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Ask A Therapist: I’m Not Depressed Or Anxious But Prefer Being Alone

I know there have been several questions on this site regarding preferences for solitude, but most of these questions have come from people with diagnosed disorders such as depression, social phobias, PTSD, etc., and the answers provided have been framed in the context of the relevant disorder. My concern is that, despite being depression and anxiety-free, I am becoming increasingly rigid in terms of my willingness to spend time with others, and it is affecting my relationships negatively. I’ve always been a bit of a loner and required a certain amount of time alone, but I’ve also always had plenty of friends and a pretty normal dating/relationship history. However, over the course of the past year or so I have started to really prioritize solitude over spending time with friends, family, and romantic partners to the point of avoidance. It’s not that I’ve become apathetic towards these people or that I’ve stopped liking them. In fact, I still have a strong desire for affection, friendship, and intimacy, but only in VERY limited quantities, and anything beyond that feels like an obligation. To give you an example of what I’m talking about, my girlfriend lives about 100 miles away, so spending a whole lot of time together during the week is not really feasible. Because of this she would really like to drive to my place after work on Friday, spend the weekend with me, and leave Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately I can’t even begin to fathom spending that much time with someone -even someone I love- and so I always have to come up with an excuse for why she would need to leave Saturday morning or afternoon. And to be honest, by Saturday I’m literally counting the minutes until she leaves so I can be alone. I don’t want to be this way. It’s not fair to the people in my life, and I feel like I shouldn’t be in a relationship, even though I am very much in love. Any insight into my problem would be greatly appreciated!

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Ask A Therapist: My Ex Has Dissociative Identity Disorder. Is There Hope For Us?

Q: How can I explain to an ex-boyfriend who left state and returned that he needs help for is DID? My current psychologist couldn’t answer this question, but flipped it off as insignificant.  I fell in love in Jan. 2010 with a foreign worker who was here to repair damage in the condo after carpet removal and air scrubbing.  I texted him I was i terested and we had a first date.  He ran out unexpectedly, with no excuse and did not return.  ‘Gone then for 3 months to his “country”, back once, ran out with no reason, gone another month, “for a funeral”; back, ran away, then back after another 3 months saying he was emotionally sick and went back to his home country, and was sorry he didn’t call.  During all this strange interims, I hired a detective, then, found out in July he ran to another state, after saying he had gotten a new apt., broke his leg, came back, called me after I left a message at his work, then went back to the other state, back in two weeks to give no reason for his leavings, except that, “a man leaves because a man leaves.”  My question is:  since I noticed he had DID, and he agreed, and had tried to get help, can I assume the relationship is doomed or is there hope if he gets help, that he could ever be stable, or so men with this affliction just drift through life never really finding happiness?  Thank you for reading.  I would not give him a second thought, except that I did have real feelings for him, not just because of his illness.

A: What a tough situation. I think the best approach is to express your concern about his illness and strongly encourage him to get into a psychiatric evaluation to see if he indeed does suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder. If your ex doesn’t want to get help, there is nothing you can do. If he does seek help there may be some improvement in his behavior and his stability through individual psychotherapy. I suggest you ask yourself “Why am I attracted to someone who is so unavailable and unstable?” There may be some deeper issues for you to explore in your own therapy. Thanks so much for writing in.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: Should I Trust My Flirtatious Boyfriend?

Q: I am a 45 year old divorced mom who is currently in a relationship with a 53 year old man who I do not trust. I have only been cheated on once before, that I’m aware of, so I am usually not a very jealous person. But this man is extremely handsome, charming, and flirtatious. I have caught him in several lies, and find him contacting other women frequently. He is always commented on other women’s looks, or telling them directly they are pretty, or hot. Lately, his tactic to deal with my insecurity is to turn it around – he acts jealous of other men, though none are pursuing me. He gets angry when any male (even my nephew) contacts me on line, or by text. He accuses me of wanting other men. It is absurd, and I’m wondering if this is just another sign he is untrustworthy. He has an excuse or story for every seedy, racy thing I discover about him, and he sticks with his lies to the very end. He swears he adores me and he is not cheating, which I actually believe. There is no evidence to the contrary that he’s actually seeing anyone. My fear is that, given the chance, he will. Do I have good reason for this fear?  Or am I getting paranoid in my old age?

A: You may not realize it, but you already answered your own question. You don’t trust him.  And from what you’ve described, I think you’re right on. If he adores you, why is he making comments about other women’s looks, frequently contacting other women online, lying to you, and becoming extremely jealous and angry? These behaviors are all relationship “red flags.” I suggest you focus less on whether he’s technically cheating or not, and focus more on whether or not you want to continue a relationship with someone who appears to be chronically dishonest, insensitive, jealous, and intensely interested in other women.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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