Love Answers

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 01/20/2022

I need help on how to get my spark back in my relationship.

Hello,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your query: I need help on how to get my spark back in my relationship. I am glad you reached out for some support with your relationship.  I can best answer your question with a recommendation that you reach out for some profesesional support from a relationship counselor to attend to what you need for a healthy relationship and to seek support with putting that spark back in to your shared lives. Even the most compatible couple’s relationship will probably experience its rocky patches. This is inevitable: all people have different outlooks, priorities and values, and expecting your partner to conform to yours every time is simply not realistic Couple’s counselling can help you to understand your partner better. Talking frequently and openly about important issues is essential to a healthy relationship and counseling can be helpful with establishing or reestablishing healthy communication within a relationship. The Hidden Traps in Romance Whether from a desire not to hurt the other party’s feelings, emotional inhibition or for other reasons, we often don’t say exactly what we mean – even to a person we think we’re always totally honest with. Over time, these little gaps in communication can add up, leading to greater disconnection within a relationship. You may be thinking that involving a third person is the last thing you need to build a stronger relationship but remember that there is a world of difference between a qualified counselor and somebody you just happen to know. Pursuing couples therapy is not an indication that you are about to give up, rather, it is about acknowledging that issues are arising, and the relationship is important enough to investigate new or unfamiliar options that will help address problems in the relationship. Practical Couples Counseling Visiting a qualified, licensed couples counselor will likely open your eyes to many aspects of your relationship that you were previously unaware of. Aside from the major decisions such as marriage, having children or buying property together, any relationship is a tapestry of many interrelated factors that can combine to produce either a disastrous, unhappy couple, a way of living that’s more or less convenient but still mildly irritating, or a truly solid partnership that can navigate both simple and complex obstacles. Avoiding these issues or being unaware of them is a sure road to the dissolution of a relationship. Remember that the things that are crucially important to your partner might not even register in your mind, and vice versa. An experienced couples counselor is has expertise at detecting disconnection and steering the conversation towards areas you might not visit frequently or tend to avoid. The key to building a stronger relationship is finding or harnessing the motivation to understand your partner better, develop and build trust, and gain clarity about what is important to them. Sadly, simply loving someone doesn’t make any of this happen automatically, it takes work, and one of the most valuable tools at your disposal is couple's therapy.   Getting Acquainted with Your Therapist Before you can go deeply into the workings of your relationship, you need to get to know a bit about your counselor. They will also ask questions to get to know you. They might ask how long you’ve been together, how you met, what drew you to each other, and what you most like about each other now. They might ask you questions that go more to the heart of the reason for the counseling, such as how long you’ve been dissatisfied with the relationship and where you see your relationship going in the future. By the time you’ve covered these subjects, you’ll likely have gained trust in the therapist’s abilities, and they’ll understand you and your issues well enough to begin therapy in earnest. Getting Support   When people go into couples counseling, they often arrive with psychological bruises from the past or from the relationship itself.  The first bit of therapy you both need is support and understanding for what you’ve struggled through on the way to this point in your life. Each partner needs to feel cared for within the counseling space. An experienced couple’s counselor typically shows no favoritism for either of you. They give understanding and acceptance fairly to each person within the bounds of healthy communication. Airline hosts offer a warning before each flight as they’re explaining emergency procedures. They tell passengers that if they need the oxygen mask, they need to put it on themselves first before trying to help someone else. Obviously, you can’t be much good to someone else if you’ve passed out from lack of oxygen. The same idea holds true for couples. You need to put your own mental health first. This may seem counterproductive when you’re trying to renew your commitment to each other. However, the truth is that you can be a better, more loving partner when you are at your best. For this reason, couples counselors may suggest that each of the people in the relationship see separate individual counselors to ensure that they stay on the right track with their mental and get the support they need. Examining Behavior within the Relationship You probably wouldn’t be in couples counseling unless you love the other person and want to make your relationship work. What we often miss, though, is that our words and our actions don’t always convey that message to our partner. So, an important step in couples therapy is to take a look at the way you behave towards each other. You might bring up something your partner did that made you feel unwanted. They might bring up something you said that made them feel hurt. The key to learning to do better is to seriously consider what your significant other says. Take it in with an open mind. When you focus on what you can do to make the relationship better, you are far more likely to see those improvements. Pay more attention to what you need to do rather than what you want from your loved one. When you do, you tap into your own personal power to build the kind of relationship you want. Counseling Techniques to Promote Understanding Your counselor will likely use a variety of techniques to help you get into the other person’s perspective and see the relationship from their point of view. One of the most effective techniques that has been used widely by psychologists around the world is role-playing. This is an exercise in which you pretend to be your partner and they pretend to by you. The counselor usually sets up a scenario for you before you act out your parts. By this means, you can feel what it’s like to be on the other end of the types of words you use to them. You might also be able to identify communication errors you’ve been making. Another useful technique is letter-writing. You each write a letter to the other one, saying exactly what’s on your mind concerning the relationship. Some counselors have each person read their letter to their partner at the next counselling session. Because the therapist is right there, they can guide you through the conflicts that might arise when you and your partner hear each other’s letters. Other techniques involve using the imagination. For example, suppose you are angry because your loved one won’t try to get a better job. Your counselor might ask you to imagine and describe what your lives would be like if your partner took a job with better pay and higher status but one she didn’t like. How you fill in that blank is totally up to you. Couples counseling isn’t about playing games or getting gold stars. The goal is to try to see the reality of the changes you each could make and evaluate whether you’re asking for something that would be worth the effort. Find Out What’s Behind Your Disagreements Are you wondering why you and your significant other always have to argue? If so, it’s a good time to begin couple’s therapy. You might find out that the answer is that you simply have different opinions, tastes, and viewpoints. No two people are exactly alike, after all. On the other hand, you might find out that the issues that truly divide you are hidden behind a smokescreen of petty complaints. The real issues may be much more profound than you ever dreamed possible. If so, the counselor can help you discover them and teach you to deal with them together. Reconnect Sometimes, couples counseling ends when one of the partners discovers that they no longer want to be in the relationship. However, for most couples, the goal is to overcome the problems and issues that separate them and rebuild the relationship better than it has ever been before. If you stick with therapy long enough to learn how to engage with each other in a healthy way, you can begin to reconnect on an emotional level. You can create a stronger, more satisfying union and reignite the passion you once shared. It isn’t easy, but those who have succeeded reap amazing rewards. There is hope and there is help available to you.  Consider reaching out to BetterHelp to match with a couple's counselor.  Someone who can support and guide you with some helpful and effective strategies to help you on your way to perhaps a more stable, satisfying and healthy relationship.   I wish you much luck, In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

