Attachment Answers

How do I open myself up for a fulfilled single life?

Hi Tori! Thank you for reaching out and asking this valuable question on the topic of making improvements in your relationships. Welcome to the BetterHelp platform! I can tell that you have been looking for ideas on how to prepare for your next relationship as well as improve and build upon your current friendships. What are some of your relationship goals? I hope that my response to your question will assist you in making changes in your current and future relationships. Sometimes advice and guidance is all we need in order to take the next steps! I can tell that you have been feeling motivated for change based on what you had written in your question. It is a really good sign that you have been reaching out for support. Who else is in your support system? What institutions would you consider to be supportive for you? Are you familiar with the cycle of change? What are some things that you can realistically do as you prepare for change? Here is a link to more information on the cycle of change: Also, here is a link to the circle of support work sheet in which you can continue to identify your natural supports: In addition to reaching out for support and preparing to make change, I can see that you are trying to focus on your needs. Have you taken some time to focus on your feelings, as well? First and foremost, I recommend that you take some time to focus on recognizing your feelings and assessing how your emotions may have changed over time. I will share with you the link to the feelings wheel in order for you to practice feeling identification strategies: It appears that you have already begun the process of setting some really good goals for yourself! I realize that you would like to learn how to live a fulfilling, single life. That sounds really great! What are some of the things that would make life fulfilling for you? Perhaps you can make a list of your hobbies, talents and interests in order to have a better understanding on how to answer this question. What are some of your personality traits that you would consider to be your greatest strengths? Take some time to assess your own personal favorite qualities that you recognize within yourself. In addition, you mentioned in your question that you had moved to London for love. It sounds like that plan did not work out in the way that you initially expected it to. I realize that this experience could come with some feelings of disappointment or perhaps even feelings of devastation. Those are just some of my first thoughts. I am wondering if you are familiar with the four types of Greek love- stergo, phileo, agape and eros. I understand that you had moved to London searching for love and did not find the type of love you had anticipated. Perhaps you can still find love but maybe a love that comes in a different form!Below is the link to an article that explains the four types of Greek love for your review: On another note, I understand that you were able to recognize some of warning signs of codependency in your last relationship. Have you noticed codependency signs in your past relationships, as well? Take some time to clarify some of the signs of codependency. I would like to encourage you to look into more information on the topic of codependency. Below are the titles of two books that you could read in order to explore more on this topic: "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie "Understanding and Treating Co dependnce" by James A. Kitchens Also, check out this web link for a quick synopsis about understanding co dependency: In responding to your question, I would be interested in hearing more about what you have been doing to live a fulfilling life so far. What can you do to take action in order to live a more fulfilling life? Would you be able to envision yourself feeling fulfilled in other ways? I recommend that you try to visualize your life feeling fulfilled. Would you be willing to prioritize yourself over other people? It sounds like you could benefit from self care skills. Essentially, from my perspective, self care skills mean practicing any activity that brings you joy and fosters a sense of self love. It is okay to be selfish. Not in a bad, rude and "no one matters but me" way but rather in an "I love you" (yourself) type of way! I hope that you can carve out twenty minutes or so in your day to practice self care. Here is a link to some more ideas for self care skills: I recommend that you begin the process of journaling or creating art on a regular basis. Would you be willing to participate in creative writing or therapeutic drawing interventions? You could keep a daily journal as a means to record and keep track of your thoughts and feelings. At this time, I would like to recommend that you you begin attending individual counseling sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. It sounds like you could find meeting with a therapist one on one will be helpful for you overall. In individual therapy, you can have the chance to address your concerns with attachment. Ask your therapist about the attachment theory! You may also want to consider attending a group therapy session or a groupinar. The group therapy process has very unique benefits that you may find to be helpful for you! Lastly, I want to thank you again for your time asking this important question. Also, I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey on BetterHelp. I hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. Take good care and have a nice day!
Answered on 11/17/2022

How do I commit myself in to a relationship?

Hello Lisa, Thank you for reaching out for your question. I will try my best to answer this as best as possible on the limited information.First of all, it is very hard to find good men these days.  Society has taken a modern turn and communication and steps to build a relationship don't seem to really exist.  People are wanting to "rush order" dating and relationships and they usually end up with someone who has a personality disorder or co-dependency issues, especially on a dating application where that platform is really attractive for someone who quickly wants their ego fed.With that said, if you are wanting to find someone of quality, I strongly recommend that you do things that you do and love and then someone who is also interested in the same things will find you there. For example, if you love to kayak, play tennis, etc. then gravitate to those type of activities.  In addition, volunteering for community service especially during the holidays is a nice way to help out.Lastly, when you do meet someone, the key is to take your time.  Take one step at a time and really get to know someone instead of rushing in a physical relationship.  This way, you can study their personality, see if they are a good fit and you have things in common, and develop a sense of trust.  It takes time to build trust and most people rush into things and then end up getting hurt.  It also might be good for you to seek professional counseling with a licensed therapist to see if you keep gravitating towards the same type of toxic guy. Perhaps, there is a pattern where you are drawn to more toxic men and this is why you continue to get hurt.  A licensed therapist can help you under why you are drawn to certain men and help you shift out of old patterns and perhaps help your "picker" find more trustworthy fellas.Hope this helps and I wish you the best on your journey of love.  Remember, do things that you love, learn to love yourself, and in return... you will attract love to you.
Answered on 11/15/2022

Every time my boyfriend leaves I feel sad.

