Rejection Answers

What should I do?

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

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

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

My husband likes me so much that he wants to do EVERYTHING with me. I feel smothered by his love.

Inadequacy It kind of stinks when what presents itself as a "good man" is also the same thing causing him to act like a toddler. An inadequate, grown man is a dangerous and often insidious beast. They tend to be both "good fathers/grandfathers" and will remind you of the time you spend with your ex for the purpose of guilting you into spending time with them. These types of men are seeking external validation for an internal void. He isn't "bad" in the sense of malicious, but he's inadequate, and it's manifesting in these behaviors that can drain you.  So, you can sometimes see why, when you are advancing yourself or have the obvious previous relationships how these could provoke within a man who is already struggling with themself. It's hard for men to address this because it's embarrassing and appears weak. Bluntly speaking, we would rather rely on bravado and overcompensation and the appearance of things are under control than we would address the deep inadequacy our mind keeps us from.  The mind says to the man, "she isn't spending time with you, but she can spend time here or there; she must not care about you as much as those other things." I know to us, outside of the man's head it seems illogical, but to them, it is reality. We can relate, however, because we also have messages inside our heads. We have a narrative that we, too, believe without question. Our mind tells us things based on experiences and what is perceived in the current environment, and we are left to deal with these things, depending on the same mind that told us they were there and now controlling how we perceive the narrative. But, it doesn't have to be this way.  Here's what you can do in your marriage to try and remove that third awkward person in the room, the wounded mind. You, your husband, and his wounded self, the self that was formed early in life inadequate and now overcompensated and throws temper tantrums, also the same self that overproduces in kindness at times when receiving praise for doing so, that self needs to be addressed for what it is. He will have to do this work, but you can help him by being kind and acknowledging things you notice in a specific way.  Reflective questions for the sake of genuine curiosity can be a great asset that transcends this wounded self. Ask things like, "It seems like when I am doing work, you get frustrated with me, can you tell me what you are experiencing when I am not giving you that time?" Or, "What do you think when I am reaching out to my exes?" Now, he might respond with something that doesn't sound desperate and will rely on something superficial. Still, the more you have talks about that third person in the room, the wounded and inadequate self that he relies on for his advice when struggling in life, the more it becomes apparent to him and you.  Call out that third person by having him ask that inadequate part these questions. You can also notice your own inadequate parts and start to ask reflective questions such as "how am I doing today?" or "why am I not giving him attention?" Or, "Do I have any part in what he is feeling?" It's not that we don't know how to do this, but it's that sometimes the answers we know are there are often too painful to acknowledge, or they don't sound very good.  This is a pretty complex thing, actually and something a good couple's counselor can help address by identifying and communicating about this underlying self both of you have. I recommend that you get accustomed to asking the difficult, reflective questions, not to challenge or call him out (that will wound the ego and will not result in good things), but to get to know him and get him to know him better. You and him relate a lot more than you think, on these matters alone, and once you are able to remove that third person as a barrier, things can get better than ever, closer, more connected, and he will grow from that healthy place as well. 
Answered on 02/01/2023

