Monogamy Answers

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

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

Is it possible for a person to fall back in love and build desire back in a relationship?

Hi Issa,  Thank you for your question, and I hope that my answer can provide some further clarity for you. It is certainly possible to fall back in love and re-build desire in a relationship. It is a common experience for these feelings to wane in a relationship after a child comes on the scene, as the priorities of both partners change, the dynamics are shifted and there is simply less time/energy that can be devoted to each other when so much of that is devoted to your child. The key throughout all of this will be communication, with you and your partner checking in on each other's feelings and needs to ensure that you feel heard, understood and supported within your relationship.  In order to re-build these feelings, it takes time and work from both partners. It is first of all important to be able to recognize what sparked that initial love and desire when your relationship was first being built. What was it about him that you found attractive? What traits did he have that you fell for? Is there anything that he would do for you towards the beginning of the relationship that you do not feel is done now? In order to tap into those initial feelings of attraction that you had to one another, it may be a good idea to bring some of these elements back into your current-day relationship. Doing so may not be easy and it would require you both to prioritize the time that is needed to do so. However, working on these elements of the relationship may bring some of that initial 'spark' back.  Sometimes it may be as simple as taking the time to spend with one another, and check in with each other. As relationships go on, and particularly when children are in the picture, it can be tough to remember to prioritize your partner as there are so many other responsibilities to be juggling. Over 10 years, you and your partner have likely changed a lot, and it can be an exciting process to re-discover each other in the present day. Spending time discussing in and engaging in each other's hobbies and interests can be a great place to start with this, as spending time doing something fun with your partner can give you an insight into where they're currently at, and seeing them engage in something that they enjoy can be a reminder of those positive qualities that you fell in love with in the first place.  Though it sounds regimented, it can be of great benefit to schedule in time for intimacy. One night a week where you can engage in an intimate way with your partner can re-build the desire that you initially felt. This does not have to be on purely sexual terms, but through intimate activities such as massages and cuddling. Engaging in physical affection can allow the feelings of desire to develop naturally.  Spending time appreciating your partner and practicing gratitude can strengthen the bond between you both. How often do you take the time to appreciate your partner and their qualities? How often do you communicate these things to him, letting him know of your appreciation for him? And vice versa. Taking this time to think of each other positively and to communicate these feelings to one another can be a great reminder to you both of what you mean to each other. Hearing compliments and positive feedback from your partner can also give a big boost of confidence, which in itself can often be an attractive trait.  Discussing the past and forward-planning for the future could help you to maintain the relationship going forward. How do you think you got to the point that you are at now? Is there anything that you could do in the future to avoid getting back to this place? What signs should you look out for that you are not experiencing the love and desire that you once did? Having a clear-cut idea of where the relationship has been and where you both want the relationship to be going ensures that you are both working from the same page in the relationship, and aiming for the same goals.  I hope that some of these suggestions are helpful to you, and that they help you work towards re-building these feelings in your relationship. If you and your partner feel that you would benefit from doing so, seeking support from a relationship therapist can be of benefit. A therapist would be able to guide you through some of the strategies described above, as well as others. They would also be able to work through any issues or barriers in your relationship with you so that you and your partner can reach a place of increased happiness. 
Answered on 02/03/2023

How to better myself in a relationship?

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

How do you regain someone’s trust in a realtionship?

