Relationships Answers

I am going through a breakup right now and I don't know what to do, what to think or how to feel

Dear Lola, Thank you so much for your question. Breaking up is so painful (and likely the reason why most songs on the radio are about break-ups). It’s a kind of loss that we can often gloss over, especially when the relationship has been relatively short. However, no matter how long you were together, breaking up hurts. Healing from a break-up takes time (even if you initiated the break-up) because you are losing more than just a romantic partner. You lose a friend, a confidant, and the life you had planned together. The longer we are in partnerships, the more of these plans we start thinking of and cutting them off can feel physically painful. Different people take different amounts of time to heal. However, every time you meet up with your ex (especially if you hook up and have sex or even just emotionally intimate conversation), the clock starts over. You are re-opening that wound before it’s fully healed. I’ll also throw this out there: if you are hoping to get together in the future, then it sounds like you haven’t really processed the fact that this aspect of the relationship (the romantic portion) is over. Although it may be counter-intuitive, I believe that engaging in the mourning process and growing will help you later on if you *do* get back together. If you get back together after many months apart, you will have matured and increased your insight into what you are looking for. Further, if you get back together now you may just hop back into the negative patterns that led you to break up in the first place. Once you are matched with your therapist, she or he will be able to help you identify the triggers for these feelings and specific ways you can find more happiness in your life. However, to get you started while you wait to be matched, here are some potential ways you can improve this situation. IMPROVE YOUR CURRENT QUALITY OF LIFE. It is possible that some of the positive feelings you have about your ex are partially about your old life. Further, if you are lonely in your new situation, then it is especially important to find ways to get social support. Please consider whether you can join a church, social groups, or if there are opportunities to meet people related to your hobbies or work. Please also consider what connections with your past may be healthier for you. Do you have old friends that you could meet up with more regularly? Please also consider what else you can do in your current situation to improve you quality of life (perhaps a different job, better sleep, better food). In summary, if you are happier where you are, you will reminisce less about where you were. REMEMBER WHY YOU BROKE UP. Ask a close friend or family member to help you remember the reasons you broke up with your ex. It may have been your decision or could have been his, but something in that relationship was not working. What were those reasons? What were the annoyances? Write them down or send it to yourself in an email so you can look at them often. MAINTAIN BOUNDARIES. If you are still speaking with your ex, I strongly recommend stopping any text or phone calls. It just re-opens the wound. Further, please stop following them on social media and hold back from Googling them. Keep in mind – everything looks better online than in person. We only post our most attractive pictures, we only post our most exciting vacations, and we only post our wittiest conversations. What you see there is not reality and it will only make you feel worse. TRY TO IDENTIFY THE TRIGGERS. We are creatures of habit, and we tend to be stressed or saddened by predicable things. It is important to start learning about the common themes of what makes you feel this sense of longing. Is it when you are lonely? When you are annoyed? When you are bored? When you are sexually aroused? Everyone is different. The best way to do this is to start keeping a log of the times you experienced these feelings. Jot down in a journal or in an app like Google Keep these times, including: -- Where was I when this happened? -- What was I doing? -- How was I feeling? Over time, you will see themes that can help you attack the triggers. CONSIDER WHAT YOU TRULY WANT. Consider listing what you would like to have in a partnership (whether it is with your spouse or someone else). Making a realistic wish list can help you identify your priorities. And please keep in mind that you are valuable and WORTH meeting these priorities. Ask yourself questions like: - How should my partner and I solve problems when we disagree about little things (for example, the best way to wash dishes)? How should we solve problems when we disagree about big things (for example, how we want to spend money)? - What kind of activities do I want to be able to do with my partner? - How should my partner and I talk about what we want in sex? - What kind of sense of humor is important to me? What kinds of things make me laugh, and is it important that my partner shares this? - How much are looks important to me? - What kind of dates do I expect? What do I like to do when getting to know someone or spending time with someone I care about? - How fast should my partner get back to me when I text or call? Do we always need to pick up the phone, or is it okay to have the call go voicemail if I’m busy? - Should my partner and I to do fun things apart or only together? Is it okay if we do fun things with out friends without the other partner? - How important is it that my partner get along with my friends? - How important is it that my partner get along with my family? - What are my limits? Are there any things that I absolutely will not allow from a partner (like physical violence, certain kinds of substance use)? After making your list, consider how it felt. Do you feel you deserve to have these needs met? (I think you do deserve to have a good partnership that meets your needs). Are the needs realistic? Which ones are the highest priority? When you meet with your Better Help counselor, I recommend discussing your grief about this loss. Even though your ex is alive, breaking up requires the same kind of mourning process and can help you identify ways you can grow from this experience and then be an even better partner later on (regardless of who you are with). I see good things in your future. Again, I am so impressed that you have reached out for help and I am confident that working with your therapist will help you in several areas of your life! Best, Julie Note: If you are in crisis and feeling like hurting yourself, please call 911, go to your closest emergency department, or call the suicide hotline (the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) immediately at 800-273-8255. You could also go to their website to chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.    
Answered on 08/09/2022

How do I distinguish between self-abandonment/support and love?

