Dating Answers

What should I do?

Did You A Favor.  What's unfortunate about long-distance relationships is that good people can appear to be disconnected. I am unsure how to read this man's actions, whether they are as shady and disconnected as they seem. On one hand, he was seeing someone else, while with you. Do you think this was a new way of seeing people, something that you have to accept? I know with online dating, there is this norm where people talk to many people to try and understand which ones they want to actually date.  There are many pieces to this that could contribute to your thoughts to either end it and move on, or stay. The thing that pushes it over the edge for me was that he broke it off. I know you said you still want to see him and talk face-to-face, but why? What are you realistically expecting to do face-to-face? What can you offer, and what you are willing to offer? Is it good for you? What I am saying here is don't be willing to go further than he is in this relationship because it will drain you.  I understand finding someone we connect with isn't as easy as it sounds, but settling on someone who is far away and who dated someone else while you were considered together, are those the characteristics of a man you want to be with? Does being with him prevent you from meeting anyone else? If so, that is the problem here. This is why people still talk to someone else while they online talk to another, to make sure they aren't missing any candidates. I am not condoning this, but rather acknowledging how some people internalize and act out something now normal when we might see it as a personal thing against us. From that, is that someone you want to be with?  You did have some opportunities to talk face to face, and either you didn't (such as in November), or you waited until the last minute. Either way, these issues you speak of, why were they not the first things talked about? Was he allowed to control the narrative and therefore didn't want to address it? Did he have to leave conveniently and then break up (too correlated for my taste)? I think he is showing you his true self, but I think you think this is all you deserve. Do you realize that you could also make calls in this and have him respond to you? He could ask you, "are we good?" But he isn't, and you are just left to chase and try to make it all better.  Again, I don't have all the details, but from what I am noticing, you are giving too much of yourself away, and it will end up causing him not to respect you and you not respecting yourself. There are worse things than being single and being with someone you give up everything for; that is worse because it's you giving up on yourself, giving him too much say over your life. Those relationships and that power dynamic do not work, happily long term. 
Answered on 02/06/2023

How can I look at future relationships without letting trust issues cause a problem?

Dear Joann, First of all, I am deeply sorry to hear this news. This is devastating. What happened to the marriage? Did you two seek marital counseling? Did you two try to work it out? There are a lot of reasons why infidelity happens. When problems in the marriage is dealt with, in an appropriate manner, including infidelity, there are high chances for reconciliation, and therefore a deeper and long term trusting relationship.  The Gottman Institute, well known couples counseling team of psycho-education providers, highlights reasons infidelity happens: - Lack of affection - Loss of fondness for each other - Imbalance of give and take  - Breakdown of the communication as far as the emotional and relationship needs - Physical health issues such as chronic pain and disability - Mental health issues such as bipolar, major depression, and severe anxiety - Addiction to substances such as lethal chemicals and/ or impulsive behaviors such as sex or gambling  - Fear of intimacy or avoidance of conflict - Life changes such as transition to Parenthood or becoming Empty Nesters - Stressful period such as long distance relationships due to military deployments or long term work travels - Personal dissatisfaction and low self-esteem Finding out the facts, and connecting the dots, then ultimately coming to the conclusion, validated by the partner, of the deep unfathomable deception, can undeniably be hurtful for you. As you mentioned in your posted question, it could not have been easy for you, because you already had a history of infidelity, before having a family with your recent husband.  Your question is now how do you go on into finding a new partner after these events have transpired. First off, definitely take a pause in starting a new relationship for now. I highly recommend just taking a break and instead learn to date yourself for the time being. Focus on yourself first for now. Spend time healing yourself at this time. You cannot enter a new relationship or even give this recent one (your husband) a second chance, if you are still clearly very distraught about it.  Some proven helpful coping techniques for now: - Stay distracted - Pick a task to do that you never had the time before because you were always with that other person - Gather your thoughts and isolate the ones that have been centered on your relationship first, then redirect them to automatically focus on self-healing starting now ("I can't do this because my husband will say something." Turn this thought around to, "I CAN do this now because my husband can't say anything now!")  - Do something nice for yourself for a change - Take good care of yourself - Work for yourself (and your children) - Set goals towards happiness and kindness towards others - Journal, Paint, Draw, Read, Exercise!  - Surround yourself with positive and supportive people - Recognize you are vulnerable right now and ask for help. Realize that you need to take it one step at a time.  - Remember You Are Good Enough.  - Do what you can. Do not overdo it.  - Do spend quality time with the kids and make sure their needs are met including therapy for them as needed.  - Assure the kids that no matter what happens to mom and dad, they will always be loved first, and make it intentional that this will always be true. - Whenever you are ready, focus on forgiveness. This will be better with an individuals therapist.  - If you want to give your husband a second chance, I recommend a couples counselor.  Good luck! Wishing you the best on your self-healing journey. 🙏🏼 Very respectfully, Grace, LCPC, Maryland Therapist
Answered on 02/05/2023

How can you learn to love yourself after you break up with someone you loved deeply?

