Is my psychologist giving me BAD advice?


#1

So, I just came back from therapy (I go once a week)…I now need to vent, because some things she said have REALLY angered me.

I started going back to therapy after having some problems in my relationship, that I realized had more to do with myself as an individual than with me as part of an item/couple. My boyfriend and I have been together for over a year, and have been in a long distance relationship for roughly 4 months.

Being in a long distance relationship is really hard. I knew it was going to be so, but I didn’t know how hard it would be. Regardless, I love him more than I can say, he’s the most wonderful gift God has given me and as such he is someone I am willing to fight for.

So, today, my psychologist started inquiring about our (long-distance) relationship. She asked me how long he’d be away and was shocked when I said 3 to 4 years (he’s off to grad school for a Masters of Divinity degree). She started asking me why we don’t live together, I told her we will, one day, if and when we get married. She asked me why don’t we get married? I said we weren’t ready (DUH, I am 22 and back in therapy because I need to sort things out as an individual…imprudent much to seriously think of marriage yet?!). I’m used to those questions, so even though annoyed, I answered them. However, it got worse. She started asking me how on earth could I live 4 years without feeling his touch? And then proceeded to ask if we had an active sex life. I said no, and I said that living without his touch (which I chose to interpret as hugging and kissing, aka acceptable pre-marital physical intimacy) was part of the effort that I was willing to make to keep this relationship going, despite the obstacles that we face. She then said that she honestly didn’t think a relationship would last that long under those circumstances, and also told me that we are giving priority to what he wants (a degree). She told me that 4 years of this would be awful, and that a situation like this is painful (um…DUH), and that I don’t have to commit to 4 years of pain. That I don’t deserve it.

At this point I wanted to punch her and everything around me…but I’m too polite to let that show. Plus, I actually like her, as she generally has good advice to give. But today…MAN. Yes, it is painful…SO WHAT? It’s something worth fighting for, something I am willing to fight for, something that I DO deserve because I am not focusing on the pain that this causes, but on how wonderful it is that I have such an amazing man in my life, and what an honor it is to be able to call him my boyfriend.

I am scared. I’ve seen far more than one long-distance relationship fall down to pieces. I feel pretty scared and insecure on my own…I don’t need my THERAPIST to remind me of that. What scares me the most is that I was counting on being able to seek her out whenever I was feeling insecure about my relationship (I have a lot of anxiety issues, which is why I started going back to therapy), but now I don’t think I can. I can’t be sure that my boyfriend and I will stay together for the rest of our lives…but no one has the right to put more and more doubt in my head.

I don’t know what to do. I feel so frustrated I want to cry right now. I’m sorry for the long rant, I just didn’t know where else to go. This sucks…


#2

My advice- get another therapist.

You are trying to live up a core set of values, and those values are a large part of what you are. Living up to them is what allows you to look at yourself in the mirror and have confidence and self-respect. You're paying this person to help you deal with a long distance relationship, not talk you out of it. Sure, ask probing questions to ensure you've thought through the ramifications but not push things against your core value.

Perhaps you can go to your pastor and ask if he can recommend someone?


#3

LDRs are not easy, but if you're with the right person, the distance is just an obstacle, not a deal breaker. The therapist is right, most LDRs of that length are bound to fail, but that's because many relationships are not built on love of God but rather physical urges. It's still hard if you have a chaste, holy relationship, but a lot easier than if your primary bond is sexual. So don't be discouraged by statistics, because they probably are not representative of your relationship, if it is a religious, holy one.

Would you consider getting married sooner? 22 is young, but it isn't that young, and perhaps if you planned to get married in 1.5-2 years that would be a much more manageable chunk of time. If not, just realize a commitment is a commitment, and you're going to get through it.


#4

I really can't tell from what you post. Sometimes the therapy relationship has problems and other times there are misunderstandings and/or difficult sessions where you can talk through the issues. As hard as it is, it often helps to go back to the therapist and say you are having some conflict about the last session; it sounds like you might think she doesn't respect your religious beliefs, but maybe you don't know for sure.