Childhood rejection and abandonment issues can manifest in many ways during adulthood.  Sometimes in ways that we don't even notice.  Working with your therapist to identify specific events when you felt abandoned early on is a good place to begin.  Once you've got your target memories in place, you can begin to heal from these things.  You can begin reprocessing these events to file them more efficiently and effectively in your brain, thus creating new neuro-pathways to process current and future events in a healthier way.  You've taken the first step by identifying a troubling behavior and acknowledging its possible root cause.  The rest takes time, but self-awareness is a vital and fundamental piece of healing from trauma (and any other illness for that matter). It is important that you have a therapist who you feel comfortable with.  Someone who takes the time to get to know you as an individual. There are several modalities of treatment that therapists engage in to address childhood traumatic events.  Sometimes, the mere act of saying these things out loud can alleviate symptoms and take the power away from them.  There is almost always an element of traditional talk therapy regardless of which modality you choose.   Most therapists are trained well in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and will often ask you to identify faulty or distorted thinking patterns.  For example, when your boyfriend leaves, what is your automatic thought? (ie "He's never coming back", "I'm not good enough", or "something awful will happen to him").  They may challenge that thought or thinking pattern and ask you what evidence you have that those things are a possibility.  Solution-focused brief therapy interventions are often helpful and basically help you to identify all of the strengths you already possess from your past in order to get through difficult times now and in the future.  Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing therapy, if tolerated, basically simulates the Rapid Eye Movement period of your sleep cycle while you are awake in order to go through the memory, identify body sensations and emotions that come up while you are thinking about the memory, and typically results in alleviation in symptoms.  Of course these are very remedial and brief definitions and there are many more modalities that therapists use.  I strongly encourage you to research modalities of treatment that you are interested in.  Therapy is not a "one size fits all" sort of thing.  No matter what modality of treatment you choose, the therapist/client relationship has proven to be the most notable predictor of outcomes.  Your therapist should be open to you asking questions of them, be accepting and non-judgmental, and should meet you where you are at.  Addressing trauma history is not for the faint of heart.  It is hard emotional work and you will be exhausted on some therapy days. Make sure you prepare well by getting plenty of rest, taking time for self-care, and staying hydrated.  Best wishes on your journey!
Answered on 11/15/2022

How would you advise to get over an ex quickly?

Hello Craig, and thanks for reaching out to seek answers to your question!  You ask a very important one and are certainly having an experience in which you are not alone.   Learning to find your way through challenges in personal relationships can be a lifelong journey and is a very common area of concern for many people.  Unfortunately when those relationships dissolve there can be strong residual feelings that can linger afterwards.  These feelings can come in all different forms and experiences and can combine leading us to feel overwhelmed and even confused at times.  We may feel a mixture of emotions including but certainly not limited to those such as sadness, guilt, anger, fear, abandonment, rejection, insecurity, and despair when a relationship dissolves.  We may at times also feel emotions we might not even expect, such as a feeling of relief.   Often we  experience another emotion which we may not expect. The feeling of grief.  Sometimes these feelings can reside in us for a very long time and other times we can make our way through the experience relatively quickly.   This can depend upon the quality and length of the relationship in question, the attachment by each partner involved, reasons for the dissolution of the relationship, to name a few considerations.  When we experience losing a loved one (family, friend, pet etc) due to death (or significant disruption or discontinuation of the relationship) we commonly experience a response to that loss called grief.  There are many stages we go through within the grieving process. These may include feelings of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and ultimately (hopefully) acceptance.   Unfortunately there is no way to expedite the grieving process.  It is unique to each individual and each relationship the person is grieving.  It is important when trying to heal from a breakup or end of a relationship that one allows themselves the time and space they need to adequately reflect upon their true feelings and experiences. Only through the process of feeling these emotions can one truly heal enough to find the place of reaching acceptance.  When healing from the loss of a relationship through a breakup or abrupt change, it can be helpful to take a time of respite for oneself.  It can be useful to develop new habits and routines. Revisit what activities you enjoy.  Spend time with new friends.  It is also important to take the time you need to offer yourself patience, compassion, and self love during this time.  It may be helpful to try to avoid seeing the person you are no longer with (if this is a result of a breakup) while you are developing new routines and patterns.  Of course without knowing more about your unique situation it is hard to provide more specific details or recommendations.  It might benefit you to consider speaking to a licensed professional clinician to further explore your history and experiences with the relationship and any areas of personal development that may enhance and promote improved health in any future relationships.  In the meantime, I wish you well and hope you found this helpful! Best of luck. 
Answered on 11/15/2022

How do i handle my mental health and my friendship?

Hi there, and thank you for reaching out with your question regarding your mental health and the future of your friendship with your close female friend. In your question, you seem to wonder how you can preserve this friendship with her after her marriage, and how you can work on your mental health in the face of this uncertainty. There are some ambiguities in your message which makes it difficult to be very specific about the situation. For instance, you state that you became "attached" to her - this could mean a deep emotional connection, or a romantic attraction, or both. From the tone of your message I assume there was something romantic there perhaps, especially given your concern that her husband may not "allow" her to stay in contact with you (I'm also not sure of whether you are male or female, which may also be of importance in this situation). You also say she stopped talking to you after the engagement as she knew of your "condition" - does this mean she was aware you were attracted to her and therefore broke off the friendship to spare your feelings? If so, it could be that she wishes to set a boundary with you as she may feel it would be unfair and inappropriate of her to continue a friendship with someone who has an attraction to her, as well as being difficult to manage possibly further down the line. You can't force someone to want to stay friends with you, and oftentimes it's better to say goodbye and let go gracefully. First of all, it would be wise to consider what is best for yourself in this situation. Your friend sounds like she is settled and moving on with another part of her life, so now is a great time for you to think about what you want. You say you want to maintain a healthy friendship with her, but you are frightened of losing her. Think about why it is that you're so frightened of losing her - what would this mean to you, if you did lose her? What does this person symbolize to you? Perhaps you felt that there could be a romantic connection between you, which has now become impossible, and this is a sad, hurt feeling for you, possibly a feeling of rejected or being abandoned. Maybe you feel not good enough. Or possibly, you two were very close and you shared things together, and there are not many other people in your life who you have this connection with, and you are mourning the loss of this closeness. You say she is always on your mind, and it must be very difficult and distressing for you to be feeling this level of anxiety and concern about her, and worrying about what the future of your friendship will look like - if there will be a future. You say that in your heart you want closure, but what does this mean? It is not always possible to have the perfect continuation of a friendship, and she may not wish for it either. You will not be able to control how she feels about you or the friendship, and, if you feel very distressed about this, it may not be wise for you to try to cling to this friendship. Think about how you will feel if she becomes more distant, should she have children or become more involved in her new life. It is better for you to focus on yourself, rather than her. As such, in order to maintain good mental health, the wisest course of action would be to let go of the attachment to her by building up other areas of your life. If you are feeling lonely and bereft without her, now is the time to start forming new friendships and possibly looking into dating other people. You can pour time and energy into other projects, career, socializing, family or hobbies, and this will take your mind off of your friend, while also giving you the chance to find happiness and satisfaction elsewhere. Honor the friendship for what it was, rather than wishing things were different. If your friend does want to stay in contact, then you can see how you feel about this, and it will become a bonus in your life rather than a necessity. I hope this answer is helpful to you and I wish you all the best for the future. Eleanor
Answered on 11/14/2022

Looking for someone to help my daughter and myself to build back a long damaged relationship?