Hi, after a break up, it can be really difficult to find yourself again. Often times, we get so wrapped up in the other person and what's going on in the relationship that we lose ourselves and some of the things that make us, us. I would definitely recommend spending some time journaling about the relationship and how you're feeling now that it has ended. Getting your feelings out on paper (and sometimes crying it out) can be really therapeutic and can allow you the time and space to process your feelings a bit. The questions you'll want to get yourself comfortable with is "what did I learn from this relationship?", "what is the world teaching me", "what did this boyfriend teach me?". It might be that you learned how important it is to maintain your independence and self-esteem in a relationship, or that you need to take relationships just a little slower. It might be that you're still upset with yourself or your ex for an incident or the way that you treated each other, but it might also be that you just need some time to come back to yourself and move on from the break up.  Give yourself some grace and time. Don't put pressure on yourself by giving a timeline or anything like that. It's important for you to feel the sad emotions just as much as you feel the happy ones. Take all the time you need to process the loss of the relationship and that person in your life. Think about what you'd do differently next time. And then spend some time thinking about the things that make you happy. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and try some new things that might make you feel happy or alive. Spend some time with family, get to know yourself, your values, your passions. Switch around some of that negative self talk that usually beats you up and makes life worse, to some more positive exciting self-talk. Read new things, eat new things, spend time with friends, invest in yourself, and you'll get better day by day. Journaling throughout the journey will help you to see how far you've come and appreciate the journey back to your better self. I know you can do it. Trust the process. 
Answered on 02/02/2023

How to better myself in a relationship?

Arguments and disagreements cannot and should not be avoided in relationships, especially intimate relationships. Disagreements are a good thing! They prove that we are unique individuals with different perceptions and opinions than others, and we are not robotic creatures following a one-order law. However, arguments and disagreements can (and should) be communicated in a way that leaves both people feeling calm, heard, and understood. The best way that I found to communicate properly in a relationship is to utilize the acronym PICAS, which stands for Process, Identify, Communicate, Acknowledge, and Support. PICAS is an acronym I came up with after discovering what my couples clients kept saying they need from each other. The first part of this skill: Process, Identify, and Communicate is for the person who may have been angered or triggered by something their partner has said. The PIC is to process what they're feeling, identify the feeling word and why they feel that way, and then communicate that in a healthy way. This process involves using I-statements and talking about feelings and triggers.  The second part of this is for the person responding. AC stands for Acknowledge and Support. That can be done in a number of different ways. Acknowledging is simply validating the person's feelings. This can simply be in the form of listening, or it can be by saying something like "I hear what you're saying." You should always acknowledge someone according to what acknowledgment (or validation) looks like for them. The last part (Support) is simply adding something extra to reassure your love for the person who has just communicated their feelings to you. That is usually done like this, "I'm sorry for making you feel that way." PICAS is successful in relationships where two people are invested in the relationship and willing to give love, patience and meekness to push forward. If you want to know more about PICAS and how it works, please schedule an appointment with me and I will be happy to teach you more about it as well as how to set healthy boundaries and be overall happier in relationships. 
Answered on 02/02/2023

Should I leave or try to talk it out?

Good afternoon Lau, and thank you so much for asking your question.  First off, let me begin by saying I am sorry that your partner was sending photos to other girls during your relationship. I can only begin to imagine how you felt when you found out, and how that may continue to affect the relationship. In regards to what you feel like you should do (stay in the relationship or leave), I would encourage you to do a couple of things before making that decision. One recommendation would be to have another discussion with your partner, especially if he is continuing to send photos, or flirtatious content to other women. Setting a boundary with him is going to be very important, and when he pushes back, or disrespects this boundary, then it is up to you on how you want to respond to that boundary being violated. I would also encourage you to journal, or write out your feelings towards him sending photos to other women, and review what you write to help in processing your feelings, and ultimately come to a decision.  Another strategy that can be helpful is to write down a pros and cons list, or an outcomes list of what it would look like if you were to make either decision. (To leave the relationship or continue). This may help you identify what the best decision would be for you, as well as recognizing the feelings of the outcome you would want to follow through with. You mentioned that you feel like you cannot trust him anymore, so my question back to you is, "Do you think that trust can be repaired?". Do you want to be in a relationship without trust, and if so, what does that relationship look and feel like for you?  Making a decision like the one you are faced with is not easy, so I certainly encourage you to take some time and process your feelings on what you would like to do. I hope the above strategies can be helpful for you moving forward. Best of luck to you, and thank you so much for your question!
Answered on 02/01/2023

I don't know how to deal. I need some coping mechanisms to deal with my first ever major heartbreak.

Breakup It's rough when we attach to someone and then lose them. After not being committed to anyone, you might find yourself a little lost in a year and a half of bonding. I think addressing the reality of your current emotional and mental state is beneficial at this time. When we are no longer with someone after making life plans and forming a future and identity, it just sucks. Identity is lost when the other person decides to go away for whatever reason. There is probably nobody you've attached with as much as you have with them. Maybe even your mom and dad are foreigners to what you felt with them, and now, that part of you is gone, dead, no more there is a part of you that you lose as well. It's extreme, but the mind is left to try to make sense of it all.  Often this is when people struggle with identity or being adequate. Sometimes we don't even know we struggled with ourselves until we break up with someone, and we are left alone to fend for ourselves, no longer supported and reassured by another. Also, when we are in a relationship, we like ourselves with that person, and now that the person is gone, so is that version of ourselves.  But is it? Once your mind can conceive a part of you that didn't before, you know it's there. You will always know there is a part of you that felt complete. Unfortunately, you might attribute that feeling to the other person and them alone; after all, you bonded with them. But you can support and love yourself, unlike that person could. You can be kind to yourself and notice the good things like you would with a friend. You can literally be your best advocate in all of this because heartbreak tears you from others, but it cannot tear you from yourself.  So, what can you do? How do you cope? You ask yourself, why does this hurt? It is probably bits and pieces of things, but try to identify what exactly you notice that causes you to struggle in this breakup and learn to sit with that part of you the most. The weakest part is the one we have to get to know and love. We have to love like we imagined this other person did. We imagine this other person loved all of us, enough for both of us. However, where they lacked long-term, you can do for yourself to at least get through this time and move forward into the next relationship. 
Answered on 02/01/2023

How do I stop myself from feeling extremely bad that I broke up with my fiancé of 4 years?

