You are currently browsing all posts tagged with 'relationships'.

Dear Christine, Loving in Livonia

  • Posted on January 8, 2018 at 10:09 am

Dear Christine, I’m a gay man seeing a male therapist for issues I had after a bad breakup. Basically severe depression. After several months of therapy, I’m feeling pretty whole again but I don’t want to stop therapy because I have fallen in love with my therapist. My therapist is also gay and has never given me any reason to think he feels the same way, however, I guess I hope that he does. I’ve also never told him how I feel for fear he will ask me to stop seeing him. Question: should I tell him? I so look forward to my Wednesdays with… Signed, Loving in Livonia Dear Loving, I encourage you to talk to your therapist about this transference. You are in a relationship as a client with a therapist and there are legal and ethical boundaries that need to be in place to protect both of you. Your therapist will probably want to discuss your emotions, needs and expectations. And he will want to be clear about the professional boundaries of the therapeutic relationship you both have. It is not unusual for a client to have strong feelings of affection or love for a therapist, as…

Dear Christine, Unsure at University of Michigan

  • Posted on November 6, 2017 at 10:50 am

Dear Christine, I’m a young just out gay man. My question is, do all gay men have anal sex? When I goggled that to find some answers, it just took me to porn sites and sex toys. So far, I’m a virgin to that and the truth is, I can’t see myself ever doing that. I know I’m gay. I’ve only ever been attracted to men. My experience is limited to the one boy I kissed in high school. It never went farther than kissing. I just have no desire to experience anal sex as the receiver or the giver. I seriously am just coming out. Where can I find this info? I don’t even know any gay men well enough to ask. I’m afraid to start dating or go to a bar.  I want to date men, I’m just a little nervous of what’s expected of me when intimacy begins. Signed, Unsure at University of Michigan Dear Unsure, The quick answer to your question is there is no one thing that all gay men do, or don’t do.  Humanity is predictably unpredictable and there’s a myriad ways that we express ourselves, gay or straight, male or female.  In fact…

Dear Christine, Explaining in Ecorse

  • Posted on July 17, 2017 at 10:13 am

Dear Christine, My partner and I are a lesbian couple and very active in the LGBT community. Recently I’ve been questioning my gender identity and I’m thinking seriously of transitioning from female to male gender. I’m not sure how to explain my gender changes. I was always more of the tomboy type. I’m coming to realize that I don’t have a gender identity crisis, but I identify as gender queer, and being explicitly male or female is not really the issue for me. Explaining homosexuality to our children was a challenge. They are 6 and 10 years old and they are fine with having two moms. The whole family is very accepting of our being a lesbian couple. Our parents are confused about why I want to change, when I so confidently identified as lesbian. How should I go about explaining transgender issues to our kids, and our parents and families? I find that gender clarity is very important to my family and society in general, but it isn’t so important to me.  Explaining in Ecorse Dear Explaining, My question is: is it necessary to undergo gender transition if identifying as male or female is not a big deal for…

Dear Christine, Sad in Saline

  • Posted on June 4, 2017 at 11:54 am

Dear Christine, My group of close friends consists of 6 couples. We’ve been tight for more than 20 years even going on vacations together. This past election was hard on us as many of our group worked hard to get Hillary elected and Trump as president is giving us much anxiety. Last night, one of the couples invited the group to dinner saying they needed to get something out in the open. Much to our surprise, they let us know that they are republicans, have always been republicans but have kept it to themselves…until now. They are sick of us bashing Trump and asked if we could keep politics out of our group. After their shocking announcement, there ensued a passionate debate and even some tears. We decided the remaining 5 couples would go off on our own to discuss and absorb the news.The majority of the group is so disgusted that our two friends can defend Trump even after all we have seen that they want to cut them lose. Me and my wife hope for a reconciliation of some kind and to not throw away 20 years of friendship. We just don’t know if there is a way…

