by Dan Savage
on Fri, Mar 28, 2014 at 11:45 AM
I'm on vacation. Please enjoy this golden oldie from March 9, 2011.
Long story short: I cheated on my boyfriend three years ago. I admitted it nine months ago, and we've been in couples counseling for six months. My BF is very responsive in therapy, where we're working on his control issues, and he says everything the therapist expects him to during a session. Twenty-four hours later, though, he'll say, "I was listening to Dan Savage's podcast..." then take back everything he said to our therapist. He then ignores our therapist's advice because of some advice you gave to a differently situated couple!
Could you please tell your readers and listeners who are in counseling to ignore you and listen to their therapists?
Your No-Good Counsel
My response after the jump...
I won't go that far, YNGC—I will not be ignored—but I will go this far: It sounds like your boyfriend is still angry about the affair and isn't being fully honest during those therapy sessions. He's saying what he thinks the therapist wants to hear instead of owning his anger—pardon my psychobabble—and justifies his postsession backsliding/truth-telling by pointing to some fool thing I might have said on the podcast.
You can tell him that I said it's fine if he's still angry, and that's something he might want to talk with your therapist about, but I would appreciate being left out of it. And you can tell him I also said this: If he wants to stay with you, then he needs to forgive you and work on rebuilding trust. If he can't forgive you, he needs to leave you. But to jerk you around like this—even if you're the one who transgressed—is a dick move. And it's not the kind of dick move that I want to be associated with so, again, he should leave me out of it.
All of that said, YNGC, I'm thinking your boyfriend isn't being honest with your therapist—about his anger, about your relationship, about anything—because he maybekindasorta perceives these sessions to be a joint effort to shift the blame for your affair onto his shoulders. (A joint effort on the part of you and your therapist.) You say you're "working on his control issues" during these sessions. That's nice. If your boyfriend has control issues, YNGC, then by all means work on 'em. If you're not working on your own issues—if your therapist doesn't think you have any issues—then I don't blame your boyfriend for not taking your therapist or these sessions seriously.