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DrJackiePhD, Doctor
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 379
Experience:  I have been doing research in relational/interpersonal communication since 1998. My Ph.D. is in interpersonal communication.
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I don't know if I should stay with my boyfriend. I am really

Customer Question

I don't know if I should stay with my boyfriend. I am really confused, do I love him or is it just fear of being alone? Every time we spend time together I don't really feel like I can be myself, I am often scared to say something that will make him angry. And he is not open with me at all. He doesn't share what is happening in his life unless I push for it, and even then he does it unwillingly. He has never told me that he loves me, never gave me flowers. If I ask him "do you love me" he says I ask stupid questions.
We've been "together" for 2 years, but I don't even feel like I know him better. He is also an illegal immigrant, and he keeps pushing me to do stuff, so that he can fix his situation. But I can't help but think that he is using me.
At the same time when I haven't seen him for a while I really miss him and feel lonely.
I would just like impartial opinions if you think anything good can come out of this or if I should leave him.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: General
Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.
I'm Dr. Jackie, an interpersonal communication researcher/professor and relationship counselor/expert. And I'm sorry you are going through this indecision. But I think deep down you already know the answers--you just need affirmation. And I hope I can help you with that.
If you feel like you can't really be yourself, it is very unlikely you truly love your boyfriend, at least in a HEALTHY way. Healthy ways would include NOT walking on eggshells when you are together, not being afraid you will say something to anger your bf. That is not "normal." I see more red flags when you mention that he is not open with you or tell you about his life unless you push it. The fact that he has never said, "I love you" is very revealing. Inability to say these words very likely means he cannot say them in good conscience because he is not FEELING them.
It does seem that he is using you. Whatever he is pushing you to do to help him become legal benefits him. But what is he doing for you? He's certainly not giving you flowers, he's not being open with you. So I have to ask you what your relationship is really built on.
I think you do miss him and are lonely when you have been apart because you have become comfortable with someone being around. In other words, many people get comfortable with their patterned behaviors and would feel scared or panic-stricken almost if their routines changed. And to me, it seems like this is true for you. You are so used to being around each other; even though it does not seem like it is a mutually beneficial, healthy relationship, you are in a pattern; and patterns are very hard to break.
I would hate to see you get more heartbroken or more used if he needs more done for him to stay in the country. If he really did love you, it seems like he surely would have voiced that by night. Certainly you can't truly love someone in a strong way if you are afraid to practically breathe.
I hope this helps. I'm here the rest of today on and off if you want any additional information; if you want to chat, I'll send my phone and Skype information so that you have it.
I truly want to help. If you need more from me, please ask.
Take good care,
--Dr. Jackie
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your answer. And yes you're right I pretty much understand that this is going nowhere but I just can't move on. He manipulates me, says once he is forced to leave I will realise my mistake and will be very sorry. The worst thing is that whenever he says something like that to make me feel guilty I feel maybe he is right? Maybe I should really go for it and help him? And I do understand it is unhealthy but I feel like if I help out maybe he will magically change and love me. I don't know how to get out of this. Because right now whenever he says one hint of a kind word I'm running to him :(

Should I see a psychologist? And the thing is, I tried, they were telling me the same thing and still here I is like an addiction

Expert:  DrJackiePhD replied 2 years ago.
Hi again,
First, I'm glad you do understand. This is the first step. I like Dr. Phil's often quoted line, "You can't change what you don't acknowledge." So that is the first and most important step. Now, actually making a move to change--that is the hardest. And it's because we get comfortable in a certain pattern. We get "conditioned" by anything and everything to behave a certain way, act a certain way, etc. I have seen visitors in church come in and sit in a pew where the "Smiths" usually sit; when the Smiths come in 5 minutes later, they truly are at a loss what to do. Someone is sitting "in their spot." They literally stand there for 5 minutes debating whether they should try to squeeze into a space they all can't fit into or try to move somewhere else--all because for 8 years they have been sitting in the exact same pew!!!
In other words, healthy or not, we truly are creatures of habit. And you can say he is manipulating you, and you are right. But now that you realize that, you have to WANT to change. I believe you do. But you mentioned hoping he will magically change one day. Unfortunately, statistically, this won't happen. Studies show that only about 1% of the time this happens, again, because we just get used to patterned, auto-pilot behavior like we do brushing our teeth before bedtime. That means that 99% it takes some type of life-changing event, like a near-death experience, terminal illness, death of a loved on, or an intervention--LIKE COUNSELING. Without some external force acting on someone, it's just not statistically likely s/he will change.
Even if your bf won't go, yet, by all means, please, please, please seek someone professional. This site isn't meant to take the place of regular counseling/therapy. I mean, a lot of customers say this helps. And I think it does. And I'm willing to try to help by talking via phone or Skype or Skype text--whatever method is cheapest regarding international fees. Or depending on your insurance (I don't think JA takes insurance but you can investigate that), go to see someone face-to-face. You can absolutely learn to let go and learn to change that patterned behavior. Basically it's like re-programming your brain. For years you have learned that this relationship is the way it's supposed to be, even though deep down you know it's not healthy for you. So cognitive therapy (re-conditioning) can truly help you think and act in a healthier way.
I hope this helps and gives you a place to start. Please let me know!
--Dr. Jackie