Therapy: do not want
January 6, 2010 2:39 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend really wants me in therapy, but I don't want to go and it's tearing us apart.

A couple of months ago I moved from another country where I had been living (and loving) because I couldn't find a job and it was no longer legal for me to live there. I had a very happy life there and I miss it every day. I had a very supportive boyfriend who I loved, but the relationship didn't survive the move to a big American city I had never been to before.

Adjusting has been very difficult and I really do not like my job. I make very little money and currently my salary puts me just above the poverty line. I am around rich people frequently and I often wish I could enjoy the city the way they do. I feel demoralized and down a lot, but I'm hoping to get a better job and/or move somewhere else in the future. I view my problems as situational.

A month or so after I moved to the city I started seeing a guy, Sam. Our relationship was off to a good start, but lately I've been having meltdowns here and there where I cry and tell him how much I hate my job and how it's soul crushing. I've also told him about my childhood, which was pretty rough.

I've seen therapists on and off over the years. I saw a cognitive behavioral therapist, who I found very useful, but also 3 other therapists who were pretty much useless and gave terrible advice. Sam's father is a therapist and whenever I get sad he brings up that I should see a therapist. He says that seeing a good one would help me understand and cope with my problems better.

He even had me fill out questions for his dad to get a referral. I have almost no money and struggle to have enough money to eat, I also have no health insurance. I brought up going to a free clinic, but he said that they are almost certainly no good. The referrals I got from his father were for people who charge nearly $100 an hour or more...which thinking about it, made me cry. I don't want to get into more debt.

I recognize I am a little high strung and prone to exaggerate my situation (a la saying my job is soul crushing)...also I am pretty sad about my current life and the one I lost, but I don't feel haunted by my upbringing and I really don't feel like I need to see anyone to talk about my problems. I feel like I am slowly adjusting and things are getting better. In past relationships my boyfriends have dealt with sadness by being supportive and talking with me instead of telling me I need to talk to a professional.

Lately it's devolved to him telling me I am arrogant for not seeing one and in general being contemptuous of me when I am upset. He really believes therapy is the be all and end all of problem kind of appears to be a religion from my point of view. It's been overshadowing all the good things about our relationship and at this point.

I'm not sure if I should end the relationship, but even if I do, whether to see a therapist. Is an expensive therapist really worth it? Are there any alternatives at all to this?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (60 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
To a hammer, every problem is a nail.

Tell your boyfriend that if he mentions therapy one more time, you're done. Because you and only you are the one that gets to decide if you need it, and since you have had experience with it in the past for both good and ill, you have enough information at hand to make a wise decision.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:43 PM on January 6, 2010 [7 favorites]

Lately it's devolved to him telling me I am arrogant for not seeing one and in general being contemptuous of me when I am upset.

I know that this is only your side of the story, and that if we talked to Sam he might have a different perspective, but this is absolutely intolerable behavior from an adult in an adult relationship.

Sometimes I get really stressed out and cry. Sometimes Sam gets really stressed out and cries (bet he won't admit that). Sam has every right to tell you that he no longer wants to support you emotionally, but that doesn't mean he has the right to treat you with contempt.
posted by muddgirl at 2:45 PM on January 6, 2010 [7 favorites]

Some guy you've been seeing for a month is acting high-handed and contemptuous when you make an informed choice not to do what he wants? DTMFA.
posted by amber_dale at 2:45 PM on January 6, 2010 [17 favorites]

But that wasn't your question, was it? I know that lots of therapists work on a sliding scale, so you might want to ask some of the referrals if they are willing to accommodate you.
posted by muddgirl at 2:46 PM on January 6, 2010

Therapy would probably help, sure - I've found it helpful in the past when I was going through very situational troubles. But for me at the time, it wasn't a choice between eat/pay rent or therapy. It was helpful for me because it gave me a place to unload and helped me figure out when/if my reactions to things were appropriate or over-the-top. Like you, I'd been in therapy before, so I wasn't starting from scratch.

Frankly, I'd dump the guy, who sounds awfully pushy and controlling rather than supportive and helpful. You don't need the added stress.

And then go to a free clinic and see if you can get some help without going (further) into debt.
posted by rtha at 2:48 PM on January 6, 2010

It may be true that you would benefit from therapy, but your boyfriend sounds like an ass. It's bad enough that he would be contemptuous of you (for any reason), but to ignore your financial situation and steer you toward expensive therapists is really insensitive.

For what it's worth, a social worker/therapist friend of mine says that the sliding scale places where new therapists train can be as good as or better than a private therapist because the trainee therapist is being closely supervised and trained by someone very experienced. If you want to try therapy again (esp if CBT helped you in the past), you might look for a place like that. Without your location, no one can make specific recommendations, but googling sliding scale therapy might help.

(Also, if you're just above poverty, you may be eligible for some kind of subsidized health insurance, but again, location would be needed.)
posted by Mavri at 2:50 PM on January 6, 2010

in general being contemptuous of me when I am upset

Is there a chance that you are, well, whiny, and it does not appear to Sam that you are doing anything to solve the problems you get upset about? Could "see a therapist" be what Sam believes to be a polite way to say, "stop whining and do something"?
posted by kmennie at 2:52 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I brought up going to a free clinic, but he said that they are almost certainly no good. The referrals I got from his father were for people who charge nearly $100 an hour or more...which thinking about it, made me cry. I don't want to get into more debt.