What do I need to consider before marrying Mike?

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with whether to marry Mike or not with the information you have.  It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific anxieties you have around being with him.       Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with this kind of difficult decision.       As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone of worth and that has been able to get through challenges in your past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

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 01/20/2022

How does one get past the memory of a love so strong it seems like it can never be matched?

Hello, thank you for posing this question. It's a great one and touches on a lot of different areas within and perhaps even outside of the field of psychotherapy. A powerful love is something that many of us might think about or recall as we move through life. Love is a motivating force in societies and has been such a force from the times of Antiquity and beyond. Sometimes we have an experience in love which prompts us to believe that love must feel like a particular thing or be a particular way, which appears to be the case in your situation. It would be curious to learn what it is that you see as the true conception of love, which appears to be prompting you to come back to the recollection of this past relationship. What is it about the relationship, really, which keeps pulling you back? It is important to ponder and reflect on that question in a deep way. And it would be curious to learn what types of comparisons you are making against the person you may be with in the present, as it relates to your past lover. How are you comparing your past lover to your current lover? That is a main question.  As we shift a bit from these initial questions we have to consider that every relationship one enters into must be judged in a wholesome and perhaps hollistic manner. It is to the detriment of your psychological growth to look upon a new relationship in the light of a past relationship. Really reflect on that notion. We often also recall relationships in a better light than what was reality because we naturally tend to romanticize our past. This is even true in cases where people have experienced trauma. Sometimes they romanticize what was occurring in the past for a number of reason, one of them being that the past may have brought them a level of attachment that was stronger than what they knew prior, to that experience. The past is often, fortunately or unfortunately, easy to romanticize. In sum, if you are willing to consider some guidance in this matter, It is important for you to look upon every potential partner as a wholly separate being, apart from any other which you have already met or with whom you have already engaged. If you can do so you will give yourself a chance at happiness with another person and you will engage with that person in a considerate way. In a way which takes into account who and what they really are as opposed to a potential schematic of a person you once knew. This takes work to accomplish but I think you're capable of it. As you interract with potential partners attempt to truly clear your mind and see the person as the individual they are. They are unique. There will never be another one quite like them in the universe. I wish you luck in your future relationships! 
Answered on 01/20/2022

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 01/20/2022

How can I move on after years of emotional frustration?

Hi, hopeful   What does "reconciled" really mean, right? Does that mean that both parties agree on what they did wrong and come up with a nice, easy solution? Sometimes! But not always, right? Because life isn't a movie or a sitcom where everything ties up nicely with a bow. Sometimes, reconciliation means both parties agreeing to let the past settle and to move on. Which, from your question, it seems is what you both decided to do at the time and why these are past issues and not ones that just happened.    However, what is still very real for you is the feelings associated with what happened in the past. As I tell my clients, feelings are always valid (where thoughts may not always be). What is telling to me here is that these feelings and past experiences for you are still very much in the present, and not solely living in the past, right? Maybe the both of you will not agree on what should have happened or who was right or who was wrong, and I think that is completely normal. But I do believe it is important for your feelings to be heard and validated in the present. Perhaps you are worried that these same patterns of behavior will be repeated in the future and that is why you are posing the question in the first place. And I think that is something that can absolutely be discussed between the two of you. You might find that your partner has also been thinking of things from the relationship and may have their own feelings that need to be heard and validated.    You might find that what could build the strength and peace within the relationship is listening, truly listening, to the other person. Trying to see things from the other person's point of view and seeing where you could be better. Because, we can all be better as partners. We can always improve in this life. And if both parties do this, both listening to the other person's point of view and seeing where they can improve as a partner, you might find that peace you are searching for.    Best of luck! -Claudia
(M.S., LPC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

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 01/20/2022

How do I recover from constant heart break?

