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Re: Crush on psychologist in training

Posted by estrellita on March 2, 2008, at 17:50:43

In reply to Re: Crush on psychologist in training estrellita, posted by Lonely on March 1, 2008, at 23:26:16

Thank you so much for your response - I was starting to feel so alone in my experience, even though I know I'm not.

What you said has made me stop and try to imagine a relationship post-therapy, and how it would necessarily be different from the therapeutic relationship we have at present. In fact, I had been doing that before reading what you wrote, except without the worst-case-scenario part (e.g., him being a lazy slob outside of therapy!).

I keep telling myself that he doesn't dress like this at home, he doesn't give his undivided attention to everyone like he does when he's acting as a therapist, he doesn't make constant eye contact, he doesn't continually try to help people become better, etc. I think we tend to assume, when somebody talks about romantic feelings for a therapist, that what they're feeling has to do with the idealized person the therapist is during sessions.

The trouble with that, for me, is that I have thought about that pretty carefully - I KNOW he's not the ideal person he seems to be during our sessions. I know that, being a guy, he probably has habits and whatnot that I would classify as yucky boy stuff. ;-) I grew up with brothers and no sisters, and have dated my share of men. I know they have their own slobbish or otherwise annoying habits that are far from perfect. Obviously I don't know him outside of his therapist role, so I don't know what his particular idiosyncrasies are. But I know he has them, as do you, I, and everyone else.

On the other hand, I also know enough about him to know that, no matter how I'd met him, he's someone I'd be interested in getting to know further. I told him exactly that when he was giving me the whole "this is transference" talk. I have thought a lot about whether this IS transference, and while some part of it may be, much of it is not. There is definitely an attraction there for me, to HIM - not him as someone onto whom I'm transferring feelings about someone else. Yes, I suppose in general that that's part of what I'm doing - envisioning a romantic relationship (which I don't currently have) with him as the object of affection. Yes, it's safe for me to imagine that in that the boundaries are there and supposedly nothing can happen. I can't find out more about him outside of therapy, so there's nothing about him that is going to disappoint me (as recently happened when I started talking to a guy I'd had my eye on...he looked good from a distance, but was not at all who I'd imagined him to be once we finally talked).

But what I know of him, I really like. We're both working on doctoral degrees, and have similar research interests. Based on a few things he has said, we have some similar interests outside of academia too. He definitely has a sense of humor at least somewhat similar to mine, though I think he tries to hide it some of the time. And though at first I didn't know whether he was straight or queer (or both, for that matter), I think he's straight given his early tendency to veer away anytime I brought up romantic relationships during sessions. He also tended to do some blushing when I said anything along those lines (not related to him - to guys I'd been seeing, exes, etc.). I don't even know if he's single, but I have a feeling he is (wishful thinking?).

I have to keep telling myself that all of these tiny details I've gleaned might not add up to the picture I'm painting of him and his feelings toward me. It's so hard to do, though, and the only way I know to really drive the point home that he's not who I imagine him to be would be to get to know him as a friend after the therapy is over.

The best part of what you wrote, Lonely, for me was "It's satisfying for a T to be liked and also to see a patient improve." I think that this guy is very driven to succeed in everything he does, and I'm sure that what you said is playing a really large role for him. We talked once (during the transference/boundaries session) about how he consciously tries to build rapport during sessions by laughing at my jokes, reinforcing common ground, etc. And in my own work, I use the same techniques so people will open up to me. There is some element of genuineness to it, but there's also a need to do it in order to do your job better. And it does feel great when someone starts opening up to you, telling you things they don't talk about with most other people. It reinforces the feeling that you're skilled at what you do, and that the person who's opening up to you WANTS to do that because you're just so darn easy to talk to. And this therapist is also focused on measuring improvement, so the part about him wanting to see me improve would undoubtedly be true for anyone he works with.

What you wrote was a great reminder to continue trying to think about him as realistically as I can, but it's hard to do when therapy itself is such a constructed situation far removed from all other social interactions. Further, I've been telling myself all along that the therapist I see each week is only one part of the person I'm interested in. I know he's not like this most of the time, and that's actually not been a deterrent to thinking about a romantic relationship. In fact, part of what is so frustrating is that I WANT to know him as an everyday guy. I suspect I would really like him outside of the therapist role. And it's killing me to know that I've come across someone who genuinely interests me (doesn't happen very often at all), yet I'm not supposed to pursue that because of this whole therapy thing.

I have even tried to imagine the repercussions for me if we became friends after therapy and it turned out badly. But I'm convinced I could handle that, too. I know he's a real person and could easily disappoint me (as so many other people do). I really feel, though, like I'm prepared for that possibility as well. I'm an independent, strong, self-sufficient person who has been through a lot of emotional stuff with other guys, and I have no doubt I could handle a disappoint with him, too. I just really hate that I'm not supposed to have the chance to find out whether he's someone I could be happy with.

Thanks to anyone who reads all you can tell, I'm really struggling right now.


> I think I know how you feel as I've been there too - and I'm not that young, either! I've found that the relationships end in heartbreak though due to normal life events such as the T moving or losing interest or not having enough money to continue or because boundaries were broken.
> A few years ago I was at a lecture given by a local psychiatrist who is very interested in client & therapist relationships outside the theraputic aspects. (I don't think he was supporting it - it was just his interest) He mentioned a therapist he knew and the patient who "fell in love" with the therapist. They ultimately married and the wife ended up coming to him - the psychiatrist. It seems that after they were married all the husband (her former therapist) did was to lie in bed and scratch and pass gas and pay little attention to her. None of the attentiveness she had experienced in therapy.
> That level of attentiveness is not real. It's something to be strived for in a marriage or committed relationship and quite possibly a spouse could learn some tips but no one can be that attentive all the time - in my humble opinion.
> A friend tried to tell me recently that he thinks he is his T's favorite. Ok, maybe he is (this is NOT a romantic T-patient relationship) but I really doubt it. It's just the way the T works and yes for that period of time there's a lot of direct involvement. It's satisfying for a T to be liked and also to see a patient improve.
> This series of postings pushed some buttons in me - I'm glad to see it and will use it to work on some of my own thoughts and feelings.
> Thank you!




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