Rebuilding relationships after years of hurt, anger, mistrust, etc. can be very difficult however, is doable. When all involved in the relationship agree to start the healing process it is important to recognize that the beginning of this journey will be difficult. The most honest and open all involved are the more likely it is to be able to move forward. The first step is to get past the events and focus on the emotions/feelings along with the core beliefs that were developed because of the emotions/feelings. Being able to sort of the emotions/feelings of the individual allows them an opportunity to give voice regarding them instead of fighting over the events of the situation. Typically there are various perspectives of the situation which causes the situation to be unvalid however, the feelings are how someone felt which are always valid because that indivdiual knows how they felt or continue to feel. I think this is best done in an individual therapy session or two before doing a family therapy session. This also allows the individual to find what he or she is wanting to express. The second step is coming up with "fair fighting" rules. This typically means identifying a word that can be used when the discussion becomes too heated or overwhelming. This is a word both agree upon as well as what the response is. Do you give each other a five minute break walking away to breath then return and talk again? Do you need more time? Identifying what both need you can add on additional aspects of breaks depending on how heated or overwhelming the topic becomes. The third step is focusing on what the outcome or goal is. Having a shared goal or outcome and reflecting back on it when times get rough can be helpful. Additionally, you can set goals in individual sessions and family session to be able to track the progress. Healing from years of hurt can take time so being patient with yourselves and each other is also very important. This is where breathing and grounding techniques can assist you in bringing focus back into the present moment which is important especially when dealing with past hurt. Two techniques that can be used in session or on your own is first boxed breathing. Boxed breathing is where you breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, breathe out for four seconds, and hold out for four seconds. Repeating this five to eight times can assist with breathing down emotions. The second is tension grounding which is done by pushing your heals into the ground as hard as you can, without hurting yourself, and you focus on the emotion you are feeling and push it into the ground. After doing this for five to eight seconds you then focus on the sensation of the release and what that feels like. Additionally, when you release you are letting that emotion go as the tension is let go. Again this allows you to be able to deal with the emotion in the moment while not getting too overwhelmed to not be able to stay present in these sessions. 
Answered on 11/08/2022

I don't understand why no one is ever attracted to me or shows interest in me

Hi PS! Thank you for taking the time to reach out for support on the "Ask a Licensed Therapist" forum! I appreciate you sharing many details about your question related to loneliness, isolation and establishing meaningful relationship connections. I can tell by the information that you have provided that you are looking to further your relationships and address your challenges with intimacy, dating, attraction and romantic relationships. Based on your question, I can tell that you are a very likable person and that you have a strong support system. As I am sure that you already know, having close relationships with family and friends can be an integral part of anyone's social experience. A strong social support system can be vital in managing the challenges of every day life. It is a really great sign that you have close friends, supportive parents and feel good about these connections. I would like to encourage you to continue to build upon these supports. In addition, I can see why you are still feeling alone if you are coping with rejection. Self confidence can be an attractive quality for many individuals. Perhaps you can start the relationship building process by working on improving your self esteem and rebuilding your self confidence. If you are looking to assess your own self concept, I recommend utilizing the Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale (RSES) as a means to measure self esteem over time. Here is the link to this free, validated and reliable assessment: I would be curious to know more about your thoughts on dating. What would a satisfactory relationship look like for you? What are some aspects in a relationship and qualities of significant other that you are searching for? What are your current positive traits, qualities and strengths that you could bring to a relationship? It is true that dating isn't always easy and that there are many challenges that come with the process of establishing a romantic connection. What have your strategies for dating been like thus far? Would you consider the prospect of online dating? Some people meet their partner through a mutual friend, a friend of a friend or by being connected to someone who knows them both. Have you tried reaching out to your friends and expressing your dating concerns? Do you think that one of them could connect you to another single person who is looking for similar things? It would be good for you to leave your comfort zone behind and meet new people when the opportunity arises to do so. Maybe you can ask some couples how they met in order to give you some ideas for your own future love story. One aspect of dating entails having a set of shared interests with another individual. How would you describe your hobbies and interests? If you are willing, you may want to consider creating a running list on the topic of your strengths, talents, interests, etc. Having an interesting hobby maybe helpful for you to nurture your self confidence, as well. Perhaps you could meet someone special doing one of the activities on your list of interests! Keep track of what you like to do and the things that are of interest to you. When it comes time for a first date, you will be super prepared and be ready to express your hobbies to the person who is getting to know you! I would like to encourage you to begin writing in a therapeutic journal about your strengths as well as explore some barriers to having a fulfilling relationship. Emotional expression can be an incredibly powerful tool when reflected through the journaling and writing process. As a provisionally licensed art therapist, I always recommend making art as a means to communicate, express and process any thought, feeling or experience. The holistic interventions of art therapy may be beneficial for you to incorporate into your therapeutic journey. Did you know that there are many added benefits to art making which includes self esteem building? An art therapy related activity that could work for you is to draw a picture of a potential first date. Take some time to imagine, create and allow yourself to discover a sensory experience. Where would your ideal first date be located? What sounds might you hear? What things would you see around you and surrounding you and your date? What might your date look like? Would there be any tactile sensations, tastes or smells that stand out for you? By creating this guided visualized imagery, you are giving yourself a chance to better understand the things that you are looking for. Perhaps there will be an opportunity for this experience to manifest itself into your life if you would like it to. Aside from recognizing your talents and strengths through writing, creating therapeutic drawings and utilizing sensory visualization exercises, I would like to recommend that you begin individual counseling services on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Having a safe space for you to share your thoughts, express your concerns and come up with a plan for change would likely assist you in building self esteem and attaining your goals. Going to group therapy sessions or a groupinar may be beneficial for you, as well. Essentially, it is up to you what you decide to do regarding your therapy. Lastly, I would like to share an inspirational quote with you written by an anonymous individual, who is full of dating wisdom: "Poor self esteem- everyone is beautiful in their own unique way. Everyone is capable of giving love and deserves to receive love. Everyone." Thank you again, PS, for asking this valuable question on the BetterHelp platform. I truly hope that my response was helpful for you in some way. Take good care, be optimistic and stay positive. Try to have some faith that things will work out in the right time and in the right way. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey! Have a wonderful day.
Answered on 11/08/2022

How can set healthy boundaries and engage meaningfully with people around me?

