Monogamy Answers

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

Hi Tori! Thank you for reaching out and asking this valuable question on the topic of making improvements in your relationships. Welcome to the BetterHelp platform! I can tell that you have been looking for ideas on how to prepare for your next relationship as well as improve and build upon your current friendships. What are some of your relationship goals? I hope that my response to your question will assist you in making changes in your current and future relationships. Sometimes advice and guidance is all we need in order to take the next steps! I can tell that you have been feeling motivated for change based on what you had written in your question. It is a really good sign that you have been reaching out for support. Who else is in your support system? What institutions would you consider to be supportive for you? Are you familiar with the cycle of change? What are some things that you can realistically do as you prepare for change? Here is a link to more information on the cycle of change: https://ououd.casn.ca/media/documents/the-cycle-of-change.pdf Also, here is a link to the circle of support work sheet in which you can continue to identify your natural supports: https://www.citn.org.uk/resources/circle-of-support/ 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: https://ytp.uoregon.edu/sites/ytp2.uoregon.edu/files/Feelings%20Wheel%20in%20PDF.pdf 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: https://annointing.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/love-types.pdf 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: https://www.mhankyswoh.org/Uploads/files/pdfs/CoDependency-UnderstandTreat_20130813.pdf 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: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c154cf9372b964a03cbccdb/t/5c488d65352f534aa63aa58a/1548258661324/100+Coping+Skills.pdf 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!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
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)...be 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

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: https://wwnorton.com/college/psych/psychsci/media/rosenberg.htm 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.
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
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 : https://emdrfoundation.org/toolkit/butterfly-hug.pdf https://youtu.be/iGGJrqscvtU 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: https://emdrtherapyvolusia.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Calm_Safe_Place.pdf 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!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
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: http://www.ncdsv.org/images/equalitywheelnoshading.pdf 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!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
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
(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 10/29/2022

I dont know whether to stay in my relationship?

Hi Rand! Thank you for taking the time to ask this valuable question! It is really great that you are reaching out for support about your relationship and are considering setting relationship goals for yourself at this time. I realize that you may be feeling uncertain about whether you should stay in your current relationship with your significant other. Ultimately, the decision is up to you and your partner. My hope is that I can guide you in this decision making process by providing you with some ideas on how to make a decision either way. How long have you been in the relationship with your significant other? What themes have you noticed coming up in regards to the arguments that you two have been having? I know that you mentioned that your partner is always starting arguments with you. How long has that been going on? I can tell that you are willing to take accountability and responsibility for certain things in situations when you may be realistically the one at fault. This speaks to your maturity and strength as a partner. I would also like to know how you choose to respond to your partner when arguments do arise. Also, how are you feeling about the situation? How do you react to your partner when they are constantly arguing with you? I can imagine how you must feel when you are blamed for certain things that are not actually within your power to control. Have you had the chance to speak with your partner about the nature of their concerns? In addition, have you spoken with your partner about how the arguing behavior makes you feel? Answering some of these questions may help you in understanding more about you yourself and your relationship. Would you consider journaling about this experience? There is a journal feature on BetterHelp which provides specific journal prompts for you to write about on a daily basis. Therapeutic writing can be incredibly helpful in making sense of specific experiences and is beneficial to the healing process. Try writing an entry that is based on free association techniques or create a world splash that describes your relationship. This technique will allow you to visually see on paper what you are thinking. Free association is when an individual writes down the first thoughts that come to mind in the moment and steps back from evaluating the thoughts or having judgement.  I am also wondering if you would be willing to create a therapeutic drawing of your relationship. You may want to consider creating a kinetic couples drawing. Essentially, this means that you will create a drawing of you and your partner doing something, such as an activity or shared interest. This may give you further insight into your current relationship. Another art based approach would be to draw you and your partner as symbols. Think about what some of your hobbies and interests are and draw yourself and your partner as something in a symbolic and representative way. These art based and drawing activities can be inspiring for you to take part in as a couple. As for one more drawing related idea, you could color in a picture, such as a mandala, together as a team. The circular shape of the mandala can be incredibly powerful, healing and soothing. Coloring within a circle can be relaxing and has been scientifically proven to lower heart rate and reduce blood pressure. Take turns sharing colored pencils, markers or pens in a shared the space. I hope that you two can practice some team work together and maybe put together a puzzle or build a garden or a sculpture. How can you demonstrate to your partner that you want to improve and that you are paying attention? Based on what you wrote in your question, it seems like your partner is dissatisfied and would like you to do more activities with them. Would you be willing to make a plan to do one activity together per week? Could you both carve out time for a mutually agreed upon activity? You could start this practice by going on a ten minute walk with your partner twice per week. This will also give you two the opportunity to share your thoughts and talk about how things are going in the relationship. It sounds concerning that you have stopped doing the activities that you used to enjoy. Would you say that you are noticing a loss of interests in the activities that you love? Is your relationship impacting your drive to participate in your hobbies? I want to encourage you to take some time to focus on yourself. The best thing that you can do in any given moment is focus on taking care of you. Here is a list of coping skills that you can incorporate in your self care routine: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c154cf9372b964a03cbccdb/t/5c488d65352f534aa63aa58a/1548258661324/100+Coping+Skills.pdf At this time, I will send you the diagram that depicts aspects of a healthy, equal relationship. I hope that things improve over time and that you are able to get to a point of a more equal relationship. http://www.ncdsv.org/images/equalitywheelnoshading.pdf At this time, I recommend individual counseling sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Talking about this situation with a neutral provider might help you to manage the feelings that you are experiencing. When in therapy, it is truly important to trust in the therapeutic process. You can also consider going to couples counseling sessions now or in the future. I hope that the two of you can begin to take on a sense of shared responsibility if you do decide to move forward in the relationship. Thank you again for taking the time to ask this question. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey. I sincerely hope that response has been helpful for you in some way. Take good care and have a nice day!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 10/28/2022

