Dating Answers

How to heal from a painful heartbreak and betrayal from a friend

Hello Mimee, Thank you for your question. I'm sorry to hear you've experienced such a betrayal from those closest to you. Without you explicitly saying what occurred between your boyfriend and your friend, I am imagining that you were referring to your friend getting between you and him.  That is incredibly painful, and I'm sorry you experienced that.  Knowing that you can't respond to me I want to pose this reflective question: why do you want to hear from your friend? Is it to try and make sense of things? I wonder if any explanation your friend can give will truly help you understand what happened.  Is it to express how upset and angry you are with your friend? Ask yourself whether that will make you feel better. It is certainly okay to confront your friend, but know that won't necessarily give you any sense of closure if that's what you are desiring. You also don’t want to make an impulsive decision out of anger and hurt that you may regret later on.  So how do you move on then; I know this is ultimately the question you have. Remember to give yourself time. Being hurt on an interpersonal level can be very painful and it is all right to not be "okay" right away. Please try to do the following: Let yourself rest for awhile.  If you have been blaming yourself for what happened in the relationship know that's it is not your fault; you do not have to take on the responsibility for your boyfriend and friend's actions. Turn to your support group. Lean on other friends ss and family at this time. If you don't have a very strong support system consider getting professional help by seeing a therapist here on BetterHelp or out in a more traditional setting.  And lastly, remember not to overgeneralize. It can be hard to move on and trust someone else after such a betrayal. Try to remember that just because your boyfriend hurt you in this way it does not mean that everyone will hurt you. Try to give it some time. I have confidence that you will be able to successfully move on and live a fulfilling life. I greatly appreciate that you reached out and wish you the best. Take care. 
(MSW, LCSW, CADC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I take care of my S/O emotionally and make them feel valued more

Thank you for your question. I will give you some general advice here, and I encourage you to potential seek the support of a therapist for specific support thereafter. It can be difficult when there is a long-distance element to the relationship. I think you can have a discussion with her to realize what type of support she would like, given the distance and what is feasible at this time. Everyone is different as to how they feel like a priority. You might consider what her love language is. If you have not heard of the love languages, they refer to how people respond best to care and love based upon their preferences. The five love languages include physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, and quality time. Some of these may not be possible given the distance, but there may be ways to give love through acts of service perhaps taking care of things she is worried about, words of expression of your care for her, quality time in making time daily to speak with her and ask her how she is doing, and gifts if that is her love language. Your efforts are going to be best-received if it speaks to how she most feels supported. Then you can consider ways of expressing love in that way despite the location difference. I think when we are involved in our own lives apart, we may not remember to make time just like we would if we lived near one another. Perhaps you can schedule FaceTime or phone sessions for added accountability, so you do not forget to reach out and remain connected. When throughout the day your mind does go to thinking about her, you can send a short text just saying that you are thinking about her. Perhaps you might even want to write her a written letter that she will receive in the mail communicating that you miss her and cannot wait to re-unite. We rarely send letters through the mail and this would be something she could keep to remind her how much you care, so she is not impacted when you have less time and availability to consistently reach out. Letters are such a personal sentiment that she would probably appreciate. The other thing I would encourage you to consider is how you were connected when you lived closer. Are the arguments just about the distance or were they a frequent occurrence when you were together? Try to  implement some of the strategies if any worked to result in you feeling closer when you lived in close proximity. Distance can deter closeness, but it does not have to in every way. Try to consider regular practices you might have engaged in when you lived closer. For example, maybe every morning you both said I love you. Perhaps that is a practice you can continue to implement via text, voice message, or a phone call every morning. If you did not previously do something like this perhaps every morning you reach out to one another and identify one thing you appreciate about one another and share your love for each other. I think when arguments are happening a lot of times not enough time is spent reminding one another what you appreciate and what brings you closer emotionally despite physical distance. When you consider your actions while you are away, I encourage you to consider if it will create greater closeness or distance and try to adapt and find ways that create closeness. Try to end each conversation with some sort of closure and affection for one another, so you are not leaving the conversation and bringing into the rest of your day the feeling of disconnection. If she is expressing her feelings, try to acknowledge and validate her and ask questions as to what you can do to strengthen your efforts in supporting one another because the majority of conflict is based upon misperception, so the goal in conflict resolution is to clarify any misunderstandings and to find ways to move from resentment to gratitude, as the opposite of resentment is appreciation and gratitude. These are just a few ideas without knowing your specific difficulties, so hopefully this helps in steering you in the right direction as you start to focus more on how to increase emotional connection despite physical distance in her interactions with her. 
Answered on 01/21/2022

How does one manage family and societal pressure

Hello Aspien,   Thank you for reaching out on The Better Help Platform with your question:   How does one manage family and societal pressure?   I think the best way I can answer your question is to share some information about the impact of social pressure and how you can manage the stress and pressure whilst remaining respectful to all those around you including your parents. I would encourage you to consider reaching out for support from a professional counselor to further dive into what might be going on for you with your relationships.   A counselor who is skilled and neutral who can help you understand the formation of attachment to others. For better or for worse, our choices as human beings are primarily impacted by social pressures. An article  Psychology Today refers to social pressure as powerful enough to alter humans’ perception of reality. While each of us bears responsibility for our own choices, understanding the role that social pressure can play in choice-making is profoundly imperative. As indicated by the research, social pressure can come in positive or negative forms. Put simply, this form of pressure is merely the influence that surrounding collective groups have on individuals. In and of itself, social pressure is a very real reason to carefully choose who you associate with. The people you surround yourself with can easily pull you up or drag you down. While social pressure, in and of itself, is part of living in human society, human beings are not totally helpless. In no way does social pressure mean that individuals are incapable of thinking for themselves or making independent decisions. With that in mind, understanding the leading ways that social pressure impacts our choices is still necessary. Top Five Ways Social Pressure Impacts Our Choices According to the National Institute of Health social pressure does share links to the performance of human behavior. Many people have a tendency to pick up on the habits of those who are around them or in their social circles; habits become choices, and the choices we make determine our outcomes in life. Also, it’s important to note that various factors on individual levels can impact one’s susceptibility to social pressure. Only you can decide whether or not social pressure is impacting you positively or negatively. With that being said, mindfulness of the following ways that social pressure impacts our choices can only help you. Creates the Desire to Fit In By its very nature, social pressure encourages people to fit in with those around them. Sometimes, fitting in comes naturally, but in other cases, one may feel the need to change their views, choices, and outlooks to avoid being the odd one out. In situations like this, social pressure comes with a very high propensity to be problematic. In some ways, social pressure is viewed negatively, and, in many regards, this view is justified. Although each person is responsible for their own choices, social pressure can encourage us to behave in ways that are unbecoming, out of character, or even immoral. Of course, there is a flip side to this also. If we are surrounded by people who are doing well and engaging in constructive behavior patterns, social pressure can also push us towards bettering ourselves and fitting in with the crowd. Teaches Us What Not to Do Social pressure impacts not only you but also the people around you. The story of someone getting in with the wrong crowd and making poor choices is sadly all too familiar; this ultimately boils down to social pressure, though. Observing other people make decisions that aren’t good for them can sometimes serve as a warning to us as individuals by teaching us what not to do. As a general rule, learning from the mistakes of others is advisable to only learning things the hard way. This is not to say that you’ll never make mistakes or feel the impacts of social pressure; these are inevitable parts of life. Still, there is as much value in being taught what not to do as there is in learning what we should do. Helps Us Grow As previously stated, social pressure is not always negative, harmful, or toxic. In many cases, social pressure from the right groups of people can help us grow as individuals. Being around others who are doing the right things, engaging in productive behaviors, etc. can encourage us to follow suit. In doing so, we can often break negative habits, push ourselves outside of comfort zones, and grow as individuals. On the flip side, mistakes can also help us grow as individuals.  American Psychological Association points out the positive and negative aspects of social pressure. As such, it goes without saying that human beings grow from both positive and negative experiences. Even when we make mistakes along the way because of social pressure, we can still learn from the experience and become more familiar with what to avoid in the future. Creates a Sense of Support Despite the often-negative connotations linked to social pressure, it can create a feeling of support. Whether or not this support turns out to be positive or negative depends upon specific circumstances at hand. Nevertheless, engaging in certain behaviors due to social pressure often causes us to feel supported and connected to those in our social groups. A sense of support is a double-edged sword. Just about everyone wants to feel as though they belong, but who we are supported by makes the difference. When we find ourselves around people who encourage us to make good choices, the outcomes are likely to have more positive effects than they would in a group of bad influences. Takes Us Outside Our Comfort Zone In many social groups, people are encouraged to try new things that they haven’t or wouldn’t ordinarily do. Similarly, to other choices impacted by social pressure, going outside of our comfort zones can work in our favor or against us. Barring extreme behaviors or circumstances, going outside of our comfort zone allows us to learn more about ourselves, life, and what we do and don’t want. Sometimes, leaving your comfort zone because of social pressure can make you reconsider your group of friends. In other cases, being taken outside of our comfort zone helps us realize that we’ve found the right group of people, after all. Making Independent Choices There is certainly worth and value in making independent choices without adhering to the pressure from others. Nevertheless, this is often easier said than done. Depending on our environment, how we were raised, and a plethora of other factors, social pressure can be immensely hard to resist. While no one person is entirely immune to social pressure, maintaining the ability to make independent choices is essential. It’s OK to listen to our peers and those in our social groups; however, we should avoid merely going along with things that don’t feel right simply because others around us are doing so. On another note, it’s important to remember the influence and value that you carry as an individual. Being comfortable enough to be yourself (even if this means differing from the crowd) is a great skill to have. You, as an individual, are also part of the social circle, and you never know who you could be inspiring. Ideally, each and every one of us should seek to find a healthy balance between social pressure and independent choices. There is value in the community, a sense of belonging, and support; however, of equal importance is the ability to stand on your own two feet and make choices that are worthwhile to you. When Social Pressure Feels Too Hard to Resist If you are someone who severely struggles with social pressure, you should know that you’re not alone. This is a problem that many people face, and the very first step is recognizing the presence of an issue. While social pressure does impact our choices in various ways, it should never feel impossible to resist or at least think about. Despite the natural influence that our surroundings have on us as human beings, our own will and freedom as individuals should still be present. In many cases, people struggle to resist social pressure because they fear disapproval from those around them. This is natural to some extent; although, no one should ever feel completely paralyzed in this way. If you have concerns that the people around you will desert you for not going along with what they want, reconsidering your presence in that social group might be a good idea. Resources for Support and Guidance If you find yourself regularly struggling with social pressure or other issues, speaking with a counselor could be of value to you. Learning more about your situation, gaining new perspectives, and finding solutions are only a fraction of the benefits linked to working with a mental health specialist. No matter what your situation is like or what you may be going through, support and guidance will always be available at  When you choose BetterHelp. se to get professional care from BetterHelp, you will be paired with a licensed and empathic counselor. Online counseling comes with many opportunities for you to not only overcome challenges but also learn more about yourself and develop new skills. Online counseling is not an overnight fix, and it won’t make life’s challenges vanish into thin air. What BetterHelp can do, however, is be there for you every step of the way. We can also commit to working with you on a schedule that is workable and convenient for you. Regardless of who you are, what you may be up against, or how tough things may seem, there’s always hope. If you put your mind to it, you can overcome whatever stands in your way. BetterHelp looks forward to offering support and guidance on your journey.   There is hope and there is help available to you! I wish you much luck with your next step in reaching happiness and resolution for you.   In Kindness, Gaynor
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to get back to my ex safely in a intercultural relationship?

