18 Essential Relationship Tips, According To Couples Therapists
"Love is a lot of things...but at the end of the day, it is a choice."
Recently, we asked the BuzzFeed Community to share with us the best advice a relationship counselor had ever given them. Here are some of our favorite submissions:
1. "Couples change as they get older."
"The best thing my therapist told me and my then-fiance — now husband — was that couples change as they get older. It's normal to feel like things are changing, but you need to grasp onto the change and learn to love them regardless. That helped me so much, especially because I have anxiety about that kind of stuff." —thomsonmikayla
2. "Immediately address when something bothers you."
"My mom (a marriage counselor) told me to always talk to a partner about anything that bothers you. For example, if you’re annoyed that they leave their dirty laundry on the bathroom floor, address it right away instead of letting it spiral into a pointless argument." —jasminej45543eebf
3. "Use 'I' statements during a disagreement instead of 'you' statements."
"The best advice that I ever got was to use 'I' statements during a disagreement instead of 'you' statements — like, instead of saying, 'You were mean to me,' you would say, 'I felt hurt by what you said.' This way, you're not making an accusation that would make your partner feel defensive. You're focusing on how the situation makes YOU feel. This is important because as I've learned, your reaction to something your partner does is based on what YOU think they meant, not what they really meant." —kimberlyy403bcd84b
4. "You have to be the change you want to see in a relationship."
"If you want less fighting, less criticizing, or less blaming, you have to do what you’re expecting your partner to do. You can't control their behavior, so the only thing you can control is how you react to it." —saras4ee505300
5. "Relationships aren't always 50/50."
"Sometimes your partner needs you 100% and can't give you a lot back, but remember, it's only temporary." —leighshivers36
6. “You don’t get to choose when you meet the love of your life, you just have to be thankful you met them at all.”
"A couples therapist told me this in response to my now-ex complaining that he wished he had met me at a different time because he felt like life was getting in the way. Now, I’m trying to focus more on the person I'm with rather than the timing!" —emilym45c4724ec
7. "Don't play into passive-aggressiveness."
"Adults should be able to communicate their needs to each other, so don't expect your partner (or anyone) to rely on unspoken clues about how you feel. And don't respond to unspoken clues — make your partner say what they need so you don't guess and get it wrong!" —amyrousep
8. "You can divorce yourself from the situation."
"Basically, I was having issues with my mother-in-law, and my therapist said I could just opt out. I didn't ask my S.O. to avoid his family and didn't cause drama — I just chose to no longer participate. Nine years later, I'd say it's the best advice I had ever gotten!" —ilikenarwhals
9. "It's not you versus your partner; it's you and your partner versus the problem."
"Remember: You're on the same team." —melpopo
10. "Never have an important discussion over text."
"You can't read real emotion or body language through a text message. So every time my partner and I have something important to discuss, we discuss it in person." —teresabuchanant
11. "Every argument is an opportunity to learn something new about your partner."
"View your disagreements as learning moments instead of battles!" —vicandnoodles
12. "It's not your job to make the other person happy."
"Our therapist said, 'It's not your job to make the other person happy.' I suffer from pretty bad depression which can sometimes translate as me seeming unhappy in the relationship, which I'm not. This quote made me feel okay addressing it." —nishmorris
13. "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?"
"My therapist once asked me, in regard to things happening in my relationship, 'Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? ' For some reason, it was a huge epiphany for me." —libbyd4d2dc73db
14. "Avoid the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ in an argument."
"When you're in an argument, try to avoid saying things like, 'You always do this, or you never do that.' Chances are they don’t actually always or never do what you’re talking about." —melissap48a00b9a1
15. "Great relationships don’t just happen."
"You can’t just be with someone and expect the rest to fall into place. Always make your partner a priority and work with them." —mackir
"My now ex-husband and I went to one meeting with a marriage counselor. The counselor told my ex that he was being emotionally abusive and manipulative, and since my ex didn't see himself as in the wrong, the counselor told me I should leave. My ex got mad, stormed out, and we never went back. I stayed with him for a bit longer and it only got worse. Sometimes, leaving IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO!" —sammit06
17. "The best gift you can give yourself and your significant other is personal growth."
