You Know You Need a Therapist When …

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If you’re in a relationship and you’re having some bumps in the road, when do you know you need the help of a therapist? You should be able to handle your own problems with your mate, right?  How bad do things need to get between the two of you before seeking help? If you don’t think you have any problems in your partnership that you can’t fix yourself, here are some tell-tale signs that it’s time to reach out and seek counseling:

·         You max out your wife’s credit card at a department store and hide the receipts.

·         Your husband unexpectedly brings home his secretary from work and wants the three of you to go out on a date and you agree without question.

·         Your wife spends six months out of the year in a foreign country and you don’t really miss her.

·         You wake up in the middle of the night screaming “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

·         You would rather binge-watch SpongeBob Squarepants than go out with your mate.

·         You’re the one knocking yourself out keeping the house neat and clean and your live-in mate refuses to lift a finger.

·         Your close friends have stopped returning your calls since you moved in with your boyfriend.

·         A couple of your best friends, with a concerned look on their faces, ask if everything is ok with you and your mate and you react like they’re off their rocker.

·         You put on your red dress, fix your hair, and look drop-dead gorgeous and your husband doesn’t bat an eyelash.

·         Your boyfriend walks up behind you unexpectedly, puts his hands around you and your first instinct is to grab a butcher knife.

·         Your mother has stopped asking why you and your wife don’t come to visit.

·         Your girlfriend brings you a bouquet of flowers out of the blue and you suspect she’s having an affair.

·         When your mate feels more like a roommate than a bedmate.

·         Your evenings consist of reading or watching movies and falling asleep to them in bed.

·         Your sweetie calls you by another woman’s name by mistake more than once or twice.

·         There’s always a gun lying on the table … just in case.

·         You reluctantly spend your free time with your mate and his beer-drinking, boisterous buddies whom you despise because you want to fit in.

·         You sheepishly apologize when your mate berates you over not dropping off her clothes at the dry cleaners.

·         You’re paying your live-in boyfriend’s half of the rent and he doesn’t see anything wrong with it, even though he is gainfully employed and it’s a hardship on you.

 

What Might It Mean?

What’s happening here?

·         You might feel you have no control over your environment, that you are being led in life rather than leading the life you desire.

·         You might be avoiding standing up for yourself when you feel s/he has wronged you.

·         You might be internalizing your mate’s complaints and generalizations.

·         You might feel psychologically controlled by your mate and you accept it and swallow your pride.

·         You might not like conflict, would rather leave well enough alone, not rock the boat.

·         You might be giving up your independence in exchange for living your boyfriend’s life because you feel it’s the best you can do.

·         You might be avoiding having a heart-to-heart discussion with your mate when an issue pops up that upsets you because you fear her response.

·         You might be putting approval and recognition ahead of what you think and feel, making compromises that don’t serve you, depriving you mate of your true feelings.

 

Avoiding or Repairing the Unraveling

What does ignoring or accepting discord and losing yourself in your relationship lead to?  Unhappiness, depression, anxiety, an unfulfilling life. Any one of these alone can profoundly affect your mental and physical well-being. You may be living in an unauthentic, unfulfilling relationship and having serious regrets.  

Seeking therapy can help you keep minor symptoms and unhealthy behaviors from spiraling out of control into something more serious as time goes by. Life can get stressful and complicated. Learning to develop healthy reactions and feelings when encountering relationship problems can help you become resilient, better able to cope, and bounce back quicker when you and your mate don’t see eye to eye. Counseling can help you see aspects of your relationship that you can’t see yourself. You can save your relationship … or you can come to realize that your happiness and fulfillment belong elsewhere.

Dating Trends for the New Year

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What’s trending in dating in 2019? With a well-formed sense of who you are and what you want in a relationship, as part of the dating crowd, you’re learning what it takes to form genuine, loving, healthy, romantic partnerships. Singles are taking control of their love lives and moving on based on instincts and outward signs, not dragging things out when it doesn’t work out.

 

Conscious Dating

With help of virtual technology (a.k.a, the internet), singles are being more authentic with one another. You are learning to get past disillusionment, superficiality, fake flattery, and at the same time, avoid being excessively picky and judgmental.

Online dating has been around for years now and more and more singles are testing it out. The lonely hearts club image of internet matchmaking has been pretty much eradicated. But the ability to remain somewhat anonymous still sets singles up for potential danger, scams, and heartbreaking scenarios.

