Boyfriend's girl friend
When my boyfriend and I started seeing each other, he claimed that one of his friends was his girlfriend. Turns out that she wasn't, things never worked out for her, and he sees her as just a friend now, and that's all it ever was. He was doing that to protect himself in case I hurt him, he said.
Needless to say, she has been the source of a few arguments. When she is around I feel that she flirts with him and sprinkles little comments into the conversation like "remember when we used to do that?" and stuff. She was sitting there having a conversation with me one night and when he appeared she immediately got up and went to talk to him, like mid sentence. He talked to her for a few minutes and then came to sit down by me.
He says that he doesn't think that she is flirting and that I have no reason to worry and that he loves me very much.
They used to spend a lot of time together, even during the first few weeks that we were going out. The thing is, the other morning we had just woke up and he had a bad dream that I was going to leave him. He was very upset about this dream. When I was reassuring him and holding him and stuff he wrapped his arms around me and said: "Oh my little *insert her name here*."
I was stunned. I didn't and still don't know exactly how to feel about this. He was very upset with himself and said that it was the dream that made him confused. He kept saying how sorry he was etc.
Later I wrote him an email saying that I thought that maybe in his subconscious he may have feelings for her. He keeps insisting that the feelings for her are just friendly, and he said that the only thing in his subconscious is the fact that he spent so much time with her before us.
My question is, should I be concerned about the fact that he called me by her name? I just can't put that out of my mind. He also said that he was going to end their friendship, but I just don't see it happening nor do I think that is the answer, do you? Do I have the right to insist on that? He says that if it's going to come between us, then he will but I don't think he means it.
Hmmm... Your boyfriend made a very interesting "Freudian Slip". Your interpretation of it seems to be that he has feelings for this person, which he cannot or will not (consciously) acknowledge. Despite his denial, I appreciate your concern and your desire to examine this situation.
I believe that dreams, recurring thoughts, slips of the tongue, fantasies and other phenomena DO reveal unconscious material. Your interpretation seems valid, but let's look at some other possible interpretations:
- The dream, itself, seemed to indicate your boyfriend's intense fear of abandonment. In the dream, he focused these painful feelings on you and your abandonment of him. It seems possible to me that he may have (unconsciously) uttered the other woman's name to "punish" you for this perceived abandonment. He may (unconsciously) be angry with you still, and therefore, resist exploring the meaning of this with you.
- There have obviously been conflicts in your relationship concerning his old friend, although he denies that there are any conflicts, and tells you "not to worry." Isn't he, basically, pretending that everything is ok? His unconscious might be trying to inform him that there is, in fact, a lot of conflict in his life. His unconscious may have used his slip of the tongue to "drive home" the fact that he has a problem he's not dealing with; it put a problem right in his face!
- Maybe he has been so concerned about your feelings and also about the feelings of this friend that he (unconsciously) feels as though he has abandoned himself and his own needs. Maybe the (unconscious) intention of his slip of the tongue was to distance you - because he feels he has prioritized your feelings over his own - and make you suspect his commitment to you. (It worked, didn't it?)
We are all so complicated! After reading this, you will probably come up with other interpretations, which make as much sense as the above. Maybe you and your boyfriend can talk about them, and use these unconscious messages to understand and help each other.
(I hope you don't mind that I didn't give you advice or answers. It's always so much more interesting and fun to explore the meaning of behavior than it is to judge it. Keep looking and listening with an open mind. Good luck!)
Margaret "Peg" Burr
This question was answered by Margaret "Peg" Burr. She is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC34374) with a private practice in Santa Clarita (near Los Angeles). She performs psychodynamic psychotherapy with individual adult clients as well as couples, teens, and families. She also runs groups for adults and adolescents. Her specialty area is Object Relations Systems Theory. This branch of psychodynamic psychotherapy uses a client's interpersonal relationships as windows into his or her intrapsychic structure.For more information visit: http://www.pegburr.com/