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Would you suggest she go for counselling?

9 replies

Monadami · 23/02/2011 01:55

Hi everyone,

I wasn't sure if this was the right section, but I have a female friend who I'm quite concerned about. I've known her for almost 30 years, since school and I think not much in her life has changed since that time. I want to have an honest heart to heart with her because I think her behaviour is not normal.

My friend is almost 42, she has never had a relationship with a man and since she left University 20 years ago has never had the success she hoped for in her career, she stayed close to her family home, spending most of her time at her Parent's home, even though she has her own. She is also very overweight and has been struggling to lose weight since school, with very little success. She believes her size will prevent her from finding a man, even though I've told her any man worth knowing would want her regardless of her size.

Anyway, since I've known her she seems to have this problem where she becomes obsessed with a man who is either unavailable, unattainable or both. A few years ago she became obsessed with her sister's brother in law. This obsession lasted two years until I think he put her straight. Now for the last 2-3 years she has become obsessed with her Personal Trainer. Unfortunately he is the kind of guy who flirts with his clients, puts his arm around them and pays them compliments. she has already admitted that he's given exactly the same speel to a friend of her's who was also training with him.

I have told her numerous times, his inappropriate behaviour is obviously some kind of client retention method and although she has never made her feelings known to him, she believes she has a chance with him. He has a girlfriend whom my friend despises and she is adamant he is only with this woman because he's been manipulated by her. Today she called me, very upset to say the girlfriend has moved in with him. She cannot understand why he would be interested and I said to her, perhaps it's as simple as him being in love with her, to which she got very upset.

Her Father who she lost a year ago has told her nothing will come of a relationship between her and her Trainer and so has her sister and mother. I think we have all become exasperated with her, as every conversation with her always ends up with her talking about this guy and it's like going over old ground again and again.

I told her she needs to stop having personal training sessions with him and distance herself, but she always has a reason as to why she needs him to help her lose weight, (Even though she's lost none.) Sometimes I feel like screaming at her and telling her to pull herself together, but it's like she hears nothing.

She want's to meet someone and settle down, but can't seem to understand her behaviour over this man is holding her back. Whilst she is obsessed with him, she will never be able to move on or meet anyone else. She is in complete denial in regards to her Trainer's relationship with his girlfriend and cannot accept it's genuine.

Should I suggest to her she seek counselling? Perhaps she also hasn't come to terms with the loss of her father, so her need to feel loved has escalated. How can I advise her in a straight way, without sounding callous and hurting her feelings? Does her behaviour sound a bit strange? How do I explain also I cannot take her calls at 9pm when I'm getting my Toddler to bed, she gets offended very easily.

OP posts:
earwicga · 23/02/2011 02:01

Make sure you agree with the OP or you will be judged as being unreasonable and a stranger to logic.

Monadami · 23/02/2011 02:08

This site is becoming reminiscent of The Answer Bank! Poor thing!

OP posts:
earwicga · 23/02/2011 02:11

Oh, and if you comment and the OP dislikes your comment then you are 'nasty' and 'mad'.

muminthecity · 23/02/2011 02:22

Bloody hell, I'm having a severe case of deja vu tonight!

thumbwitch · 23/02/2011 02:29

Oh God, can't we have a sensible thread about it? Hmm

Monadami - it appears that your friend has desperately low self-esteem issues. She is also on the self-fulfilling prophecy destruction route - going after someone already attached so that when he doesn't leave his other half for her, she can justify her "everyone hates me, no one would want me" position. She has Problems - but from what you've said they definitely are NOT rooted in her father's demise.

As far as not taking her calls at/after 9pm, just switch the ringer off on the phone and let the answerphone pick it up - then if you feel like calling her back once your toddler is in bed, it's up to you.