I need to know how to heal and rekindle things with my girlfriend

Hello BB! Thank you for taking the time to check out the BetterHelp "Ask a Licensed Therapist" forum. I appreciate you asking this important question about salvaging your relationship with your girlfriend. I realize that this must be a very challenging situation for you to manage at this time. I hope that you have been able to recognize your strengths as a partner in all of this. I really admire your goal of trying to heal and rekindle your relationship with your girlfriend. It makes sense to me that you would initially be feeling shocked about the recent changes in your girlfriend's behavior. When did you find out that she was lying to you? How did you find out that she was lying? Perhaps there are certain aspects of her behavior in which she is communicating something to you in a nonverbal way. Maybe you can ask her more about this when you have a moment to do so. As I am sure you already know, honesty is a pillar of any relationship. Encourage her to be honest with you from here on out no matter what. Hopefully by setting clear expectations and boundaries about how you would like her to behave, this will be overall beneficial and healing for your relationship. Based on what you said in your question, it sounds like she has since apologized for her behavior and has ceased contact with the individual who you feel uncomfortable with her talking to. Have you asked her more about this experience? I wonder what that has been like for her to cut ties completely with this individual. Perhaps asking her some questions in a curious manner might give you some more information about why she acted in the ways she did. Was it a relief for you to hear that she was only connecting with this person on a friendship level? I would be interested in hearing more about the reasons as to why this individual makes you feel uncomfortable. Have you shared your reasons for this with her yet? Would you be willing to participate in an art making activity as a means to find a sense of safety for your current situation? I recommend trying the Rose Bush guided meditation and visualization technique. In this exercise, you can imagine yourself as a Rose Bush. Think about what your Rose Bush might look like. What colors would your petals be? As a rose bush, would you have leaves for photosynthesis or thorns for protection? Imagine that as this rose bush, you have every thing that you need. There is rain water from the clouds, light from the sun and your roots are firmly planted in nutrient dense soil. As the rose bush, imagine that you are cared for by a gardener or maybe the butterflies and bees. Perhaps you are located near a lake, a stream or even a waterfall. And as this rose bush, you have been planted exactly where you were meant to be. Consider that maybe you are surrounded by other rose bushes. After you take some time to contemplate what your rose bush would look like, create a therapeutic drawing, painting or find an image of your rose bush online. Your inner rose bush can bring you a sense of growth, peace, safety and security. If you could picture your relationship as a rose bush, what would that look like? Imagine that your relationship will grow, just like your inner rose bush. You can also begin the process of creating a mandala, which essentially can mean coloring within a circle. By creating a circle drawing, you will be able to find a sense of relaxation. It is scientifically proven that coloring within a circle can help lower heart rate and reduce blood pressure. This method produces a naturally calming effect. Perhaps you can design your own mandala as a means to express your feelings about your long term relationship. Maybe you and your girlfriend can work on a mandala drawing or painting together as a means to re kindle your relationship and give some space between the here and now and the past. Take some time to enjoy the present moment together as a team. In addition to therapeutic drawing and guided visualization techniques, I recommend that you take some time to practice self care skills. You can begin this process by recognizing what your currents hobbies or interests are at this time. Turn your favorite activities into a personalized self care routine. Spend about twenty minutes three times per week focusing solely on yourself and your needs. Practice self love by recognizing your strengths as an individual, as well as your strengths as a partner. You may also want to try some relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing. At this time, I recommend attending individual counseling sessions. Speaking with a trained therapist about your concerns is likely to be beneficial for you as you work towards improving your relationship. Certain aspect of the therapy sessions can absolutely be healing, as well. In addition, you and your girlfriend may want to consider attending couples counseling session if you both are willing to give it a try. Having a safe, shared space to address your mutual concerns could be incredibly helpful for the two of you. This may also give you a chance to practice some relationship building activities, including building trust in the relationship. Lastly, I recommend attending either a group or a groupinar as a means to obtain some additional support and insight into your experience. The groupinars available on the BetterHelp platform cover a myriad of topics and may give you some ideas on how to navigate your current situation. It is certainly a worth while option to check out! Thank you again, BB, for your time asking this vital question. I sincerely hope that my response will be helpful for you in some way. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey on BetterHelp. Take good care and have a great day!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 10/25/2022