"When you try to be better, then your relationship will be better. But of course, it must be a priority for both of you to truly make a positive difference." —emilym4694401a5 18. "Love is a lot of things...but at the end of the day, it is a choice." "You must choose every day to love the person you’re with, even when you hate them!" —juliavanb
It doesn’t trouble me that most of us imitate our parents and repeat the same mistakes or good behaviors that we saw as children. What does bother me is that most of us don’t know that that is what we do even though it often gets us into trouble. The good news is that once we begin to notice what we do, we can actually change or stop those behaviors that we (or our partner/family/associates) dislike.
The fact that we imitate our parent(s), their beliefs, their behaviors, their attitudes, even the ones we dislliked as kids, is true and troubling but we are not locked in to those beliefs, behaviors and attitudes. We can change them and, in most situations, we need to, to find our true selves.
This is where therapy comes in. It can teach us to become more aware of what we do, why we do iot and the power that comes from knowing we can change how we think and how we act when we want to, when it is in our best interests and the best interests of those we care about.
Change is possible though it takes hard work. Realizing that what we have done and do can be painful and there is remorse but change can also be refreshing and rewarding.
We can become the person we want to be and who our significant other wants us to be. And it feels good to know we are moving in that direction.
Everyone has negative thoughts that come up out of nowhere. The best of us realize that these are negative thoughts that almost always have no reality or evidence to back them up. These thoughts are often catastrophic predictions of something that frightens us. Without thinking, we may go into fight or flight mode or get angry or hostile. Sadly, even those of us who think we are aware, fall victim to these negative thoughts. The good news is that once we identify the negative thought, we can challenge it, demand proof or evidence and when it comes up lacking, dismiss the predicted catastrophe and we do not have to fall into dismay. The challenge is to stay aware that if our mood suddenly changes to the “dark” side, there is a reason for that change and the reason is almost always a sneaky, subtle negative thought that we have reacted to. When we can find the negative thought and destroy its credibility, we stand stronger and the important people around us can cheer. We have just made their and our lives much more comfortable.
Marriage and #MeToo (Marriage and Sexual Beliefs that need to change) - Equality is Important, in the workplace and in the home.
Behind the millions-loud movement, there’s a quiet fringe of women not comfortable posting the hashtag—because to out their perpetrator would be to out their husband.
After the half-hearted foreplay, but before the lousy sex—that’s when the argument happened. It was nearly midnight on a Tuesday and Jess T. was just getting home from work. “I was going for a promotion and putting in really long hours at the office,” says the 33-year-old from San Francisco, California. “I felt so exhausted, I crawled into bed without even washing off my makeup. As I laid down next to my husband, who I thought was asleep, he started rubbing my thighs, pulling up my shirt—I knew.” For the next minute she debated two things: Should she take off her mascara after all? Should she have sex? No. No.
At first, her husband of four years tried to sway her by softly whispering in her ear (“I’ll make you feel so good”), but when she reaffirmed she wasn’t in the mood, his tone hardened. “He told me that he has needs as a man and that if I didn’t fulfill them he wasn’t going to be able to concentrate at work the next day,” Jess says. “As a woman, I’ve been socialized to put other people’s happiness before my own. I guess I feel responsible for their emotional wellbeing, and so I ended up consenting. Not because I wanted to or found it enjoyable, but because I felt I had to. It’s a very unsexy threesome—me, my husband, and the guilt.”
Been there, done that, says Marni Z., 35, from Phoenix, Arizona. “If I’m tired or just not into it, my husband will sigh with disgust, grab his pillow, and sleep on the couch,” says Marni, who has been married for eight years. “Or he’ll expect things from me—like coming to bed naked—and get irritated when I don’t comply. Sometimes I just numb myself into having sex so I don’t have his cloud of anger hanging over me.”