There are many ways to set healthy boundaries so that we are able to engage with others in a meaningful way.  We do this so that we, and those we have relationships with can take responsibilty for their own actions, feel safe, have trust and honesty, be able to support, cooperate and communicate with each other.  Setting these boundaries gives us the chance to share what is important to us so that others are able to understand. For example if we wanted to set a boundary about taking responsibility this may be about owning up to mistakes and being able to discuss them. For safety this may be about setting a boundary that we respect each others' space and speak to each other without aggression. For trust and honesty this may be about being open and truthful about what we need and how we are feeling and for support, cooperation and communication, this may be about being able to listen to others without judgement and expecting the same from them, making decisions together and being willing to compromise and accept that change may need to happen.  An example of setting a boundary to avoid getting too attached to someone, might include asking for your own time and and space and respecting that the other person needs this too, or using open communication to share how you are feeling regarding the attachment and making a decision together about what could be helpful moving forward.  It may be helpful to plan what you want to say before communicating any healthy boundary, considering why you need it and why it is important to you, so that you are able to share this. Using I statements when you set these boundaries may also be helpful, such as 'I feel that I become too attached to others and I feel that due to this it would be helpful for us to have our own time and space.'   Allowing yourself this space may also help you to feel less drained in relationships and the space to reflecting on the fear of letting go and hurting others. 
Answered on 11/02/2022

How do I cope with parents that are hard to please?

Hi Anon Thank you for taking the time to write this question as it is very clear to see that you are searching for answers, which no doubt are within you but you just need some help locating them. The issues that you have raised that you're having with your parents is quite a complex situation, though it may seem quite straightforward as to what is happening. It is clear to see there is a definite 'power struggle' here, you wanting to live your life, and them wanting you to live the life how they want you to live it, with them being very much included. You on the other hand are wanting to make your own way in life and find your own happiness the way that you want to do it, sometimes with them on board but sometimes just by you finding who you are outside of your family and within your relationship. But it seems as though your parents are reluctant to allow you to do it your way, and this is why they may be unconsciously stunting your growth in its developing stages. It could be that as you find your way in life, they want to be included, which is fine up to a point. It sounds like there's a possibility that your parents are suffering a type of anxiety where they are finding it hard to let go of their 'child', and it would be interesting to put the question to them and ask why is it so hard to let me go and live my life how I want, what is it that you're afraid of. Sometimes it is that the parents have attachment issues, the attachment to the child is so strong that they find it difficult to detach when the child is old enough to make their own decisions. If you did decide to go forward with BetterHelp and go on the journey of your 'story' through therapy it would also be good for you to explore how you have unconsciously or consciously played a part in this scenario inspired by your parents and find out how this has all come about. As maybe you could be playing a 'part' in being reluctant to put down firm boundaries in fear of hurting their feelings, but this can be done in the most sensitive way once frustration and anger are kept at bay. I think from reading what you've written, therapy would be good for you as you will find out more about yourself and what you want and what role you want and/or expect your parents to play. Your find out more about yourself and what you want beyond what your parents want from you and for you. I hope the above answer gives you a bit more insight in the work that needs to be done. The fact that it can be done is the good news, the less so good news is therapy takes time and work to reach the place where you want to be within yourself. Happiness and internal peace can be achieved if you set your mind to be determined to reach for them and establish them in your life.
(Humanistic, Integrative, Therapist, Clinical, Supervisor, Neuroscience)
Answered on 11/01/2022

How can my girlfriend and I reignite the spark? And how can we better improve our communication?

I would suggest for you both to remember the first time you both got together or met. Also, remember when and how you fell in love. Talk about those times with one another to rekindle the relationship. When it comes to communication, I suggest learning how to fight or learning how to have conversations. This is a must. Using "I feel" statements, are quite powerful. For example, "I feel ________ when ______." Be mindful of tone of voice when having discussions. Remember to speak to each other with love and respect. Taking a 5-minute break, if you feel the conversation is getting heavy, might also be helpful. Do mindful breathing exercises during the 5-minute break, then revisit the conversation. Couples therapy is also very helpful. Having fruitful conversations about the positives of the relationship is key. If it is a long-distance relationship, evaluate if it would be better to move closer together or keeping it like it is. Perhaps each of you taking accountability for actions can also help. When there is ownership of something that went wrong, you or your partner may feel heard, understood and cared for. This also shows that there is an awareness of what struggles are happening in the relationship. Making a list of values that you both share and don't share can also help bond you both. Therefore, you can see each other's differences and learn to embrace the various characteristics of your relationship. This can help you both grow with one another. Deciphering the struggles in the relationship, which led to the break-up, can also illustrate what not to do next time you both give the relationship a go again. Decide to show up for yourselves in the relationship and making communication a priority is also a great way to set the standard for your relationship. Compromise and trust is key. Spending time with one another in person can also be powerful. Hugs and looking into each other's eyes stimulate the bonding and love hormones in your brain. It can bring you both closer to one another. Making a conscious choice to write love notes and send them to one another, will also further help with communication. 
(PsyD, MA, LMFT)
Answered on 11/01/2022

How do I move on from a failed relationship?