Hello Frekkle, These are such great questions. It sounds like you have a lot going on, but also a lot of insight about why your lack of confidence in the relationship may be adding stress. I do think that meeting with a therapist here on BetterHelp will be very helpful. Please forgive me if I'm not fully understanding what is going on... your therapist will be much more helpful as they learn about you! Your therapist will be able to help you identify patterns in your past relationship that you can work on and also help you gain confidence with your current relationship. While you are waiting to be matched with your new counselor, here is some additional advice that may be helpful. Apologies in advance if this doesn’t fit – it’s hard to know much about your situation from your brief email, but your therapist will be much more helpful! 1) DON’T DEMAND IMPOSSIBLE ANSWERS. If you find yourself asking your partner lots of questions like “Are we good?” “Are you happy?” “Do you still love me?” “Is this going okay?” it suggests that you are insecure about the relationship status but don’t know how to improve things. Your intentions are good, but unfortunately asking questions like this to your partner can just stress them out since it’s difficult to answer and a simple “yeah, we’re good” probably won’t get rid of your sense of insecurity. 2) IMPROVE OTHER ASPECTS OF YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE. Sometimes we add additional pressure to our romantic relationships because we are generally unhappy with our life. I am wondering how much social contact you have with new friends as well as old friends and family from home. If you are lonely then it is especially important to find ways to get social support (in addition to the social support you get from your partner). Please consider whether you can join a church, social groups, or if there are opportunities to meet people related to your hobbies or work. Please also consider what connections with your past may be healthier for you. Do you have old friends that you could meet up with more regularly? Please also consider what else you can do in your current situation to improve your quality of life (perhaps a different job, better sleep, better food). In summary, if you are happier where you are, you will reminisce less about where you were and enjoy more about your partnership. 3)  TRY TO IDENTIFY THE TRIGGERS. We are creatures of habit, and we tend to be stressed or saddened by predictable things. It is important to start learning about the common themes of what makes you feel this sense of anxiety. Is it when your partner does something annoying? When you feel like you are not good enough? When you are bored or lonely? When you are sexually aroused? Everyone is different. The best way to do this is to start keeping a log of the times you experienced these feelings. Jot down in a journal or in an app like Google Keep these times, including: -- Where was I when this happened? -- What was I doing? -- How was I feeling? Over time, you will see themes that can help you attack the triggers. 4) CONSIDER WHAT YOU TRULY WANT. It is possible that this is not the right partnership for you. Consider listing what you would like to have in a partnership (whether it is with your current partner or someone else). Making a realistic wish list can help you identify your priorities. And please keep in mind that you are valuable and WORTH meeting these priorities. Ask yourself questions like: - How should my partner and I solve problems when we disagree about little things (for example, the best way to wash dishes)? How should we solve problems when we disagree about big things (for example, how we want to spend money)? - What kind of activities do I want to be able to do with my partner? - How should my partner and I talk about what we want in sex? - What kind of sense of humor is important to me? What kinds of things make me laugh, and is it important that my partner shares this? - How much are looks important to me? - What kind of dates do I expect? What do I like to do when getting to know someone or spending time with someoneI care about? - How fast should my partner get back to me when I text or call? Do we always need to pick up the phone, or is it okay to have the call go voicemail if I’m busy? - Should my partner and I to do fun things apart or only together? Is it okay if we do fun things with out friends without the other partner? - How important is it that my partner get along with my friends?  - How important is it that my partner get along with my family? - What are my limits? Are there any things that I absolutely will not allow from a partner (like physical violence, certain kinds of substance use)? After making your list, consider how it felt. Do you feel you deserve to have these needs met? (I think you do deserve to have a good partnership that meets your needs). Are the needs realistic? Which ones are the highest priority? Of these high priority items, which ones do your current partner meet? 5) CONSIDER COUPLES COUNSELING. BetterHelp has the option through “ReGain” to enter couples counseling to help strengthen the bond with your partner and to see if there are things you can work together to improve. I see good things in your future. You have already taken a huge first step and I’m confident that you and your therapist here on Better Help will be able to figure out better patterns for you. Best wishes to you for a beautiful spring, Julie Note: If you are in crisis and feeling like hurting yourself, please call 911, go to your closest emergency department, or call the suicide hotline (the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) immediately at 800-273-8255. You could also go to their website to chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.
Answered on 08/08/2022

How do I fix a relationship when we’re both unhappy? We both used to be very happy.

I'm so sorry you are having communication issues in your marriage. It is a very common problem in relationships and can definitely lead to strain and distance. Repairing communication can be a long painful process and I recommend you start couple's therapy so that a therapist can help you mediate and learn to communicate more effectively but I have outlined some steps you can do on your own below. The best option is to communicate to him by calmly explaining that you feel he is becoming distant from you. Be sure to do this at a time when you are not already upset and make an effort not to become defensive. If you are already fighting, anger and stress will make it difficult for you to stay calm and rational and you are both likely to say hurtful things. Wait until you are both in a calm mindset and spend some time having a conversation, not an argument. If the conversation begins to turn heated, calmly suggest that you take a break and return to it at a later time, just be sure that you do return to it and don't let the conversation disappear again.  Take time to listen to his answer and reflect back so he knows you hear him. For example, if he says "I just like having someone to talk to" you can respond with "I understand you want to feel heard and I want to be the person who listens to you, please let me try." It is also important to tell him how you feel, make sure to share how much it hurts you that he speaks to her so much. It is okay to think through how you want to say this to him and writing it down can be a very productive way to explain your thoughts without letting your emotions drive you. I often suggest writing an unedited letter to someone to purge all the emotions, no checking grammar or spelling, just let it flow. Then burn or shred that letter and start a new one where you spend more time thinking about what really needs to be said and focusing on statements that explain how you feel and make specific requests like "I feel extremely betrayed when you turn to her for conversation and companionship, please try to call me first in the future so I can be that person for you." When the letter is done, find a time to sit down with your husband and read it to him, start by asking him not to interrupt and explaining that he will have an opportunity to respond when you are done. Take your time, stop and take deep breaths if you find yourself getting upset, and listen to his response when you are done. If reading out loud sounds like too much, you may give him the letter to read and ask him to write you one in return, sometimes this is an easier way to start an emotionally charged conversation.  If after all these efforts, he is still not taking your concerns seriously, I strongly recommend getting into therapy with him so that you can both have a chance to work on communication and reconnect with each other. I wish you the best and hope you are able to heal your marriage soon. Take care!
Answered on 08/04/2022

Ad hoc advice to let ex-boyfriend go immediately ;)