I need help. I cannot forgive my wife for cheating on me.

Infidelity can happen in the marriage, most definitely. This, in turn can cause a wheel of emotions for the other party. It sounds like you are responding normally to this scenario. You are depressed, hurt, in pain, and are trying to forgive her. However, you are struggling. Reaching out for help to overcome these emotions is impactful and can have substantial effects on the marriage, either positive or negative. There are many responses you can take moving forward. Most definitely a Licensed Mental Health Professional can certainly help to process the emotions caused by this event and help you to develop a treatment plan tailored to your personal needs and your relationship dynamics. If you reflect on the marriage and relationship, what initially brought you to her? What made you choose her? What made you marry her? What is your religious status and what vows did you take? Talking to specifically a marriage and family therapist might be the best option. Depending on your religious status, you may want to consider one that is well versed in your religion and is culturally competent. Another thing to consider is gender of the therapist. Some men respond better to a woman therapist versus a male therapist if they specifically want more warmth and compassion. On the contrary, if you are interested in a more straight forward response from a manly stand point, a male therapist might be a better fit. In any sense, it is important to realize that all therapists are unique and even if you choose a therapist, you are not bound to that therapist. You have the ability to make decisions and choices to choose a new therapist that is a better fit is also a possibility. I do wish you the very best in all you do and whatever decision you make, whether that be choosing a therapist or not, I hope you put your mental health first. 
Answered on 10/24/2022

How do I stop feeling uncomfortable when talking to my parents or sister about relationships?

Dear Sam, Thank you so much for reaching out with your concern.  There is very limited information, but I will try my best to help you give you options and probably solutions to your problems.Firsthand, there seems to be an underlying fear of telling your parents that you are in a committed relationship.  There may be several reasons for this. Are you afraid that your relationship is not stable and don't want to disappoint your parents if the relationship ends up breaking up in the near future?  Do you fear your parents reactions and the way they will accept your partner? Whatever the reason, there is a fear behind your decision in not disclosing this very intimate part of your life.It might be good to find a good friend who knows you and your family well to help you understand why you are withholding this from your parents.  Maybe someone close to you who knows your family dynamic can help you gain more insight.  Secondly, since you disclosed that you have an issue disclosing personal things with your parents, it might be good to find a licensed therapist that can help you overcome your feel of speaking up and speaking your truth.  There maybe a fear of rejection from your parents for the decisions you are making for yourself or perhaps you do not want to face criticism; whatever the reason, it may be good for you to entrust a licensed professional like a Marriage and Family Therapist who understands family dynamics and is educated in family modalities in addressing these type of family related concerns.Lastly, I'm curious to know how your parents responded when you said that your boyfriend was only a "friend."  There is something that is inhibiting you from voicing what is personally happening in your life and when you're triggered response is crying, there seems to be a fear behind voicing the truth of your relationship.  It may not be a bad thing to hold back, especially if you are in fear of feeling rejected or criticized by your choices from your parents.   I hope my suggestions and feedback have helped you gain a different perspective on your situation and I wish you nothing but the best in your future.  I hope you are able to come to a resolution to this and understanding behind this.
Answered on 10/23/2022