It seems like more dating apps are focusing on getting singles to meet, get past the endless messaging and shopping mentality. Users are being coaxed into having more intentional dating goals rather than blowing through profiles like they’re picking out meal items. People are being encouraged to get together outside of the dating site and not develop comfortable non-committal online communication patterns. That’s a good thing, because chances are, dragging out an online relationship before meeting generally yields unrealistic expectations.

 

No Game-Playing

Daters are getting wise to the game-playing, some of which can take place online but is also present in traditional dating opportunities. They have learned to more quickly identify these behaviors, not buy into them, and refrain from using them themselves … behaviors like:

Ghosting. Breaking off a relationship by ceasing all contact without any apparent warning or justification. Also, avoiding and refusing to respond to a former prospect’s attempts to reach out or communicate.

Breadcrumbing. Sending out flirtatious, non-committal text messages that are not well thought out, with the goal being to lure a sexual partner. Basically, it’s leading someone on.

Gaslighting. A form of emotional abuse where the intent is to get a prospective partner to question their instincts, feelings, and even sanity. Usually, this occurs over an extended period.

E-maintaining.  Keeping in touch via emails or texts with the intent to keep a person hanging on after a first, second, or third date … just in case.

Vulturing. Becoming much more romantically interested in someone when you sense their relationship is about to break up, and swooping in to court them, taking advantage of their vulnerability.

 

New Technology

Virtual matchmaking continues to evolve. A whole new level for determining “chemistry” is available. So, if we don’t want to leave it completely to a gut feeling, now we have access to physical tests.

New ways to separate the wheat from the chaff and find an ideal mate – or just a date – are being offered.  Some singles are making dating decisions based on DNA matches. Some companies offer compatibility tests based on cheek swabs.  (And you thought getting a DNA test was only for determining if the child is theirs.)

How about holographic dating? A company in Belgium offers holographic video conferencing. This service consists of capturing the bodies of two people moving through space and letting them play around in that space. The meeting can take place at a preferred computer-generated location. A couple downsides are that faces are partially covered up by goggles and there is no physical contact – so you can’t go off arm-in-arm or give your date a goodnight kiss.

If that sounds a little creepy or way too futuristic for your tastes, a less techy video conferencing option allows you and your date to watch concerts, movies, or video clips together. For security, some apps can crop out backgrounds and other images to keep your exact location private until you develop trust and move on to the next level.

 

Being Choosy

We are certainly becoming more sophisticated daters. We’re learning that we don’t need to latch on to someone new and hang on for fear they are our best catch, the best we’re going to do. We respect ourselves too much for that.

We’re recognizing fatal flaws and deal-breakers. We feel more justified with our dating decisions when red flags pop up; for example: flirting with others while we’re out on a date, or having opposing political or religious views. On the other hand, we tend to give them the benefit of the doubt and a second chance to make sure we’re getting a clear sense of who they are.

Our date may have nailed down that first impression, but as we start to notice red flags within the first month or so, we listen to our heart and trust our instincts.

We’re not moving in together as quickly. We will if and when we’re ready and definitely not just to relieve financial stress. The dating industry came up with a clever name to describe this dysfunctional tendency, by the way: “cohabadating.”

 

Honest and Self-Directed

Overall, the current trends in dating can be summed up with the words “honest“ and “self-directed.” We are being more above-board with ourselves and with new encounters and relationships, not just taking cues from others. We take our time to get to know someone. The majority of the time – with or without outside help – we are finding our true north, our internal compass, unique to us, which will lead us to a fulfilling relationship.

How Well Do You Get Along with Your Sibs?

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How well do you get along with your siblings? Are you “bosom buddies” or more like “fair-weather friends”? Do you make contact only when there’s a reason … birthdays, weddings, an illness, or an emergency? Or do you frequently talk, text, get together just to be together? If you and your siblings are estranged and wish you weren’t, what can you do to turn that relationship around?

Like a close friendship, brotherhood and sisterhood are bonds to cherish and nurture when the feeling is mutual. Siblings have a shared history. You grew up in the same environment, share the same parents, have common memories and experiences. If an illness or traumatic event occurs, who can be any more comforting and empathetic than your own kin? Studies even show that siblings who have good relationships with one another tend to be more satisfied with their lives and less depressed later on.