Hello Eva and thank you so much for asking a question. And this is a very good question! It's completely understandable for you to still feel this way at times. When we go through a break up, it can feel a lot like mountains and valleys, we will go through days where we feel great and are so thankful that we are no longer in this relationship. But then we will also go through days where we question the decision to break up, and we start to fantasize about what the relationship could be like if things worked out, this can easily lead to a spiral of anxiety where you start to question everything he said and did in the relationship. I think it's perfectly normal for everybody to do this, so when you find yourself doing this don't beat yourself up, instead you say to yourself, "this is a normal part of the process and it's going to happen once in a while, it's OK for me to feel this way." I would also like to say that the end goal for you is acceptance. Acceptance means acknowledging that what is done is done and there's nothing you can do about it now, this means the relationship is over and the best thing you can do now is work on yourself and learn to enjoy your life. Another really good way to understand acceptance is through a term called radical acceptance. Radical acceptance is the notion that suffering in your life is not caused directly by pain, but instead is caused by your attachment to the pain. So in your case you must ask yourself, "what is the pain I am so attached to through this break up in this past relationship?" I'm telling you to do this because we want to identify exactly where the suffering is coming from for you, if we can identify it and take away the power that it has over you then we can reduce the amount of suffering you are going through. So what do you believe you're still attached to from this relationship? You mentioned that the emotional side of you is still attached to what it could've been, this is something I see a lot and people who are having trouble getting over something in the past. As I was saying earlier, our mind can easily romanticize and create a life with somebody that doesn't exist yet, we let our mind get ahead of reality. We begin to imagine being with them long-term, buying a house and having children and enjoying life together, when realistically we just met them and don't know that much about them. Our mind creates the situation and then we begin to emotionally react to the situation that has never happened, it sounds so silly when you say it out loud but our mind does this all the time. It's part of it gives us hope and excitement for the future, which can be a very good thing. But it can also lead to having way too many expectations for a relationship that has barely started. And that is where we get ourselves into dangerous territory. I would encourage you to really brainstorm and journal what it is that you find yourself thinking about with him, doing so can help you get all those thoughts out so they're not always swirling around in your mind. The final parts that can help in getting over it is finding the silver lining. I think a great part of radical acceptance is understanding the silver lining, this way when you look back at that relationship you're able to tell yourself that you learn something very positive from that experience and are happy that you went through that experience. Doing this reframed the way you look at your past. So what positive things did you learn about yourself and from relationships through this relationship you had with this guy? We want to reframe this past relationship is something that changes you into a better view, instead of being something that you suffer from.  lastly I want to tell you something that I tell the vast majority of the people I work with. Right now is the time for you to work on you and make sure you are satisfied with your life. I typically tell the people I work with that they need three things in their life for a sense of satisfaction. The first thing they need is a caring community, you need people in your life that care about and support you and people that you care and support about back. We are not meant to go through life alone, humans have always lived in community and we crave being around one another. We need good and trustworthy friends around us and we need to be a good and trustworthy friend. The second thing that we all need is productivity, we are not meant to sit on the couch all day and watch Netflix or flip through our phones on social media. Doing so it only increases our anxiety and depression, and prevents us from reaching any goals. On the other hand when we are productive, it releases endorphins in our brain which makes us feel better and motivate us to be more productive. You can be productive through employment you find purpose in, volunteering, education, exercise, tidying up your own home or even cooking a good meal for yourself. The final thing that we all need is high-quality rest, this isn't about sleeping, instead this is all about you having something in your life that you do just for you simply because you want to. Our life can't be all productivity, we need to be doing things that recharge our batteries. In my own life it's being outdoors and traveling, having a trip to look forward to motivates me on difficult days and when I am traveling I absolutely love it, I feel recharged and ready for life when I come back. We all need something like this in our life, it could be a hobby or activity or something we only do a couple/few times a year. Do you see anything in your life you could improve on after reading these three things? I wish you the best of luck!  
(LPC)
Answered on 08/03/2022

Should I let go or try working it out?

Hi Cris!  I'm glad you took the time to reach out for support. The dilemma you're facing seems difficult and likely confusing. When facing relationship transitions or decisions, I encourage clients to really listen and tune into a few things. First, instincts are very significant to validate and honor. Additionally, look at the general theme or larger messages that your partner is sending you over the smaller messages or gestures. From what you are describing, it seems the larger message your partner is sending you is that she is not interested in nurturing the needs of your relationship right now, such as private time together and prioritizing your relationship. The smaller gestures of still offering some supervised time together may be more of a gesture of not hurting you, but it does not seem to be suggestive of prioritizing a relationship or larger commitment at this time. I suggest expressing your observations to your partner to review what she is wanting at this time, while also honoring your needs. You may want to consider a trial run of spending time together the way your partner has suggested to see if it feels practical. This may then allow you the ability to bring up concerns with her if it doesn't feel practical or manageable. I know that my response doesn't give you clear direction, but hopefully you will find that as you clarify your needs and request clear and direct communication from your partner.  I also like to encourage that whenever making any major life decisions that you are taking time to engage in activities that you enjoy and that also allow you time to recharge and reflect. Boosting your coping skills right now and also identifying and nurturing your additional support system will be helpful to you as you navigate through this time. Seeking support from family and friends that you trust can be very beneficial and is different than seeking advice from them. Having a good network of others to spend time with will be helpful to you. Please reach out for additional support as needed. Take Care! 
Answered on 07/26/2022

What do you when you feel like your husband is lying about something simple?

Hello Sunshine, This can be a tricky situation to address. You mention you feel as though he is gaslighting. Why is this? Have there been other, similar situations such as this that have occurred? How frequently is he engaging in these types of behaviors? At times, when the communication pattern becomes strained in a relationship, frustrations and other passive-aggressive behaviors unfortunately become the norm. Before "letting this go" ask yourself "why". For example, "why would my husband lie to me", "why does he think I saw him use the powder". Reflect on the current state of your relationship. Have you been arguing lately, have you become 'distant' from each other, what does 'quality-time' look like in the relationship? Does every interaction with your husband turn into a situation of gaslighting? While there is minimal information included in your question that would provide additional background with regards to the current state of your relationship, I will attempt to offer some guidance here. Most issues in relationships that are not related to some physical/sexual/financial abuse or exploitation are generally a cause of poor communication. Are you and your husband capable of having discussions regarding relationship concerns that do not escalate into arguments or one of you disconnecting and shutting down? If you are still capable of engaging in dialogue, and your relationship is not one fraught with violence, I would highly recommend sitting with your husband and discussing your feelings when he makes claims such as the one you have shared here. As you share your feelings, allow him the opportunity to also share his. You may find that you both are harboring feelings of persecution and ridicule from the other. Once you are both able to openly share and express your feelings, you can then begin to acknowledge one another's feelings and work toward a solution to reduce future communication mishaps. If you find that as you attempt to speak with your husband regarding this situation that he continues to become upset or escalated, then take a break from the conversation. Allow time for him to calm down and reset emotionally and for you to do the same. The key to effective communication is for you both to be heard and not just passively listening waiting for the other to stop talking so that can the other can interject a point.  I hope this helps provide some guidance with your concern. Take care.   Dr. G
(DBh, MS, LMFT)
Answered on 07/26/2022

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

Couple Conflicts - How do I approach my husband after a fight?

Hello to a very concerned marital partner and client. One of the most important aspects about your marriage is that it has withstood the distance due to your work schedules. This is strength that you want to continue to work on improving your communication with mutual respect, love and compassion.  With that being said, you are now in a new exciting and challenging chapter in your life living and connecting with each other on a daily basis. It's a new journey and you need to get to know each other in a different way. First you must think about what you want to discuss but remind yourself you need to ask your partner if this a good time to talk? When you approach your partner with this question it helps for him to get ready and if he needs time. However you know your partner may be distracted doing something which is fine. The mood will be better when you both are relaxed.  It is good to start with an agreed timeframe that will suit you and your partner. When you finally think about the question you will pose try to remember to exercise empathy. I mean look at what your partner has conveyed to you by listening, understanding then communicating with the "I" statement. This is an important example to start a safe conversation with I feel... thinking about the problem not the person in a lower calm and welcoming tone. Taking turns and reminding each other that you want to acknowledge and work to compromise on the problem at hand together. Do not use harmful words, this will push your loved one away. It's important to shift from judgment and criticism to curiosity and listening by validating each other. This is the gift of knowing no one is to blame for whatever happened. Active listening to each other's hurt and pain shows that you understand that they too have their own perspective on the matter. You must be considerate of doubts and fears by listening before you respond with love for reconciliation to re-establish your relationship. There are other relational communication skills that I have that can be used with gentle guidance to address dialogue in the here and now which helps with your relationship issues.
Answered on 07/22/2022

