Is he trying to manipulate me?
February 1, 2010 6:11 PM   Subscribe

My boyfriend keeps telling me to see a psychologist, and it bothers me. What should I do?

I am afraid of flying. I had been dealing with this recently by simply not flying. My boyfriend suggested that I see a psychologist or psychiatrist about it. I thought about it, and agreed to see a psychologist.

The problem is now, he's starting to suggest the psychologist for all sorts of things. Note that he doesn't see a psychologist himself, or suggest one to anyone else. This seems to just be directed at me.

I am a night person, and usually stay up late even if I have to get up early the next day and will be tired. I'm never late to where I have to go, and I get everything done that I need to do. I am happy being a night person and I've never complained about it.

But my boyfriend has started suggesting I should talk to the psychologist about it. I have said I'm happy as I am, I don't think it's rooted in a psychological problem anyway, and I don't want to talk about it anymore. But the suggestions continue.

The second situation was: an ex of my boyfriend has begun acting strangely This ex *was* mentally unbalanced, had a bipolar diagnosis, and was known to do things like show up to the workplace of my ex's sister to rant about him.

I was apprehensive about her behavior, and asked my boyfriend if he'd try to get her to go away if she escalated things. His response was that he would not, because he couldn't be rude to her. I was surprised and worried but didn't push it.

A few days later, I had a bad dream about her, and told my boyfriend about it (we recount our dreams to each other a lot).

He said me having that dream clearly showed that I needed to go to a psychologist, that all of his ex's behavior is understandable, and that I also need to go to the psychologist to talk about my jealousy and paranoia.

I am now worried that any time we have a problem in our relationship, he will tell me to go to a psychologist. I am worried that any time I am honest and forthright about worries I have, in our relationship or in general, he will tell me I need a psychologist. I mean it seems like some kind of avoidance tactic to me.

It also seems like a way to make "the wrong one" no matter what I say. By marking me as "the crazy one" of course I can never be taken seriously.

I just want to say that I have never been to a psychologist in my life before I went for fear of flying, never been diagnosed with any kind of mental condition, and nobody before my boyfriend has ever even suggested that I have one.

I am in my 20s, have been out of college a few years, but I don't have a lot of experience with these sorts of things. All my prior relationships broke up because of mundane things like not being that into each other or being too young to commit. So I really don't have experience with classic "relationship problems" like this.

Whenever I read questions like these I see a long string of DTMFA. I know that option is already out there, I am aware of it. I would really like to try, at least *try*, to actually solve this first. I do not feel that it is the time for DTMFA.

I do think he might be open to change, if I could articulate the problem well enough. I also know that before he is convinced, he will try to argue me around in circles.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (43 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Have you said "Boyfriend, you seem to be suggesting a psychologist a lot lately. Do you have fears or concerns about my mental health?" or "You know something, Boyfriend? When you suggest a psychologist for me as a solution to something that isn't even a problem, I feel disrespected. Could you not do that?"

Also, a relationship counsellor might be useful in helping you guys develop healthy arguing skills.
posted by b33j at 6:16 PM on February 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seeing a therapist is a choice YOU make.

If you feel a need to make an effort to explain this to him, with some support, set up a joint appointment with a therapist and talk it over. If he's not willing to do that, you've got your answer, DTMFA..... If he's willing to participate, then give it a shot....
posted by HuronBob at 6:17 PM on February 1, 2010

"Boyfriend, I know you care about me and want to help, but please stop telling me to see a psychologist. I know that is always an option, but when I tell you about my feelings and you respond that I should see a psychologist, it makes me feel like you don't respect me or take my feelings seriously."
posted by sallybrown at 6:18 PM on February 1, 2010 [9 favorites]

If I were going to hazard a guess, it's that he doesn't want to listen to you complain. His advice doesn't change whether it's about him or not, so presumably he just doesn't want to have to deal with your problems -- and so he tells you to see a professional about it because "I hate listening to you complain about things when I can't really do anything to help you fix them and I don't want to be the person who listens to you complain" sounds terrible.

Now, whether this is good or bad is up in the air, because we don't really know about you. Perhaps you complain constantly about every little thing, in which case he would do better to leave you and let you get a boyfriend who likes to listen. However, if you're painting a complete picture by calling out these specific cases, then he's probably just the kind of guy who doesn't like to play pseudo-therapist.

