Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Resentment over boyfriend seeing therapist says a lot
Anonymous: I just found out my boyfriend of three years has had a standing weekly appointment with a therapist for the past six months. I can't explain it, but I feel like I've been cheated on. I don't have a problem with his engaging in talk therapy if he feels it makes his life better, but I'm confused about why he didn't tell me (he still offers no explanation) and slightly uncomfortable with the fact that he's been consulting an outsider about, among other things, our relationship. Am I overreacting?
Carolyn: About the former, no, about the latter, yes.
Bonus! The latter may well explain the former. If you want the details of your relationship kept strictly private, that can put a lot of pressure on your mate. It's a form of control, and keeps said mate from thinking through problems out loud, which is one of the primary functions of a person's circle of intimates — friends, family, bartender, whoever. Not that it's okay to blab to all of them, but we're all entitled to make discreet use of advisers.
Your boyfriend chose an adviser who's sworn to confidentiality, and you're bugged? Makes me wonder, what do you not want the shrink to know? Why the need to control the message?
I also can't reconcile "I don't have a problem with his . . . therapy" and your flinching because "he's been consulting an outsider about . . . our relationship." You can't have it both ways. Either you're okay with his therapy — i.e., talking about his relationships — or you're not.
He should have told you and faced whatever consequences he feared; he owed you that, but, more important, he owed it to himself to live out in the open. However, if he has spent three years under pressure to keep things inside, that could explain his secrecy. When honesty results in punishment, the truth tends to linger in the eaves, hoping to go unnoticed.
His ability to own his actions will speak to his progress on the couch. In the meantime, you could help by saying: "I am upset that you hid this from me. Have I made it difficult for you to tell me the truth?"
Ten years is not too late for birth mom to contact son she gave up
Texas: I placed a baby for adoption when I was in college, 10 years ago. The adoptive parents were very sweet and understanding and promised to send pictures and letters about their son any time I wanted them. Well, I was too busy — and selfish — for the next few years to ask. Then I got married and now I have a son I get to keep, and I find myself thinking about my other son every single day. Mostly I want to know how he is doing. I would also be interested in meeting him in a casual setting, if possible.
Did I give up my right to care about him by not checking on him sooner?
Carolyn: No, you didn't. Write the parents a nice letter along the lines of what you wrote here (think "selfish," not "busy"). See what they think. You've traveled a legitimate path and you're making a legitimate request. Just ask how he is and request a picture, though; save talk of a meeting for when they've had time to adjust.