You can get referrals to lower cost sliding scale clinics than this, which won't be free but will be far less financially burdensome. However, the wait lists at the ones with decent reputations are typically crazy long and if your emotional problems are truly situational there's a chance that by the time you get a therapist you'll be over it. Which isn't to say you shouldn't seek these services, but that they are available though often difficult to access.

You could also go to your local county assistance office and apply for Medicaid. If you qualify, you'll be covered in the community mental health system. These are treatment centers obviously for the poor and while your boyfriend isn't quite correct in saying the treatment you will receive in such a place is almost certainly no good, the system is very much imperfect and quality of services is tremendously spotty. If you have a decent source of referral you might be able to find a decent place.

It's quite possible that you are in the worst possible situation that someone seeking mental health treatment can be in, making too much money to qualify for Medicaid and yet not receiving any coverage from her employer. If you apply for Medicaid and are rejected, that's where you are. If this is the case and you decide to seek treatment, and the decision is yours and yours alone, you will have to find a sliding scale therapist you can afford.

But, honestly, I think all of this is academic. I think the title of your post says everything. But just in case you change your mind.
posted by The Straightener at 2:54 PM on January 6, 2010

There are a lot of sliding-scale therapists, or Masters-level therapists at your local university. I personally think that therapy is good. It's too bad that your boyfriend has grown nasty about it, but it does sound like you're dumping a lot of baggage on him for a month-or-two level relationship. Maybe you should no-fault break up and then answer the therapy question on your own?
posted by Bookhouse at 2:56 PM on January 6, 2010

I brought up going to a free clinic, but he said that they are almost certainly no good. The referrals I got from his father were for people who charge nearly $100 an hour or more...which thinking about it, made me cry. I don't want to get into more debt.

If he's insistent, why not ask him and his rich therapist dad to pay for it?

Mostly, though, he sounds like a jerk. DTMFA.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:58 PM on January 6, 2010 [8 favorites]

That's awful behavior on his part. Does he not get that you've just moved to a new country, a new city, started a new job, and don't have a support system (or much money) like he apparently does? Your situation is objectively quite challenging, takes time to adjust to, and it seems like it is normal human behaviour to be sad about what you've lost.

It sounds like he is being the opposite of helpful and supportive, to put it mildly, by treating your feelings as if they don't matter. I wonder what kind of relationship he expects? One in which his partner never seems to feel any emotions other than the ones he deems acceptable?
posted by citron at 3:00 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm also incredibly poor (um, below poverty) and I was lucky enough to find a sliding scale clinic. My therapists are grad students supervised by a doctor.

One was a crank, one was a flake, and the one I have now is great.

The fees are incredibly reasonable, and my therapist has filled out a form for me to hopefully get an even lower fee.

Please get fee information before you decide therapy is not an option for you.

I hope you start feeling better soon, and I'm squeezing my thumbs for your future job success.

(also, I agree that your description of this guy makes me want his phone number so I can tell him to chill the fuck out, he doesn't run your life, and I hope he stops being upset that you're not a puppet.)
posted by bilabial at 3:00 PM on January 6, 2010

I'm not sure how therapy is going to help you. You hate your life. A therapist would tell you that that is a perfectly valid point of view. The only use for therapy would be if you are not doing anything about changing your life. If you're trying to fix what's wrong with your life, then what could a therapist tell you that you don't already know.

There's a prejudice among some people against being sad. If you have reasons to be sad, go ahead and be sad. It's motivating.

It does sound like "get therapy" is code of "I don't want to hear it." Sounds like your choices are (a) find another boyfriend who cares or (b) stop telling your boyfriend about your problems.

Get yourself a better job where you make more money and see fewer rich people, and you'll be happier.
posted by musofire at 3:03 PM on January 6, 2010 [7 favorites]

Well, maybe he doesn't cry, maybe he snaps at his girlfriend or gets really drunk or drives aggressively (I personally like the "get really drunk" option if I don't feel like crying).

My point was that, while Sam has every right to decide that 1-2 months is too early for him to handle "emotional meltdowns", then he needs to make this crystal clear. It may be obvious to the rest of us what he means by "see a therapist", but it's also obvious that it's going right over Anonymous's head.
posted by muddgirl at 3:05 PM on January 6, 2010

On the therapy issue: I went to an expensive therapist for a while. He listened to me and told me I should dump my boyfriend and get a different job. And what do you know, he was right, even if I didn't want to hear it at the time.

If you have had success with CBT in the past, there are books you can read to do CBT-type exercises on your own. Someone else may have specific recs.
posted by amber_dale at 3:09 PM on January 6, 2010

Btw, am I crazy or is the "sliding scale" kind of a joke in that the low end of it still runs to about $40-$50/hour? (Such was my experience.) That's not affordable for someone living just above the poverty line and barely able to pay for food. It's such a messed-up situation in this country with mental health care.

But anyway you seem pretty smart and aware, and if you think your job is "soul crushing," I bet it sure is. Working a job you hate, for low pay, being around people who are a lot better off financially. It seems to me that if you are able to look forward to getting a better job and moving to a nicer place, and are able to get up in the morning and work toward that, then you'll be all right, it's just a tough stretch you are going through and it is OK to feel sad sometimes.
posted by citron at 3:10 PM on January 6, 2010

Here's the easy answer: Dump the guy. I say this because if I were the guy, I'd dump you, so you might as well consider ending it on your terms.

