I’ve recently been told by my live-in boyfriend of eight years that, “it’s over.” He says he “can’t do this anymore,” whatever that means. He isn’t interested in going to therapy, period. He’s already left.
A close friend who’s seeing a therapist has been supportive, and said that the problem in my relationship was that my ex was “avoidant” in it.
What does that mean to me now that it’s over? Am I likely to choose someone else who’s “avoidant?”
Confused about Labels
To benefit from therapy, you’d need to talk to a professional registered psychotherapist or individual counsellor, tell your relationship story and perhaps even describe your past relationships and upbringing.
But a “therapy” label from a friend with separate issues from yours, is likely to be misleading. For example, in professional terms, an “avoidant personality” is classified as a personality disorder.
People diagnosed with this have been described as “oversensitive and easily hurt by criticism or disapproval... reluctant to become involved with others unless certain of being liked... tend to exaggerate potential problem,” and more (see www.clevelandclinic.org).
But your friend might’ve meant that your ex avoided dealing with his wish to end the relationship, until suddenly blurting it out.
Had he tried to talk to you about whatever he thought wasn’t working between you, then maybe you’d have discussed it, shared your own concerns, started some positive changes, etc.
Instead, maybe you too were both “avoiding” acknowledging problems and having to make personal changes. Instead, he just walked out.
Now, seeking therapy yourself can help you move on and, if/when you’re ready to date again, to recognize the signs not to avoid.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding the divorced mother who’s worried that her son’s getting negative messages about her from his father (May 14):
“She should be very worried. It sounds like a case of parental alienation. It starts off innocently enough (by the father telling a child) “I can’t buy a house because I gave your mother all my money,” or, “Your mom is really mean.”
“This behaviour by the father is calculated and cunning. If there isn’t an early intervention it can result in the child being alienated from his mother, and irreparable damage to the child... even the child rejecting his mother.
“She should seek an immediate expert intervention to guide her through the courts, and get her child the help he needs before it’s too late. She should take this very seriously.
“At the very least, look up “Parental Alienation” and the signs she should look for. This is happening all too often, and it’s hard to see before it’s too late.”
Grieving Alienated Mom
As requested, here’s some information on parental alienation syndrome, from a Psychiatrictimes.com article, March 12, 2020, by Philip M. Koszyk, M.D. and William Bernet, M.D.:
“Parental alienation (PA) profoundly affects both children and alienated parents. Children of PA are at increased risk for future trust and relationship issues, depression, and substance abuse. For a rejected parent, the pain is excruciating.
And from Healthline.com, Dec. 2019 on Parental alienation:
Child psychologist Richard Gardner first coined the term parental alienation syndrome (PAS) in 1985 to describe behaviors in a child who’s exposed to parental alienation (PA). He identified eight “symptoms” (or criteria) for PAS. Concerned readers can easily find these online in the aforementioned article.
A different view of parental alienation appears in tomorrow’s column.
My colleague sends out multiple emails daily - jokes, words of wisdom, etc.
My inbox is filled with trivial facts and figures making me sometimes miss important notices. Last year she sent an email that carried a virus and I asked her to take me off her mailing list. When she didn’t, I blocked her.
I started missing important meeting notices or information about the organization we’re both part of as she’s in charge of communications in the group.
So, I had to put her back on and my inbox is filled again with junk mail. Can you suggest a remedy for this situation?
Anyone with a busy daily inbox knows how to scan quickly and click delete. This woman’s mass of trivia is annoying. However, she became a bigger problem when blocking her emails led her to misuse her communications role as a colleague.
She’s trouble. Read only what matters to you and avoid her.
Tip of the day:
To understand the reasons for a sudden relationship breakup, seek the guidance of a professional therapist to probe the underlying issues, how they were handled and/or why they were ignored.