So I won't say DTMFA; I'll just say that you need to sit down and tell him you expect him to share your problems with you and commiserate, rather than just foisting you on a psychologist every time you bring up something that's bothering you. If he listens and responds in a supportive way and tries to make progress, great! If he listens and responds with "I hear you, but I'm really not the kind of guy who can do that" then you know where things stand and you need to decide if it's a dealbreaker for you. Of course, if he responds "you should see a psychologist about that" and isn't joking, you should absolutely DTFMA, because every good relationship needs solid communication.
posted by davejay at 6:23 PM on February 1, 2010 [5 favorites]

Ask him how he'd feel if you were always trying to "fix" him, everytime he did something differently from you. Get him to admit how much he'd hate it. Then tell him that's how it feels to you whenever he suggests you see a psychologist for something that isn't really a problem to you.
posted by zinfandel at 6:23 PM on February 1, 2010

This is kind of obvious, but it sounds like his history of being hurt by a girlfriend with mental illness makes him hyper-vigilant about any signs that you are going crazy. He's pre-emptively protecting himself from that, and that sounds like HE needs therapy! HA! But even still, he might actually be right, or partly right, who knows.

I suggest you turn the tables on him: the fact that you can recognize your condition and see a therapist is what makes you more sane than him, who is not seeing one.
posted by AlsoMike at 6:28 PM on February 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

What sallybrown and b33j said.

He could just be projecting his own need for therapy onto you (ask him if he wants to go into therapy - why or why not). OR he subconsciously wanted to tell the ex to go to therapy but didn't have the guts, and now that he's with someone sane he feels the need to repeat it over and over again.
Regardless of his motives, he shouldn't be doing so and you should let him know that.
posted by Neekee at 6:28 PM on February 1, 2010

Step one: See the therapist, and tell the therapist about your boyfriend. Let the (ostensibly) qualified professional decide the best course of action. Tell the therapist what you have told us. Acknowledge that "dealing with" a fear of flying by not flying is not "dealing with" at all, and is just avoiding.

Step two: Stop telling your boyfriend if you have bad dreams about his ex-. You may not intend it to, but it points at a certain... insecurity. In a Freudian, Jungian, or just-plain logical way. I sincerely doubt that you would like your boyfriend recounting bad (I read "jealous") dreams about /your/ ex-.

Step three: Tell your boyfriend to leave you alone, and that seeking therapy is your business, not his. Tell him nicely. And tell him that you appreciate and value his concern but that it is having the opposite effect intended, and making you feel resistant to seeking help.

Nobody should dump anybody.
posted by mr. remy at 6:28 PM on February 1, 2010

State your feelings and leave it at that. Don't try and control the blowback, or get "all freudian" about why he's saying the things he's saying. Something along these lines:

"When you tell me to go see a psychologist, it makes me feel ________. Lately, you've been telling me to go to the psychologist so often that it's beginning to make me feel _______. I've been in previous relationships where things have broken off other mundane things and I don't want this to happen to us; it would make me happy if _________."

Nobody wants to be in a relationship where every time one expresses a fear or concern, one is told to see a psychologist. But, you owe him an explanation of how you feel, otherwise you cannot hope for improvement. You will develop a resentment. Leave it up to him to honor your relationship.

It's hard to talk from the heart when your feelings are hurt. It requires being vulnerable when your mind is saying DTMFA. But you can't go wrong as long as you let him know.
posted by phaedon at 6:29 PM on February 1, 2010

Some people are fixers and some people are talkers. If you are a talker, you just want to express something, and be heard. If a talker talks to a fixer, the fixer wants to identify a problem and fix it. If you are a talker, and he's a fixer, and he fixed your last problem with a recommendation to see a psychologist, then maybe he thinks all problems will be easy fixes, on the heels of his latest success.

"Boyfriend, your recommendation for a psychologist to help with my fear of flying was really awesome and helpful. I'm... [pick one here to fill in the rest of this sentence]:

a. ...looking for a solution that does not include visits to a psychologist."