Dear Christine, Single and Alone

  • Posted on March 6, 2017 at 11:21 am

Dear Christine, I am 35 and I have had 5 girlfriends since the age of 20 that each lasted between 2 and 5 years. I fall in love easy and seem to fall out of love instantly. I’m never sure when it’s going to happen or how long it will take but now that it has happened 5 times, I’m beginning to wonder why. Sometimes, they just start to get on my nerves after a period of time, other times, I’ve gone to bed in love, and woke up unable to find the feelings no matter how hard I try. I’ve walked away from some wonderful people (except for maybe 2 of them) and don’t know why. I’ve tried to prolong the breakup by faking it for a while hoping the feelings would come back but that’s really hard to do. I’m considering staying single. Is this common? Why can’t I stay in love? Thanks, Single and Alone in St Clair Shores PS I know the highs of initial love diminish, but this is something more than that. Dear Single and Alone, I wonder what sort of partners you have chosen in your dating life the last 15 years? Are…

Hopeless in Huntington Woods

  • Posted on March 1, 2016 at 8:45 pm

Dear Christine,  Eight months ago, a girl I loved dumped me.

She was all I ever wanted.

But I wasn’t what she wanted.

I tried not talking to her, dating other girls, having sex with women I barely knew, throwing myself into work and hobbies, etc. etc. I tried being her friend. I tried being her acquaintance. I tried hating her. I tried everything. I still love her, and it kills me that she doesn’t love me, or want me, and has made it clear that it will never change.

I’m a hideous, fat, stupid ******* bytch who no one will love. The only girl who could, who accepted me as I was, didn’t like what she saw.

I’m considering three options:

1) Staying forever single, learning to be OK with that.

2) Try and win her back, someday, somehow.

3) Shutting down completely emotionally.

Hopeless in Huntington Woods

Dear Hopeless, So, it sounds like you’re hurting really badly from this breakup. Guess what? Life isn’t over! It doesn’t end because one person wasn’t ready, willing or able to see the beauty and love that is you and are in you. Everyone’s ideas of who is attractive and who is not, is different. You don’t have to accept that her decision to move on is a judgment on whether or not anyone else will accept you! You do need to reclaim your power, and love yourself, see the beauty, uniqueness, love and quirks that are all yours, and you need to be able to spend time with yourself, appreciating who you really are. Frankly, you deserve someone who loves you for YOU, and if she doesn’t, keep looking! Staying single forever is way too long a time! There’s lots of other potential girlfriends out there, who also have been dumped and don’t want to beg the dumper to take them back. You don’t need her! You need you, including your emotions. See if you can find 5 things about yourself that you like or appreciate, and focus on those. If you can’t think of a single thing you like about yourself, then think about 3 people you like or love (not her for this thought experiment), and then think of 3 characteristics that those people have the you like about them. Guess what? The only way you can recognize those positive traits in others is because you also have them! So, open up to yourself, and start seeing that your ex is but one person in the 6 billion plus here on earth. There has to be AT LEAST one more out there for you! Love you first.

Sincerely,
Christine C. Cantrell, PhD,
Licensed Psychologist

Stalling in Southfield

  • Posted on January 18, 2016 at 5:33 am

Dear Christine,

I am a 35 year old woman and I have been in a relationship with my girlfriend for about 5 years. We consider ourselves to be married but so far we have kept our finances separate. She has asked me several times to open a joint account with her and combine our money and assets. I have resisted and I’m not sure why. She makes considerably more money than I do, I believe she loves me and the income difference doesn’t seem to matter to her. I have always been very independent and a bit stubborn and feel like I just need to take care of myself. Right now I just pay her a monthly amount to cover my half of the household bills. The house is in her name and she has offered to add me, but like so many mortgages, it’s underwater so I don’t see the point. She says she really want us to be more like a “married couple” She really wants this!

So, why am I stalling? Stalling in Southfield

Dear Stalling,

Why are you stalling? Only you know the answer to that! Each of us are motivated by very different things, but usually we are looking to protect ourselves from further hurts. Two things that is fundamental in any relationship is that there be reciprocity and equality. Reciprocity means that I give as much as I get. Equality means that each of you are as worthy as the other. How you define what those mean is individual. This is often a problem with unequal incomes. If you earn double my income, I am not as worthy (as full of worth) as you. However, what we give to the relationship, and what we receive from it, isn’t only monetary. Time, energy, money and attention to the relationship, home and staying home to raise children would all be examples of what may contributed and received. There’s no right or wrong way to create an equal and reciprocal relationship. However, since we don’t have legal rights as married people do, we need to create legal documents to protect each other. So, if I buy a house, and I don’t put your name on it, and I don’t give you rights of survivorship, then you will be put out of the home we shared when I die. If I don’t have a will, the house will end up in probate and a judge will decide who should inherit it as my next of kin.

