Episode 371: Is This Cheating?, Annoyed at Phones, & Meds Before Therapy

Hello, friends! I hope everyone is well.

In today’s insightful episode, we dive deep into two thought-provoking listener questions that touch on feelings of regret after a relationship and the challenges of adapting to a technology-driven society:

The Complexities of Relationships & BPD

A 27-year-old male grapples with feelings of regret after rekindling a relationship with an ex-partner diagnosed with BPD.

  • We discuss the intricate nature of relationships with individuals diagnosed with BPD, emphasizing understanding, compassion, and communication.
  • Highlighting the importance of self-awareness and personal boundaries when navigating the potential of re-entering a relationship.
  • Shedding light on the challenges of revisiting past connections and the role of personal growth and change.

Navigating a Technology-Driven World

A listener shares their post-pandemic struggles with adapting to a world where mobile phones dominate social interactions.

  • We explore the societal shift towards digital interactions and the challenges of feeling disconnected in an ever-connected world.
  • Addressing feelings of annoyance with public cell phone usage and ways to reframe our perspective for better adaptability.
  • Questioning medical advice and advocating for the importance of therapy as an initial treatment approach.

As always, you can send me questions to duffthepsych@gmail.com, and find the show notes for this episode at http://duffthepsych.com/episode371.

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Question 1:

Context: 27 year old male that has been going to therapy for 2 years and recently came off SSRIs after being on them for 1.5 years.

Recently I have been seeing someone that I previously dated. We had broken up about 8 months ago but still remained in contact for the first 7 months up to the last one where we completely cut ties from one another. I thought the situation was completely over so I ended up sleeping with someone else numerous times. My ex has recently came back into my life and has been really seeking a relationship with me again. She is diagnosed with BPD which had been something that really affected our relationship previously but I can’t stop thinking about all the fun memories we had shared together. I constantly think about getting back with her but I can’t seem to forgive myself for sleeping with someone else while we were broken up. She hasn’t asked about it but I know if I tell her what happened while we were broken up, she will be extremely upset. This is a pretty jumbled back story but my question is – how can I find some ways to forgive myself? I feel as if I cheated on her even though I wasn’t with her at the time.


It’s evident that the past year has been an emotional rollercoaster for you. Undergoing therapy for two years and recently transitioning off SSRIs after a 1.5-year stint is no small feat. Now, you find yourself on the precipice of potentially reigniting a relationship that once meant a great deal to you.

Let’s address the elephant in the room: your time apart from your ex, during which you sought intimacy elsewhere. Your feelings of guilt and unease are palpable, intensified by your awareness of her BPD diagnosis. However, it’s essential to ask yourself: is this guilt warranted?

When relationships conclude, individuals are usually free to pursue other connections unless there’s a mutual agreement to the contrary. Given that no such understanding existed between the two of you, your actions during the hiatus were entirely within your rights. Your struggle seems rooted in the unforeseen possibility of rekindling what you once had, which now casts a shadow of doubt over your past choices.

The intricate thread of BPD weaving through this narrative cannot be ignored. BPD often manifests as heightened sensitivity to rejection, powerful emotional reactions, and a pattern of forming deep bonds that can sometimes be disrupted abruptly. In this context, it’s imperative to discern between genuine guilt and the apprehension of her potential response to the truth.

It’s vital to understand that individuals with BPD, like anyone else, are deserving of love and can maintain fulfilling relationships. However, these relationships might come with their unique set of nuances and considerations, requiring mutual understanding and respect. The highs and lows of such relationships can be intense and challenging.

As you contemplate a potential reunion, deep introspection is key. While your shared memories are undeniably precious, gauging the future’s viability, especially given the previous challenges attributed to BPD, is crucial. Should both of you be open to it, couples therapy could be a valuable avenue to explore.

In wrapping up, while emotions like regret and guilt are natural reactions, their foundation needs careful evaluation. Relationships are intricate and often necessitate clear communication and understanding. If there’s one takeaway, it’s the importance of open dialogue, setting clear boundaries, and making informed decisions rooted in mutual respect and consensus.

Question 2:

Good day Dr. Duff!!! Your show is super helpful and informative. Keep up the real life content. My question…. Post pandemic, public adaption has been an issue for me. I’m having issues with cell phones in general. I’m a conversation and story sharing in person kind of guy. I’m not a social media life sharing can a person. I’m finding cell phones annoying and I feel like peeps are doing everything and anything to get a video or picture to post in both public private groups. I know I can’t stop what people do with their phones in public places. But, It bothers me… especially if their phone is pointed at me. I’m surprised at how much it’s bothering me. I went to my doctor asked to be referred to a therapist. He wanted to prescribe meds and said I needed a history of taking meds before I see a therapist. I disagree. How can I not feel annoyed ( f*ck my anxiousness) , ignore it and live on top of this.


In the aftermath of the pandemic, the world has witnessed a rapid transition into a digital-centric lifestyle. For many, like you, who value in-person conversations and personal stories, this change might feel overwhelming and, at times, intrusive. Your sentiments about cell phone usage, especially in public spaces, resonate with a growing number of people who feel disconnected in an increasingly connected world.

It’s natural to feel averse to the omnipresence of phones and the constant drive to capture every moment for social media platforms. Especially in public, where the boundaries between personal space and public domain blur, the act of pointing a phone in one’s direction can stir feelings of discomfort. But it’s crucial to remember that in today’s digital age, for many, phones are more than just devices. They’re tools for connection, documentation, and expression.

While you might feel targeted or singled out when someone points their phone in your direction, more often than not, their focus might be on sharing their own experience rather than capturing yours. Of course, there are exceptions where privacy concerns are valid, and in such cases, you have every right to assert your boundaries.

One way to mitigate this growing sense of detachment or annoyance is to reframe the narrative. Instead of seeing phones as barriers, try viewing them as bridges to different worlds. Perhaps the person on their phone is connecting with a long-lost friend or sharing a moment with someone miles away. By challenging our assumptions and approaching the situation with empathy, we can navigate this digital age with a more open heart.

In addition to this shift in perspective, you can also seek out environments that align with your values. Engaging in activities that discourage or prohibit phone usage, like trivia nights or board game gatherings, can provide the in-person interaction you crave.

However, your concerns go beyond just the digital realm. Your experience with a doctor who insisted on medication as a prerequisite for therapy is disheartening. In many regions, therapy is typically the primary course of action for mental health concerns. Medication can be an adjunct or standalone treatment, depending on the individual’s needs. Your doctor’s insistence on medication before therapy seems misinformed and not in line with widely accepted practices.

It’s crucial to advocate for your well-being. If you feel that a therapeutic approach aligns more closely with your needs, then it’s your right to pursue it. Platforms like Psychology Today can help connect you with local therapists tailored to your requirements. And if you ever feel that your healthcare provider isn’t acting in your best interests, it might be time to consider seeking a second opinion.

In conclusion, both the digital realm and mental health care come with their own sets of challenges. By actively seeking understanding, setting boundaries, and prioritizing your well-being, you can navigate these challenges with confidence and clarity.

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