First, I want to validate how hard it must have been to make the decision to end the relationship. Change is hard, even when we know in our hearts that it's time to move on. It can be easier to remain indecisive than it is to make a hard choice, and so, I hope you're giving yourself credit for making a difficult yet necessary choice. Give yourself grace and compassion and allow yourself to feel all the feelings that are emerging from this break up. Some days will feel easier than others. It is a literal grieving process, and you will be experiencing the 5 stages of grief throughout this break: anger, denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance. You will go back and forth on each stage at different times. Make sure your support system is strong, and that it feels safe to express your feelings with them! Being in safe environments is a MUST right now. Most importantly, remind yourself why you chose to end the relationship in the first place. People can spend many years feeling stuck in relationships they're no longer growing in, and you had the bravery & courage to show up for yourself and say "this is it." I applaud you and admire you! And this is another important point: that part of you that ended the relationship is a part of you that is rooted in self love. It is the part of you that is recognizing that you deserve to feel better, to find relief, to feel fulfilled, and that this relationship just wasn't cutting it. It doesn't mean he's a "bad" person. It just means he wasn't meeting your needs, and it is OKAY and ACCEPTABLE for you to recognize that and make the choice to move forward. I am proud of you and hope you're taking time to love, love, love on yourself. Right now more than ever, you need all the pampering and the spoiling! Spa days, massages, you name it. You are worthy! I hope that you continue to realize how amazing you are, and how strong!  Olivia Lima, LMHC CCTP
Answered on 01/31/2023

Am i in love or is it just a trauma bond?

Thank you for reaching out and for submitting your question. I am sorry that you are having some challenges in your life right now. When a relationship comes to an end it can be immensely difficult. Even if you initiated the ending, it can be hard. No matter what, this is a major event and a tremendous upheaval in life and it will take time to adjust. It is a definite grief and there will be both physical and psychological pains that come with the loss. It is not uncommon in the initial phases of a breakup to protest the decision and to actively seek to re-establish the relationship. There can be feelings of both sadness and anger. There may be lots of hurt and a great burden of rejection can weigh you down. The emotions can be quite powerful and overwhelming. We are prone to experiencing increased vulnerability when our partner is now suddenly not there to meet our needs. Breakups can really be one of the most painful things to go through in life. There can be a strong temptation to reach out to the person. This may or may not be a good idea. We might not get the response we hoped for or it could also, too, keep us from healing. At this point, if you have been blocked, then communication is not welcome. Just as we would expect others to respect a boundary we have put in place, we are equally responsible for adhering to the ones which someone else has set before us. Ultimately, we will never be able to control the actions of another person. We only have control over ourselves. If she has made this decision, then the probability is there that violating her desires to eliminate contact will not return a favorable outcome. This certainly does not diminish the hurt you are experiencing as a result. Not being able to be together or communicate anymore can lead to a lot of emotions. And letting go is often an easier said than done task. Especially in the beginning. It is okay right now to feel your feelings. A good option could be to reach out to anyone in your life who might be able to provide you with some support. Is there a close friend or relative who might be able to sit with you and talk about things? Right now, with things so new, it is particularly important to not remain isolated. You are enduring a major change and a big loss. A breakup can definitely trigger your own attachment wounds and your beliefs about yourself. You will feel loss over the hopes and dreams which you held for the person and the relationship. You put trust in the person, and now that has been destroyed and taken away. That hurts. That causes confusion. It can impact your sense of self. It can make you question your sense of relationships and of the future. We must acknowledge all that has been lost. And it truly can be a lot. So it is entirely normal to be grieving and to be doing a lot of questioning. Now is a time to nurture and take care of yourself. Plan every day to do at least one thing that will make you feel calm. Try thinking about what little things in life bring you pleasure and joy. Then add more of those things to your day. Accept that your emotions and your mood will be fluctuating right now. Give yourself some compassion and grace. Have some extra patience with yourself. Stick to a routine. Having some structure to hold onto can be comforting in periods of distress. Do your best to stay healthy. Get enough sleep. Eat well. Try to get in some movement. Going for walks outside is a good option. You get in some exercise and the sunlight and fresh air will help boost your mood a bit. Consider turning to a hobby, either a new or an old one. Now is a good time to think about getting your mind focused on some other things. The distraction can do you good. Right now is a time to just hit pause and heal. Don’t make any major decisions. Don’t make any big changes. Your emotions are on high alert right now. Take some time to get calm and take extra good care of yourself. It sounds like this has been both difficult and confusing for you. That’s all very normal. This might be a good time in life to seek out support from a therapist. A therapist can work with you to process all the emotions. And can help you work through the questions you are left with. It does seem you had some strong emotions for this person. And that you did feel love. If you want to dig in deeper to some lingering thoughts and concerns you have about the relationship, a therapist can help you look more closely at things. If trauma bonding is concern for you, if you believe it might be something you are struggling with, then a more comprehensive assessment and conversation(s) would be most appropriate. Meeting with a therapist can help you heal. And can help you work through any of the doubts and confusion which might be still present for you. It can be especially helpful if the emotions continue to feel overwhelming and/or if you find they are becoming disruptive to your daily functioning.
Answered on 01/30/2023

Is it possible to move on from a break up and still remain friends with the ex?

