My short bio:
Hello my name is Chloe Carmichael, Ph.D., and I’m a clinical psychologist specializing in stress management, relationship issues, self-esteem, and life coaching. I’ve been polling the Anxiety.org audience about their relationship problems and want to address common issues that have been brought to my attention as well as open up a discussion on relationship problems with everyone.
Be it familial, romantic, or even platonic, I’d love to talk about how to maintain a happy and healthy relationship. Ask me anything!
Dana is the fantastic moderator from Anxiety.org who will be helping me answer your questions.
My Proof:
I'll be answering from my official Reddit account /u/DrChloeCarmichael
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrChloe_/status/578239531008163841
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrChloePhD
Here’s my website: http://www.drchloe.com/
Specifically for breakups: http://www.drchloe.com/breakups

UPDATE
There are a bunch of great questions! I'm working to provide detailed answers. I have to run for tonight but I will be responding to the first 54 comments. Please give me 48 hours. I really care and want to give everyone a detailed answered. Visit my website if you want to get in touch.

Comments: 172 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

serpent060849 karma

I don't know if this is a weird/pointless question or not, but in your opinion, are humans really meant to stay together until death? I mean in terms of romantic relationships. A lot of times relationships can be worked on and "saved", but isn't it statistically more often the case that they're just doomed, because as humans we lose romantic interest in each other ("it just happens" type of thing)?

DrChloeCarmichael6 karma

Thanks for your question- it’s not weird or pointless. It is however, beyond the scope of a clinical psychologist. All I can say is that many humans are extremely happy staying together until death while many other prefer to have multiple partners and dont need/want that type of lifelong pair bonding. You are correct that sometimes losing romantic interest “just happens” but there’s a lot of things a couple can do if they are committed to avoid that happening. My advice would be to think about what you want, and then date people whose goals are the same.

jedaii_knight26 karma

Welcome to Reddit! Boy, have YOU come to the right place. In your experience, what advice would you give to someone dealing with a five year relationship that has ended. And, how long before one should date again before emotions can be trusted again?

DrChloeCarmichael15 karma

I think it depends on why the relationship ended in the first place. For some people, I recommend people begin dating as soon as they want to. And that could mean the very next day. Could you could tell me more about your situation?

jedaii_knight15 karma

Not mine, happily married for 29 years. My son is in this situation and buggered if I know how to help him. He has known 'Tara' since childhood and they are still very close but she has clearly moved on and I can see it is eating him alive. He is 26, very bright and zero problems with confidence in himself. He just looks like he has been run over by a truck. The breakup was in December. And thank you SO much for your time. And Reddit, too, because it seems the right AMA has been there for me on a consistent basis.

DrChloeCarmichael3 karma

Wow, a 5-year relationship ending at age 26 is very significant- it's nearly all of your son's adult life. Cheers to you for doing all you can to help him get through this. I would encourage him to limit his contact with the ex so that he can get emotional space and move on. For young people, this often includes reminding them that "space" also includes online relationships. How can he really quit thinking about her if she's always in his Facebook news feed? You might also tell your son about a time or two in the past when *you went through a breakup that felt devastating at the time, and how you overcame it. As for how long before he should date again, that's really up to him- some people benefit by dating right away because it helps them to realize there are other "fish in the sea", while others do best to read some self help books, journal, and reflect before resuming dating. The only thing I would discourage is if he were to get into a serious relationship anytime in the next 4-5 months. He probably needs time to fully accept the first relationship is over before beginning anything serious. Kudos to you for trying to help your son!

jedaii_knight2 karma

Thank you so much, and to all the Redditors with their supportive posts. I had no idea this would generate so much love and support. He and I are having a weekend together and I really needed some perspective on this. I believe I am much more confident in this situation and look forward to whatever I can help him with.

Thank you, everybody, once again.

DrChloeCarmichael1 karma

Sure thing! Your son might also want to check out my Breakup Survival article https://www.anxiety.org/dealing-with-a-break-up

diegojones45 karma

I have the feeling Dr. Carmichael is going to have more questions than can be handled.

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

Haha you may be right! But I have prepared answers to all the questions posted as of last night, and now I'm getting ready to post them!:)

MickeyMcSticky15 karma

Hello, I would love to talk anonymously to someone like you. I have come to the conclusion that I have been depressed for many years (a decade or so) and I can't pull myself out of it.

Even though I am fully aware of it some things just don't work like they should with my emotions, for example I don't really feel much sadness when someone dies, I have to force myself to act like I care about people when I know I am supposed to, and I have lost entirely the ability to get angry (I also have to pretend/act when I'm supposed to) or feel concern for people. I don't feel genuine emotions except maybe humor, I love to crack jokes and amuse myself (and others) most of the time when its probably not even appropriate, its just how I deal with everything. I like humor that is just plain wrong, so at least I guess I'm in the right place (reddit) huh?

