Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 998892

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Is there such a thing a being too compatible?

Posted by Daisym on October 6, 2011, at 1:06:08

I've written on and off here for years so most of you "know" my therapist. He is steady and wise and open. He believes in the connection of the relationship as a healing vehicle. And he is very, very funny. Which is not to say that we haven't had ruptures (a few were huge) and we haven't been mutually frustrated with each other at times.

I've been in therapy for a little over 8 years. I go multiple times per week, which has gone up and down at times. He has always taken vacations - usually a week at a time. But two years in a row now, my therapist has taken two weeks off in September. Last year it was really hard on me and we spent weeks processing my anger and abandonment feelings. There was lots of old stuff there but it scared me enough to make me pull back a lot. Things shifted this summer and I felt connected and safe again...until he left again.

This week has been full of very honest and frank conversations about how painful it is for me to be so attached, with all these deep feelings. I love him and I hate myself for loving him or needing him. While I realize this *is* my core issue, I can't figure out how it will ever get resolved. And just to be clear - it isn't about having sex with him, or wanting to truly marry him, etc. I am a realist, I know and have always known the confines of this relationship and I'm super careful to not push the boundaries. I rarely call or email between sessions anymore - I make myself wait unless it is a crisis. What I find is that being aware of all these feelings highlights the void in my life - I want someone as safe as him to love "all the time." I'm very lonely - even as I'm surrounded by other people. We've spent a lot of time the past few months on this - how to use friends better, etc. A significant other is not part of my life right now and I sort of doubt that will ever happen again. I've been pretty badly wounded and trust is hard.

My solution was to suggest cutting way back on sessions and to think about termination. I really want to figure out if I'm only going to therapy to maintain the connection. And I can hardly bear the thought of another vacation. I wondered if enough of my needs were being met by my sessions and if this was preventing me from forcing myself to develop new relationships. I feel very foolish too, btw - for not being able to figure it all out. I keep thinking, "If you'd fallen in love with a married man (not your therapist), you would know you need to break it off and move on. But here, the love is OK, even as you suffer from it."

My therapist said he feels really confused because he hears that our deep connection is hurting me and he doesn't want that. But he also knows how much our connection has helped me. I completely agree and feel the same confusion. And I feel like a complete _ss because he is so generous with his time and attention, while maintaining very safe boundaries. He thinks I'm too harsh with myself about my need for him. So what the heck do I want? The best I could get to was I wanted to feel this connection to him without always having to judge it - without the conflict it sets up inside of me. I want to be able to use him as my safe base from which to explore other relationships. But that just doesn't feel possible. The other relationships are so elusive. And he doesn't seem to have a clone. So it seems easier to break my attachment to my therapist. And the only way to do that is to wedge time and distance between us.

It is so complicated and there are more strands, but this is enough for now. I'm just looking for suggestions even in how to think about all of this.

Thanks,
Daisy

 

Re: Is there such a thing a being too compatible? Daisym

Posted by Anemone on October 6, 2011, at 16:28:02

In reply to Is there such a thing a being too compatible?, posted by Daisym on October 6, 2011, at 1:06:08

Hi Daisy,

I can understand everything you said: your attachment and connection highlighting the void in your life, the lonely feelings and not being able to clone your T. I have similar feelings as you do. I also want someone as safe to love as her in my real life.

I have asked my T if it's bad that I depend on her so much for really sharing what's inside me. She says it's perfectly fine that I love and need her, and I will build the other relationships when ready.

Maybe your T could help you work on not hating yourself for needing him, and just enjoy your connection and appreciate how much it is helping you? And I imagine it might not be helpful to break away from him before you're ready?

I hope you feel better about this soon!

P. S. When he is away, would it be helpful to replay the good therapy moments and smile to yourself? And keep him in you heart like a lighthouse so you can always imagine him with you, being proud of all the things you do in real life?

 

Re: Is there such a thing a being too compatible?

Posted by annierose on October 6, 2011, at 17:40:05

In reply to Re: Is there such a thing a being too compatible? Daisym, posted by Anemone on October 6, 2011, at 16:28:02

Intellectually, the face value of your concerns and insights make sense. But our emotional self doesn't much care about the workings of the intellect. The heart feels things so deeply since love is the only thing that matters.