If domestic labor is a woman’s second shift, the gray-zone, on-demand sex sessions that they feel obligated to have with their partners is the third. After interviewing couples across the country, one studypublished in The Journal of Marriage and Familyfound that many husbandsexpect their wives to perform sexually, and cited additional research that this causes women “to become disconnected from their own sexual desires” and experience feelings of resentment. Many participants in the study were only compliant to “reduce marital conflict…and to help a spouse feel better about himself.”
It’s something that Ian Kerner, Ph.D., a psychotherapist who specializes in sex therapy, has certainly seen play out. “When people get married, their views on sex tend to shift a bit,” he says. “Some men feel that they now have constant access to sex, while women take on an obligation that they have to be sexual even when they don’t want to be.”
It’s not that married women are docile damsels of the domestic kingdom. They’re strong enough to set boundaries—and often do—but that doesn’t prevent men from plying, prodding, and pushing them. One studyout of the University of Nebraska in 2005 found that men used comments like “you would have sex if you loved me” to gain sexual access to women. While separate researchfound that men relied on verbal tactics of repeated requests until women gave in to sex. The pushy, supposed primal instincts of men are deeply threaded into our sheets—and our scummy sexual culture.
And that, perhaps, is the more dispiriting reason why wedded sex has such an antique flavor: Marriage may be the last frontier where the belief that sex is mandatory still somewhat rings true, and where consent has been flattened and pushed to the edge. While a single woman’s right to say no to sex is championed and society-approved (damn, right!), once you’re married, it becomes all about saying yes. In fact, in order to decline sex, women in long-term relationships have been socialized to believe that they need an excuse: I have a headache. I’m not feeling well. I’m on my period. They aren’t allowed to opt out of sex because, you know, they just don’t feel like it (damn, wrong!). “I’m lusty, I like sex,” Jess says. “I just don’t like that I always have to like sex.”
In fact, when Jess went searching online for advice on how to deal with the bang-it-out sex sessions her husband sometimes pressured her into, she found “a blog post from a psychologist that told me I should have sex anyway because I would eventually get turned on—not true, by the way, I just got mad. And then a first-person article from a woman who never said no to her husband when he asked for sex for an entire year. The author painted herself like a goddess with an 24/7 vagina. Everything I read just made me feel that, as a married woman, I was no longer the sole boss of my body.”
“I’m lusty, I like sex. I just don’t like that I always have to like sex.”
Muddying the situation more: Unlike when you’re just dating, when you’re married there’s no ghosting, submarining, or sending screenshots of your shitty date to your friends. There are bills to pay and a dog that needs walking. “I was in a long-term relationship where, even when I wasn’t physically responsive, my partner would continue with sex and make sure his needs were met,” says Sarah W., 38, from New York City. “I was confused about what rights I had to sexual boundaries. We lived together, were engaged, shared finances.”
Sweet sex. Hot sex. Sucky sex. It all seemed like part of the marital knot.
But then came the shift. The ‘Cat Person’ story in The New Yorker went viral, and shortly after, a piece that detailed one woman’s account of a bad date with Aziz Ansari did, too. Suddenly the #MeToo movement had ballooned beyond sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, floating the idea that women should have the right to good sex and shouldn’t feel pressured to suffer through a sexual encounter they don't want or find pleasurable. Suddenly, there was a term for bad sex: bad sex. But this time, with context.
“Women started to have these soul-searching conversations that were really important,” says Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist in Los Angeles, California, and creator of The Passion Project, an online course for couples with mismatched sex drives. “I think it’s a woman’s obligation to be respectful of her partner’s desires and to take them into consideration. It’s her obligation to have conversations about her partner’s intimate needs. But it is absolutely not a woman’s obligation to have sex with her partner when she does not want to. Every woman gets to decide what she wants to do with her own body. Any advice to the contrary is really outdated.”