Pain of husband being unfaithful

Dear Hurtwife, I’m so glad you have come to BetterHelp for some support. I do not know much about your situation and your romantic partnership, but I believe that discussing some of the relationship stressors with your therapist will be valuable. Infidelity is so painful, and it can take a long time to overcome. In addition to considering couple's counseling, you may benefit from individual treatment to help you cope with the hurt and grief. While you are still being matched, here are a few things to consider as you cope with an unsatisfying relationship and try to make decisions for the future: 1. IMPROVE YOUR CURRENT QUALITY OF LIFE. Sometimes we long for a change because we are generally unhappy with our life. I am wondering how much social contact you have with new friends as well as old friends and family from home. If you are lonely then it is especially important to find ways to get social support (in addition to the social support you get from your partner). Please consider whether you can join a church, social groups, or if there are opportunities to meet people related to your hobbies or work. Please also consider what connections with your past may be healthier for you. Do you have old friends that you could meet up with more regularly? Please also consider what else you can do in your current situation to improve you quality of life (perhaps a different job, better sleep, better food). In summary, if you are happier where you are, you will reminisce less about where you were and enjoy more about your partnership. 2. REMEMBER WHY YOU FELL IN LOVE. Ask a close friend or family member to help you remember the reasons you initially fell in love. What were those reasons? What were the specials factors that made your partnership work? Write them down or send it to yourself in an email so you can look at them often. 3. MAINTAIN BOUNDARIES WITH EXES AND PAST RELATIONSHIPS. Healing from a break-up takes time (even if you initiated the break-up) because you are losing more than just a romantic partner. You lose a friend, a confidant, and the life you had planned together. The longer we are in partnerships, the more of these plans we start thinking of and cutting them off can feel physically painful. Different people take different amounts of time to heal. However, every time you meet up with your ex (especially if you hook up and have sex or even just emotionally intimate conversation), the clock starts over. You are re-opening that wound before it’s fully healed. If you are still speaking with your ex, I strongly recommend stopping any text or phone calls. It just re-opens the wound. Further, please stop following them on social media and hold back from Googling them. Keep in mind – everything looks better online than in person. We only post our most attractive pictures, we only post our most exciting vacations, and we only post our wittiest conversations. What you see there is not reality and it will only make you feel worse. 4. CONSIDER COUPLES COUNSELING. BetterHelp has the option through “ReGain” to enter couples counseling to help strengthen the bond with your partner and to see if there are things you can work together to improve. The focus does not need to be on your ex, but instead on how to improve your current quality of life (back to #1 above). 5. TRY TO IDENTIFY THE TRIGGERS. We are creatures of habit, and we tend to be stressed or saddened by predicable things. It is important to start learning about the common themes of what makes you feel this sense of longing for a separation. Is it when your partner does something annoying? When you feel like you are not good enough? When you are bored or lonely? When you are sexually aroused? Everyone is different. The best way to do this is to start keeping a log of the times you experienced these feelings. Jot down in a journal or in an app like Google Keep these times, including: -- Where was I when this happened? -- What was I doing? -- How was I feeling? Over time, you will see themes that can help you attack the triggers. 6. CONSIDER WHAT YOU TRULY WANT. All of my suggestions above focused on helping you maintain your relationship. However, it is possible that this is not the right partnership for you. Consider listing what you would like to have in a partnership (whether it is with your partner or someone else). Making a realistic wish list can help you identify your priorities. And please keep in mind that you are valuable and WORTH meeting these priorities. Ask yourself questions like: - How should my partner and I solve problems when we disagree about little things (for example, the best way to wash dishes)? How should we solve problems when we disagree about big things (for example, how we want to spend money)? - What kind of activities do I want to be able to do with my partner? - How should my partner and I talk about what we want in sex? - What kind of sense of humor is important to me? What kinds of things make me laugh, and is it important that my partner shares this? - How much are looks important to me? - What kind of dates do I expect? What do I like to do when getting to know someone or spending time with someone I care about? - How fast should my partner get back to me when I text or call? Do we always need to pick up the phone, or is it okay to have the call go voicemail if I’m busy? - Should my partner and I to do fun things apart or only together? Is it okay if we do fun things with out friends without the other partner? - How important is it that my partner get along with my friends? - How important is it that my partner get along with my family? - What are my limits? Are there any things that I absolutely will not allow from a partner (like physical violence, certain kinds of substance use)? After making your list, consider how it felt. Do you feel you deserve to have these needs met? (I think you do deserve to have a good partnership that meets your needs). Are the needs realistic? Which ones are the highest priority? Of these high priority items, which ones do your current partner meet? I see good things in your future. You have already taken a huge first step and I’m confident that you and your therapist here on BetterHelp will be able to figure out better patterns for you. Best wishes to you for a beautiful spring, Julie Note: If you are in crisis and feeling like hurting yourself, please call 911, go to your closest emergency department, or call the suicide hotline (the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) immediately at 800-273-8255. You could also go to their website to chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.  
Answered on 07/20/2022

Will couples therapy be helpful if my boyfriend is not ready to invest time or effort?