You understand that this need is 'your work'. So continue working with your wonderful therapist as hard, painful, joyful, frustrating, loving, sweet, maddening ... as it is. To stop the work short, stops the progress you are making. You might feel like your need to see him is the reason why you are still in this relationship. I see it differently. You still are working on accepting that it is okay to need people, need loving attachments because you are okay, you are wonderful and you deserve it.

I have no doubt that love will come your way. Your heart is large, kind, accepting, smart, beautiful and loving - - - people see that in you. You need to see it in you too.

The contradictions are true. How can something that feels so good, also feel so bad. I think any of us in a close therapeutic bond comepletely understand that feeling 100%. When your t goes on vacation, you feel bad. Terminating early will not evaporate that feeling of longing.

I want you to know that you are loved. Keep working while questioning the process - your brain will sort it out.

 

Re: Is there such a thing a being too compatible? Daisym

Posted by Dinah on October 6, 2011, at 20:05:16

In reply to Is there such a thing a being too compatible?, posted by Daisym on October 6, 2011, at 1:06:08

What do you think would happen if you did quit seeing him on a regular basis? Less frequently or infrequently? How would the rest of your life change? Do you think you would be able to find other attachments?

I think that although your problem and my problem are miles apart, our pernicious voices have something in common. They aren't entirely wrong. But neither are they entirely right. You may be getting some needs met in therapy that could be (in some ways) better met in other relationships. You may be continuing to see him in order to maintain the connection. You may be hanging on because it's too painful to consider letting go. Yet clearly there is still work that can be done in therapy, and you are concentrating on those areas.

I think that therapists do meet some needs that other people in our lives don't meet. Not friends or family. Not even significant others. They don't have that therapeutic distance. Of course, that benefit also comes with some risks that don't come with other relationships.

The best suggestion I have is acceptance of the contradictions. Therapy can't replace real life relationships. Real life relationships can't necessarily replace therapy. It's possible to cling to a therapist for the wrong reasons (in part) without it being wrong to cling to therapy. Therapy can meet enough of our needs to make real life relationships less important. But quitting therapy won't guarantee that there will be other ways these needs can be adequately met.

It's not wrong to need him.

There's a tension. Is termination the only possible alternative? Therapy should be regularly evaluated and adjusted. But can the adjustments take other forms?

Or of course you *could* try a trial separation... You might find that you don't need him as much after a while. If you're really ready.

 

Re: Is there such a thing a being too compatible?

Posted by emmanuel98 on October 6, 2011, at 20:23:04

In reply to Re: Is there such a thing a being too compatible? Daisym, posted by Dinah on October 6, 2011, at 20:05:16

I've been seeing my p-doc for 6-1/2 years. I tried terminating once and just seeing him every few months for meds, but I couldn't bear it. I now see him every other week, which is, to me, the right amount. He is still in my life but doesn't dominate my life. I see another therapist (a DBT therapist) weekly and that is where most of the work on depression gets done. I have made a lot of friends through AA and rely on them a lot. But I still need to see my p-doc. I can't imagine life without him. I love him. We have a deep bond. I rarely go a day without thinking of him. When I tried to terminate, my DBT therapist asked me how much space he occupied in my mind and what I would do with that space if I stopped seeing him. I didn't want to admit that he took up a lot of my mental space and still does.

 

Re: Is there such a thing a being too compatible?

Posted by Dinah on October 7, 2011, at 4:51:12

In reply to Re: Is there such a thing a being too compatible? Daisym, posted by Dinah on October 6, 2011, at 20:05:16

I want to clarify that my last suggestion doesn't mean I think it's wrong to be attached or stay attached. I do think therapists play a unique role that can't and shouldn't be filled by others. You can't keep friends if you use them as a therapist. Your significant other shouldn't be your therapist. And definitely your kids shouldn't. I think ongoing therapy is helpful to some people, and that they function better with than without. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong, and probably a lot right, with being attached to that therapist. And needing him/her.

It was just an acknowledgement that sometimes we really do want to leave, or want to try to leave. And are afraid to do it. In those cases, time can help.

