Now you CAN be faithful to your girlfriend unless the women with whom you have cheated have all held guns to your head. I don't think this is the case. So it's not that you CAN'T, it is more that you have witnessed infidelity growing up, and somehow that is either the norm or else it is a safety net for you for not getting as close to your gf as you could be. You need to think about which it is.

I would suggest working with someone to start rebuilding your securities and self-esteem when it comes to relationships. You hint that you are not being fair to her, and you really are not being fair by cheating on her. If you are not going to stop this behavior, then you definitely need to come clean and let her know. Otherwise, you truly are misleading her. Based on everything else you have shared, I really do not think that that is who you are. The fact that you have shared all of this definitely shows you are sensitive to her feelings.

Please let me know what you want to do--do you want to talk via phone/Skype? It might be easier to talk/chat in real time. If you would like to keep emailing through this Q&A, that is fine, too. It's up to you. I would like to see if we could work on you gaining more confidence in yourself as a good relationship partner. That is where it starts. In other words, through therapy, I would like you to work on being a healthier YOU first so that then you can be healthy for a relationship partner. Does that make sense?

Please let me know what you want to do.

Take good care,

--Dr. Jackie