ERP 319: What To Do When Having Fantasies About Someone Else?

By Posted in - Podcast May 10th, 2022 2 Comments

Many professionals believe that fantasy is perfectly normal and harmless. They can be a reliable source of comfort, stimulation, escape, or relief. It can also be used to address long-standing relational needs and activate unconscious feelings of loss and emptiness.

Unfortunately, people who utilize sexual fantasy as a primary coping mechanism may become disconnected from reality. Fantasies can be so addictive and compelling that they impair one’s ability to be present in a relationship. And that’s exactly what one of our listeners has been going through.

In this episode, we look at how fantasies can reveal unmet needs and how to break the cycle, increasing your chances of experiencing supportive connections that cultivate the experience of intimacy and togetherness.

Here’s listener B’s question:

My partner and I have been in a relationship for 10+ years – he was severely depressed at the beginning of COVID lockdowns due to job loss and medical issues. Because of this, our already minor codependency habits became incredibly magnified. Taking care of him and trying to ‘fix’ him became my entire life, while that only resulted in him feeling more worthless. This lasted for 2 years.

During that time, I would often fantasize about another life, about being with someone else (unfortunately a friend of ours took that form in my thoughts), or just being single in general. It was an escape to feel somewhat good for a moment.

In the past few months, however, things have changed quite dramatically (new medications for us both, new job offers) and it’s all for the better! He’s made significant improvements mentally and in his commitment to our relationship as well.

…So why doesn’t it feel better? I still have the fantasy thoughts even though I don’t want to, and on off days when I feel anxious or depressed, I convince myself that I shouldn’t keep trying and it would be kinder to him to end it (which I have tried to do twice now)

I do deal with some obsessive thinking and am medicated for ADHD – but how do I break this hurtful cycle? How do I get myself to realize we’re in a good spot again, and that I don’t need to rely on the coping mechanisms I developed when they weren’t?”

In this Episode

6:18 When does a normal fantasy become unhealthy?

13:29 How fantasies can affect your relationship.

21:17 What do your fantasies reveal about you.

Your Check List of Actions to Take

  • Pay attention to what the fantasy allows you to feel?
  • Identify your needs or feelings or desires.
  • Get individual support from trusted family members, friends, elders, coaches, or therapists who you think can understand you and help you regulate your emotions.
  • Get a couple’s support.

Mentioned

Us: Getting Past You and Me to Build a More Loving Relationship (book)

Healthy Lust vs. Unhealthy Lust

ERP 316: How to Recognize & Deal with Emotional Immaturity — An Interview with Dr. Eddie Capparucci

ERP 286: How to Know If You Experience Limerence & What to Do About It – An Interview with Dr. L

ERP 105: How to Deal With Limerence in Relationship

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About Today’s Show

I’m going to call this listener, B. She writes, “My partner and I have been in a relationship for 10+ years. He was severely depressed at the beginning of COVID lockdowns due to job loss and medical issues. Because of this, our already minor codependency habits became incredibly magnified. Taking care of him and trying to fix him became my entire life. Well, that only resulted in him feeling more worthless. This lasted for two years. During that time, I would often fantasize about another life, about being with someone else. Unfortunately, a friend of ours took that form of my thoughts or just being single in general.”

“It was an escape to feel somewhat good for a moment. In the past few months, however, things have changed quite dramatically. New medications for both of us, new job offers. And that’s all for the better. He’s made a significant improvement mentally and in his commitment to our relationship as well. So, why doesn’t it feel better? I still have fantasy thoughts even though I don’t want to. And on off days, I often feel anxious or depressed. I even convinced myself that I shouldn’t keep trying. And it would be kinder to him to end it, which I have tried to do twice now.” 

“I do deal with some obsessive thinking, and I am medicated for ADHD. But how do I break this hurtful cycle? How do I get myself to realize we’re in a good spot now again and that I don’t need to rely on the coping mechanisms I developed when they weren’t.” 

B, thank you for submitting your question and for your willingness to take a risk and get support. I’m hoping that I can offer some input that will be helpful and hopefully valuable. 

I’m going to talk generally about fantasies, and then I’m going to go more specifically into B’s situation and her questions. I also am hoping that this topic will be helpful to many of you. I do believe when one person shares their hardship, we can all learn even if we don’t resonate with the whole entire circumstance. There can be really key takeaways. And my hope is that this will be supportive to us collectively. 