This does and has hindered me for some time and manifests itself in me having a hard time wanting to go anywhere or do anything. I could contently just live the rest of my life sitting in front of this computer screen if I was able to do so. I have a strong fear of being outside and I dislike people(human nature?), I like being alone.

I've had a girlfriend for 5 years and we don't ever argue, but because I don't ever really show any emotion she says she feels like I don't care about her. She is having a hard time dealing with me because I guess I am kind of distant emotionally, it makes her cry sometimes. I really do care about her and love her, if love is such a thing.

Despite all this I don't have any ill-will towards people and I believe in being a good person and helping people if possible, if only it would make this world a little bit less horrible. I smile to make others feel better when they see me, but I don't really do it for any other reason, in no way am I ever happy to see anyone or happy about anything at all really.

My question is, is there really something THAT wrong with me and what can I do to help me function better with other people and live a normal life? Or does it even matter if I am perfectly content right now?

DrChloeCarmichael3 karma

For many problems, one of important clinical qualifiers for whether or not someone has a disorder is that the symptoms are causing the person himself distress. if you are truly "content" as you state, then no there is nothing wrong with you. if you enjoy just being by yourself, not connecting with others, and its what you genuinely prefer then there’s nothing wrong with it. i do have a little bit of a concern that maybe you aren’t quite as content with your life choices as you think you might be because you describe yourself as being depressed. I would encourage you, since part of your question is the goal to “function better with other people and live a normal life” (if that’s really what you want to do) is get specific about what “functioning better” means to you and then talk to a therapist to see if they can help you acheive those goals. The only way therapy works is if you take ownership of the goals and want them to happen. If you don’t want them to happen or to make changes (ie you are truly "content" as you state in your question) then it’s really ok--- but if actually you do want to make some changes and address "feeling depressed", working with a therapist could be helpful for you. Best of luck to you, and thanks for your question!

Phayke15 karma

What advice would you give a guy who is only drawn to women with depression?

What should you do when you notice life seems to 'come together' only when you're dating someone seriously?

DrChloeCarmichael14 karma

Here's a link to video from live event- https://youtu.be/E8qgwapQ_lI

I have to applaud you for your level of reflection and ownership of the fact that there's something about these women that you're seeking.
What makes you want to date these women? Do you go for women with depression because they seem helpless and this makes you feel powerful?

Phayke7 karma

It always seemed like a coincidence, but I think its because we share a similar sense of humor, have been through similar struggles and relate better. They're usually very talented with creative outlets, have open minded opinions about life, and have the same tastes as me.

DrChloeCarmichael1 karma

And how does their depression become problematic in the relationship?

DrChloeCarmichael1 karma

Phayke, from your comments above it sounds mostly positive- how does their depression become problematic in the relationship?

Frajer14 karma

How does being a relationship expert help and or hurt your own interpersonal relationships ?

DrChloeCarmichael24 karma

Here is a video of answer from live event- https://youtu.be/xDeh3U9QkXk Oh! That's an interesting question. Well, I think it's important to remember that I was a person before I was a relationship expert. So my interest in relationships... I experienced first as a person, and second as a psychologist. When I was a little girl I learned that the joy with a psychologist was that people would come and tell you all of their secrets. Of course, as a little girl I said "That sounds fabulous. That's what I want to do." I think I love learning about people because I love to connect with people. The skills and the tools that I have as a psychologist taught me to do that, but I'm always my person first.

II-W-II12 karma

[deleted]

DrChloeCarmichael14 karma

Let's be honest. Real, problematic anxiety and depression is something a lot of people do experience. And getting a little of therapy or some sort of support is perfectly okay.
The obvious cue, to me, is that if you're ever thinking about hurting yourself or anyone else, then the problem is deeply affecting you. And I do mean thinking about it. Even if you would never do it, but you find yourself thinking anything along those lines, or even heading towards that place, I would definitely go ahead and get some support. Would you like to add some more context to your question?

Albizzy11 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA, my question for you is this. Why is it that we get into arguments with other people whether it be our friends or partners, and half of us argue in emotions, and the other argue in facts? If you had to chose one over the other, which one would you choose?

DrChloeCarmichael3 karma

Thanks, I'm happy to do AMA! What a great questions! Why some people are more analytical and others are more emotional is a product of many factors- genetics, upbringing, social circumstance, etc. I really don’t think I could choose one over the other; as a clinical psychologist both are completely essential to my work and personal happiness. Since you phrased this question in terms of arguments, I'm curious if you're having difficulties with someone who seems to be "missing" emotions or logic, and it's making arguments difficult? Or perhaps it might be yourself? Either way, you might try dividing a sheet of paper into two, and writing about the argument from a purely emotional perspective on one half; and purely logical on the other. Ask the person with whom you're arguing to do the same, and see if you can find common ground. Best of luck to you!