Dear Rachel, I’m so glad you have come to BetterHelp for some support. I do not know much about your situation and your romantic partnership, but I believe that discussing some of the relationship stressors with your therapist will be valuable. While you are still being matched, here are a few things to consider as you cope with an unsatisfying relationship and try to make decisions for the future: 1. IMPROVE YOUR CURRENT QUALITY OF LIFE. Sometimes we long for a change because we are generally unhappy with our life. I am wondering how much social contact you have with new friends as well as old friends and family from home. If you are lonely then it is especially important to find ways to get social support (in addition to the social support you get from your partner). Please consider whether you can join a church, social groups, or if there are opportunities to meet people related to your hobbies or work. Please also consider what connections with your past may be healthier for you. Do you have old friends that you could meet up with more regularly? Please also consider what else you can do in your current situation to improve you quality of life (perhaps a different job, better sleep, better food). In summary, if you are happier where you are, you will reminisce less about where you were and enjoy more about your partnership. 2. REMEMBER WHY YOU FELL IN LOVE. Ask a close friend or family member to help you remember the reasons you initially fell in love. What were those reasons? What were the specials factors that made your partnership work? Write them down or send it to yourself in an email so you can look at them often. 3. MAINTAIN BOUNDARIES WITH EXES AND PAST RELATIONSHIPS. Healing from a break-up takes time (even if you initiated the break-up) because you are losing more than just a romantic partner. You lose a friend, a confidant, and the life you had planned together. The longer we are in partnerships, the more of these plans we start thinking of and cutting them off can feel physically painful. Different people take different amounts of time to heal. However, every time you meet up with your ex (especially if you hook up and have sex or even just emotionally intimate conversation), the clock starts over. You are re-opening that wound before it’s fully healed. If you are still speaking with your ex, I strongly recommend stopping any text or phone calls. It just re-opens the wound. Further, please stop following them on social media and hold back from Googling them. Keep in mind – everything looks better online than in person. We only post our most attractive pictures, we only post our most exciting vacations, and we only post our wittiest conversations. What you see there is not reality and it will only make you feel worse. 4. CONSIDER COUPLES COUNSELING. Better Help has the option through “Regain” to enter couples counseling to help strengthen the bond with your partner and to see if there are things you can work together to improve. The focus does not need to be on your ex, but instead on how to improve your current quality of life (back to #1 above). 5. TRY TO IDENTIFY THE TRIGGERS. We are creatures of habit, and we tend to be stressed or saddened by predicable things. It is important to start learning about the common themes of what makes you feel this sense of longing for a separation. Is it when your partner does something annoying? When you feel like you are not good enough? When you are bored or lonely? When you are sexually aroused? Everyone is different. The best way to do this is to start keeping a log of the times you experienced these feelings. Jot down in a journal or in an app like Google Keep these times, including: -- Where was I when this happened? -- What was I doing? -- How was I feeling? Over time, you will see themes that can help you attack the triggers. 6. CONSIDER WHAT YOU TRULY WANT. All of my suggestions above focused on helping you maintain your relationship. However, it is possible that this is not the right partnership for you. Consider listing what you would like to have in a partnership (whether it is with your partner or someone else). Making a realistic wish list can help you identify your priorities. And please keep in mind that you are valuable and WORTH meeting these priorities. Ask yourself questions like: - How should my partner and I solve problems when we disagree about little things (for example, the best way to wash dishes)? How should we solve problems when we disagree about big things (for example, how we want to spend money)? - What kind of activities do I want to be able to do with my partner? - How should my partner and I talk about what we want in sex? - What kind of sense of humor is important to me? What kinds of things make me laugh, and is it important that my partner shares this? - How much are looks important to me? - What kind of dates do I expect? What do I like to do when getting to know someone or spending time with someone I care about? - How fast should my partner get back to me when I text or call? Do we always need to pick up the phone, or is it okay to have the call go voicemail if I’m busy? - Should my partner and I to do fun things apart or only together? Is it okay if we do fun things with out friends without the other partner? - How important is it that my partner get along with my friends? - How important is it that my partner get along with my family? - What are my limits? Are there any things that I absolutely will not allow from a partner (like physical violence, certain kinds of substance use)? After making your list, consider how it felt. Do you feel you deserve to have these needs met? (I think you do deserve to have a good partnership that meets your needs). Are the needs realistic? Which ones are the highest priority? Of these high priority items, which ones do your current partner meet? I see good things in your future. You have already taken a huge first step and I’m confident that you and your therapist here on BetterHelp will be able to figure out better patterns for you. Best wishes to you for a beautiful spring, Julie Note: If you are in crisis and feeling like hurting yourself, please call 911, go to your closest emergency department, or call the suicide hotline (the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) immediately at 800-273-8255. You could also go to their website to chat at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/.  
Answered on 07/20/2022

How do you start to thrive in life and not just survive after trauma?

Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised that the article below mentions trauma-related topics that include relationship abuse that could be triggering. Hello and thanks for reaching out to this platform.  It takes a great deal of strength and self respect to seek out help in this way. I hope you can acknowledge this strength in yourself as you move forward in your life. It also takes strength to flee an abusive relationship.  This is not an easy thing to do, nor is it easy to make a living on your own and start to rebuild your life.  You have much determination and grit! It sounds like you are wishing to heal, not just cope, with the trauma you've experienced in your life.  This is understandable, because in order to thrive, you will want to heal.  We can all learn good coping skills that help us when we feel activated to anxiety or sadness, that's of value to all of us.  Yet you've been through a great deal and it sounds as if you understand that your previous experiences remain within you to some degree.  That is the basis of trauma counseling, where those memories can be processed, understood and accepted (as having happened, not as being "okay"), so you can grow from them, learn and heal.  This type of therapy often involves talking about, even writing about, the trauma you've experienced.  It is powerful work. Careful trauma counseling also involves understanding where you might be stuck.  We can all become stuck in life, by our own thinking patterns and negative thoughts.  Life experiences, particularly those that are traumatic, can lead to narratives in our minds that are not true, highly negative and cause us to feel threatened.  This is where work with those negative thoughts, through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, can be so valuable.  This type of work leads to skills that enable you to take care of not just your body, but your mind, and your soul.  We hope to clear the decks of your mind, free up your body and help you to understand and dismiss, so to speak, distortions of thought.  But you are not alone...we all can and do have thoughts that can keep us stuck to a degree. I hope this is helpful.  All the best to you!
Answered on 07/20/2022

How can you help?

I'm sorry that you've found yourself in this position. Ending any relationship can be challenging, but especially when children are involved. It can also be complicated when the couple is currently living together and/or sharing expenses. It seems as though you have made up your mind and that you find that this relationship is no longer good for your mental health. And that's okay! You have to take care of you, and if this relationship is no longer good for you to stay in, it's best for you to start ending things. It's good, too, that you are considering how the split will impact her and her children's lives. If you are concerned about her life "spiraling" after the split, could you potentially help her in setting up the things that she and her children need to thrive? This could mean helping her secure housing, helping her figure out a budget, offering to help with any child care while she's setting up other options, etc.  Also, if you are concerned about her alcohol use, another way to support her would be helping her find resources in your area such as groups or individual counseling. Let her know that you are concerned for her well-being and that you feel she would really benefit from talking with someone after the break up. If you feel comfortable, maybe consider reaching out to some of her close friends and family to let them know about your concerns. That way they can help support her after the break up. If all this comes from a place of caring and empathy, she will be more likely to move forward with getting herself help and accepting support.  I know breaking up can be hard. Even though you are the one choosing to end things, there may be some adjusting on your end to work through. Take care of yourself in the mean time and find ways to give yourself support such as starting therapy for yourself, reaching out and talking to your own personal support system, and focusing on your own self care. I wish you the best of luck! 
Answered on 07/19/2022

How do I deal with relationship anxiety ?