Relationship/ situations situationship problem

Hi Gee, Thank you for sharing your story and the issues that you are facing.  I'm proud to hear that you are standing in your truth and in your power.  I also like that you decided to speak with your friend. It can be a very tricky dynamic to date a friend's ex, especially if she is your best friend.  Many women would be very upset, but in this case, it seems like the relationship wasn't as strong for her, especially in comparison how he viewed it.  This also gives a big clue and indication of how he is in relationships.  If he is not wanting a long term commitment, then I think it is best that you move on if this is what you are wanting.  Pay attention to what a guy tells you and not just playing scenarios in your head because you want to be with him or make excuses for his behavior.  Many times, women attempt to justify things instead of looking at the "here and now."  A guy that wants to be in a relationship will make the necessary steps and will voice that to you.  His words and his actions will align.  This seems important for you. At this present time, he doesn't seem like he is meeting that need and hasn't since you have been with him.  I think it is important for you to assess your energy and how you feel with him.  It sounds like you don't feel emotionally safe with him and I think that is your answer.I'm proud of you and how you are standing firm in your boundaries.  So, don't waste your time and energy on someone who is not going to give you that in return.  Continue on in your quest of what you want and the universe will match that request.  If you tell the universe that position is filled, it will not continue to move forward to fill that "vacancy spot" to your criteria.  Many best wishes on your journey. Stay strong and in your power of what you want and don't settle ;)
Answered on 10/23/2022

I can't decide if I want divorce or not... How can I come to a conclusion... Broad question I know..

Hi, I'm glad you reached out! You are right, it is a broad question but that is okay! There are some important things to explore here!  1. Did you have a conversation with your wife about the lack of intimacy? 2. Was she assessed for any medical or mental health concerns, such as Postpartum Depression?  3. What else is there to your marriage other than intimacy?  Pro and con lists can be helpful! Pros and cons to staying with your wife, as well as pros and cons to getting a divorce.  It can also be helpful to think of it in a way that takes this new person out of the equation. Without that person's involvement, do you still think a divorce from your wife is the best option? Is this new person presenting the opportunity to solve issues or are the feelings new, exciting and temporary? Maybe a combination of both? Really explore those feelings and see how they impact your decision to get a divorce.  Sometimes we need to put some space between our anger and our thoughts. Is it just the anger telling you that you don't want to be in your marriage? What is the difference between now and the past three years when you did want to fix the marriage? Is the difference temporary or permanent? Where do you want to be in five or ten years? Do you see yourself being happily married to your current wife or do you see yourself somewhere else?  Keep in mind that we will always have challenges in life with choices on how to overcome them. Sometimes this means moving on, sometimes this means some hard work to fix things. The easy route is not always the best or most lasting solution. Sometimes it is, but that's why we need to put serious thought into big decisions.  I'm so glad you reached out for help before jumping into a solution! That's a great sign that you can make the choice that is best for you in a thoughtful manner. Keep that in mind as you consider the options! 
Answered on 10/18/2022

How do I break up with my partner?

