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