You care about him, but he's taking advantage of you. Your care for him may have been due to him presenting well enough to care for, but deep down, he is being selfish in not letting you go. It's unfair that you feel such commitment to him and that he isn't allowing that love from you to be enough to either commit or let you go; it's cruel, in fact.  Imagine that I tell my job I will come in to work, but then don't show up and then show up the next day and work really hard when I need the money. Imagine that work would have to hold an entire spot for me even though I don't commit to them. That would devastate the business. Much worse is happening inside of you as you accept this behavior from him as acceptable in your life. This is what is happening. Is this how much you value yourself, to be treated as convenient? It's not some noble thing on his part; it is immature selfishness, and you need to respect yourself enough to not deal with it.  Unless (this part is important) you see characteristics inside of him that are worth investing in. If you see a young man, not yet mature, or a good, caring person for others, who thinks of others' needs before his own, and is confident (not cocky, that is ego), then that tells me he might be worth investing in. However, that I believe to be rare given he is willing to string you along, as you present.  What is worth investing in is the man who says, "I am not good for you; we are breaking up." A weak man can't do that. A weak man tries to hold on to you while still open to exploring other people. I fear that he fails at a new relationship and then comes back to you. I fear that he gets the attention of another girl and then strays and then comes back when she figures him out. That is the sign of a weak man; he goes wherever the wind blows him, he is unsteady in himself and needs external validation and reassurance of other women.  What you can do is attempt to see this situation for what it really is, a young boy not yet man enough to be with you. He isn't a BAD person or someone who is evil, but he is immature, thinking he can play a relationship like that and get away with it.  I don't know this man's history, but if he has a history of childhood inconsistencies or trauma with his primary caregivers, then he may be struggling with a deep sense of inadequacy or being a victim, which will result in sad stories for other people to receive the reward of validation. This would affirm what he cannot do for himself. He cannot support what he doesn't accept, which is all of him, the inadequate parts as well. If he cannot accept these parts, he will hurt you because he doesn't believe you will stay, and so he will push you away before he gets too hurt. He's keeping you at arm's distance now in fact.  Your job is to ask yourself what is good for you and what you are willing to put up with. If you are willing to put up with his behaviors, then commit to it. Commit to the feelings of being wronged or treated inappropriately. If you really commit, then all of these thoughts and feelings come along with the decision. Either commit to this chaos, to else you better remove the negative and troubling from your life the best you can; that starts with him. 
Answered on 01/28/2023

dating issues

Hi DD, Thank you for reaching out.  I am sorry to read you are confused and struggling during this.  I can see how it would be overwhelming as well.  I am glad you reached out for some additional support and I am hopeful what I write for you here is helpful. I cannot tell you what to do with this gentleman.  What I can offer is some points to consider to help you make a decision if you want to continue with this relationship or change course. Often, we have gut feelings for a reason.  What is your gut feeling telling you about this gentleman and the situation? One of several things to consider is, in your opinion, is this relationship healthy?  You may want to make a list of elements that you want in a healthy relationship.  Some examples may be trust, respect, honesty and safety (meaning both physical and emotional safety).  Do you believe you can trust this man?  Is this person being respectful to you in his interactions?  Is this person being honest with you?  There are many other components you may want as well.  Some people look for strong communication, financial stability, feeling supported and important.  You may want to ask yourself what is it you are looking for in a relationship. Sometimes people say actions speak louder than words.  Is he saying one thing to you and engaging in behavior that is sending you a different message?  If so, when he is confronted with the mixed messages, is he being honest with you when you challenge him? I realize I am asking a lot of questions for you to consider and my intent is not to overwhelm you.  Based on what you have written in your message, it sounds as though he is sending mixed messages to both you and this other person.  I would be confused as well in your situation.  Another point to consider is him telling you he wants a future with you but it is too soon.  I am curious what his reasoning is for that--is it because he wants to explore other possibilities or is it something else? I am hoping my response provided you with support and guidance.  I wish you the best in your journey and moving forward. Best, Erica
Answered on 01/26/2023

Need support to help me emotionally leave this situation

Hi Shaun! Welcome to the Better Help platform! Thank you so much for asking this great question on the topic about leaving your current situation. Based on what you wrote in your question, it sounds like you have been trying to break ties with your significant other and end your current relationship. How long have you been trying to leave this situation? It appears that you have already made the conscious decision to end your time together. Congratulations on making this important choice. What has this decision making process been like for you? What barriers do you foresee as holding you back from following through with your decision? Would you say that you are experiencing a sense of hesitation about leaving your significant other? It sounds like you are preparing to make a big change at this point. My hope is that I will be able to help you to navigate this experience and assist you in coming up with a plan to move forward with leaving this situation. First and foremost, I would like to commend you for your courage in seeking out guidance on how to navigate your current situation. It is very brave of you to reach out for support on this topic. Ending a relationship can cause significant distress for anybody. Making the decision to end things is a really good first step. I can see why ending this relationship would be a challenge for you as you had mentioned that you have a soul tie to your significant other and that you two talk together frequently. Therefore, it is vital to be kind to yourself and continue to understand your own feelings about the situation. In addition, it may be important for you to recognize your personal strengths as well as make note of your admirable qualities. Doing so can be a means to foster your self confidence, which in turn can aid you in implementing your plan of terminating the relationship. One of the most effective ways to boost self confidence is through therapeutic writing. Take some time to write about your plan of action. Explore your positive qualities through therapeutic journaling. The therapeutic writing process can be an incredibly powerful tool to begin discovering more about your self and can be a wonderful tool to better understand your strengths and skills. You can start this process by writing a pro's and con's list about your decision to end the relationship. For more information about the benefits of journaling, check out the free resources online from the International Association for Journal Writing. The website is: As a registered art therapist, I always recommend that individuals participate in art based interventions. The therapeutic art making process can be incredibly inspiring, healing and informative. It is true that painting, drawing, coloring, weaving and sculpting activities can build self confidence, strengthen self awareness and boost self esteem. There are countless options for art therapy interventions that you could put into practice if you are willing to do so. For more information about the therapeutic benefits of art therapy, check out the website for the American Art Therapy Association (AATA). The AATA website is: An example of an art therapy directive that you could try is to draw a time line of your current relationship. Choose a starting point, such as the time when you first met or your first date. Utilize arrows to signify the direction in which the relationship has been going. Mark down major milestones on your time line using shapes to reflect important moments. Apply a variety of colors to indicate how you were feeling at any given moment in time. This art based directive may help you to reflect on your relationship and determine how you want things to end. Once you have completed your timeline, take a moment to reflect on your relationship. Draw a picture of your feelings about ending the relationship. Utilize this image as a source of strength as you move forward with your plan to leave your current situation. Ultimately, it will be up to you to decide when the right time is to end the relationship and leave your current situation. You may need to break ties with this individual completely in order to be able to fully disengage the relationship. I know that you mentioned that the two of you talk every day so it may be challenging at first to cease that ongoing communication. You also noted that your significant other is not trying to move forward with the break up. It seems like you will have to put into practice assertive communication skills in order to successfully employ your plan of action. Despite the challenge you are facing, it is important that you have faith in yourself that you can do this! I want to thank you again, Shaun, for asking this invaluable question on the "Ask a Licensed Therapist" forum. Also, I would like to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey on BetterHelp. I sincerely hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. Take good care and have a great day!
Answered on 01/25/2023