And out of the good-sex revolution has come better advice. For starters, the notion that sometimes rejection is involved in the sexual process, even when you’re married. “Initiating sex does take a lot of vulnerability,” Marin says. “That’s why in addition to sexual desires and needs, couples need to talk to each other about how to turn each other down gracefully. If you aren’t in the mood for sex, explain why, making it clear it doesn’t have anything to do with your partner—it helps show that you aren’t rejectingthem. Also, while it’s normal to feel sad if your partner isn’t interested in being intimate with you, it’s each partner’s responsibility to soothe their own hurt feelings.”
Kerner agrees. “Men feel rejected, women feel bullied, but what we’re missing is this emotional vulnerability that both partners feel,” he says. “Talking through those emotions and connecting to that underneath space can be really intimate and can help you get back on the same page sexually.”
In the post-Weinstein world, so much changed. And yet, so much hasn’t.
“I’m so glad that we’re having these conversations and that women feel empowered to demand good sex,” Jess says. “But I do wish the conversations around the movement didn’t just include coworkers, bosses, bad dates, and strangers on the street. Sometimes, for change to happen, these conversations need to include the people who we are most intimate with—even if those honest conversations start just with ourselves.”
So better sex for everyone? Yes to that—every time.
9 Things The Happiest Couples Do For Each Other Without Being Asked
Small gestures can have a big Impactn
By Kelsey Borrese
In a healthy relationship, people tend to give love and support freely and frequently. They don’t wait for a special occasion to show their appreciation. They genuinely enjoy doing nice things for one another “just because” ? no prompting necessary.
We asked relationship experts to tell us what kinds of things, both big and small, happy couples do for each other without being asked. Here’s what they had to say:
1. They check in with each other. “Whether it’s a ‘hello’ text or call to ask, ‘How did it go?’ the happiest couples reach out. They call to say, ‘I’m running late,’ or ‘We just landed,’ or ‘Do you need me to stop at the store on my way home?’ The message: I’m thinking of you. The result: A feeling of being connected, being a key part of each other’s lives.” ? Winifred M. Reilly, marriage and family therapist and author of It Takes One to Tango
2. They give each other compliments. “This doesn’t have to be a lovey-dovey compliment about being the best wife in the world, but even an offhand remark recognizing someone’s contribution, like ‘great dinner!’ Although some couples do well without positive feedback, the majority of people like at least a little bit of verbal recognition for their contribution, and happy couples are free with positive feedback.” ? Samantha Rodman, psychologist and dating coach
3. They surprise each other with a card, just because. “Giving your partner a card that says ‘Thinking of you’ or ‘Thank you for all you do’ is such a sweet gesture. It will make him or her feel special and it’s a great reminder to you as well of all you have to be grateful for. An added fun touch would be to leave the card somewhere your loved one will happen on it. My husband loves to leave cards for me in the refrigerator. I often leave his cards under his pillow.” ? Susan Pease Gadoua, marriage therapist and the co-author of The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels
4. They act generously, instead of keeping score. “Generosity is something freely given as a gift, with nothing expected in return. When a relationship feels secure, it is easy to want to offer more than your fair share of tasks or thoughtful gestures to show your love for your partner. Whether moving their clothes to the dryer for them or going on their favorite hike again, highly fulfilled couples tend to maintain great satisfaction from being thoughtful and generous toward their partner rather than scorekeeping.” ? Kari Carroll, couples therapist
5. They speak openly about their thoughts and feelings. “When partners feel that it’s like pulling teeth to get each other to divulge any thoughts or feelings, a relationship can feel very lonely. Happy couples may not communicate constantly on a deep level, but they do it frequently enough to feel that they really know one another.” ? Samantha Rodman
6. They surprise their partner with their favorite food. “We all know that food is nurturing and helps people feel connected. But when you go out of your way to bring home a special food you know they will love, it’s a wonderful way to put ‘I love you’ into action. If the favorite food is a meal that you make — rather than, say, a pint of Haagen Dazs — you’ll undoubtedly get even more points.” ? Susan Pease Gadoua
