Why Trying To Be Your Partner's Therapist Will Likely Backfire

Have you become the therapist in your relationship? Here's how to stop and take a step back.

Last updated on Sep 17, 2014

How NOT to become your boyfriends therapist Dean Drobot | Canva
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Have you ever been so transformed by a growth-oriented, psychological, spiritual, or holistic practice that you became The Prophet for it?

When that happened, were you then able to diagnose when others' ailments could and should be corrected by those practices or a specific practitioner? You've probably found yourself analyzing and diagnosing your significant other, hoping they will listen to your diagnosis and change.

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If so, know that this is natural. We want the best for the people we love. If it worked for us, it would work for them too, right?

But you also may have already discovered what I learned in my early 30s: therapist/healer/life coach is the wrong title for intimate personal relationships.

Naturally, as a therapist myself, my relationships suffered from making this mistake, so I subsequently learned how to avoid it. (Thank you to my dear friends in my 20s and early 30s for being my practice patients before I became a therapist).

The tricky thing about stepping into the role of being your significant other's life coach/therapist is that it's not all bad. There are quite a few very nice aspects to it.

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We live in a time when there is no shortage of universal wisdom at our fingertips. Why not share it when the sentiment fits? Plus, we all have natural talents as advisors and therapists. It feels good to use those talents to provide accurate analysis, good advice, or rich reflections to your lover in a time of need. I love to help anyone I care about by providing assistance that helps lift their spirits and be more hopeful. Additionally, when someone lets you into their growth process, you share a rich and sacred intimacy.

So why stop? I learned the hard way that in romantic relationships, therapizing, consulting, or coaching my partner regularly was also:

  • Diminishing my partner's sense of empowerment
  • A way of avoiding being loved
  • An invitation to cycles of praise and rejection
  • Basing my worth on my ability to be of service
  • Setting the stage for later abandonment (when your partner outgrows their need for you)

So I learned to effectively step out of the therapist role into different kinds of relationship roles so that I can love and truly be loved.

So, how do you side-step the temptation of stepping into the counselor role frequently?

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The number one answer is that you must trust in your partner's innate resources to figure it out and get the help he or she needs to turn the corner. You are allowed to insist they turn a corner if their problems are impacting you and the relationship. But if you help them to do so without being asked, you are stepping into a role that could backfire in the face of the intimacy you crave.

By the way, if you are a therapist, consultant, or life coach, you might know how tempting it can be to analyze your friends, partners, and loved ones all the time. It's part of who you are, and it is silly to think you can completely turn it off. But you don't have to broadcast it perpetually.

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