Feeling pressure in my relationship

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    Dear friends:

    It’s been awhile since I have posted. A quick hello to Anita, Inky, Jack & any others who are still here!

    So I’ve been dating this psychotherapist student-in-training (he’s in 2nd year). I’ve been feeling a lot of pressure lately from him to be an “emotionally perfect” partner. The past few weeks have been rather difficult for me as my grandpa had been diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumour and the doctors can’t say how much longer he will live & to move him into palliative care. My mom is suffering a lot from this news. My cousins are also suffering & I can see the grief in their eyes. I try to be a support for my family by staying calm and keeping cool. But no doubt, this news has caused me to be abit more emotional when I’m with my partner. Last night, he took me out for Valentine’s dinner but I got mad at him for thinking that he can drink & drive. I just think it’s morally wrong to drink & drive. He says “I know my limit and I can drive”. He had drank a whole bottle of sake (which has 20% alcohol content) and a can of beer. The fact is that he already has 12 demerit points for speeding & if he gets pulled over for even one more violation, he will have his license suspended and he has already gone to see the Ministry once because of his traffic offenses. Even if he was capable of driving, his blood alcohol content would be above the legal limit. So I offered to drive instead and I was quite exhausted so I got mad at him for drinking. He then accused me of taking over “his responsibility for driving” and being so emotional and that I should be seeing counselling. He also accused me of being so sensitive to my mom all the time…even before my grandpa got sick.

    I feel so trapped sometimes. As if I cannot show anger when I feel angry, tears when I feel sad. I feel like I always have to operate like a robot and just not show any emotions…otherwise he would claim a million things that is wrong about me & pushes me to go see a psychotherapist. I tell him sometimes to “stop talking to me like I’m your client” but then he says “This is who I am.” I feel like he is constantly trying to fix me. I no doubt have my own weaknesses that I am aware of but I take my time to work on them. I am part of a couple of mindfulness groups & we share about our life struggles.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,


    Dear Jennifer:

    Glad you are back and hello to you too!

    When you told your boyfriend to stop talking to you like you are his client, this is my comment about this: the way he talks to you is NOT how a psychotherapist should talk to a client. It is NOT a professional way of talking to a client. If he was a psychotherapist right now, the way he thinks and talks would be harmful to a client and it is harmful to you.

    I hope he heals what he needs to heal in him before and if he becomes a certified psychotherapist.

    When he told you that it is his responsibility to drive safely, not yours, he was very wrong: it is your responsibility to not put your life in danger by riding with a drunk driver and it is your social responsibility to prevent other drivers on the road from being hit by a drunk driver.

    When he suggests to you that you should see a psychotherapist as his defense for your reasonable suggestion for him to not drink and drive and as a defense against you expressing your feelings, he is being manipulative and cruel. He is suggesting that there is something wrong with you, something faulty with your thinking. The truth is there is something wrong with his thinking, that he is unable or unwilling to take responsibility for his choices and feelings and is pointing the finger at you, as if you are the one with a problem, not him. This is a dangerous dynamic.

    Dangerous because you feel trapped and unsafe to be you, to feel your feelings. You feel that you have to operate like a robot while you are biologically not a robot. Trying to operate like a robot is not healthy.

    What are your thoughts about my input so far?



    Those are definitely a lot of stressors. Fights with our spouses will unfortunately continue to happen over all sorts of things. All we can do is work together to get better at having them to lessen the amount of hurt we create.

    In regards to not showing your feelings. . . something that works for me is to privately feel them to the max. For example when feelings of sadness or hurt or anger, instead or lashing out at others or trying to hide them, I take a few minutes to close my eyes and feel how my body physically feels these emotions. I feel how they travel through my entire body. If I feel like crying I totally do and really feel it. My dad says it’s a form of meditation. What I really appreciate about this habit is that I let it out. Even if I don’t want to draw attention from my husband or others I get to let it out by myself. After feeling the emotions fully (doesn’t take too long) you’ll also feel how they dissipate.