Okay. Fantasies. I’m not going to get into too much depth here about fantasies. I will say, many professionals, a lot of professionals, see this as normal and harmless. There are a few professionals that do correlate fantasies with increasing temptation and increasing the likelihood of being unfaithful and likening it to the same way we might entertain our anxieties or our worries that that can actually fuel our fear. 

When we really work to counteract that, that can really alleviate a lot of the distress. My goal on the Empowered Relationship Podcast is to offer tips, tools, principles, and support for you to consider. I do acknowledge that we all learn to negotiate different backgrounds, different life circumstances, and different relationship statuses and that it is not a one-size-fits-all. And so, I typically do not say this is right, or this is wrong, or that there’s a specific equation that’s a one-size-fits-all.

I will say that fantasies about others tend to be a projection, our imagined sense, or we project meaning. We put on someone else our ideals, our longings, our fantasies about who they are, and our desires, our needs. We imagine how they might meet those needs or desires. Hence, the fantasy. Fantasies can serve a specific purpose. They can be entertaining and distracting, and they can even be arousing. 

Free Elderly Woman Looking Pensive while Holding a Book Stock Photo

“Fantasies about others tend to be a projection, our imagined sense, or we project meaning. We put on someone else our ideals, our longings, our fantasies about who they are, and our desires, our needs. Fantasies can serve a specific purpose.”

I can say many clients that I’ve worked with who have talked about fantasizing or having fantasy thoughts. I can say one client, he’s described, just feeling really alone and lonely. And fantasizing about his ex gives him a sense of comfort, a sense of soothing, a sense of imagined sense of connection. 

Another client who has experienced bullying and difficulty and feeling really accepted socially has fantasies in the sense of feeling belonging, and that these fantasies really offer the experience of that acceptance, that connection, that inclusion, and meet that need. And again, it’s through the fantasy form, which has a lot of consequences, and side effects. 

In other cases, fantasies can fill a void that’s occurring in their relationship. Let’s say they’re not experiencing emotional intimacy. And therefore, one might pursue or have these fantasies to fulfill that or try to meet that need. Or sometimes, there’s hardship in the relationship, and it can be a form of escape. And it sounds like this is in part true for B. 

So, when we really question when does a normal fantasy becomes unhealthy? And when we look at health, particularly in psychology, we often are considering how much the behavior interferes with one’s ability to function, interferes with daily life, or causes significant mental distress.

As B describes, there is some anxiety and depression and it does affect B’s life and relationship and there is distress. I just want to offer that this is something that I think is really wise to be reaching out for support. And so, again, I’m hoping that today’s conversation can assist. 

As B talked about, that fantasy is a way of coping. I think that’s incredibly astute and wise to really recognize that tendency is a way to cope. If you listen to Dr. Capparucci’s episode, he’s talking about men’s development and the limited range of emotional intelligence, which correlates with relational intelligence. Now, I do think that this can be applicable to every person. He also really works with people who have sexual addiction or are compulsive in their sexual tendencies. 

Free Shallow Focus Photography of Man Wearing Red Polo Shirt Stock Photo

If we haven’t had attunement, if we haven’t had comfort, we haven’t had guidance from loving parents or caregivers that have assisted and supported us and helped us organize and identify and negotiate our difficult feelings, then we can feel really distressed at a loss when we’re dealing with hardship and even trauma sometimes that we’re left to cope emotionally and do our best to adapt. We develop certain coping strategies. We attempt to self-soothe and regulate.”

I want to mention that sexualizing feelings can be a way of feeling soothing, trying to get emotional regulation. And this can be even true when we look at the early stages of development and we look at our upbringing. If we haven’t had attunement, if we haven’t had comfort, we haven’t had guidance from loving parents or caregivers that have assisted and supported us and helped us organize and identify and negotiate our difficult feelings, then we can feel really distressed at a loss when we’re dealing with hardship and even trauma sometimes that we’re left to cope emotionally and do our best to adapt. We develop certain coping strategies. We attempt to self-soothe and regulate. Sometimes this comes in the way of eating or having sexualized fantasies.

I found a good article by Robert Wese. He’s a Ph.D. and it’s out of Psychology Today, and it’s titled Healthy Lust Versus Unhealthy Lust. He’s saying exactly the same thing. He’s saying when experiencing intolerable dysregulation and emotional discomfort, individuals may turn towards disassociation via pleasurable sexual fantasies. Sometimes acted upon. Sometimes not. But simply to feel better. For them, highly rewarding and pleasurable sexual fantasies serve as a psychological function of emotional escape. 