Senor_Tucan9 karma

What, in your opinion, is the most important characteristic of a good relationship?

DrChloeCarmichael16 karma

Oh, what a great question. I would trust, physical attraction - all these other things - but I think physical attraction and everything else actually dies without trust, because if you can’t at least know you're on the same page with somebody and that you're actually living the same moment together, that to me is where trust is essential. **Here's a video from this question on live event! https://youtu.be/j-G9Bpletps

efects4 karma

what is the best way to deal with the jealousy that comes along when you're still learning to trust someone?

DrChloeCarmichael17 karma

If you're still learning to trust someone, you don't know them so well yet. In which case, there isn't a whole lot for you to be jealous of. You haven't yet established too much of a relationship with a person. You're presumably not even exclusive yet because you don't even trust the person.
I'm assuming then that you're experiencing jealousy a little bit intensely and maybe a little bit early.
If you're jealous of the other person being single and going out with others, my first suggestion is to ask them to be exclusive with you. But if the person says they're not ready for that, I would encourage you to date other people too.
In a behavioral sense, dating other people is a way to remind ourselves that we don't need to be so hyperfocused on a person if they're not ready for that kind of attention yet.

DrChloeCarmichael1 karma

PS Here's a video of answer from live event: https://youtu.be/XM9umdoYdxg

morristhecat111 karma

I'll jump in on this - so what is the best course of action to take when you have lost trust in someone? I'm sure everyone is different, but in instances of cheating, if you're willing to make it work, what is the best way to rebuild that trust once it's been broken? Some people have said to start fresh, others have said relationship counseling. Do you feel people can genuinely work it out between themselves, or do you think the relationship just won't go far at the end of the day?

DrChloeCarmichael3 karma

Rebuilding trust after an affair will depend on the nature of the affair (ie was it one drunk night in Vegas, or a yearlong secret romance?), and on the nature of your relationship (ie are you two people who have taken a vow to try and work out problems till death do you part, or are you two ppl who have been dating a while and are still getting to know one another)? That said, general guidelines would be: If the person who broke trust can offer an explanation as to why/how they went astray and offer a sound plan as to why it won't happen again, then it is reasonable (but not required!) for their partner to give them another chance. If it's a second or third time, the cheat-ee may feel they can't trust what may SEEM like a sound plan from the cheater since they have "been down this road before". If you DO decide to give it another chance, counseling often helps. It also sometimes actually helps to agree NOT to discuss the affair past a certain point-- if you keep rehashing old details, you keep yourselves from moving forward, the cheater begins to feel they will be wearing a "scarlet C" for the rest of their life, and the cheat-ee can become overidentified with the victim role. That said, a LOT of discussion usually needs to be had before reaching the "let's retire the topic" stage.

ThatOneLameRedditor8 karma

Could you give some advice about how to maintain a happy and healthy long distance relationship?

My personal situation is that my boyfriend just recently joined the military. Currently, contact between us is limited to 30 minutes a day over the phone (but will be unrestricted in a few months).

DrChloeCarmichael11 karma

I think Skype or face to face contact is really important. Is that an option?

ThatOneLameRedditor3 karma

At this moment it is not an option, but in a few months it will be.

DrChloeCarmichael10 karma

Here's a video of answer from live event! https://youtu.be/ziffkXmy5Ys Definitely use Skype as much as possible- we communicate with so much more than our words. The next time you get a change to talk to your boyfriend, try and develop a calendar of both your availabilities. This will help you give you some control over your separation because you'll know when you're together. Reducing uncertainty reduces anxiety- so by planning your times together, you can reduce some of the stress. I'm sorry you have to be far from your boyfriend- please tell him I said thank you for his brave service to country! **I actually answered this question on video during live event- I'll post full answer later!

KittenOfDoooom8 karma

I find it hard to build and maintain emotional closeness to others (not just romantically... in any way). Any advice on how to change that?

DrChloeCarmichael3 karma

Absolutely! I would advise getting into structured social situations that guide you to gradually get closer to people over time. One way to do this would be, for example, to sign up for a 6 week theatre improv class where you’ll be with the same people each week-- or a creative writing class, or even a cooking class-- just something where you have to interact with other people, preferably in a spontaneous and personal way. My guess would be that each week you will get closer to the other people in the class-- especially if you choose something like creative writing or improv where sharing yourself is a natural part of the process. My other advice would be to see an psychodynamic therapist whose specific goal would be to form an intimate relationship with you and help you to analyze and explore that relationship within therapy. Building an intimate relationship in the safe context of therapy often enables people to build intimate relationships outside of therapy, even if the therapist doesn't specifically tell them to do it. Another strategy would be to see a cognitive behavioral therapist who would give you homework specifically intended to help you get more emotionally close with people in your life outside of therapy, and give you support/feedback as you pilot techniques discussed in cognitive-behavioral therapy sessions. Best of luck to you!