Hello Memphis! Thank you for reaching out with your question. I hope to give you some guidance.  It sounds like you want to be in a loving relationship but you have been having difficulty finding the right person for you and you often find yourself in relationships where you are not treated the way you want to be treated. I am wondering if you are overlooking some of the initial red flags in the relationship because of your eagerness to be in a loving relationship (kind of like having a blind eye to problem areas because of the need for love and desire to be in a relationship).  It is important for you to understand what you want in a relationship. What are boundaries that you want to put in place to not have crossed. Have you considered writing down or journaling your thoughts about the type of relationship you want? What are you looking for in a future partner? If you look back on these previous relationships, what did not work? What did you not like about your treatment in these relationships that you could not tolerate? All of this information abfout your past relationships can help you make good, healthy decisions in your future relationships and selecting future partners.  It is also important to understand your self esteem and love for yourself. In your previous relationships you mentioned ending the relationships because ultimately you did not like how you were treated. When we love ourselves and have healthy self-esteem we can set healthy boundaries and protect ourselves in our relationships with others.  In order to raise your self esteem, it is important to understand the how our thoughts precipitate our feelings and our feelings precipitate our behaviors. This is know as the Cognitive Triangle. When we respond to events in our lives with healthy thoughts, it leads to healthier and balanced emotions as well as healthy and balanced behaviors. The same is true if we are responding to events in our life with unhealthy thoughts or "cognitive distortions." As you can, if you are experiencing "cognitive distortions" or thoughts that are not support by evidence, this can very much impact your self esteem by having unhealthy and unrealistic thoughts about yourself. It is important to be mindful and aware of your thoughts and how you respond to events that happen in your life. When you notice yourself feeling insecure or having doubts about yourself, take the time to look at an unhealthy, automatic thoughts (thought distortions) that you have that are negatively effecting your mood. It is important to be able to identify and understand these negative and unhealthy thoughts in order to challenge and restructure them to healthy thoughts. In therapy, we try to identify and learn the common "thought distortions" that people can fall victim to that influence our perceptions and mood. These common thought distortions are often associated with the unhealthy thinking someone is experiencing who is anxious or depressed. These thoughts can include "All or Nothing Thinking"(seeing your actions as either a complete success or failure; "Jumping to Conclusions" ; "Labeling"; "Should Statements"; "Disqualifying the Positive" and etc. Once you begin to full understand and accept the Cognitive Triangle and begin replacing your distorted thoughts with healthy, rational thoughts you will notice your self-esteem will begin to improve. This will then result in having more confidence in your abilities because you are weighing and challenging your thoughts instead of falling in to unhealthy, thought distortions of low self esteem.
(MSW, LCSW, LCAS)
Answered on 01/20/2022

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 01/20/2022

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 01/20/2022

Hi, I don't know if I am attracted to my girlfriend anymore.

