Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Ambivalent Relationships-II

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 29, 2010


Marla, called Monte on the anniversary of Monte’s mother passing. “Wait a minute, ” Monte says, “I thought we were ‘broken up’. ” “I don’t want an ongoing thing,” Marla states emphatically. “An ongoing thing?” Monte repeats. “Then why did you call me?” Monte asks. “Well, I was thinking about you and I thought it might be a hard day for you,” Marla says kindly. “Yes, but your call implies an ‘ongoing thing’. Further, we are colleagues, so we have an ‘ongoing thing’,” Monte responds with overwhelming anger. Marla goes silent. “Besides,” Monte continues, “the nature of our relationship is professional, although it did not start out that way.” Marla continues to be silent.

    The mixed message, the approach/avoidance behavior, that Marla exhibits is painful and understandable. Marla is deeply afraid of Monte’s anger and disappointment. As such, Marla attempts to ward off her vulnerability by saying that she does not want an ‘ongoing thing’. For Marla, this means that she does not want to feel that over and over again she does not give Monte what he needs. At the same time, Marla cares for Monte and she wants to let Monte know  that.

      Marla is a seasoned therapist, and as such, one hopes that she has worked out these ambivalent feelings such that she presents a clear message. The reality however is that for many patients Marla is helpful and clear, but when it comes to Monte, Marla is twisted and unsure of herself. Likewise, Monte is generally even keeled, but when he interacts with Marla, he is irritable and aggressive. As such, the interaction between Monte and Marla is heated with feelings which are unique for both. This uniqueness makes their relationship mutually interesting and scary; hence the ambivalence.

4 Responses to “Ambivalent Relationships-II”

  1. Shelly said

    Have you never offered condolences to someone who is not your friend? Is this not the same? Clearly it is a touch more than that, since Marla called Monte to express condolences instead of telling him in person the next time she bumped into him. I agree with Marla–why does her call mean that they are still in a relationship?

    I understand the point of this blog, but agree with Marla that maybe Monte was reading too much into the call.

  2. Yes and no. Yes, Monte is reading too much into it, but no, because I think Marla is being seductive. I think there is still the push/pull going on, but I see and appreciate your point.

  3. Suzi said

    Marla is totally being seductive or teasing. And Monte is enjoying it! This is way more than a professional relationship, and there is NO break up.. regardless of how often it is mentioned!

    It’s a soap opera… can’t stand soap operas!


  4. bօokmarked!!, I like your blog!

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