What actions should I take? How do I go about fixing this? Should I leave?

Hi, I am so sorry to hear about your current situation with your boyfriend. It does become very difficult to survive in this type of an environment where your emotional needs are not being met. I know how challenging it can become to raise children while balancing work when you are emotionally not taken care of. I want you to start by shifting your perspective about yourself and your relationship. First, I want you to work on your own personal growth. This would include taking care of your physical health as well as your mental health. It is extremely important as if you are feeling good about yourself and your environment you will be able to look at the world from a different lens. Once you feel confident in your own skin then you can start working on your relationship as chances are when he sees a changed person he may become attracted to you again. if the relationship is meant to be and if he is the right person for you it will bring both of you closer and if he is not meant to be with you then this would be a point where it will get terminated. However, we are going to try to make the relationship work as you have children involved. I want you to do a swot analysis for him and your relationship where you would look at his strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. SWOT Analysis is a tool to help you analyze your relationship in depth and to think about the potential of the relationship. The goal of this exercise would be to increase your awareness of your partner and how it affects your relationship. Some other things to consider are his ability as a parent. The strengths and weaknesses are some parts that you may have control over relatively in your relationships. This will help you develop a plan in setting boundaries and future goals for your relationship. I hope this was helpful and I do encourage you to seek help from a mental health professional for your personal growth and for your relationship. Best, Dr. Saima 
Answered on 01/25/2023

How can I stop keeping score?

Hi There, Thank you for your question. To answer your question fully, I think there may be other circumstances that might be a factor here. Is your significant other very busy during times when you message? Are they generally the type that is not always with their phone? Do they respond quickly to other people compared to yourself? I think it's important to consider all variations if possible so that you are sure you are being fair to your partner. At times it can be easy to judge or condemn our partner if they are not behaving or responding to us in ways that we agree with, but this is not allowing our partners to be themselves, we are telling them they need to think like us.   This is why I ask, how has your partner behaved before this and how does your partner respond to other people? This will give you an indication of your partner's natural communication style. It will be important to assess this before communicating how you feel.  When addressing this with your partner, it's important to be careful to remain present with how YOU feel, not how you feel your partner SHOULD be acting. Make sure to communicate calmly and positively and mention to your partner how much you love speaking to them and spending time together. Then you can move on to how it makes you feel when they take a longer time to reply or call back.  It also depends on how long you have been together and what stage your relationship is in. But with the information you've provided I would recommend the best approach being a calm and positive one and keeping the focus on communicating your need for increased importance and connection with your partner. I would also prepare myself in the event that you don't get the answer you want or an answer you feel is deserving. Try to keep an open mind and also an eye out for other ways that your partner may express their feelings for you or reach out to you for connection. Some people are not typically phone people but will travel far and wide to see you face to face if needed.
Answered on 01/24/2023

Should i work it out with my girlfriend?

Hi there I am glad that you reached out. It's difficult to know for sure exactly how to answer their question without knowing more information about the situation between you and your girlfriend however I can offer some general insight and guidance about relationships in general. I would ask yourself why you want to work it out with her firstly. What makes you value this relationship and how does this relationship make your life better? I would sit down with a pen and paper and write down the ways that this relationship makes your life better and then write down all the ways that you would like things to change. Then I would take a good look at the things that need to change and realize that there is a strong chance that some or all of those things may never change and you will have to accept those things if you want to get back into this relationship and feel peaceful and comfortable. The reality is that even with the best of intentions no one can guarantee that they will change and so we can't depend on that. We can hope for it and ask our partner to work on positive change along with us but ultimately we have to be able to accept things as they are right now when we are considering getting back into a relationship with someone. Once you have made that determination then I would either end the relationship or ask your girlfriend to also write down the things that she would like to work toward changing and then the both of you develop a plan toward making actionable steps toward making those things happening. If the two of you are serious about making changes in the relationship, it will take time and effort. That may seem difficult and time consuming at first but will ultimately be worth it if you are determined to have a healthy and long lasting relationship. I would also suggest couple's counseling where you can both work on these relationship goals with a trained professional. I wish you all the best!
Answered on 01/24/2023

Do you provide relationship building support?