Now in B’s situation, she’s not overtly naming her fantasies as sexual fantasies. It can be purely emotional. So I don’t want to imagine that it’s sexual. But I will say that that does happen for people. Dr. Robert Wese goes on and he talks about lust and fantasies can become a problem, especially when it’s used as a way to control depression, anxiety, loneliness, boredom, unresolved early life trauma, and unmet adult life needs. 

Free Women Sitting on Floor Stock Photo

Lust and fantasies can become a problem, especially when it’s used as a way to control depression, anxiety, loneliness, boredom, unresolved early life trauma, and unmet adult life needs.

In other words, lust becomes a problem when we use it to control our feelings, and therefore, our interactions with and connections to other people. When this happens, life can become more focused on the fantasy than on reality. Unfortunately, people who utilize sexual desire and fantasy as a primary coping mechanism can lose touch with the real world and the actual people in it. And they can lose their ability to connect and be intimate in meaningful ways. Instead of being a part of they become a part from.

Worst of all, they do not get their deeper needs to feel loved, supported, and connected met. They may avoid even trying to get those needs met. And that makes them deep down feel even worse about themselves. I do think this was important to bring up and read this excerpt in today’s conversation because it really does point out these were wise strategies, adaptive strategies to deal with the void or the lack of that emotional support, that attunement that we didn’t get, and this is an effective strategy and soothing and comforting. It’s a way to deal with unmet needs. 

Let’s pivot towards B’s specific question and I want to highlight a couple points. B mentions her partner being severely depressed for almost two years. And usually, when a partner is depressed, there are many manifestations of that. Oftentimes, they’re not available, they’ve turned inward, and they’re not engaged. They’re not responsive. They don’t express affection. They don’t show signs nonverbally of adoration, love, or affection. This can result and feeling as though the significant other to the partner that’s depressed, can feel alone. They can also feel concerned and worried about their partner’s well-being and health if they’re suicidal ideation or an inability to cope. That can be terrifying. 

And so, one can be in this pattern and experience depression alongside a significant other and that can evoke not only a lot of distress, grief, and loss. Like, where did my partner go? I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t know when they’re coming back. And if there are any previous feelings of the past like Dr. Wese was mentioning, that can evoke previous anxiety and even trauma. I can raise my hand right here and say this definitely happened to me when my partner has been down for a period of time and isn’t available. The anxiety that that would evoke in me and what I would experience and the distress of what I’m describing, right? Where did you go? Are you coming back? What’s happening? Are you okay with me? Are you okay? Are you okay with your health and your well-being? 

And then, what I would also get in touch with is previous experiences in very early childhood, where I had experienced abandonment and loss. I didn’t feel that emotional attunement, and that presencing, and I learned to adapt and cope with that. Doing therapy and my individual work around this has been incredibly healing. As I said, in the beginning of the show, as I set the intention for the Empowered Relationship podcast, that relationship can often be a mirror that can show us our wounds, traumas, and unconscious pain that we haven’t addressed. 

Free Men in Black Suit Standing on Wooden Pathway Stock Photo

“Relationships can often be a mirror. It can show us our wounds, traumas, and unconscious pain that we haven’t addressed.”

The other thing about having a partner that’s severely depressed is that it can feel like it starts to become heavily weighted on the significant other. It can become all about them and that preoccupation, and over time, this can often lead to resentment. It’s not sustainable for the relationship to be all about one person.

And as we described, perhaps her strategy was getting into the fix-it mode, trying to help. And she says, taking care of him and trying to fix him became my entire life. Well, that only resulted in him feeling more worthless. And this lasted for two years. So that coping strategy, it’s okay, I can handle it. I want to suggest, what happens to the parts of you that have been scared, that have felt sad, or experienced this sense of panic, the anxiety, or fear of abandonment? What happens to those parts? Where did they get seen? Where did they get met? Where do they get held for two years? And that can be very difficult.

That’s not even to mention the dynamics in the relationship right? She’s saying it resulted in him feeling worse, right? Sometimes when we add gender roles on top of this, a man typically might feel like he wants to be strong and offer value. That can feel emasculating when they’re the ones receiving all the help and support or it gets into the parent-child dynamic. 