How to get back to my ex safely in an intercultural relationship? Based on your question, I would highly recommend that you seek help from a licensed professional counselor and or licensed mental health professional therapist to discuss your thoughts and feelings regarding what all you experienced in your past relationship. A licensed professional counselor and or licensed mental health professional therapist can help you discuss and process how to get back to your ex boyfriend safely in an intercultural relationship. I would highly suggest that you first start with seeking mental health therapy from a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist to discuss your thoughts and feeling in regards to any emotional trauma that you experienced while being in a relationship with your ex boyfriend along with discussing the emotional trauma that you are currently experiencing at the moment due to cultural differences and the relationship that you have with your mother. A licensed professional therapist and or licensed mental health therapist can help your process the best decision that is best for you. Again, the decision is yours and yours alone. Once you make the decision or as you process your decision a licensed professional therapist and or licensed mental health therapist will be there to guide you along the way as you process your decision. The therapeutic relationship is very important and having a licensed professional therapist and or licensed mental health therapist during this time would benefit you greatly as you find someone to help you through the decision making process at this time. Behavior interventions, Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have all been beneficial in treating individuals who have struggled with emotional distress due issues, concerns, and or problems with past relationships. A licensed professional counselor and or a licensed mental health therapist can provide you counseling in a safe and confidential setting without feeling judged or ridiculed. A licensed professional counselor and or a licensed mental health therapist can also introduce you to deep breathing techniques, stress relaxation techniques, calming techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, grounding techniques, positive interpersonal social skills and imagery as a means of decreasing your thoughts of emotional distress due to your feeling emotionally distressed at this time. In an effort to decrease your thoughts of emotional distress, you can also try to commit to changing the way you think. It will take a lot of practice, dedication and determination to alleviate increased thoughts of feeling about your past relationship. However, trying to do this will help you feel better and it can lead to your feeling much better and becoming more productive. You can recognize when it is happening and when you find it happening you can choose to think about something more productive. You can also look for solutions by committing to learning from your mistakes and solving your problems so you can productively move forward, set aside time to think when you notice you are not feeling emotionally distressed outside of that scheduled time, remind yourself that you will think about it later, distract yourself with a self-care activity and you can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the key to living in the "here and now." When you become mindful, you will be completely present in the moment. It can be like a form of meditation that takes a lot of practice, but over time and with consistency, it can be very beneficial in decreasing thoughts of not being productive in an effort to help you experience an overall healthier mental well-being at this time. Overall, I highly recommend that you seek help from a licensed professional counselor and or a licensed mental health therapist to properly assess your current thoughts and feelings about your past relationship that causes you emotional distress at this time. Having a relationship with someone that you have not communicated with is difficult and when cultural difference arise it becomes even more difficult and it can way very heavy on an individual mentally and emotionally. Emotional and mental distress can look different for everyone because mental health is not a one size fits all. Therefore, it is very important to get personalized treatment for your specific and current mental and emotional needs in regards to if you decide to stay in a relationship with your girlfriend or if you decide to leave the relationship with your girlfriend at this time.  I highly recommend that you contact the Betterhelp team to discuss what specific payment options and payment plans are available for you to access counseling services at this time. Betterhelp does offer financial aid and various other options for individuals who are seeking counseling for their personal and or emotional well-being through the use of affordable therapy sessions. The Betterhelp Platform is designed to be able to assist you better if you contact them directly. Contacting Betterhelp directly is the best way for them to verify your identity and securely help you with your specific account information and needs. When it comes to questions, issues or concerns in regards to the cost of using the Betterhelp platform please contact the Betterhelp team. You can reach out to the Betterhelp team for issues including but not limited to the following: billing issues, account questions and or concerns, and or subscription questions and or concerns. The Betterhelp members are there to help answer your questions, concerns and or issues, so if you have a question in regards to what the cost would be to begin using the Bettehelp platform you can contact the Beterhelp team members directly to gain accurate information in regards to what payment options are available for you if you decide to join the Betterhelp platform in regards to possibly talking to a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist. Please feel free to reach out to the Member Success Team directly by emailing contact@betterhelp.com to discuss what payment options are available for you to use the Betterhelp platform for you counseling needs and or therapy needs at this time. Best regards to you!       
(EdS, LPC-S, NCC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How best can I deal with daddy issues?

Laura, Thank you for sharing information about yourself. I'm so happy that you reached out for help. I am Maggen (Preferably Meg) Daunce, a licensed therapist and credentialed substance abuse counselor. You can read more about my background, education, experience, and counseling approach by clicking on my name on this page. I really look forward to working with you and hope to become part of your support system.Its tough coming from the non traditional home setting. Connection to parents or lack there of can cause a great deal of trauma in our adult lives and greatly impact present relationships. It sounds like youre looking for reassurance and feeling affirmed in your current relationship despite there not being any real evidence stating you need to be doing so. Together we can talk about building your confidence and esteem in yourself so you dont always need validation from others or your significant other and how to make this a healthier relationship for both of you. It may also be helpful to work through your early childhood in relation to issues with your father and how that has impacted you. Everybody's attachment styles are different and its easy to fall in to patterns and behaviors from childhood, but that doesnt mean they are always the best for us. Realizing that family doesnt always have to be blood and building a new support system of chosen family may help bring you love,  support, and connection you crave from your family that you never got. I would be happy to connect, learn more about you, and see if we can figure this out together.I use a variety of approaches that include CBT, DBT, strengths based, person centered, and motivational interviewing to get to the root of the problem. From there we will set short and longterm goals to help you make progress on changing things between you and your significant other as well as dealing with you past and concerns you have about your father. Overall the hope is to make you feel like the best version of you possible through open communication in whatever form you prefer. 
(LMHC, CASAC2)
Answered on 01/21/2022

My relationship - boyfriend of 4 years.

Thank you for your question. If I am understanding the question, it is around what to do in the relationship, given this difficulty and the inability to satisfy your partner's needs. It sounds like there is a lot of insecurity on your partner's part and reactivity and defensiveness. He also appears to resent you for the choices he has made. He wants you to prioritize him, although I am not seeing efforts for him to go out of his way to prioritize you. I think it is good that he do individual therapy first, as you would not be able to do enough reassuring him of the security of the relationship if he does not first find his own level of security within himself and what he brings to the relationship. I think there is a level of mistrust that you would be interested in him or consistently committed to him. He cannot resent you for his work schedule and limited availability, as well as having responsibilities as a father, and he is almost placing the responsibility on you for the choices he has made. I think he is not clear and consistent with what he needs that you can often become confused when he changes his tune. I encourage you to consider what a healthy relationship might look like and your partner can consider this as well. You have to decide for yourself what is a healthy balance between a self-identity and a partner identity. I think once you realize how much time is healthy to spend together with your partner versus building your own life outside of the relationship. If you both can realize what is realistic to expect from one another and what balance looks like in the relationship, you know what you are aiming for and striving for and how to meet one another's needs and allow you to have your own needs met as well outside of the relationship. I think you both might discuss the fears you have in the relationship and how you can listen more to one another versus defend your own positions. I think some of these conversations may only be useful after both of you have done your own work in therapy, so that you are not reacting out of your own frustration and can be more vulnerable in the relationship. I think you both have to be able to communicate concerns you have without the other party dismissing the concerns, becoming defensive, or attacking the other person. If only one of you wants to grow and change, the relationship will not change and create greater satisfaction. You might also look for evidence from the past about when you both feel more connected to one another. Try to consider what increases connectedness versus creates more distance to build the strength of the relationship. There was a reason you got together with your partner, so try to remember that and be tolerant and patient with one another as you both are growing and healing from past wounds at times. I think that if you approach the conversations with your partner about how you both can work on things and grow, he may feel less attacked and be open to growing with you. We just have to look at the ways we can support one another in times of difficulty. I think when we are humble, we receive humility and accountability in return. We can only reflect upon what we can do better, so you might reflect upon your own approach to conflict resolution and what might be more effective in the future to create greater closeness. I think when we try to justify why we are doing what we are doing, the other person feels dismissed. When in doubt, seek to understand and then to be understood to strengthen effective communication and connection. Know what your hard and fast boundaries are and when compromise may be indicated. It is possible to work on improving the connection through patience, tolerance, and empathic attunement and reflection most importantly. 
Answered on 01/21/2022