Hi Kt!  Thank you for reaching out for help. A therapist through BetterHelp can definitely help you out with that!  It sounds like you are dealing with a challenging situation and I am happy to help you work through it. A lot of our problems come from the way we think about things. That sounds like a hard reality to face, but you can do it!  When you refer to going back home, are you referring as home to your boyfriend or somewhere away from your boyfriend? Either way, it is important to be aware of your thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are leading to situations that you do not want to be in. Take 3-4 minutes and write down all of your thoughts, unfiltered. Look through those thoughts and circle all of the facts. Cross off the thoughts that are only based in emotion or guesses, then read it again with only the facts. Does that change the way you think about things at all? Focus on the facts as you are making decisions and working through the challenges that you are facing.  It sounds like you would like to build and strengthen your relationship. One of the biggest challenges of being in a relationship is healthy communication. Do you feel like your communication was healthy in your relationship? Can you identify why or why not? Talking about this with your boyfriend and making sure you are both aware of what the issues are is a good place to start working on that.  As humans, we have two hemispheres in our brains. One is the emotional side and one is the logical side. When we utilize these two sides together, this is called the wise mind. Using the wise mind is the goal! It is typical for people to rely on their emotional side first and sometimes we have to jump-start our logical minds. The writing activity that I mentioned above will help with that.  Keep these techniques in mind while having a conversation with your boyfriend to strengthen your relationship. Speak with "I" statements and make sure you are not getting defensive throughout the conversation. I wish you the best!  -Melissa
Answered on 01/22/2023

How do I fix self sabotage?

Hi Spades.  It is great to hear that you are in a healthy relationship now but we can sometimes sabotage ourselves.  It is hard to not think of past relationships especially when we have been hurt by them.  It is true that sometimes people can bring the best and worst parts of ourselves. It can be scary at times as we may be triggered by our partner's behavior, actions or comments that remind us of our past.  Sometimes our memories of our past can interfere with our present relationships and it is important to stay present in the moment.  By staying present in the moment allows us to not sabotage our relationship.  I also think that it can be a lot of work to be in a relationship and it can be overwhelming and stressful.  It is important to recognize when you are doing things to sabotage as it can be destructive to your healthy relationship.  When we are able to think before we take action it allows us more time to recognize the sabotaging behaviors.   Relationships take hard work and dedication which can be overwhelming and stressful at times.  Sometimes we have to heal from past traumatic relationships as they can get in the way of healthy relationships.  We need to think about despite being triggered by situations, to recognize that triggers are not the reality of your current relationship.   We learn from our first relationship, which is our parents, how to be in a relationship and some of us do not how to be in a healthy one.  We learn how to communicate within our families and some of our families have generational issues to overcome.  Sometimes we tend to attract unhealthy partners due to what we are exposed to.  It is not like someone actively is thinking they want to be in an unhealthy relationship but if we are not aware of the direction it is going it has a great possibility of becoming unhealthy.  It takes time and patience to be actively present in the moment as this can help to prevent from sabotaging your relationship.  Good luck and remember it is about staying present in the moment :)
Answered on 01/22/2023

How do you move past a breakup?

Erratic It's not you; it's her, mostly anyways. Together and breaking up, the extremes seem to depend on her moods. So, what do you do with that? How do you stay with someone who is like that? Do you think you could be with this person as long as you toe the line and keep her happy? No, that is not what someone who embraces an erratic and shifting mood wants; they want chaos and confusion and thrive on it. So, what you can do is to sit with the situation, knowing you can't fix it, or fix it here and either accept the life you would have with her erratic and emotional self or get out and look for something that you know has the ability to reciprocate the feelings and emotions back to you. This person doesn't seem capable of doing that; she seems to be consumed with herself.  The best part about what I said was that it puts the choice back into your possession. She does what she does for whatever reason. Your job is to know what is good for you so you can be good and helpful and good for others. If you must constantly be at the mercy of someone's shifting mood, there isn't much left for anyone else. Are you willing to give up your life and what you mean to others to be with her? The choice is yours despite what you might believe today. You aren't lost. I think you are questioning yourself. She is selfish and can't think of you in all this. If she could, she wouldn't be testing you like this. I believe that you aren't willing to accept the reality that you know what you know about her, and you are going against this knowledge, invalidating yourself, leading to this lost feeling. Lost might mean trying to deny yourself to try and accept an alternative narrative that isn't true.  Trust your gut on this. Trust that what you notice is legitimate and that you can validate and support yourself in this process. The pain here is when you deny yourself and your feelings in the process when you accept these behaviors of someone else, and it hurts you. It's like going to yourself and saying the worst things you would never say to anyone. You are denying yourself when you allow your boundaries to be crossed by her when she comes and goes as her emotions direct her. Knowing doesn't necessarily lead to change. Learning can help us make a change if we are willing to endure the pain. Pain is inevitable no matter what you choose in life. There is pain in staying in the same situation. There is pain with change. Pain has to be accepted. You can experience pain on the way to something valuable to you versus the pain of denying and hurting yourself. Live according to your highest value, and the pain to do it (such as setting boundaries or not letting this other person cause you harm because it's harmful to others) is worth it. The real question is, what matters to you and prevents you from living according to that direction? If a relationship isn't helping you grow but draining you, get out. Endure the pain of turning people down that prevents you from living your highest value. 
Answered on 01/21/2023

Do I put my emotional and mental health first?