This can result in guilt and shame. Wanting to be a good partner, feeling guilty that my significant other is doing so much for me. I don’t know how to feel okay about this. As we talk more specifically, about fantasizing, as we’ve been saying it’s a form of relief, right? In B’s circumstance, that sounds incredibly difficult as I named, right? Terrifying, potentially scary, feeling alone, perhaps fear of abandonment, anxiety about what’s happening, when are you coming back? When are you going to be okay? What are we doing? All of the things. And that’s not to mention the collective and the pandemic and all the stress and the limited resources being sheltered at home. It just sounds compounded. 

And so, when B asks, okay, things are better. Now, how come I don’t feel better? I want to acknowledge that this can be difficult to just turn off a coping strategy, turn off that tendency, right? It’s our adaptive self that’s operating. It’s running the show. And so, to just imagine that things are better, and to try to just disregard that, that can be a difficult switch. 

And as mentioned before, it does sound like the fantasies are interfering with the ability to be present in the relationship. I can totally validate that that would make sense, that all the undealt with feelings, right? Where did you go? I feel angry, maybe even that you left, or whatever the range of emotions is that that still is there. That just doesn’t go away. It can be overwhelming, perhaps to even confront. Or is it safe to confront it? Is my partner capable of turning towards that? Do I even feel safe to reveal that and take that emotional risk?

And so, this can be incredibly confronting. At the same time, the fantasies, as B is describing, get in the way of feeling present. It feels like it’s consuming, distracting, and perhaps even harmful to the relationship. Again, I want to reiterate, and I know that I’m repeating myself, and it is important that again, fantasies can provide a reliable source of comfort, and stimulation, as well as an escape or relief. And that it can also serve as a source of addressing long-standing relational needs. And can also, as I mentioned, activate those unconscious feelings of loss and emptiness. 

It’s also really worth noting that fantasies can even feel addictive, that they can have an intoxicating power, this rush. That romantic fantasy can be so compelling. I want to acknowledge that this is different than the development of a real-life complex, intimate relationship. And this is where it perhaps can connect. And I’m not saying this is true for B, but it can overlap with the limerence experience. 

Free Woman Staring At Glass Stock Photo

“Fantasies can feel addictive. They can have an intoxicating power, this rush. That romantic fantasy can be so compelling.”

If you missed a couple of episodes that I’ve done on limerence, I encourage you to check that out. There are really key points that are worth considering that some people are more predisposed to feeling limerent. Limerence often mimics and might even be a similar experience of that first stage in a relationship that is highly fueled by the neurochemicals and this incredibly charged and intense feeling of love and romance and lust. And that it’s very different than the deep intimacy that we earned through getting to know someone and really negotiating challenges with them and establishing that secure foundation and reliable consistent engagement. 

The other thing about being limerent is it can be unrequited. It doesn’t require another person’s participation. And this is where the fantasies do come into play and might overlap with that experience of feeling limerent. And so, a lot of times there’s this inner rich world, the fantasy world, and that it’s not reality checked. It’s not flushed out and it’s not really worked with in real life. It’s all tapped internally, which can perpetuate the fantasies. So again, if this is at all interesting, I encourage you to check those out. I will make sure to put them on today’s show notes for those two episodes. 

B also talks about dealing with some obsessive thinking and also having medication for ADHD. I will say a couple of things here that even OCD can be seen as a way to manage anxiety, whether or not it’s through the obsessive thinking or perhaps in the repetitive actions, or in an attempt to deal with that anxiety. And ADHD, oftentimes now people experience ADHD symptoms differently. It’s not the same for everyone. Sometimes it includes impulse control, the addictive tendency, or even the daydreaming. 

Daydreaming tends to be a universal experience. However, some people’s minds wander more than others, right. This is often true for people that have ADHD. Now, that doesn’t lead to more creativity, but also more distractibility. Also, with ADHD, there tends to be a little bit more tolerance for chaos because of just that shifting and the distractibility and often dealing with disorganization. And so, this can impact those sequential steps of establishing routine and security again, right. And so, that can feel disconcerting. I don’t know if that fits at all but I do want to mention that. 

Emotionally, the biggest thing that stands out to me with B’s question, again, is her needs mattering, right? She’s like, “Why doesn’t it feel better? I still have these fantasy thoughts, even though I don’t want to. On off days, I feel anxious or depressed.” It just again, would make a lot of sense if there’s a lot of pain here, and a lot of unmet needs, desires, and unidentified or unresolved feelings, or even fear about the future, right? Will you be there for me? What if this happens again? 

