4 thoughts on “The Crush of Infatuation and Other Affairs of the Heart

  • March 6, 2011 at 8:26 am

    Hi Gabrielle;

    You offer some great content. I wanted to add that among the many things that we instinctively value both within healthy relationships and therapy is positive regard, an umbrella term coined by Carl Rogers that represents things like love, affection, attention, nurturance, and so on. It is clear that babies need love and attention. In fact, it may well be that they die without it. They certainly fail to thrive or become all they can be.

    Another thing that we value is positive self-regard, which is, self-esteem, self-worth, a positive self-image. We achieve this positive self-regard by experiencing the positive regard others show us over our years of growing up. Without this self-regard, we feel small and helpless, and again we fail to become all that we can be!

    Source: Dr. C. George Boeree and David G. Myers

    So as therapists we are placed in a position of power. And both therapist and client are vulnerable to potential harm and abuse of this power.

    The most common form of potential harm involves sexual feelings between the patient and therapist and therapist to client.

    For the purpose of this post I will deal with how the client becomes infatuated with their therapist. In fact, this is such a commonplace occurrence that therapists must be on their look out for signs of infatuation and assiduously guard against any action or phrase that may be taken by the patient as encouragement.

    The association with the therapist may be the first time a person has ever demonstrated any real interest in them in the course of their entire lives. It is no wonder they fall “in love.”

    This phenomenon can be very difficult at times for a therapist to deal with, both personally and professionally. It also interrupts the therapeutic process. When the infatuation is overt, wise therapists will advise the patient to seek help elsewhere. This in itself can lead to a torrent of abuse from the vulnerable patient as they perceive this as rejection.

    However this is the best ethical and moral option for both the client and therapist, little or no therapeutic benefits can take place under these circumstances.

    Source: Beth McHugh.

    For some this is debatable.

    Good clear and firm boundaries are essential in dealing with this process but perhaps a way to elicit and explore this sensitive issue before making any decision to terminate would be for both you and the client to ask questions (like those conveyed above on this post).

    Thank you
    Dawn Pugh

    • March 27, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      Hi Dawn,

      thank you for raising this other, important, aspect of infatuation (which can occur between a client and their therapist).
      As you say, it can be a challenging thing for both parties to experience…

      And with that therapeutic ‘unconditional positive regard’ thrown into the mix, it’s vital to sort out.

  • December 2, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Thanks for this incredibly interesting insight. I wonder if emotional affairs also simply represent what someone is not getting what they desire in their relationship? I had an affair with a married man, and we both fell deeply in love, however, he was not prepared to leave his wife and lifestyle. Since we called it off, he has bought a motorbike, is considering upgrading to a better motor bike, has plans to buy investment properties in the South of France, is busy, busy, busy. He is always discussing his pride in his high achieving children, yet rarely, if ever, discusses his wife public – all the while creating a facade of a ‘prefect family life’ ala 1950’s. My sense is that he is not being ’emotionally fed’, and until he addresses this deficit, will be chasing his tail. I’m not sure the deficit is actually WITHIN him though, as, in our relationship – he revealed a very intense spiritual nature, keen intelligence, high emotional intelligence and is simply devoted to his children. I believe that when he does look at the reality of his marriage as a whole and observes that it does not nourish him on many levels, he feels it his duty as a good man to sacrifice what he knows to completely full fill him. I guess that is a conscious decision.

  • June 20, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    i will not discuss the contents of my dream It makes me want to cry. i am drawn to my flame of desire that consumes me with anxiety and passion. i reach out for my lost youth and the desire nobody has left for me. i want it to go away and stay….but mostly go away.


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