KittenOfDoooom1 karma

Thanks a lot! Will look into it!

DrChloeCarmichael1 karma

You're very welcome:)

XSplain8 karma

What are your thoughts on polyamory?

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

My thoughts are that as long as everyone involved is happy with the situation, it’s absolutely perfectly fine. Those are the same thoughts I have about marriage, single-hood, or most anything between consenting adults. :) Is it something I want for myself? No- I'm quite happy being in a monogamous, lifelong marriage to one person. For me, marriage gives the structure and security that sets the stage to explore passion/love in a deeper way than I feel I could do in a polyamorous setting- but that's just me!

ClaudioRules8 karma

What is the best(if there is such thing) way to break up with someone?

DrChloeCarmichael7 karma

Here's a video of this q/a from live event: https://youtu.be/d15p1OlSgmU I hate to keep repeating myself, but it really depends on the person. If you know that the person will make a scene or cause some break-up drama, I suggest going to a restaurant. Being in a public place can help prevent someone from making a scene.
But if this person is really sensitive, I would do it in private. Also make sure you tell them all the things about them that you like/love/admire to help them get past the "shaming" feeling of rejection. If they ask, "can we still be friends?" I think it's usually kindest to explain that while you will always think fondly of them, an active friendship could get in their way of moving on and so you feel limiting contact is the best thing. What irritates me is when people breakup with someone, but keep that person "on the shelf" to stroke their ego when they're feeling down-- if you're going to break up, be kind enough to set the person free!

Jotebe2 karma

I hope you'd agree, doctor, but I'd recommend either way doing it somewhere you can leave from, so if it gets too intense you can remove yourself, and not have to wait for the other person to leave or anything.

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

Absolutely! That's why I suggest a restaurant if the person is prone to dramatics. The answer above was actually only an abbreviated answer from a live event. I'll post the whole thing soon!

newbie6146 karma

What do you think of the cable TV show "Married at First Sight" where a psychologist and other experts play matchmaker and people who are matched actually marry when meeting for the first time? It does not seem to work out very well for some of the women who are not attracted at all to their chosen mates.

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

I must admit I’ve never seen the show. But I had a good friend who was very nearly on that show. As for your question, what do I “think of it?” I’m sure it’s very entertaining although I wouldn’t be surprised that the method leads to relationship difficulties as you seem to suggest-- for men as well as women.

UtMed5 karma

Are you familiar with the book "No More Mr. Nice Guy" and the advice contained therein? If so, what do you think of it.

If not, what advice can you give someone who only has social anxiety about dating. (Literally nothing else. I'm soft spoken but I'll get up in front of a crowd of people and give a lecture if I have to. I just really crash when it comes to interacting with someone who knows I like them romantically.)

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

I’m sorry I’m not familiar with the book, although it sounds interesting. I think I’ll order on Amazon.com right now. The good news is that if your social anxiety is truly specific to dating, it’s often rather simple to treat. My advice to you would be to see a qualified therapist for gaining skills/homework so that you can feel confident in the dating process. I know that sounds very simple- but it actually often is that simple. Best of luck to you!

Scarytownterminator5 karma

What do you think is the most effective and sensible method for mitigating conflict?

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

This obviously depends very much on the type of conflict. If it’s a romantic relationship and the couple is disagreeing about how often to go out, managing the conflict can be as simple as both people putting their wishes down on paper and then working together to find some compromise between their wishes. On the other hand, if the conflict arises because one partner in a romantic relationship is repeatedly unfaithful, the best way to mange the conflict might be distance (or even ending the relationship). An excellent book on how to handle conflict is Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Paterson and Joseph Grenny.

throwthisawayBUD3 karma

Can you give me advice?

My best friend and I had a thing for many years and even though we've stopped sleeping together, we still pretty much act like we're in a relationship.

Here's the part I'm really struggling with. I love her as my best friend. I am not in love with her, nor do I want to be in a relationship with her. But even though we both know this, I still have trouble moving forward and finding someone else to be with. Even though we haven't been "together" for two years at this point, we've been roommates (with another girl) for even longer. I feel like I can never bring a guy home. Really, I feel guilty for even talking to someone else because it feels like cheating.

I don't know what to do. I don't want to lose my best friend. I mean it when I say that I care about her deeply. But I really am ready to move on, I just don't want to hurt her or ruin our friendship.