how do i stop lying, and show him i can change

In my opinion, the real question you must ask yourself when deciding whether lying is the right thing to do is this: Who are you protecting? It’s really that simple. I would have done just about anything to save my mother’s life. The lie came from my heart and was intended solely for her benefit, not mine. According to people who detect lying and liars as part of their profession (detectives, members of the FBI, and so forth), we all tell “white lies,” or lies intended to protect others, every day. “That dress is gorgeous on you!” is something we might say to protect someone we care about or to protect the relationship we have with them, for example. We understand the listener would not benefit from hearing the truth and would likely feel hurt instead. Pamela Meyer, the author of Lie spotting, became concerned with the growing lack of trust in our society and its implications for business and families. Her book, based on a review of all the literature on deception written for the intelligence community, explains that each person is lied to—and lies—from 10 to 200 times a day!THE EFFECTS OF LYINGHow is it possible to lie and be lied to so many times? Consider how many times you say, “I’m fine” when someone asks how you are and you aren’t actually “fine” at all? This, according to Meyer, is a lie. What’s wrong with it? Nothing, really. We certainly don’t want to bother the cashier, a complete stranger to us, with the fact that our son just underwent surgery, we just lost our pet, or whatever else we’re troubled with. Lying might be hardwired into us. Babies will cry and then pause to see if someone is coming before going back to crying. Children automatically lie to get out of trouble, and by the time they graduate high school, they may lie to their parents in one out of five interactions. Lying makes the liar unable to be vulnerable in the relationship. When we lie, we are putting a wall between us and the person we are lying to.  Whatever the type of lie or reason behind it, when we lie so frequently, we build up a tolerance for lying itself. This means it can become easier to tell bigger lies when we think they’re called for. And while we may tell white lies to protect others, we might also begin to lie more to protect ourselves. This is where the problem begins. We may justify lying to ourselves as lying to protect a relationship, but actually we’re doing it to save our skin. So, you might ask, what’s wrong with that? Let’s take a step back and ask a different question first: What do we gain from our intimate relationships? Research shows that happily married people experience a number of physical and mental health benefits that can lead to longer life. When people believe their partner is their best friend, health benefits may be even greater. Logically, then, what we might want from marriage is a feeling of connection and closeness and a partner we consider to be our best friend. Lying can impact this intimacy by affecting all parts involved: the one who lies, the one who is lied to, and the relationship as a whole.HOW LYING IMPACTS THE LIARWhen we are open and honest, we expose our vulnerable selves. Vulnerability means we are willing to let a partner to see our flaws. Having a loving partner who accepts our flaws both can help ease any stress we might experience as a result of having them and help us accept that we are all right after all. When our worst shame is laid bare and our partner accepts it, and accepts us in spite of it, then we can breathe a sigh of relief. We can relax and be ourselves. That is what intimacy is all about. Lying, however, makes the liar unable to be vulnerable in the relationship. When we lie, we are putting a wall between us and the person we are lying to. Meyer found that married people lie to one another, on average, in one out of every 10 interactions. Unmarried people lie to each other approximately one in three times. There are consequences to this dishonesty. People may not consciously know that someone is being deceptive, but—get this—they tend to like them less. So a person who lies somehow unconsciously reveals the fact of their dishonesty and as a result is liked less because they were not honest. What’s more, the deceived person will tend to lie to that person more frequently in response. And all that from unconscious awareness! Speaking of metaphorical walls, the worst of the walls we put up are the ones between ourselves and ourselves. Why do you think trained deception experts can spot liars through certain body language giveaways like saying “no” but shaking our head “yes”? On some basic level, we don’t want to lie. As much as babies put on a show to manipulate adoring adults, they’re also told lying is wrong. So we grow up in a culture where both the powerful advantages of lying and the immorality of it tear at us. We handle the discrepancy through body language, choice of words, and use of (or lack of) pauses that often give us a way to those who are trained to spot the inconsistencies. People who tell lies often may themselves not even be aware they’re giving away their deception. While consciously trying to lie, they may unconsciously reject the lie—but they don’t know it. That’s how much they have cut themselves off from their own thoughts and feelings, their own self-awareness.HOW LYING IMPACTS THOSE LIED TOFor those deceived, the word “betrayal” is often inadequate. Researchers have found that even in cases of compulsive cybersex, spouses stated they felt traumatized by the discovery. At the very least, spouses or partners lost trust and sought out professional help. (Of interest is that in spite of this, adultery is not cited as a major cause when people give reasons for divorce.) People also tend to lie about financial and health issues. I heard of a person who divorced her husband because he did not inform her he could not have children before they were married. In another case, when a wife asked her husband to take money out of the stock market to pay bills, he would always say that he could not get the money out on the same day when in fact he could. The result of the late delivery of money to this stay-at-home mom was humiliation over bounced checks and late payments. After he died, she discovered the lie, which he had repeated over many years, from his broker, and she felt betrayed and angry, which significantly impacted her memories of her marriage.RECOVERING FROM DISHONESTYThe good news: There is recovery from intimate partner lying. Often, with help, the relationship does not end but heals instead. The person who cheated or lied for some other reason must learn why they could not trust their partner to understand their needs and motives in the first place. You see, while the deceived person loses trust when the truth comes out, the liar had already lost trust in the person they lied to, or else they wouldn’t have needed to lie. Why didn’t the person who couldn’t have children share the truth? Perhaps his fiancée would have been willing to adopt. Why couldn’t the husband share his reason for holding onto the stock market money one extra day? If he hoped the numbers would go up, why was he afraid to share that? While people who lie to their partners have a lot to learn about their fears of being open and vulnerable, those who have been lied to can learn if the messages they gave out may have contributed to the problem. In spite of the pain on both sides, when the walls erected in a relationship are brought down safely and carefully, much good can come of this new openness.
(M.Ed, LPC, CSC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

What should I do if I founded my boyfriend of 2 years lying to me several times and don't w breakup?

Hello, Thank you for reaching out on The BetteHelp Platform with your question: What should I do if I founded my boyfriend of 2 years lying to me several times and don't w breakup? I will answer your question as best I can by sharing some things you need to consider for yourself in determining what you want to do next with your relationship status. If you are not able to find a clear pathway to making your decision consider seeking professional support from a counselor - someone who can help guide your through your decision making process. Should I breakup with my Boyfriend? Most of the time, romantic relationships are wonderful. What happens, though, when you find yourself wondering, "should I break up with my boyfriend"? How do you know if a breakup is the best thing for you?   Anyone who has ever been in a romantic relationship will tell you that there are always times when everyone asks the "What if…" questions. What if I wasn't with him? What if I had more time to do the things I want? (You get the idea.) It's not uncommon to ask these questions, but you do want to think carefully about why you're asking them. Men and women alike want relationships that are healthy and long-lasting. Therefore, it's normal to feel uneasy if you're considering a breakup. In this article, we'll talk about ways to navigate this tricky question, so you can do what's best for you. Evaluate Your Own Feelings If you find yourself wondering, "should I break up with my boyfriend", it could be a sign that something is lacking in the relationship. Taking the time to evaluate your feelings and consider your options will help you decide what you should do. Remember that caring for someone else's feelings does not mean you should push your own aside. Answer the following questions honestly. Are you happy? This one sound simple, doesn't it? If you're not happy in your relationship, think about what has changed to make you feel dissatisfied. Do you enjoy spending time with her? In a healthy relationship, the answer should be "yes." In the beginning of a relationship, most people can hardly wait to spend time together and enjoy each other's company. If this has changed, you need to ask yourself why. Often day-to-day responsibilities restrict the amount of time you can spend with one another. Then, this lack of time to connect can make the time you're together feel forced. Maybe you need to talk about it and change the way you spend time together. On the other hand, if you've simply grown apart, you may not enjoy her company as much as you did in the beginning. Are you having more disagreements or fights than before? When the newness of a relationship wears off, many couples find it difficult to hide frustration or anxiety. Unfortunately, this can lead to disagreements, which tend to strain the relationship. Has he done something to hurt you? If your girlfriend has done something that hurt you, either physically or emotionally, unresolved feelings may be a contributing factor. Talk to her. Even if you already know that a breakup is inevitable, you need to address the issue, so you don't carry these feelings with you into a future relationship. Can you think of life without your boyfriend and not be sad? If you've reached a point where the thoughts of your future do not include your girlfriend, it may be time to consider a breakup. It's normal to have goals that are independent of another person, but if you're in a relationship with someone and you can no longer picture them in your future, the dynamics of the relationship have likely changed. Do you have enough in common?  While no two people are exactly alike, it's important to have common interests, habits and values if you want a relationship to be successful. Sharing values is often considered more important than sharing external interests. A study even found that shared values affect marital happiness as well as individual well-being inside a partnership. As you evaluate your feelings toward your girlfriend, consider what you have in common and what you don't. Are those things you share enough to outweigh the things you inevitably don’t? Here are some additional things to think about when evaluating if you should stay in your relationship: What do you and your girlfriend consider a healthy lifestyle? Evaluate both the tangible and intangible elements of both of your lifestyles. Do you share the same values? Do the values you hold differently, whether internal or external, seem challenging to coexist with? This can look like a difference in attitude toward meals, cleaning, home maintenance, and social preferences. Is he ever abusive?  Do you have similar dating intentions? It can be incredibly frustrating to realize that your partner does not have the same long-term intentions as you. This is why communication is so important from the very beginning. If you feel that your boyfriend has not shared his relationship goals or they don’t align with yours, this can be a problem now or later. The conversation does not have to be confrontational, but it does need to be direct. Ask him what he wants from a relationship and if he feels like this relationship is fulfilling that for him. You may find that she has the same concerns as you. Be prepared to discuss your own thoughts and feelings without feeling pressured to give in to what he wants. Allow room for him to come to her own conclusions and voice them openly. Don't Forget About You When a relationship feels strained, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. During a time like this, it's not uncommon to neglect caring for yourself because you're trying so hard to fix the relationship, but it's crucial to take care of yourself. Eating well-balanced meals, getting a good night's rest, and making time to exercise all contribute to your physical and mental wellbeing. Furthermore, try to not close yourself off from family and friends. You'll find that social interactions will help relieve anxiety and any feelings of isolation. You’ll also be reminded of your support network and who you are outside the relationship, which can bring new ideas and solutions to the table. It's also important to take time for you, so you can be alone and think about what you want. Go for a walk or take a drive to one of your favorite places. It's difficult to make important decisions when you're surrounded by distractions or by the person that’s confusing you. Anything that gives you time to breathe and focus on your thoughts is going to be helpful. Whether you feel like you've been mistreated or you're just not sure if this is the right relationship for you, it can feel lonely. Your support system can be very helpful to alleviate that feeling. If you can confide in close friends or family, talk to them about your thoughts and feelings, both inside and outside of the relationship. Keeping communication open often can help you feel less overwhelmed. Truly supportive friends will listen to you and encourage you without trying to influence your decision one way or another. You don't have to do this on your own, consider reaching out for professional support if you need it.  BetterHelp can assist with this process. I wish you luck!   In KIndness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

What's a closure? Should one share one's reasons before breaking up? What if a partner stonewalls?