7. Or with a freshly washed car. “Regardless of whether you do the washing yourself or take the car to a car wash, when your partner sees their squeaky clean wheels on the street or in the driveway, he or she will likely be very grateful.” ? Susan Pease Gadoua
8. They’re in the habit of saying ‘thank you.’ “Despite the mundanity and complacency that can develop within a long-term partnership, a sure way to keep the fire alive and burning brightly is to watch your partner beam when you regularly notice and point out their contributions to your life. People want to be reminded they are of value to you, and secure couples understand that this should be frequent. Although you may assume your love to be understood, in reality, acknowledging your partner’s efforts and contributions consistently builds an even deeper connection.” ? Kari Carroll
9. And ‘I love you.’ “And they do it when it’s unprompted, unsolicited, and unexpected. In many relationships the ‘I love yous’ come more from one partner than the other. Typically one leads and the other follows. Too often I hear the excuse, ‘I don’t want to overuse it.’ In happy relationships, both partners initiate saying it and they mean it when then do.” ? Kurt Smith, therapist who specializes in counseling for men I
f your partner doesn’t do all of these things, don’t fret. Relationships are a work in progress, and if you’re not getting what you want out of it, you should ask. You aren’t a mind reader, so you can’t expect your partner to be one either.
Anger and Depression
Anger and depression in children, teens and adults, is often a way we avoid deeper, more uncomfortable feelings. You can think of anger and depression as a "cover" feeling, a way a person, unconsciously, tries to hide a more upsetting feeling or thought, Anger and depression become ways to protect ourselves from thoughts and feelings that we do not want to face. These thoughts and feelings usuially revolve around guilt or shame or hurt, often stemming from a traumatic experience and for which we sometime begin to blame ourself.
Sometimes, current events can trigger memories of these painful thoughts sand feelings and we may quickly cover them up with anger or depression.
Therapy can help by creating a safe place for the individual to gently revisit the trauma and re-experience it in a different way beginning to see the trauma as it truly was: where the individual was the victim, not the perpetrator and where the victim actually has no guilt and shame. Relief and healing can be the result.
If you or someone you know struggles with anger or depression, call me to see if I can help at 760-766-1622.
Also known as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder or ADD, is not a mental illness but a “brain-wiring” issue that affects 10% of the population. While usually seen in childhood, particularly in school settings, it remains alive and well for many into adulthood and can cause problems in jobs and relationships.
This disorder is a biological condition much like near-sightedness or diabetes and responds to treatment. The problem is that the person with ADHD often is unaware of the condition but does realize that people around him or her get easily frustrated.
While it may seem like your child or partner ignores your requests or forgets to do chores or help around the house, this is not a case of willful defiance or “laziness” or being “stupid”, it is a symptom of ADHD, Being easily distracted leads to forgetfulness and a failure to follow-through on promises. Everyone inviolved gets upset.
Your child or teen does not know what their problem is either except that it upsets their parents, teachers and spouses and they begin to feel like they are letting everyone down.
Untreated, AD/HD leads to anxiety and depression which become more serious issues.
Treated, the child becomes more responsive in class, listens to parents at home, does his or her chores and feels better about her or himself. The adultIt becomes more responsible and reliable.
It is relatively easy for a qualified mental health professional or medical doctor to diagnose AD/HD and to suggest ways, using medication and other behavioral techniques to reduce the effect of the disorder. If your child or husband or wife is easily distracted, loses things, cannot sit still, starts but doesn’t finish projects or has a difficult time staying organized or even reading a book, taking a look at AD/HD could help to improve everyone’s lives.
How to Change Those Limiting Beliefs You Still Have About Yourself
We all have deep-rooted, deeply limiting beliefs about ourselves that just aren't true.
We're all made up of stories. In fact, life is one long narrative and we're all trying to write the best chapters we can before "The End." A deep way to start this article, I know, but the fact is we dig a deep hole for ourselves when we misconstrue our own story.