Thoughts?

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

Thanks for taking the time to put this into words- it sounds like a really sensitive and complicated situation. To help simplify this very complex situation, I’m going to go to your words “I really am ready to move on.” It seems in this sense “moving on” might be best done literally. If two people need to “break up” (and let’s face it, no matter how we define it, by your own description you two are in a relationship) living separately is an excellent way to facilitate this. She may be hurt and so might you, but it sound slike continuing in your current situation is hurting you both as well. At least if you move out and are open and honest about your goals, the hurt you experience would be what I call “a healthy hurt.” A healthy hurt is one that comes when we face the truth and move forward. What you’re stuck in now is a less healthy type of situation where it sounds like you’re feeling stuck. So once again I encourage you to take your own advice and “move on”- literally.

Allcolyle3 karma

i'm a shy guy, very orderly and i try to be kind as much as possible. but i'm trying to approach this one girl i've known for about four years and i'm not sure exactly how to do it, she's very social and i'm just not very active socially during winter. what do i do?

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

Well, it sounds like you actually want to be active socially this winter, at least with her! If you find larger social situations overwhelming, suggest something more quiet and structured. If kindness is important to you, suggest something that involves helping others. Perhaps you could invite her to serve in a soup kitchen with you some afternoon, followed by a lovely dinner for two that would taste even better infused with the gratitude that comes from helping others (and with the excitement that comes from dining with your crush!:)

Allcolyle1 karma

thank you so much!

DrChloeCarmichael1 karma

You're welcome!

KingSilver3 karma

where can a guy like me with no experience talking to people in general go to learn how to correctly flirt with women?

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

Flirting is a form of social behavior. So trouble with flirting is actually a form of social anxiety. The good news is that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy treats of social anxiety very successfully. I would encourage you to interview 2-3 CBT therapists, explain you’re looking for short term, psychoeducational/homework based therapy that would help you learn how to flirt with women. I’ve also seen community learning courses and books on the subject but can’t speak to those because I’ve never attended one. However I do know people have had success with CBT in getting over anxiety and learning to flirt. I’ve also heard very good things about Ginie Sayle’s video, Power Flirting: http://www.amazon.com/POWER-FLIRTING-GINIE-SAYLES-Sayles/dp/B000Y078VU and PS there is no "correct" way to flirt with women-- we're all different!:)

warpg83 karma

Chloe -

I'm recently single and have been non-exclusively dating a few different women.

One, in particular, I'm very in to, but she and I work opposite schedules so getting together is tough. She also isn't consistent about returning texts. How can I be persistent without coming off as "needy"?

DrChloeCarmichael6 karma

Here's a video of answer below from the live event! https://youtu.be/MWYGtbAhNdw Well, first of all congratulations on being comfortable with dating a few women - good for you. I actually have a lot of men in my practice that have a hard time with that and they end up lying to women and doing all these things. I try to tell them there is nothing wrong with dating lots of women, you just have to be honest with them about it. So first of all good for you. I don’t that the issue is necessarily that you need to be more persistent in order to overcome schedule differences. You might just need to be more organized and more strategic. So instead of sending a text message and trying to communicate by text message with someone that you have opposite work schedules with, and especially in the context of a romantic relationship potentially - dating relationship at least. How about that? When you end the date with her, and you’re both sitting together in the same room, say "I've thought about it and I'm free next Wednesday and there's a movie going, would you like to go with me?" So show that you've thought in advance about the next date, and then when you're actually sitting there with her, go ahead and lock it down.

cscamp073 karma

Hi! Thanks for doing this AMA. I have so many questions, but you can take your pick:

How important do you think sex is in a relationship?

Do you see a trend in the length of time a relationship will last before the sex begins to wane?

In your experience, is monogamy for humans natural?

Is there any scientific evidence that lifelong partnership serves an evolutionary purpose?

Thanks again!

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

Sex is a way for people to experience physical pleasure, intimacy, acceptance, and trust. So long as both people find sex a positive experience, I think sex is very important in a relationship. In fact, if one person finds sex important but the other does not, problems can arise. I guess the absolute value of sex in a relationship is less important than a good match between partners (i.e. if you don’t like sex, it’s important you have a partner who feels the same, but if you do like sex you should have a partner who shares that with you.) Great questions. I like that you used the word trend, because there are no absolutes. Although there are no absolutes, it seems that sex beginning to wane may not be tied to the length of the relationship as much as the quality of the relationship. Sometimes the length of time a relationship has existed before sex was introduced is also important. In many situations, (but not all) having sex too early before trust and respect have had time to become established can lead to intense sex that fizzles when the partners realize they don’t actually have that much in common. I see this happening more often than healthy long term couples having sex just simply “wane.” Many of the couples in my practice have been together for years and enjoy very healthy sex lives.

breakup_doom3 karma

Chloe, I want to break up with my girlfriend of two years. There are a number of reasons but when it comes down to it, I really just want to be single again. I don't know how to tell her that I just want to be alone, saying it that way would crush her. What should I do?