Hello RB, Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: What's a closure? Should one share one's reasons before breaking up? What if a partner stonewalls? I am glad you have reached out with what you are struggling with in your current relationship.  I will share some information on what to do when you feel unhappy with your situation in life and how best to have that conversation and to give it your best. How To Handle A Breakup: What To Do When Your Relationship Is Failing Failing Relationship Many people worry that they are in a failing relationship sometimes. You may be thinking that things are falling apart, but you’re not sure how to handle a breakup. Perhaps the two of you finally have the dreaded talk and decide that the failing relationship is truly over. Maybe you’ve never experienced a breakup before, or maybe you just don’t know how you can go through it again. So, what do you do? How To Handle A Breakup The Healthy Way The first thing you need to understand is that you are not alone. There are people around you who love you and care about you. These people are there to support you through your breakup. Whether you decided to end things, or the other person did, you’re going to need your support system. They are the ones who can help you feel better no matter what you’re going through. It’s important to have someone you trust available to help process what happened while it’s still raw. If you don’t have anyone you trust or can confide in at the moment, you can always write down your thoughts and feelings. Many people find journaling after a breakup to be beneficial. It allows them to record their exact feelings at that moment without judgment or attachment. You can journal every day after the breakup or only when you are feeling overwhelmed, it’s up to you. There is not a right or wrong way to journal. Try not to edit your writing, just let it flow naturally. Many people report feeling less anxious and depressed after writing in a journal. Another therapeutic exercise to help manage a recent breakup is using rituals. This is some type of regular practice you devise to mark the end of the failing relationship and the start of a new life. It can be something as simple as deleting all of your former partner’s pics from social media and files where you might have stored them. Writing a goodbye letter that is never actually sent sometimes helps people find closure if the failing relationship ended badly, with both parties not speaking to one another. Perhaps getting rid of everything that reminds you of your ex in your home might help—it’s up to you. The act can be literal or symbolic. What is important is that it sets the stage for a new beginning in your life. Let It Out When you feel upset or angry or anything at all, make sure to allow yourself to grieve the loss of the relationship. Even if you are the one who ended the relationship, you are definitely allowed to feel frustrated about it and to mourn its loss. You are allowed to feel however you want and do whatever you need to make yourself feel better and prepared to get on with your new life. It can take time to grieve the loss a relationship. Typically, people go through particular stages when they experience grief or loss. Don’t be perplexed if it takes you a while to reach the final stage of grief: acceptance. Everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace. Don’t ignore the end of the relationship or the feelings you have about it. Trying to push it out of your mind and pretend it never happened is a good way to end up with even more problems down the road, when all those feelings start to bubble over. Instead, let yourself cry over the loss of the good times. Let yourself feel angry about the bad times. Experience the emotions when they happen to avoid completely falling apart later on. Bottling up your emotions from a relationship can lead to more than just a complete breakdown at some point in the future. It can actually cause health problems over the long term. You may experience increased stress and anxiety, which can actually cause weight gain, extreme weight loss, ulcers, headaches, a compromised immune system, and a whole lot more somatic issue. That’s definitely not going to help you when you’re already feeling down. A positive behavior to try when working through the loss of a failing relationship is exercise. Moderate to intense exercises such as running or another prolonged cardio activity will release endorphins, also known as the feel-good hormone into your brain. This temporary sense of euphoria will help you relax and feel less stressed about the breakup. Yoga is also great for working through sore and tight muscles, as well as helping you get a good night’s rest since many people struggle with insomnia when they first break up with someone. Be Your Best You When you’ve worked through your emotions, or even while you’re still working them out, figure out what you want out of your life. What do you want for yourself? Do you want to go back to school? Do you want to get a new job? Maybe you just want to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. No matter what you’re thinking, you want to get started on making yourself into the person that you want to be. This is an opportunity to look at your life goals. Maybe with the end of your failing relationship, it’s time to start thinking about where you want to go and what you want to do. It’s also a great time to not only consider long-term goals but short-term goals as well. Perhaps there is someplace you wanted to travel to that your partner did not. Or perhaps you wanted to join a social club that you didn’t have time for before the breakup. Breakups can be a great time to evaluate career goals as well. Taking some me time can definitely help you in getting over someone; and it can help you turn that break up into something positive too. You’re going to be a better person, a stronger person, and a happier person when you’re all done—and you’re going to enjoy it, too. Finally, (this bears repeating) make sure you’re talking things out. Whether you have a friend or family member to talk with or you need some neutral third party, you’re definitely going to feel better about things when you take the time to talk to someone about everything. You may feel like you’re completely fine with the relationship ending, but if the relationship has been going on for any length of time, there’s bound to be something in there you’re not quite over with yet. Navigating A Breakup with BetterHelp There are a number of recent studies pointing to online counseling as an effective method of helping individuals manage complex emotions related to breakups. For example, in a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, the efficacy of online therapy for adults dealing with a breakup, divorce, or bereavement was evaluated. After treatment, participants reported decreased feelings of grief, depression, embitterment, and loneliness, as well as an overall increase in overall quality of life. Researchers concluded that online interventions could help reduce difficult emotions arising out of the loss of a relationship. These findings are similar to conclusions drawn by similar studies   showing that online counseling is helpful for addressing grief. As considered above, if you are confronting difficult-to-process feelings related to a relationship failing, online counselors are available. Because BetterHelp  has thousands of counselors, from all over the US (and beyond), you’ll have access to more mental health professionals. Without being limited to those therapists operating in your area, you have a better chance of matching with a counselor who knows how to help you work through your specific concerns. A licensed counselor can help you move forward after an emotional breakup.   I wish you luck with what you decide to do about your situation.   In Kindness, Gaynor
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I believe again

Hello,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How do I believe again? I am glad that you have reached out with what you are struggling with in your relationships at the moment.  It is very hard to know how to trust someone in a relationship has let you down or yourself for that matter.   I will share some information and some tools that you can use to help you learn to trust again.   While many of us are taught to project an image of success, perfection, and strength, there is much to be gained from owning and even sharing your own weaknesses or vulnerabilities. By acknowledging our vulnerability, we can actually empower ourselves and learn to connect with others more authentically. When you put up emotional walls and defenses, you may be blocking yourself from fully experiencing life. Yes, it is true that trusting people can end in emotional pain, but without being willing to take the risk to trust, you might miss out on some of life's greatest joys. If others have hurt you in the past, I will share what you need to know in order to trust again. Can I Trust Again? When it comes to trusting someone again, it is not an impossible task. Research shows that you can trust anyone with practice, and most people can be trusted in the right circumstances—even if they have been untrustworthy in the past. Of course, this concept is easier said than done, since you have to be sure that a relationship is set up for complete honesty and openness. This process in itself can take a lot of work. Just know, you are not alone in your unwillingness to trust others; keep reading for more information on facing and working on trust issues. Facing Trust Issues If you have trust issues because you have been let down by people close to you in the past, you may project this fear onto those around you. You may unintentionally close yourself off from others with good intentions—people who want to form connections with you. If you feel that you are just waiting for someone to let you down or stop liking you, then you may not have healed from trust issues. When we fail to give others a fair chance and are expecting others to make mistakes or hurt us, we can fall into a self-fulfilling prophecy. By pushing those who may be healthy influences away, you may even be reinforcing the belief that the world is a scary, dangerous place filled with people meant to do you harm. You might challenge yourself, and ask whether you are creating walls around you. When we conceal our vulnerabilities, or run away from them, we miss an opportunity to learn or grow; and we may unintentionally shut ourselves off from others. Taking an overly protective stance can lead to constant worrying about what others think or what might happen in the future. It also takes away from our ability to be present within the moment. However, if you have been hurt by others in the past, it's only natural to feel concerned about whether or not it's safe to trust. We all need some degree of security, stability, and consistency in our relationships. If we have not had these things, either within the families we grew up in or within our peer or social groups, then you may need to learn to practice self-care by protecting yourself emotionally—from abuse, manipulation, or conflicts—by limiting your contact with certain people and setting good boundaries. One way to let those barriers down is to ask yourself, truthfully, if you have been hurt in the past, and if this might be influencing your relationships as a result. If you have been hurt, but think that you have dealt with these feelings, you might consider working with a therapist to examine, come to terms with, and begin to heal from your past. Understanding how the past influences your current relationships can help you become more aware of you triggers, fears, and defense mechanisms. If you are afraid of being rejected or abandoned, try to remind yourself that there are many other people who will embrace you as you are. Engaging in the therapeutic process can also help you establish a deeper relationship with yourself, where you let go of internal judgment and criticism and learn self-forgiveness and compassion. Here are a few truths that can help you overcome fear of trusting: If you're afraid of failing, remind yourself that success never happens without practice or failure. If you're afraid of being embarrassed, remember that everyone messes up and no one is perfect. If you're afraid of being wrong, know that it's okay, even admirable, to admit that you were. It's normal to have these kinds of fears, but it becomes problematic if they prevent you from fully living life, taking risks, and pursuing your dreams. Most of us stay away from risks to some degree, but when we fail to take risks completely, we are less likely to experience positive changes or move towards our dreams. Fear of failure, rejection, or embarrassment may be holding you back, and if you let these fears be stronger than your willingness to have new experiences or heal, you may feel stuck and uncertain that change is possible. How to Re-Learn Trust If you are afraid to take a risk and trust because someone has hurt you before, that is a perfectly normal reaction. However, when these fears become too intense, begin to influence you negatively within your day-to-day life, or prevent you from forming deep connections, it is a problem you need to fix. It is possible to learn to heal and trust again, so here are a few tips for building trust with people who are worthy of it. Accept that fear is an evolutionary mechanism that is there to protect you from dangers. If you have unhealed emotional wounds or trauma, you may project fear into your environment when it's not appropriate. Learn to love yourself. This may sound cliché, but it is foundational. When you accept and appreciate who you are, others have less power to hurt you, and you learn how to pay attention to your own needs. Learn to enjoy being with yourself. Remember to take baby steps. It is imperative that you learn the proper ways to trust someone, so you can trust yourself to make rational decisions about others. Be curious about your own thoughts and feelings. Understanding your own thoughts and emotions can help empower you to prioritize what you need in your life. If you have lost trust in yourself, you can always find it again. Trust yourself first. In addition to loving yourself, you need to trust yourself. If someone makes you doubt or constantly criticizes your own thoughts or decisions, then you may be experiencing emotional abuse or manipulation. Learning how to trust again, or starting to trust someone you care about again, is important to you moving on with your life and being happy. If you have tried the steps above but have little to no change in your ability to trust, do not be alarmed. It can be a slow process, and you shouldn't go it alone if you don't have to. Mental health experts are ready and willing to be by your side to help you understand this issue and work on solving it as well. Trusting Again With BetterHelp There is a growing body of research suggesting that online therapy can help those with concerns about trust in relationships. A study published in Counselling Psychology Review, a peer-reviewed research journal, found that online therapy can help promote trust in those seeking help. Specifically, the report found that the potential anonymity provided by internet-based platforms helps patients open up more quickly. This information is in line with research proving that online counseling is useful when managing a number of mental health issues, including those related to communication and relationships. As outlined above, online therapy can help you work through feelings of mistrust. With BetterHelp,  you can match with one of thousands of licensed professionals, which means you’ll have a better chance of finding a counselor who knows exactly how to help you with trust issues, as opposed to only those in-person therapists in your area. And if you choose to, you can remain completely anonymous, which may make it easier for you to open up.    There is hope and there is help available for you if that is what you decide to do for your next step in seeking happiness in your relationships.   I wish you much luck!   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to know if he 's right for being your life partner ?