 

Thanks

Posted by Daisym on October 7, 2011, at 23:00:58

In reply to Re: Is there such a thing a being too compatible?, posted by Dinah on October 7, 2011, at 4:51:12

I appreciate all the thoughtful replies. As I suspected, there are definately both sides to this coin.

I don't see him again until next Thursday due to work commitments. So we'll see how this feels, etc.

I guess I have to figure out how to best use this deep attachment to make my life more complete. And work on "just" allowing it until this happens. I expressed a wish for forever therapy and his response was, "but you are the one saying this can't go on forever. So???" Yeah- full of contradictions, that's me.

 

Re: Thanks Daisym

Posted by annierose on October 8, 2011, at 7:50:58

In reply to Thanks, posted by Daisym on October 7, 2011, at 23:00:58

>>> I expressed a wish for forever therapy and his response was, "but you are the one saying this can't go on forever. So???" Yeah- full of contradictions, that's me. <<<

Me too! You are in good company in that regard.

We could go on forever about how different the therapeutic relationship is compared to real life. But one particular aspect that I know I'm guilty of ... is too much thinking ... trying to figure it out. I'm especially consumed with trying to understand or figure out what she is thinking/feeling/etc (not all the time - my need in this regard goes up and down).

It's ok to need him in your life. And it's ok to want and get forever therapy. I grew up with no parental support/attention. I'm ok with going to see her for as long as I can afford to, as long as I feel I need her in my life, and as long as I don't get mad as hell and quit one day (which we know happens for me every other few months - - - at least the wanting part).


 

Re: Is there such a thing a being too compatible? Daisym

Posted by pegasus on October 10, 2011, at 17:00:10

In reply to Is there such a thing a being too compatible?, posted by Daisym on October 6, 2011, at 1:06:08

I'm struggling with similar issues, only I'm more in the beginning stages of my relationship with my T. But I've gotten deeper with past Ts, so I'm struggling with the sense of need, and the fear that comes from past experiences of the T relationship ending.

I am in a good, solid relationship with a significant other, and I find that it doesn't make my attchment to my T any less intense. Maybe my relationship with my T could actually help me improve my relationship with my SO. That's what he says I can expect, if we keep working.

I tend to think of the T attachment as analagous to a parental attachment. (And, yes, I have a very parental type of transference going on with my T.) What I mean is that as kids we can all be deeply, even desperately attached to our mothers, and no one says boo. And when that relationship goes well, we eventually grow up and become more independent. We can do that, because we had that deep attachment to use as a secure base for our developing independence. Right?

So, the problem in therapy becomes the fact that we're expected to eventually sever this deep, attached relationship. Whereas, we aren't wired for that. We continue our relationships to our moms (if they're good) as long as we're both alive. And we grieve deeply when our moms die. But somehow, therapy is supposed to have a different conclusion.

My T has been saying that he sees himself as a lifelong therapist, at least potentially, to every one of his clients. Because he recognizes how attached clients get, and how important that attachment is to the good work that gets done in therapy. Eventually most clients become independent, but a lot of them stay in touch forever. I'm not sure what I think of his stance on that yet. It sounds too good to be true. And also expensive. :) But maybe that's the best way?

- P

 

Re: Is there such a thing a being too compatible? pegasus

Posted by Dinah on October 10, 2011, at 18:23:01

In reply to Re: Is there such a thing a being too compatible? Daisym, posted by pegasus on October 10, 2011, at 17:00:10

Pegasus, that is *perfect*. I'm bookmarking your post. Thank your therapist for me.

I think I am the sort who benefits from ongoing therapy. I've got a highly excitable nervous system, and it helps to have that stable detached presence. (When it is stable.)

 

Re: Is there such a thing a being too compatible? pegasus

Posted by annierose on October 10, 2011, at 18:32:34

In reply to Re: Is there such a thing a being too compatible? Daisym, posted by pegasus on October 10, 2011, at 17:00:10

I like how your t helps relieve the anxiety of feeling so attached ... so sweet ... that he begins these complicated relationships with the thought he might be spending a very long time with that individual.

My t knows, I'm sure, I have zero plans of leaving ... as long as I can afford to go. And she assures me that she has no plans of going anywhere. And if she did, because one never knows what curve balls life will throw at you, I hope she would help transition me to a new therapist ... if only to mourn her loss.


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