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

I admire your sensitivity and your absolute awareness that you don’t want to be in this relationship. Even though you think it would “crush her” it’s usually even more crushing to be locked in a relationship with someone who actually doesn’t want to be with you. Think of it like ripping off a bandaid- it will be easier for you and for her if you do it directly rather than inching it off forever. Think of all the things you love about her and admire about her. Share them with her as a way to assure her of how meaningful your time together has been, and maybe tell her that one of the things you value most about the relationships is that you both value honesty. Then be kind to her by setting her free.

HedgedWithCaveats2 karma

Hi, thanks for the AMA! I got divorced recently and am currently in a new relationship. What worries me is that I seem to be seeing a lot of the same traits, habits, etc. in the two guys. A similar thing is happening with a friend who's gotten out of one relationship and is now in a new one. I am seeing too much of a resemblance between these to guys as well. Is that just me, or do people really tend to have a "type" they fall for? Any way out of the vicious circle? Thanks!

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

Thanks, my pleasure to do the AMA! First of all, congratulations on having so much insight that you seem to be repeating a pattern of going after a certain “type” (that presumably didn’t work before) I don’t know why you got divorced, but if you think that the same traits that led to the divorce are the very same traits that you’re becoming attracted to again, you’re absolutely right to see if there’s a way out of what you call a “vicious circle” the good news is there absolutely is. It’s not easy to change your patterns but then neither is being with the same unworkable relationship again and again. To answer your other questions, yes people do tend to have a type that they fall for and a good therapist can help you get some of the good qualities about that type while still enjoying a healthy relationship. For example, if you’re currently going for “bad boys” because they’re exciting to you, perhaps in therapy you could discover ways to find thrills in relationships without the downsides that are bringing you unhappiness in your current dating patterns.

G0ldengoose2 karma

What's the psychology behind swingers? To the average person, the thought of someone playing cricket with your spouse is devastating, but to this group, they love it!

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

To be honest, I don’t have a lot of experience with swingers so I can’t say I have a lot to offer you here in terms of my thoughts. To me, the main point would be that as long as everyone involved is happy with the situation, then it’s ok with me!

G0ldengoose1 karma

Aww, i was hoping for the psychology behind it. It's just the complete opposite to what the majority of people do.

DrChloeCarmichael1 karma

Yes, sorry I can't offer you more psychology on this one, GOldengoose. It really isn't my area of expertise- best of luck to you!

dreamcasting2 karma

Thanks for coming! I want to know what causes people to get into "undeclared" relationships where physical intimacy is regular and emotional closeness exists, but no formal label (and associated expectations exist) and if this sort of thing is common across the entire age spectrum.

Also, what's the best way to handle someone who always deflects responsibility and blame to other places, and can't face their own problems?

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

Here is link to video of this q/a from live event- https://youtu.be/GgZ3dXaF45c

Thanks for having me!

Well my opinions on labels is, it’s very much like my opinion on marriage - I think people should be able to do whatever they want. So if this person like labels and wants to be in a relationship where there’s a label, then that’s great, they should find someone that shares that need because it’s a very common, conventional thing. I’m my husband's wife and I love it, it’s part of my label; it’s part of my role, I identify with it, it organizes things for me socially and I like the label. On the other hand, some people don’t like a label and they find it limiting. They just don’t like it and that’s fine and it’s a popular enough way to think about things, there’s so many people who feel that way. I know friends that have all kinds of arrangements with each other and my feeling really is; whatever makes people happy as long as both people are happy with it. So if you want to be your boyfriend's girlfriend but he says ''I don’t like labels'', I would suggest that you consider finding someone who would love to label you his girlfriend!

To answer your question about "how to handle" someone who "always deflects responsibility and blame to other places and can't face their own problems": First, have a frank conversation and let them know how you feel. If they keep doing it, and it's causing you distress, then distance yourself from that person! Don't keep having MORE frank conversations with the person about it- one or two will do. By your description, the person will not benefit from feedback-- so if you persist after a certain point, the "responsibility" issue actually lies with you for persisting in a relationship that makes you unhappy.

aeriebb2 karma

I am in a situation now where my ex-boyfriend of almost a year is moving across the country. We both still have feelings for each other and communicate on a fairly regular basis, but the relationship is causing me stress. So my question is how do I cut off communication with him in a healthy and productive way?