OR not looking for a solution to a problem. The problem is fixed just by expressing my thoughts and knowing they are being heard."
posted by Houstonian at 6:30 PM on February 1, 2010 [4 favorites]

I don't know the answer to this. But as to this: "If I were going to hazard a guess, it's that he doesn't want to listen to you complain," it sounds as if the first two things, at least, (flying and staying up late) were not things the OP was complaining about at all, and the BF decided on his own to "solve" them.
posted by Ashley801 at 6:37 PM on February 1, 2010

There is a lot of stigma around mental illness and even the simple act of seeing a therapist or a psychologist. A lot of people take going to see one as a admitting failure or at leas appearing to others to be "crazy".

I do not know either of you well enough to offer a qualified answer. I would just suggest that the path of least resistance in this might be to go to a qualified mental health professional, and tell her/him about all of this and see what they say.

You might instead suggest to your boyfriend to go to a few sessions of couples therapy.
Then the professional could observe you both and also the dynamics of your interactions.
He or she, might be able to offer you both advice in how to interact with each other
and what is needed, and what is appropriate.

If your boyfriend truly believes you have issues that require a mental health professional,
he should be eager to go with you to see someone and have an open and frank conversation.
It may end up that you discover it is all in his head, and he requires a some therapy to
deal with previous relationships etc.
posted by digividal at 6:39 PM on February 1, 2010

I swear like every post on AskMe results in at least a few answers telling the person to go to therapy. Even this one, where the question was "how do I prevent people from telling me I need therapy!"

Anyway, I think your boyfriend, having dated an actual crazy person is going to be much more aware of the possibility of mental health issues.

But at the same time, telling you you need therapy is very condescending if you don't feel like you need help. Not everyone does. Just straight up tell him to stop doing and if he doesn't then dump him.
posted by delmoi at 6:54 PM on February 1, 2010

To reinforce what others have said:

(1) I find it odd that your boyfriend is insisting that you see a psychologist, especially since seeing a psychologist is entirely your choice..

(2) The best way to deal with this issue is open communication: sit down and discuss-in the nicest way possible while still being direct- what is bothering you about the situation and why.

Finally, and somewhat unrelated;

(3) Seeing a psychologist is actually a great thing, generally. They are underutilized because of a cultural stigma surrounding mental illness. There isn't something "wrong with you" because you see a therapist, and its helpful even if you're totally normal! These professionals can often be great sounding boards and provide excellent advice for handling troublesome situations. Like an over-insistent boyfriend.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 6:54 PM on February 1, 2010

This probably isn't very helpful, but I'll supply an anecdote: I had been suggesting my SO see a therapist on a semi-regular basis for many years. Not because I didn't want to listen to her, but she obviously had anxiety issues that fell far outside the norm. Finally, after several panic attacks inside of a week, I convinced her to do something about it. It made her really mad, but she made an appointment. It's been great for her. They got her on some meds to control the anxiety and she's a much more relaxed person. Rather than indefinite periods of pleasant behavior followed by indefinite periods of incredibly-freaking-annoying (I'm sorry, I have compassion for it, but after a while it grates) freakouts, lather, rinse, repeat, she only has occasional freakouts, and then only about things that would reduce most people into that state.

So yeah, it's been great.

Sometimes I tell her to talk about specific things with her therapist, because she doesn't seem to be looking just for sympathy or commisceration, but concrete solutions that I don't have.

So my point is, the dude's probably not intentionally being a dick, he's trying to be helpful. It seems (and is) overbearing, but sometimes that's what it takes to get people to do something for their own good. And honestly, if a person really cares about another person, they will do whatever it takes to get that person help.

If he doesn't stay up late like you do, perhaps all he sees is you sleeping in half the day and thinks you may be depressed. Try to think about how things look from his perspective. Maybe he doesn't want to listen, but maybe he's just showing his concern.
posted by wierdo at 6:57 PM on February 1, 2010

Everyone is afraid of flying. It's a very stressful thing so don't worry about your fear too much. You're young - one day you'll need to get on plane for an important reason, and you'll do it, land, and realize that it's a nerve-wrecking, yet a totally normal and doable thing. From then on you'll be fine. Most people on a plane are freaked out, they're just acting relaxed because its the rational way to be. You'll get there, just fly once or twice then you'll be good to go.

The boyfriend sounds weird and pushy. Maybe he's projecting his own need to get some therapy. Only go to therapy if you think you should. Otherwise, when he tells you to go, tell him to go, or simply laugh and say something to the effect of "oh I'm the one who needs therapy - riiiight." Be lighthearted, but consistent in your response.

