In episode 265, I received a question from a listener who has struggled to make new friendships as an adult after immigrating to the US, while also finding themselves attracted to their doctor. In this post, I dive into this in more detail and take a look at how it’s not uncommon to be attracted to your doctor.
Hi Dr. Duff I have immigrated to the US 8 years ago with my husband. Since then I have always been looking for finding great friends and it has been a big challenge, some people we met we didn’t like and some others who we like don’t like us. Within all these years I loved my own doctor and my baby’s doctor to the point I wanted to be their friend. I know doctors can’t be friends with their patients and that makes them more unreachable for me. They are now becoming like an idle for me. My question is why do I feel like that? Am I missing something in my relationship with my husband? Or is it because I am far from my family and good friends who are back in my country? Thank you and it is nice knowing you, I love your podcast
Thank you for your question!
First off regardless of any of the other things you are mentioning in this question, it can be so hard to find friends as an adult. I have this problem and I have talked to SO many people recently that also share the same issue. So you aren’t alone in that. As you grow, you also get more of your own sense of self, identity, and values. This makes it harder to find people that are compatible with you. As a kid, there is so much variation that it doesn’t matter as much. But as an adult, it’s a lot more common to meet someone only to realize that there are some fundamental incompatibilities.
The doctor-patient relationship
To your question of why you have come to be attached in the way that you are to your doctor, I think there is definitely a degree of this that is common and normal. It’s something we actually talk about frequently in my line of work because it’s somewhat common for people to start getting feelings for their therapist. If you think about it, for a doctor, you have someone that cares about your wellbeing. Ideally, they ask you questions and listen to your answers. They keep your information and what you say private. And you are required to be somewhat vulnerable with them in a lot of cases. It sounds a lot like a good relationship.
But then you have the professional boundaries and the fact that it CAN’T be a relationship. I talked about this a little bit in the recent episode about why therapists can’t be expected to treat their family members, but the doctor-patient relationship works BECAUSE it has to be a different type of relationship. Can you imagine how much more guarded you might be or how your behavior would change if you had a friendship or romantic relationship with your doctor? It would just fundamentally change things. Not everyone is this way, but it’s also common to be attracted to people in positions of authority or people who demonstrate competence and expertise.
A missing piece?
I would not take this as evidence that something is missing in your relationship with your husband. At least I wouldn’t at face value. If you asked that particular question for a reason, that could be a different story. You don’t have to be having issues in your marriage to find yourself attracted to your doctor as a friend or more. BUT if your relationship is lacking in the empathy and consideration department, then I could totally see how someone like your doctor would be really filling a void for you, which could definitely be enticing. It sounds to me like you are lonely and that loneliness is wearing on you. You are away from your support network and the people that love you back home. That’s totally valid. You didn’t mention where you moved to the states from, but if the culture is significantly different, then you are probably also feeling strain from that. You may love being here, but it’s just not the same.
Points to take note of
So I think there are a few things to say here. One is that you already know you can’t have a close personal relationship with your doctor. So it’s important to remind yourself of that boundary. You can be attracted to them. You can enjoy seeing them. But you can’t take it farther than that. If you feel that there are areas in your relationship that are lacking and that is driving you to seek validation and intimacy elsewhere. This is also valid and should be addressed. You can talk to your husband about it, you can engage in family therapy or grab a workbook. You can also talk about what are appropriate types of relationships to have with other people outside of the relationship platonic or otherwise so that you can have your needs met.
And lastly, don’t give up on trying to make connections. Whether it is going out to places to meet people who have similar interests, using Facebook or other social media as a tool, or even using some of the apps that allow for friendship matching – you don’t need to be embarrassed by the fact that you have had trouble making connections. You should honor the fact that you do feel lonely and want people to connect with.
You can listen to this on Episode 265 of the podcast!
Thank you for the great question!
If you know someone else who might benefit from this, please do share it with them. Send them a link or shoot over a screenshot, and share it on social media to show your support – you never know who needs to hear this type of information.
Got a topic or a guest you’d like to appear on the show? Or interested in having Duff answer a question on the podcast? Please get in touch! Email Duff and maybe you’ll hear it on a future episode!
Want to help out the show and Duff the Psych?
- Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.
- Leave a podcast review on iTunes. These reviews really help Duff reach potential listeners, and he appreciates every one!
- Share the show on Facebook or Twitter.
- You can also buy Duff a cup of coffee, which helps fuel the energy that goes straight back into creating more content for YOU!