In a healthy relationship, we choose to be with each other and we choose to share ourselves with our partner. It takes trust and vulnerability to have an equal and reciprocal relationship. I have to trust that you will honor your commitment to me around money, family, house and shared belongings. I have had some people draw up elaborate legal documents stating who owned what before the relationship started, and who gets what that was jointly purchased during the relationship. Some detail this in a will, others make a long list and both sign it (probably not legal, but it clearly shows intent to be fair should the relationship end). Do you trust your partner? Do you feel worthy of her love and generosity, even though your incomes are not equal? Do you each give to and receive from the relationship of what you need? Do you each choose freely to be in this partnership. Do you really trust yourself, if something relationship ended? Do you trust your partner to be fair? These are some good questions to think about, journal on, and then to discuss with your partner, to find out what you both are thinking and feeling. And in this process you will learn about yourself and why you are stalling, and where you don’t feel equal or trusting or reciprocal in your relationship. Then you can choose to share that with your partner, to further the vulnerability, trust and emotional reciprocity, or you can choose to end a relationship that doesn’t feel equal or safe for you to truly be you.

Good luck!

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD.
Psychologist

Damaged Goods in Detroit

  • Posted on January 5, 2016 at 7:02 pm

Dear Christine,

I am a 28-year-old gay man. I came out when I was 18 and since then I’ve enjoyed a healthy, active dating life. I’ve always been comfortable with my sexuality. Three months ago, however, I tested HIV-positive and since then feel like I have to come out all over again. I haven’t been able to start dating yet because I’m afraid of how people will react when I tell them about my situation. And I don’t know what the rules are. What do I tell people? When do I tell people? And, if safe sex really is safe, do I have to tell them at all? And mostly I’m afraid (although I know it sounds crazy) that no one’s ever going to love me again.

Damaged Goods in Detroit

Dear Damaged Goods:

I hear you, coming out all over again, now as HIV + being just as confused and uncertain how to tell others as you were to tell people you were gay 10 years ago. Trust your instincts with people, and tell those who feels safe to you. There may be some rejection from some people, but if they were people you wanted to date or be friends with, they’ve actually done you a favor. They are not the kind of quality person you deserve in your life as a friend or lover. Keep in mind that in many states it is illegal to not disclose your HIV+ status and put someone else at risk. Honesty really is the best policy, and telling someone right up front, before making a date, will save you investing time and energy into a potential relationship that isn’t going to go anywhere, anyway.

The truth is, you are not damaged goods. You are not your illness. You are a human being, complete with all kinds of love, compassion and feeling, and you have much to offer the world, and the people you date. If someone rejects you because of HIV, know that that is a statement about them, not you. HIV requires you to face your fears and be honest with yourself on a whole new level. Those who are willing to have unsafe sex have little self respect are not are not capable of a healthy relationship. We each have to have with self respect before we can be present to someone else. When I was researching my PhD dissertation “The Experience of People with HIV+/AIDS with Multiple Losses”, I interviewed a number of people who amazed me by describing how much improved their relationships are since they were diagnosed. The diagnosis cut through a lot of BS, and people who connected with these co-researchers were quality people, who enhanced their lives. In fact, one of my interviewees, Jim, asked himself in front of me if he could do it all over again, would he choose to have HIV or not? I waited, holding my breath, and finally he said “Yes, I would choose to have it again. Through HIV I have met so many wonderful people around Detroit and the US, and I have grown and healed so much spiritually, that I would definitely choose to be HIV again.” He went on to find a committed relationship with a man and was surrounded by a loving community of friends and colleagues.

