Monday, January 31, 2011

Adolescent Addiction to Facebook

Dear Dr. Naidich,

I am very concerned about my 16 year old son who spends all of his spare time on Facebook.  He would rather facebook or play on-line video games, then actually talk with friends and our family in real life. I am starting to worry that he may be obsessed or addicted to facebook.  Any advice about helping my son? 


Facebook is the top social networking site in the world. Some people log onto their facebook accounts everyday without failing. If your son is thinking about f.b. often throughout the day to the point where it is consuming his thoughts and/or checking his sight multiple times per day to the point that it is impacting his daily functioning, then these may be signs of obsessive compulsive behavior. While facebook may help people stay in touch with friends, re-connect with old friends, make new friends, and offer ways to interact with friends like on-line games such as mafia wars, some people may forget that they have an actual life to live. If your son forgets this fact, he may start neglecting himslef and the people around him like you. This may be a sign that he is suffering from a facebook obsession. Possible triggers to facebook obsessions include: social anxiety (shyness), social isolation or loneliness, social skills deficits, desire to staying connected to local gossip, voyeurism (wandering around facebook aimlessly to see what friends of friends are up to), avoiding/procrastinating responsibilities like chores and homework. Possible signs that facebook has become a problem for him include: spending more than one hour per day on facebook, his grades are suffering or he is missing deadlines, staying up too late and having difficulty getting up for school, decreasing face to face interactions with friends and family, revealing intimate information to strangers, developing a goal to increase the number of friends with people he doesn't really know, complaints from friends and family, and the idea of going a day without checking facebook causes him stress and anxiety.

The first step in dealing with a facebook obsession is for one to recognize and admit that one has a problem that is affecting one's life. Treatment recommendations include increasing incompatible and alternative behaviors to getting on facebook such as: committing to a maximum amount of time on facebook per day knowing that the least amount of time is better (i.e. 30 minutes per day), trying to give up facebook for other events and activities such as spending more time with friends and family, exercising, and participating in after school clubs and activities. If one is unable to make progress on his own, then one should seriously consider contacting a mental health expert like a psychologist or social worker for assistance.

Children as young as 8 to 10 years old get involved with social networking today due to increased accessibility of computers and hand held game systems with wi-fi accessibility. For these younger children, social networking may serve as a way to combat loneliness and isolation, to side step social anxiety (shyness), and to practice social skills in a less awkward and non-real time environment.

It is a vicious cycle. Adolescents who are depressed may find facebook an easier way to socialize given their lethargy, fatigue, low energy, and low motivation to have face to face interactions with peers. Real world isolation probably does not cause depression, but will more than likely make it worse. Research indicates that adolescents are happier, more socially adjusted, and perform better in school when they participate in extra-curricular activities and clubs, and engage in face to face contact with peers in comparison to those adolescents that spend excessive amounts of time on the computer “socializing” and playing games.   It sounds like you are right on target with assessing the situation and trying to help your son get back to the real word!

Good Luck!

Keep me posted.

Dr. Naidich

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Fed up with Fetish

Dr. Naidich, I am a 56 year old woman who has been married for over 30 years. My husband and I have two children and three wonderful grandchildren. We live in a somewhat conservative town. My husband has always been addicted to pornography which I have never liked. He is contantly watching x-rated videos and movies on the internet. On occassion, he wants me to watch the movies with him. He also has dressed in my under garments, and wanted to have intercourse with me while dressed like that. I agreed on a couple of occasions, but felt wierd about it and did not enjoy it one bit. He also used to ask me to urinate on him which I refused to do. I have never felt comfortable with my husband and his fetishes. Now, I feel repulsed and have been considering divorce unless he agrees to treatment for these problems. We went to a marriage counselor about 10 years ago for about three months. But, my husband minimized the situation, made empty promises, and is back to the same old tricks. What do you think I should do?

By Anonymous on 1/21/11

My first question, since you have been married for over 30 years, is "why are you considering a divorce NOW"? Does your husband know how you feel or that you are considering divorcing him over this issue? The first step, if you haven't already done so, is to talk with him about this in a calm, loving way. Perhaps it is time to go back to couples therapy. If he is willing, your husband could seek counseling from a sex therapist while it would be best for you to enter individual therapy to explore your feelings about your husband's behavior and your ambivalence about remaining married to him. After 30 plus years of marriage this is a big decision and one that I suggest you make thoughtfully. Best of luck! Keep me posted... Dr. Naidich

By Dr. Jennifer Naidich on Married and Mismatched at 2:11 PM

Friday, January 14, 2011

Married and Mismatched

Anonymous said...