Relationships involve communication and trust. Without trust you can run into paranoia, and question everything your partner is doing. You lived together so you shared an enormous amount of time together, and you will need time to get back to a new normal. First allow yourself time to grieve, a loss is a loss and allowing yourself the time to say goodbye in your own way is important so you feel there is a clear ending - a feeling of closure. You lived together, so he was the one you would discuss joys with, concerns with - find a new confidant. Focus on you, self care - what were things you ignored when you were with your partner? Busy yourself with something you enjoy, friends you didn't spend as much time with. Think about what you felt worked and did not work within your relationship. What made you happy? What areas concerned you? What are the things you can do now that he is gone? Start with the positive that has now come across your path. As you find a new place to live - you can start to build up an environment that is completely yours. Set up an environment that shows off your strengths, the things you love, the activities, books, music, artwork that shows you as a person.  What have you gained through the loss? Can you be confident in yourself - confident enough to allow yourself to move on and find someone who respects you the way you respect yourself. You are a strong and resilient person who deserves to be loved the way you love someone else.  Can you think of hobbies you can start to pick up again? Maybe things that can bring others into your life - jogging with a friend, tennis or racketball (or the new one pickleball) - after active activities can you read? Listen to music? All of this can be accomplished while you move out of grief and into enjoying time with yourself, and your friends. Although you can hold on to the good memories you have, you can slowly move on knowing what has and has not been best for you in a relationship.
(LPC008969, MHC00606)
Answered on 11/01/2022

How do I cope with a breakup?

Hi NaeNae! I am so glad that you reached out for some help! This sounds like a hurtful situation that is difficult to navigate on your own. Sometimes our emotions get in the way of us figure out and decide what is best for us. Try looking at it from a perspective that does not include your strong emotions-just the facts! What is it that is making you unhappy? Maybe the feelings of not being appreciated enough? Or possibly him not showing emotions? Is this something the two of you can work through together? It's okay if that is not what you want, moving on is okay too! Either decision is a difficult one to make, but always keep in mind that each decision will lead you down a different path. There is no right or wrong path in this situation, just two different ones that can both have beautiful outcomes.  Focus on what will make you happy. When coping with a break up it is important that we focus on what is happening in the moment, not in the past. What is wonderful about your life in this moment? For the next five minutes focus on, where can you find joy, peace or whatever else you need to be content. Then do that again until you get through an entire day of being in the moment. Some moments won't be so easy and that's okay too. Let yourself feel those feelings and then let them pass and go back to taking baby steps at staying in the moment.  It's also okay to look to the future. What are your goals and dreams? What are you doing in this moment to accomplish them? If you aren't working on anything specific right now, that's okay too. It sounds like one of your goals is getting through this break-up. What do you see yourself doing when you are feeling like yourself again? Once your emotions have calmed down a little bit, start thinking about your next steps. Not before you are ready though! It's okay to take as much time as you need to get through this challenge!  When you lose someone you love in any manner, whether through a break-up or death or something else, it is normal to grieve that. Grief is not only for death. Any loss can be grieved. The stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance. These stages are not linear, one day you might feel like you have reached the acceptance stage and then all of the sudden you are back to anger and denial. This is normal and okay. Over time you will find that you are in the acceptance stage for longer and longer. Sometimes, a break-up can be even more challenging to grieve than death because there is not always the finality that comes with death. The possibility and hope of being with that person again can come back up. This is where your boundaries come in! Set boundaries that let you think about this person in the same manner all the time and this process will go more smoothly.  Good Luck NaeNae! I wish you and your daughter the best! 
Answered on 10/31/2022

Should I be starting a relationship so soon after ending one?

Hi Jacie! Thank you so much for asking this valuable question! I can tell that you are wondering about a plan to proceed with your next relationship. It sounds like you are debating whether or not you should be starting a relationship soon after ending your last relationship. Essentially, the answer to your question will have to come from you. I will do my best to provide you with some insight and guidance to help you make the best decision for yourself as possible! I know that you mentioned that you and your ex were together for sixteen years until you had separated due to his recent deployment. I would say that sixteen years is a long time to be in a relationship with someone. What were some of the highlights or important memories of this relationship? Did you make the decision to separate due to the physical separation of his deployment? Was this a mutual agreement for you both? Was there a time in which you two had considered getting back together after the deployment had ended? I can certainly imagine that staying with someone who is at risk of deployment at any given point would be a significant challenge for a relationship. It seems like you made the best decision for yourself at the time and chose to end the relationship. In addition, it sounds like since you have separated from your ex, you have started seeing someone else. Now that you have begun a new relationship, are you questioning whether or not you are ready to continue with the relationship with that individual? In what ways are your comparing your current boyfriend with your ex? How would you say that these two individuals are similar? What are some of their major differences? Take some time to contemplate some of these questions. I would like to encourage you to make a list of the qualities that you like to have in a partner. If you are comfortable with making a pros and cons list about each of these relationship experiences, that may be beneficial for you, as well. Perhaps you may also benefit from constructing a timeline of your relationship history. If you truly feel like it is simply too soon to start a new relationship, then it is okay to take a step back, take it slow, take a break and spend time focusing on yourself. Your needs are incredibly important and it is vital to take some time for yourself, especially in between ending a relationship and starting a new one. I realize that sometimes relationships are back to back or even overlap. It is ultimately up to you to decide if it is too soon for you to be with someone new or if you are ready to start fresh with someone else once again. I know that you mentioned that you have been trying to feel happy for some time now. What are some of the things that allow you to feel a sense of happiness? How would you describe your hobbies, interests and values? Perhaps you can begin the process of identifying your thoughts on happiness  and create a brainstorm, write a bullet point running list or start a word splash of your ideals for happiness. I think it makes sense why you would seek happiness for yourself. Maybe you can come up with a flow chart or a step by step list on how you can achieve happiness now and in the future. The fact that you would like to curl up into a ball may indicate that you are searching for a sense of comfort and security. I would like to recommend two different EMDR resourcing activities for you to try. The first one is the Butterfly Hug. The butterfly hug may bring you a sense of security. For this exercise, you cross your arms across your chest and envision your hands as butterfly wings. Gently tap your hands on your shoulders, arms or elbows and envision the flapping wings of a butterfly. This method is thought to bring physiological sense of calmness to individuals who are willing to try this tapping method. Here is a link to the an article of the butterfly hug directive and a YouTube video on this technique : I also think that it would be a good idea for you to try the inner peaceful place guided visualization activity. In this directive, you can imagine a personalized place of peace. What do you imagine seeing in your peaceful place? What sounds might you hear? What smells would there be? Take your time to imagine any tactile sensations or tastes that you would experience in this place of peace. No matter what you envision, remember that you can trust yourself to return to this place of inner peace at any time. Here is the link to the script for the inner peaceful place strategic: In addition to trying out some of these techniques, I recommend creating some art work that depicts your vision for yourself and the future of your relationship. One idea could be to draw an image using lines, shapes and colors to represent the feelings, hopes and dreams of your current relationship. Perhaps you might be willing to color in the shapes of a coloring page, such as a mandala. You can also create a small sculpture using clay or Model magic. Contemplate what symbols you might choose to represent your feelings and experiences in your relationship. Lastly, I recommend that you begin attending individual counseling services on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. There is an option for you to attend a group or a groupinar on the BetterHelp platform. Trust in the healing nature of the therapeutic process. Thank you again, Jacie, for taking the time to ask this important question on the BetterHelp platform. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey!
Answered on 10/30/2022

How can I change my old ways?