Be strong, stand your ground, be sympathetic, but don't let him push you around. If he keeps acting unhealthy and pushy, you know what needs to be done. (it's the hardest thing to do, but sometimes you have to do it - look out for yourself, and your future. Is he really the one?)
posted by archivist at 6:59 PM on February 1, 2010

Everyone is afraid of flying.

That's ridiculous and untrue. Flying is extremely safe by any reasonable metric. Many, many people realize this and are not meaningfully afraid of flying.
posted by Perplexity at 7:05 PM on February 1, 2010 [11 favorites]

"Boyfriend, you seem to be recommending psychologists for every little thing. Is there something you'd like to get off your chest? Perhaps you would like to talk to a psychologist about it?"

Everyone is afraid of flying.

I'm not afraid of flying at all. Never have been. So, you're wrong.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:15 PM on February 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Everyone is afraid of flying.

Wha? I love flying. I'm not a big fan of airport security, but the actual get on the plane woosh way above the ground thing? I love it.

I think AlsoMike is likely at least partially correct. There may be more to it, but I think your boyfriend's history with crazy ex-girlfriend is probably a big factor in treating you like you are or might be crazy.

It could be a lot of things -- laziness, disrespect, the easy way out of the conversation, genuine concern for your mental health, baggage from the crazy ex. You're going to need to have a direct conversation with him to help you figure out which it is.

Possibly with -- and I know, irony alert -- a psychologist or other couples counselor, if it doesn't go well to just have the conversation amongst the two of you.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:27 PM on February 1, 2010

He said me having that dream clearly showed that I needed to go to a psychologist, that all of his ex's behavior is understandable, and that I also need to go to the psychologist to talk about my jealousy and paranoia.

Tell Dr. Freud to stop making snap diagnoses. You can show him this answer.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:31 PM on February 1, 2010

Have you tried telling him this?

"[Boyfriend,] I am now worried that any time we have a problem in our relationship, [you] will tell me to go to a psychologist. I am worried that any time I am honest and forthright about worries I have, in our relationship or in general, [you] will tell me I need a psychologist."

Something to be aware of is how your fear or anxiety impacts your partner--the night owl thing was weird for him to comment on, but what if he wants to take a vacation with you? Would you refuse to go on vacation somewhere that required a plane trip? I'm not saying you need to see a psychologist for this, necessarily, just that your choice to avoid flying doesn't just impact you. I've run into this with my husband--I hate driving, and didn't realize at first how much that would impact my relationship. I've been working on getting more comfortable with driving without therapy, but I do have to be mindful of the issue.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:32 PM on February 1, 2010

Anon, I am not a psychologist, but have done LOTS of volunteer counseling.

1. You are totally OK.

2. Your BF is being coercive and that's not OK.

3. Fear of flying and being a night owl are not symptoms of anything other than being human.

4. If you really have to fly, I suggest a couple of pre-flight martinis.

I hope that some of the answers above haven't thrown you off. You are totally OK and you don't sound like you need any kind of counseling. Your BF, on the other hand, kinda sounds like a jerk.

To borrow words from my dear friend Biker Jerry, "You do whatever the fuck you want!"

If you're happy and fairly functional, then you are right where you need to be.
posted by snsranch at 7:40 PM on February 1, 2010 [5 favorites]

I like all the answers saying you should go to a therapist and get a professional opinion about all of this.

Also, I think it is important that your boyfriend pay for your session!
posted by jbenben at 8:08 PM on February 1, 2010

Is your boyfriend MetaFilter? :) Seriously though.. were you afraid of flying before you met him? Because IMHO sometimes anxiety about one thing, manifests itself as anxiety about something else..

I don't know about your boyfriend. I'm extremely wary of anyone who constantly undermines another person by saying that s/he is always wrong, has psychological issues, etc. As you've already noticed, it causes stress - it takes a lot of energy to second-guess yourself before you open your mouth, for fear of being told you are wrong and need to see a psychologist. It also chips away at your self-esteem. You've already internalized this idea that you need to second-guess yourself around him and can't be honest. And you're writing to us now because you worry that you have to "articulate the problem well enough" because otherwise he won't listen to what you're saying. Is that fair though? Shouldn't he try to understand what you're saying because he cares about you, instead of arguing that your feelings aren't valid if not articulated well enough?
posted by citron at 8:24 PM on February 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

Also IMHO sometimes therapy is not the answer, sometimes the answer is, one person is being kind of a jerk and needs to stop.
posted by citron at 8:30 PM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

The answer to your title question seems to be "Yes"--whether he realizes it or not.