Hi Jack, I appreciate you bringing this valuable question to the "Ask a Licensed Therapist" forum! I am so glad to see that you have decided to reach out for support at this time. It is a really great sign that you are willing to share the details about your current relationship status. I can tell that you are open to hearing some feedback and receiving some guidance on how to proceed with ending your relationship. Based on what you had written in your question, it sounds like you have already made the decision to end the relationship. That is a wonderful first step in the process. What will that be like for you to transition into a friendship with your partner? It sounds like you both have been able to help each other a lot during your time together. Would you consider your partner to be a primary support for you, vice versa? I think it makes sense that you would want to invest more time in seeing your daughter. It seems like you will have some additional time to focus on spending time with your daughter when you move out and that having your own separate living space will benefit your relationship with your daughter tremendously. Have you spoken with your current partner about the fact that you are spending more time with her children than your own daughter and that you would like to begin prioritize seeing your daughter? I can see where you are coming from in that regard and I think it might be helpful for you to inform your partner about this if you have not done so already. In addition, I can tell that you would like to prioritize having your own living space. It sounds like you are ready to begin to move out and live on your own after many months of living with your partner and her children. Would you be willing to write a list of reasons as to why you want to have your own space and live separately? I can tell that you have already begun the process of identifying your reasons, such as there not being enough living space for all of you at the residence. Perhaps keeping track of your reasons for your decision will ultimately assist you in sharing your thoughts with your partner when the time comes. One of the things that you may want to focus on is how to share your decision to end the relationship with your partner. Do you think it is best to inform her in person, while at home or during the weekend? Perhaps you can utilize your writing skills to construct a letter or a note that you can give to her. I recommend having time for a private discussion and arranging for the children to be with a friend, family member or even at school, if possible. If you decide to inform her via text message or through email, would you be willing to have someone proof read your draft and provide you with feedback about how you to word your message? Essentially, it is completely up to you how you want to tell her about your decision to transition from a relationship to a friendship. I think that you have drafted your question rather eloquently and have put a lot of thought into this process. If you are able to explain this decision to your partner in the way that you have explained it in your question, that would be ideal. My advice is to be objective and realistic when delivering the news to her. Do you think she will handle the break up well? A line that I use in both my personal and professional life when delivering a difficult decision that has been helpful for me is: "My decision has already been made. There is nothing you can do or say to change my mind or alter my choice." It is important to reinforce the boundaries of the relationship when ending the relationship. The time you spend focusing on yourself sounds like it will be a good change for you. I tell the clients that I work with to take time to prioritize their own needs. Self care skills are extremely valuable and can go a long way. Self love is priceless and incomparable to any other love. Being selfish is key- not in a "no one else matters" way but in an "I truly love myself" kind of way. I can tell that you have identified playing Playstation as a means for you to practice self care. I would like to encourage you to continue to build up and practice your self care skills before and after ending the relationship. You may want to consider practicing this break up through role play or writing a semi structured script. It may be helpful for you to visualize how the break up will go. Lastly, you may want to create a visual, such as a map or a flow chart that demonstrates how you expect your experience ending the relationship to pan out. Even writing in a therapeutic way, such as journaling or writing a letter that you do not plan to send, can be extremely beneficial for individuals who are preparing to communicate difficult news. I realize that this will be a challenge but it is necessary for you to tell her your plan so you can both prepare for the change in your current relationship. At this time, I recommend individual counseling sessions on a weekly or bi weekly basis. The BetterHelp platform offers video calls, phone sessions and live chat as three different modalities to connect with the therapists who are contracted on the BetterHelp platform. Thank you again so much for reaching out for support on the BetterHelp platform. I am so glad that you brought this important question to the forum. I want to wish you all the best moving forward!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 10/18/2022

To stay or to leave

Knowing when to walk away after infidelity is something that many people struggle with throughout their life. This is a difficult place for anyone to come back from, especially if the infidelity is a recurring thing. The most important thing to remember is that you should always do what feels right to you. Never allow others to persuade you or make the decision for you because it's ultimately your happiness and your choice. Staying in a relationship after infidelity can be challenging and cause other stressors in the relationship.  There are a few things to consider if you reach this point in your relationship. The first being: is your partner willing to own up to and apologize for their indiscretions? People who refuse to acknowledge their indiscretion and issue an apology may not have what it takes to put in any effort toward improving the relationship. The next thing to consider is communication. Communication is important in any relationship, especially after infidelity has taken place. Some couples experience infidelity because of poor communication in a relationship. Effective communication is necessary regardless of whether you wish to stay together. A partner that isn't open to a discussion could be mistaken as one that doesn't care about the relationship or the other person. Lastly, do you have the desire to put in the work or try to work things out? If you've been cheated on and are emotionally or mentally drained, it may be an indication that you should walk away. If you have no desire to talk with your partner, attend counseling, or even accept their apology, it may be a sign that you've had enough or are no longer interested in pursuing the relationship.  The steps to reclaiming a healthy relationship require that both parties want to work towards a common goal because relationships can be prosperous after acts of infidelity. The healing process is painful, and the work sometimes seems exhausting. It's a commitment that requires immense dedication and willingness. It is most effective when both parties express and understand the severity of what has taken place.   Neither of you should try to rush and get back what once was. In fact, things may never be like they were before. Although, it may have been the way that things were before that led to infidelity in the first place. Acts of indiscretion may never be completely forgotten, but the pain associated with the act will begin to lessen over time. Therefore, it's important to work on forgiveness because it helps to move past the anger and disappointment associated with cheating.   It is crucial that both partners understand that forgiveness won't occur overnight, nor does it equate to trust. These are both sensitive areas to any relationship, especially one where infidelity has occurred. Acknowledging and accepting your true feelings is a major part of knowing when to walk away after infidelity.
(LCPC, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/09/2022

Why am I so attached to my male friends yet dismissive of my female friends?