Hi there!  Toxic relationships often bring out the worst qualities in us. It's important to think about your relationship patterns. How often have you been in toxic relationships? When did you recognize that this current relationship was toxic? At our core, we value human interactions and companionship. Think about how you viewed yourself prior to the relationship. Were you in a good place before dating or were you feeling low? Depending on how we feel about ourselves, can impact our choices in dating. There are also situations where the relationship starts off wonderful and somehow things go downhill. When you reflect on the relationship, you should question when things changed and what factors or stressors contributed to the change. Relationships require love, communication, honesty, self-confidence, among many other qualities. We learn these qualities by the examples that have been provided to us throughout life. How we attach to others throughout our upbringing, impacts how we attach to others both romantically and within friendships. Typically, there are three to four attachment styles: Anxious, Avoidant (dismissive or fearful) and Secure. An anxious attachment involves a level of nervousness, inability to communicate clearly or directly and some acting out behaviors (doing things to make your partner jealous). In a relationship like this, there are several insecurities and you might constantly feel worried that things will end or that you are not enough as a partner.   A secure attachment entails clear communication, trust/vulnerability, cooperation/teamwork. You recognize that the relationship is give and take. It doesn't mean that there won't be disagreements, but in a secure relationship, you feel safe to discuss moments of upset and how to resolve conflict.  An avoidant attachment can either be dismissive (ex: minimizes the relationship, extremely self-reliant and only shows vulnerability in moments of crisis) or fearful (ex: fearful of rejection, low self-esteem and high anxiety in relationships). While you crave love from others, you have a hard time being vulnerable and allowing yourself to open up.  Once you have the opportunity to reflect on your attachment style, you can begin to think about the impact it has had on your relationships and who you choose as a partner. When you recognize that a relationship has led to feelings or behaviors that you are not proud of, we have to think about what it would take to get you to a place where you feel good about who you are and confident about the type of love you want to receive. That might mean making some tough decisions, but it sounds like you are ready to put yourself first. 
Answered on 10/30/2022

How do I start to heal from past relationships?

Nice to meet you Olivia and help you work through your relationship-related concerns. Sometimes an unhealthy relationship seems comfortable if you had been in a previous one without any resolved conflict in the relationship. It seems that we learn relationships and boundaries very early about what we will and won't accept. For example, if we grow up with a co-dependent mother we may develop the tendency to be dependent on others for our self-confidence. It is imperative that we have a healthy relationship with ourselves first. We need to fill our cups and be ok being alone at times. Self-care and learning your values, beliefs, and desires in your life. We need to treat ourselves so well, not harshly and critically or accept a bad relationship because we are bored or lonely. You may have not processed the adjustment and loss from your first relationship so that is still very "raw" and will need healing and resolution. You can do that with some processing of your thoughts. feelings and behaviors attached to that relationship while analyzing the pros and cons of both relationships. Also, look at your relationships and family dynamics over the course of your life. It is important for you to develop healthy attachment and be able to share what qualities you are seeking in a relationship in the future. Take your time working on boundaries, self-confidence, and what a healthy relationship looks like and should feel like. What are the future goals that you want to share with someone? We can meet weekly and develop more detailed and structured goals and objectives for you. We will rule out any other conditions that could be co-morbid such as anxiety and mood questionnaires. I will send you some material to help build on interpersonal relationship skills and self-esteem too. Never feel stupid for wanting to process your feelings and thoughts to gain clarity for future relationships and it is a good learning experience for you as you continue to develop skillsets in these areas. I am looking forward to helping you develop new skills and solutions. Moreover, try some mindfulness skills and journaling for coping strategies. What are your favorite ways to self-soothe? Try grounding techniques that I will send you as well as they can be helpful when feeling emotions intensely. It seems to really help my clients calm down and decompress. I want you to embrace and have compassion for yourself as we will go through some difficult relationships over the course of our life and they will come and we will learn more each time. Being in a relationship is no longer about you it changes to an 'us' and teamwork is key. Learn to embrace your imperfections and not expect someone to live up to your life desire or agenda, learn to embrace the things that make both of you happy and healthy. 
Answered on 10/30/2022

I've had multiple broken relationships. It seems like something is wrong in my behavior and I need to change