Hello Kel, Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: I don't know if I am attracted to my girlfriend anymore.   I am glad you reached out with what you and your partner are struggling with at the moment.  It seems to me that maybe your relationship is in a post-covid rut, which seems to be a fairly common theme at the momemt for couples and beyond. I would recommend that you consider couple's counseling for yourselves to explore what might be going on for you and to create some positive changes for you both.  It maybe that your relationship just needs a 'healthy service reboot'. I will share some information with you about what you experience with the couple's counseling process. Even the most compatible couple’s relationship will probably experience its rocky patches. This is inevitable: all people have different outlooks, priorities, and values, and expecting your partner to conform to yours every time is simply not realistic.  Couples counselling can help you to understand your partner better. Talking frequently and openly about important issues is essential to a healthy relationship and counseling can be helpful with establishing or reestablishing healthy communication within a relationship. The Hidden Traps in Romance Whether from a desire not to hurt the other party’s feelings, emotional inhibition or for other reasons, we often don’t say exactly what we mean – even to a person we think we’re always totally honest with. Over time, these little gaps in communication can add up, leading to greater disconnection within a relationship. You may be thinking that involving a third person is the last thing you need to build a stronger relationship but remember that there is a world of difference between a qualified counselor and somebody you just happen to know. Pursuing couples therapy is not an indication that you are about to give up, rather, it is about acknowledging that issues are arising, and the relationship is important enough to investigate new or unfamiliar options that will help address problems in the relationship. Practical Couples Counseling Visiting a qualified, licensed couples’ counselor will likely open your eyes to many aspects of your relationship that you were previously unaware of. Aside from the major decisions such as marriage, having children or buying property together, any relationship is a tapestry of many interrelated factors that can combine to produce either a disastrous, unhappy couple, a way of living that’s more or less convenient but still mildly irritating, or a truly solid partnership that can navigate both simple and complex obstacles. Avoiding these issues or being unaware of them is a sure road to the dissolution of a relationship. Remember that the things that are crucially important to your partner might not even register in your mind, and vice versa. An experienced couple’s counselor is has expertise at detecting disconnection and steering the conversation towards areas you might not visit frequently or tend to avoid. The key to building a stronger relationship is finding or harnessing the motivation to understand your partner better, develop and build trust, and gain clarity about what is important to them. Sadly, simply loving someone doesn’t make any of this happen automatically, it takes work, and one of the most valuable tools at your disposal is couple’s therapy.  Getting Acquainted with Your Therapist Before you can go deeply into the workings of your relationship, you need to get to know a bit about your counselor. They will also ask questions to get to know you. They might ask how long you’ve been together, how you met, what drew you to each other, and what you most like about each other now. They might ask you questions that go more to the heart of the reason for the counseling, such as how long you’ve been dissatisfied with the relationship and where you see your relationship going in the future. By the time you’ve covered these subjects, you’ll likely have gained trust in the therapist’s abilities, and they’ll understand you and your issues well enough to begin therapy in earnest. Getting Support When people go into couples counseling, they often arrive with psychological bruises from the past or from the relationship itself. The first bit of therapy you both need is support and understanding for what you’ve struggled through on the way to this point in your life. Each partner needs to feel cared for within the counseling space. An experienced couple’s counselor typically shows no favoritism for either of you. They give understanding and acceptance fairly to each person within the bounds of healthy communication. Airline hosts offer a warning before each flight as they’re explaining emergency procedures. They tell passengers that if they need the oxygen mask, they need to put it on themselves first before trying to help someone else. Obviously, you can’t be much good to someone else if you’ve passed out from lack of oxygen. The same idea holds true for couples. You need to put your own mental health first. This may seem counterproductive when you’re trying to renew your commitment to each other. However, the truth is that you can be a better, more loving partner when you are at your best. For this reason, couples counselors may suggest that each of the people in the relationship see separate individual counselors to ensure that they stay on the right track with their mental health and get the support they need. Examining Behavior within the Relationship You probably wouldn’t be in couples counseling unless you love the other person and want to make your relationship work. What we often miss, though, is that our words and our actions don’t always convey that message to our partner. So, an important step in couples therapy is to take a look at the way you behave towards each other. You might bring up something your partner did that made you feel unwanted. They might bring up something you said that made them feel hurt. The key to learning to do better is to seriously consider what your significant other says. Take it in with an open mind. When you focus on what you can do to make the relationship better, you are far more likely to see those improvements. Pay more attention to what you need to do rather than what you want from your loved one. When you do, you tap into your own personal power to build the kind of relationship you want. Counseling Techniques to Promote Understanding Your counselor will likely use a variety of techniques to help you get into the other person’s perspective and see the relationship from their point of view. One of the most effective techniques that has been used widely by psychologists around the world is role-playing. This is an exercise in which you pretend to be your partner and they pretend to by you. The counselor usually sets up a scenario for you before you act out your parts. By this means, you can feel what it’s like to be on the other end of the types of words you use to them. You might also be able to identify communication errors you’ve been making. Another useful technique is letter-writing. You each write a letter to the other one, saying exactly what’s on your mind concerning the relationship. Some counselors have each person read their letter to their partner at the next counseling session. Because the therapist is right there, they can guide you through the conflicts that might arise when you and your partner hear each other’s letters. Other techniques involve using the imagination. For example, suppose you are angry because your loved one won’t try to get a better job. Your counselor might ask you to imagine and describe what your lives would be like if your partner took a job with better pay and higher status but one she didn’t like. How you fill in that blank is totally up to you. Couples counseling isn’t about playing games or getting gold stars. The goal is to try to see the reality of the changes you each could make and evaluate whether you’re asking for something that would be worth the effort. Find Out What’s Behind Your Disagreements, your Stuckness and so on   Are you wondering why you and your significant other always have to argue? If so, it’s a good time to begin couple’s therapy. You might find out that the answer is that you simply have different opinions, tastes, and viewpoints. No two people are exactly alike, after all. On the other hand, you might find out that the issues that truly divide you are hidden behind a smokescreen of petty complaints. The real issues may be much more profound than you ever dreamed possible. If so, the counselor can help you discover them and teach you to deal with them together. Reconnect Sometimes, couples counseling ends when one of the partners discovers that they no longer want to be in the relationship. However, for most couples, the goal is to overcome the problems and issues that separate them and rebuild the relationship better than it has ever been before. If you stick with therapy long enough to learn how to engage with each other in a healthy way, you can begin to reconnect on an emotional level. You can create a stronger, more satisfying union and reignite the passion you once shared. It isn’t easy, but those who have succeeded reap amazing rewards. 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 yourselves and your counselor is secure, and you can choose to remain anonymous if you prefer.   There is hope and there is help available for you.   I wish you both luck !   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I change myself? What should I do? Should I move on? or give it some time? Should I stil try?