It also sounds like part of your problem is you are getting similar questions from a lot of people and hearing your therapist ask them was one time too many. If you like her in general, maybe talking to her about this will help.


#5

I think it's fair for her to ask personal questions (the vast majority of people have sex prior to marriage so it's not like that question is strange.). It is unprofessional for a therapist to tell a client that their relationship is going to be "awful" though. There is a difference between posing questions for you to think about and providing insight and just giving opinions. Having said that, I would be ver concerned about a four year separation if you were my daughter. Long distance romances are not the same as ones where you are with the other person on a daily basis. Times when you do see each other tend to take on a celebratory nature and don't always give the most accurate view of how someone is on the ups and downs of day to day life. If I had a serious boyfriend that I was planning to marry at some point, I would expect him to attend school where we could be close together. Are you sure he is in this for the long haul, as they say?


#6

Before DD and I were married, we had a long distance relationship for 2 years. It was hard, but it was doable when both people are committed to making it work. Get a new therapist. You need someone supportive.


#7

find a catholic counselor


#8

As above, find a faithful Catholic counselor.

This webpage may help:

catholictherapists.com/


#9

[quote="prayers19, post:7, topic:239637"]
find a catholic counselor

[/quote]

The above is good advice. I think its wonderful that you want to stay committed:cool:


#10

Sometimes my counselor, of many years, says something that angers me, and I have finally learned to tell her so. We then talk about what it was that she said, and why it bothered me, which is all to my benefit. Next time you see her, tell her just what you told us.

I have been in a LDR like you, and it can make the relationship stronger. But, be prepared to defend your values, because most of the world cannot understand a love that is not based on physical contact. It is a love of the heart, and God refines it by the distance.

I'll remember you in my prayers.


#11

Something that struck me is that perhaps she is connecting this to something else that she thinks is going on with you.

It could be, for example, that she feels that you have issues with self-esteem or intimacy, and is thinking that having a LDR is part of the way you deal with that.

If so, I don't think that it is unreasonable for her to explore that with you. It could be that she is wrong about the connection, or that she is right, or even that like with a lot of things it is a mixed bag. But in any case, it may not be a bad thing to work out more explicitly you feelings and thoughts about your relationship.

Of course I may be way off in left field - that was just a possibility I thought might be worth considering. But I agree with the posters who said talk about it and say just what you said here. All therapy relationships have little hurdles at times, but you can make them work for you.


#12

Something that struck me is that perhaps she is connecting this to something else that she thinks is going on with you.

It could be, for example, that she feels that you have issues with self-esteem or intimacy, and is thinking that having a LDR is part of the way you deal with that.

I think that's exactly right and your anger at your therapist might be a little misplaced. She's not attacking your religion or morals (at least, that's what I understood from your post, correct me if I misinterpreted it.) It seems like you're being a little defensive and you might want to ask yourself why that is. Therapists are sometimes going to say things that will make you angry or uncomfortable. That's not a good reason to get a new one, IMO. It would be far more constructive for you to think about what your therapist said in a more rational way and try to understand these emotions that you're feeling right now. I'm not going to judge whether or not your relationship can last under these circumstances, but I don't think you should just force it to work even if you are miserable. Sometimes things just don't work out and you have to move on (or maybe your relationship is built to last through it! My point is you should accept that neither way is certain.)

Since you already seem to have built a good relationship with your current therapist it does not seem like this would be a good time to find a new one.


#13

She doesn't know you very well if she had to ask about feeling his touch, living together, and sexual intimacy. Does she know you're Catholic? Does she know what that means? Doesn't sound like it.

Having said that, I agree that it's fair for her to inquire about the complexities and special needs that LDR's present. They are agonizing. I know what it feels like to be madly in love and not be able to have the amount of contact both people desire. It is EXTREMELY difficult and not everyone is cut out for it. She was just trying to dig a little and that's her job. Your job is to tell her the reaction she invokes in you. How you respond will be very helpful to her for her to know where you're coming from.