I was writing a longer answer than this, but snsranch seems to have done it all in a few short lines. As someone who is not you or your boyfriend, I also like Ironmouth's comment, though you might prefer to take the sensible advice of several people who have suggested non-confrontational ways of approaching this subject with boyfriend that don't involve DTMFA.

I was going to offer a few anecdotal data-points to say that the value of therapy is an open question that depends on the person and the therapist, sometimes it's good and other times less so. But that's actually irrelevant. More relevant was that in the one case where the person had come under intense pressure from several family members to go into therapy, that pressure was visibly a straight attempt on their part to dominate and manipulate the person, and/or project away their own insecurities. I won't go into details, but it was ugly. Very ugly.

Putting pressure on someone else to seek therapy for what you tell them are their problems? Whenever they're not doing something that you want them to do, or doing something that you don't want them to do? Brrrr. Red lights are flashing for me.

Acknowledge that "dealing with" a fear of flying by not flying is not "dealing with" at all, and is just avoiding.

This is nonsense. If someone prefers not to fly because they don't like it, that's a perfectly sensible choice. We're not talking about an activity that is crucial to personal or social well-being here. Might as well say that "dealing with" one's fear of guns by not going near guns is "avoiding".

Meg_Murry is a lot nearer the mark with the comment about how it impacts on the relationship, and this is definitely legitimate ground for talking through and finding a compromise. But should we really ask a loved one to do something that makes them sick with fear (or that they prefer not to do for any other strongly-held reason) just because we want to see Paris and think they should come along too?

On preview, I see that a lot of people have rushed in to say that flying is great, stress-free, relaxing etc. Now, archivist's comment might have been a bit of a big generalization (though let's admit that plenty of people are afraid of it), but I don't think it was made as a scientific statement.

Also on preview: nice, citron.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 8:45 PM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

follow-up from the OP
I appreciate your replies so much. I am reading each of them, and will probably reread each of them several times tonight.

This might be redundant, but just for the sake of more information, after I posted I remembered other times when he has suggested a psychologist.

I was working on a home improvement project, which had taken me the better part of several weekends. He informed me of a serious mistake I made which meant I would have to start from scratch. He started telling me what I should do with the remnants of the project, while I was still dealing with the knowledge that all my work was for nothing, and I told him I was just going to scrap it, because I was frustrated and discouraged. I also didn't want to talk about it anymore. I wasn't mad or mean to him when I said that, just resigned. He said I should tell the psychologist about my reaction and discouraged feelings.

Also he often asks me about my work and how my work projects are going. So, he found out that I was procrastinating on one of them. He said that was another thing I should mention to the psychologist, the procrastination.

That wasn't something I was griping about to him. I didn't bring up the topic at all. I also wasn't bothered by my procrastination, it's my normal working style which I am comfortable with, and I told him that. He didn't accept that though and kept harping that it wasn't okay. I told him I am doing fine at work and get done everything I need to, and he ignored that.

It's no big deal but I just need to clarify that, except for the thing with his ex, I wasn't griping about any of these things or talking about them as problems, or even bringing them up. Even the flying thing, I was fine with it because I can drive anywhere I want to go. But I do think, as Meg_Murry said, it bothers him because it affects him. I agreed to see a psychologist about that even though it didn't bother me, because he said he was discouraged that we might not be able to go on vacations abroad together.
posted by jessamyn at 9:01 PM on February 1, 2010

It sounds like your boyfriend is being a pain in the ass. Tell him that he needs to love you for who you are, not a "fixed" version of you. That's what love is. Tell him that he needs to be the one to listen to you at your worst, not a psychologist. That's what people who love each other do.
posted by smorange at 9:18 PM on February 1, 2010

He said that was another thing I should mention to the psychologist, the procrastination.

At this point, I think I'd be like "oh jesus you and your 'see a psychologist.' You're obsessed with the psychologist. YOU need a psychologist. What I talk about with my psychologist s none of your goddamn business; that's how therapy works."