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

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

Help me heal

You Are... If this were a therapy session, I would recommend we spend some time discovering what it is exactly you are experiencing when it comes to this man leaving. I know his leaving you is tragic, but what are you noticing about the situation that got your attention when he left? Do you feel inadequate, abandoned, and stupid for being played and committed? Do you have anything significant from childhood that is being triggered here? Let's take some time to get you to know you better because you are going to be your best advocate in all this. The reason therapy is a thing is because we think we know ourselves pretty well. In reality, we all have blind spots where many of our problems lie, that something like you are experiencing is triggered when it occurs. Your husband did not just leave, you wrote he left you for another woman. You say, "help." Going off of the reminder that you could have written a thousand different things about this situation, you wrote those things. Do you realize what this reveals about you, about how you view this situation and how you have a belief that there is some other way to do this or view this situation providing relief, hence the "help?" I know this seems like it's not what you came here for, but how you are viewing this situation and what is being triggered inside of you is really what we are dealing with, not just the husband leaving, but what it says about us, before, and now.  The "before" part is the part of us that is being triggered; that is the "blind" spot I refer to. You have beliefs and experiences that are in your brain that lies dormant, or at least we think they are dormant, until something significant happens, and then you notice something else about yourself. This is why reflective questions get you to know yourself better. Though I, as the therapist, may see things about you, or view your situation a certain way, none of that matters until you see it, and makes space for that in your life. As I asked before, are there any significant issues in childhood, inadequacies, or beliefs about yourself that are present here today in your husband leaving you....for another woman?  The brain works based on experience. Often the experiences we have are what tell us the world is a certain way, and we are a certain way, and experiences act as a frame of reference for future occurrences. For example, if in childhood I wasn't paid attention to, or my parents didn't allow me to fail because of their own anxieties, my brain makes sense of the world (harsh) and my ability to be in it (cannot be in it as I am). However, new beliefs can override the old ones if they are consistent enough. You can start to believe inadequacies about yourself from this recent marriage if you aren't aware they exist.  Your husband and you's relationship, what did you think about it? What did you notice going through the marriage about him or about yourself? Was this a surprise, or was there a part of you that knew parts of him that could not admit that this behavior fits? If you did not see anything about him, or your relationship, what did you miss, and what were you doing to miss it? These would be good questions to help identify where your head was in the moment, and where it is now, and identify thoughts you may not have said aloud before (hence, getting to know yourself, the blind spots).  So, we've identified beliefs about ourselves from childhood, or most recently, about the marriage and us in that marriage. We have talked about some reflective questions to focus on to help better understand us in that situation. Now, it is time for us to sit with all of this and accept the fact that it sucks and is painful.  Here's the deal with life, it's painful. The type of pain we will experience and why it gets our attention, not another kind of pain, is up to the formed beliefs and the subconscious way we hold it. You are in a state of pain, and that is OK, make space for this pain. One of the worst things people do to themselves is trying to fix or remedy everything they deem uncomfortable. It is not the pain that causes problems, but our belief that we should not feel this pain and that we need to fix it. You don't need to fix it, and you can (despite what your mind tells you) sit with this pain.  Your mind will tell you many things about what to do in the next couple of weeks or months. Your mind will judge you, make up stories, and flood you with inadequacies (possibly), your job is to notice them, make space for them, and remember that your mind does not control you, but it does exist. Your thoughts are not you, but they are there. You, a deeper you than the thoughts, get to choose what you do when the thoughts and pain come up. If you find value in learning and experience and know that someday this all has a purpose, then endure. Do not remedy your pain or try to avoid it; learn what it is like to sit in it. This will equate to a strength unlike you've had before.  You notice thoughts, distance yourself from them, experience the pain, and learn to sit with it, and you will become bulletproof in life. You will learn to experience life, while not letting it take away your experience. You will learn to go into situations your mind says you can't do or that you are scared of. You can imagine yourself standing firm while all the words, firey pain, and then remedy thoughts tell you, "you can't handle this." You won't have to respond to those thoughts; you notice them and continue to do what it is you care most about in this world.  Find that "why," and you can endure any 'how." What do you care most about? What is something you value in life? Go for it, live for that thing, and there you will find that experience, pain, or pleasure, will be your best teacher, and you can even find gratitude for it. 
Answered on 01/30/2023

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

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

How can I be direct, not rude, while setting boundaries and saying no?