God Bless you! I will be praying and it sounds like you know yourself and your capabilities pretty well. Let her know that!! But I wouldn't write her off just yet...


#14

Thanks so much to everyone for your advice! I wrote that as soon as I got home from therapy, and I was a big ball of mixed emotions. After that I took some time to pray and think, and when I Skyped with my boyfriend I kinda told him a bit about what had happened and how I was feeling. In that conversation I realized a bunch of things (always helps so much to say things out loud!)...what some of you have pointed out is quite accurate: I think I got on the defensive side, not only because of what she said, but because of personal stuff that I had been carrying for a while. I came back to the Catholic Church about a year ago, and ever since I've kept on losing more and more of my friends. No one gets my faith, and no one gets me. When my boyfriend left, all I got from every single person was negative comments, and/or judgement and criticism...'why did he leave?' 'why don't you go with him?' 'long distance relationships don't work!', etc etc, so I guess the comment about "4 years without his touch" was what I needed to just EXPLODE. Like ChiRho said, it's tough for people that come from a different perspective to try to understand a relationship that isn't based on physical contact. Sex is such an "important" part of most relationships at my age (everyone I know does it...yeah, I don't know any Catholics); I'm not surprised that was my psychologist's first question.

My boyfriend and I are definitely in this together, and strive to put as much effort as we can into it. It's TOUGH, but despite the struggles that come with being in a LDR, the joys of being in a relationship outweighs that (which is a source of frustration when I see no one understands that!) We've talked about marriage before, and we both know that if that's where God wants us to end up, so it will be. We are excited about that possibility, but we are also grateful about the opportunity to have a few years to work on ourselves as individuals to be able to grow and attain certain stability (emotionally and financially) before seriously talking about marriage. If along the way we come accross the realization that marriage is not what God has in store for us, it will be painful, but as in any relationship we know that is also a possibility and are open to it, if that be God's will.

So yeah...now that I've taken a bit of time to breathe, pray, talk, read your comments, and think, I feel a whole lot better :) I might still consider finding a new therapist, though, but not right away. I'll tell all these things to my therapist, make sure she understands that I am a Catholic and all that that entails, and I'll see how things go. But at least now I know that I don't want to spend my money on 45 minutes where I have to explain my faith (which I definitely found myself doing today) and try to explain my point of view of things. Maybe with a Catholic counsellor that would already be covered and I could use that time to talk about what I actually need to talk about. We'll see.

Either way, I'm grateful to God for the opportunity to practice being patient and tolerant. And I thank you all for your input. You have no idea how much it means to me that I have actually found a place where I can talk to people who understand where I'm coming from, and can point out things that most people I know wouldn't even think of or understand.

Much blessings and love to all. And please keep me in your prayers, as I will be taking some time to try to think things through with a cool head, in order to figure out what I must do regarding therapy.

God bless!


#15

There are different forms of therapy - obviously you are nervous about having a LDR continue for so long. Your therapist may have just been asking questions to get you thinking about and confronting this issue. Sometimes therapy can be like a hug. Sometimes it can be hard and force you out of a false sense of comfort about something that bothers you a lot. She might be on to something, pushing you to decide whether or not you really want to be in the relationship. Of course, she also just might be a bad therapist - I can't tell from the information provided.


#16

I think she gave good advice. LDR’s don’t work out and they are really hard.

You were angry and rightfully so. It’s a stressful situation.


#17

Four years?

You're admiditaly stressed and unable to deal with things now. I am 30 minutes from my boyfriend and I miss him alot after 2 or 3 days (well after 2 minutes anywayyy) and the thing that helps is knowing I get to see him in another day or two.

You also have to remember that while you may be "dating" you are not dating in some sence. You are not spending time together, you're in a sort of limbo fantacy world. You don't know alot when you just communicate by phone/email. Hw do you know that through the years you'll even like spending time together?

In some respects you're not really in a relationship...you have a sort of conjealed mutual friendship with romantic intrests

It's not like magically when he graduates you'll be ready for marriage...that'd be asking for a disaster. You'd STILL need to spend a year or two in close proximity to decide.