Hi Archana! Thank you very much for asking this important question! It is great that you are reaching out for support at this time. I can tell that you are wondering if you need to make changes in your behavior due to the outcome of your last few relationships. It sounds like you are looking for some guidance on how to move forward and process your past relationships. Based on your question, it seems like you are feeling concerned about the various behavioral patterns in your past relationships. It is a really good thing that you are practicing self observational techniques and are willing to commit to change if needed. It appears that you have thought a lot about this and are contemplating what you should do next. Think of the cycle of change as a downward spiral and remember that change does not necessarily occur in a linear format. I know that you had mentioned that you have had multiple broken relationships in the past. I would be interested in hearing more about the context of how you perceive these relationships to be broken. It may be important for you to clarify this for yourself, as well. For example, was there heartbreak, broken communication patterns or a gap in time in which you took a break from the relationship and then resumed? Perhaps you mean something else entirely. At this time, have some hope that one day you will have a relationship that will last. Building healthy, trusting and strong relationships can take a lot of effort, energy and time. Do what you can to practice the principles of gratitude and patience. It might be helpful to write a gratitude list about the things you have learned in your past relationships. In addition, it sounds like you might benefit from creating a timeline which depicts your future goals for your relationships as well as outlines the length of time you spent with your partners in previous relationships. I recommend utilizing colors to depict the emotions that you felt at any given point in time. There is no time like the present to begin the process of healing through drawing, writing and creating. I understand that you may be worried that perhaps your behavior is the root cause of the problem. It is hard for me to say whether or not you need to change your behavior without me knowing exactly how you behaved in the relationships. I realize that you do not know what behavior you would like to change either. Take some time to practice self observational skills and begin to reflect on how you have behaved in the past. It sounds like you have an inkling that you may be giving too much in a relationship or perhaps too little. Are you thinking in terms of giving too much love, energy, effort, trust, etc.? What would you give more of in your next relationship, if you could? I also would like to encourage you to focus on your own strengths and expectations in a relationship. What are some qualities that you admire in a partner? What are some of your strengths and qualities that you bring to the relationship? If you could change the outcome of at least one your relationships, what would that look like for you? I recommend creating a running list or a word splash in order to further keep track of and express your thoughts and ideas. I realize that exploring some of these questions may be a challenge but have some faith in yourself that you can do it. I want to encourage you to trust in the process. Would you be willing to write down your thoughts in a therapeutic journal? I think it would be a great idea to keep track of your concerns on paper. After writing your thoughts down, you may be able to come up with some themes and connect the dots about what you could be doing and what you would do in a relationship. I will share with you the concept of the equality wheel which, in essence, encourages equal partnership and healthy relationships. From my perspective, this concept provides individuals and couples with hope that equal relationships are possible and can be attained. The equality wheel can certainly be a powerful, healing concept especially due to the fact that it is depicted in a circular formation. Circles are thought to be naturally healing as well as comforting in some cultures. After reviewing this resource, you may have a better understanding of what behaviors you could potentially change or what behaviors you want to see from your future partner. Here is a link to the equality wheel: Lastly, you may want to consider taking some time for yourself. It is okay to take a break from being in a relationship as you work on building your self care skills and your support system. In the meantime, you can make small changes in your life and to your routine. It is completely up to you how you want to move forward in the process of change. At this time, I would like to recommend individual counseling sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The opportunity for therapy can be a foundation for change. In addition to one on one therapy sessions, you may also benefit significantly from group therapy sessions. The group therapy process is a great way to build a therapeutic alliance with other group members. Also, there are some options for groupinars on the BetterHelp platform in which you can learn more about how to improve your skills and process your experience in your past relationships. Thank you again, Archana, for taking the time to ask this vital question about your behavior and relationship patterns on the BetterHelp platform. I hope that my response was beneficial for you in some way. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey. Have a nice day!
Answered on 10/29/2022

Why can’t I let go of the hurt/past? Why am I bringing my past problems into my new relationship?

It can be difficult to let go of things that have hurt us in the past. There is a biological reason for this. Our brains try to protect us by making sure that we look out for situations that have been dangerous in the past. To your brain, the difficult experience of being in a toxic relationship was dangerous. It caused pain, physical or emotional (sometimes both), and put your central nervous system into a distressed state. So, in current and future situations, your brain remembers that it should "protect itself" by using the same actions or words that were used in the previous relationship. After all, you survived the incident, so your brain thinks you did pretty well! While our brains have been wired to protect us based on past information, this isn't always helpful in the modern world. If you were chased by a bear as a cave-person and you escaped by running away, when you see a bear again, you run! Your brain learned that this is a good way to protect itself, so it continues to do the same thing. However, many of the things that cause our brains to perceive danger are not actually dangerous in the modern world. So, this adaptation that has kept us alive can also have negative impacts on us when applied to modern day situations, like relationships. While running from a bear is a good idea, running from a healthy conversation with our partner is usually not such a good idea. However, in the same way that your brain can learn to run from a bear, it can also learn to disengage when conversations become difficult. These conversations could have been perceived as dangerous- even with a safe partner, and even when the conversation would benefit us. Our brains aren't very good with context. Without intentionally evaluating your communication patterns and where they come from, you might become stuck reacting not just to what's going on in your current relationship, but also to what has happened in your past relationships.  In order to change our patterns in relationships, to "let go", we need to identify where the behaviors and habits that impact your relationships are coming from. We need to determine what happened in the past to lead to specific behaviors, and with that knowledge we can begin to change our actions and words.
Answered on 10/29/2022

How can I better cope or handle my trust issues in my relationship?

Hello, So it's hard to understand based on your message what the timeframe of everything has been like as far as how long the affair had gone on and how long it has been since the divorces. My general suggestion though is for you and your partner to work on two things: Communication and boundaries. It's normal given the circumstances of your relationship for there to be a low level of trust, and probably to some degree avoiding becoming enmeshed too quickly may be healthy. Rather than viewing the lack of trust as something that must be immediately overcome, try to take the approach that you and your partner need to slowly build that trust. That's going to come from communicating how you and your partner are feeling, openly and honestly, even if that does at times create some conflict or tension. Some general communication tips are to use "I feel" statements, being objective about what is occurring that makes you feel that way, making sure you're choosing the right time and place to have these conversations, especially when both of you are calm, and listening openly so that your partner knows that you are hearing her. By the way, many couples choose to participate in couples therapy for help with communication. Having a third party present who can help guide the conversation and make sure that each individual feels heard can improve the quality of the communication and thus the quality of the relationship. So, if your partner is open to couples' therapy, that's something I would consider. Boundaries are also so important in relationships and probably even more so given your circumstances. Her statements that she needs more time alone could be a result of her dealing with stress associated with the children, or having recently been divorced, or wanting to spend some time with friends, or simply because she's more of an introvert. Many people who are introverted would view seeing each other a couple times per week and then sometimes on the weekends as actually spending quite a bit of time with their partner, especially when also needing to take care of other responsibilities, especially children. It's also possible that she's wanting to take the relationship more slowly, not getting too close too quickly to avoid becoming hurt. Regardless of her reasonings, respecting the boundaries that she's setting can improve your relationship and actually help her to build trust as she can know that you're honoring her feelings and giving her the space that she needs.  If you have any additional questions or choose to participate in therapy, please let me know. I wish you the best of luck, and take care of yourself.  -Nick DeFazio
Answered on 10/29/2022

How can I communicate better to my family and loved ones?