Hi AB,  Thank you for your question, I certainly hope that my answer can provide some clarity for you. Trust is so important in a relationship, and when it is broken it can take such a toll on the dynamics and emotions within your relationship. It can also take a long time to re-build trust when it has been broken, and it takes a lot of communication and work between both partners to get back to a sense of safety in the relationship. It is important to recognize that the trust simply might not rebuild, and your wife may be in a place where she feels that she cannot accept what has happened or move on from it. It is also important to recognize that where the trust was broken on your part, much of the work (though not all) will have to come from you in order to provide your wife with the safety and reassurance that she needs in the relationship.  For the trust to be rebuilt, there needs to be a sense of stability, and a foundation to build upon. It would be beneficial to have a conversation about what you are working to rebuild. What do you want your relationship to look like? What are the traits that you love in each other, and make the relationship worth fighting for? It is also important for you and your wife to communicate openly and to listen to each other's needs, and take action to ensure that you are working to meet each other's needs. Is there anything that you feel like you need from the relationship but you are not receiving? Likewise with your wife - is there anything that she feels that she needs from the relationship that she feels is currently missing?  The crucial part to this is then putting the work in; your wife will need to feel your commitment to her and to see that you are fully invested in the relationship before she can begin to feel confident in the relationship again. Checking in with your wife regularly and taking the time to listen to her and empathize with her will drive the connection between you both. It is often a good rule of thumb to consider the behaviors that were present at the beginning of the relationship but have dropped off as time has gone on - were there special date nights that you would have? Or certain traditions and rituals? What did you do to impress her and gain her trust at the start of the relationship?  You can bring these elements back to the relationship, and it will serve as a reminder of what brought you and your wife together in the first place. It will demonstrate a sense of commitment that you are willing to 'go the extra mile' in the way that you may have done when first building the relationship. Your wife will need to perceive from you that you have a genuine sense of remorse for what has happened; without this, she may be left wondering when the 'next time' will be, and may feel paranoid around your behaviors, even when they are innocent. A genuine apology can go a long way towards re-building the trust, and to do so requires empathy, where you can come to understand the situation from her perspective and the emotions that she has been going through. Again, this is where communication can be so vital, and taking the time to truly listen to her experience will be of vital importance.  Going forward, there needs to be a good level of transparency in your relationships, where even the smallest of white lies are avoided so that you and your wife are on the same page always. Relationship counseling can be so beneficial to overcome such an experience in a relationship. Much of the work that must be done requires effective communication and the kind of tools that relationship counseling would provide would support you in communicating in such a way. It would also give you the space to listen to each other in a safe space, where you can feel comfortable expressing yourself in a non-judgmental and non-combative environment.  I wish you and your wife the best in your relationship, and sincerely hope that you can come to a place of mutual understanding where the trust can be re-built. I also hope that this answer provided some helpful guidance to you in overcoming this hurdle in the relationship. 
Answered on 02/01/2023

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

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

How can I get over my boyfriend cheating on me. I love him, but I'm massively struggling to forgive

Hi Julia,  Trust is such an important part of a relationship, and it can be incredibly difficult to re-build trust after it has been broken. After a partner cheats, it is so common to have feelings like the ones that you have described of not feeling good enough for them. However, it is important to remember that more often than not, infidelity is much more about the cheating partner themselves than the one being cheated on.  It is also important to bear in mind that you have been deeply hurt by this situation, and such hurt cannot be healed overnight. Therefore, it could take a long time to come to a place of forgiveness (if at all). Not every apology requires forgiveness and it is your decision to make whether you feel like you are able to forgive your partner or not. It is so painful because you can still feel a deep sense of love for your partner whilst also struggling to overcome the hurt that you feel, which can feel very conflicting.  For trust to be re-built, there has to be a sense of safety within the relationship for you, and this is where you and your partner would need to work together and communicate throughout. Forgiveness is not simply the responsibility of the one doing the forgiving, there also has to be heavy involvement from the one apologising too. He is the one that broke the trust by cheating, and therefore the responsibility lies with him to provide you with that sense of safety again and for you to feel that he is fully committed to his relationship with you. However, in order to do so, it is important for you to communicate your needs to him.  You will likely need to take some time to reflect on this, but try and have a think about what you need from him for you to feel safe in the relationship again. Would you like him to communicate more with you? Spend more time with you? Is there anything that you feel has been lost from the relationship and that you miss? What is it about the relationship that you feel is worth fighting for? What would the 'ideal' relationship with your partner look like?  When you have some answers to these questions, the next step would be to communicate them to your partner. This step is key, as it gives you both the chance to communicate how you are feeling and it gives you both an indication of where you each are with your feelings in regards to the relationship. It also gives your partner the chance to express his needs, and what he feels he may want from the relationship.  From there, the two of you would need to work together to meet each other's needs. The word 'work' is key here: re-building trust in a relationship takes time and a lot of emotional investment from both parties, and it may not always be easy. Especially because it requires lots of communication too - checking in regularly on each other's thoughts and feelings is key to making sure that your needs continue to be met in the relationship. Over time and with the work being put into the relationship, your sense of confidence in the relationship can return. Throughout all of this, remember that it is okay for you to still be hurting over this, and it is okay and normal for you to be struggling to forgive him for what has happened. It sounds like you are experiencing so much pain from what has happened, and it is great that you have reached out for help to try and work through this pain. If at any point you do feel that you need support with your emotions, or a place to talk through what you are going through and what has happened, therapy can be such a beneficial tool to explore all of these things. If your partner would be willing to do so, couples therapy may also be of benefit to aid you both in communicating and working together as a team. Please do not hesitate to reach out for further support if you feel that it would be helpful for you.  I wish you all the best. 
Answered on 01/27/2023

How does one overcome trust and insecurity issues when in a relationship?