I'm sorry that this has happened to you. Being blindsided by someone that you love and that has expressed love for you can be an emotionally draining event to go through. In your question, I wasn't sure if I was reading it correctly, but the way I read it was that something had happened with a prior relationship and now this situation is another situation that has happened.  If you were to look back over the course of the relationship, were there any "red flags" that stood out to you as being odd or just not seeming to be right? When it comes to relationships, we learn by those relationships that we grow up with. Look at how your parents relationship was or if you had any close family friends or other family members and think about what their relationships were like.  Something to think about as you move forward into any other relationship is to define what it actually is that you want out of a relationship. Define the terms that you want your partner to have and seek someone out with those characteristics. As you are leaving this relationship, think back over what parts of it you enjoyed and how you would  like to have those parts in the next relationship. As you think of what you want in a relationship, consider why you want to be in a relationship to begin with. Many people get into relationships, just because they don't want to be alone. Use this time for you and to reconnect with who you are as a person and think about what you have to offer to a relationship and a partner. Lastly, you also have to allow yourself to heal from all of your relationships that you have had. If you do not allow yourself to take some time and get to know yourself again, then you could be setting yourself up for failure again by getting into a relationship too soon. When you are ready to begin seeking out a new relationship, make sure to take your time to get to know others and take the relationship at a slower pace. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Think of dating as an interview for a life partner. 
(MS, LPC)
Answered on 09/23/2021

Is it normal to miss a toxic ex? How can I reframe the thoughts of missing her and fill the void?

Hello Al,   So you have left a toxic relationship, only to find yourself still missing your ex 2 months down the line.  Ending any relationship can be tough.  Ending a relationship that you considered toxic can be a confusing situation – you may be wondering why you would even be thinking about taking someone back when it was toxic, controlling, and manipulative.   Well, rest assured that you are completely normal.  It is good to hear that you have been able to heal from the breakup quickly enough and you are sure it was the right choice for you.  We will first look at the reasons why you might be left with some reoccurring thoughts and flashbacks.  We will then consider some ways you can manage those voids. Reasons Why You Miss Your Toxic Ex There are sound psychological reasons why you miss your ex-partner. Here are the most common explanations: You still romanticize them and are holding on to false hope: Is a part of you still clinging on to the hope that they will see the error of their ways, grovel at your feet, and then give you the relationship of your dreams? If so, you need to shed this illusion before you can move on.  Give yourself a reality check. Perhaps they were romantic and kind at the start of your relationship, or perhaps they are nice to you for a few days after a fight, but this doesn’t change the fact that they are toxic. Write a list of all the things they have said and done that reflect their real personality. Read it several times a day.   You made them the center of your universe: When you love someone, it’s normal to spend a lot of time and effort getting to know them and trying to make them happy. However, in a toxic relationship, one or both people often take it too far and become obsessed with their partner. This can leave behind a gaping void when the relationship ends. If you are co-dependent – that is, you take on too much responsibility for other people’s emotions – you might have based your whole life and even identity around trying to solve your partner’s problems. For instance, if you were in a relationship with a drug addict, your primary concern on a day-to-day basis may have been to stop them from giving into their addiction. If they leave, you may want them to come back so you can resume a care-taking role.   They made you believe no one would ever want you: If you were in an emotionally abusive relationship, your partner may have damaged your self-esteem to the point where you believe no one else will find you desirable. When you hold a low opinion of yourself, it’s easy to conclude that you’ll be alone forever without your partner. Remind yourself that you are good enough as you are, that you are worthy of love, and the cruel things your ex said to reflect their personality and not your looks or character. Abusive people tear down their victims’ self-esteem as it makes them easier to control. They had some good qualities: Few people are completely evil. Your ex may have been toxic, but they probably had some positive traits – otherwise, why would you have fallen in love with them? It’s OK to acknowledge that your ex sometimes made you feel genuinely happy. However, it doesn’t change the fact that they are an unhealthy influence and you have done the right thing by removing them from your life. Every relationship is a learning experience. Your ex may have taught you some valuable lessons about spotting toxic people, but they might also have shown you the kind of traits you like in a partner. You’ve had to change your lifestyle since the relationship ended: If you were financially dependent on your ex, your standard of living may have dropped when the relationship ended. You might feel as though you miss your ex, but in fact you may be missing the trappings of the old life you shared together. You might also have lost some friends when you split up. For example, if you met most of your friends through your ex and they decided it would be too awkward to hang out with you after the breakup, you might feel lonely. You will need to rebuild your social network, which is a big challenge. It can be doubly hard if your self-image has been left in tatters. Remember, missing someone isn’t a reliable sign that they deserve a place in your life. You can also miss someone and yet realize that they have serious flaws that make a healthy relationship impossible.   Consider the following to help you move on from your thoughts about missing her:   Figure out who you want to be with You have to stop thinking about this person because they’re bad for you, plain and simple. They bring out the ugliest sides of you, and you might also bring out the ugliest sides of them. Is that really the kind of relationship you want, the kind of dynamic you want to grow old with?   You deserve better, and an easy way to get yourself to stop obsessing over them is by truly understanding how bad it was, and how good a better relationship can be.   So imagine what your ideal partner might be like. Imagine someone who: Gives you strength when you’re feeling down Makes you calm when you’re feeling out of control Hears you out, no matter how silly your thoughts might be Shares your exact sense of humor Values all your intricacies and quirks Love you for who you are, truly Always meets you halfway and respects you at every turn Envision what it would be like to be with this person, and tell yourself: this doesn’t have to be a dream. This can be someone who truly exists in your life, as long as you seek them out. Let go of the grudge Time doesn’t heal all wounds. You could have broken up with your ex years ago only to realize problems in your relationship still sneak up on you. This old saying tricks people into thinking that moving on is a passive process; that after separating from a major person in your life, everything will naturally back into place like nothing ever happened. In reality, if you want to stop thinking about someone, you have to stop thinking about the relationship altogether. Stop replaying fights, stop thinking about things you could have said or things you could have done differently. In ways they could have improved to save the relationship. The relationship is over; there is no point running simulations in your head. At the end to day, all this does is make all wounds fresh again. If you really want to move on, make a conscious effort to forgive your ex and take it for what it is: good, bad, and ugly. Understand the difference between obsession and intuition You’ve maintained your distance, you’ve attempted to move on, maybe you’ve even started seeing other people. But no matter how much you try, your mind always circles back to your ex. You could be hanging out with a new person and all you could think about are the stupid inside jokes you had with your ex. Now before you think this is a sign from the universe compelling you to try again, consider how this might just be your brain’s way of obsessing over every single detail. Don’t get caught up in the positive feelings and try to remember the relationship for what it truly was. This is not your subconscious telling you you’re meant for each other; consider this as a sign that there are residual issues from the previous relationship that you might still need to work on. Plan new goals While you can’t ever go back in time to change the course of events that transpired between you and your ex, the good news is that the future always feels hopeful. Teach yourself to stop looking back at your life by setting goals for yourself. It’s easier to move forward when you have something great to look forward to. Plan that trip you’ve been postponing with friends. Enroll on that online platform you’ve been eyeing for a while. Your life doesn’t stop just because a chapter of your life has closed. Use this momentum to drive yourself forward and try out new things for yourself.   Consider talking to someone new It’s probably not the best idea to start flirting with someone else while things are still fresh, but it won’t do you any harm if you start talking to someone new. You don’t have to dive into a new relationship immediately but the point is to keep an open mind. Instead of shying away from strangers, be open to the possibility of meeting someone new. The goal isn’t to get into a relationship; it’s just an easy way to open up your horizons and remind yourself that there are plenty of fish in the sea. Even if you’re starting with the premise of being just friends, getting to know someone new is a great way to move forward. Instead of spending your days mulling over old conversations, channel your energy towards opening yourself up to a new person.     You are in a good place with your healing and remember just like everyone else you deserve a healthy relationship that meets your needs and be with someone who complements you and your happiness.   Wishing you the best of luck! Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 08/15/2021