Here's the correct answer: Seek professional help. If the word therapy bugs you, then choose to call it something else. Read your own question beginning at the very top of the page and you'll see that you did a 180 degree spin by the time you got to the last line, which is probably the most important part, right? This suggests to me that you know your boyfriend is right but you aren't ready to acknowledge it. That'll backfire because it will lead people down the wrong path in terms of helping you. People will respond to the bulk of the question, about your boyfriend and they'll tell you to dump him, when really, your question is probably more about whether or not you really need professional help. You definitely do.

Best of luck.
posted by 2oh1 at 3:19 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's not really about you. This man clearly can't handle how *he* feels when you talk about your sadness. It's too much for him. Instead of owning his feelings and telling you how it affects him, he is managing his own discomfort by telling you to go to a therapist and by acting contemptuous, two strategies that perhaps will make you stop doing what you're doing. This is not a very functional or mature way of behaving, but then again, this is a new relationship and perhaps he is simply not ready, willing, or able to offer the level of support that you are asking of him. Of course there are alternatives to therapy. Choose what's right for you and understand that the pressure he is applying has to do with his needs, not yours.
posted by Wordwoman at 3:26 PM on January 6, 2010 [4 favorites]

Why do you live in this big American city you've never been before? If your problems are situational (and it seems clear to me they are), then the solution is probably just to move. If you don't have a safety net of family in this big city or some reason for staying, just find another job, any job, in a cheaper place that you actually like living in. Leave your douchebag therapy-pushing boyfriend behind, and invest the money you're saving by not getting therapy into doing something fun to help defray the stress.
posted by booknerd at 3:29 PM on January 6, 2010

I pay $6 for my 2 hour group sessions and $16 for my one hour individual sessions.

That's more than I can really afford, but it's way less than $40/hour.

I think that I need therapy, and I want it, so I eat a lot of beans and rice and I hand over the money (and I get really pissed off when guys invite me on a date, talk me into the most expensive option, and then step aside when the bill comes. that not clarifying expectations is something I'm taking responsibility for and working on being braver about, for a lot of reasons, including financial ones. CBT might be helpful for you again in the future, OP, but if you don't want it, nobody should bully you into it. If you do want it, but when money is an obstacle, you may find a path over, around, or under.)
posted by bilabial at 3:40 PM on January 6, 2010

I think therapy can be very helpful for people, but I don't think it makes sense to go for every little thing. Getting frustrated and crying sometimes makes you human, it doesn't mean you omg-must-get-therapy. If your boyfriend doesn't want to or can't handle that, then you're not a good match.

And honestly, while I think it's good to encourage people to get therapy (when it makes sense) because it lessens the stigma against it, it really rubs me the wrong way how the pendulum has seemed to turn to "your friends/family are not your therapist." While no one should wreck someone else's life by constantly whining to or relying on them, your friends and family are people who should care at least somewhat about your problems and should want to give you advice if they have it. Lately it's seemed to me that there are just some -- hopefully not many -- people who want to have all the upsides of friendship/relationships (like having someone to go do shit with) without having to deal with the other person having *any* emotions they find uncomfortable, and that's just messed up to me. In my experience, relationships where no deeper fears are shared tend to be superficial and meaningless, and when my friends are feeling badly, I want to know -- I don't want them to be silent because they have this idea they're not supposed to talk to anyone that knows them and they're supposed to just get therapy instead.

He's your boyfriend, so he should expect to be an emotional outlet for you. That doesn't mean you get to abuse him, or that he doesn't get to have a differing opinion on how much is too much, but there are people that avoid dealing with any negative emotions from the people they care about. If you think he's like that, then you're free to tell him that sort of thing will probably cause him more problems than it solves. (When I first started dating my husband, he would make me feel far worse because of the way he'd react whenever I'd get unhappy, especially if I would cry; he came across as quite contemptuous and his solution was to tell me that I just shouldn't be sad. He prided himself on being very rational. This was all because his mom was really an irrational mess, on top of being an alcoholic who would lash out at her family when upset; she desperately needed therapy, she was far past the point where she'd made her entire friends and family sick of her. When he was a kid he had been naturally empathetic and she gradually wore that down, and whenever someone would get upset over something, especially if that someone was a woman and crying, he was conditioned to feel contemptuous and angry. After feeling that situation out for a bit I finally snapped and told him it was really irrational to expect people to behave rationally when they don't feel good, that he made me feel worse and it made me dislike him whenever it happened, that I wasn't some superhuman that didn't feel emotions but I didn't cry that often either, and I didn't see how his approach was "reasonable" since it ignored reality, treated people like machines when they're not, and made the situation worse for both of us. I pointed out that he's a brat whenever he's angry, or hungry, or has a headache, or just has a bad day even if he doesn't actually cry, and I don't tell him to just stop feeling those ways because I would be stupid to do that. Despite my admittedly angry approach it actually stuck, and bit by bit he got a lot better. He's very empathetic now, years later. Also note that we worked this out without a therapist, despite all the baggage involved; seeing one probably would have helped, sure, but people routinely work out issues, even big issues, without therapy every day, and have done for centuries.)

If someone wants to get therapy for relatively minor things I don't see anything wrong with it, but generally it's always seemed to me that people only need therapy if they have to work through something particularly difficult and emotionally taxing. Hating your job is something everyone goes through at some point and only you can know when those feelings have become unmanageable; therapy isn't about being happy 100% of the time, it's about learning to manage those bad feelings -- which sounds like exactly what you're doing. Your boyfriend trying to foist therapy on you and calling you arrogant for not going -- ESPECIALLY with your financial situation -- is just absurd to me.