Hey Gus! First of all, I'm so glad that you reached out, it's not always easy to ask for advice, especially when it comes to those intimate relationships! I think what you're going through is not uncommon but it is important to recognize and change patterns so that people feel better supported and we avoid following the same patterns over and over again. I'm proud of you for recognizing that perhaps your thinking patterns are not accurate and that it may be you jumping to conclusions rather then putting it on the other person completely, but let's take a look on what you are experiencing. I think we need to start by taking a look at you and your partner and the reasons that you have those thoughts that perhaps they are cheating on you or doing something unfaithful. Has this happened in the past? I know that you referenced your childhood, was there any instability that could have led you to think that a partner is not capable of being faithful to you? While we don't necessarily follow all the patterns that we see as children, what we grew up with as "normal" does have an effect on how we perceive our lives and what is "acceptable" or what we believe will happen in the future. Do you feel like that's acceptable? Have you settled for that in the past? I think it's important to look at the values that you are seeking in a partner and if your current partner has those, giving them the benefit of the doubt and talking to them about your fears openly and finding ways that they can reassure you without feeling like you are accusing them of being disloyal. That communication may look like "I don't think that you are cheating on me, but I've struggled in every relationship with trust and I just need a little extra reassurance sometimes". If your partner is committed and understanding, they will understand that you're not accusing them and that it comes from past responses. If you get a feeling that something is wrong however, it's also good to listen to your instincts and recognize that you don't need to settle for someone who makes you feel uncertain. It sounds like you've had a lot going on in your life and that it's hard to let your guard down. At some point we have to choose to trust, and that's not easy. Just know that not everyone is out to get you and that there are still wonderful people in the world! I hope this helps and I wish you all the best in the future.
Answered on 01/12/2023

How to decide where to live and where to raise children?

Compromise There is going to be an entire conversation that needs to be had here, but for the sake of this question, I think it is essential to recognize what a marriage is. No matter the spiritual, governmental, or companionship aspect, what you choose to do in marriage is secondary to the marriage. You, as an individual, might want something as much as he, but never let it compromise the marriage. For this, I prefer the Biblical definition of marriage, which is a union of two people into one. One leaves their mother and father and joins their partner. That view of marriage may help put things in perspective enough to eliminate some options.  No answer will solve all you want to solve or predict the best future. Honestly, you might be close to family, but then where does that leave him? If he is the "odd" man out, then what does that do to the marriage? One way to determine the best decision for your guys is to decide what you want the most together. Not where you want to live or what jobs, but what values you want to impose on a future child. If your husband feels like having a kid would get him "stuck" moving where you want, there needs to be a very real conversation because that is a pretty significant deal.  You say you are solid. I believe it. However, what is solid? Is it solid to get along? Is it solid going with the flow? The fact that you have been together longer than most marriages last would assume you have had to work through some pretty difficult things. However, now you look to move, and it seems there is a rift. It is interesting if this rift has been here the entire time, and you are just now noticing it. This is why I say it is time for a candid conversation that could result in hurt feelings. Maybe the feelings are hurt because we have expectations about how things "should" go or what our partner "should" do. Perhaps we hold these beliefs deep down and don't bring them up, but secretly get angry when they don't line up. Maybe this is why we are now having this conversation after so many years and there are these issues. We are humans; we avoid pain. But let us at least acknowledge there is pain instead of saying things are going great.  So, have the conversation. Make sure you get really uncomfortable and talk about the parts of you that don't agree versus what you do agree with. Please identify what you as a couple wants out of your marriage, out of life, out of raising a child. Let there be disagreement. Let there be upset feelings if need be. Argue and get down to what matters. I don't want to play nice and resent you later. I didn't articulate what I felt because I expected you to know. No, say and do the honest things, even if it means writing it down and having him read it. Do these things, and if you decide to go to therapy to navigate this you will at least know where to start. Good luck. 
Answered on 01/11/2023

How to rebuild a long term relationship after infidelity?