Dear Neat,   Thank you for your message and allowing me to understand more on perhaps how our boundaries have been violated by others, and that we have been not receiving the credits / compliments that we deserved.     Through your words I understand that in the past (maybe even in present) on one hand you care about others around you and you are constantly giving / helping, on the other hand through this process you might have been compromising or even sacrificing a lot on how you feel in order to keep this relationship going / please others. I can understand how tired you are with this pattern and how you would want things to change so that you can also feel more comfortable in your relationships.   Sometimes perhaps setting a healthy boundary would be helpful in managing your relationship with others in the terms that you feel comfortable, so that hopefully your relationships will continue in a way that is mutually comfortable. Otherwise, as your counselor I would support you to do what is best for yourself, even if that is walking away temporarily. This in itself, is also self-compassion.   In my coaching practice, many of the women and men I work with struggle with one common theme: setting healthy boundaries. I witness this challenge pop up in all relationships, whether it's with a family, business partner, a friend, or in a romantic relationship. We experience this uncomfortable pattern until we heal the root cause of the behavior.   In my experience, the root of all struggle is fear. Relationships become unhealthy when we act from a place of fear, rather than love. More often than not, we aren't even aware of the fears that have been driving our choices, blocking us from doing what's best for ourselves, and damaging our relationships. But learning to set healthy boundaries offers a perfect opportunity to strengthen our capacity to love ourselves and release the ego's fearful perceptions.   When you find yourself having difficulty saying "no" to others, doing things out of feelings of guilt or obligation, attempting to please others even at the expense of what's best for you, or not expressing your thoughts and feelings when someone upsets you, you are putting yourself last and putting others first-which doesn't serve any of the parties involved.   If we say "yes" to others asking of our time and energy and we've not filled ourselves up first, we are giving from a place of lack-which is a fear-based choice that sours the energy in a relationship and doesn't serve either party. It also breeds codependency, and prompts us to attract people and situations that drain us because we aren't honoring our own needs and boundaries.   Many times, this way of being can create anger or resentment in the person who is putting her or his own needs behind others'. This might manifest as complaining, feeling taken advantage of, or feeling powerless. These feelings are messages to us that we've chosen to perceive ourselves as the victim of a circumstance rather than stepping up and making choices for ourselves based on love.   The truth is, we're never a victim of our circumstances. We can choose how we would like to perceive something in any given situation-we can choose to perceive fear or we can choose love. And when we act from a place of love, rather than a place of fear, we experience a radical shift that transforms our struggles and breaks old patterns that are no longer serving us.   There are three main steps to changing the patterns that keep us in unhealthy relationships: Identifying our fears, choosing to adopt a loving perception of a situation, and taking action from a place of self-love.   Step 1: Identify Your Fears   Awareness is the first step to creating change. The moment we witness our ego's fearful perceptions and the stories it's been telling us, we can begin to shift them.   Common fears that show up in the context of boundaries include fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection, or fear of being alone or abandoned. Many times, we adopt these fears as children (or at other points in our lives), and then drag these past experiences into our present and maybe even project them onto the future. This can result in us feeling like we don't want to upset others or lose their approval or acceptance, and valuing that acceptance over our own needs. Another result of letting these fears run the show is that as a consequence we may have trouble accessing how we want to be feeling and what we want to be doing-which prevents us from standing in our power.   Step 2: Choose Love   After we've created awareness around our fears, it's important to recognize that from a spiritual perspective, the fear isn't "real"-it's something we've learned through social conditioning, and not something we're born with. Instead of believing in these fears, we can choose to put our faith in loving perceptions, release our fearful illusions, and begin to experience beautiful changes in our lives.   This is more than a one-time choice; rather, it's an ongoing, moment-to-moment practice that involves witnessing fearful perceptions as they arise and actively choosing loving perceptions instead. To view the world through a lens of love, I recommend that people begin each day with a powerful intention: "I choose to release my fear and see love instead". Repeat this intention whenever fearful thoughts arise throughout the day.   Step 3: Act   Every time we choose love over fear, we commit an act of self-love. It is only when we are secure in our own worth that we can give and receive from a place of abundance, thereby creating relationships that serve us.   Saying "no" or speaking our truth when someone upsets us might feel scary at first. But as we begin to act in spite of our fears, we come to understand that when we act from a place of love, everyone wins. Contrary to what we may believe, there is never a situation in which what's best for us is not best for all. When we face our fears and express our thoughts and feelings openly to the person who upsets us or pushes our boundaries, internal healing occurs. We learn that it is safe to speak our truth and that those who best serve us will listen with love. Best of all, when we show up for ourselves, we provide an opportunity for those around us to show up as well.   Of course, we cannot control how other people respond to our feelings or choices. How others react is their personal spiritual assignment and how we react is ours. As we release our attachment to others' opinions and practice acceptance around however they choose to respond, we free ourselves from the bondage of fear, knowing that we are self-approved.   When You Need to Walk Away   Sometimes, walking away from a job or relationship that's no longer serving us is the most loving choice we can make. If we choose to leave a person or situation, it's important to trust and know that the universe has our back. The work is to call on our inner guiding system-the loving voice within-and to hear an answer, trust it, and act on it. This internal GPS never leads us astray, no matter how surprising or scary the answer may seem.   Saying "No"-The Takeaway   The most valuable thing that happens when we show up for ourselves with love is that we gain a sense of empowerment and a higher level of self-worth. When we give ourselves the love and acceptance that we desire, we no longer have to look for it outside of ourselves, which gives us the freedom to be who we want to be. This will reflect back to us with beautiful relationships that nourish and support us. As we approach our relationships more consciously and release fearful patterns, we break the cycles of guilt and obligation and begin to create new relationships and experiences that reflect our internal space of self-love.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to hear your thoughts. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I engage with a man who doesn’t have a history of trauma like me?

Thank you for your question. As the saying goes, it is often opposites that attract. I think the key is you first understanding how you are impacted by events from the past. In other words, do you avoid conflict? Are you sensitive to certain subjects? Do you often feel unworthy? Those are just a few of the ways we may be impacted by events of the past. In order to be able to explain what you are experiencing to your partner, you need to understand it yourself. You then can begin to reflect upon symptoms you may experience as a result of being impacted by trauma. For example, you may be clingy and need reassurance or you may have flashbacks and re-experience events of the past. It can be helpful that he understands what symptoms might be present for him to watch out for and support you through. It can be a good idea to recognize these things and address them before you are impacted by something and unable to articulate your experience, which often happens when overwhelmed by emotional experiences. I would say he does not need to live the same experience that you have lived. He just needs to understand how to support you. You can consider if perhaps you might have panic at times whether it is helpful for your partner to just offer you reassurance or support you through grounding exercises you might learn in therapy that you may not be able to recall to ask for your partner to use those strategies in a moment of emotional overwhelm. It sounds like if he is thinking the way he is, that it will be an emotionally safe environment where he will admire you the same when you open up in this manner. I think that having someone as a partner who has not been through something of this sort may have more stable attachments, which can also help you to be more grounded when emotions come up. I would encourage you to consider the universality of emotional experiences in that everyone knows what it is like to be fearful at times. If we understand this, we know a person is capable of understanding what we are feeling to the degree that they can be supportive. I think it is important to consider what your values are and if there are commonalities there. Often we can come from different backgrounds, but still value similar things, such as loyalty and integrity. Different paths can lead us to similar needs in relationships as well. If you have similar values, you have a solid understanding of how you and your partner can connect. I would also say that if you are able to connect to friends who are from different backgrounds, try to see romantic relationships in much the same way. In other words, consider how you find connecting points with friends from similar backgrounds and apply that same data to how you can connect with a romantic partner from a different background. The main thing is that you do not shut out the opportunity for your partner to understand you, how to support you, and what your past might bring up that could be a concern in the relationship if at all. You may be slower to connect and commit, as well as trust others, due to your past. That is totally fine. The more you understand your needs, the more you can be supported and allow yourself to be cared for by your partner. 
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do you build trust back in a relationship where trust was broken by reading gf’s journal?

First of all, I'm so sorry to hear that you and your girlfriend are going through such a difficult time.  The fact that you've reached out for support and more information says a lot about how dedicated you are to the relationship and how much you want to fix things, and that's a really important Step 1. The question you asked, boiled down to its core, was how you can build back trust in a relationship, with an underlying question there about whether you can build back trust where it's been fractured.  The short answer to that underlying question is that yes, you can.  It's absolutely possible to build back trust, but it's neither an easy nor a quick process. Trust, like so many things, can be broken much more quickly than it can be repaired.  Try this exercise: grab a piece of notebook paper.  Now crumple it up into a ball, as tight as you can.  Done?  Good.  Now uncrumple it.  Flatten it back out, smooth it down as best you are able.  What you'll find is that, while you've once again got a sheet of notebook paper, it's not the same as it was before--the traces of what happened to it are still there, and they're never going to disappear entirely.  But that doesn't mean you need to throw the paper away!  Just be aware that you can't erase the things that have happened in a relationship prior to now--but you can make a decision to forgive, to be forgiven, to demonstrate that you are worthy of the trust you once violated, and to move forward. What happened with your girlfriend is complicated because it suggests fractures of trust on both sides--the action you took, reading her journal, was one that violated her trust.  A journal is a deeply private thing, perhaps the most private thing one can have.  It's a place where we record our deepest thoughts, the ones we don't want to share with anyone else--and you knew those things when you chose to read it.  But that isn't the whole story, because you didn't do it just because you were curious.  You chose to read her journal because you felt pretty sure that she was developing feelings for a friend of hers, and you wanted to know whether your suspicions were correct. You don't mention whether you'd asked her about her relationship with her friend before you read her journal, so it's hard for me to know whether you're feeling (or were) lied to, which would certainly add another layer to the need to rebuild trust between you.  But again, I want to remind you that a journal is a place for us to talk about what we feel, not a to-do list.  The fact that your girlfriend may be developing some feelings for her friend doesn't mean she had or has any intention of acting on them.  The fact that she's your girlfriend means that she's chosen to be with you, not with this friend of hers.  If you feel like you can't trust in that choice, that's another conversation that needs to happen.  You don't tell me what you were afraid of when you read the entry--was it just that she had these feelings?  That she might act on them behind your back?  That she might be thinking about breaking up with you to pursue a relationship with her friend?  Perhaps you don't entirely know yourself, but I encourage you to really think about that--and once you figure it out, tell her, without making your fears her responsibility.  She is responsible for her own behavior, and you are responsible for yours.  If she's been spending more time than usual with this friend, or hiding things from you about them, that's something that needs to be discussed and addressed, and certainly something made you suspicious.  It's worth discussing with her--but keep in mind that the fact that you had these suspicions, whatever drove them, doesn't mean that your choice to read her journal wasn't a betrayal.  It was, full stop, and she deserves a sincere apology from you for the choice that you made. Rebuilding trust between you means a few things: it means that moving forward, you will make two choices--the choice not to violate her privacy, and the choice to believe her--and that means believing her when she answers a direct question about how she feels about other people, as well as believing in the choice she's made to be with you rather than someone else. It also means demonstrating to her that you deserve her trust.  Doing that means acknowledging that you did something that hurt her, something that you knew was wrong, and something that violated the trust between you.  It means setting your pride aside, and, regardless of the reasons that you did what you did, taking accountability for doing it.  It means a real, sincere apology without any "buts."  No "I shouldn't have done it but I was right about your feelings," or, "I'm sorry that I read your journal but if you'd been honest I wouldn't have needed to."  If she was dishonest with you or hid things from you, that issue needs to be separated, and your accountability for what you've done cannot be contingent upon any accountability she owes to you. One of the ways to rebuild this trust is to establish clear boundaries, so you each know what is expected of you and what you're agreeing to.  For instance, "I promise to never read your journal or snoop in something of yours that I know should be private again."  That one is simple--but the others are hard.  What do you need from her?  Do the two of you need to talk about how her relationship with her friend moves forward given that she does seem to feel something for them?  And for both of you, I urge you to remember that a relationship in which you place lots of rules on each other that aren't based on mutual respect, that are instead based on underlying lack of trust—that isn’t a healthy relationship. The kind of rules I’m talking about are things like "you aren't allowed to be alone with this friend," where the silent second half of that is because I don't feel like I can trust you not to have either a physical or emotional affair.  Those kinds of rules don't often end well, because the lack of trust behind them is a problem that can't be solved by rules, and it certainly can’t be solved by being controlling of your partner. Start with accountability.  Start with honesty.  Apologize to her for what you've done, and mean it.  Tell her, independent of that apology, what your fears are, and if something in the way she acted inspired those fears.  Talk, together, about how to build a relationship in which you both feel secure in the commitments you've made to one another--the commitments around fidelity and monogamy, and the commitments around not violating each others' trust.  Commit yourself to being worthy of her trust, and choose to put your trust in her.  If you can't do that, if you find yourself unable to trust her despite the fact that she hasn't really broken the promises she's made to you, consider seeking out therapy to work on your own challenges around trust and insecurity.  If there is a disconnect between how you think trust should work and how she does, consider seeking out couples' counseling to work through this together with a guide. Good luck--you have a complex road in front of you, but it's not an impossible one.  Trust that is fractured can be repaired, and sometimes the relationship that comes out of it is stronger than the one you had when you went in, as long as you're willing to do the hard work, set aside your egos, and focus first and foremost on the love and respect you hold for each other.
(LCSW, LICSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I stop being a people pleasser

