My therapist banks where I work. I have access to her accounts and check daily, observing her spending habits. I am also privy to her personal information; address, date of birth and Social Security number, although I have not searched for her home.
I am mortified with my behavior, yet I find myself unable to stop. It gives me insight into who she is as a person, which makes me feel closer to her.
I would be absolutely devastated if she knew — and I can only assume she would terminate our relationship. I can't talk to anyone about this. I feel it's truly abhorrent behavior, and I don't want to be judged. Help!
Secretive Searcher: Stop. Don’t search today. Breathe through your impulse. And then don’t search tomorrow.
This is highly unethical. Your employer has entrusted you with this vital and important information. You are abusing this trust.
I shared your question with Lori Gottlieb, a psychotherapist and author of the memoir: “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed” (2019, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
She responds: “It’s natural to be curious about your therapist, especially because it can feel like such a one-sided relationship. Most of us wonder, ‘Who is this person who knows so much about me?’ I once Googled my therapist, only to realize that while I thought learning about him would bridge that gap, it instead created a bigger one, because now I had to edit myself in therapy — a space where we’re supposed to feel free to talk about absolutely anything — because I was worried I might give away what I knew.
“Your daily monitoring of her accounts, though, goes beyond simple curiosity. It might be a way to feel close to her between sessions — a way of comforting yourself with her virtual presence — but it might also be pointing to what’s missing in your own life.”
“So many of our destructive behaviors take root in an emotional void, an emptiness that calls out for something to fill it. This void is what you should be talking to your therapist about — what it is and how you cope with it by focusing on her life instead of yours. If you keep this a secret, not only will you be wasting your time in therapy, but you’ll remain stuck in what has become a dangerous obsession that could cost you not just your therapist, but your job. It’s possible that you’ll need to find a new therapist, but at least you’ll be working on what’s causing you to do something that, though soothing in the moment, will leave you feeling guilty, isolated and empty in the long run.”
Dear Amy: I am romantically interested in my co-worker. I want to be professional, but I really like spending time with him, so I would like to see if there is any potential there.
I'm scared that if I make a move and it doesn't work out, things could get awkward because I see him every day.
This is my first job out of college, so I want to make a decision that wouldn't jeopardize my job.
Should I go for it?
Confused Young Professional
Confused Young Professional: If a romance would interfere with your career, then don’t pursue this. However, for many of us, awkwardness is our daily companion, sitting on our shoulder while we trip over door frames or trail toilet paper into staff meetings.
Don’t ask this guy out on a datey-date. Ask him, “Hey, do you want to have coffee outside of work sometime?”
DO take “no” for an answer, and do continue with the friendship. Like a case of poison ivy, all of the “awk” should fade within a week.
Dear Amy: Referencing the question from "Inquiring Daughter" who wondered about when to clear plates at a dinner party, my Southern mother raised us with old-fashioned table manners. Imagine the cringing moments when my wealthy and unrefined MIL scrapes and stacks the plates at the table, even at fine restaurants. I slink under the table.
EM: I assume your mother also taught you not to call out another’s lack of refinement. Cringe away.