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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'm 40 years old and divorced. I am an attractive, intelligent,independent woman. Yet when I meet a man, especially if the relationship turns sexual, I become obsessed. For example, I recently met a man, had a great evening, filled with high energy and chemistry, and no sex. He hasn't called me; now I'm worried, anxious, and depressed. I can't help thinking about him or how to contact him. I feel like I'm going crazy. What is wrong with me? How do I stop these thoughts and feelings? I don't feel I can have a normal, healthy relationship if I'm emotionally out of control.

Answer

Two questions occur to me: one, are you really as independent as you believe you are? And, two, do you define yourself as a woman by the way you look and whether men respond to you sexually?

This issue seems to be common among women. Our society tends to define women in terms of their attractiveness to men and whether men are interested in them sexually. Yet, women often complain when men just see them as sexual objects. When men do not respond, many women often question their own attractiveness and sexuality. Women seem to have internalized the male perception of women and evaluate themselves by male standards. Rather than defining themselves by their character, accomplishments and personality, they tend to evaluate themselves according to whether men are interested in them.

You might want to ask yourself why you are so desperate for male attention and responsiveness. How did men gain so much power over your self-concept? A telephone call or lack thereof can change your feelings about yourself. How did a man become the center of your life? You might want to do a personal inventory as to your own value as a woman. What else in life do you have going for you other than pursuit of male attention? Is your life filled with excitement, friendships, stimulating activities? Are you interesting to be with or just flirtatious? Do you enjoy the pleasure of your own company as well as the company of other women?

Once you have asked and answered these questions, and taken action to rectify your own short-comings, you might consider seeking some psychological counseling to help you explore your beliefs, attitudes, behavior and unconscious motivations. The journey may be well worth it.

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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