Hello there, Communication is a must to help avoid assumptions.  How do you know he does not like you anymore? Have you tell that friend specifically how you feel about them? We (humans) gets into our head easily and we normally assume or overthink without knowing the reality of the situation or how that other person might feel.  Before pressuring yourself with so many questions or even going beyond what you should do, it might be helpful to ask that friend how they feel about you?  Try asking them by expressing yourself first using more "I statements" such as "I feel, " noticed, I think".  As well as taking turns when communicating. That way you are letting that other person know how you really feel about them as well as then ask how they feel about you, since you have noticed certain changes on that person (if that is the case).  This can avoid you struggling through what to do for that other person all the time, as well as it can help you figure out where you stand with this person.   Also, when it comes to you working harder than that other person to be noticed or to be liked; it can be helpful to think if its really worth you going the extra mile all the time when you might not be receiving the same thing from that person to you.  Yes, you can always try so you don't later regret not trying but until what point you should be trying?  Until what point is healthy for you to keep trying? This can then lead to you forgetting yourself and putting others or this friend first most of the time.  It can also lead to making yourself feel in a low mood or unmotivated with things that you used to enjoy.   Last but not least, you mentioned this is your best friend, can the friendship be jeopardize? Is this something you care for other than being romantically involved with this person.  Thinking of the value of the friendship, the years and what you both have gone through together can also be something to have in mind, if this mean something to you as well or to him.   Hope this helps!   
Answered on 01/20/2022

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 01/20/2022

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 01/20/2022

Is there any way to completely change the feeling we had towards someone?

Hello Agent R and thank you for your question. It sounds like you are having feelings for your best friend and you do not want to change the dynamic of the friendship for a host of reasons. The best way to get over your crush, is to understand what is happening and allow it to fade.   First, it is important to understand that your emotions and feelings are real. It sounds like you have already gone through some logic where you acknowledge your feelings of love, but have o desire to pursue a relationship with this friend. If you are sure that is the course of action you want to take, the the best thing you can do is create space for those feelings and attachments to fade.   The first thing I would suggest you do is to create space between you and your friend. This does not mean you have to block him or her on social media, or ignore all of their calls and text messages. It just means, you need to create more space between the two of you so your feelings can fade. This will allow you to protect yourself from getting attached without completely pushing that person away. I suggest taking time away from seeing them in person, and avoiding unnecessary daily communication. You should not be talking every day via text or phone just to chat about your day and what you did. The idea is that you are able to focus on yourself and think clearly so you can heal from this ‘lost love’ opportunity.   Another thing that will help you overcome this is to make new friends. Meeting new people is a great distraction and will help you avoid thinking about your friend. You can start meeting new people by picking up a hobby, joining clubs, or through other friends. A great website to find social groups is meetup.com, where you can find people with shared interests.    Lastly, I would suggest openly talking to someone about your feelings. It may seem like the last thing you want to do, but talking to someone about your feelings for your friend may allow you to see patterns and problematic thoughts that you would not see on your own. Talking with a therapist or a close friend could help a lot. 
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do you mend trust that is broken?