Dr. Naidich,

I am desperately in need of some help!

My husband and I have been married for seven years. We are both from relatively conservative Greek families; and dont really believe in divorce. We have two children - five and three. My husband works as an architect in the city and we live in the suburbs. For the last year and a half, my husband stays in the city to unwind over a few drinks with male and female co-workers and customers. He also started to invest a lot more time and care into his appearance - working out, buying new clothes, etc. He is somewhat narcissistic about his appearance and has even stated that there is a bit of a mis-match in our appearances. He actually has told me several times that he was never totally attracted to me. What gets me the most angry is that at least once per week, he goes out until 2 or 3 in the morning. I tell him that he is not being a good role model for our two children. But, he minimizes this, When I get upset about this and confront him about his behavior, he denies having an affair. We went to a psychologist for counseling for a few sessions and then stopped. It was apparent that my husband was not interested in changing. The psychologist told me that I should start to focus on my self instead of trying to change my husband; and that I should make a choice/decision on if I want to continue to live like this since my husband stated that he has no intentions of changing,

I need a second opinion. What should I do?

Dr. Jennifer Naidich said...

It sounds like you are in a bind. However, I agree with the psychologist that you sought counseling from. You would be best off starting to focus on yourself. I wonder if you have a social life apart from your husband and children? I think that it is important for you to develop one if you don't already have one in place. You need to have a support network of your own. Having your own hobbies and interests will also help you to boost your self -esteem and create a richer life despite your understandable frustrations with your husband. I also recommend that you seek individual therapy for yourself with a new therapist. There is no telling which direction in which this will lead you, but I believe that this will help you to cope with a very difficult situation, empower you, teach you how to best manage your anger and then make a sound decision about how to proceed.

I wish you the best.

Keep me posted.

Dr Jennifer Naidich

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Long Distance Crush: Pursue or Pass?

Dear Dr. Naidich,

I like this guy, but he lives about 900 miles away. I knew him a long time ago and always thought he was hot. Anyhow, not sure what to do...if I cant be with the one I want, should I introduce him to a friend who lives closer? At least that will get him off of my radar. Right? I mean, why let a hottie get away...right..I might as well let one of my friends benefit. lol...What do you think?
I cant relocate right now since I have a couple kids and their dad would never agree to a move. If I cant be with the one I want, should I be with someone else closer? If there appears to be a "glass ceiling" getting in my way, should I just forget about him, or should I try to beat the odds and break through like catwoman? Advice?

Dear Catwoman, 

For starters, you said that "you like this guy who lives about 900 miles away, that you knew him a long time ago and always thought he was hot". When was the last time you saw him? What type of contact do you have with him now? Was the only thing you liked about him was that he was a "hottie"? How well do you know him now and how serious are you about him? Only you can answer these questions...

That being said, let's assume that you like him for more than his good looks and that you cannot re-locate now. Do you really want him off your radar? Sounds to me like you don't. So how do you know for sure that you can't be with the one you want?

Why not plan a trip to see if you still have the same feelings you did in the past? If you don't then you have an easy solution. But, if you do and the feelings are mutual, and there is a solid basis for a partnership based on real love and commitment, there may be other options. Perhaps he would re-locate to be with you, for example. 

Why settle if you don't have to? Like you said, there "appears to be a 'glass ceiling' getting in your way". That's just it! It's glass--not concrete! Why not try to beat the odds and break through like "catwoman"? Where there is a will there is usually a way. After all, you only live once. This is not a dress rehearsal. I say go for it an see what'll never know until you try!

Let me know how it works out!

Best of luck,

Dr. Naidich 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Love: An Art or A Science

Dr. Naidich,

How much of love is art and how much of it is science? And, can you explain the philosophy of "love by degrees"?


Hi Pete,

I think love is both an art and a science. The art of love involves chemistry, passion, an open heart, and generosity of spirit. But there is also a science or practical approach to love which involves how we go about maintaining love over time. This includes how we choose to communicate, remain intimate, honest, faithful, and committed partners. For lasting love, there needs to be a balance between the two.

