Most of us are so happy to have friends that we seldom evaluate whether a friend could be holding us back in life. As my client Rachelle started to realize, friends can often help keep you in your dysfunctional lifestyle. Years ago, I realized this myself when I got into a wonderful relationship with Alan, but was still hanging out with my male-bashing girlfriends. I'd come home angry when Alan hadn't done anything wrong. Rachelle realized that "overgiving" was a huge issue for her since she wasn't just "overgiving" to men, but was also overgiving to the women in her life. No wonder she felt lonely, even though she had plenty of "so-called" friends. She began to realize that their friendships were based on them needing something from her. There was little equality in these friendships. But being the "nice" person Rachelle is, she was easily sucked in to helping friends out, and she in fact used to be proud of it. Her friends would call and ask for advice, and it made her feel that they trusted her. And when they needed a place to stay, or even their friends needed a place to stay, she opened her doors willingly, thinking it was an opportunity to meet new people. When they asked for money, she was glad she had it to share. She would always drop everything to help others out, and it made her feel good about herself. She never thought about the fact that she was being taken advantage of.
But several situations had arisen lately that made her feel resentful and she began to wonder if these people really cared about her at all. She recently took a trip to see one of her girlfriends, and left there feeling angry and resentful. She assumed that this friend would behave in a loving, giving way as Rachelle herself does. Instead, the friend acted selfish, talking about her and her life constantly; she made Rachelle work around her schedule as she ran errands; she didn't take Rachelle to any tourist spots; and when Rachelle offered to pay each time, she accepted. Rachelle had never really noticed all of this before. Now that she was aware she was an "overgiver," she didn't know who she was mad at the most -- herself or her friend. But Rachelle did what she usually does when she's mad, left early and swore she would never go back, without saying a word to her friend.
In therapy, we talked about the fact that she helps set her friends up to become "takers" because she never asks for anything back, while she keeps offering things to them. Her false belief system makes her believe, "If I keep giving to them, they will eventually get it and give back to me." But it doesn't work that way. Instead, "overgivers" attract "takers."
Can these friendships be changed? Maybe, maybe not. The earlier in any relationship that you try to make it equal, the more likely it can change. But as Rachelle is finding out, once this dynamic has gone on quite awhile, the more likely the friend will get angry when you try to change it. Rachelle started saying "No," to friends, but has found out that they often stop calling and/or "punish" her in some way. She recently stood up to one of the friends that continually complains about her husband by saying, "Let's make a deal -- that you stop telling me how badly he treats you until you are doing something about it." It didn't go well and the friend is saying that complaining about your husband is what a friendship is all about it, so just forget it then.
Seldom does it work to change a "taker" friend into an "equal" one. But that doesn't mean that Rachelle shouldn't try. Here's what I told her to do. Tell her how you feel, i.e. "It upsets me and makes me feel like you don't really care about me when you only reach out to me when you need something. Tell her what you want, i.e. " I won't do what you just asked me to do for you because you don't do things for me. I want an equal relationship with you. I also want us to do more things where we just enjoy each other's company and you stop asking me to help you out. Ask her if she will do that, i.e. "Will you?" And tell her what will happen if she doesn't, i.e. "If not, I can't be as close a friend to you because I'm not going to keep giving my time, energy, and money to you and everyone else anymore when I'm not getting anything back."
Rachelle is hurting inside as she tries to equalize these friendships, but she also realizes that they are holding her back. It was easier to "buy" friends by overgiving, but now she needs to find friends that are strong and successful like her instead of "needy" friends. She needs friends who are capable of giving back. Sure, friends share back and forth about their lives, but it's a two-way street. Seldom do real friends borrow money, and if they do, they pay it back with the next paycheck, and reciprocate when you need help. Real friends know that if you pay for lunch this week, they pay next week. The key is not to let a relationship get out of balance in the in the first place. When "giving," to someone, ask for something back. "I'll pick you up tonight, and then you can pick me up next time. Okay?" Then remind them next time instead of waiting for them to do the right thing. Whether it's with boyfriends or just friends, it's up to you not offer so much that you will be taken advantage of. Instead, clean up your friendships and promise yourself that you will have no more relationships built on you giving too much.
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My 21-year-old client Ally* felt like she was in hell after she was raped in college. She was so humiliated and scared, she couldn't even tell her parents, finance or friends. (Click here to see original story "Anita Hill and Twenty Something's") She just came home, moved back in with her parents who began to control her life again, and became extremely depressed and even suicidal. Her mother was worried about her, and after a friend suggested it, she called me and scheduled a few months of therapy for Ally.