Setting boundaries can be very difficult. Perhaps learning assertive and respectful communication and working on elevating self esteem could be helpful in setting boundaries and getting your point of view, needs, and wants addressed. Addressing what you learned about relationships and yourself in relationships may be helpful. Boundaries are the rules and expectations for our relationships that help make us feel safe and comfortable. Many people will try to test our boundaries, so learning how to set and reinforce our boundaries is important. Also, knowing that "No" is a full sentence can be helpful. You are not obligated to explain or excuse your boundaries or decisions to keep yourself comfortable and safe. You have the right to say where you choose to spend your time and energy. Exploring concerns with self esteem can also be helpful. Many times when we put others' needs, wants, and desires before us, we are telling ourselves that everyone else is more important than ourselves. Processing why you may feel this way can help you understand why you do not feel comfortable expressing how you feel.  Some areas to process may include what you were taught about communication, who taught you to communicate this way, who or what situations may have shaped your view of self. Also, is there some anxiety present that makes you worried about speaking your mind? Have you had situations where you were made to feel guilty or hated for telling people how you felt, what you thought, or what you needed? This does not mean that you cannot take care of others or do for others, but this should be your choice, and not because you feel obligated to do so. This means that you are just as important as everyone else in your life and you are choosing to focus on self care and your mental health before giving of yourself and time to others. Many of us tend to see self care as selfish, but it is simply caring for yourself so that you can help others, if you so choose. If we are not able to do this, it can lead to us not caring for ourselves and being resentful with the people around us. 
Answered on 01/27/2023

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

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

How to resolve regrets about ending a relationship and be sure I'm ready to move to new encounters?

Hi Ben, Thank you for your question, it sounds like you have been affected by the ending of that first relationship ever since.  I feel the first place to start would be to explore that first relationship and how you are feeling now about it and also looking at in particular the regret.  If that 'regret' could talk, what would it be saying to you.  Are you able to articulate exactly what the regret is?  This is something that can be explored in therapy and in time worked out if it is not clear at the moment.  You also mention that you do not want children but this is also something you were prepared to change for the first partner.  What was it about that partner that meant you were prepaid to change your mind over them.  In therapy you could look at if you are mourning that first relationship.  Being able to explore how it is, not just in feelings or emotions but in thoughts too would also help you to work through that mourning or regret.  I wonder if now you are comparing all your new relationships to that one? It sounds like you are now in a position where you are feeling confused about what was and also what it could have been and also what you might want in the future, possibly even about whether or not you want to have children.  I think there are a number of things to explore: The ending of the first relationship How you feel about that relationship now The reasons for comparing each new relationship with the first one What it is you are really wanting/looking for now, so then you are able to form new meaningful relationships I think once you have looked at these different elements, your thoughts will become clearer and you will know what you are wanting.  At the moment it may feel like a mass of 'I just do not know' and the emotions too are making it all the more confusing for you. It certainly sounds like there is some unfinished business with that first relationship that needs to be worked through. I hope my answer has given you some food for thought.  
Answered on 01/23/2023

How do you move past a breakup?

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

Do I put my emotional and mental health first?

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

What do I do, I feel emotional exhaustion!

How it reads, you're looking at taking care of yourself. Allowing him to take up less space in your mind. Sometimes it is remembering that you come first and everyone else second. The idea would be doing things, regardless of things he says... that you love to do. We have to do one challenge at a time and focus on what we know is the truth. Journaling can help sort out what is being said that is gaslighting and what is trust. The idea is to look at what you want too from this relationship and find your identity in who you are again.  Coping skills to try- meditation, yoga, journaling, walks, mindful driving, discussing with a friend, finding quiet time doing something you enjoy- crafts, painting, reading, etc. I love Brene Brown she discusses shame, guilt, relationships, etc. She has a Netflix special I would recommend for sure. Consider thinking back to a time when you felt like yourself... when you felt healthy... when you felt energy? If never, consider this. What would you want if you could pick anything to be or do? Activities, hobbies, friends, work, etc. What is your ideal if you woke up one day and would want in your life? Not financially, just surrounding you. It might be a hard question, but it is looking outside of your relationship to find what fills you. Because relationships need to have a Venn diagram effect. Where you have your space... and he has his own life too. Then meeting in the middle. If couples counseling is not on the table.. I would be mindful of your communication. fight, flight, fawn, freeze. See which one you are. See if you need to work through that for yourself. It is okay too, walk away, it is okay to not speak back toward him, it is okay to be like "no that is incorrect," and develop standing your ground.  I know you are struggling and I hope this is helpful to some point. You are worth whatever it is you are wanting in this world... I would hate for someone to take that away from you, with their words and actions.
Answered on 01/19/2023

How do I feel hope after another failed relationship?