Love by degrees seeks to address issues that arise in relationships at all stages, including dating (on-line dating), long-term relationships, marriages, families, and parenting. The general philosophy is to advise people at varying "love by degrees" on how to improve their current situation or to answer questions regarding dilemmas relating to one of the most important areas of our lives: LOVE.

Thanks for writing!

Dr. Naidich

Problems at Home/Work? When Facebook and Gaming Makes Things Worse

Dr. Naidich,

After 5 years of marriage, I have had it with my husband. He is always in the basement playing interactive video games on the Internet or surfing on facebook. BTW I hate facebook. He works once in a while as an electrician but work has been slow. We have difficulty paying our bills and creditors call regularly.

The other night after our kids went to bed, I went down into the basement in my lingerie to try to re-connect with my husband. He looked up from the computer and told me he'd meet me in the bedroom as soon as he finished the game. I told him he would have to wait a lot longer than that!!!! I am now thinking about getting any divorce. Do you blame me?

I understand how you must be feeling, but I think this may be more complicated than you think...and it is not a matter of blame...

I wonder about a few things. For example, how old are you and your husband, do you work outside of the home, was your husband the primary bread-earner, was he so focused on facebook, Internet surfing and gaming when you met him and when he was working full-time (did he ever work full-time)???

Anyway, without that information I will respond to your question with the information at hand. It sounds like both of you are under extreme pressure right now. While social networking can be very positive and gaming can be a stress reliever, your husband seems to be using both as a way to avoid the reality of coping with his family responsibilities, career difficulties, and financial hardship. 

He is most likely experiencing anxiety and feeling emasculated, as he is "losing" in life right now. So he is retreating to the basement and immersing himself in virtual reality where he can connect and feel like a "winner". He may also be experiencing depression which may account for his low sex drive. 

Your attempt to engage him with sexy lingerie was a good idea, but when a man is down on his luck and on himself, he just might not be interested in sex. It has nothing to do with YOU!

Having difficulties paying the bills and having creditors calling regularly is only adding to the stress on your marriage. Your husband does not seem to posses the coping skills that would propel him to take constructive steps toward changing his (and your family's) current situation. Or his depression and anxiety are interfering with him putting those skills into action. As a result, he is withdrawing instead of finding ways to find more work or make more money. Plus, we need to keep in mind that with the economy as it is, many people are either unemployed, underemployed, and/or suffering financially. You are not alone!

An additional problem is that facebook, Internet surfing and gaming can have an addictive quality to them, making it harder for him to pull himself away and act in his own best interest. Again, while they do have some beneficial effects, they can be a way to escape from reality. 

I do not think divorce is the answer here. At least not at this point.

Have you calmly spoken with him about how you feel in a loving way while seeing it from this perspective yet? If not, I suggest that you do.

Your husband might need some professional support to help him cope with his anxiety/depression and coping skills. While you might need some help with your stress, anxiety, and anger/resentment. Since finances are an issue, I recommend seeking a cognitive-behavioral therapist from your insurance plan (low co-pay), a local university or a mental health clinic where they have a sliding scale or do pro-bono therapy.  

The goals would be to address the issues I already mentioned, to work on your marriage, and to make sure you are sheltering your children from the negative emotional climate in the home. With the right help, the hope would be that your husband will be able to address his problems proactively instead of facebooking, Internet surfing and gaming, get back to work, regain his sex drive, and re-engage with the family.

In the meantime you also have to generate some practical solutions to your financial problems, and you may need an advisor to help you with that. Some possible options are debt consolidation, re-financing and filing for bankruptcy.

Let me know how it goes!

I wish you the best!

Dr. Naidich

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Viagra or Divorce? A Third Option

Dr. Naidich,

I desperately need your help! I have been happily married to my wife for 31 years. We have 3 children and 4 grandchildren. My wife is threatening to divorce since I can no longer meet her "needs". I am 60 years old and have tried viagra a couple times. But I wont use it anymore! The last time I used it, I had to go to the emergency room due an erection that lasted almost two days and a rash on my legs. I am too old for this "sh-t." I spoke to my doctor and he said I should try to satisfy my wife in some other ways. I spoke to her about my doctor's advice, but she told me that she was still in her "prime" and that the other ways were not the same thing. I dont understand my wife's priorities. Please help me.