I love you, you're perfect, now go away.
April 26, 2010 3:45 PM   Subscribe

I'm the one with commitment issues, so why are we going to couples counseling?

Boyfriend and I have broken up 3 times because of my commitment issues. After 6-9 months together, I get antsy and moody, and don't like being around him much. Sex falls off, then we start to bicker. Finally, we break up. After 2 weeks to a month of missing each other, we get back together. I could set my watch by it. I am 25/female, he is 33 and we have been together 2 years. We used to live together, but after the most recent split, we each got our own place in order to focus on our relationship.

He is loving, patient, supportive and wonderful. I'm pretty great too, except for this. Our relationship is a dream, except for this. Aside from this seemingly uncontrollable urge to push him away, I am excited about our future marriage, children and life together.

He wants to try couples counseling so we can "work through our problems" but from what I can tell, the problem is me. Still, I agreed to go to therapy with him because I love him, and I know how much this is hurting our life together. We obviously need to do something, but I'm not so sure this is the right solution.

While filling out forms for counseling at the local medical college, his basically reads:
My girlfriend and I love each other dearly, but her commitment issues are getting in the way of our relationship. Our goal is to work through these issues so that we can get married.

Mine basically reads:
I love my boyfriend dearly, but my commitment issues are getting in the way of our relationship. My goal is to work through these issues so that we can get married.

So I'm wondering, wouldn't it be better if I went to see someone on my own? Is there any reason that working through an issue like this together is more effective than going it alone?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
your desire to do it alone is probably systematic of your desire to break apart from him. going to couple's counseling could be seen as a token that you want him around and you want him to help.
posted by nadawi at 3:54 PM on April 26, 2010 [12 favorites]

You're going to couples counseling because you're currently jeopardizing your ability to be a couple. This driving need to be alone is affecting your relationship. If you had an issue, say, with overeating, or road rage, or quitting your job every couple of months, then you'd need to go to a therapist who'd focus on your singular problem. However, the point of couples therapy is that a therapist works with the couple as a duo. The two parties who comprise a couple should be present when they speak to a therapist about their relationship.
posted by zoomorphic at 3:55 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, at least you agree strongly on one thing. That is a start to a good relationship, huh?

But I bet you don't really so much. Just a hunch. You have bought into whole "must mate" meme. And BF is selling it to you too. I'm not against the mating thing, some of my best friends do that, but it is really the timing pressure that hit people hard.

I think there was a book once called "I OK, your screwed up; Your OK, I F-ed beyond belief," or something like that. You are falling into the second group at a real fast clip; stop it!

Maybe you do have "commitment issues", at 25, heh. It's a big world and we live longer than Victorians did. That is your issue, true, but only if you think it is your issue.

Now, why are you in relationship counseling? So that you 100% "I'm OK", BF can get over himself and schedules and learn to deal with the real world and consider what you want and need sometimes.
posted by Some1 at 3:59 PM on April 26, 2010

I'd say do both--there's no reason not to. Especially if you've always felt this way, if you've been like this in every relationship you've been in. Is your commitment-phobia exclusive to this relationship?

Couples counseling can help both of you learn to communicate better, so that when your drive to push him away comes, you can work on it together.
posted by emkelley at 4:00 PM on April 26, 2010

It's plausible that you're not the one causing the problem, it's him. It seems like you're having some kind of unconscious reaction to something.

But it sounds like you don't want him to be there for some reason, maybe because you're afraid you will say bad things and make him feel bad. That's be a good reason to go alone: so you don't censor yourself.
posted by AlsoMike at 4:05 PM on April 26, 2010

1. Couples counseling is a great place to start. Your counselor will get a better picture of the situation. If she/he thinks that you need individual therapy she will steer you in that direction.

2. Sometimes the identified 'problem' in as relationship turns out to be sort of a scapegoat for other things going on. Couples counseling will help rule that out. In other words, maybe it's not just you. Or maybe it is. But just like with infertility problems, you should both 'get checked'
posted by SLC Mom at 4:06 PM on April 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here's a question in return:

Do you push boyfriends generally away after 6-9 months... or only this one guy?

If it's this guy only, couples counseling seems exactly appropriate.

If it's other guys also... well, you might consider individual counseling, at least as an adjunct.

This route might seem pricey and time consuming, but marriage itself isn't a trivial financial commitment... so you might even explore both types of counseling.
posted by darth_tedious at 4:11 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Your "commitment issues" with BF may be a direct result of how you two interact together.

Or maybe BF wants you both to go to counseling because he needs to vent about how much it hurts each time you don't want to be around him and he needs you to actually hear what this is like.

Regardless, if this is something that is affecting the relationship, why NOT have couples counseling? The therapist can always say, "Okay, next session, I really need a one-on-one with BF" or "Lets just focus on anonymous for now."

Sounds to me like, if you plan to be a couple in the future, this is a good way to work through this or to determine, from an objective outsider, that it is an unworkable situation.
posted by misha at 4:21 PM on April 26, 2010

It seems like you actually don't want to be in a committed relationship with him? Why is this a problem? Replace "commitment issues" with "I don't want to." I'm not trying to be snarky here but seriously your entire question to me reads like "why oh why can't I do this thing, everything would be perfect and the only problem is, I don't actually want to."
posted by citron at 5:15 PM on April 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

If you'd think it's better to go alone, then do it.

You can do both if you want, or you can refuse to participate in couples' counseling.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:19 PM on April 26, 2010

Some people just make better friends than partners, maybe deep down you think this about him, and it's time to start looking for a different partner.
posted by meepmeow at 5:46 PM on April 26, 2010

I agree with what some other posters are saying, namely that you should probably do couples counselling in addition to solo counselling. Maybe go to couple's counselling twice a month and solo counselling weekly?
posted by 1000monkeys at 5:58 PM on April 26, 2010

Maybe because he wants to also talk about how this impacts him? Maybe because he wants this to be something that you come to be able to discuss openly with him, instead of suppressing and then giving into on your own?
posted by salvia at 6:45 PM on April 26, 2010

I had a similar problem with my boyfriend for a while, actually. Going to counseling by myself helped. Haven't tried couples counseling, but maybe that would have worked too? My question is, why not both?
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 7:07 PM on April 26, 2010

depending on your $ and/or insurance, i'm supporting the idea of both - individual counseling and couples counseling have different purposes/agendas. regardless of how you move forward with your boyfriend, if this is a way of being for you that you are unhappy with (the commitment portion), unless you address its root, it may potentially continue from relationship to relationship.

individual counseling may give you the safety and space to talk about that and figure those parts of this puzzle out for yourself.

couples therapy may help you and your boyfriend figure out ways to relate together that support you and any potential triggers that lead to distance/other factors, and also will hopefully strengthen your communication and growth together as a couple.

or it may help you figure out that you do not actually have commitment "issues" but that you two are not supposed to be "committed to each other." (individual therapy can help with that, too).

for a few friends of mine who do the sandwich of individual/couple's therapy, they find that they work well together in supporting self-exploration/growth/etc.

of course, it's a privilege to be able to do both.

good luck.
posted by anya32 at 7:27 PM on April 26, 2010

I used to have this problem. I solved it by dying my hair, getting a hair cut or some other minor but sorta drastic change instead of pushing away my partner. I'm a restless person, and I need change to be happy. It's entirely possible to get change without screwing around with your relationships. I have no idea if this is the case with you or not, but I could have written your question 7 years ago. Couples counseling could definitely help. There's no reason in the world not to try it.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:31 PM on April 26, 2010 [6 favorites]

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