I can't know what your meltdowns about work are like, or if you overburden your boyfriend or if he just wants to have a girlfriend for whom he has to make *zero* emotional effort. But you need to make it clear to him that you do not want therapy, and that he should provide some measure of comfort/sympathy when you're upset because turning a cold shoulder and telling you to get therapy for everyday problems is unacceptable to you. If there's some mismatch between you on that issue then you should probably just break up.
posted by Nattie at 3:45 PM on January 6, 2010 [5 favorites]

Wait, you've only been in Big American City for a couple of months? Give yourself time to adjust - this sounds like a major life change. My perspective - and I am not a therapist - is that depression and/or anxiety should be negatively impacting your basic life functions. If you can't sleep, can't eat, can't work over a prolonged period of time, then it's time to get help. I'm going through a difficult period myself right now due to some life circumstances, and I don't know what therapy would do for me except let me vent. I can vent to my husband for free, and he gives hugs and kisses.

I feel demoralized and down a lot, but I'm hoping to get a better job and/or move somewhere else in the future.

The fact that you HAVE hope is key here. Seriously depressed people do not have hope. You know your situation is temporary.

Again, I'm not a therapist, and if you do feel you need one, you should certainly go. I have seen many over the years and certainly don't view it as a weakness or whatever (FWIW I'm on anti-anxiety meds). However, my friends and family can express their concern, but no one gets to tell me that I must go. Especially someone I met a month or two ago.
posted by desjardins at 3:58 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

People need to lay off Sam. He's one month into a relationship when it's still supposed to be fun, and instead of that he becomes the single source of emotional support for someone who is having a really, really terrible time of it. It is completely reasonable for him not to want to fill that role, and hey, he's even trying to propose some constructive solutions that remove some of the burden. Most people wouldn't even put in the amount of effort Sam has for a one month relationship.

It seems that given all that the high-stress things that have happened to anonymous in the past two months, she is not really in a good place to be trying to have a romantic relationship right now. She should concentrate on building a real support network and getting her issues sorted out so that they don't become the fun-sucking center of her next relationship.
posted by logicpunk at 3:58 PM on January 6, 2010 [15 favorites]

It doesn't sound like your relationship with Sam is working very well.

Whether or not you need therapy is a separate question. I am a GIANT fan of therapy, but "You need to see a therapist and it has to be this kind of therapist" is bizarrely controlling behavior and really, really inappropriate.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:15 PM on January 6, 2010

It seems that given all that the high-stress things that have happened to anonymous in the past two months, she is not really in a good place to be trying to have a romantic relationship right now.

This was my thought exactly, with the added crass analysis that Anonymous' financial position means Sam is probably footing the bill for most of what they're doing, which makes this complaint/problem seem all the more entitled and whiny. God forbid Sam want to get to know YOU and not your problems!

This would be different if you had been dating for months/years and you hit a rough patch. People hit rough patches, and caring partners offer sympathy and suggestions for improvement with varying degrees of finesse/understanding. But this early on, Sam doesn't owe you anything more than an opportunity to get to know him, and a willingness to get to know you. He's gone above and beyond that by giving you a suggestion that might actually allow him to get to know the Real You, rather than the Miserable You that he's been presented with. Don't squander that. Or do him a favor and break up so he can meet someone who will value his engagement in a relationship.
posted by greekphilosophy at 4:16 PM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

I suggest dumping Sam and seeing a lowicost therapist. You need someone to support you, not goad you.

A lot of people are going to be quite alarmed by the fact that the person they've only known for about a month is having self-described "meltdowns"

Those people are people who cannot cope with the wide range of human emotional behavior. They should be avoided.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:22 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Tell your boyfriend that if he mentions therapy one more time, you're done.

St. Alia speaks the truth. He is way out of line.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:25 PM on January 6, 2010

The problem with sliding scale clinics is that people wait until they are in a near crisis state to attempt to access them. And right now with so many people without health coverage and high unemployment driving previously covered people into this system these resources are really stressed. So people show up like "I need to see someone right now" only to find out that 100 other people in their city woke up that morning feeling the same way and the wait to see someone is like 6 months. Then after you wait six months you finally see someone and maybe you don't like them. So you have to switch, and maybe switch again.

The best case scenario is if you know someone who is a mental health professional and can make a targeted referral knowing who you are, what you need, and what you like. But if you don't know someone who can provide you with this service, you're kind of relying on chance.

So the next best approach is to access the system before you are in crisis. Make your intake appointment knowing that in the sliding scale system you're likely going to face a possibly substantial waiting period before you see someone. Realize you might need to change therapists a couple times before you find the right fit. In times of peace, prepare for war. That sort of thing. Maybe you won't know you need therapy until you hit a crisis in your life. But a lot of people suspect they need help a long time before they attempt to get it. Don't wait.

I don't know what city the OP is in, but this has come up before. Mavri previously provided a list of resources for NYC. I previously provided one for Philly.
posted by The Straightener at 4:47 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

There are two separate problems here. The first is that you're feeling overwhelmed, sad, demoralized, etc., by your current job/living situation. The second is that your boyfriend of a month is feeling overwhelmed, sad, demoralized, etc., about being your primary means of support. Your boyfriend thinks that he can fix both problems by having you talk about your problems with a therapist, and he's now upset that you haven't taken his advice about how to fix the problem and have instead chosen to continue to solve the first problem in a way that exacerbates the second problem.