    As women we do need to talk about what feels like everything we are going through. Sometimes those closest to us are not in a position to listen or truly empathize without trying to “fix us” and only make it worse. So finding a good friend that is would be a good idea. Of course talking to a professional is always an option. Writing them out like you did here or more in detail in a personal journal works almost as well.

    I hope this helps and wish you the very best.


    Thank you Anita and Laura for your prompt feedback! I’m just grateful to have some female inputs out there.

    Anita, thank you for your analysis. In the process of him becoming a psychotherapist, he also has to go through therapy and group sessions himself. I think perhaps sometimes these sessions raise a lot of sensitive questions & vulnerability. Because of confidentiality issues, he does not share anything with me and I respect that. However, because he is exposed during the sessions, when we are together, his ego takes over and he becomes insensitive to my needs as a human being….perhaps just like a lot of men. When his ego comes up, it’s as if only he operates alone and his actions don’t impact anyone in this world. He says “if I get my license suspended, it is my problem…not your’s”. I feel like an outsider. I know that growing up, he had a very controlling mother and I know that sometimes I trigger that & occasionally, I remind him that I am not his mother. Also, he mentions from time-to-time how he was bullied a lot by students and teachers at his all-boy’s school…and can’t seem to let that go.

    I know that I myself have attachment issues with my parents. Being raised as an only child, I am very emotionally attached to my parents. Their opinions matter to me and sometimes their words can be harsh & I can become hurt. When I talk about this with my boyfriend, he says I am being really sensitive and that I should really see a therapist soon. Perhaps instead of talking to him about it, I should talk to my own friends.

    Thank you Laura for your suggestions. I also practice meditation so hopefully I can like you suggested, feel them to the max. Sometimes I feel lonely when I do it alone because of my upbringing as an only child. I think I will talk to a good friend about it. When I tell my boyfriend that I’m gonna chat to a friend about an issue….he replies “you know that will only make your situation worse. You need to talk to a therapist.” I feel like he is controlling even my friends’ circle sometimes. I feel like he judges my friends for not being open-minded enough. But sometimes, I just need a hug or a shoulder to cry on. Ultimately I think I should take responsibility for taking care of my own feelings and not let my boyfriend persuade me not to see my friends.

    Thanks again. Your suggestions have made me feel better already.



    Dear Jennifer:

    You are welcome! You wrote that in the process of him becoming a psychotherapist he has to attend therapy himself and that because of confidentiality he cannot tell you about those therapy sessions. This is partially true: he cannot tell you about what other people said while telling you anything identifying about who said what, like a name. But he can tell you everything about what he shared about himself in those therapy sessions, about his feelings about his sharing, and anything at all that he learned from those sessions.

    It seems to me from your share here that he is hurt and angry at his mother, about being bullied by his own mother and by others. His hurt is intense and leads to him feeling angry and not wanting any input as a lot feels to him like being bullied. So even though your assertion that he doesn’t drink and drive is reasonable and responsible and is not bullying him, to him it feels like bullying (inaccurate projection on his part).

    He does have a lot of work to do, to heal his injuries from the bullying that was inflicted on him, to take responsibility for his own healing (and to stop pointing the finger at you!)

    As is, he is not even close to being a helpful therapist or a good boyfriend.



    Dear Jennifer,
    If there are so many things wrong with you in his perceptions, why is he still with you? Be careful and protect your heart. I married a man who always stated ” That is just the way I am”, and never took the time or interest to see my way or that he was hurting me in emotional ways.I felt that I wasn’t better than that, and I was lucky to be married and settled for less. I am leaving him now after 35 years, after being beaten into the ground of how deficient I am, in his eyes still. Took me a long time, but at least my eyes are open now.
    You are a sensitive soul and need to not settle for less than a man who cherishes and respects you. Just thoughts from an old lady who has been there and settled for whatever emotional and relationship crumbs I could find.

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