Christine Cantrell, PhD

Psychologist

Not Quite Out in Oxford

  • Posted on December 30, 2015 at 6:56 pm

Dear Christine:  

 My girlfriend and I have been together for a year, and maybe I moved in too fast(second date…) but I’m having a hard time with her relationships with her family. Her two daughters live with us half of the time and half with their father. I am very close to the girls and they talk with me all the time, and tell me that they love me and even come into our bedroom at night to kiss their mom goodnight, and me! My girlfriend isn’t gay, and she’s isn’t comfortable telling the girls, or anyone else in the family, that we are in love and we are a couple, and with the girls, we really are a family. Her family is involved with Christmas, and last year, we pretended I was just living there for a while, to help them out. She wants me to move out of the bedroom, so her sister and brother-in-law can have her bedroom when they visit for Christmas. That’s the living end for me! I’ve been out and proud for over 20 years, and I just feel like a maid. I’m “the help”, helping with the household, cooking, driving kids around etc, but not given the respect of being family! My girlfriend has been telling me all year that she wants to tell her family, but that she’s not ready. I’m afraid she’s never going to be ready, and I feel like I’m going crazy. Help! What do I do to not feel like a maid, but be a part of this family? Signed,  Not quite out in Oxford

Dear  Not Quite Out in Oxford,

The holidays are such a stressful time, even without the pressures of coming out to family! Sounds like you have a very loving and good relationship with your girlfriend and her children, and that’s wonderful. Since you’ve been out forever, and she never saw herself as lesbian before, it’s really important to give her space and time to figure out how to acknowledge this relationship with her family. I would be surprised if the kids haven’t figured out that the two of you are a couple, saying good night to both of you in your bedroom! Kids are pretty sophisticated and aware these days. They may not know the labels, but clearly they feel connected to you, and treat you like family, not a maid. I’m not recommending you move out of the bedroom for visitors, as I don’t recommend a couple in their own home give up their private space to others. One example of why, is the story I heard recently. A man stayed overnight at a friend’s house, and she let him use her bedroom. He opened a bedside drawer, looking for a clock, and he found some handcuffs! Clearly, she hadn’t expected him to go in the drawer! He found it very embarrassing to see her the next morning, thinking “Good morning Mrs. Handcuffs” but tried to keep cool and be appropriate. When he thinks of that friend, the handcuffs are the first thing that comes to mind. So, keeping your privacy is important, both yours and your girlfriend’s. Keep talking with your girlfriend about her process, but back off of any ultimatums. Listen to her thoughts and feelings, and trust the love that you and she and her children share. Love conquers fear, always. Trust your girlfriend’s process and hopefully she will tell her family directly, soon.

Good luck!

Christine C. Cantrell, PhD.
Psychologist
christineccantrellphd@gmail.com

Wondering in Walled Lake

  • Posted on November 22, 2015 at 8:00 am

Dear Christine,
Question?  Why do gay men get so offended when I hit on them.  I even had a guy at work report me for sexual harassment just because I told him he was cute.  I’m a flirt, I know it. Is it wrong?
Wondering in Walled Lake

Dear Wondering,
You’ve given me no specific personal information about your sex, gender, age, orientation, etc, so I don’t have a clue who you in this work conflict. Apparently, the “guys” at work do not appreciate being told they are cute at the workplace. Flirting can really mess up a work environment. My history as a former blond hair woman is that sexual harassment is a real problem and can make life a real nightmare. I forgot just how angry Mediterranean men made me when I lived in that part of the world when I was 20 and still blond. I would speak Hebrew only and never admit I was from the United States, or else all of the men (Greek, Palestinian, Israeli, etc) assumed I was ready to join them in immediate sex. Tourists with blond hair have a reputation, it appears. I lived there for a year, so I made it clear I understood the local language and learned to walk with my eyes on the ground in front of me always. Anything else was considered a come-on! I appreciate my relative freedom in the United States, but since my hair has turned white, I truly appreciate the fact that men ignore me! I no longer get whistled/gestured at or get unwanted flirting at the office or on the street.

So, from one who has been sexually harassed for simply being who I was, blonde and a young woman, I can understand how your colleagues are offended by your flirting. You are at work. Keep your interactions and behaviors work related and I’m sure you won’t get any more sexual harassment reports from gay men or anyone else. Flirt at parties or at the bar. At work, be professional, always.

Christine Cantrell, PhD,
Psychologist
christineccantrellphd@gmail.com