 

Ties That Bind

Sometimes those horrific times strengthen the bonds between siblings … without making a conscious effort to do so. Tragedy, bad luck, an illness can sometimes be a catalyst. Emergencies and events where you need their help or vice versa can bring warm familial feelings to the surface. But how can you rekindle a relationship when bad stuff isn’t happening and you or they don’t need help?

 

Becoming Close

How do you begin to re-establish or begin a closer relationship? What exactly does it take to make meaningful connections with your sister or brother? How can you resolve differences, forgive and forget what might have drawn you apart?

A good place to begin is to show up for one another for no other reason than to have some quality one-on-one time with your sib. If you don’t already know, learn what makes them feel loved and appreciated and demonstrate your love and appreciation based on that. Maybe it’s a hug, a gift, helping them with a task or solving a problem, working on a project together, planning outings and vacations together.

 

Family dynamics

Offspring often play certain distinct roles when growing up. Were you treated differently than your brother or sister by your parents when growing up? Maybe you were considered the troublemaker, the adventurer, the extrovert, introvert, the smart one, or the baby. If your relationship is to progress, you’ll need to drop those labels, and begin to relate to one another with a clean slate, as adults who require respect and admiration.

Maybe your parents didn’t take enough into account that each of you has your own unique set of traits, differences, likes, dislikes, personalities. Maybe they wanted to see you in certain roles that they envisioned for their own personal reasons. If so, you may have a lot of work to do to unravel a dysfunctional sibling relationship, a relationship that spawned animosity, indifference, or otherwise drew you apart.

 

Sibling Rivalry

In some families siblings find themselves pitted against one another, compared to one another, made to feel superior or inferior or jealous that you don’t have what they have. If you are serious about reconnecting with your sis or brother, you’ll need to examine and drop those roles.

One way to show your sibling that you have moved beyond typecasting is to look for opportunities to point out to them and others in the family that you are not living the role you were assigned to growing up and neither are they. If, for example, Sis was considered “the quiet one,” in the family, make it a point to comment on how much you admire her leadership qualities … using specific examples.

Likewise, pat yourself on the back for overcoming bad childhood behaviors like thoughtlessness or cruelty by “walking the talk.” In other words, show by example, that you no longer that same bratty kid … you are a caring, mature individual in adulthood.

 

Bashing and Rehashing

·         It goes without saying: slamming your sib won’t get you far. Avoid petty comments. Sore spots can be comments about their food choices, their physical appearance, proper use of English (or other) language, who they hang out with, digs about their mate or their kids. Be loyal and accepting. Praise them. Appreciate them.

·         Encourage communication, expression of feelings.  Show genuine concern. Ask them what’s bothering them on more than a superficial level.

·         Express empathy, love, and respect. Drop the “little sister” or “big brother” act. Treat one another as equals, like adults.

·         Forgive misdeeds, especially those that occurred in childhood. Let go of silly childhood arguments, incidents, childhood pranks, stuff that you kept inside that bothered you about your sib.

·         Stay away from hot button discussions. Or if you go there, tread lightly. Avoid coming off as judgmental, preachy, holier than thou, a know-it-all. Subjects that can set those behaviors off often are politics, current events, religion, morality, money, how you chose to care for your body, food choices, bad habits.

·         Don’t get in the middle or take sides when family in-fighting occurs. If your parents want to complain to you about your sibling, don’t get sucked into their rants about your wayward brother or inconsiderate sister. Likewise, if some of your siblings are fighting, don’t get involved. Don’t take sides. Say no to getting involved in negative discussions and gossiping. But do say yes to productive discussions and interventions when altruistic help is in order.

 

More Sibling-Building Relationship Pointers

·         Talk often. Spend time together. Create emotional bonds.

·         If you can’t be there, call, text, use social media or video conferencing.

·         Accept one another as they are.

·         Be trustworthy. Keep your word.

·         Offer advice when needed or asked but don’t force it if not welcomed.

·         Be friends, not just brothers or sisters.

·         Be a good listener, not a superficial one.

·         Give them more than lip service when they need your help. Be genuinely helpful.

·         Be accepting if they are pointing out your blind spots. Take criticisms graciously and accept that they are not malicious. Learn from their comments them instead of being mad and upset.

 

Different Strokes

There’s no right or wrong way. What constitutes a meaningful sibling relationship is different for different people and different families. What you and/or your sibs consider deep bonds may be on a different level than other families’ siblings. Explore with one another the kind of relationship you desire. And whatever form your relationship with them takes, cherish them and continue working on strengthening bonds.