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Confused and Angry
July 7, 1997 Ask Dr. Love Advice Column
Hello, I am writing to you for some advice about my fiance. When he is not sleeping or eating hs is on this computer. His business deals with computers also, but even when he is not working he is always on this computer. He stays up until 3 and 4 in the morning doing god knows what on the computer. I talked to him about it and for about a week he spent time with me and one day he didn't even turn the thing on. I was finally happy and lately he has slipped back into the rut again. I really am beginning to hate this computer even tho that is my major in college and it is going to be my career. He is turning me against the computer because I feel that the computer is taking my place. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Confused and Angry
Your boyfriend has one of two problems: either he has an addictive personality and/or he is using the computer in order to avoid intimacyAn intimate relationship is a particularly close interpersonal relationship. It can be defined by these characteristics: enduring behavioral interdependence, repeated interactions, emotional...(Click for full definition.). You are naturally feeling hurt and rejected, and have fallen into a trap that many women fall into. When we don't get what we need, we resort to nagging and complaining, which creates a nasty power struggle: In your case, the more you nag and pressure your boyfriend to quit the computer, the more he buries his nose in the keyboard. And, this pattern will only worsen, unless we change strategies.
Instead of nagging him to get off the computer, use reverse psychology. Get very busy yourself. When he wants to see you or talk with you, tell him you'd love to but you simply are too busy with rock climbing or whatever else you're into (if you're not into anything, get a hobby fast). And, when you tell him that you're busy, be light and breezy; don't sound angry or retaliatory. When he feels lonely and neglected, he should come around. And, any time he slips back into no-man's land, you pull-back too.
This technique is a proven effective way to break the kind of power struggle you're locked in. But, keep in mind, if we are dealing with deeper issuesIssues, in the words of the Serenity Prayer, are things you can change, either by making different personal choices and/or by finding ways to work with your partner more effectively. , such as an addictive personality or intimacy phobia, the technique I suggest will probably only serve as a temporary solution, and the underlying issues will probably rear their heads again.
But, don't despair, the pull-back technique I described above, can actually cure at least one of the underlying problems I mentioned: the intimacy problem. You see, if you give your boyfriend room, you can help him heal an intimacy fear. (A fear of intimacyThe causes of fear of intimacy are nearly identical to the fear of commitment. See Fear of Commitment usually conceals a deeper fear: if I let her close to me, she will chew me up and swallow me whole and I will have no identity left. So, as you see, by pulling-back yourself, you are showing him that you don't intend to take him over, which can heal intimacy phobics. )
So, if you pull-back and he gets better (capable of spending more time with you), then we can assume that he had a fear of intimacy and we healed it through our pull-back technique. If, on the other hand, you pull-back and he doesn't improve, then we can assume that he has an addictive problem and needs to join an addiction support group. So, let's do our experiment and see what happens. Please let me know the results.
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