This is a good question and comes up often with regard to relationships. The best and most precise answer is always: take care of yourself and your needs. If you do not learn to take good care of yourself, how can you have a fulfilling relationship with another person? Think about what you want out of your life that does not concern romantic relationships. What are you goals and dreams? Are you working towards these? If not, then what changes can you make to do that? Sometimes when we put another person first what we are really doing is putting our own desires on the backburner or perhaps avoiding contact with painful thoughts and feelings. It's easier to be concerned with other people and not ourselves. Facing our own issues is always much harder work but it's most important. If you spend time developing a deeper understanding of yourself and your own desires then you may find that you have an easier time focusing on your own needs, as opposed to the needs of others. Much of this has to do with what we collectively call 'good boundaries' in the psychiatric and related fields. In order to be your best with others and have quality relationships you must think about developing good boundaries. Primarily, this is something that exists in an emotional context. You may wonder if it's your responsibility to take care of the emotional well-being of a person, in a romantic relationship. Though it is important that you consider their well-being, taking care of it or bearing responsibility for it as a violation of your own boundaries. And continued violations of your boundaries, even if you are the one who enters into that, will worsen your mental health. You must ask yourself: 'am I responsible for this person's emotional state' and the answer is: NO. However, it make take you some time to come to that conclusion. And this logic applies not only to emotional well being but also to many, many other areas - in a romantic relationship. You are coming together with the other person to spend time you are not there to take responsibility for how they feel or behave. If you can trully accept this you will be on the road to better/healthier boundaries, which will improve your relationships over time. Going back to some of what you posed in your question, I hope you can consider putting yourself first instead of anyone else, in your romantic relationships. If you do that more often you will experience less overall disappointment. 
Answered on 01/21/2022

how to get thru to the woman i love that i love her, apologize, and would never hurt her

How to get thru to the woman I love that I love her, apologize, and would never hurt her? Based on your question, I would highly suggest that you first start with seeking mental health therapy from a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist to discuss your thoughts and feelings regards sharing your your personal  about the relationship that you had with the woman that you love. With various types of emotional trauma and or issues with relationships, there is no right or wrong answer on how to cope or heal from your past relationship. It specifically depends on the individual and what specifically happened in your personal relationship that continues to cause you emotional distress at this time.  A licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can be very beneficial in supporting you with discussing and processing what happened in the relationship that continues to cause you to experience emotional distress where you feel the need to work on this past relationship. Traumatic experiences can cause psychological trauma which can cause damage to an individual's mind as a result of one or more distressing event. The distressing event can cause overwhelming amounts of stress that can surpass the individual's ability to cope or understand their emotions which can lead to serious long term negative consequences. With the help of a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist, you can receive adequate help in regards to your licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist providing you with effective and or appropriate skills and techniques to learn how to develop and implement effective skills and strategies for you to effectively deal with the traumatic experience that you experienced in your personal life that continues to cause problems and or concerns. Behavior interventions, Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have all been beneficial in helping people to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions in regards to a your past relationship that you experienced in your personal life that continues to affect your relationships at this time. A licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist can introduce you to deep breathing techniques, stress relaxation techniques, calming techniques, grounding techniques, social skills, positive interpersonal relationships techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, and imagery as a means of decreasing your thoughts and feelings of emotional distress about your past relationship with the woman that you still love at this time. In an effort to feel less emotionally distressed you can try to commit to changing the way you think. It will take a lot of practice, dedication and determination to work on decreasing triggers of your thoughts and feelings of emotional distress. However, trying to do this will help you feel better and it can lead to your feeling much better and becoming more productive. You can recognize when it is happening and when you find it happening you can choose to think about something more productive. You can also look for solutions by committing to learning from your mistakes and solving your problems so you can productively move forward, set aside time to think when you notice that you are beginning to feel triggered by your past relationship, distract yourself with a self-care activity and you can practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the key to living in the "here and now." When you become mindful, you will be completely present in the moment. It can be like a form of meditation that takes a lot of practice, but over time and with consistency, it can be very beneficial in decreasing your thoughts and feelings regarding your past relationship. Overall, I highly recommend that you seek help from a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist to properly discuss your thoughts, feelings and emotions that continues to interfere with your emotional well being at this time. It is very important to remember that mental health is not a one size fits all, so it is important to get personalized treatment for your specific and current mental and emotional needs at this time. Seeking help from a licensed professional counselor and or a licensed mental health therapist could be very helpful to you at this time. I also highly recommend that you contact the Betterhelp team to discuss what specific payment options and payment plans are available for you to access counseling services at this time. I understand that you shared that you are in a financial crisis. Betterhelp does offer financial aid and various other options for individuals who are seeking counseling for their personal and or emotional well-being through the use of affordable therapy sessions. The Betterhelp Platform is designed to be able to assist you better if you contact them directly. Contacting Betterhelp directly is the best way for them to verify your identity and securely help you with your specific account information and needs. When it comes to questions, issues or concerns in regards to the cost of using the Betterhelp platform please contact the Betterhelp team. You can reach out to the Betterhelp team for issues including but not limited to the following: billing issues, account questions and or concerns, and or subscription questions and or concern at this time. The Betterhelp members are there to help answer your questions, concerns and or issues, so if you have a question in regards to what the cost would be to begin using the Bettehelp platform you can contact the Beterhelp team members directly to gain accurate information in regards to what payment options are available for you if you decide to join the Betterhelp platform in regards to possibly talking to a licensed professional counselor and or licensed professional mental health therapist. Please feel free to reach out to the Member Success Team directly by emailing contact@betterhelp.com to discuss what payment options are available for you to use the Betterhelp platform for you counseling needs and or therapy needs at this time. Best regards to you!
(EdS, LPC-S, NCC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How should I navigate tough times when my partner has issues?