You know the drill. There's some limiting, deep-seated belief you have about yourself, an old story you keep telling yourself. It holds you back. The story isn't the objective account of your day to day life. Instead, as psychiatrist and Harvard Medical School professor John Sharp said in his TEDx talk, "It's the story you've been telling yourself about who you are and how everything always plays out."
It often has some degree of catastrophe to it. It might be built on your assumption of what you can't do, what always happens, or what never happens. It's what writer Marilynne Robinson calls your "mean little myth."
My old story is that what I do is never enough. Yes, I ascended to run multi-billion-dollar businesses at Procter & Gamble. But there are others doing better, faster. Sure, I'm a successful keynote speaker now, I guess. But my February calendar wasn't full enough. Have I sold a lot of books and won several industry awards for them? Yeah, but others have sold far more books or have more followers of their Inc.com column.
And this from someone who wrote viral articles on how to stop yearning for the approval of others and on the importance of believing that you're already enough. I promise you all of the aforementioned wasn't a cloaked humble-brag. My old story is certainly nothing to brag about. But I'm getting better at rewriting my narrative. And you can, too.
Here's how with help from Sharp and from sharp, painful lessons I've learned:
1. Remember that you're the editor of your own life story.
Congratulations.You've been promoted to editor from onlooker.
One of the cool things about being a writer is the access you get to a variety of talented editors. The best ones call you on it (in one form or another) when your words are not matching the pictures, when what you're writing doesn't mesh with what you're actually trying to say.
Every time this happens to me, I find myself thinking, "What if we all truly acted like we were the editors of our own life story?" What if, when we caught ourselves living someone else's story, or living a story that's not what we intend or would want, we simply chose to change the script?
Guess what? You indeed are the editor of your own life story.
2. Find the point where your story diverges from reality.
Sharp says to do so you should pay attention to your inner-dialogue and notice when it includes statements that begin with "I always ______," "I'm always ______," or "I never ______." These thoughts are what we default to when we face hardship.
Think back to being a child and identify what experiences fill in these blanks for you. What more recent experiences caused you to perpetuate your story? It's in these moments of awareness you can shut down or alter the narrative.
3. Ask if your story is really true or a false truth.
I do this all the time. When I catch myself meandering into "I'm just not enough" I ask myself, "Is that my mean little truth or is that really true? By whose standard am I not enough?" (by my own warped standard, of course).
4. Think self-appreciation versus self-deprecation.
Don't beat yourself up for having your reoccurring old story. Instead, began the practice of inserting positive elements into it, until it becomes habit. I've told myself many times now when I catch myself dissing my entrepreneurial achievement to remember how far I've come in only two years.
5. Leave your old story behind.
This is really what it's all about, no? All the self-awareness and positivity in the world won't matter if you aren't willing to jettison the baggage that's been weighing you down. You simply must, as Sharp says, "cut away what no longer serves you" and rewrite your narrative to serve who you want to be. If you want to be a certain way, be that way. If you want to live a certain life, live that life. If you want to rewrite your story, then do it because you are indeed the editor of your own life story.
Here's to fresh new chapters--page-turners filled with promise.
8 MENTAL HEALTH TIPS THAT ARE SO EFFECTIVE, THERAPISTS THEMSELVES SWEAR BY THEM
1. Rethink the way you approach worrying “We all have anxiety and things we worry about, but worry is thought garbage,” says Thea Gallagher, PsyD, clinic director at the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perlman School of Medicine. “There is no correlation between worry and outcome,” she adds, and it’s important to remind yourself of that fact when you start to stress.
When Dr. Gallagher finds herself worrying about something, she tries to put herself on the following thought path: Can I solve this problem? And what can I do about it, if anything? “If I can’t do anything about it, I can’t worry about it,” she says. “There’s no point.”