Greetings. You mentioned that you have a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Some of the defining features of BPD are unstable relationships, changes in self-image, and a fear of abandonment/rejection. These issues, in turn, are related to an insecure attachment style, most often Fearful-Avoidant. You seek closeness, but you foresee negative consequences, and thus find yourself in a loop of engaging and withdrawing. In therapy, it would be important to explore your historical family dynamics and any attachment trauma that you might have experienced, and to promote your sense of self-expression and self-efficacy. A common question that comes up in general is: "Can men and women be friends"? My answer to this question would be that friendship between men and women who are attracted to the opposite sex is intrinsically intertwined with that attraction. Therefore, there is always the potential for an intimate relationship to form between them. Consequently, a man and a woman in a committed relationship will naturally be protective of each other. They might not want their partner to spend too much time alone with someone with whom attraction is a natural possibility because it might affect their own relationship with that person. Finally, we must look at the definition of the word intimacy in the dictionary. You will notice that it is defined both as a sexual act but also as a "close familiarity or friendship, closeness". Therefore the term casual, which is defined as "relaxed and unconcerned" is not well suited for intimacy.  My wishes for you and to anyone reading these paragraphs are to find a sense of fulfillment in everything that you do. I hope this answer was helpful. Please feel free to reach out for further input. Regards. Vadim.
Answered on 09/26/2022

How do I forgive my partner for cheating and move forward?

Hi,  Trust is indeed very difficult to re-establish in a relationship when infidelity occurs. It often leads one to believe that they have not met their partners needs in some way, which is a misconception more often than not. Infidelity is more about the person who has decided to make a decision to look beyond their relationship for emotional or sexual connections. Infidelity is complex and requires evaluation in each individual case. Please see below for a few factors related to infidelity: 1. Simple desire to have sex with other people. 2. Unmet sexual needs - the need or desire to explore sexual avenues that may not be conventional or socially acceptable. 3. Dissatisfaction with one's self - general unhappiness with one's life overall. 4. Life events (e.g. recent birth of a child, loss of a job, death of a loved one, etc.....) - couples often experience stress related to changes in lifestyle. An example would be the birth of a child. One partner may feel that the focus and attention has been placed more on the child, and they are no longer receiving the attention or emotional connectedness that was experienced prior to the birth.  5. Social media - social media has provided a platform for a lot of really good ways of connecting with others that we may not have otherwise communicated with on any level, or reconnecting with friends and family. However, we are often inundated with the illusions of perfectionism displayed on social platforms. This can lead to a longing or desire for the lifestyles portrayed on social media.  6. Commitment issues - everyone does not have the same ideas regarding commitment. This is an issue that needs to be discussed in the very beginning stages of any relationship. 7. Low self-esteem - may lead to a need or desire to seek emotional and/or sexual connections with others to fulfill a void in one's own life.  In closing, help is available to you to explore how you can develop the tools needed to address relationship issues. Please reach out if you have any further questions. I look forward to helping you navigate through this process if you wish to pursue assistance.
Answered on 07/26/2022

Is it worth trying to save the marriage when the trust is no longer there or better to call it quits

I would want couples counseling in order to give this marriage another attempt.  People cheat for different reasons. It can be anger-passive aggressive response, it can be the other cheated previously, it can be loneliness, it can be because they are brought up to not value monogamy. It sounds like the other individual is concerned about how adultery is going to affect the divorce, or they fully realized what it will mean to go through with the divorce. It means moving, financial changes, change in friendships. Divorce is often compared to a death in the family and when one finally realizes that, it can make them have a change of heart. Maybe they realized the "grass was not greener on the other side?" Maybe they realized that the children will be affected by it in ways they had not considered at first? Including pets... How safe do you feel to continue the relationship with this person? Do you feel they can be reasonable and honestly look at what they have done and take responsibility for cheating? Can you also do the same- take responsibility for how you may have influenced certain situations as well?  It sounds like this partner did not put a lot of thought into their actions and was acting from a place of anger and hurt. You will need to address those feelings with them, and your own in therapy and decide whether you are both willing to be vulnerable again with each other and try to fix these problems together. It will take time and both of you will need to be committed to making changes and be able to take responsibility for your own actions. If one of you is not capable of recognizing your own mistakes, the changes you will make may not be enough to save the marriage, however it will give you clarity as to what when wrong in your marriage and how not to repeat the same mistakes in another relationship in the future. 
Answered on 06/17/2022