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Is it okay to ask my (ex)girlfriend to go to therapy?


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I have a question that I'm sort of confused about - would appreciate any advice/perspective.


For background context - I've (32M) been dating this woman (35F) for a year, and we've recently broken up. More precisely, I left the relationship. There were several reasons for this, but the main one, was that I felt that she was very controlling. A lot of these control issues, I feel, are due to unresolved PTSD/trauma issues from overcoming cancer a few years ago. She has a major amount of anxiety issues, and I think that went a long way in making the relationship very uncomfortable and frankly, hostile at times.

After about a month of no contact, we started talking again, and we're kicking around the idea of trying to make it work. After a lot of thinking on it, I've decided that the only way I would be comfortable resuming the relationship again, was if she sought out counseling/therapy to try and resolve some of these issues.

The reason why this is important to me, is because I, myself, actually recently entered therapy to work on my own issues, one of them being my timid, pushover nature, along with my inability to set boundaries. The dynamic of our relationship was that she would be bossy/demanding, and because I (apparently) have abandonment issues, I just sort of went along with her requests to a point where I was being swallowed up by the relationship.

I feel like if I'm going to be putting in a lot of work on my end to hopefully improve my issues, I would want her to grow with me, because if I come out on the other end of this as a different person with a different perspective, it wouldn't work unless she was working on changing her behavior as well.

 

Now for the advice: should I even bother? The last thing I feel comfortable doing, is suggesting to someone that they need therapy, and even worse, making that a condition for our relationship. I would hope that she would agree with me, but it's probably not likely. She's mentioned in the past that she knows she has issues to work through, but that's where that conversation ended. I can't see this relationship working out if she doesn't change her perspective, but I also don't think you can make someone go to therapy against their will, from an attitude standpoint. Wouldn't that breed resentment if someone went to therapy solely because their partner asked them to? Half of me feels like this isn't even worth doing, and that I should just let her, and the relationship be. She's amazing in so many ways, but the way she shows up in a relationship right now, I can't do it.

I'm also concerned about how much I would hurt her feelings to tell her this. I can't imagine it going over well. I'm even more anxious about this than I was about the initial break up conversation.

Should I just chalk it up to life experience, and separate myself from the relationship to work on myself? I'm obviously no mental health expert, so I'm uncomfortable broaching this topic at all, but it's the only thing I could think of to try and salvage the relationship. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

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If someone has to "change" to be right for you... they're wrong for you. Especially when they're not actively and voluntarily doing anything to make changes.

I applaud you for attending therapy to become the best possible version of yourself. That's terrific. But the motivation shouldn't be so you can change yourself to accommodate someone else or to lure them into reconciling with you. It doesn't seem like that's what you're doing, so that's good on you.

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Rereading some of your previous threads and this one, I still dont know why you would even think to go back to somebody that horrible. She is controlling, constantly put you down, including stuff like your sense of humor, and even got you cut off from your friends and family. It was clear to everyone (including people around you and people here at other threads) that she is not right for you. And yet, you rush back to her. Thinking something would change as soon as she goes to therapy. You have that "Stockholm Syndrome" lots of people coming out from abusive relationships have. Where you still want to get back to something dysfunctional even though you know its not right for you. Its maybe one more thing to explore while on therapy. 

Anyway, to answer your question, no, you cant ask or demand from someone to go to therapy. They have to want that themselves. Otherwise there is no point. She has to be willing to work on her issues. As she thinks very highly of herself, dont think she would even entertain your idea how she needs therapy, let alone undergo it. You want to be a better person yourself, so good for you for trying to fix your issues. As for her, just forget about her. After you are feeling better and ready to date, I am sure you will find somebody way better then her.

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44 minutes ago, Scottr080 said:

I've decided that the only way I would be comfortable resuming the relationship again, was if she sought out counseling/therapy to try and resolve some of these issues.
The reason why this is important to me, is because I, myself, actually recently entered therapy to work on my own issues, one of them being my timid, pushover nature, along with my inability to set boundaries. 

You're right. Work on yourself. If you need to fix someone in order to be to with them, you're not right for each other. It's up to her to seek out whatever medical treatment or therapy she wants/needs.

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9 minutes ago, Kwothe28 said:

Rereading some of your previous threads and this one, I still dont know why you would even think to go back to somebody that horrible. She is controlling, constantly put you down, including stuff like your sense of humor, and even got you cut off from your friends and family. It was clear to everyone (including people around you and people here at other threads) that she is not right for you. And yet, you rush back to her. Thinking something would change as soon as she goes to therapy. You have that "Stockholm Syndrome" lots of people coming out from abusive relationships have. Where you still want to get back to something dysfunctional even though you know its not right for you. Its maybe one more thing to explore while on therapy. 

 

Yeah, I thought I was out, and then I had a relapse of sorts. I'll add it to the list of things to examine. I feel guilty that I didn't explore every avenue to try and make it work out, but maybe that's alright. 

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12 minutes ago, Scottr080 said:

 

Yeah, I thought I was out, and then I had a relapse of sorts. I'll add it to the list of things to examine. I feel guilty that I didn't explore every avenue to try and make it work out, but maybe that's alright. 

