From Breaking Off a Bad Relationship to Accepting One's Self Image

article top

“Suzanne Gelb Image”

Dear Readers:


As an added resource, over the next few months I will be supplementing my responses with references to self-help materials. Supplemental reading for today’s answers can be found in my book “Welcome Home. A Book About Overcoming Addictions” (pp. 38-41 relates to Answer No. 1; pp. 42-45 relates to Answer No. 2). For more information visit my Web site at

”Dependent – How Can I Make the Break?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

My boyfriend and I were good friends before we started living together 11 months ago. The living arrangement is not working out, for me anyway. He is jealous and so controlling, it’s suffocating. I tried to break up three times in the last six weeks, but before I know it I’m back in his clutches, and after a brief, sweet reunion usually all about making love, the fighting and bickering starts again.


A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Stuck:

That popular song “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” comes to mind. For many people who wrestle between breaking up and being pulled back into brief episodes of making up, the hunger for affection and to feel lovable outweighs their need to be independent and mature. Those brief moments of reconciliation or overnighters are all they have to sustain their sense of being lovable. These experiences do not resolve the incompatibility of the intellect or the personality structure. It is critical to try to wean oneself off that need to be instantly gratified. It is possible to put those needs on hold until one can meet that person with whom one feels compatibility supported by mutual understanding and nurturing.

”Body Image – How Can I Improve Mine?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

I am a virgin at 33. I’m OK with that because up until now I have spent a lot of life traveling and learning about life. Now I want to settle down, I am dating a nice guy and we are considering marriage. I don’t want to have sex until we are married and he is OK with that. But even then I can’t imagine letting anyone see me naked. I watch my weight but I wish my shape were different. Until then, like I said it is almost impossible for me to imagine somebody seeing me without my clothes on.

What’s a Body to Do?

A: Dr. Gelb says . . .

Dear Body:

Your question reminds of the youth Narcissus who, as Greek mythology would have it, had a need to fall in love with Self. If you know the story, recall that he looked in a pool of water and fell in love with his own refection. This may sound corny, but we must learn to love ourselves, especially our physical selves. Otherwise we run the risk of allowing the body to deteriorate in some way, even to the point of obesity, for example.

Your question affirms an unfortunate fact — many of us were raised to feel shame about our body, its shape and size, and particularly certain aspects of our anatomy. Some schools of thought believe that an effective way to begin resolving this is to spend some time in front of the mirror in the nude and touch each orifice of the body, starting with the ears, and to keep exploring and moving around and over the face until all the orifices on the face have been touched, then continuing to move the fingers down the body slowly, giving oneself permission to feel the touch of the body and to nurture every part of it.

As one does this, shame is likely to melt away and the potential to gain a love and pride in one’s body is great, along with a pleasant expectation to share this prize of creation with a chosen mate who is just as eager and willing to share themselves.

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

”’Email your questions to More information on Dr. Gelb’s services and related resources available at”’