2. Find a good mindfulness app, and stick with it The app Stop, Breathe & Think is a go-to for Tamar Gur, MD, PhD, a women’s health expert and reproductive psychiatrist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. “I use it almost daily,” she says. The app offers a few minutes of targeted, guided mediation based on emotions you’re feeling in that moment, and Dr. Gur fires it up when she gets to work, before tackling her long to-do list. “I use it to energize and ground myself,” and also sometimes to unwind before bed. She even encourages her kids to use it.
3. Take anxiety to the end When anxiety creeps up on you (it can and it will), Dr. Gallagher recommends thinking about the worst that can happen in order to stay in control of it. When she was planning her outdoor wedding, for example, she knew bad weather was in the realm of possibility. “I took myself down the road of if it was bad, the wedding would be gross, and people might hate me and tell others I should have been more conscientious,” she says.
“Sometimes taking yourself to the end of your fear or anxiety helps you realize that even if the worst thing happens, you’ll survive it.” —Thea Gallagher, PsyD
But she eventually realized that she’d still be married, and that was the whole point. “Sometimes taking yourself to the end of your fear or anxiety helps you realize that even if the worst thing happens, you’ll survive it,” she says. “It’s unlikely the worst will happen anyway.”
4. Make meditation an integral part of your day Though meditation sounds like a fairly obvious means of boosting mental health, if you don’t plan for it in advance, squeezing in a session can prove tough. That’s why for David Klow, LMFT, author of You Are Not Crazy: Letters From Your Therapist, it’s simply routine.
“In the morning, I will take 30 minutes to do centering, grounding, and energy meditation practices,” he says. And before he leaves work for the night, he sits in his office for 15 minutes and “clears out” the stress from the day using meditation. “Doing this in the office, right after the sessions have ended can be the most helpful while the work is still fresh,” he says. Finally, Klow does another 30-minute meditation before bed “to wrap up the day and get prepared for a restful night of sleep.”
5. Try not to read too much into things When you, say, don’t hear back from a friend after you text them, it’s easy to let your mind spiral and assume something negative is the cause—like that your friend is mad at you. But next time this happens, don’t jump to conclusions. Think of other possible explanations. “Instead of a friend not responding to a text because they’re mad at me, I think that maybe they’re having a busy day,” Dr. Gallagher says. “Plus, if they are mad, they’ll need to tell me at some point.”
6. Take a big-picture approach to exercise Regular exercise can boost both physical and mental health, but if you’re not able to dedicate as much time or intensity to your sweat sesh as you’d like, still try to be good to yourself. “You have to understand that you’re doing the best you can,” says psychologist Kathryn Moore, PhD.
“I practice self-compassion and realize that I have to listen to my body. If I need to sleep a little later instead of going to a 6 a.m. workout class, that’s okay.” “I practice self-compassion and realize that I have to listen to my body. If I need to sleep a little later instead of going to a 6 a.m. workout class, that’s okay.” —Kathryn Moore, PhD, psychologist
It’s important to allow yourself some flexibility around your exercise routine so that you don’t feel shame or guilt if things don’t work out, Dr. Moore says.
7. Think twice about the types of content you consume It’s easy to get wrapped up in a great book or show—and that can heavily influence your emotions. That’s why licensed clinical psychologist John Mayer, PhD, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, has a “no sad entertainment” policy for himself. “I prefer not to see entertainment that portray real life drama, sad stories, and negative endings,” he says. “I deal with that every day. I don’t invite it into my personal space.” Of course, different genres affect everyone differently, but if you tend to feel bummed out after watching a sad movie or anxious after reading an intense book, it’s a thought worth considering.
8. Practice deep breathing when you’re annoyed “I can’t say enough good things about deep, cleansing breaths,” Dr. Gur says, adding that a deep, purposeful inhale followed by a prolonged exhale is helpful when something really irritates her. “It helps me take a moment to at least approach the situation calmly and with more grace.”
Romantic relationships are meant to be all about joy and sex and love and excitement, especially at the beginning. But it’s also desperately important they are good for our mental health and wellbeing. So our partners shouldn’t just be fulfilling our need for fun, affection and attraction, but actively making us feel better about ourselves, each other and the world.