Hi there,Thank you for your question, and taking the time to write it in a detailed and thoughtful manner.Communication is how we connect with each other, there are many ways in which we communicate, verbally, non-verbally, implicitly or explicitly and methods in which we may do so, passively, assertively or aggressively. This isn't an exhaustive list of ways in which we communicate, but it feels important to show that we communicate often without even being aware of what we might be saying. You mentioned about 'keeping yourself to yourself' and 'shutting down' at conflictual times, and I wonder if this is a way of you communicating sometimes about how you've been treated previously and keeping yourself safe from situations that may have or currently feel risky. You mentioned overthinking, and also that you have thoughts about 'not being good enough', this type of thought is an example of a negative automatic thought. These thoughts can be triggered when we are put in situations where we may be in conflict with our inner narrative, someone might compliment us, or want to spend time with us and it can feel uncomfortable and bring up those thoughts that are in line with how we feel about ourselves. You mentioned struggling to get along with others when you were little, I was sorry to read this, it must have been a difficult experience, and seemingly a formative one. You see a link between how you might like to communicate now as an adult with your family, friends and partner, and the tough experience of growing up. This is really insightful as somewhere you recognize the hard periods as a child have shaped you somewhere along the line. As a child, we don't have the cognitive ability and the emotional development to assess and process others' motives for when they may treat us unfairly, as an adult we might recognize someone is snappy because 'they're tired/grieving etc'. As children we need help to process this, so we can understand this and be reassured, and if there is a gap in that happening, we as children will internalize those messages, such as 'I am not good enough'-if we made sense of ourselves that way when we were little.In terms of wanting to learn how to communicate in a way that suits you better now, I would say this is an ongoing process, most people work on this as they move along through life.Maybe, it's worth asking the questions, if I communicated myself in a way that felt good to me, 'how would that be, what would I feel like, how would I look, how might others perceive me, what would be different?' This can be a good starting point for this self-exploration. It may also be an idea, if it feels safe to you, to do this with someone you trust.  Another person can help serve as a reality check to help you have an idea of how you communicate.  Does your thoughts about your communication match with theirs about you? This is a big question, and it's brave to ask it. It can feel that these big questions bring up more questions than answers, that's how we figure out what's best for us, not one size fits all.I hope this answer has felt useful in some way, do feel free to contact me if you would like some therapy to support your journey, as you said you know yourself best, and it can feel useful to have a space for safe reflection.All the best.Kind regards, Charlotte
Answered on 10/28/2022

I dont know whether to stay in my relationship?

Hi Rand! Thank you for taking the time to ask this valuable question! It is really great that you are reaching out for support about your relationship and are considering setting relationship goals for yourself at this time. I realize that you may be feeling uncertain about whether you should stay in your current relationship with your significant other. Ultimately, the decision is up to you and your partner. My hope is that I can guide you in this decision making process by providing you with some ideas on how to make a decision either way. How long have you been in the relationship with your significant other? What themes have you noticed coming up in regards to the arguments that you two have been having? I know that you mentioned that your partner is always starting arguments with you. How long has that been going on? I can tell that you are willing to take accountability and responsibility for certain things in situations when you may be realistically the one at fault. This speaks to your maturity and strength as a partner. I would also like to know how you choose to respond to your partner when arguments do arise. Also, how are you feeling about the situation? How do you react to your partner when they are constantly arguing with you? I can imagine how you must feel when you are blamed for certain things that are not actually within your power to control. Have you had the chance to speak with your partner about the nature of their concerns? In addition, have you spoken with your partner about how the arguing behavior makes you feel? Answering some of these questions may help you in understanding more about you yourself and your relationship. Would you consider journaling about this experience? There is a journal feature on BetterHelp which provides specific journal prompts for you to write about on a daily basis. Therapeutic writing can be incredibly helpful in making sense of specific experiences and is beneficial to the healing process. Try writing an entry that is based on free association techniques or create a world splash that describes your relationship. This technique will allow you to visually see on paper what you are thinking. Free association is when an individual writes down the first thoughts that come to mind in the moment and steps back from evaluating the thoughts or having judgement.  I am also wondering if you would be willing to create a therapeutic drawing of your relationship. You may want to consider creating a kinetic couples drawing. Essentially, this means that you will create a drawing of you and your partner doing something, such as an activity or shared interest. This may give you further insight into your current relationship. Another art based approach would be to draw you and your partner as symbols. Think about what some of your hobbies and interests are and draw yourself and your partner as something in a symbolic and representative way. These art based and drawing activities can be inspiring for you to take part in as a couple. As for one more drawing related idea, you could color in a picture, such as a mandala, together as a team. The circular shape of the mandala can be incredibly powerful, healing and soothing. Coloring within a circle can be relaxing and has been scientifically proven to lower heart rate and reduce blood pressure. Take turns sharing colored pencils, markers or pens in a shared the space. I hope that you two can practice some team work together and maybe put together a puzzle or build a garden or a sculpture. How can you demonstrate to your partner that you want to improve and that you are paying attention? Based on what you wrote in your question, it seems like your partner is dissatisfied and would like you to do more activities with them. Would you be willing to make a plan to do one activity together per week? Could you both carve out time for a mutually agreed upon activity? You could start this practice by going on a ten minute walk with your partner twice per week. This will also give you two the opportunity to share your thoughts and talk about how things are going in the relationship. It sounds concerning that you have stopped doing the activities that you used to enjoy. Would you say that you are noticing a loss of interests in the activities that you love? Is your relationship impacting your drive to participate in your hobbies? I want to encourage you to take some time to focus on yourself. The best thing that you can do in any given moment is focus on taking care of you. Here is a list of coping skills that you can incorporate in your self care routine: At this time, I will send you the diagram that depicts aspects of a healthy, equal relationship. I hope that things improve over time and that you are able to get to a point of a more equal relationship. At this time, I recommend individual counseling sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Talking about this situation with a neutral provider might help you to manage the feelings that you are experiencing. When in therapy, it is truly important to trust in the therapeutic process. You can also consider going to couples counseling sessions now or in the future. I hope that the two of you can begin to take on a sense of shared responsibility if you do decide to move forward in the relationship. Thank you again for taking the time to ask this question. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey. I sincerely hope that response has been helpful for you in some way. Take good care and have a nice day!
Answered on 10/28/2022