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

Kudos to you for being willing to endure what will inevitably be a difficult period (cutting off communication with someone you care about) in the service of your higher goals (presumably moving past an old relationship so you can be free for a new relationship.) You can contain communication with him in a healthy and productive way by having an open and honest conversation with him about why there needs to be some distance. To make it seem like less of a rejection you can explain that you actually feel so positive towards him that remaining in communication with him seems to be blocking you from being open to others. Sometimes ending communication for 6 months or so seems less intimidating to someone than cutting off communication “Forever.” Plan to have a phone date to check in 6 months from now, if you want, if the idea of permanently saying goodbye seems too disturbing to you right now. My guess, and hope, is that after a period of no communication you will be less dependent on him and will be ready to let the relationship move into the past, where it belongs. Congratulations on being willing to endure some temporary discomfort in the service of your long term happiness.

KwintenSB2 karma

Hey Chloe, I reallllly like sex, and Im bad at relationships. It became an addiction(sex and watching porn). What can I do to change this, I want to be a better person?

EDIT: im currently doing NoFap (no Porn, Mastrubation and Orgasm)

DrChloeCarmichael3 karma

I applaud your self awareness and willingness to see areas that you want to work on yourself. Being addicted to sex (and bad at relationships) are probably related to one another. It’s a complex issue and I would encourage you to invest in yourself by seeing a qualified therapist who specializes in sex addiction. Don’t be afraid to interview the therapist. Ask them questions such as how many clients have they treated for sex addiction, what types of interventions the treatment would include, and what specialized education they have received for sex addiction. I would encourage you to interview 2 or 3 therapists and choose the one who seems most qualified to help you with this very important problem. Congrats again on your self awareness and willingness to get help.

SkipioZor2 karma

I've been in a relationship for about 4 years now but I don't feel the romance anymore, on my end. I still love her and deeply care about her and her well being but is it normal to not feel the "puppy love" anymore?

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

I’m sorry your relationship seems to be lacking romance. While it is normal not to feel “puppy love” after 4 years, puppy love is often replaced by deeply romantic love that is actually even more intense than “puppy love.” If you’re not experiencing this with your partner, I would encourage you to have an open conversation with your partner about how to restore the romance. Since you’re writing to ask this question, I’m assuming that romance is important to you. I would encourage you to learn how to find romance with your current partner or consider finding another relationship that can give you what you need. A good starting point might be to ask your partner if he/she feels the same as you, or if he/she is happy with things the way they are. If you both are yearning for more sizzle, then commit to try new things together- newness often facilitates romance. Take a dance class together, read each other's favorite erotic novel, even simply trying a new restaurant together can bring some excitement if both people want it to happen. If your partner doesn't want to change, that might be a signal that you need to reevaluate if the relationship is working for you. Romance is an absolutely valid need in intimate relationships, and I encourage you to pursue getting your needs met!

theWhiteLanturn2 karma

Hey Chloe thank you for doing an AMA! Now, my ex had left me mid last year but we still talk everyday, I'm having a lot of trouble getting over her. How would I go about doing that? And is there a way to do it so that I don't have to stop talking to her?

DrChloeCarmichael3 karma

Thanks, I’m happy to do this AMA! I’m sorry your ex left you, and sorry to hear you’re having “a lot of trouble getting over her”... but honestly I’m not surprised you’re finding it difficult to move past someone when you’re literally still taking deliberate steps to focus on her every day. By choosing to maintain contact through conversation, texts, visits, etc. you are making the work of moving past her that much harder. Your desire for a solution where you don’t have to stop talking to her is akin to an alcoholic who wants to kick the habit without ceasing to drink. At the very least, I’d suggest you go 30 days without contact just to clear your head and make a dent in the dependence that daily contact fosters. I know that isn’t what you want to hear, and it won’t be easy- so take steps to give yourself support. Focus on the fact that it’s only 30 days. Arrange dinner with a friend every night of the week for 30 days. Plan a vacation if you can. Take a language class. Repaint your bedroom walls. Do yourself the giant favor of staging an intervention so you can finally get over this person who has told you clearly that she doesn’t want to be with you.

theWhiteLanturn1 karma

Thank you very much. It may not have been what I wanted to hear but it's what I needed to hear thank you so much

DrChloeCarmichael1 karma

Happy to help! You can do it- best of luck to you! You might also want to read my Breakup Survival Guide article https://www.anxiety.org/dealing-with-a-break-up

johnnynoname121 karma

I just ended it with the love of my life

I'm slowly get over her

Will there be another one?