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

How to transition to a securely attached person?

Who You Are. Your attachment style does not define you, but it could help you understand the difficulties in forming a relationship. Your attachment style isn't a diagnosis either, and it isn't treatable alone, but the totality of this early formation of beliefs can be understood and managed. What is treatable is what you notice in your day-to-day life is affected by what you've identified. Had you not taken that quiz, what would you have noticed about yourself? What did getting a definition do for you? Did you feel validated that you found a reason for failed relationships or feeling the way you do? What exactly did the quiz, and this idea do for you that you now feel more empowered to work on, and what exactly would your life look like with this newly identified problem being solved? Being fearfully avoidant might mean you don't get into a relationship, or if you do, stay to yourself, and hold something back. You've been taught that this world, your partner, and your friends even will hurt you. You avoid because there was a belief formed very early in life 1-2 years old, where your parents didn't give you what you needed, and thus you lack a sense of security, so now you are fearfully avoidant, not just in relationships, but in life I would assume. This lack of assurance goes far beyond relationships and can be seen in everything from the clothes we wear to the trips we take, to the jobs we choose. Everything about us can be in service to a belief about ourselves and the world around us.  What to do with it all? Well, now you have something to tell you why you act the way you do, a failed connection in early childhood, and now you can make all the connections with what you found out about yourself, looking back on your interactions. Now what? Now is the hard part because it is painful. Now you have to leave these fabricated comfort zones to do the thing your mind would rather not do, form relationships despite this internal warning sign going off.  This work is incredibly difficult because it acknowledges the vulnerable childhood self and tries to form new beliefs even though the old ones are stagnant and there, constantly telling us what to do or think. Our core beliefs, our subconscious connection with others, and a general sense of safety have never been developed, and now we think with work, we can create that. Not likely. What happens instead is that you will internalize a less-than state of mind in continuing to fail at being better. Instead of trying to be better by ridding ourselves of a part of ourselves, accept this part of you exists. Learn more about that part rather than deny, judge, or try to alter it. We don't rid ourselves of that part; instead, we accept (which isn't agreement but acknowledge) our way of thinking and learn to live with that part of ourselves. To not accept a part of ourselves, in any fashion, is not accepting ourselves wholly. When we fail to accept or give voice to any part of ourselves that we try to get rid of, we waste our lives and reinforce inadequacy because we fail to give credit to ourselves. If you only accept the good parts of yourself, then you are condemning yourself.  Accept your thoughts as your thoughts, and try not to judge or alter them. Just learn to sit in your feelings and thoughts to improve your tolerance better and grow relationships that you would otherwise avoid. Get comfortable being uncomfortable and notice thoughts, allowing them to pass. Thoughts and feelings always pass; let them. You don't have to remedy or respond to all of them. This will help you the most. It's not about what you think but about noticing how you think. How you think is tied to your avoidant attachment. Anything that promotes fear probably gets your attention well enough for you to react to it. Instead, sit with the thoughts, and emotions, and bypass the reaction to try to fix it. Do what you find valuable and learn to cope with the thoughts that try to keep you stagnant along the way. 
Answered on 01/17/2023

How can I lessen my anxious attachment to a partner?

Hello, First, I appreciate you sharing what's going on and I can provide some guidance around this. I'll list a few different ideas on how to approach your casual relationship with him here. I might start out with acknowledging that the relationship has changed and it's normal to feel anxious about the unknown when you both initially decided on being casual together and noticing now you have stronger feelings for him. I think this is very important and overlooked. Often times we will act on anxiety and avoid how we feel, talking about things, etc. I might suggest asking yourself what feels effective around this? An example might be... I'm at a place where I want to problem solve my anxiety and ask if he'd like to have a relationship with me, etc.? I'm giving a hypothetical on this.  I can understand why you might not want to rock the boat either if you're enjoying your time with him and are fearful that it might end what feels pretty good right now.  Another piece that is more on a micro level is to notice when feeling anxious you may check things more often, which can increase your anxiety drastically. An example might be texting and checking your phone over and over and hoping for a response. I can understand how it can be validating and reassuring to hear from him and understand it can be painful when you don't get the response in the time frame you're looking for. often times, I will try to urge surf or notice my checking behavior and try to block it essentially (not look at my phone and instead notice the intensity or sensation of wanting to look at my phone for his text or snap, etc. My last idea to help you process this further is I'll often ask myself this question... Is keeping the peace now going to keep me miserable going forward? This is for you to recognize and decide when you're not okay any longer as a casual relationship. All these things may help alleviate your anxiety around the relationship and likely lead to you being more relaxed around him and silly. I hope this all helps and I understand this isn't a solve all. I wish you the best, Mitchell Daas, MA, LPCC
Answered on 01/15/2023