#18

Unsolicited advice coming:

You're wasting your time waiting for this guy. Either go, be with him (not sexually, but in close proximity) and be courted. As another poster said, this relationship is not preparing you for marriage. We don't have enough years that we can afford to squander them waiting. Go, determine if this man is to be your husband. If he is, marry him. If he isn't, jump ship. It seems to me like you're waiting until he's done with school to *start * a serious courtship, and that isn't wise.


#19

[quote="micahmike, post:18, topic:239637"]
Unsolicited advice coming:

You're wasting your time waiting for this guy. Either go, be with him (not sexually, but in close proximity) and be courted. As another poster said, this relationship is not preparing you for marriage. We don't have enough years that we can afford to squander them waiting. Go, determine if this man is to be your husband. If he is, marry him. If he isn't, jump ship. It seems to me like you're waiting until he's done with school to *start * a serious courtship, and that isn't wise.

[/quote]

I agree. I ended a relationship when I was 24 and wish I had done it as soon as I saw that things were not going anywhere. I was so hurt that I stayed single for 6 years before I gave my husband a chance.

I wouldn't have been as hurt if I had of invested less of my time and energy.


#20

[quote="Serap, post:19, topic:239637"]
I agree. I ended a relationship when I was 24 and wish I had done it as soon as I saw that things were not going anywhere. I was so hurt that I stayed single for 6 years before I gave my husband a chance.

I wouldn't have been as hurt if I had of invested less of my time and energy.

[/quote]

I understand all this perfectly well, and if either one of us felt this was truly going nowhere, we wouldn't be in this relationship. If we didn't think it was one worth fighting for, we would've definitely decided to end it before he left. It's hard, I'm not saying it isn't, but at the same time, every relationship is. We had struggles while we were in living in the same place too, but we always overcome every obstacle we come accross. If we were to come accross something that we felt was enough to end the relationship, painful as it would be, we would do so.

I don't think it's wrong to give this a try. I think what someone said earlier, about not paying attention to statistics because they don't truly show what a Catholic relationship can get through (aka they say LDRs don't work because most of those relationships have the physical side as their base), is very accurate. My boyfriend's getting here in 2 weeks, and a month later I'll be going to the States to see him. While it's not ideal that we are not living in the same place, we are trying to get to be with each other at least every once in a while. I didn't get angry at my psychologist because of WHAT she suggested, but HOW she did that. She flat out stated that my relationship would fail, and no one can know that. While I aknowledge that's a possibility, I also know I'm in this with all my heart, and so is he, and for the time being there is nothing that's suggesting this might be ending anytime soon (if at all).

I guess it's a very personal thing, and it has a lot to do with commitment and communication. The greatest thing that a relationship lacks when it turns long-distance is physical contact. Yes, that's definitely a big part of a relationship, but I don't think it has to be the main part of it. I also don't think that once he's done with school, we'll get together and magically get married within a month, sorry if that's how it sounded! What I meant is that once he's done with school we can start considering it and see whether he moves back here for a while or I move over there and just see how things go.

While I've seen a BUNCH of LDRs fail, I have seen a couple succeed. And those that have succeeded are some of the best relationships I've come accross...relationships where there's a great deal of communication and love, and that grew stronger because of the obstacles that they had to overcome, with much, much effort.

In the end, I know it's all in God's hands. Whatever I think, whatever he thinks, whatever my psychologist or anyone else thinks, it's His will that will be done. I guess all I can pray for is strength, not because my relationship is in a bad place (at all), but because I've realized that all the negative comments I've been receiving from everyone (not you guys! Just friends and people I trusted) that I thought would be supportive have been poising me and giving me an extra burden to carry that I didn't need at all. So yeah, I will keep on praying so that I may start receiving comments like the ones my boyfriend's receiving from his friends: encouraging and positive comments that point out how wonderful it is that he found something and someone he is willing to fight for :)


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