I think you should try to find a method you can live with to solve at least the second problem, but preferably both problems. There are two ways to do accomplish that goal. You could find a way to stop being sad, etc. Or you could find someone else to talk to about your problems. To do the first, you need to either change the things that are upsetting you, or you need to find a way not to be so upset about them. I don't know whether either of those are possible for you right now, but if they are, you should work towards that. You could also work to find someone to talk with who is better able to cope with your feelings and to help you work through them. This person could be a therapist, but it could also be a good friend or a support group (a lot of churches and community centers have free ones) or even a pet or a diary. You need to find some way to get your feelings out that doesn't involve talking with your boyfriend about them in detail on a regular basis, because that's not working for either of you.

I'm not going to make a recommendation about whether you should break up with your boyfriend. His reaction here may be a sign that he's not able to be a support to you in the way that you need during hard times, which doesn't bode well for a long-term relationship. It may be a sign that he's a huge jerk who doesn't deserve you. Or it may be a sign that he doesn't feel comfortable taking on this role so early in your relationship, or that the two of you need to communicate better, or that he's doing the best he can to help. None of us can tell you why he's reacting the way he is or how to change his reaction. All we can do is help you to figure out how to work on the problems that are coming up in your life.
posted by decathecting at 5:16 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Why not try a free clinic? If it's bad, you don't have to go back. I wouldn't be surprised if Sam's opinion of them was gained from his father.

In past relationships my boyfriends have dealt with sadness by being supportive and talking with me instead of telling me I need to talk to a professional.

I know I saw a guy for less than a month who had zero self-esteem... it was really draining to start something up with someone like that, when you're supposed to be in a fun stage of a relationship. I hadn't been around him long enough to want to put in an effort because to me, all he represented was these constant burdens he carried. I wondered if that what just who he was.

Your past boyfriends have known you in good times, maybe? It seems like Sam has only seen you in bad times. He's probably wondering how long these bad times have been lasting, and if he's going to have to be a shoulder to cry on forever. Just to give a suggestion for where he might be coming from.

I would do something (if you're not already) to make yourself happier, or get some help. Even though you say your life is getting better, it's not clear to me if that's because something you did or just the circumstances. If you take an active role (or already are) the next time Same says "Hey, you should work on this problem of yours..." you can go "Oh, I am. Actually I just started (x) and it's really great."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:21 PM on January 6, 2010

Ah, as I was writing decathecting said it better than I could have. Take all these "DTMFA!" calls with a grain of salt - we can't tell you if he's not supporting you. Maybe he's trying his best but doesn't know how or isn't comfortable with the role you want him to play and you'll figure out a compromise. Maybe he's a jerk. Maybe you're just incompatible. We don't know.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:25 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

It doesn't sound to me like you need therapy. Maybe it would be useful, maybe not, but not if you have to choose between therapy and food.

Reading your post made me want to yell at your boyfriend. Specifically, I wanted to yell "she CAN'T AFFORD IT, dumbass!" Don't let him off with calling you arrogant just because you have faith in yourself and are trying to make ends meet.

Finding some non-rich friends who can hang out with you in ways you can afford might make your days a bit brighter. Potlucks! Making snowmen! Free stuff.
posted by heatherann at 5:30 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

"I can't afford it. So either pay for it yourself, or stop bringing it up."
posted by bingo at 5:37 PM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Those people are people who cannot cope with the wide range of human emotional behavior. They should be avoided.

That brush you're using is a bit too broad.
posted by coffeeflavored at 6:01 PM on January 6, 2010

I agree with logicpunk's stance: At the one month mark, Sam sounds like he's doing a lot more than many others would.

I'm all for the removing the stigma of therapy; It's been profoundly useful for my life.

My first experiences with it were actually in The City, by which I'm guessing you mean NYC- at a low-cost provider in Williamsberg. It was about $15 a visit. The downside was very unusual hours and short notice of appointments- the provider did the low cost stuff as fill-in work.

Point being, there are options- and if your emotional state is causing tensions at the one month point- it may very well be worth exploring.

Give Sam a break; a lot of guys would have said 'See Ya.'
posted by mrdaneri at 6:04 PM on January 6, 2010

Sometimes recent graduates will take on clients for free, to get experience. Check with schools near you.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:10 PM on January 6, 2010

Or just, you know, looking to start a healthy relationship with somebody that's currently emotionally stable and good for them.

If he really is looking for a healthy relationship, being "arrogant" and "contemptuous" toward his partner probably aren't the move (any more than dumping all of one's woes on one's partner are the move).

This relationship sounds like it's not working for either one of them, and it also sounds like they're talking past each other rather than to each other.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:41 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

If he's insistent, why not ask him and his rich therapist dad to pay for it?

This really seems like the perfect solution to me. You aren't opposed to therapy-- you can't afford it. If he's having such a problem with you not being in therapy and has the means to pay, why shouldn't he? If the situations were reversed-- and you really cared about him but couldn't deal with the level of his problems-- would you pay for him?

If the answer is yes, suggest it. If he actually can afford it and knows that you can't and pushes it, at the very least his reaction to this will tell you a lot about what's really going on here.
posted by Maias at 6:45 PM on January 6, 2010

uh... wow. situational depression does not equal emotional instability, floam. dang.

