The Complete Guide To Free Relationship Advice (And Where to Get Therapy Online)
Updated May 12, 2020
Reviewer Sonya Bruner
Many people assume that the divorce rate is skyrocketing, but in reality, the U.S. divorce rate dropped 18% from 2008 to 2016. This happened for a variety of reasons, including that people are waiting longer to get married (for example, after pursuing college or securing a job). Even if people are avoiding marriage, they are not avoiding relationships. The truth is, relationships add meaning to life. Although they can be fun, it takes hard work to build healthy relationships. Whether you are sticking your toe in the water of a new relationship or are fully submerged in a long-term one, a little free relationship advice can go a long way.
Develop a Secure Attachment
You might be surprised to learn that the way we relate to a spouse or partner has everything to do with how we related to our parents or guardians as a child. An individual's attachment style develops early in life. That's right - the quality of your current adult relationships mirrors the quality of your childhood relationships. There are four attachment styles:
- Secure: the healthiest; characterized by an ability to be emotionally intimate and open with others; contentment with the self and others; a product of emotionally-available parenting
- Anxious-Preoccupied: an insecure, unhealthy attachment; characterized by the need for others' approval and an intense desire to be emotionally close to others; low self-esteem; results from unresponsive parenting
- Dismissive-Avoidant: an insecure, unhealthy attachment; characterized by disinterest in emotional intimacy and extreme independence; results from childhood rejection
- Fearful-Avoidance: an insecure, unhealthy attachment; characterized by a desire for and a fear of close relationships; results from childhood sexual abuse and trauma
As children, we have little control over our environments. We unknowingly and unintentionally develop these relationship patterns that affect the rest of our lives. However, your current attachment style is not your destiny. Whether you feel overly clingy or too disinterested, you can work with a mental health professional to identify your current attachment style, address childhood traumas, and develop a secure attachment style.
Build Healthy Boundaries
According to Drs. Cloud and Townsend, unhealthy relationships and even abuse occur due to a lack of healthy boundaries. Boundaries demarcate where one person ends and another begins. They prevent one partner from becoming too dominant and help create equality and feelings of mutual respect in a relationship. To develop healthy boundaries, practice saying "no" to things that make you feel uncomfortable and voice your preferences and needs.
You cannot truly love another until you love yourself. If you feel incomplete, no partner will ever be able to complete you. You must be a whole, self-sufficient, confident person to have a healthy relationship. Everyone is flawed and will eventually let you down in some way. But if you enter a relationship from a position of strength, you will be able to overcome bumps in the road. Try spending some time on your own and developing your own hobbies. Remember that being alone is not the same as being lonely.
Overcome Past Heartbreak
It is difficult to engage in a new relationship if you are still mourning an old relationship. All relationships - no matter how healthy or unhealthy - require a period of mourning and recovery when they end. Journaling and meditation can help you begin to move past heartbreak. An online therapist can teach you strategies to overcome a breakup and develop skills to engage in healthy new relationships.
Forming relationships - especially healthy relationships - is no easy task. But it is one of the most important things you will do in life. Because of this, your relationship skills deserve your full attention. Take your relationship game to the next level with the help of an online therapist.
People in relationships need to feel connected with one another, to feel alive. When your partner turns toward you, respond back to them, don't ignore their emotional needs. The lack of love can cause emptiness. Show your connection with one another in ways that feel comfortable for each of you. Simple acts of love remind one another of the connection built and can increase the romance in the relationship. Hold their hand while you watch TV, cook dinner together, and remember to love one another. Everyday interactions shouldn't be overlooked as opportunities to reconnect. Consider what can you give your partner to show your love for them. Is it your time? Your attention?
Building a connection is the opportunity to build trust and intimacy. Find out what your partner prefers by asking and showing them. Is it touching or doing? For example, is your partner responsive to language, auditory cues, or making eye contact? Words of affirmation such as appreciation and politeness can go a long way. Adding phrases such as "I appreciate it when you" and "please" can be helpful in maintaining emotional connection and warmth. Neither of you is a mind-reader. Have them describe what they like without you evaluating or judging. The key to gaining intimacy is allowing your partner the space to share openly and honestly. Saying I love you may not be enough, you may need to reinforce your love in other ways.