YES! You aren't good for anybody if you are in a situation where you are being bogged down, made to feel less-than, and unsupported to grow into other areas of life. Look, being a man, and being honest with you, "flirting" isn't harmless. It's insidious how the mind works; we cross a line a little bit, then a little more, then a little more, always aware of what we are doing, but getting better at justifying our actions. Certain thoughts from your boyfriend might be, "oh, we are just friends." Or, "Well, I didn't sleep with them."  Maybe a point of argument could be placed on you, that "you are just jealous." Even if none of these have actually been spoken about, the best-case scenario is that they have been conceived. The reason I say, "best case" is because if your boyfriend is engaging in flirtatious behavior and doesn't have to justify it, it means he genuinely doesn't see anything wrong with it, and that shows a deep belief in his lack of respect for you and your feelings. Even though ignorance can gain a pass when revealed for what it is, that he, "didn't know," it still leaves the question of what are you going to do with a man like that. Are you willing to teach him and work with him through it if willing? You mention it has already been five years. How much are you willing to accept that the best the relationship can get is with someone who doesn't know better, or if he does, justifies it? If he isn't willing to work on this or sees it as his weakness, what are you left with but settling for the less than? You, too, will have to accept you are less than, because a weak or unconfident man cannot be with a strong confident woman, and ma'am, he does seem weak. Flirting is Weakness Flirting is validation. Flirting is admitting that though I am in a committed relationship and have a child I could invest in, I would rather get the attention of these women. Someone like that needs it to feel good about himself. a man like that has a shallow self-image, one requiring another's validation of him, which he manipulates to be viewed as adequate.  Coward Not to speculate too much, but in my experience, his not engaging in any extra relational affairs is because the women won't go that far, and he is a coward. That's what happens with weak men, though. They are scared of getting in trouble or being embarrassed. Don't mistake his not cheating as being a good man, but take it as cowardice. Unless he is willing to do what is necessary on some interpersonal work, see a therapist, deal with the inadequate self, admit that he feels inadequate, etc., could stuff get better. If he isn't willing to do that or go there with it, he isn't going to change, and the behaviors get worse as he gets fed up, gets bolder, better at flirting, and then one day goes too far physically with someone. Look for these signs. If you tell him these things I am saying and he gets angry, and says it's not true, you have to then notice that he became angry, because....? Why do people get angry? This is usually from a place of hurt. Why do people get defensive, justify, and blame, because they are victims, and a victim makes everyone and everything their persecutor. None of this is about you doing better or me not saying anything, but it is about him being able to admit the nature of his actions and not admitting the actions.  Now, the part you play, if he can confess the nature of his sins, is if you have been disengaged as well. Or, if he reports that you don't seem to care or something to show he's not feeling connected to you. I don't mean that he is right if he blames you for what he has done, but there could be some truth there. Unfortunately, the truth could be that you are confident and willing to leave; he knows you could do better (mostly because of his poor self-perspective) and therefore wants to break you down. There is always truth in what someone says, but take it in context. If one cannot admit their part and immediately blames them, then that is their problem. If there is self-admission and connecting it to feeling like you are disconnected or don't care, that could be worth investing in to. Lastly Don't get too much advice here. People love to get relationship advice and say what sounds like a dramatic response. It's easy to say, "leave him," but it's hard to stay and work on things. However, if you choose to stay and work on things, then work on things, don't let this moment pass. Hold him accountable, and you hold yourself accountable. You should be allowed to ask questions to learn more about him and what he wants/needs in life. Try to love him again and learn to forgive. That is key here, if you choose to be with him, you have a lot of work to do, not to get bitter, which you do this by forgiving. You will have to make peace with the former, and if you cannot do that, then I have to say it probably won't work together. You will become bitter, justify your bitterness, and then get angry, resentful, and then be mad at yourself for wasting your life on him. He put you in a tough spot, but you are here now. Honesty is always the best policy, so get to know what you feel and think so you can present that. What I mention here is to help frame thoughts and ideas going forward and ask questions to help guide you to where you want to go. 
Answered on 01/21/2023

How to open up to dating again after you have been hurt by someone? Age old question, I know.

