Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dating and Mating with Alan Irgang: Lovers' Quarrel Leads Nowhere

Ask Alan about love, romance, and relationships (and anything) else here! *All private information is kept confidential

Dear Alan – I’m a happy, healthy 25 year-old guy in Chicago. I’ve been with my boyfriend for about eight months now, and things are going well. My problem is that whenever my boyfriend and I fight about something it never ends well and things are never resolved. We just pout and eventually make up, but never really address the issue at hand. How do couples fight healthily and tackle the problems in their relationship head-on?


Dear Dan,

I'm delighted to hear you are happy and healthy in Chicago. Regarding your relationship with your boyfriend, I'm curious about why you are fighting when you've only been together for 8 months. Some important questions that come to mind are: How often do the fights occur? What are the fights about? What do you mean by "...it never ends well..."? Is there any kind of emotional or physical abuse going on? What issues from your respective families and prior relationship are being played out together?

These are some big and possibly complex questions. A relationship that is only 8 months old should probaby not be so difficult, with fights that continually end without resolution. My best advice to you both is to consider doing some couples therapy together. By working with a trained counselor, you will benefit from having an objective third party help you focus in on the underlying issues that are creating conflict. You will also learn to work through these conflicts constructively and respectfully so you both feel better about yourselves individually and as a partnership. Consider it an investment in your relationship that will likely lead to a deeper understanding of one another and a more intimate connection. Even if you don't end up staying together (although the chances of doing so will greatly increase if you seek some professional guidance), the self-awareness you gain and communication skills you learn will benefit you in every relationship that follows. Many LGBT community centers offer counseling for couples. Therapists in private practice are also good resources. I wish you and your boyfriend all the best.

Alan Irgang, LCSW is a psychotherapist and “dating coach” in private practice in Chicago. He is also on the faculty of the Loyola University School of Social Work where he teaches graduate level courses in Human Sexuality. Alan has been in private practice since 1998 and has been facilitating groups for singles about dating and relationships for seven years. Check out his website www.alanirgang.com for more information about his practice and his upcoming seminars for singles. Questions may be submitted to Alan at lifelube@gmail.com; all private information will be kept confidential.

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