Dear Zee,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me the struggles you're experiencing in your relationship, resulting in not being able to trust.   Trust is a word we hear a lot. Recently I heard a story on the radio about investment fraud In which one of the victims of the fraud said, "I'll never trust anyone again." A strong statement about trust and one worth exploring.   What is trust anyway? The definitions of trust indicate that trust in another person imposes upon him a duty of care that asks him to be someone we can rely upon to do what we have asked of him. It seems straightforward to understand when we read it, but what happens when we examine the way trust works? Trust requires a relationship between two people, and all relationships are complex.   As we experience relationships, we come to realize that in a relationship, two people never fully know one another or can expect that the other person will do exactly what we want to have done. This is particularly true if we ourselves are not certain what we want and need or how to ask for it.   Where do we learn to know what to expect of our relationships? To know how to relate to another person we start with knowing the only person we can really know, ourselves. If we want to trust someone else, we begin with first learning who we are, what we want and what we know about ourselves as we grow and change. We explore our strengths, boundaries and limitations. Knowing who we are and what we are capable of, we learn how to trust ourselves.   One of the key approach in our work here is to help folks who are sensitive to go from feeling vulnerable in their sensitivity to feeling powerful in their sensitivity. We may not be able to change how easy we feel sensitive about things due to our past experiences and traumas, however we can continue practice making choices that would empower ourselves even when we feel sensitive.   When we are able to create this "inner peace" within us and feel grounded, we will see ourselves being more capable to take care of others, because we have taken care of ourselves. We'll go through this process together. :)   One of the keys to make that transition is to start feeling safe & comfortable in your body and to create that safety for yourself wherever you go.   Situations that can trigger a feeling of unsafety   When we are sensitive, many situations can trigger a feeling of unsafety. For example, we can feel unsafe when:   We feel judged and/or rejected   Our finances are unstable   We feel conflict between people (even when it’s not about us)   A situation reminds you of an earlier situation that felt unpleasant or unsafe   We get ‘triggered’ and our old wounds/hurts come to the surface   We feel threatened by our surroundings / environments that remind us of our past   You can even run your life in a default setting of feeling ‘unsafe’ just because of all the energies you feel around you.   The result is that you leave your grounding and that you feel unstable, worried, uncomfortable and out of balance. You move from your heart back into your head.   How can we feel more safe?   Feeling safe is partly an inside job and partly an outside job. If you are in an environment that just isn’t right for you, where you don’t fit and don’t feel a connection with people, it will be hard to feel safe and comfortable there.   This is not as easy as it looks.   In the context of our every day activities and familiar circumstances, we may assume we have done this and already know ourselves. We may apply labels to ourselves and say we are “fierce” or “shy” or “lazy”, but labels do not invite knowing. They make categories. Do we actually know ourselves? Unfortunately not much may challenge our assumptions about ourselves until a major shift in our lives comes along. Then in the face of a significant change we may understand we have not looked as closely as we might.   If the change is physical, we may begin to look deeply at our physical patterns of expression for the first time. We may have been unconscious of the ways in which our movement patterns, strengths and weaknesses are unique. Now we ask: How do I get things done? What are my strengths and limitations? How do my strengths work with my unique movement patterns? How will I negotiate around my limitations?   If we don't know what to expect of ourselves, it can be very hard to trust the people helping us. After a sudden change in our physical abilities, we may feel deeply invaded. We all have boundaries - places where we feel vulnerable and want to keep ourselves separate from someone else. Where are our boundaries, and how do we protect ourselves if we cannot walk away? This is vital to discover at a time when we may need assistance in ways we have never needed it before and would prefer not to admit this need.   If we have a financial problem we may look at the decisions that led to the problem and judge ourselves harshly for making a mistake - not remembering that hindsight is 20/20. We may not realize that there were things we assumed and didn’t challenge or examine or learn that we had better learn now. Being critical of ourselves, we may be reluctant to look at our actions clearly and learn from them.   Building trust in ourselves requires us first to look closely at ourselves, being honest about what we discover. Then we must practice compassion for and acceptance of the person we are discovering ourselves to be. Being willing to know is not the same as harshly judging. Harsh judgments close us off to ourselves. Compassion, forgiveness and acceptance open us up and allow us to learn.   If we know and accept our limitations without fighting that knowledge, we can learn to communicate what we know and don't know about what we can and cannot do. We come to understand that everybody has limitations. We see that we and our relationships are always transforming - never remaining static – giving us endless opportunities to keep on learning.   Building a relationship with another person is done a step at a time as we explore the ways we can interact and care for one another. When we know ourselves, we do not expect that simply because someone is an expert, she knows what is best for us. She will know many things we do not know and will have much to teach us, but she doesn’t know us. We are the only ones who can have that specialized knowledge. In a relationship, each person can regularly communicate what he knows to the other and both can learn where to trust the other. Perhaps that also goes with building relationship with ourselves and our inner being?   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono  
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do you know if a relationship is worth fixing?

Hello and thank you for posting this question!  I think you said three things in this question. 1) Your relationship, it  has been on and off.  2) It can be super toxic. 3)  It has also been really positve and you have grown.  So the first thing I would think to look at is are both parties interested in fixing this relationship?  That would be a first. You would be setting yourself up for a lot of angst if your partner is not interested.  If you are the one who is being asked to fix the relationship; you have to figure out the  if the toxicity outweighs the postives ; or if it is the other way around? I think it is important to remember that you have said that you have both grown.  So that indicates that the relationship can keep maturing and growing.  As for the toxicity  I would ask; is it the lack of communication?  Do you spend  your time together arguing or discounting one another ? Or is it something else like jealousy or not being able to let go off the past. These are issues many couples have faced.   If you both think the relationships is work fixing; going to couples therapy would be to your advantage and  you can find a good therapist through Better Help and the partner site Regain.    As for the really positives areas you have mentioned;  in what areas have the two of you grown?    Do you enjoy the time you spend with each other?  Do you miss each other when you are not in each others company?  Perhaps you can list the positives and see how far you have come.    It might even be an exercise you both can do! Do you share similar interests and have things in common? Consistency and dependability  in a relationship also counts. You did mention that your relationship is on and off.  So the question you have to answer is why? These are all things worth considering as you decide if the relationship is worth fixing.  Remember, relationships are hard work and they are always evolving.  They also  involve a give and take from  each partner.  Finally do you see this person with you in the next five years? Consider all these things as you decide
Answered on 01/20/2022