Thank you for submitting your question. And I am sorry that you are encountering this struggle in your life right now. It is entirely normal and perfectly human to feel these feelings. It is normal to want to avoid heartbreak. It is common to nearly everyone to fear and want to avoid loss, rejections, abandonment, and the devastation that can come when our hopes are dashed following the ending of a relationship which once seemed so promising. Each time we encounter the ending of a relationship it truly can feel like a piece of us is chipped away and there remains a permanent crack. The endings hurt and we don’t want to keep doing something which might lead to more hurt. It seems logical. Honestly, a breakup is a real stressor. It will impact you emotionally, mentally, and physically. It can bring grief. It can bring actual physical pain. Your brain and body will feel it – and will need time to adjust. You mention it’s been six months. Healing isn’t on a timeline. If you are not ready to try again yet, that’s okay. A lifetime is a long time, so six months is really just a short blip. If it is too soon for you then it’s too soon. Some people need longer breaks. Be patient and compassionate towards yourself. Don’t rush your healing. Here is the good news worth focusing on and reminding yourself of: You have experienced loss, and you are still here. You have survived. You have endured. And you have learned a lot through it all – valuable lessons that will guide and benefit you moving forward. It’s only natural that, following a hurtful situation, we want to do everything we can to avoid it happening again. It is a natural instinct of self-preservation. But you cannot allow that instinct to keep you stuck in place and keep you from living life to the absolute fullest. Your alternative, what seems sensible in this moment, is to avoid any relationship ever again. In some part of your brain it makes sense. You will avoid the potential pain should that relationship fail. But are you really avoiding pain? As humans, we crave and thrive on connection and intimacy. You could certainly choose to live in isolation - but it seems you would be doing so not because it’s the choice you’re happily making for yourself, rather it’s a choice based in fear. It seems you would just be picking a different pain. You might be missing the pain of a potential breakup. Yet, you’re missing the opportunity for connection and love. The self-preservation becomes an obstacle, a barrier – a new sort of prison you’ve built for and around yourself. Is that going to be the path towards happiness? Avoiding life because of fear does not free you from pain. Living in fear is itself pain. Consider this: a full life is one which comes with many different experiences. Some are pleasant. Some are unpleasant. Things aren’t always going to go your way. That’s okay. That is called being a human. One thing you can do is reflect on these relationships and see what lessons you might take away from them. What traits or characteristics did those people possess? Do you want more or less of those things? Perhaps in reflection your preferences will change. You might find you want to prioritize things in a different way. Maybe you contributed to the breakup in some way through your thoughts or behaviors – and you can learn something from that. Maybe you ignored a red flag or settled for something you shouldn’t have. Even if you had no role at all, you still get to do one important thing – you can choose to move on. All of the past encounters can actually help you be more successful in future. You have all these experiences to learn from. Let them help you guide you. The pain of a breakup is real. And every person no matter how rich or beautiful or intelligent goes through it at some point in their life. But think about the future. Focus on the positive possibilities. How wonderful might it be when you find the right relationship? It’s possible you will value that love even more after knowing the alternative. And it’s possible you have become more expert at what doesn’t work in relationship – so you’ll avoid repeating all that. Focus on what could be instead of what happened in the past. You cannot ever change what is already done. But the future? That’s wide open and it’s full of possibility and potential. Turn your eyes towards that. When you’re ready to. Taking a risk for love can certainly feel scary. But living a life wherein you’ve shut yourself off from love isn’t necessarily such a happy alternative. Keep taking care of yourself. It sounds like it is a good time to work on your own personal growth and development. And up your self-care efforts. It might also help to work with a therapist to process the grief and fears you are experiencing. A therapist, too, can help you begin to move forward and plan out how to work towards a successful future relationship.
Answered on 01/20/2023

How do I feel hope after another failed relationship?

Hi Sum,  Thank you for your question. It can be so draining to find yourself caught in cycles like this. Not only do you have to go through the feelings of loss from the break ups that you have had, but it is so tough to be left feeling as though there is something wrong with you, or that you won't be able to find the 'right' partner for you. I'm glad that you've decided to reach out for support to break this cycle, and I certainly hope that my answer may be able to provide some clarity for you. I also consider it important to emphasize that there is not necessarily anything 'wrong' with you for these relationships not working out. However, there are ways that you can explore why you find yourself in such relationships.  When finding yourself in a position where you're repeating similar patterns of behavior over and over again, the first step to breaking out of this pattern is to build your awareness of the warning signs. It would be beneficial to reflect back on the relationships that you have had. Asking questions like how did the relationships start? Where did you meet your partners? How were each of the relationships developed? What was it about your partners that caught your attention?  Try to find as many similarities between the relationships as possible. The key word there is relationships - you're not only looking for similarities between the partners themselves, but the actual relationship dynamics that were at play. A couple of random examples could be that you may find that in all of your relationships, your partner initiated the first date, or maybe you find that your partners don't open up to you very easily.  Once you've identified some of those patterns, they can act as 'warning signs' the next time you meet someone. The earlier you can identify that a partner is playing into the same patterns that haven't worked for you previously, the earlier that you can remove yourself from the situation. You may also be able to see more clearly when somebody is acting in a way that is different to your previous partners, which could be beneficial for you to explore.  It may also be worthwhile to take this time to understand your own wants and needs from relationships. What is it about being in a relationship that you are seeking? What would you want this relationship to look like? What qualities are you looking for in a partner? Are these wants and needs something that you have previously felt comfortable communicating with your partners? The more understanding that you have about yourself and your own expectations, the more clearly that these can be communicated to potential partners. Healthy relationships are founded on lots of communication with one another, and even at the very beginning of a relationship it is important to express your wants and needs to a partner so that both of you are on the same page. If you are worried about communicating your needs to a partner (or potential partner) it would be helpful to consider why this may be, and what worries you have about expressing your wants/needs in such a way.  To break the patterns that you are in, you may also have to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Finding new ways to meet partners can open up lots of different opportunities and introduce you to people that you may not have previously met. For example, if you tend to find partners on dating apps, you may want to try a singles night instead. A great way to push your comfort zone and meet others is to engage in a hobby that interests you - finding local groups/clubs (book clubs for example) is a great way to meet different people. Not only does it increase your own happiness and sense of fulfillment, but it can allow you to meet people that you can build a relationship with based on a common interest, which is a great foundation for a relationship.  Alongside all of this is the importance of really taking time for yourself - spending time engaging in self care and taking the time to learn about yourself. There is a saying along the lines of "people get into relationships that they think they deserve". Is there a part of you that feels like you don't deserve better from your relationships? Or that feels like you wouldn't be able to attract a partner better than the ones that you have had previously? If so, taking the time to get to know yourself and spend time with yourself can be a great way of building your self-esteem, and re-discovering your value as a person.  It is of course also beneficial to engage in therapy. Therapy is a place where you can explore relationship patterns in a non-judgemental space, with an empathetic person there to support you as you untangle this very complicated topic!  I hope that this answer has helped in some way. As previously said - it can be so easy to fall into the habit of blaming ourselves when things seem to go continuously wrong. It is also easy to fall into the same old patterns, even ones that don't work for us or aren't healthy for us. I would encourage you to continue reflecting on this topic for yourself so that you can find a partner who is on the same page - and more importantly, a partner that you deserve!
Answered on 01/17/2023