Why am I wanting to end my relationship with a good guy?

Perspective Your situation demonstrates the power of perspective and how your state of mind determines what you want. You think you could go without when you have him and are assured. Then, when you are alone, you question it and want him back. You know the relationship serves some emptiness or lack of self-assurance because when you are with him, his niceness reassures you that you are good. You conclude that you don't want to be here anymore from that good space.  It's a pretty good assessment of how we are doing if we are able to be by ourselves or not. Since you are struggling with being alone, I think you know that you aren't ready for it. It seems as though because you are alone, you lose that reassurance and therefore question yourself and question the relationship, and who knows what you start to think disrupting your life.  Now, it's not good to be in a relationship to "make you better" or to "be completed" that is called codependency, and it usually doesn't go well. When you are with him, you feel solid if it is because you are confident with him that you are healthy. If his presence provides a solid you, now you have an unhealthy dependence on him to make you feel better. You are not defined by the person you are with, and if you feel better with them than without, often that can mean you aren't fully established or confident in yourself. You need to ask yourself who you are, what you like, and what those likes and dislikes, independent of others, say about yourself.  Here's the deal with codependency. You are relying on your partner, whom you find unsatisfying, to reassure you of yourself. However, someone else could always come along who does it better or seems to be what your current man is not. It often happens when someone gets into a relationship without knowing it is unhealthy, only to have enough confidence from the relationship to be with someone else. Then the other person leaves them, and they are a mess.  You have to do what serves you best. What serves you is any situation where you get to discover who you are, probably in those uncomfortable alone times. Who you are, what you want, what you need, and how you define yourself. Maybe be alone for a while if you are questioning whether he is the right guy. You can always come back if you are meant to be together. As long as you stay in the relationship, you never get to know who you are when not with that person. Set boundaries with your current significant other, and learn how to cope when you are alone. 
Answered on 01/14/2023

Why I keep hurting my spouse?

It's You If what you say is true, then it's you. If you can't sustain in the relationship, there's something that you need to work on to get to where you can be a good spouse or just let her go completely. You can't sit in something that you need to sit in and feel you need to react. Why you do this could be helpful. Why you can't sit in a discontent state is most likely what you could focus on here.  Your response to something your spouse does or your response to work or stress that you project onto her is the problem. The question is, what do you believe that you cannot tolerate leads to your response of hurting her, or in this case wanting a divorce and leaving the country? What happens when you feel an emotion where your solution is something that hurts her? What do you push a good thing away for if you say is accurate and you don't believe that she deserves this hurt? Is this all self-sabotage?  What you'll need to do to be able to improve in these situations is to learn the skill of distress tolerance. The issue here isn't as complex as our mind makes it out to be. In actuality, you experience an intense emotion, have thoughts that exist, and are driven by beliefs that get your attention and cause you to react. You are responding to your perception of events and cannot allow the events or emotions pass by. Imagine it, you are in a discussion with your spouse, and they say something that triggers a feeling; you start having thoughts (which can be reminders of the past in some way), and instead of trying to push them away, self-destruct or some other faulty coping skill resulting in hurting her, you let the emotions, thoughts, pass. Imagine you take a step back and notice what is happening, the pain, the attention-grabbing response of your mind being activated. If you can fathom this, then you can do it. You have the ability to let the emotions pass (because they always pass) and to become something greater at the moment, and that is to improve in your tolerance.  Much of therapy focuses on the why of a reaction. For instance, your mind says that she said something and that this thing made you feel a certain way. However, you are actually being triggered when she says something. You are being reminded and then brought back to some vulnerable state, possibly childhood, depending on the information that you react from. You aren't reacting to the moment but reacting to what you perceive the moment to be. If you are being brought back to that state where you had to react to survive or push her away because you don't believe you deserve good things, then your reaction makes sense. You have to start tolerating the distress first but then do the work on identifying what led you to such an emotional reaction that hurt both you and her and is something you regret later.  You don't have to listen to your mind when it says to react. You can let the thoughts pass and stay in the moment. You can be angry and hurt and be calm. You can be in a marriage and still disagree. You can experience hurt as well as tolerate that. You have to start challenging the belief that when you feel something, you have to react. You don't. From what I said here, you can start to separate from these thoughts and being to improve the relationship by growing instead of running.  Notice thoughts.  Allow thoughts to exist (don't fight or deny them)  Sit with them (taking a step back from the moment to notice it) Explain what your thoughts are (improve in the act of articulation) 
Answered on 01/14/2023

