It's a relief to have someone to listen to us during these stressful times. But who do we talk to when we can't talk to the person who hurt us? A best friend, family member or your partner?
These people can be a great ear in some situations, but not all. Not happy with how work went? Is your boss making work difficult? Maybe you feel your were treated badly at the store because of who you are? Friends and family can be helpful when needing to vent about personal difficulties and issues in our lives. When the other half of the situation is someone or something we're not close with, there is little danger of tainting the feelings of the person we are confiding in.
Unfortunately, confiding about relationship and friendship problems with other people in your life can have an effect on your relationship with the listener and the relationship you are discussing. We want friends who support us, but after the fight with your partner has ended, will your friend ignore the situation and still act genuinely friendly toward your partner at the party next weekend? Parents are protective. Will your mom or dad be so accepting of your partner next time you visit?
It is difficult to support the person and the relationship in these situations and the danger is lost friends, less depth in those relationships and strained relations between the people in your life who are important to you. And so the next time there is a problem, will you go back to the person you spoke with before and will they be as supportive as they were last time? Can they give you good advice? Do they know both sides of the story and can you do a good job of sharing both perspectives? Do you know the perspective of the person you are fighting with?
These are good questions to consider, and the answer could be seeing a therapist.
Therapists aren't in the business of giving advice, but we are in the business of helping clients to make the best decisions they can based on their own capabilities. Therapists are also trained to help you to understand why you act/react/respond the way you do so that you can create new and productive ways of doing this when your usual patterns aren't working.
Seeking advice from anyone has pitfalls. Perhaps the idea they have works for them because of the experiences they have had and the way they cope. But simply following that advice can be disastrous if you don't handle situations the same way or if you react in different ways or aren't comfortable being in the situation like the person who had the idea.
Come see a therapist at PhiladelphiaMFT to keep the difficulties you are facing from spilling into other areas of your life. On an individual basis, the work we do with clients includes exploring the meanings and expectations and patterns that have brought you to this place and through this opening up possibilities going forward.
When working with couples, we focus on the interactions between you and your partner to build a healthier relationship. As MFTs, we have been trained to work with you on an individual basis and with your partner and that can change over time depending on the needs you identify.
This Topic of the Week is written by Brian Swope, MFT.