Rebuilding? In short, unless you can accept him and what he has done. Unless you can truly trust him and believe he is worthy of that trust to be in a relationship where you can depend on him. Unless you see these qualities, you should not stay in the relationship. You have to have a foundation to rebuild on before you can talk about rebuilding. That foundation should consist of character traits that you think are worthy of investing in. This man, he was having an affair for the last 3-4 years. If the guy acts the same in an affair as he does being committed to the relationship, then what kind of man is this?  Be honest with yourself when you address the questions I mention here. Be honest in looking at this man and what he offers to your life. Be honest in identifying if he can be committed to you. If he was having an affair for 3-4 years, there is a lot of details that have to be understood. For one, can he break ties cleanly with this other woman? Who is she to him? Do they work together and know each other in some way outside of intimacy? Does he even want to work on your relationship or save face and stay together where he is safe? It's good to know if people choose us because they want to be with us or if they choose us because the other option wasn't obtainable.  The questions I have are intended to invoke thought for you and to realize the context of his actions. He was not just cheating; he was lying to her, you, the kids, himself, and everyone around to be this other guy. All of that energy that wasn't going toward you or the kids was in service to preserve this selfish desire to have his cake and eat it too. There is no sugarcoating it when it comes to long-term infidelity. The man is weak, so I question his weakness in coming to the surface again.  So, is it worth investing in? You need to identify what you want and need, and choose from a place of what is best for you, not him. You are not responsible for his happiness. he lived independently from you in the most intimate ways. Him losing your trust is a consequence of those actions. He is a man who not only lacks honesty by lying for those many years, but he lacks self-assurance and seeks validation from someone else. These characteristics make it hard to recommend building on that foundation unless what I said before holds up.  If you stay, you are accepting him and his behaviors. You are accepting that he cheated and has that potential. Can you stay together? Sure, but you are the one that will have to do the most work to make it work, mainly because you have every reason to be jealous/upset. If you can find peace with this man and he is willing to do his own work on himself because clearly, he lacks insight into himself or a backbone to establish his boundaries, then you can invest in the relationship. If you cannot forgive him, accept him as he is, and accept that he could cheat again, it is best to let it go. Some wounds are just too deep.   
Answered on 12/16/2022

how can we get past this?

Hello Stace! Thank you for your question. I appreciate your candor. Let me say right up front that relationships can heal. There are things people can do to mend what has been damaged as long as both parties are willing to do the work. Let me highlight some of the things that you and your girlfriend could do to work on this relationship. 1. Calm your bodies. It is important that both of you learn how to recognize when your nervous systems have become activated and simple techniques that you can apply to help calm yourselves. You are not going to be able utilize the problem-solving part of your brain if you are overly emotional. There are some fairly simple techniques such as deep belly breathing that will help you to calm down so you can have meaningful and logical conversations about what is bothering you.  2. Learning your own individual triggers. Many people carry baggage with them from childhood into adulthood. Things in the environment can send a signal to the body that there is "danger" nearby even when there isn't really. We need to understand what cues or triggers our bodies are reacting to. Once we know what triggers our nervous system to go into fight, flight or freeze mode, then we can be mindful of those triggers and manage situations rather than just react. 3. Safety. You and your girlfriend need to make an agreement that regardless of how emotional you might feel, you will channel that energy into calming activities rather than harmful activities. At the very least, you will call for a time out so you don't hurt each other. You will never heal if you continue to hurt each other. 4. Communication. Once you have learned how to calm your bodies, then you are ready to start working on communication skills. There is something called the Fair Fighting Rules which are essentially rules for having tough conversations. The goal is to be able to work out the differences rather than argue. Couples are never going to agree on everything. So learning how to listen for the purpose of understanding, and having a willingness to compromise is essential to mending your relationship. A person has to ask him/herself "what is more important -- having the last word or having this relationship?" 5. Values and behavior. You and your girlfriend would want to identify your own personal values. These would be those things that are most important to you in life. It is important to identify your own values and not the values that you think you are "supposed" to have. We run into problems when we are trying to live our lives according to someone else's values. So once you have figured out your values, then you will want to compare them. You probably won't have an entire list of identical values. The important thing here is for each of you to know what the other person values and then decide if you are both able to show respect for the other person's values -- even if those values are not your values. We need to be able to align our own behavior with our values to have some semblance of peace in our lives. If our partner is constantly making it difficult to live by our own values, then we are going to be unhappy and we will probably argue a lot. We have to be able to let each partner have their own independent life in addition to the life we have together. We have to be willing to line up our actual behaviors with our own values and the values of our partner. 6. Willingness to do the work. Both you and your girlfriend would need to understand that relationship work is an ongoing process. I am not sure that we are ever "done." So we have to understand that we are going to have good days and not such good days, but that doesn't mean we should give up. We just pick up where we left off and carry on. Making changes is hard work and it requires effort and patience by both parties. Neither of you can say "this is YOUR problem and YOU need to fix it." Relationships require effort on both sides.  7. Trust. When there has been infidelity by either or both parties, there will need to be a process of earning and regaining trust. This requires that the person maintains very consistent behavior -- they do what they say they are going to do when they say they are going to do it. Trust is earned back very slowly. 8. Individual work. It is possible that one or both of you have some individual issues that need to be addressed regardless of whether you stay together or not. If either of you have experienced trauma in your past, that might be something that needs to be addressed. If you have some other untreated mental health conditions like depression or anxiety, then those conditions need to be addressed.  9. Core beliefs and thinking patterns. An integral part of most therapy is understanding how we think -- our core beliefs and our thinking patterns. Understanding how we think helps us understand why we react the way we do to certain situations. Once we understand these thoughts and patterns, we can intentionally decide if we want to hold on to those thoughts or change them to something more realistic.  10. John Gottman. Last but definitely not least, Dr. John Gottman is considered to be the leading expert in relationships. He and his wife Dr. Julie Gottman have been doing research for many years about what works and what does not work. Their material is a "must" for any couple who are trying to mend their relationship. I hope this information helps you a bit. I appreciate you taking the time to read my answer. Best wishes to you and your girlfriend! Judi
Answered on 12/08/2022