How to overcome trauma and accept what has happened?

Hi Nicky, Thanks for your question and I'm glad that you have reached out for help at this time. Your question as I understand it, is regarding the trauma sustained from the past and coming to a place where you can accept what occurred. As you mention in your question, overcoming trauma involves coming to a kind of acceptance of what happened. In the case of trauma there is often a stage of denial, where part of us does not accept that harm occurred. We might see this for example in us not describing the event or relationship accurately, in avoiding actually saying what it was, rather using a general term or euphemism. So I think part of acceptance is calling the event or events out for what they were.    In what you wrote I can see that you're finding explanations for what occurred such as not having adequate boundaries, and have a sense that you know exactly what went wrong. Knowing that though doesn't seem to have enabled you to accept the situation yet, which suggests to me that perhaps you haven't yet gotten to the root of the issue. You mention lack of self-love being a factor, so let's start there: Each day, look yourself in the mirror, right in the eyes, and tell yourself, out loud ' I love you and I always will'. Do this three times, looking in the mirror. It can be tricky at first, but I believe you will get used to it. It might even get you smiling! I note also that, past experiences are causing you to feel insecure and anxious, and I'm wondering if that is due to a fear of the same things happening again? If so, know that you are growing as a person and not confined to making similar decisions in the future. I believe you are free to decide and to make your own decisions, and that if you practice self-love you will begin to shield yourself from people or relationships that might harm you. In that way you don't always get hurt in relationships. Of course in any relationship there is ebb and flow, and times when it gets difficult, and it is in how we resolve our differences that helps us heal and move on. By practicing self-love you can also increase the chances of people coming into your life who treat you well. I hope that this information is helpful for you, With best wishes Clement
Answered on 01/10/2023

What’s the best way to get over your first love for w 4 1/2 year toxic relationship?

