Dear Dr Nekia,
My question may be a bit out of the norm but what I wanted to know is how do you keep your professional life separate from your love life?
I am a psychologist and at times I find it difficult not to bring work home with me and not to use personal experience to give counsel to clients.
Also, it can be challenging not to let my work influence personal situations. How do you handle all of this?
I am especially curious since you specialise in sex and relationship therapy. How does your partner cope?
Leaving Work At Work
Dear Leaving Work At Work,
I must admit that at first it was a bit difficult but I kept reminding myself that one has nothing to do with the other. Traditionally, therapists are never supposed to interject personal experiences for ethical reasons, but I find that with some clients, offering lessons from personal experiences can help them to see their situation in a more constructive light.
The area I most found myself struggling with was to not compare what a client was going through with whatever was happening in my relationships. Over time I learnt to focus on my client in my sessions and to devote myself to my guy when at home.
I also stopped myself from “doctoring” my relationships. Just because you are a mental health professional does not mean that you won’t have challenges in your personal life. I know that a lot of people look to my relationship as a guide or as evidence of my professional capabilities but truly, one has nothing to do with the other.
Unless we are facing a major problem or a hurdle that we cannot seem to get over, I approach everyday life with him on a personal level; all psychological theories and studies go out the window.
You have to meet your partner where he or she is, or you will not be able to relate to one another during problem-solving. Eventually, you will train your mind not to view your personal life through professional lenses, ultimately creating a switch in your brain that shuts your professionalism on and off as needed.
Your partner may feel as though they are in a relationship with “the psychologist”, but over time they should learn the difference between your professional and personal selves.
Dear Dr Nekia,
Is it possible to be in love with someone and have a lover on the side? I love my husband but he is not cutting it for me sexually.
I have met someone who satisfies me and I feel that having them in my life actually enhances my marriage. I am no longer irritable with my husband, I have a lot more patience with the children, and I even find it easier to get through my work day. My lover and I do not go out on dates, and we do not talk on the phone other than if we are making arrangements to hook-up.
Once we do meet up, we handle business, and then part ways again until the next time. He is younger than I am and is single, but somehow it works.
I confided in a close friend and he says that I should feel guilty, but the truth is that I don’t.
I spent so much time trying to get my husband to understand and meet my sexual needs that I gave up on our sex life and am happy to find pleasure again, even if it is with someone else. I do believe that I love my husband despite all of this. Is this possible? And should I feel guilty?
I have a lover
Dear I have a lover,
What you are doing may be morally wrong, but whether or not it is right for you is another topic all together.
Most people are conditioned to go along with the popular vote and will carry some level of guilt should they step outside of it.
However, we each are fully capable of deciding for ourselves what we think is right or wrong.
In order to conform to society, you would need to either accept that you will not have a satisfactory sex life while remaining a loyal and dutiful wife, or you would divorce and move on to find someone new. Are there ways to help him to understand what you need? Yes. But that takes effort from both of you and until he faces the fact that you need something more or different from what he is providing, he will reject any attempt to improve your sex life.
I want you to know that all of the positive things that you pointed out could very well be your reality right now but you must also be aware of the negative consequences.
Not only do you have to worry about your husband finding out, but the attention that you give to your lover takes away from the attention that you should be giving to your husband.
You are missing that intimacy that should be built with him. Without intimacy, over time, your husband will become more like a best friend and father to your children; you will have a live-in roommate sort of relationship and this will inevitably drive you further apart. Next you will want to consider the what ifs.
What if this young man gets attached to you? What if it comes time for you to let him go but you do not want to? What if he gets a girlfriend and doesn’t want to see you any longer?
With your lover gone, are you prepared to be back where you were before it all started, in a marriage that is sexually unfulfilling? Your relationships at home and your environment at work have not really changed for the better. What has changed is you and how you approach situations and, unfortunately this change in you is not concrete, but dependant upon what someone else is giving you.
Add in the level of deceit and ask yourself if, knowing all of this, you can truly love while continuing to do what you are doing? And if the answer is yes, who are you truly loving? Your husband or yourself?
Want relationship advice? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org