OP, it doesn't really sound like you need therapy at this point, since you say that you feel like you're slowly adjusting and things are improving. It certainly wouldn't hurt to check out a low-cost or free option if you can find one -- therapy doesn't need to be super expensive to work.

But it does sound like this guy isn't right for you. Regardless of whether or not you're being too "sad" around him, he's not responding to that in a kind way at all. Recommending therapy is fine, but telling you you're arrogant and treating you with contempt because you won't do what he says is not okay, ever. If you haven't been crystal clear with him that the way he's behaving is uncool, then you need to do that first and give him a chance to change the way he's behaving.

(And one really important thing you can do for yourself, if you're not already doing it: start keeping a journal, and do morning pages every day. I have a problem with "dramatic venting" to my loved ones in much the same way as you (i.e., I have described more than one working situation as "draining my will to live, no seriously, I pray for the sweet release of death"). I've found that when I do my morning pages regularly, the need for dramatic venting goes way way down -- I have a safe non-judgey space to rant away if I want, and the process of doing the morning pages really helps me sort out tangly little issues that tend to make me all high-strung and nutty. Hence, less general drama in my life.)
posted by palomar at 6:47 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

argh, three-minute edit pony pls. I meant to say that it wouldn't hurt to check out cheap therapy options if that's something you want. If therapy is going to do you any good, you actually have to want to go.

Also, give him that chance to change the way he's behaving, but realize that if you clearly state that his treatment is unacceptable to you and he continues, it's never going to get any better than this. Make your decisions accordingly.
posted by palomar at 6:51 PM on January 6, 2010

Seconding logicpunk here.

You're pining over your old life and old love and your boyfriend of one month is not being supportive enough? You're having frequent meltdowns about how crappy your life is just as he's starting to consider himself part of it? I don't blame him for being a bit contemptuous. I also don't blame you for being down, though. You're going through a rough patch and you're not to blame for feeling down about that, certainly. You can't expect this guy you don't even know yet to support you emotionally, however.

There's probably some Male Answer Syndrome going on here, sure, but it sounds like he's trying to help and getting a little tired.

I really don't feel like I need to see anyone to talk about my problems.

If you're talking about them enough to Sam that he continuously asks you to talk about them with someone else then you very well might.
posted by ODiV at 7:25 PM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

If you are having meltdowns, I can see why he is trying to help you. At the same time, contemptuousness is one of the four things that wreck relationships (according to Gottman). Being around someone who has contempt for you will eventually make you need to see a therapist. So he'll get what he wants eventually.

Take the list of shrinks you got from him, because you never know, you might end up making money or they might end up charging you less. Call and say you're this dude's dad's referral, see what you can do.

Anyway, good luck and things will get better for you--you're already starting to adjust.
posted by kathrineg at 7:38 PM on January 6, 2010

I don't think therapy is the answer to everything, and people who tell me I am not entitled to my emotions, well, they kind of suck, in my opinion. That said, part of me wonders if Sam is trying to find a way to help or fix you, which is not his responsibility, or if he is just frustrated because he does not see you trying to find ways to improve your situation. My first thought when you mentioned his disparagement of free clinics is that he's an elitist jerk and you can't win. Then, thinking about it further, assuming you've explained your experiences and your reticence to enter into another unproductive therapeutic relationship, maybe he is just trying to increase the odds of you getting valuable help, which if you went to a free clinic and had a bad experience, you might be back to square one. It sounds like he is going about it the wrong way, but maybe, at this point, he is grasping at straws, but his intentions are good and not judgmental and jerky.

The way to "cure" situational depression is to change the situation, BUT that's often easier said than done. This could be growing pains. This could be mourning the loss of the life you had when you have yet to develop an appreciation for the new life you have. That takes time, and maybe that's all you need. On the other hand, I wonder what kind of support system you have in place, and if expanding that to include an objective, professional voice might be the answer. Maybe that's through calling a hotline, going to a free clinic, attending a support group, or paying on a sliding scale. Maybe that would happen if you found more friends through activities you enjoy.

While I think Sam might have some good points, he may not have All The Answers. While Sam might be a bit much at times, he probably isn't trying to be an ass, and is quite possibly A Good Guy. I think finding the right therapist is worth the time and energy, and yes, the money, but if you don't have it, well, you don't have it. I think you need to develop a stronger support system where you are whether that includes friends, a therapist, or someone/something else altogether, is hard to say. See if Sam can help you come up with some creative solutions to developing a support system, and then go from there. Good luck!
posted by katemcd at 8:10 PM on January 6, 2010

"Sam, it makes me feel frustrated and brushed off and _____ when you reiterate the therapy idea. I would guess that you're feeling pretty frustrated with me at the moment as well, and maybe I've been unfair in expecting you to be my major, or sole support person while I go through this difficult time. I really like you and it's important to me that we find a way to work through this. Therapy does seem like a good option, but I really can't afford it right now. Can you tell me more about how you feel and how it affects you when I get really emotional or down?"
posted by whalebreath at 8:12 PM on January 6, 2010

As the offspring of a therapist, your boyfriend is looking at your situation through some privilege-coloured glasses. He lives in a world where people who need this kind of help are already receiving it, are accustomed to receiving it, can afford to receive it regularly, and have a network of people to deliver it.

He will be unable to understand your point of view until you can get him to understand that his own is not standard.