Any break up of a long term relationship is never ever easy and 4 1/2 years is a long time.  No matter where you live or what you do for a living or what support you have.  It is just hard to process.  I am guessing that the relationship is over so will write from that perspective.  So "now what?" is the question to answer regardless.   The breakup is a life interruption that creates a grief process.  Being “left” (even if our knowing it is for the best or was even our decision) creates sadness, numbness, confusion, anger, frustration, and every other negative emotion, especially after a 4+ year relationship.  I have to think that you saw a future and a life with this person to have so many friends intertwined and a life you knew, to now find yourself alone with no support. Our partner relationships are wired into so much of our daily to dos. The grief process is one that is helpful to have someone help you with and support you with some grounding techniques to begin to help you move through the phases and get to a place of okay and manageable in your daily life so that you can make some next step decisions. I am glad that you reached out as you must now create a new normal for you. Know that each day with intentional action does help to sort and file what the relationship was and what it wasn't as you move to what's is needed in your life next. It is common to feel unclear and foggy because typically you are not sleeping well, you may have no exercise routine at the moment, your eating is out of whack and you may not be hydrated.  And you probably still have to deal with the boyfriend in some ways, like seeing pics on social media or perhaps in the same places in your community.  This creates an emotion that is even harder to deal with when you are unclear and feeling out of balance or control.  When I read that there was cheating and drug use, there were times that were amazing in this relationships and times when it was hell.  And typically, you are left feeling, I am not good enough or I should have done something different. The next steps I would suggest for you are these steps that are completely in your control to gain some certainty in an uncertain time.  Uncertainty creates stress and I want you to feel in control of yourself to then be able to make clearer decisions.  These are simple to give you moments of the knowledge that you are doing the best that you can until there are more of these moments.  May sound too simple, but it helps your brain in ways that you need to experience as the moment.  These are not just my opinion but are rooted in science. Hydrate - the brain and the body function better when hydrated.  Movement - 30-45 minutes of intentional movement, even walking, begins to help the stress be alleviate.  Your brain cannot process unless you move.  Sitting or doing things like having endless hours of screen time does not help you move forward.  You can have screen time after you devote the time to move too. Nutrition - Carb loading or not eating puts the body and brain into a situation where it does not function at the high level that you need right now. Take today and plan out what you know you need to eat.  Have your comfort food after you eat the healthy that you have planned. There is a great app that has great meditation practice in a way that can be inactive short bursts if this is new to you or in longer segments if this is something you know how to do.  We all have to practice stopping the thought loop that is not helpful to us.  To get more sleep, try the app 'Unplug' to practice stillness for your brain to get rest so that you can have the clarity and presence that you need right now to decide your next steps.  If you are sleeping too much, set an alarm and make yourself get into a regular rhythm of going to bed and getting up.  Circadian rhythm is a very real thing that affects our brain energy and capacity to heal. Remove the people in your life on social media that it causes you pain to see what they are doing.  It only creates a re-injury right now.  You are in control of what you see so remove them, unfollow them or remove the app for the next 30 days. Read a book, the 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins.  When your brain starts down the spiral of thinking, the 5 Second Rule is a game changer to stop what is not helping and to start what will. Lastly, consider having a BetterHelp therapist to help guide you.  We all need coaches and guides in our life when we find ourselves in unfamiliar and unchartered waters.  Let us know how we can support you in this season of life - Dawn Rochelle, MSW, LCSW
Answered on 01/08/2023

Is therapy really what I need?

Hi Stuart!  Thank you for reaching out. Deciding to start therapy can be a big decision! I am glad you are exploring it because I have never met a person that did not find therapy helpful, as long as they are willing to work on their challenges. Therapy is not going to help you feel better just by showing up to the sessions but if you work hard and focus, it can be life changing. Life changing is actually sort of the point! :)  It sounds like you already recognize that your behaviors are based on your feelings. Cognitive behavioral therapy (a.k.a. CBT) might be helpful to you. This kind of therapy shows us that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all connected. Your behavior of not allowing the relationship to move forward is based on your feeling of fear. I do not know what your thoughts are on that situation but being aware of your thoughts and how they are related to your feelings and behaviors can be helpful in itself. Therapy can help you identify and connect these thoughts to feelings and behaviors and can help you to make positive changes in your life.  Being hurt after a break up is normal and not wanting to have those feelings again, at the same level or a deeper one is also normal. A therapist can help you to explore these fears and weigh the risk of committing in a new relationship. Would committing to your relationship damage it? Would not committing damage it?  Is there anything else contributing to your fear of commitment other than the fear of loss? Those are a couple of things to think about to help you work through what you want to do but are also examples of questions that a therapist might ask you in a session. It's okay if you don't know the answers to those and if you don't I would recommend therapy all the more!  There are a lot of great therapists on BetterHelp! I do have openings. If you are interested in working with someone else, I think someone who practices CBT would be helpful to you. Don't be afraid to try more than one therapist. If you are not connecting with someone, it is okay to switch to someone else until you find someone that clicks for you!  Thanks for reaching out and I wish you the best of luck!  -Melissa 
Answered on 01/06/2023