The Rational Basis® of Happiness Podcast

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My boyfriend won't let me see my family.























(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)

Abusive Boyfriend

My boyfriend won't let me see my family.

(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)


Dr. Kenner: I want to welcome Linda to the phones. Linda, you're having some difficulty?


Linda: Yes. I am.


Dr. Kenner: Are you dating now?


Linda: Yes. I've been divorced for 19 years and I've been seeing the same man for 12 years and I'm 61 years old. When we first started seeing each other, I had three daughters, but they've all grown and married and now I have eight grandchildren. The man I date doesn't want to have anything to do with the family, so I'm always torn between the two. 


Dr. Kenner: So you're totally conflicted between two of your top values - your kids, your family and the man you've been with for 12 years?


Linda: Yes.


Dr. Kenner: So you've tortured yourself for 12 years?


Linda: Sometimes I feel that way.


Dr. Kenner: Tell me, what is his problem with your family? Why would he want to keep you away from them or keep himself away from them?


Linda: He's a bit of a recluse and he only has one son who lives out of town and he is of that philosophy that once children are grown and raised, they're on their own and you help them if they need it, but that's pretty much it. One of my daughters is a doctor and she lives in North Carolina and the other two live close to me and we've always been close, like sisters. There's just always been a conflict there. If we have a family get together, of course he never comes, so I don't do as much as I used to.


Dr. Kenner: I can hear the emotion in your voice. I can hear how painful this is. If you could be 100 percent true to yourself, meaning what do you want to do? Don't worry about your kids. Don't worry about him. What would you choose?


Linda: I guess that's my problem. I would like to be able to strike a happy balance. But my children are going to the beach and invited me to go and it's one of the daughter's birthdays and I think that's reasonable, but I was afraid for two weeks to tell the man I'm seeing because he doesn't get angry, he just gets cold. 


Dr. Kenner: But that is the same isn't it? Cold is even worse than anger. Anger you can deal with, you can talk back to. Cold and distanced and withdrawn and trying to take the moral high ground - you have every right, Linda, to be with your kids. They're your kids. They're your family and his philosophy is not your philosophy. His philosophy of once they're grown, they're on their own - well, some kids you want them to be on their own because you don't like them. Some kids you love dearly. My son is hopefully coming home tonight. My son is in his 30s, but he's coming home either tonight or tomorrow. I can't wait! 


Linda: That's the way I feel too.


Dr. Kenner: What loving relationships, if you've been able to carve out loving relationships with your kids and the price of your relationship with this gentleman is that you give up one of your top, most dearest values, you said you're how old?


Linda: 61.


Dr. Kenner: You're 61. A day at the beach with family, for was it a party, you said?


Linda: No, they've rented a house. Two of the daughters and their children and one of them is having a birthday so I'm planning to go down there for her birthday.


Dr. Kenner: Unapologetically you have every right to go. Now, the question is, why do you feel you have to hide it? What's going on there? What have you given up to be with this man?


Linda: I'm ashamed to say. I've given up a lot of me. He's a good man. I was married to a man who cheated on me and this man doesn't. 


Dr. Kenner: Well, people can cheat in different ways you know.


Linda: I know. 


Dr. Kenner: Meaning people may not have an affair, and violate your trust that way, but it's still something to take a close look at. Is the relationship making you happier? Or are there red flags? Are you chronically stressed? If you're in a relationship that you want to remain in, can you strengthen yourself? Can you go to even a cognitive therapist that would teach you thinking skills that would help you, assertiveness skills? Being able to hold your own. Not in a mean way, but in a confident way, and then you could stay in the relationship. Or is it that you've wanted to leave but feel there may be nobody else or just feel like you're trapped there? I'm not sure where you're at.


Linda: I'm not sure where I am either. I'm a high school teacher. I have confidence in the classroom. Nobody puts anything over on me, but when it comes to men, I just am sort of laid back, pushover, and I have trouble being assertive. I'm easily hurt.


Dr. Kenner: Were you that way with your dad?


Linda: You know, I don't think so. I was the oldest in the family. I don't think I was that way with my dad, but I felt I had to please my parents all the time because I had two younger brothers that are wonderful.


Dr. Kenner: That is the killer in any relationship. If I felt I had to please you, I couldn't think clearly. I would have to keep thinking, "What does Linda want? What does Linda want me to say? How does she want me to smile? What does she want me to do for her?" And I make myself into a slave. Technically that's all otherism/altruism and that is the killer in psychology. You're suffering with what many people suffer with. I would recommend reading - it's going to sound odd - The Virtue of Selfishness. It's not a mean selfishness. It's not a hurtful one. In fact, you have much better relationships when you can value yourself. And that's by Ayn Rand. That's on my website, But I also recommend, you can go to my website and there are books you can read. You can find a cognitive therapist who may help you through this period, because being true to yourself is the hardest thing that any of us - the best gift we can give ourselves and the hardest thing to learn Linda. Thank you so much for calling.


Linda: Thank you so much. You're very kind.


Dr. Kenner: Thank you.