Dear Pynk2508,   Thank you for your message and allowing me to understand more on the dynamics between you and your partner.   Through your words I understand that in the past (maybe even in present) on one hand you care about others around you and you are constantly giving / helping, on the other hand through this process you might have been compromising or even sacrificing a lot on how you feel in order to keep this relationship going / please others. I can understand how tired you are with this pattern and how you would want things to change so that you can also feel more comfortable in your relationships.   Sometimes perhaps setting a healthy boundary would be helpful in managing your relationship with others in the terms that you feel comfortable, so that hopefully your relationships will continue in a way that is mutually comfortable. Otherwise, as your counselor I would support you to do what is best for yourself, even if that is walking away temporarily. This in itself, is also self-compassion.   In my coaching practice, many of the women and men I work with struggle with one common theme: setting healthy boundaries. I witness this challenge pop up in all relationships, whether it's with a family, business partner, a friend, or in a romantic relationship. We experience this uncomfortable pattern until we heal the root cause of the behavior.   In my experience, the root of all struggle is fear. Relationships become unhealthy when we act from a place of fear, rather than love. More often than not, we aren't even aware of the fears that have been driving our choices, blocking us from doing what's best for ourselves, and damaging our relationships. But learning to set healthy boundaries offers a perfect opportunity to strengthen our capacity to love ourselves and release the ego's fearful perceptions.   When you find yourself having difficulty saying "no" to others, doing things out of feelings of guilt or obligation, attempting to please others even at the expense of what's best for you, or not expressing your thoughts and feelings when someone upsets you, you are putting yourself last and putting others first-which doesn't serve any of the parties involved.   If we say "yes" to others asking of our time and energy and we've not filled ourselves up first, we are giving from a place of lack-which is a fear-based choice that sours the energy in a relationship and doesn't serve either party. It also breeds codependency, and prompts us to attract people and situations that drain us because we aren't honoring our own needs and boundaries.   Many times, this way of being can create anger or resentment in the person who is putting her or his own needs behind others'. This might manifest as complaining, feeling taken advantage of, or feeling powerless. These feelings are messages to us that we've chosen to perceive ourselves as the victim of a circumstance rather than stepping up and making choices for ourselves based on love.   The truth is, we're never a victim of our circumstances. We can choose how we would like to perceive something in any given situation-we can choose to perceive fear or we can choose love. And when we act from a place of love, rather than a place of fear, we experience a radical shift that transforms our struggles and breaks old patterns that are no longer serving us.   There are three main steps to changing the patterns that keep us in unhealthy relationships: Identifying our fears, choosing to adopt a loving perception of a situation, and taking action from a place of self-love.   Step 1: Identify Your Fears   Awareness is the first step to creating change. The moment we witness our ego's fearful perceptions and the stories it's been telling us, we can begin to shift them.   Common fears that show up in the context of boundaries include fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection, or fear of being alone or abandoned. Many times, we adopt these fears as children (or at other points in our lives), and then drag these past experiences into our present and maybe even project them onto the future. This can result in us feeling like we don't want to upset others or lose their approval or acceptance, and valuing that acceptance over our own needs. Another result of letting these fears run the show is that as a consequence we may have trouble accessing how we want to be feeling and what we want to be doing-which prevents us from standing in our power.   Step 2: Choose Love   After we've created awareness around our fears, it's important to recognize that from a spiritual perspective, the fear isn't "real"-it's something we've learned through social conditioning, and not something we're born with. Instead of believing in these fears, we can choose to put our faith in loving perceptions, release our fearful illusions, and begin to experience beautiful changes in our lives.   This is more than a one-time choice; rather, it's an ongoing, moment-to-moment practice that involves witnessing fearful perceptions as they arise and actively choosing loving perceptions instead. To view the world through a lens of love, I recommend that people begin each day with a powerful intention: "I choose to release my fear and see love instead". Repeat this intention whenever fearful thoughts arise throughout the day.   Step 3: Act   Every time we choose love over fear, we commit an act of self-love. It is only when we are secure in our own worth that we can give and receive from a place of abundance, thereby creating relationships that serve us.   Saying "no" or speaking our truth when someone upsets us might feel scary at first. But as we begin to act in spite of our fears, we come to understand that when we act from a place of love, everyone wins. Contrary to what we may believe, there is never a situation in which what's best for us is not best for all. When we face our fears and express our thoughts and feelings openly to the person who upsets us or pushes our boundaries, internal healing occurs. We learn that it is safe to speak our truth and that those who best serve us will listen with love. Best of all, when we show up for ourselves, we provide an opportunity for those around us to show up as well.   Of course, we cannot control how other people respond to our feelings or choices. How others react is their personal spiritual assignment and how we react is ours. As we release our attachment to others' opinions and practice acceptance around however they choose to respond, we free ourselves from the bondage of fear, knowing that we are self-approved.   When You Need to Walk Away   Sometimes, walking away from a job or relationship that's no longer serving us is the most loving choice we can make. If we choose to leave a person or situation, it's important to trust and know that the universe has our back. The work is to call on our inner guiding system-the loving voice within-and to hear an answer, trust it, and act on it. This internal GPS never leads us astray, no matter how surprising or scary the answer may seem.   Saying "No"-The Takeaway   The most valuable thing that happens when we show up for ourselves with love is that we gain a sense of empowerment and a higher level of self-worth. When we give ourselves the love and acceptance that we desire, we no longer have to look for it outside of ourselves, which gives us the freedom to be who we want to be. This will reflect back to us with beautiful relationships that nourish and support us. As we approach our relationships more consciously and release fearful patterns, we break the cycles of guilt and obligation and begin to create new relationships and experiences that reflect our internal space of self-love.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to hear your thoughts. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to live after breakup?

Hello Skaartleta, Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How to live after breakup? I am glad you reached for some guidance with what you are going through in your life at the moment.  Breaking up can be emotionally painful and can leave you with hurtful feelings.  There is hope, you can recover from this.  I will share some information and some practical tips you can do for yourself.  I will also share some information about professional counseling support should you decide to take this step. Like any loss, a breakup is an end to something that once existed and held value in your life. If you’ve recently gotten out of a relationship, you might be wondering how long it takes to get over the one you loved. The truth is that it can vary significantly from person to person – everyone grieves in different ways, on different timelines. The period of grieving also has a lot to do with elements of your relationship, like how long you were together and the circumstances surrounding your split.   Regardless, getting over someone you love can be an ugly process, and it can hurt. It’s painful to think that someone who has been a huge part of your life isn’t going to be around anymore and that the future you imagined with them is gone. Let yourself feel those emotions and remember that they will fade over time, and you will eventually feel like yourself again.   In the meantime, there are a few things that you can do to speed up the healing process or, at least, make it go a little smoother. As M. Kathleen Casey said, “pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.”   How Long Does It Take to Get Over A Breakup And How Do I Do It?   Reaching Acceptance   The first step to getting over a breakup is to accept that it’s over. Acknowledging that your ex is unlikely to come back is important to move forward. To reach acceptance, most people move through a five-step grieving process after a breakup. Understanding what lies ahead is necessary so that you know what to expect so you can be patient with yourself along the way. Stage One – Shock and Other Feelings Even if you’re the one who did the ending, the finality of a breakup can send a shockwave through your system. During this stage, you’re likely to be filled with a hodge-podge of emotions: sadness, fear, disgust, loneliness, abandonment. In stage one, you might also be desperate for answers. Why has this happened? What could I have done differently? Deep down you may feel that by finding out your ex’s reasons for ending the relationship you can reverse the outcome. These are all primal emotions that you can sit in until you are ready to continue forward. Stage Two-Denial, Denial, Denial Denial is typically the second stage of grief. It’s not uncommon for jilted partners to deny to themselves and to others that the relationship has ended. Not possible. Didn’t happen. Can’t be real. Like stage one, falling into the zone of denial is totally normal. Although difficult, it’s important not to postpone your grief by staying in this stage indefinitely. Stage Three-Begging and Bargaining Like stage one, stage three is a place of desperation. You’ll likely be bargaining with your ex and with yourself as a way to make things right. You’ll replay moments, decisions, and actions, obsessing about what you should have done differently to prevent the breakup and what you can do to fix it all. What if you didn’t complain about their drinking? Maybe you shouldn’t have argued with them about their mother so much. In stage three, you then turn externally. If your ex would just take you back, you’ll be a much better partner than you ever were before. Everything that’s been wrong, you’ll make it all right—calling, begging, pleading, visiting, writing letters, sending smoke signals, sending pigeons. During this stage, it feels like nothing will make it better other than being back together. Stage Four– Relapse Even if stage three begging and bargaining works and you piece the relationship back together, the relief is usually fleeting. If the problems that drove you apart aren’t solved, you’ll likely end up back at stage one again sometime in the future, and the grief process will repeat itself. To avoid this, it is best to skip stage four whenever possible and instead work toward accepting that although things have ended for you and your ex, the future is still bright. Stage Five – Acceptance The final destination of acceptance is what led you to this article in the first place. By asking the question, “How long will it take to get over a breakup, and how do I do it?” what you’re really saying is, how do I accept that this is over, and how long will I have to hurt? There is no cookie-cutter answer to this query, but there are several roads toward acceptance.   Reaching Acceptance   Focus On You   If you did the breaking-up, maybe you need some time to explore and find yourself. Don’t feel guilty for having done what was right for you. You might discover why you felt the need to end the relationship (if you aren’t clear on that already) and what you need more of in your life now that it’s over. If the breakup wasn’t your decision, don’t dwell on the external ‘whys.’ Instead, look inward and figure out what you need to feel more at peace. Better self-care? Time to rest? Fun things to distract yourself? Remembering that you are worthy, giving yourself the things, you desire, and focusing on what is essential to your overall happiness and health is an important piece of acceptance.   Keep Yourself Busy   Once you figure out what things you need to do to move forward, do them! Don’t sit around the house wondering where things went wrong and if you should try to get back together with your ex. That’s unlikely to help you get over them. Get out of the house! Spend some time with your friends and family, do things that you love, find adventure. You should feel free to embrace your feelings but be careful not to dwell on them. Instead, start piecing together your new life. A life much better than the one you had in the past. Don’t feel like going out to move forward? Homebodies need to stay busy too. Read a good book or take up a hobby. This is your time to explore and do what YOU want instead of taking care of a partner’s needs. Avoid the tendency to allow yourself to feel down; try choosing to make this an exciting new time of self-discovery. Whatever you do, don’t just sit around and dwell on things.   Talk To Someone   It is important to remember that you do not have to do this alone. If you’re having a hard time getting over your breakup or other things are going on in your life that are affecting your mental health, please reach out and talk to someone. It never hurts to talk, whether it is with a friend, a family member, or a new person you meet online. The more you talk about how you’re feeling, the less it will hurt.   An experienced counselor can help you get through tough times and teach you how to handle stressful times in the future. Reluctant to reach out to a counselor? Did you know that online counseling is now an option?   In 2020, more and more people are turning online in search of a convenient way to speak with a trusted therapist without having to leave the comforts of home. Recent studies show that electronically delivered cognitive behavioral therapy reduced depression and anxiety symptom severity more effectively than face-to-face therapy. The analysis considered 17 randomized controlled study trials, “evaluating the clinical effectiveness of CBT compared to face-to-face and considered a wide range of outcomes including severity of symptoms, adverse outcomes, clinically relevant outcomes, global functionality, participant satisfaction, quality of life, and affordability.”   On BetterHelp, you can get matched with a counselor right away based on your specific needs and preferences. You can easily connect from a smartphone, tablet, or computer and communicate in a variety of ways, including live phone, video, and chat sessions, as well as messaging. You can always feel safe talking with a BetterHelp counselor because they take your confidentiality seriously and are committed to upholding your privacy, no matter what. All correspondence between you and your counselor is secure, and you can choose to remain anonymous if you prefer.    There is hope, recovery is possible!  There is professional help should you need it. I wish you much luck in getting past this and finding happiness in your life again. In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I avoid the woman who broke my heart coz she keeps on calling me? That we should talk