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

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

How do I commit myself in to a relationship?

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

Should I wait?

Hi there, Sorry your heart aches!  I have the same question you do, why now?  Did you ever ask him that?  Did something happen that you are aware of or was it out of nowhere that one day he changed? Do you believe him about his reasons for stopping to see you?  Why does he still call every day?  I know you might not know why either. It sounds kind of unusual but could it be true that he is in therapy and trying to fix the situation in some way?  If he still calls, it could be that he is trying to stay connected to you despite being unable or willing to be in a relationship.  I would suggest the next time you talk, be aware of how the conversation makes you feel, both during and after.  Do you feel uplifted and expanded or sad and upset after talking to him? I guess to be honest I hear some "red flags", but I get that if he seemed wonderful you might not want to completely give up on him and the relationship.  However, if he is clearly telling you he doesn't want to be in a relationship now, then I would suggest starting to try to accept that.  If someone else is interesting to you (to date) safe about it but I say go for it!  Stay busy if you can! It doesn't sound like you are in a committed relationship and you are worthy of one if you want that. There's nothing wrong with a dating break and some time being single either. Maybe you could kind of leave the door open for the future but if "Mr Right" won't even see you it might NOT be right for now.  I get that you might be hurt, confused and frustrated.  But so much in life is timing.  For some (kind of odd) reason the timing isn't right for him, then yes if you can, move on! Those are my thoughts without knowing more. Also try not to take it personally, as is sounds like whatever issues he has are his. Thanks for your question!  Good luck! 
Answered on 11/14/2022

Did I do the right thing?

