The general public relies on counselors as trusted mentors but that can be a mistake. Therapists teach their patients to consciously choose people in their lives who will keep their promises and to get rid of those who don’t, and as a result their patients become job hoppers and relationship hoppers, they abandon their relatives, and they still get divorced despite spending thousands of dollars on marriage counseling. Having functional relationships is not about choosing perfect people who deliver; it’s about ending up with imperfect people who over-promise and under-deliver and forcing them to do what they should. People don’t voluntarily take responsibility for their end of a relationship; you have to give them a really strong incentive to do it or make them suffer the consequences for not doing it. The problem with counselors is that they teach their patients to search for people who do it voluntarily, which doesn’t exist, and so they end up wandering around endlessly and they become drifters.
I dated a licensed marriage and family counselor who plays games. Every night he called me one hour before bed time and asked me questions for three hours straight until I almost fell asleep on the phone. He did not care that I had to wake up in the morning because it was not his problem, and after about five days I began to realize that he’s extremely selfish. He called it “exploring” but he was objectifying me as if I were his patient, and objectifying creates distance. People who fear intimacy sometimes become counselors because it enables them to keep a distance from everyone else. Distance makes them feel safe. (I took psychology classes in college, too).
I discussed it with a friend who is not a psychologist but he has a million years of dating experience and he’s been married twice. In the middle of our conversation I discovered that my counselor boyfriend had sent me an email that contained a list of ten more questions. My heart sank and I forwarded it to my friend. As soon as he saw it he exclaimed: “He’s a flake! Tell him to get serious or F-ck Off!“
In retrospect, I realize that I initially entered into the relationship with flat affect because the dating market is saturated with dishonest and selfish men. Additionally, I have a heightened awareness of it because I had been in long term relationships with the worst of them all: First it was Chris, who told me that he was a nursing student when he wasn’t (he was a part time janitor who had dropped out of nursing school), and then Arash, who told me that he was an insurance defense attorney and that he owned a townhouse when he was about to quit his job to go back to school and his townhouse was owned and occupied by his mother. And so I already halfway expected my new boyfriend to be dishonest and selfish even though he’s a licensed marriage and family counselor. I quietly watched to see what he was going to do, and as he examined me with endless questions for three hours a day, for weeks, eventually it became clear that he was playing a mysterious game of some kind. I became confused. My gut instinct knew that we were not moving forward, and yet I couldn’t dump him because he was acting as if he was intensely interested. I hung in there and allowed his nightly phone calls to continue. A few days later he admitted that he was dating another woman and he promised to break up with her.
To my surprise, he asked me to move into one of his rentals in order to be closer to him, and then a couple of days later he quietly rented it to a new tenant. When I discovered that I asked him if he had broken up with his other girlfriend yet and he said that he did not because he was too busy.
It was a Saturday night and he told me that he had to end our conversation early because a man was coming over for business reasons. Obviously he had a date with another woman, and I realized that the previous Saturday night he did exactly the same thing. That night, in the middle of the night, I caught him trolling the Craigslist personal ads by posting a decoy ad there. He was still searching for other options.
We broke up and then we talked about it and decided to try again, but at the tail end of that conversation he decided to leave because I wasn’t madly in love with him. He wants fireworks. When he broke up with me he said that he’s a good catch because he’s rich. He’s unable to see that normal women would run away from a man who asks questions for three hours straight every night for weeks, dates multiple women at the same time, asks her to move into one of his rentals and then silently rents it to a new tenant, dates someone else every Saturday night, and gets caught trolling the personal ads. But apparently he thinks that he has a soul mate out there. He honestly believes that somewhere out there is a woman who will fall so madly in love with him that she will ignore red flags that are the size of the Star-Spangled Banner. Even though he’s a licensed marriage and family counselor it’s clear that relationships are outside of his realm. Someday he’ll find a woman who is so desperate for financial stability that she’ll turn a blind eye to his myriad of games, and they can enjoy eternal marital bliss if she’s a complete moron who will never realize who he is.
The counseling industry is badly in need of quality assurance. There should be a county inspector or an outside third party to track counselors’ performance. Those who work in large clinics have supervisors who make them document objectives for their patients and so they have direction and accountability, but I question if they re-write that document to remove their original objectives when they fail. As an example, if a counselor documents that the objective is to treat a patient for depression, and after several months it becomes clear that the patients’ condition is not improving, then the counselor can shred that document and rewrite it to say that the patient is being treated for a different condition. The new condition could be something that the patient doesn’t have which would make the counselor appear to be an awesome healer. Or, the new condition could be something that’s very difficult to treat, such as Borderline Personality Disorder, which would allow the counselor to continue to work with the patient without accomplishing anything. Either way it’s a form of billing fraud. There should be an outside third party who keeps the original “Performance Objective” sheet and does independent evaluations of the patients to ensure that their treatment is working.