Dear U,   Thank you for your message and allowing me to understand more on the current situation you have with your relationship.   I'm glad to hear that you've been practicing self-compassion more and beginning to treat yourself with the kindness, compassion and respect that you'd give to others.   Setting up good boundaries definitely is a display of self-compassion and self-respect.   Through your words I understand that in the past (maybe even in present) on one hand you care about others around you and you are constantly giving / helping, on the other hand through this process you might have been compromising or even sacrificing a lot on how you feel in order to keep this relationship going / please others. I can understand how tired you are with this pattern and how you would want things to change so that you can also feel more comfortable in your relationships.   Sometimes perhaps setting a healthy boundary would be helpful in managing your relationship with others in the terms that you feel comfortable, so that hopefully your relationships will continue in a way that is mutually comfortable. Otherwise, as your counselor I would support you to do what is best for yourself, even if that is walking away temporarily. This in itself, is also self-compassion.   In my coaching practice, many of the women and men I work with struggle with one common theme: setting healthy boundaries. I witness this challenge pop up in all relationships, whether it's with a family, business partner, a friend, or in a romantic relationship. We experience this uncomfortable pattern until we heal the root cause of the behavior.   In my experience, the root of all struggle is fear. Relationships become unhealthy when we act from a place of fear, rather than love. More often than not, we aren't even aware of the fears that have been driving our choices, blocking us from doing what's best for ourselves, and damaging our relationships. But learning to set healthy boundaries offers a perfect opportunity to strengthen our capacity to love ourselves and release the ego's fearful perceptions.   When you find yourself having difficulty saying "no" to others, doing things out of feelings of guilt or obligation, attempting to please others even at the expense of what's best for you, or not expressing your thoughts and feelings when someone upsets you, you are putting yourself last and putting others first-which doesn't serve any of the parties involved.   If we say "yes" to others asking of our time and energy and we've not filled ourselves up first, we are giving from a place of lack-which is a fear-based choice that sours the energy in a relationship and doesn't serve either party. It also breeds codependency, and prompts us to attract people and situations that drain us because we aren't honoring our own needs and boundaries.   Many times, this way of being can create anger or resentment in the person who is putting her or his own needs behind others'. This might manifest as complaining, feeling taken advantage of, or feeling powerless. These feelings are messages to us that we've chosen to perceive ourselves as the victim of a circumstance rather than stepping up and making choices for ourselves based on love.   The truth is, we're never a victim of our circumstances. We can choose how we would like to perceive something in any given situation-we can choose to perceive fear or we can choose love. And when we act from a place of love, rather than a place of fear, we experience a radical shift that transforms our struggles and breaks old patterns that are no longer serving us.   There are three main steps to changing the patterns that keep us in unhealthy relationships: Identifying our fears, choosing to adopt a loving perception of a situation, and taking action from a place of self-love.   Step 1: Identify Your Fears   Awareness is the first step to creating change. The moment we witness our ego's fearful perceptions and the stories it's been telling us, we can begin to shift them.   Common fears that show up in the context of boundaries include fear of not being good enough, fear of rejection, or fear of being alone or abandoned. Many times, we adopt these fears as children (or at other points in our lives), and then drag these past experiences into our present and maybe even project them onto the future. This can result in us feeling like we don't want to upset others or lose their approval or acceptance, and valuing that acceptance over our own needs. Another result of letting these fears run the show is that as a consequence we may have trouble accessing how we want to be feeling and what we want to be doing-which prevents us from standing in our power.   Step 2: Choose Love   After we've created awareness around our fears, it's important to recognize that from a spiritual perspective, the fear isn't "real"-it's something we've learned through social conditioning, and not something we're born with. Instead of believing in these fears, we can choose to put our faith in loving perceptions, release our fearful illusions, and begin to experience beautiful changes in our lives.   This is more than a one-time choice; rather, it's an ongoing, moment-to-moment practice that involves witnessing fearful perceptions as they arise and actively choosing loving perceptions instead. To view the world through a lens of love, I recommend that people begin each day with a powerful intention: "I choose to release my fear and see love instead". Repeat this intention whenever fearful thoughts arise throughout the day.   Step 3: Act   Every time we choose love over fear, we commit an act of self-love. It is only when we are secure in our own worth that we can give and receive from a place of abundance, thereby creating relationships that serve us.   Saying "no" or speaking our truth when someone upsets us might feel scary at first. But as we begin to act in spite of our fears, we come to understand that when we act from a place of love, everyone wins. Contrary to what we may believe, there is never a situation in which what's best for us is not best for all. When we face our fears and express our thoughts and feelings openly to the person who upsets us or pushes our boundaries, internal healing occurs. We learn that it is safe to speak our truth and that those who best serve us will listen with love. Best of all, when we show up for ourselves, we provide an opportunity for those around us to show up as well.   Of course, we cannot control how other people respond to our feelings or choices. How others react is their personal spiritual assignment and how we react is ours. As we release our attachment to others' opinions and practice acceptance around however they choose to respond, we free ourselves from the bondage of fear, knowing that we are self-approved.   When You Need to Walk Away   Sometimes, walking away from a job or relationship that's no longer serving us is the most loving choice we can make. If we choose to leave a person or situation, it's important to trust and know that the universe has our back. The work is to call on our inner guiding system-the loving voice within-and to hear an answer, trust it, and act on it. This internal GPS never leads us astray, no matter how surprising or scary the answer may seem.   Saying "No"-The Takeaway   The most valuable thing that happens when we show up for ourselves with love is that we gain a sense of empowerment and a higher level of self-worth. When we give ourselves the love and acceptance that we desire, we no longer have to look for it outside of ourselves, which gives us the freedom to be who we want to be. This will reflect back to us with beautiful relationships that nourish and support us. As we approach our relationships more consciously and release fearful patterns, we break the cycles of guilt and obligation and begin to create new relationships and experiences that reflect our internal space of self-love.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to hear your thoughts. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

why is my head always focused on the idea that someone i love (and who loves me) will leave me?

Dear helens,   Thank you for your message and sharing your thoughts regarding your insecurity. I can hear the pain behind your words of constantly battling these insecurities.   Through your words I think we have built a common understanding that we have this insecurity about ourselves that we are not good enough. We tend to overly-focus on our weakness and mistakes, as a result we feel inferior compare to others and we never give ourselves the validations that we deserve.   Meanwhile it seems that we look for validations through us being needed / wanted by others, does that mean that we don't know our values if we are not getting feedback from others?   Despite being extremely difficult, admitting your weaknesses can pay dividends in the end. Once you admit to your lack of confidence and overcome these insecurities, these aspects of your life will turn from monsters in your closet to facts that you’ve acknowledged and beaten.   Overcoming insecurities is no easy battle, as there are many factors that cause them, and they’re constantly reinforced by daily events. However the more we challenge these core beliefs that we have and the thoughts that generated from it, the more our self-image will change.   Here are some thoughts I have about how to approach insecurity and things that we don't like about ourselves. Please let me know if they make sense to you.    I'll try to be as practical as I can, maybe this approach can help us put something into practice and begin making some changes.   1- Find the root Think about where you are lacking confidence: Do you think you dislike yourself when you look into the mirror? Are you the last to talk to someone because you think you look bad? Do we feel awkward about ourselves because of the response from others after we have said something?   Consider where these thoughts come from. There may have been certain occurrences in your life that made you think less of yourself. Once you’ve found the root of the problem, it’s much easier to get a handle on the insecurity, because it was most likely created by one or two isolated instances that have no real importance on your current life. Recognize where that insecurity started, and it’ll seem more manageable.   2- Invalidate the problem Once you’ve pinpointed the specific incident that created the crater in your self-image, consider why that occurrence doesn’t prove anything about your life as a whole, and think about the times in your life that prove the opposite. We are often too quick to forget the compliments or positive reinforcements that we’ve received from friends or colleagues, dismissing the kind words as pity or politeness.   Don’t focus on your lack of achievement when your cube mate scores a big account at work. Instead, remember when your boss complimented your own work or just how far you’ve come since you were a bottom-feeder at your company. Recognizing your successes will remind you of how great you are and how lucky your company is to have you. This will help you celebrate your coworkers' successes — and remember that it can only be so long before your next big break.   3- Stop comparing yourself to others It’s easy to become insecure when you constantly compare yourself to seemingly strong, flawless people. For example, if you compare yourself to the person who seems to have a grip on socializing with others and appearing confident, you may come out feeling clumsy and awkward in your encounters with others. But, what you’re likely unaware of is that this person has his/her own set of problems that they have to deal with. Maybe they are covering up their fears of being abandoned therefore they need to keep seeking attention? Instead of focusing on how you stack up against them, focus on what you can do and your skills.   If you can’t measure up to your buddy, maybe you should measure up to your own strengths…   It can be equally as treacherous to compare yourself to your friends. For example, when you see your friend — whose downfalls and ineptitude you are familiar with — succeed, you might end up feeling threatened and insecure about your own abilities.    4- Consider your known strengths A lot of your insecurities come from focusing on the things that you have trouble with. The truth is that everybody has strong and weak points, but successful individuals have learned how to play up their good points — a skill that has helped them flourish. Despite your insecurities, you have achieved a certain level of success in your life because you have great qualities. It's your job to pinpoint and foster those qualities and build a successful life.   Take those qualities, learn to focus on them and remember that there are more ways to use your set of skills than you think. Perhaps you’re nervous about giving a presentation to clients because you’re not very good at making anecdotes or using metaphors. What you seem to forget is that you know the project inside and out; focus on that and answer all of your clients' questions before they ask them. Remembering what you can do will give you the confidence not to choke under pressure.   5- Put your insecurities behind you Once you’re aware that your strengths and weaknesses will balance out in the end, forget about what you lack and draw on where you rock the competition. If you fumbled today at the office meeting, remind yourself of your performance for the past three months. You can always enhance your weaker points at a later date.   If you find that you’re focusing on your insecurities, think of the faults that other people have and how they’re able to get around them or just remind yourself of all the things that you’ve achieved in life. The more you focus on your strengths, the more they’ll be visible to others. In the end you’ll not only be happier, but you’ll be more successful.   The bottom line for beating your insecurities is this: Everyone has them and the key to success is to identify them, invalidate them and move past them. Focus on your accomplishments and recognize that insecurities are usually irrational fears of inadequacy.   Your faults are no more visible or detrimental to your success than anyone else’s, unless you let them get the better of you. Failure tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy: If you worry that you will fail, your performance will lack and turn your ruminations into a reality.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

What are the signs of a mentally abusive relationship?

Hello there. I am happy to answer your question. your question. Thank you for reaching out to Better Help. I am sorry to hear that you are going through this with your partner. You are not alone, many people in the US are in emotionally abusive relationships. Some important indicators of an emotional abusive relationship can be, but not limited to, the following:  your partner is hyper-critical or judgmental of you, they may use name calling, they might ignore  or overstep your boundaries, some may become possessive or controlling, manipulation of partner, aggressive and demeaning verbal communication, verbal threats, humiliation in front of others, isolating you from others, gaslighting, and emotional abusive partners often dismiss your feelings, especially regarding your concerns about abuse. If you feel hurt, frustrated, confused, misunderstood, depressed, anxious, or worthless any time you interact with your partner, chances are high that your relationship is emotionally abusive. Emotional abuse is not only harmful to the victim’s self-esteem and self worth, it can cause a number of health problems including everything from depression and anxiety to stomach ulcers, heart palpitations, eating disorders, and insomnia. The following are some tips to help you deal with emotional abuse: make yourself a priority, establish boundaries, don't blame yourself, realize that you cannot change the other person, avoid engaging in emotionally abusive outburst, build a support network, and work on an exit plan if necessary. Open and honest communication is always best. Try to have a conversation with your partner at a neutral time about your feelings and concerns. Only you know your circumstances and if this relationship is salvageable. If your partner is willing to work through this with you, then that is a good indication that the relationship can be improved. If you are feeling especially lost or if you even just need extra support, there are a variety of resources you can use to help you plan out your next steps. Better Help offers individual and couples counseling. The National Domestic Violence Hotline, for example, provides 24/7 support for any type of domestic abuse and can be reached at 1-800-799-7233.
(M.Ed, LPC)
Answered on 01/21/2022