This is usually a criticism valid for a lot of answerers on AskMe ("Therapy!" shout the masses, regardless of the culture or nationality of the questioner, or if their question is named THERAPY, DO NOT WANT) but your boyfriend's background might be making it the only answer he can imagine.

You can try it if you want, you can try telling him to shut up about it, or you can pick the saddest option, and doormat it a little by just choosing not to discuss your innermosts with a man who is acting a bit like a jerk. Me, I'd find myself cooling toward this boyfriend at roughly the same rate as the flavour wears off gum from a machine. The best therapy for you might just be finding a new job that doesn't eat your soul.
posted by Sallyfur at 8:42 PM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

I've seen fliers in some of the cities where I've lived for depression/stress/whatever support groups — informal get-together-and-talk sessions for people who couldn't afford or didn't want or need therapy. I wonder if you'd find that sort of thing helpful.

Of course, it's possible it wouldn't satisfy your boyfriend. It's hard to tell whether he's being dogmatic about therapy, or whether it's just the only solution he knows how to offer. If you find another source of emotional strength and he supports you in it, all's well; if he gets on your ass because it's The Wrong Way, that's a problem IMHO.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:30 PM on January 6, 2010

There is something in your post that leads me to believe that you might enjoy your sadness and verbalizing it. (If that is should work diligently to get rid of any victim mentality).

Do not spend too much energy on someone who is cavalier about your very serious problems. He sounds pretty flippant--and impatient.
posted by naplesyellow at 9:44 PM on January 6, 2010

Mr. F's sudden, loud advice is "No shit you don't want to go! You've been dating the guy for a month! Jesus, what the fuck! You're still under warranty at that rate, for cryin' out loud."

Presumably he means you can pretty much ditch this guy guilt-free and then either not bother with therapy, or find your own route to settling up with your issues.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:02 PM on January 6, 2010

MoodGym, online cognitive behavioral therapy. I found it here at AskMeFi and it's already helping me with both my general life stress and with limiting the frequency of my melt-downs. Since you've used c.b.t. before, like I have, you may find it easier to relearn.
posted by _paegan_ at 11:20 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

There is something in your post that leads me to believe that you might enjoy your sadness and verbalizing it. (If that is should work diligently to get rid of any victim mentality). This.

Chronic sadness is not normal. You're not going to find someone who wants to hear about it all the time.

If you're not doing something actively, with all of your being, to change your situation so you quit complaining, of course they're going to resent you for it.
posted by mhuckaba at 1:23 AM on January 7, 2010

Others have given excellent suggestions. As someone who's been in your position, I'd like to recommend an "alternative", one that jumped right out at me as soon as I read that you moved from a different country a couple of months ago: you are experiencing classic culture shock. The "Negotiation phase" generally starts at around the one- to three-month mark, which is right where you are. Quote from that Wikipedia article:
[The] sense of excitement will eventually give way to new and unpleasant feelings of frustration and anger as you continue to have unfavorable encounters that strike you as strange, offensive, and unacceptable. These reactions [...] are typically centered around the formidable language barrier as well as stark differences in: public hygiene; traffic safety; the type and quality of the food [...]. One may long for food the way it is prepared in one's native country, may find the pace of life too fast or slow, may find the people's habits annoying, disgusting, and irritating etc. This phase is often marked by mood swings caused by minor issues or without apparent reason. This is where excitement turns to disappointment and more and more differences start to occur. Depression is not uncommon.
It does not matter if you're back in your "home" country, or even your home city (I know you're not, I point it out mainly to emphasize that you are in a new city culture that's part of a larger culture you once knew, but then lost touch with, which can make things even more complicated, not less!), because culture shock goes both ways, as I've experienced too: "returning to one's home culture after growing accustomed to a new one can produce the same effects as described above".

I first came overseas (US to France) twelve and a half years ago, as part of a 25-student group of university exchange students. Every single one of us was an emotional mess by the second and third months. A couple returned to the US. Most consoled themselves amongst other American students, shunning French culture entirely (they even took English language and literature courses at the French university...). Only four of us really worked through it. I had a work-study position at the offices of my exchange program, and do you know what our program director told me about that? That it's perfectly normal. Those are normal statistics for an exchange program, even with the required year-long cross-cultural awareness course we'd all had to take before coming!!

My dear, YOU ARE NORMAL! :) The very fact that you're able to remove yourself from the situation to see it as, indeed, a situation, and that you focus on what you can do to improve things, means you have the attitude that will get you through it. All you need to know right now is that what you are feeling has been researched and validated as entirely normal. A couple of months from now you may well wonder what on earth you were thinking. I know I have every time I've moved countries. (After France I went to Finland, and two years after that, I returned to France. The first month is always "woohoo!" and then, ugh, you get into this morass of "omigod everyone is XYZ and I feel BLA and no one understands me but is it me or what the heck was that about and why am I here holy crud what'd that lady/guy just say? I thought I spoke this language??" [yeah that has happened to me in the US too, sigh] "where on earth can I find a stinking [whatever] I keep on looking and they don't have it or something and dangit I just want [whatever] errr phooey did I do something wrong again? wtf? oh shit I forgot they do things like XYZ again, ARGH this sucks or does it all suck or do I suck no THEY suck but that's not fair to say because obviously there must be SOME good here but no THIS SUCKS oh for pete's sake..." aaaand about 6 months after your original arrival, it just sort of... levels off! And you realize, "hey, this is kinda cool after all! Wow, I was in a serious funk with all that confusion..." But if you still don't like the place by then, yes, by all means, change. Some differences are too great, such as your being paid a miserable salary while being amongst rich folk. That's a difficult one.)
posted by fraula at 5:16 AM on January 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

I had a former partner whose family came from a background of putting therapy on a pedestal as a sort of "emotional distress panacea." I come from a mixed background where therapy has been useful to me in other situations, but completely unnecessary in others. While it didn't destroy our relationship (other things did that just fine), it was a point of contention that I didn't see therapy in the same romantic light that he did. And no, couples counseling didn't help us when the relationship was at its end, it actually actively made things worse for both of us - but that's the luck of the draw, the counselor we chose didn't click with us and when you're in dire straits, that's a disaster you don't really have time or energy to remedy.

