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Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 11.03.42 AMDr. Darcy: 

My boyfriend recently told me that he’s OK with me dating women. I’d really like to do it but I’m half afraid he doesn’t mean it or that he’s saying it’s ok just to see if I’m gay. I’ve never been with a woman before but I’ve always wanted to. Do you suggest I do it?

ANSWER

It’s my belief that we should believe what people tell us. If he says he’s OK with you dating women and you’re interested in it and it doesn’t violate your beliefs around being in a relationship, I see no reason why you shouldn’t.

Unless, that is, you’re afraid of finding out you’re gay, or afraid of falling in love with a woman, or afraid you’re not in love with the boyfriend. Any of these would be legitimate cause for pause.

Before you throw yourself up on Match, let me suggest you work out some rules with the boyfriend: First, is it his expectation that you’ll just sleep with women or does he understand that during the course of “dating,” you could [read: will] be forming emotional attachments? This is an imperative point of clarification. Second, does he have any expectations of participating? Three-way? Watching? How do you feel about his involvement?

People tend to assume that couples in non-traditional relationships are thoughtless in terms of protecting their primary relationship. The reality is that in order to have a successful polyamorous relationship, couples require a level of communication skills and emotional intelligence that is sadly absent in most monogamous relationships. So make sure that your boyfriend and you have the stuff of a super couple – otherwise I’d suggest you stay in your traditional relationship where your worries will be limited to the other thousand reasons for conflict.

Writer’s Stats: Female, Bicurious.


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Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 11.32.38 AMDear Dr. Darcy: 

I spent my childhood in and out of hospitals and therapists’ offices because I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The amount of medications that I was on is too high to count. There were times when I was so drugged up that I was literally drooling and hadn’t noticed.

When I went to college I met a therapist who thought I was misdiagnosed and with his help I came off all my medications. That was 10 years ago.

I’m now in my late 20’s and in a very loving relationship with a man who has no knowledge of my former diagnosis. The problem is this: In the last year, I’ve come to think that I probably do have bipolar disorder, but I’ve been managing it by making sure I don’t give in to the manic impulses (I make sure I sleep even if I’m not tired, I don’t spend money I don’t have, I don’t cheat on my boyfriend even when I’m feeling super sexual) and by making sure I take really good care of myself during the dips in mood (I eat even when I’m not hungry, work out regardless of how I feel, never miss work).

I recently learned that my boyfriend is going to propose to me. My question is this: Do you think I need to tell him about my diagnosis? Even if I’m managing it OK?

ANSWER

Let me start by saying that what you’re doing to manage your disorder is 100% spot on. It takes enormous self-love and self-discipline to do what you’re doing without the help of medications and I’m deeply impressed by your commitment.

With that said, there is no shame in being properly medicated. If you’ve come to believe that you truly have this disorder, I would suggest seeking out a psychiatrist who is very conservative in what they prescribe (I can give you names in NYC if you’re local) because a rogue cycle could really put your relationship at risk. Which brings me to the boyfriend.

I think it’s bad for your self-esteem and for your relationship to keep this a secret. The message it sends to your self-esteem is that having bipolar disorder is something to be ashamed of. And it pretty much sends the same message to the boyfriend, who will eventually learn of the diagnosis, probably after you’re married – at which point he’ll feel lied to. Trust in him enough to tell him. He deserves to know your medical history. If you’re going to marry him, it’s his right.

Writer’s stats: Female, Straight.


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Welcome to Format Free Friday, when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense that which we rarely welcome in life: Unsolicited Advice.

I received an email this week from a woman who found me on Twitter. Apparently she was interested in working with me but was concerned that she might not be able to get past how “hot I am.  She apologized in advance for any offense that might be taken, knowing I’m married, and asked me for a referral for a therapist in her state. I emailed her to tell her that I don’t know of any therapists in her area and she wrote back to inquire why I declined her as a client.

Here’s my response:

I didn’t decline you as a client. I presumed that since you asked for a referral for a therapist in your area, working with me would have proven to be too difficult for you. I’m not confused by what I look like, and I find myself thinking that if I was disfigured in some way, you wouldn’t feel entitled to say, “I can’t work with you. You’re too difficult to look at.” That said, if you think you can engage in a professional relationship with me, I’d be willing to try – but I take what I do very seriously and I won’t tolerate having our work distracted by discussions about my physical appearance. Let me know your thoughts.

I then received an email from her informing me that she’s read my blog posts about a type of transference which occurs between a client and a therapist and that she believed that it was appropriate for clients to disclose erotic feelings for a therapist – that often it is such issues that catapult clients into therapy in the first place.

Yes and No.

Yes, it is appropriate for a client to discuss any such feeling with their therapist, and I have encouraged clients to enter that dialogue when such issues have presented in the past.

The thing is, this woman’s not my client. She’s a stranger who saw my picture and thought it would be appropriate to comment on my physical appearance while simultaneously inquiring about entering a professional relationship with me (she’s since informed me that she’ll have to sort out financial issues and will reach out in the future when she’s able to pay for therapy).  Some people call this flirting. Others call it sexual harassment. Here’s what it’s not: Clinical transference.

You need to be in a clinical relationship to have this type of transference. Short of that qualifier, her comments aren’t that different than making catcalls to a woman on the sidewalk (though admittedly more classy).

So here’s the takeaway: Don’t bullshit yourself. If you’re flirting, call it what it is. Own it. Take personal responsibility for it. But don’t tell yourself stories. And if you’re going to play games, I’m definitely not the shrink for you.


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