I vote he's got the world's most clueless version of male answer syndrome, or he's trying as hard as possible to sound like he's on a terrible sitcom.
posted by desuetude at 9:38 PM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Fine, don't dump him. Just tell him that you've decided not to see a psychologist in the near future, and that you also want him to stop talking about it. Tell him that you're concerned that he isn't respecting your right to make your own decisions.

Something else to consider. I've seen multiple psychologists. I don't think I ever talked to them about being a night person or hating to fly, both of which are characteristics that I share with you, because I don't consider them problems.

Also, psychologists are quite different from each other, in their philosophies and skill. I think your boyfriend doesn't know much about psychologists, and I think he's kidding himself about what is going to happen when you go to one and tell them this story. After that, I wonder if he'll tell you to keep seeing different psychologists until you find one that magically changes you into the person he wants you to be.
posted by bingo at 9:45 PM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

I don't like the "DTMFA" refrain either, but am concerned about the dynamic he's managed to create in your relationship. I thought suggesting you see a psychologist because you're a night-owl was absurd; reading about the home improvement project, however, made me think things are much worse.

I feel he's set up the relationship so that you are always, always wrong and that anything you do that he doesn't agree with needs to be "fixed" by the psychologist. Obviously, I'm not you or in your relationship... but the thought of being in a relationship with someone who implies that you're not only wrong, you're mentally ill, if you do something he doesn't agree with is horrible. I'd much rather have someone say, "I don't think you should stay up so late" or, "If you give up on this home improvement project, you're a quitter" than criticize me oh-so-passive-aggressively by saying I need to see a psychologist. He strikes me as a coward, using this other person as a foil to voice his own opinions.

Not to mention, isn't it convenient that the conversation is always about your shortcomings/psychological problems?

I'm still not going to say DTMFA, though. You could work it out with a lot of honest communication. You're the one who knows if that's possible. Good luck to you. And, on a personal note, if being a night-own is a mental issue, my entire family would be committed.
posted by sfkiddo at 9:46 PM on February 1, 2010 [4 favorites]

Is he trying to manipulate me?

In a word, yes!

Here's what I think is going on with your boyfriend:

Beware the Covert-Aggressive Personality

Sad, but probably true.

I distinctly don't believe that this is something that you can work through by discussing it with him, because it seems clear to me that his motives are tainted.

I've read the book In Sheep's Clothing,
and I think that the psychologist who wrote it is dead-on.

I prefer to have close relationships with people whose motives I mostly trust. It seems to me that the world "love" has no meaning if the people involved don't have each other's best interest at heart, and it seems clear to me that your boyfriend does not.

The author explains it all in wonderful yet simple detail; the book might be worth your looking into under the circumstances, so that you can become more skilled at dealing with this situation, as well as potential others like it..
posted by SociologistTina at 10:42 PM on February 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

PS: In the unlikely event that he actually believes what he is saying the prognosis looks no better.

He is pathologizing perfectly acceptable characteristics in you. Gee, it's bad enough when strangers and random associates do that, let alone one's own intimates!
posted by SociologistTina at 11:02 PM on February 1, 2010

Your boyfriend is trying to fix what ain't broken. The fact that he's often experiencing you as "broken" is a problem. His. (Yours by extension, obviously.)

Certainly if you love him and want to try to work it out, you need to sit down and have a Serious Talk. Tell him pretty much what you've told us here. If you express yourself clearly and he still sees you as broken and keeps trying to send you to the shrink to get fixed, you may have to reconsider the relationship. How will you ever be able to share things freely with him if you're always going to be judged in return? Best of luck.
posted by Paris Elk at 11:42 PM on February 1, 2010

You could get a cat and name it "psychologist" and talk to it, and then when he's like wtf, you can say, honey I'm doing exactly what you told me to..

OK seriously in light of your update.. this is a disturbing situation and I hope you don't let him mess with your head too much. I think he should see a psychologist about his passive-aggressive fixation with trying to change a perfectly normal person by pushing her to go to a psychologist! I am not kidding!
posted by citron at 12:10 AM on February 2, 2010

I do have one question.

Why won't you go to one for one visit? If you did, you take the teeth out of his insistence and remove this frustration in your relationship.

You're sitting back and ignoring your S.O. advice about your life. He may be right and it might be valuable to you. He might be wrong, and the first thing you talk about in therapy is that your S.O. is pushy. But either way you come out ahead.