She probably does need counselling of a sort - but not necessarily for coming to terms with losing her father (that probably just feeds into her "no one will want me, everyone will leave me" scenario). Whether or not she would be prepared to go for the sort of counselling she needs is another matter - and there is no point forcing someone to go if they don't think they need it (not that you could force her to, just saying it has to come from her)

Has she always had disastrously low self-esteem? Was she bullied at school, was she overweight, do you know of any incidence that might have triggered her "going after the unattainable" habit? Was she badly snubbed by the school heart-throb or something?

Monadami · 23/02/2011 02:43

Thanks Thumb for your objective view. Admittedly I have ignored some of her calls and do feel a bit bad, she called at 8.30pm last night.

I know she lacks confidence and wants to be slim, she say's she doesn't eat much and does loads of exercise but continues to gain weight. I don't recall her being bullied at school, but these obsessions started early on. I remember when we were 15 she became obsessed with a Bouncer who worked in Macdonalds and would drag me there everyday after school, so she could look at him. That lasted a few years too.

Perhaps she is affraid of having a real relationship, so looks towards men who deep down she knows wouldn't really be interested. She always seems to fancy Bodybuilder types and being a P.T myself, I know they generally are the types who go for very skinny WAG types. I don't know, hearing it all the time is very draining and I would love for her to meet a nice regular guy and have a family, as she say's that is somethings she craves for herself.

OP posts:
thumbwitch · 23/02/2011 02:57

She is obviously lying to you and to herself somewhere down the line. She does need help but she needs to recognise it for herself - perhaps instead of just listening to her you could start asking her some Hard Questions - like "why do you always go for unavailable men?" "Why are you scared of having a real relationship?" "if you're so keen to go out with a really fit bloke, how come you aren't managing to make yourself really fit as well?" "What do you actually do at the gym since you never seem to lose any weight?" "What do you actually eat, since you never seem to lose any weight?"

AS a friend, these questions will seem really mean - but by placating her or never challenging (and I'm not suggesting this is what you do, just saying) she will stay in her wallowing pit of self-loathing and never make any effort to come out. If you can force her to challenge her own behaviours by being confrontiational, she might get somewhere - but you have to judge it carefully, how much you can push it, or you could lose her as a friend entirely.

Monadami · 23/02/2011 23:38

Well she rang again today at 3.30pm, but I was on my way out for an appointment so didn't answer. She left a message under the guise that she was asking me how I got on with a problem I had with a company I was dealing with, although I'd already told her yesterday I wasn't going to pursue it. I believe the real reason for her call was to just talk about this unavailable man.

I have asked her what she does at the gym and what she eats and she has shown me her food diary, which looked incredibly healthy, unless she is omitting things. She has asked me for exercise advice. I've sent her loads of advice and then she never mentions it again.

I personally feel Counselling may benefit her as it can be good to talk to someone not directly connected in a situation, she may also learn more about herself and understand why she is like she is with men. I believe she is scared as she said she would have no idea if a man was genuine or not if she started dating.

It is hard to listen to all this as the way she goes on, it feels like I'm sometimes talking to a 13 year old girl with a crush on a pop star. Surely at 42, this just isn't healthy. I've suggested to her perhaps she gets like this because there isn't anyone else and she enjoys the male attention, but if she put herself out there and met other people, these crushes would probably end.

OP posts:
thumbwitch · 24/02/2011 01:35

She seems to be suffering from emotional immaturity, that's for sure - but you can't help her. All you can do is suggest the counselling to her and then leave it at that - apart from cutting off her "listening ear" service that you are currently supplying, there is really nothing else you can do. I would strongly recommend you DO cut off this service though - if she has no one to continue her eternal teen fantasy with, it will start to pall on her.

But again, the risk is that you and she will no longer be friends as a result. Only you can know if that is a risk you are prepared to take.

When you speak to her on the phone, if she starts talking about her latest crush, close it down. Ask her if she realises how much like a teenager she sounds. Tell her that you're happy to talk to her about grown-up subjects but you don't want to hear the "teen-crush" stuff.

Have a read of this and see if it relates well to your friend - if it does, and you think it might be of benefit to her, then pass it on.

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