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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Relationships Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

I am a 29-year-old man and I find myself obsessed with trying to find a girlfriend. When I finally find a girl I like, I get too serious, too fast and end up scaring her away. I have been known to quit jobs just to spend more time with a girl. Then I get frustrated and blame the whole thing on her. It's been the same pattern for years. When the relationship is over I become very depressed. How do I change my behavior? It's almost like a drug addiction.

Answer

You make an interesting analogy to a drug addiction. Addicts use substances to relieve themselves of some inner tension, anxiety, loneliness, or other intolerable emotions. The drug becomes an escape from the pain of daily life. For the most part, compulsive behaviors in general serve to quiet an inner discomfort, emptiness or anxiety.

In a similar fashion, your obsession with women may well be a distraction from your feelings of inner discomfort. It sounds like you are more interested in possessing a woman than you are interested in having a relationship with her. Judging from your willingness to quit jobs, and from your desperate tone, I would wonder whether you have other interests, hobbies, friends, community involvement, spirituality, etc.

In other words, how fulfilled is your life? Are you looking to find a woman who will give your life meaning and direction? Do you believe that a woman will be a panacea for you unhappiness? Are you looking to a woman to fulfill your life? Much like the drug addict, who looks to the drugs to fill the spaces in his/her life, you may be looking to a woman to fill your life. If that's the case, the relationship is doomed from the start. No one person can or should be expected to be all things to another person.

There are several things you can do to change your behavior. The first thing is to seek professional help. A competent psychologist/psychotherapist can help you understand more completely what the driving force is behind your obsession and help you gain a clearer perspective on your own goals and directions in life.

Secondly, it is important that you develop other interests, social activities, and friends to fill out your life. Develop a sense a purpose and a passion within the context of a balanced life. At present it sounds as if your life has taken on a single focus, putting a great deal of pressure on any potential mate.

3/5/98

Dr. Edward A. Dreyfus is a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage, Family, Child Therapist, and Sex Therapist. Dr. Dreyfus has been providing psychological services in the Los Angeles-Santa Monica area for over 30 years. He offers individual psychotherapy to adolescents and adults, divorce mediation, couples counseling, group therapy, and career and vocational counseling and assessment.His book, Someone Right For You, is available in the Amazing Bookstore Catalog.

Dr. Dreyfus can be reached at: (310) 208-5700.

 

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