DrChloeCarmichael3 karma

Here's video of this q/a from live event: https://youtu.be/Y-1te5hWRjs

I don't have a crystal ball, so I can't tell you the future. But try and think of the woman before this one. How did you feel when that relationship ended? Are the feelings you're experiencing now similar?

johnnynoname120 karma

not really...fact is I've kept myself REALLY guarded from falling in love......I became jaded and just had a lot of casual partners I didn't have feelings for

fact is I guess i can't rush it I guess

DrChloeCarmichael1 karma

The more of people that we meet, the more likely we are to find the person who can return our love the way it was intended. I want you to think back maybe to another relationship that you had before you met the woman that you just now thought was the love of your life. So think back to perhaps if there was a woman before and when that relationship ended, did you feel anything similar because you didn’t yet know that you were going to meet this other wonderful woman that you now call the love of your life. Perhaps it will happen again and we can’t say for sure, I can’t control it but what we can control is your behavior, behaviors that are likely to bring about partnership would include joining dating websites, telling friends that you want to get over that person, journaling, going to therapy, coming to acceptance, read self-help books, do the behaviors that will help you to get past that person and sometimes that even just simply means putting yourself out there, going to classes and just deliberately forcing yourself to smile at women and talk to them and trust that soon enough one of us will again entice you!:)

call_the_eagles1 karma

I really have enjoyed reading what you have answered so far and I was wondering if you have any published work? I am a psychology student, myself and would love to read anything you wrote. Also what is your opinion of someone who finds themselves putting everything they've got into even the smallest relationship?

DrChloeCarmichael2 karma

Thanks! I'm trying to answer as many questions as I can, but time just doesn't permit. Answers will appear more over 48 hours. Sorry /r/IAmA for my speed!
You can read my blog posts at http://www.drchloe.com/ or https://www.anxiety.org/authors/chloe-carmichael-phd

reddittailedhawk1 karma

Hopefully this question isn't too late. Just wondering what kind of education and training you went through?
I've always considered couple's therapy as a potential career, having a good balance of objectivity and empathy.

DrChloeCarmichael1 karma

Sure! You can see it all on my bio page. There's also some videos where I explain why I became a psychologist- http://www.drchloe.com/about-dr-chloe-carmichael-phd/

Positively--Negative1 karma

You have heard about the one that got away, I'm sure? Here's mine. I was with my girl for 12 years. She broke up with me at my lowest point in my life. Two of my closest friends passed away 3 weeks apart, my dog passed away 4 weeks after that. 3 weeks after that I lost my job. And to top it off, she broke up with me shortly after. It's been 2 years since we split. She has moved on, and I can't. We are still close friends. I would rather bite the bullet and accept her new choice than not have her in my life at all. She knows that I would take on the world for a second chance. It's just not going to happen, I've almost accepted that. Now I'm faced with the issue of being stuck in a miserable existence. I dropped all of my acquaintances that we holding me back. I enrolled in college. I took on extra hours at work. I refuse to go out and meet new people. I'm just not interested. I'm afraid of losing another person close to me. Just a bit of background info, I've buried over 20 friends since high school. She left me because I wouldn't marry her when she wanted. All I asked was for us to be financially stable. Kids were in neither of our future. My anxiety is thru the roof. I torture myself daily with school, work, and other meaningless hobbies to try and distract myself. I can't get her out of my head. I'm lost. I don't know how to normalize. The greatest years of my life are all memories and photographs. Do you have any wise words for this lost soul? Putting myself out on reddit is freakin weird but I'll try anything at this point. Sorry for the bad formatting and a story that is all over the place. Thanks in advance :)

DrChloeCarmichael1 karma

I'd advise you to re-evaluate whether this "torture" as you describe it is worth it, maybe it's time to re-evaluate whether it might actually be easier to move on with separate lives. You talk about "the one that got away", but you aren't actually letting her get away- you're keeping her around and re-living rejection every day.

OaSoaD0 karma

What does it mean if I can never hold a relationship for long?

DrChloeCarmichael6 karma

Here's a video of answer from live event- https://youtu.be/PRGAxRPYfk4

That could mean 1000 things. If you want to not hold down a relationship for long time, that's an okay life choice.
But you say can. Which to me means that you've tried and wanted to, but struggled to hold down the relationship.
I don't know how old you are either. If you're 22, I would encourage you to not worry about it, keep meeting people, and just learn and try relationships.
If the person is 45 and they've been really trying since they were 22, I would ask if people are breaking up with you? Or are you breaking up with people? If you're the one that ends it, I would maybe say that you have a fear of intimacy, or that you choose the wrong people.
If the people are breaking up with you, there could be some relationship skills that you're lacking. But this is good news if that's the problem because you can learn skills.

OaSoaD-4 karma

Im 17 lol

DrChloeCarmichael5 karma

I wouldn't worry so much about it then :)

Dr_Bunsen_Burns-3 karma

Hi, why are you single?

DrChloeCarmichael4 karma

I'm happily married :)