Question: My boyfriend and I are fighting a lot and he refuses to go to a therapist with me. I love him, and don’t want to leave, but I can’t handle all the fights. He says a stranger can’t help us – and that we can work it out by ourselves. The problem is we don’t and nothing is changing. What can I do?
If he won’t go to a therapist, go by yourself. You will learn about yourself and your relationship and most likely will grow in your own self estimation. You will become better equipped to deal with your boyfriend and more able to know what you have a right to expect in a relationship.
Many men agree to see a therapist once their partner has been going and obviously getting something from the sessions, so you may be surprised about him.
Everybody needs love from their parents. When we were kids we quite literally needed it like food, and we needed it everyday. Many of us didn’t get the love we needed. The less we got as kids the more we still need as adults. As adults we often choose our partners hoping to get what we never got from our parents. In our unconscious cleverness, we pick people that are “psychological stand-ins” for the parent(s) we most needed love from. Without knowing it, we are looking to solve the childhood problem of needing to be loved.
If a child is not getting the approval and love they need the problem is most likely in the parent’s inability to love, not in the child’s deserving of it. In our choosing a psychological stand-in, we choose some one who is like our parent(s), and therefore another person who can’t love us.In therapy you get to finish (within yourself) the emotional problem with the unloving parent. Then you are actually free to pick a good partner.
There are other strong influences that may appear as you begin exploring what is driving your choice of partner. For example: A woman was the oldest child of apparently loving parents who both had to work full time. She was needed to take care of of her syblings when both parents were working. She learned that the way to be valued was to be a caretaker and sacrifice her own needs. She chooses a partner who needs her care taking and continues sacrificing herself.
Influences from early experience formed your self image and taught you what you can expect from other people. The most powerful and longest lasting are those from our families. What you learned about yourself from peers, teachers, and other significant relationships also have a lasting effect.
We see ourselves with the eyes our parents gave us. A good therapist can be useful in understanding how you learned, and what you learned, about who you are and what you can expect for yourself in the world.