In the 3-month, 12 session deal timeframe, Ally's world has changed tremendously. Ally worked very hard in therapy because she hated the word "victim" and was determined not to continue to be one just because she was raped. In therapy, she first worked through the anger and humiliation she felt because of the rape by writing a very angry letter to her rapist, but didn't send it because she wanted no contact with him. She also wrote a letter to the coach who did not support her. Then she began standing up to her parents, reminding them that she just turned 21 and didn't need to be answering to them every moment. She had the most difficulty with her dad, but gradually persisted in not letting him treat her like she was 12. What seemed to help her most with her dad though was getting a job, going to work almost every day, and making her own money. Not only did it help her own self-esteem, but her dad's level of respect for her grew and they immediately began to get along better. She hasn't given up on the idea of college, and is starting back this fall by taking a few classes near home. She's also talking to some friends about getting an apartment together. Needless to say, her depression is long gone and she no longer feels like a victim in any sense of the word. In fact, she says she feels stronger than she ever has.
And as for men, she is no longer angry at men in general. She realized, however, that the man she was engaged to was controlling. She also now realizes that he was her parents' choice, not hers. Near the end of our sessions, she rekindled an old friendship on Facebook with a guy she knew years ago. They began hanging out and it has evolved into a love relationship. She's handling this new relationship very differently than her past relationships with men however. She's now confronting issues as they come up instead of withdrawing and avoiding. They've already had some "discussions" about how he's handling his ex, as she's letting him know how she feels and what she wants.
She feels very happy right now, very strong, and very confident. However, she knows that there will always be crises in life and for her happiness to continue, she, herself, has to handle issues head on, and that each time she does, it will make her stronger. No more playing victim to anyone!
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Type of Person: Passive/aggressive (Victim)
Type of Person: Domineering (Controller)
Type of Person: Avoidant (Victim)
Type of Person: Jealous (Controller)
Type of Person: Manipulative (Victim)
Type of Person: Sexist (Controller)
Type of Person: Passive (Victim)
Type of Person: Abusive (Controller)
Type of Person: Needy (Victim)
Type of Person: Princess (Victim)
Type of Person: Cheater (Controller)
Type of Person: Obsessive (Controller)
Type of Person: Addict (Victim)
Type of Person: Con Artist (Controller)
Victim (Gives Others Control)
Controller (Controls Others)
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Note to Clients: I've had Special Deals for awhile that require a commitment to the therapy, but I have loosened up those deals so that you can create a deal that works better for you. See below.
Rates Per Committed Sessions
I understand that Carolyn Bushong, L.P.C. of Carolyn Bushong Psychotherapy Assoc., Inc. has a normal hourly rate for therapy of $180/hr. and that this is a special one-time discount agreement between Client __________________ and Therapist Carolyn Bushong. I am committing to the Special Plan checked below:
@ $160/hr ($160 for each session) = $640
(savings of $80), booking (check one)
___every week, ___every 2 weeks, ___every
month (must be completed in 4 months or
*This agreement does not apply to ½ hour sessions unless discussed with Carolyn in advance.
I agree to pay Carolyn Bushong, L.P.C. at the time of service for all services rendered. I know that I am required to leave a debit or credit card number (& expiration date) that will be charged the day of each session, not all at once. However, I understand that if I discontinue appointments, not keeping the agreement for the number of sessions at the discounted rate, that the difference between the regular rate and the discounted amount will come due immediately, and that the amount will be charged to my debit or credit card. If the Therapist is unable to collect from the debit or credit card at the time of service, then I realize as the Client that I will be in default of this agreement.
No oral promises, no changes to the terms or conditions shall be made unless agreed in writing and signed by both parties.
All previous rules and conditions of the basic agreement between therapist and client, such as late cancellations, etc. will still apply.
In case of default on this agreement, I realize that I have to pay 1 ½% interest on any unpaid balance, together with any collection or court costs involved, as well as attorney fees incurred in collection on this account.
*If you would like to know more about therapy, click here to see my article titled "What to Expect from Therapy," or of course call me and I will discuss the topic with you. 303-333-1888
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Carolyn Bushong, L.P.C, is an expert on relationships and a licensed therapist. She is known for being one of the top relationship therapists in the country and the author of 3 relationship books. She has appeared on Oprah, the View, and many other TV shows, and she has been giving relationship advice on Denver radio for more than15 years. She has been helping people like you improve your life and relationships for more than 30 years. Cosmo, US Weekly and other magazines quote her expert relationship advice, and McCall’s named her one of the “Top 6 Passion Doctors” in the country. Carolyn Bushong always has fresh, up-to-date, hot information on topics that will inspire you and change your life and improve your relationships. She has clients all over the country, some who come into her office and others who receive Carolyn's expert advice through phone counseling. Carolyn Bushong is an excellent psychotherapist, but she also lives what she teaches, as she is in a happy, healthy relationship with Alan, her mate of 29 years.
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How to get Carolyn Bushong's Relationship Advice:
Individual Counseling: l hour or ½hr sessions
by phone, Health Insurance may cover a portion.
Phone Counseling is a great way to do therapy, especially for the really busy person who's constantly on the go, or the person who is shy or hesitant to talk about their problem, or when the weather is bad and you don't want to drive to a therapist's office. It just makes sense in this day and age to be able to call and discuss a problem and get advice on a situation without having to leave work or home.
Email Advice: Visit Carolyn's website for more information.