Remain present in your relationship in the here and now by giving your partner your full attention. Dedicate yourself 100% and practice awareness. When you're angry or stressed don't check out of the relationship. Intimacy and trust are built during difficult times, not when they're easy. You may want to give up when feeling uncomfortable but this resistance needs to be challenged so your relationship can grow. Assess the situation, identify challenges and what you can personally do at this moment. Pause and reflect on why you are in the relationship and what your goals are. You may not be able to move forward if you continue to rehash every wrong repeatedly. This kind of negative thought process detracts from the relationship.
When we are flooded with emotions it is difficult to remain present. The situation can quickly escalate and it's valuable to know how to defuse conflict. Learn how to defuse conflict by being playful or by using humor to keep the conversation going in the right direction. Humor can help you regain a new perspective and rebalance communication. It also relieves stress and can break a pattern of hostility.
Watch your tone if you're using "you" repeatedly and if notice yourself blaming your partner. Take personal responsibility when you can, instead of offloading everything onto the other person. If your statements are starting with "you" start them instead with "I". Your decision to reflect your complaints may be putting your partner into a defensive mode by continuously using "you" statements. Focus on how you're feeling and not on blaming your partner or spouse. In doing so, you will find the conversation begin to move in a more manageable direction where both people are being heard and understood.
Pay special attention to your voice's tone during heated discussions because subtleties such as sarcasm can lead to a lack of communication and can cause the other person to distrust you. Note your volume as well and avoid raising your voice in competition to be heard. Being louder won't necessarily help you communicate better with your partner. If your loved one is speaking, you should be listening.
Follow this guide if you want to build deeply meaningful relationships. Apply these tips to help create and maintain greater love and health in your relationship. Practice and put all of your efforts into loving mindfully. It will pay off! You two are together because you make each other smile and through time you will discover each other's needs and how you can both feel fulfilled in your relationship.
Outside Help and Support
If you're looking for a bit more free help on your relationship you should check out online forums. You'll find a great deal of free advice from other couples who are going through the exact same situations and problems that you are. And they managed to make it all work. By taking a little bit of time to go over what they have to say, either in already published information or by asking a question, you'll be able to get yourself a little more help to get started.
Look for actual support groups for couples in a relationship as well. You can find some that are open to couples at all stages and some that are for dating couples, engaged couples, couples with children, married couples, and a whole lot more. These groups will allow you to voice your concerns as well as share the good things that are happening in your relationship. You'll be able to get feedback, advice, and support from other couples who are going through the same or similar things. Even more, you're going to get that kind of feedback entirely in real-time.
Another great way to get more free relationship help is to talk with your partner. They know what it is that they want and don't want in their relationship. That means that they're going to have a much better understanding of how the relationship can change and improve to make them feel better. By talking to them and being open with them as well you're going to be setting yourself up for even better success in your relationship.
Getting Help With BetterHelp
If you need a little bit more help with your relationship or getting into a relationship then check out the help available with BetterHelp. You'll be able to find some free resources, like even more articles on relationships and different relationship problems, and you can set up an appointment with one of our counselors (although seeking advice from a licensed counselor will cost a fee). With them you'll be able to discuss more specific problems or situations that are happening in your relationship and you will begin to work toward a positive resolution.
BetterHelp gives you access to some of the best counselors throughout the country, and you don't have to worry about how to choose one. Instead, you get to work with anyone you want to because BetterHelp's counseling is done exclusively online. That can help you feel more comfortable because you can have your session anywhere that you want (like your living room). Prices are comparable to the co-pays for mental health services from most insurance plans. Below you'll find some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing a range of relationship issues.
"Stephanie is a gem! She's very thoughtful, thorough, honest, insightful but most of all helpful. This is coming from a person that never wanted to do counseling and just "knew" I didn't need it. She's been key in helping my wife and I find our better place. She made us grow as a couple and individually. Thanks Steph!"
"Erin is amazing, she has helped me with my anxiety and mood changes. Also with my own insecurities and relationship with my partner. She's a loving person and does not judge. I would truly recommend her to anyone!"
By understanding the advice discussed in this article, you're well on your way to strengthening your relationship. Remember that it is possible to have a healthy relationship, despite past issues, if both parties are willing to put in effort and seek help when needed.