(It was also a point of contention that I wouldn't go to a careers counselor to figure out "what to do" with my life, another thing that he viewed as a problem-solver because his mom is a professor who teaches career counseling. Everybody has their own POV about things that are "important" to them based on past experience, and that's awesome, but it's necessarily to maintain a healthy amount of perspective in the "Everybody Else's Mileage May Vary" front.)

If he truly won't accept your financial and emotional situation, perhaps - and I mean this sincerely and in not flippantly - you should suggest he mull it over with his dad about why it's so important to him that you get therapy. Gently let him know that it's not a bad idea in theory and you really do appreciate his looking out for you, but it's not something you can feasibly do right now. If he doesn't accept it, that's not your problem - it's his. If it truly puts a cramp in the relationship, suggest you two go to couples counseling... on his dime.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:20 AM on January 7, 2010

In past relationships my boyfriends have dealt with sadness by being supportive and talking with me instead of telling me I need to talk to a professional.

And where are these relationships now? So, that didn't work. Perhaps he's telling you to get a therapist because you're making him feel like your shrink.
posted by bunny hugger at 6:08 AM on January 7, 2010

Yeah, stop whining and do something, basically. You're feeling withdrawal from a situation you loved. It's going to suck for a while, and that's just a fact. It's natural and normal. While you adjust to the less-than-ideal situation, just make every effort to improve your state. See if you can get back to the place you loved living somehow. Apply for better jobs. Working to improve your situation is what is going to make you happy here, not someone taking an hour of your time each week, and money you could be saving up scrupulously or spending on little things to make your life brighter. Also spending time talking to your boyfriend is clearly putting a strain on him and he's just trying to deflect. So maybe try and rely on him a little less, emotionally. Take some of the time you were talking to him and use it to put out resumes or research visas or new jobs in the country you want to live in.
posted by lorrer at 6:46 AM on January 7, 2010

Seconding fraula, as a former expat myself.

Whatever you decide about therapy and the relationship, I'd like to suggest you also find expats and/or returned-expats in your city. It seems to me that in a large city you might well find a number of organized groups to visit, for starters.

For me, being able to express the feelings fraula enumerated without having to explain or having people think they can fix them, but just understand because they've been there, lightens things up.
posted by jaruwaan at 7:21 AM on January 7, 2010

If you can't afford a therapist, how about a smart hair dresser or manicurist? A lot of people use manicures and hair appointments as a chance to talk about their problems. And you get a manicure.

(NOT intending to be flip. Just putting it out there. Sometimes you don't need therapy, you just need someone to talk to.)
posted by musofire at 10:43 AM on January 7, 2010

You probably could use some therapy, and no matter what Sam says, there are excellent low-cost or free mental health clinics out there. The internet is your oyster, so if you really want therapy, start digging. You might start with Psychology Today's Therapist Finder. Hey, it's better than melting down in public. At least most therapy rooms are somewhat soundproofed.

However, Sam is being kind of a dick. And really presumptuous. And pushy. And controlling. And even if he's tired of being your sole support and the only one you can whine cry to, he's still acting very inappropriately for a guy you've been dating for like 60 days.

Tell him in no uncertain terms to stop the therapy talk or you're through. And on your way out ('cause chances are near 100% that he's going to mention it again), suggest that he see a therapist for his lack of boundaries and his strange and unqualified desire to dictate others' most personal medical needs.
posted by balls at 11:12 AM on January 7, 2010

Maybe what Sam is saying is that he doesn't really want to be with you (and there's no reason why he should, you've only known each other a month) but he feels irresponsible leaving you in the state that you seem to be in and therefore he would like you to be in the hands of someone else -- such as a therapist -- before he lets you go. Although at this stage of the relationship he doesn't even owe you that much. Or maybe you just are putting a lot of pressure on him. Most people don't expect, one month into a relationship, to be having to deal with such challenging emotional situations. If you can't or don't want to see a therapist then work on building up other friendships to take the pressure off Sam and to have a support group if things don't work out between the two of you. You've only been in this country two months and it takes longer than that to start feeling settled. Making friends is a huge part of that.
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 8:23 PM on January 7, 2010


Dump the negative voice in your life (boyfriend!) and give your new home a chance.

Check in with us if you require positive influences. Attend A MetaFilter Meet-Up. Create one if there isn't one pending in your new city (via MetaTalk..)

In short, surround yourself with positive influences. If stuff still sucks, then seek professional guidance.

I've been you. Positive input helps.

posted by jbenben at 10:58 PM on January 7, 2010

Also, see this:
posted by y6t5r4e3w2q1 at 7:35 PM on January 13, 2010

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