How do I keep my anxious thoughts from ruining a relationship?

Hello, I wish to applaud your courage in reaching out to a stranger to ask a vulnerable and possibly tough question. That said, I am sorry to hear that your partner seems to be experiencing anxiety and is feeling overwhelmed. When your partner 'goes quiet,' I can only imagine that you must feel left out, disconnected, and perhaps a bit isolated. You did not mention how you have tried to cope or address this with your partner? I assume that you have tried to communicate with your partner? If so, I wonder what your outcomes have been so far when you have tried to reach out. I also wonder why you are writing on behalf of your partner when your partner needs to step up and take responsibility for their own mental health issues. You cannot fix them. We cannot fix another person, ever. My humble perspective. Have you considered that anxiety is just a fancy word for fear, so if your partner is feeling anxiety, their best way forward would likely be for them to reach out to a professional counselor or psychiatrist to explore what is the origins of their anxieties in the first place so that they can reduce that anxiety by getting to the true roots of it? There are of course daily coping tips for anxiety that your partner can try, such as meditation and relaxation and positive thinking approaches, but doing that deeper work for them to really explore the real roots of that anxiety would likely yield them the deepest long-lasting benefit for a more healthy life emotionally. When you ask about keeping their anxious thoughts from destroying the relationship, I am assuming you mean your partner's thoughts. Again, you cannot change another person. You can only work on yourself and suggest to them that they do the same, work on themselves by seeking professional assistance and therapy. This tendency of your partner's that you describe briefly here does not sound emotionally healthy and it surely does not sound as if it supports having a healthy relationship. Working on yourselves as individuals first can be a real jumpstart forward to you both. I wish you well.
(LCSW, ACSW, C-IQ, Conversational, Intelligence, Coach)
Answered on 08/03/2021

How to deal with my anxiety combined with trust issues with my boyfriend. I’m constantly accusing

Thank you for reaching out to me.  It's not easy what you are dealing with in terms of trust issues along with anxiety. These issues can truly take a toll on your life and relationship. Dealing with the constant fear of your partner's loyalty can make one stay in stress and can add friction to the relationship which at times can become unbearable from either end. As in your mind, you are acting out of fear and your partner most likely feels that he is being attacked for no reason.  You have Meade good decisions to take professional help as healing from the past issues can lessen your anxiety as well. I suggest that you take individual counseling for your trust issues. Therapy is a slow process and will take time before you see improvement in your personal growth. The process will begin by making you self-aware of your emotions and your triggers. Once you learn more about yourself then the work on healing from your past traumas will start. You will feel in control of your emotions and will perceive situations with a more realistic viewpoint. This will improve your communication with your partner and improve your relationship can give a person inner satisfaction and peace which is essential for mental well being. You will learn the triggers that are the cause of anxious thoughts and will work on them to turn them into positive thoughts. This process, though lengthy can very much make you come to terms with your issues and help live a healthy and positive life. I encourage you to start the therapy process as soon as you can as dealing with fears, disloyalty, and anxiety can make a person truly question every aspect of their life. Until you find a therapist with whom you are comfortable with you can take work on some things on your own to help with your anxiety and others issues. I am listing these steps below: 1: Calm yourself and ask for help from family or friends  2: Meditate (guided imagery) 3: Write in your journal and try to change your thoughts into positive thoughts. ANT(Anti Negative thought) therapy. Journaling provides an opportunity to explore the stresses and the calming effect can last a while.  4: Read self help boooks 5: Eat healthy 6. Talk to your friends who understand you and your situation in your life 7. Exercise daily 8. Be consistent Hope these tips were helpful for you and I wish you the best.  Regards, Dr. Saima 
(PHD, MS, MA)
Answered on 07/21/2021

I lied to my boyfriend about details of some past relationships.

Hi Amy, How long have you been dating your boyfriend? It sounds like he is focusing a lot on your past, which is something that some guys do in the beginning of a relationship until trust is established and they feel comfortable in their roles. But if this is something that is continuing past 6 months or a year, it might be an indication of someone who is overly controlling and can be a sign of someone who can become emotionally or physically abusive over time. It is not fair for any partners to judge or shame each other based on what has happened prior to you meeting and being together. You are not accountable to each other for anything you have done, as long as you have been SDI-tested and are being safe sexually. You do not “owe” each other any details at all about past relationships or partners, and it is not normal or healthy to focus on this or to talk to your current partner about previous sexual exploits. Most couples talk about these things very minimally, because it’s likely irrelevant to your current relationship for the most part and can cause the issues you have mentioned. It is not shameful or “wrong” that you have had previous sexual partners. As you stated, this is a perfectly normal thing and you should not be made to feel ashamed or “less than,” even for relationships you might regret now. “Hindsight is 20/20” as they say, because you know so much more now than you did then. Everyone has relationships they regret and decisions they wish they made differently, including your boyfriend.  If he is continuing to pry or request more details about your past relationships or sex life, this also might be indicative that he is struggling with his own self-esteem issues or feels insecure about himself or your relationship. This is something he needs to work on himself, preferably through meeting with a therapist and processing some of his own internal beliefs and issues. His focus on this issue has caused you to question yourself and to feel guilt and shame about something that is perfectly normal and reasonable. I’m glad you know yourself and your self-worth; hold on to that. If your boyfriend can’t recognize your worth as well, he might not be the husband YOU’D want. What if you had daughters? Would he judge and shame them for having relationships? What messages would he send them about women and sexuality? If you are thinking about marriage, I would highly recommend pre-marital counseling to see if you can get past this issue and put down healthy boundaries around this topic and work through some of his trust issues and insecurities. I’m hoping this is not the case, but here is a resource to screen for other controlling behaviors that you should be wary of if he exhibits them: https://pairedlife.com/problems/7-Warning-Signs-of-a-Controlling-Boyfriend-How-to-Deal-With-a-Controlling-Relationship I know you probably wrote thinking that there was something you could change, but I don’t see that you have done anything that needs changing. It’s normal to withhold information or even tell white lies to someone who is hounding you for inappropriate information. This is a sign that you felt unsafe in those moments and off-guard, which are also not great things to experience in a relationship. If you are comfortable sharing this with him yourself, I would encourage that. Otherwise, you could consider going to a couples-based counselor to help with this and with teaching some more healthy ways of communicating with each other. I’m going to include some resources that can hopefully be helpful for you and your boyfriend. I’m so glad that you reached out, and I hope you two can get past this!   Warmly, Katherine https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/anxiety-files/201804/getting-past-the-past-jealousy http://www.psychedinsanfrancisco.com/sharing-scaring-deal-partners-sexual-past/ https://www.regain.us/  
(M.Ed, LPC)
Answered on 06/29/2021