The only negative is that it's likely you'll find therapy less than useful unless you go with an open mind.
posted by filmgeek at 3:26 AM on February 2, 2010

I was once married to a woman with serious mental-health problems. Having had that experience, it's completely plausible to me that your boyfriend is still playing out anxieties rooted in that old relationship. His experiences with his ex may have convinced him that other people's negative emotions are scary, dangerous and and beyond his ability to manage -- that calling in a professional is the prudent thing to do. I know that I tried to manage a lot of my ex's mental-health issues which, in retrospect, were clearly beyond me; by the time it all fell apart I felt a profound sense of powerlessness that took years to subside.

I, of course, don't know what his convoluted thought process about this is really like, but this is clearly all about him, not about you. Of the two of you, I'd say it's him that needs the therapy... but it's really not any more appropriate for you to press him to see a therapist than it is for him to pressure you.

You're certainly entitled to tell him to stuff it with the 'see a therapist' refrain, but another option is to try and dig into the feelings underlying his behavior. Instead of feeling like you have to immediately accept or reject his pressures, treat them as cues that something important is going on for him. Taken at face value, his insistence that you see a shrink for every little thing is hard to make sense of. It's just fine to respond with something like, "I'm surprised at how often you suggest I see a shrink. Why do you think that's the right thing to do in this situation?" He may resist, but if you can gently get him to talk through his own thought process then its irrationality may become obvious to him, which in turn may open the door to seeing whatever old pain is driving it.
posted by jon1270 at 4:49 AM on February 2, 2010

Sounds like your boyfriend is not putting enough emotional energy (or interest) into your relationship and is shoving the responsibility onto your counselor. Correct his assumptions that seeing a psychologist will fix you or transform you into how he wants you to be by telling him just that. If he doesn't stop, DTMFA.
posted by bunny hugger at 6:25 AM on February 2, 2010

Have you tried expressing firmly to your boyfriend that his frequent comments about seeing a therapist are making you uncomfortable, and clearly asking him to stop?

Because I'm suspect that's the first thing a therapist would suggest: that you learn to set boundaries.
posted by a young man in spats at 7:44 AM on February 2, 2010

I don't have much to add except to tell him to quit it. My mom does the same thing and it sends me round the bend. Obviously, if I disagree with her, or react differently to situations than she does, it's due to my insanity. What other reason could there be?

Everyone is afraid of flying.

Up until the security overload and over packed planes, I LOVED flying and flew every chance I could get. Not everyone is afraid of flying. I have my share of irrational fears, so I'm not belittling anyone else's. Flying just isn't one of them.
posted by small_ruminant at 11:38 AM on February 2, 2010

Why won't you go to one for one visit? If you did, you take the teeth out of his insistence and remove this frustration in your relationship.

filmgeek, reread he question:

I had been dealing with this recently by simply not flying. My boyfriend suggested that I see a psychologist or psychiatrist about it. I thought about it, and agreed to see a psychologist.

The problem is now, he's starting to suggest the psychologist for all sorts of things.

posted by oneirodynia at 1:30 PM on February 2, 2010

When someone tells you you're being jealous and paranoid enough to see a shrink, they're probably manipulating you. That's classic. "I want to hang around this girl. You don't want me to. CRAZY PERSON GO SEE A SHRINK CRAZY JEALOUS PERSON!!!"

That is a classic manipulation used by creeps and abusers. Oh, you don't want me hanging around my ex? YOU'RE A PSYCHO!

He is being very controlling. Whether or not it's due to his ex--it's not your job to put up with shitty behavior, no matter why he does it.
posted by kathrineg at 4:23 PM on February 2, 2010

I think you just need to stand up for yourself.

Yes, asking bf stop is nice, but really I would just say something like:

"Look boyfriend, I am perfectly fine with my decisions and my thought processes. There is nothing at the moment I want to talk to a psychologist about, and I'm getting really fed up with you mentioning it all the time. Don´t bring it up anymore! It really annoys me. I'm fine, I'm happy just the way I am and if you can't seem to see that, maybe you need to talk to a psychologist, ok? "

Repeat as needed. Sometimes people don´t get the message because you´re not being clear enough.
posted by Locochona at 6:40 PM on February 3, 2010

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