The lack of support that I felt, or I didn’t feel like I was the only one working on things, right? When somebody is severely depressed, they’re not usually taking a lot of action. And they’re not doing a great job of following through on tasks in one’s life. Can your partner acknowledge this? Is there space in the relationship for him to turn towards your experience, what that was like for you, and your feelings mattering? 

And perhaps if there is the capacity to turn towards your experience, and what things have been like for you to just hold some questions. And this can help perhaps get at perhaps some of these things that have been difficult to look at. What does the fantasy allow you to feel? When you do fantasize, what is it that you get? What is the experience that you have had? What does it allow you to feel? That can be if you spend some time with that and keep asking that question, you might get some insight and understanding of like, “Oh, I feel loved.” or “Oh, I feel seen.” or “Oh, I feel attended to.” or “I feel like somebody’s got my back and I feel safe.” There can be a lot of things. 

Also, what qualities does that other individual have that you feel your partner lacks? Essentially, what does this other person offer? What is it that they exhibit? What is it that it represents? Fantasizing about this person, what are they strong in? What are their strengths? This might be revealing of perhaps what you’re not getting in your current relationship. 

Another way of asking this, too, is what does my fantasy tell me about my needs and desires? So, your actual fantasy, does that reveal anything about your needs and your desires, or your feelings and your experience? It’s incredibly important to turn towards. I would say that is probably the biggest thing I want to encourage. And then to really address the question around, “How to break this hurtful cycle and how to get myself to realize we’re in a good spot again and that I don’t need to rely on the coping mechanisms I developed when they weren’t.”

Another way to address the fantasizing is if you can recognize when you’re having a fantasy not to judge, not to blame, but to get curious about what was happening right before you started to fantasize. What was I thinking? What was I feeling? What was I experiencing in the interaction? And to slow this down, almost frame by frame. Can you recognize that point of pivot when you started to fantasize? 

Free Man in Brown Jacket Sitting on Couch Stock Photo

“Another way to address the fantasizing is if you can recognize when you’re having a fantasy not to judge, not to blame, but to get curious what was happening right before you start to fantasize.

That can be really helpful, again, to identify perhaps what the thing is there that you’re coping with, that can be revealing. There have been times again, that I have felt that my husband has not been in a position to respond to me, and if I’m sharing vulnerability, or if I’m expressing something tender, and he’s not really reaching, comforting, or soothing me, I feel as though I have to hold myself and I can feel myself turn away or try to perhaps put up a guard or feel a little defended, and it’s difficult to stay open. So, again, normalize. But again, the bigger recommendation is to look at what’s happening that’s been painful, give validation for that, give recognition for that, and then more directly deal with it so it can give you that support, and the process to perhaps healing and to repair with your significant other. 

So again, reiterating that as identifying your needs or feelings or desires. As Terry Real, who’s a big name in the couple’s field/relationship field, he’s written several books. He’s been on the Empowered Relationship Podcast before. He’s got an interview that’s coming up in a few weeks. I encourage you to check that out. It’s a great interview. In his upcoming book titled, Us, he does a really good job describing the language of the adoptive child. 

Now, this is something that’s not a new concept. It’s just his languaging around identifying those adaptive strategies. He’s saying, oftentimes, as individuals, we think that we’re operating in our wise adult self, when really unconsciously, our adaptive child is running the show or is operating a lot more than we think it is. The adoptive child learned to function. There’s wisdom. The best strategies that were possible to get through the circumstances and the upbringing. 

Now there’s, again, total understanding and wisdom and honor for that adoptive child. And when the adoptive child is still the one running the show, and it’s perhaps no longer needed, it becomes maladaptive. And so, part of what we want to do here is to recognize what the adaptive child needs, and what the adoptive child’s experience is. 

Now I have shared that I have experienced abandonment in my early years, and have experienced grief and loss, and have noticed the anxious tendencies. I’ve talked a lot about my experiences along the way that I still notice the tendency of that. It’s not nearly as strong with all the healing and therapy and work that I’ve done. I can still feel that pull. It can be incredibly valuable and really deep work because this is not an intellectual thing. When our nervous system is feeling that panic, is feeling that tendency to get into that coping strategy, it’s our best way of dealing with the hardship. It’s difficult to just turn that off. Everything in us, it’s so compelling. 