So often we allow ourselves to stay in relationships that are damaging to our mental health, our confidence, our freedom and our sense of self – often, without even fully realizing what we’re doing. To save you from this situation, here is a list of red flags that your relationship is bad for your mental health.
If you recognize any or all of these, it could be time to seriously evaluate whether you belong in this relationship, and consider getting out safely before you deplete your self-worth or sanity any further.
You Don’t Want To Talk
You feel like you’re walking on eggshells in their company, scared to trigger a negative reaction, that should alert you that something is wrong. Communication between you and your partner should be frequent and easy.
You Feel Neglected
If you’re feeling sad, troubled or insecure, you need your partner more than ever. You’re not necessarily even asking for much; just to be held, to be understood, to be cared for tenderly. If you’re not getting what you need when you’re at your most fragile, then this is a serious red flag. Your partner should be a source of joy and love, obviously, but they also need to be there for you when you’re at your most vulnerable.
They’re Gaslighting You
You need to watch out if your partner is tampering with your idea of what’s real, leading you to doubt your sanity trying to convince you that things are different from reality. When a partner “rewrites history” to devalue you or make you wrong and show you that what you think or remember is not true, this is a deliberate play for control in the relationship and over time, it can be extremely damaging.
They Bring Out The Worst In You
Constant undermining, particularly when you’re trying to do something good for your mental and physical wellbeing, can be bad news.
Your Partner Affects Your Friendships
We are at our healthiest when we have a diverse range of people to depend on and see socially, so you should never really be in a situation where your partner is the only person you can depend on or talk to. It’s important to set— and time for each of you to nourish your other friendships and important relationships.” aside time for your relationship.
Does your partner have a good relationship with their own friends and family, and if not, why not? Does your partner dislike or disapprove of your family or friends?
You Don’t Like Yourself Around Them
Are you beginning to do things that question your ethics or values at your partner’s request? And these things have never been in your life before? Are you questioning yourself now that you have become aware of a conflict in your values and the life you lead with your partner?
These feelings can sneak up on you over time, almost without you noticing they’re there, so it’s important to acknowledge how you’re feeling, speak to a friend or therapist and seriously wonder whether you belong in this relationship anymore.
Feeling That You Have To Change
Do you feel that you have to change hobbies or friends you like to please your partner or to keep them interested?
Relationships are about compromise, but not so much that you should feel like changing who you fundamentally are or want to be, just to please someone else.
The best relationships celebrate us for who we are and allow us to be our most candid, authentic selves. You shouldn’t have to drastically change to hold someone’s attention or fight for someone to love you.
You’re Finding Yourself Feeling Guilty.
Guilt has no place in a relationship and can be a form of control. Are you made to feel that you are doing something wrong in the relationship? This is a subtle attempt at controlling.
You’re Fighting A Lot
Conflict can be healthy in a relationship, but not if it’s constant, vicious or damaging to your confidence. If you’re suddenly arguing a lot or you feel threatened by the other person’s approaches to your arguments, something could be wrong. Ask yourself if you feel like the fighting is another form of control.
You Feel Drained
Being with your partner should, most of the time, be invigorating and positive. If you’re feeling like they’re actively sucking your energy, like it’s hard work to be around them and like you’re working overtime just to be in their company, then that’s going to exhaust you and bring you down.
They’re Being Controlling Or Coercive
If they’re following you, monitoring your movements, tracking you by tech or controlling you and your actions, then that’s extremely serious.
If you’re in a toxic relationship, that person will try and amp up the drama and seduce you back, possibly just to break up with you.
So, what can you do if you’re nodding along to any of these red flags?
If possible, kickstart the process by visiting a couples’ therapist, who can provide you both with a safe space where you can discuss your issues, and useful feedback about the dynamics in your relationship. Above all, in order for a toxic relationship to be repaired, the desire for change has to be there.”