Q: My boyfriend is gaining a high profile because of his blog. I admire his work, but I think he’s starting to take himself too seriously. I also think this is making him belittle my work in small ways. We both write in our day jobs, and we used to offer each other advice and feedback. But I don’t think I want his advice anymore because it’s edged with a tone of superiority.
A: The tricky thing here is separating two issues: his changed tone toward your work and your belief in the value of his. You understand this difference, but he may hear, “You don’t seem to respect my work as much” as a general criticism of his own work.
He might get defensive and assume you’re oversensitive or jealous, or he might feel hurt if he thinks you don’t value his success. Of course, maybe he’ll be aghast to hear how you feel and will try to make it right. There’s only one way to find out. Try this: “I couldn’t be happier for your success, and I really admire your burrito blog. But I’ve been feeling a little hurt in how you’ve responded to some of my work lately; I miss the easier rapport we had with our writing.”
Q: I have been in therapy for some anxiety issues for several years now. Whenever I talk to people about my experience, they think it’s excessive that I’ve been in therapy so long. I do feel like I am still helped by it. But I also wonder if I’ve come to rely on it more than is good for me. Is it strange to be in therapy that long?
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A: Well, “anxiety issues” could mean anything from a fear of mayonnaise to a history of intimacy problems due to past abuse. When you say you’re still helped, do you mean that it feels good to go each week or that you actually see progress?
I would never condemn extended therapy. I have seen some clients for years. But I know that for certain people, seeing someone longer than a few months can mean coasting into a weekly occurrence of shooting the breeze. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which helps anxiety best, takes a fairly structured and quantifiable approach to coping. Plenty of practitioners practice a mix of CBT and other techniques, but goals should always be in mind. The best way to get clarity on this issue? Bring it up in therapy.