Hello Sia! Thank you for taking the time to reach out for support on the BetterHelp platform. I appreciate you asking this important question on the topic of relationships. I am so glad to see that you are seeking out advice and guidance as a means to make sense of the experiences from your past relationship. It is great that you have provided some additional details about your past experiences in the relationship. I really admire your goal of trying to move forward and be able to experience life once again. Going through a relationship break up is never easy. I can tell that you have spent a lot of time contemplating what your next steps could be in regards to moving on from the relationship. Based on your question, it seems like you are considering how your actions may have impacted the outcome of the relationship. It sounds like you are trying to make sense of the hurt and that you have been working through and are trying to discover if you did the right thing by ending the relationship or not. I can tell that you really care for this person, as you mentioned that you want him to be happy. I think it makes sense that you would feel sad and miss him, especially since you have been together for over ten years. I realize that you mentioned in your question that your relationship of over ten years has ended approximately eight months ago. How have you been managing things thus far? Also, how did you come to this decision? What steps did you have to take in order to disengage the relationship? What were some of the barriers that you had noticed come up during the decision making process? Take some time to reflect on these questions and answer them through journaling, in therapy or even with a close friend when you are ready to do so. I can tell that you are feeling concerned about whether or not you have done the right thing by ending your last relationship. In a sense, it seems like you are questioning yourself and second guessing your decision. I would like to encourage you to recognize that every decision that you have made thus far is actually the "right" decision, simply because you made it. Your decisions could actually be a reflection of yourself. I derived this concept from the positive affirmations by Louise Hay. In her work, she has been credited as saying: "Every decision that I make is the right one for me." I recommend taking some time to create a personalized affirmation that works for you. Another example of a Louise Hay affirmation that may inspire you could be: "My heart is open. I speak with loving words." Here is a link to the daily positive affirmations that you can begin to utilize and incorporate in your daily or weekly routine: It sounds like you have been able to take some time to reflect on your relationship. Would you say that you still need some time to continue to heal? Where would you say that you are at in the healing process? I would like to encourage you to build upon your coping skills and improve your self esteem through art making. If you are willing and are interested, I would recommend that you take some time to engage in the art making or journaling process as a means for healing. Therapeutic writing and drawing interventions can bring a sense of joy, comfort and even serenity for those who are willing to try. In my clinical, professional and personal experience, art making, in its many forms, can be fuel for healing. An art making directive that may be of interest for you is to draw a picture of yourself in your next relationship. Take some time to imagine what qualities you admire in a relationship. Pick your favorite art supplies such as colored pencils, markers or water colors and envision a map to your next relationship. Listen to music, find a peaceful place and light a candle as you practice meditating and deep breathing. Perhaps draw your dreams. Here is a link to more information about how to utilize art therapy: In addition, here is a list of art based coping skills for you to check out: Be kind to yourself and trust in the creative, healing process. It would be great if you were able to focus on opening up your heart, mind and spirit to the principles of joy, love, peace, light and gratitude. Feel free to check out this resource for more ideas on how to incorporate this concept: In addition, I would like to commission you to make time to write out a daily gratitude list. Taking time to reflect on the things that you are most grateful for may help you to better understand the meaning of your experiences as well as your life's purpose. Lastly, I would like to recommend attending counseling services. I believe that it would be good for you to continue to explore your thoughts, feelings and experiences as you work towards rebuilding your self confidence and inner strength. If you are willing to try, you could also consider attending a weekly therapy group or a groupinar. This may help you to feel more connected with other individuals and allow you to feel a sense of belonging in a therapeutic setting. All of these therapeutic interventions are available on the BetterHelp platform! Thank you again, Sia, for asking this essential question. I truly hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way! I hope that by answering your question, I was able to guide you on this journey of decision making and self discovery. I want to wish you all the best on your journey of self exploration. Take good care and have a nice day!
Answered on 11/09/2022

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

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

How do I know if it’s paranoia or my gut? And if it is paranoia, how do I fix it?

Hi- thanks for your question and reaching out for help.  I'm sorry that your partner betrayed your trust with his behaviors.   There is a lot of other information, background and history that would be helpful in considering your question and situation, but here are some questions and thoughts I have.   Is this the first time something like this has occurred in your relationship?   How long have the two of you been together and how did you find out about his kissing another person a year later?  Did he admit this and tell you or did you find out some other way?   What little things have you been noticing that seem 'a little off' to you?   You mentioned that he was genuinely remorseful and promised not to do it again.  Has he honored this promise as far as you know or have there been further breaches of trust?   It sounds like the two of you decided to have a child a little after you found out?  I am curious about this and would want to hear more.   Besides being drunk, did he offer an explanation for what he did?   When I hear an atmosphere of 'underlying current of animosity' , I wonder if there are deeper issues of which this incident is a symptom which reflects a broader concern.  Particularly as the two of you have been in therapy previously for communication and perhaps other issues, it may signal that that your intuition is suggesting some ongoing undercurrent that remains unresolved between the two of you.  I think it may help to think beyond binary options of whether you are reading too much into things or whether your intuition is on to something here and be open that both factors may be playing a role.  Generally I do believe that if this issue remains an obstacle a couple of years later, that there are likely other issues and that beyond his act, he is also responsible for equally maintaining a wall between the two of you.  As you seem like you want to make things work with your partner and child's father and as the two of you have experienced benefit from therapy in the past, perhaps it may be to reengage and work through these issues.   Hope this helps and thanks again for reaching out.  Best of luck.
Answered on 11/06/2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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