How do I stop my man from cheating

Hello Lubcy,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How do I stop my man from cheating? I am glad you reached out for some support with what you are struggling with in your realtionship at the moment.  I will share some information about the "why and how' you can address this as a couple so that you can have a healthier relationship and ultimately a happier life.   Why Did Your Partner Cheat If They Love You? Trying to Understand Infidelity   Having someone cheat on you is one of the worst possible things that you can experience. It can make you feel like there is a weight on your chest when someone that you love betrays your trust. The worst part of cheating is the fact that it often doesn't make any sense. Many people wind up asking questions such as "Why did they cheat if they love me?" Discovering the answer to that question isn't always going to be simple.   The truth is that people cheat for many different reasons. Figuring out exactly why the person in your life cheated on you isn't going to be something that can be determined without more information. Regardless, it is possible to go over some common reasons for cheating. Take a look at some of the reasons why people cheat on their partners below in order to come to a better understanding of what might be going on.   They Aren't Really in Love If They Are Cheating   One difficult possibility to consider is that your boyfriend or husband may not truly be in love with you.Individuals sometimes cheat on their significant other due to the fact that they aren't truly happy in the relationship. This can sometimes mean that they aren't really in love and are looking for a way out. Whether or not this is the case in your situation is impossible to determine without knowing the facts.   It's simply important to recognize that not everyone who says they're in love is truly in love. People can deceive you, and aren't always going to be strong enough to tell you the truth to your face. Sometimes people use infidelity as a way to exit a relationship when they can't initiate a breakup on their own. Hopefully, this isn't the case in your situation. It's definitely sad to find out that someone that you love never really felt as strongly as you did.   Some People Find Cheating to Be Exciting   You'll actually find that many people find cheating to be exciting. As deplorable as it is to cheat on someone that you love, there are individuals who are excited by the thrill of potentially being caught. Doing something wrong makes what they're doing more enticing and it seems to be something that they can't get enough of. Chronic cheaters seem to fall into this camp more often than not.   There are even people who can't seem to stop cheating even when they feel terrible about their own actions. It's a very odd situation, and you would think that they wouldn't do this if they truly cared. Sometimes cheaters like this might even have emotional problems or mental health struggles that are forcing them to seek cheap thrills or satisfaction from strange sources. This doesn't forgive the act of cheating, but it is something to keep in mind.   Someone who is cheating on you and finds the act of keeping it secret exciting might not really love you. If they do love you, then they certainly aren't showing it by doing the things that they're doing. Coming to terms with infidelity isn't always easy. Most relationships where the cheating is motivated by some type of excitement or arousal will end up failing.   Their Sexual Needs Aren't Being Met     People generally have their own sexual desires and needs. If those needs are not being met inside of their normal relationship, then it's possible that they may seek satisfaction elsewhere. You have to be careful when approaching cheating from this standpoint, though. It should never feel like the person who has been cheated on is in the wrong; because their partner should have discussed their needs before doing something so hurtful.   If you're in a relationship where communication is failing, then it's possible that certain things may have slipped through the cracks. Your partner may have certain desires that they haven't been able to properly communicate to you. In this case, it might explain why they chose to cheat. They found it easier to seek sex elsewhere, instead of discussing their desires or needs with you.   This is a huge sign that your relationship is not where it needs to be. It also means that there were problems in your relationship before the infidelity occurred. Some people will not be able to forgive infidelity no matter what. It's up to you whether you want to try to meet your partner in the middle to work on things. If you really do love him, then you might be able to finally have a discussion about your sex life and what is holding things back.   It's simply important not to feel like you're to blame for the cheating. If you didn't know something was wrong, then you couldn't have worked on fixing it. Even if there were issues, your partner should have ended the relationship if they knew that they weren't happy. It's now up to you to decide whether to work with them on building a stronger bond, or move on.   They Have Some Type of Sex Addiction   Another possibility is that your partner might have some type of sex addiction.  Sex addictions are a real thing that can actually ruin people's lives. These types of addictions make it difficult for people to quit seeking sex from others. They might even feel a deep sense of shame, but will still be compelled to seek out sex wherever they can find it. This is a terrible addiction for someone to have and it can potentially destroy your relationship. Getting over a sex addiction is not going to be simple. This is a very complex case that isn't unlike a drug addiction or an eating disorder. There are certain types of therapists that know how to help people cope with a sex addiction problem.   Therapists will need to work with patients extensively in order to help them overcome sex addiction. This can involve many different techniques, and people will often need to abstain from sexual contact for a long period of time in an attempt to "get it out of their system." If you suspect that your significant other may have a sex addiction, then you should encourage them to seek help. This could wind up making their life more difficult, and some people even lose their careers due to problems like this.   Sex addiction might even present itself as a problem with compulsive masturbation or excessive pornography viewing. Issues like this can progress to people seeking out sex from other sources. It can also wind up just being a fixable issue that won't have anything to do with sex with other people. It's a complex topic, and people suffering from any type of sex addiction need to seek professional help.   Your Partner Has Trouble With Commitment   There are many people who get scared when it comes to commitment. Committing to others is not always easy, and some people see it as losing a part of themselves. It isn't uncommon to hear of people getting "cold feet" before a wedding. Your partner's cheating could be related to something like that.   Many people simply aren't good at maintaining monogamous relationships either. Monogamy is the most common type of relationship that you'll come across in the United States. There are people who are entering into polyamorous relationships or open relationships due to not wanting to be tied down to having only one lover. Even if someone is more interested in this type of lifestyle, it doesn't excuse cheating on someone that you're supposed to love.   They Made a Huge Mistake   Finally, it might also be the case that your boyfriend or husband simply made a huge mistake. Everyone has probably heard of situations where someone got too drunk and did something that they regret. This is not uncommon, but that doesn't mean that it isn't hurtful. When something like this happens, it's usually going to be an isolated incident that they're going to feel very sorry about.   People do make mistakes, and it's up to you whether or not you want to forgive this type of transgression. Cheating is a very problematic thing for a relationship. Even if someone wasn't in their right mind when they did it, you're still likely going to be very hurt by it. You might need to consider couples counseling to try to get through this type of issue. It also might be good to think about whether or not someone needs to get help with a drinking problem or a substance abuse issue.   Consider Online Couples Counseling   If you want to try to move forward in your relationship, then couples counseling may be a solid option. This is going to be a good way to work on rebuilding your relationship after someone has cheated. It is definitely tough to work through cheating issues, but some couples are able to come out stronger than ever before.   A growing body of research suggests that online therapy platforms can provide effective couples counseling for people dealing with a variety of relationship issues, including infidelity. In a wide ranging study performed by the University of Miami, the effectiveness of several different forms of online couples counseling in helping distressed couples were examined. In the report, researchers state that online therapy is an efficient and accessible form of treatment, particularly due to the lack of geographical constraints, lower overall costs, and fewer logistical concerns. The report concludes that online couples counseling can successfully treat symptoms of individual mental health issues, and increase overall relationship functioning and communication. These findings are in line with the majority of research, which shows that online therapy is a useful option for those who may not feel comfortable seeking treatment in a face-to-face setting.   As considered above, if you are going through hard times because of infidelity in your relationship, online therapy can be a valuable tool. If you are concerned with privacy, BetterHelp allows you to remain completely anonymous—simply select a “nickname” when registering. Licensed counselors are available when you want to begin the healing process after your partner has cheated.    I hope you are able to consider that your next step is to reach out for support with your realtionship.   There is hope and there is help available for you!   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/20/2022