How can I deal with jealousy in a mono-poly relationship?

This is a tough one because you agreed to it , and now feel it's not right for you. It isn't uncommon for someone to change their mind about this type of situation once they have engaged in it.  Obviously the first step is to talk to him and explain your feelings and that you believe this lifestyle is not for you and you have second thoughts. Be clear and concrete why you believe it is not for you.  Respect his right to have what he wants, even if you don't agree. People have a right to what they want to be and believe and it's up to us to decide how we respond. Even if their choices make no sense to us or we don't agree. In the end, you must decide what you want for you. If you feel morally it's not for you or you can't agree with him in the lifestyle, you must make a decision on what is right for you and that may mean rethinking the current status of your relationship and your future in it. You have every right to have a relationship with just one partner, in the same way that he has a right to make choices that he is best for himself. My opinion is that if your husband  is committed to your feelings and your relationship with him is healthy he will be willing to a accommodate what you want as well. Never compromise something you feel is not right for you. Be true to yourself. What does your "gut feeling " say? That is often an indicator that can give us clues to what is actually going on, and what we also feel is right for ourselves. As you sort this out, ask yourself questions like, "If I stay in this just to make him happy and not lose him, what will that mean for me personally? Am I willing to compromise myself just to not lose him?" Also, regardless of what your husband wants, ask yourself, "What is it that I want?". If he is willing to speak to you and listen to your feelings, it might be a good time to have a discussion about what your goals are for the marriage  and the future. Targeted questions such as, "What do you want your marriage  to look like 5 years from now? 10? 25?", and be prepared to explain to him what you see for the future together as well, in terms of your goals and desires in the relationship. Try to not travel into the land of "What if?". That is, the "What if?' thoughts can perpetuate a cycle of thinking that only reinforces doubt, fear, jealousy, and anxiety.  Many times, the "What if?" thoughts never happen and we've wasted time and energy making ourselves feel worse. Finally, take your husband at his word. Make decisions for yourself and the relationshp based on 'right now", and not "what if" or "Maybe he will change" etc.  I hope this is helpful Susan Boklaga, LMHC
(LMHC)
Answered on 06/01/2021

Where marriage originated?

Marriage is most often known as a formal and legal union or contract between two people that bring their lives together emotionally and financially.  Historically it has been known to be between a man and a woman; however, as times and society has changed, it is also legal in some places for two men or two women to be married.  Some communities and cultures do allow men to have more than one wife at a time. History states that the idea of marriage is about 4,350 years old and was done not because people were in love or wanted to spend their lives together. Still, it was done to ensure that the woman was bound to the man, and he could then be assured that his heirs were his true biological children.  People who were married often did not have a choice, and the marriage was arranged.  A woman became a man’s property, in addition to establishing a forged alliance between families.  This could expand property, and other survival needs.  In addition, often, cousins were married to one another.  This was done to keep alliances within the family. History states that the first recorded marriage ceremony was dated 2350 B.C in Mesopotamia and was between a man and a woman.  After that, it then becomes widely accepted and encouraged later by the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans.  Religion did not enter into the concept of marriage until much later.  The church would accept a couple’s word that they were married without any proof until 1563.  It was not until 1563 that the Catholic Church passed a decree that stated marriages should be conducted by a priest and have at least two witnesses.  It was not until 1639 that Massachusetts began to require a marriage license until that practice became more popular and eventually required to become married. Marriage has continued to evolve, and it probably was not until the last 50-75 years that love started becoming another reason that was included in the purpose and idea of marriage.  Marriage has certainly evolved from expected and often required to optional and voluntary.
(LISW-CP, LCSW-C, LCSW)
Answered on 05/17/2021

Where does attachment come from?

Attachment theory is rooted in the idea that the relationships and bonds between caregiver and infant lay the groundwork for relationship patterns throughout life, for better or for worse. The first attachment made is with our earliest caregivers. As infants we’re helpless, requiring assistance to eat, to be warm, to be clean. All of our safety relies on those who are charged with our care immediately after we’re born. Attachment theory arose out of research conducted by John Bowlby, who described attachment as a lasting psychological connectedness between human beings. Bowlby studied the separation anxiety or distress that children seemed to experience when their parents or primary caregiver was unavailable. He discovered that attachment was characterized by behavior and motivation patterns; children will seek closeness with their caregiver to feel safe. When we’re young and dependent on caregivers to have our needs met, the needs are either met consistently, or they aren’t. When needs aren’t met on a consistent and predictable basis, an insecure attachment is thought to form. Caregivers who are available and responsive to their children’s needs lay the foundation for security and safety, which leads to a secure attachment. There are four styles of attachment that have been identified. Ambivalent attachment develops when a child learns that they can’t depend on their parent to be available when needed. Avoidant attachment develops when a child is punished and learns that seeking help results in punishment. Avoidant attachment is thought to develop in neglectful and abusive situations. Disorganized attachment describes a style of attachment that looks like other styles and is thought to be derived from inconsistent parent response to the child’s needs. Secure attachment forms when children learn they can rely on their caregiver to meet needs. Many people hyper fixate on attachment theory as a sort of thermometer for the future pattern of relationships, and while there is evidence to suggest that our early attachments impact later relationships and the patterns of behavior we may display in them, our early attachment style isn’t a sentence to a particular set of problematic patterns in relationships. Just as we learn as infants, we also learn as adults. We’re constantly in the position of being able to form new and healthy relationships where we can experience safety. If you’re concerned about your attachment style or curious to understand how your style of attachment developed and may impact your present relationships, talk with a licensed mental health professional who has training in attachment theory.
(MS., CMHC., NCC.)
Answered on 05/17/2021