And so, part of it is to directly hold the hand, support that adoptive child, the anxiety, the fear, and offer that guidance, offer that protection, offer that nurturing, and that does require getting to know the adoptive child, what that child needs, what it didn’t get, and how to show up for that adaptive child. 

It will also be important to perhaps work with the resentment if you feel angry, or if you feel a sense of inequity, or imbalance of power and balance of needs being met. Or perhaps even the fear of like, again, how can I trust when things get bad again, and they are not going to leave me high and dry? Or that I do have needs that I have not spoken about. I do need attention. I do need to feel like my experience matters. Again, that deeper work of understanding what you’re needing and your experience will help inform how you might be able to voice this to your significant other.

And the way that I’m talking about this is as if this is all done individually. I really want to encourage you to get support. Whether or not that’s from meaningful, trusted family members, friends, members of the community, elders, coaches, therapists, or whomever you feel like can support you, and see you, honor you, hear you, understand you, and help you regulate emotionally, and be there as a support. 

And perhaps together, you may want to get couples’ support so that you can feel the safety that offers this added support and container to do this work to get the iteration and practice to take those emotional risks within and reveal the things that are vulnerable and have him have the experience where he gets support and being able to respond to you, to meet you and to engage with you around things that matter to you. 

And by doing this, taking these emotional risks, revealing that vulnerability increases the chances of you experiencing supportive connections that cultivate the experience of intimacy, that togetherness, and that is incredibly reparative, and restorative. And from there, you can begin to put the building blocks of building the trust, building the stability, building the security, not just in logistics, but emotionally, and where you can take risks and reveal and be there for each other. I imagine that this would be an incredible shift in your relationship. 

Again, I hope that you can get some support and value out of what I have shared with you today. And if you are wanting more support, I encourage you to check out today’s show notes where you can find a transcript. You can review this. You’ll also find the outline and summary. You’ll also find the links to the article that I mentioned, as well as the podcasts that I mentioned. You’ll also have access to my website where you can reach out to me if you’re needing more support. 

I want to encourage you to just begin with steps, right? This is incremental. I do believe this emotional work can be analogous to even the physical development of muscles, right? We can’t just start lifting a 100-pound weight if we haven’t lifted a weight in forever. We build. It’s a practice. So, I just honor you for even just asking the question. That’s huge. 

And it does indicate to me a readiness. There was so much you were already aware of and asking the question and reaching out for support. So, I encourage you to continue to ask these questions, do this work, and get the support. 

And as I mentioned, as we do our healing work, it helps grow us relationally. It heals our relationship. And I think the collective, the ripple effect of the impact that that has on the other people we encounter, our family, our network, our community, our friendships. As we heal, we grow the healing collectively. 

Signing Off

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(2) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Lina Ramos - Reply

    May 23, 2023 at 3:17 am

    1. A friend of mine suffered
    from trauma brought about by his separation from his girlfriend of more than five (5) years. He was really
    emotionally devastated that prompted him to have negative thoughts, and perpetuate his emotional baggage in his next relationships. . As a sort of escapism, he numbs himself by engaging in promiscuous sexual activities ,
    liquor .
    During his early days, he has already manifested a Grass is greener syndrome. He is constantly looking for an ideal partner and applying the sense of comparison.
    What I heard., he has a toxic relationship with his wife
    and cannot detach himself for financial reasons.

    His one night stands of sexual intimacy with his wife , resulted to a hell in his lifetime.

    Is it because of his compulsive behavior towards sex that led him astray ? Or because of the separation trauma, he sabotaged himself?

    2. When you nurture fantasies,it becomes a habit. When habits develop, it becomes your mindset.
    Is this true ?

    • Dr. Jessica Higgins - Reply

      July 7, 2023 at 3:01 pm

      Hi Lina,

      Thank you for taking the time to reach out. It sounds like you have put a lot of thought and consideration into your friend and his experience. I appreciate that it is difficult to watch someone you love choose to behave in ways that limit or harm themselves. For anyone to answer these questions in real depth about your friend specifically, they would need a lot more information. That being said, in general, fantasies are often a way for someone to try to cope with pain (much like one does when using substances, food, tv, etc), numb out and attempt to escape the pain. Fantasies can definitely become obsessive. However, they do not necessarily result in action/behavior. Habituated thinking absolutely affects one’s mindset. As for compulsive or addictive behavior, often there are deeper relational traumas and attachment concerns at play that make genuine intimacy difficult to engage with. Please let me know if there is any way that I can support.

Please leave a Comment

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