I've been in a long distance relationship for several months with a wonderful man. We both care about each other deeply. He was diagnosed a few years ago with APD and, it's safe to say, he has some DPD characteristics as well. Even in a long distance relationship, it gets exhausting for me. I find myself in the role of girlfriend part time and therapist the rest of the time. I feel like I'm constantly having to guide him and nudge him along. But, right now I'm willing to hang in there in hopes of seeing the person he really is instead of the one who has no confidence in himself or his self-worth - seeing the man who can make decisions for himself.
He started seeing a therapist again to deal with his issues and horribly abusive past. On the one hand I'm concerned because the only reason he's in therapy is because he knows it will never work between us if he doesn't get "better" (for lack of a better term). On the other hand, at least he's in therapy. However, his therapist is a social worker. It seems that more and more I'm becoming the focus of their sessions instead of looking at his thought processes and behaviors and how to positively change those (there's been virtually no discussion about his childhood, parents, etc.). He shares with me some of the content of their sessions; it seems that he's relaying information based on how he perceived a given interaction between us - although not always how I perceived it - and instead of focusing on what he may have been feeling, how he may have behaved, really just digging deeper and asking more questions, the therapist will say something like, "I don't see anything wrong with that". (This may not be making sense without examples but I'll start with this for now - maybe some examples next time.) Anyway, a few sessions ago both he and I felt she didn't have the background to deal with his issues (it seems like she constantly refers to the DSM IV for guidance during their sessions). She brought up the issue of meds. for his anxiety and he said she was insistent. When he first told me, he was opposed to the idea of meds. but after he and I talked it through he agreed it was worth a try. Well, she never brought it up again! I'm actually concerned at this point that she's not helping him at all and may be doing more harm than good. Soon, hopefully, he'll be moving on to seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist.
I just don't know what to do. What's my role in this? How do I find the line between being helpful and supportive as his girlfriend and not his "therapist"? How long do I put my life on hold? I feel like I have to push him to do things or they won't happen (like seeing a therapist) but then it makes him that much more dependent on me. It makes me feel like I'm controlling his life. As I said, I'm not ready to throw in the towel - but I need help! I'm glad I found this site. Any advice is appreciated.
Thank you Dr Schwartz and insightful unnamed - Nelly - Jul 19th 2008
THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION WILL NOT BE DISPLAYED UNTIL YOU HAVE INDICATED YOUR AGREEMENT WITH THE DISCLAIMER PRINTED JUST BELOW. CLICK THE 'I AGREE' BUTTON TO AGREE TO THESE TERMS AND SEE THE RESPONSE.
- Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
- Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
- Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
- No correspondence takes place.
- No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
- Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
- Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.