How to deal with heartbreak?

Hi, I'm sorry you're dealing with this. That's a long time to be in a relationship, and then to feel betrayed by the person you cared so much about, that only makes it harder. I guess the first part of dealing with heartbreak is giving yourself permission to feel heartbroken. Like when someone passes away, there is grief. There are things that you miss, and it's OK to miss them. There are also stages of grief, like shock, denial, and anger (I'm guessing with her being unfaithful during the relationship anger is especially present), and you may go back and forth through the stages. It's not your job to just get over what happened, and it's not your job to act like you're OK. Holding in how you are feeling can keep you stuck. So here are some other suggestions: 1. Try to identify what feelings you are experiencing. Putting a label on them can make them more approachable and easier to cope with. I'd imagine you're experiencing a number of feelings at the same time, and noting what they are can be helpful. 2. Express yourself. It's hard when there's a breakup because often the person we expressed ourselves to the most was the person with whom we are no longer speaking. Reach out to support (even people who maybe you hadn't been as close with recently). If you don't have support, or even if you do, therapy can be a great opportunity to talk about how you are feeling and process the situation. Having an unbiased third party can be advantageous.  3. Take care of yourself. Now more than ever you'll want to make sure you are sticking to a healthy routine. Keep up with your hygiene and give yourself fun activities to look forward to. Try to be around people who make you feel good about yourself. Enjoy nature, eat healthy foods, get enough sleep, exercise (doing so can help release some stress and can also improve mood), watch media that is uplifting and that is not triggering, journal, read a good book, etc. 4. Have balance. You don't want to focus too much on the breakup (so you will want to stay busy), but you also don't want to pretend it didn't happen either.  5. Avoid substance abuse. Drinking or using drugs can make you end up feeling worse. Alcohol is depressant after all. 6. If spirituality is important in your life, look at how you can incorporate it into your routine even more right now--whether that's going to church, praying, etc. 7. Focus on what you like about yourself. Being cheated on can certainly affect one's self-esteem, so be mindful of your self-talk and replace negative self-talk. 8. Don't personalize. You didn't deserve to be cheated on, and what happened was probably much more to do with her than with you.  Again, I suggest participating in therapy, especially if you have limited support or if you feel that it's becoming really difficult to bounce back from this, or if you're noticing that your self-care is suffering. I would be happy to work with you--just let me know if I can help, and take care. Nick 
(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 01/20/2022