You will continue to "relapse" unless and until you end any and all means of contact with your ex.

Yes, you can. And no, you don't need to contact her to tell her you're not going to be in contact with her. Just block her number and her email and unfriend and block her from all social media and communication platforms like Discord and Instagram. Then delete her contact info. Set your privacy so you can only receive communication from people on your friend list. And be sure she's not on it.

Again, yes, you can. This a boundary you're learning to construct and enforce. The fog will clear once you're not standing in the middle of it.

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22 minutes ago, boltnrun said:

You will continue to "relapse" unless and until you end any and all means of contact with your ex.

Yes, you can. And no, you don't need to contact her to tell her you're not going to be in contact with her. Just block her number and her email and unfriend and block her from all social media and communication platforms like Discord and Instagram. Then delete her contact info. Set your privacy so you can only receive communication from people on your friend list. And be sure she's not on it.

Again, yes, you can. This a boundary you're learning to construct and enforce. The fog will clear once you're not standing in the middle of it.

Luckily, she's not the sort of person to try and get a hold of me at any cost. She respects requests of no contact. I was the one who reached out to her this last time. It's on me. 

Thanks for the words of encouragement. I know what needs to be done, and I know I'll look back on this one day and just sigh a little bit. 

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31 minutes ago, Scottr080 said:

Luckily, she's not the sort of person to try and get a hold of me at any cost. She respects requests of no contact. I was the one who reached out to her this last time. It's on me. 

Thanks for the words of encouragement. I know what needs to be done, and I know I'll look back on this one day and just sigh a little bit. 

Regardless, I still recommend you delete her contact info and block her. And put her number in your phone as "NO DON'T". That way the next time you start to "miss her" or you feel lonely you will see it and remember why it's a bad idea to contact her.

If you choose to keep the lines of communication open and find excuses why you "can't" or tell yourself it's "not necessary" to delete and block her, ask yourself why that is. Answer yourself honestly. Also, it's a good idea to discuss this with your therapist.

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9 hours ago, Scottr080 said:

She respects requests of no contact. I was the one who reached out to her this last time. It's on me. 

Okay, then this is not as though upon reflection she recognized how much she values you, so she contacted you to apologize for her mistreatment and offer to do whatever it would take to reconcile.

I'm really sorry, but it sounds as though she doesn't feel a need to improve anything.

You're the one who was mistreated, yet you're the one contacting her to consider reconciling?

Why would she lift a finger, in that case? 

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13 hours ago, catfeeder said:

Okay, then this is not as though upon reflection she recognized how much she values you, so she contacted you to apologize for her mistreatment and offer to do whatever it would take to reconcile.

I'm really sorry, but it sounds as though she doesn't feel a need to improve anything.

You're the one who was mistreated, yet you're the one contacting her to consider reconciling?

Why would she lift a finger, in that case? 

Yeah, I was the weak one in this situation. I spoke with her yesterday - and decided it was time to finally call it off completely. She took it well enough. I feel more at peace with it now than I ever had in the past. I think I'm finally on the road to getting on with my life. 

Thanks for the input. 

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1 hour ago, Scottr080 said:

I spoke with her yesterday - and decided it was time to finally call it off completely. She took it well enough. I feel more at peace with it now than I ever had in the past.

Good call. When you are this incompatible and there are this many conflicts, it's like buying a houseboat when you want a log cabin in the woods and expecting it can be a fixer-upper with just a few tweaks.

Keep in mind therapy is not a total overhaul of a personality, it simply improves some cognitive distortions and replaces some self defeating behavior with more productive ones.

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46 minutes ago, Wiseman2 said:

Good call. ...

Keep in mind therapy is not a total overhaul of a personality...

Yep. Couples counseling is not 'wrong' or 'bad' when both partners are invested in salvaging a relationship AND share at least some degree of agreement of the problems.

But there is no intersection here.

She's willing to take you back to her way or the highway, AND she's fine with the highway. 

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On 8/5/2022 at 1:11 PM, Scottr080 said:

After about a month of no contact, we started talking again, and we're kicking around the idea of trying to make it work. After a lot of thinking on it, I've decided that the only way I would be comfortable resuming the relationship again, was if she sought out counseling/therapy to try and resolve some of these issues.

Yup, makes a lot of sense.  

BUT, you'd be looking at a good year or more before considering going there again with her. ( as I mentioned elsewhere, nothing would improve between the two of you UNTIL whatever caused your BU was fixed).

So, if you feel all is right, feel free to have a heart to heart chat with her about all of this. ( that you've now reached out for some prof help and feel it may do her some good as well- to work through her problems, etc).

 

 

On 8/5/2022 at 1:11 PM, Scottr080 said:

Wouldn't that breed resentment if someone went to therapy solely because their partner asked them to? Half of me feels like this isn't even worth doing, and that I should just let her, and the relationship be.

Right.  It'd be like asking someone to go to AA when they've got a drinking problem.  Fine, only IF they choose to do so on their own.

We can't make anyone do anything or fix them.  They are adults, is all up to them.

If she feels your relationship is worth all of this, then she would gladly reach out for some prof help....

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