Love. It can be a tricky emotion. We are taught love is irrational, spontaneous and can make us do crazy things. It can difficult to tell what is healthy, head over heels, and what or when it becomes unhealthy. There are a series of questions we can take a look at to begin to assess the impact of a relationship.
Are you justifying their actions too much?
Do you find yourself making excuses to yourself or others for your partner’s behaviors? Or maybe you find yourself in an endless battle of justifications. If you are finding that every time you are “explaining away” behaviors “oh, he’s just having a rough week again” “well, she doesn’t get like usually, unless she’s drunk” but drunk happens every night at 8pm, then perhaps it’s time to take a step back. What would it mean to you and the relationship if you were to look at your partner without the excuses? There’s a big difference between having a stressful day at the office and coming home grumpy verses having a permanently snappy partner who always dismisses your feelings.
Is it hurting your self-esteem?
Do you reminisce about “the old me” or maybe you wonder where your voice went? Does your relationship hurt more than it supports? Ask yourself what is it about this relationship that is hurting your self-worth. Are you being put down or ignored? As people, our brains are physically wired to connect. We process physical pain and social rejection in the same brain pathways, so when we are lonely, the hurt becomes all too real.
Is it physically, verbally, or financially hurting you?
Does your partner use their fists or bullying as leverage in the relationship? If you notice your partner is hitting you, using love as a means of manipulation ( “If you REALLY loved me, you would do this for me”) these are red flags of an abusive relationship. It is important to remember abuse does not just include hitting. If you are in an abusive relationship, please seek out professional help or call a domestic violence hotline such as 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Other red flags of being in an abusive relationship can include (but certainly are NOT limited to) one partner isolating the other from any previous support systems, friends or family members, in addition to controlling finances and monitoring/dictating who you are and are not allowed to speak to. Love should never hurt physically, nor should it prevent you from reaching your own personal goals or make you unsafe.
Is this meeting my needs?
Yes, we all must compromise on some things. Be it the endless compromising with your alarm clock, or compromising on eating dinner at that place you hate but your partner likes so much. What is important it to take a look and see if your basic relational needs are being met- what do you need from a relationship ( respect, affection, recognition, someone who values and reflects your morals) and is this being met?
Love, relationships, friendships, families, none of these are seamlessly easy and all take effort from both parties. If you feel you are making unhealthy allowances for your significant other, or find yourself in an unhealthy relationship, please know it is never too late to start putting yourself and your wellbeing first again.
National Domestic Hotline (Toll Free 24/7) 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Is your resolution to start or return to therapy?
Perhaps your resolution is to start therapy, or maybe you need it after surviving 2017 + the holiday season. Finding a therapist can feel very overwhelming- you’ve gone through Psychology Today, talked to a few friends for referrals, etc. Now what?
Let’s take a look at a few tips for finding your therapist match...
Another subject to consider is what you want out of therapy. Now that you have found some therapists you’re confident in, now we can take a look at what to expect.
What should I expect?
Do I have to lay down on the couch? Not unless you want to, they tend to be comfy- and trust me we have all pretty much napped on those couches. Typically, sessions are done these days sitting face to face in an office setting.
Do I need to divulge everything on the first session? I’m nervous. You can go at your own comfort & speed. It’s completely normal to feel nervous, it can be helpful to explore these feelings on the first session. Many therapy styles these days are “client centered” which is a fancy way of saying that YOU are in the driver’s seat in control.
What if I think my therapist will judge me? Rest assured, therapy is no place for judgements. In reality, the more honest you are in sharing those more embarrassing moments/hard to vocalize thoughts & behaviors, the more productive therapy generally will be. Remember, it’s not our job to judge; it’s our job to support, help and guide towards self-realization. Chances are, we have heard it in some way shape or form before.
Do I need to go every week? Typically, therapy is a weekly process; however, some opt to come in every other week, while others may feel they want to be seen more than once a week. Some therapists may offer phone sessions or virtual sessions as well if the client is unable to attend regularly.
What can I expect from the process? You will most likely feel many things- there will be times where you leave the therapy room feeling as though you are 100lbs lighter, there will be other times that you may feel stuck and frustrated. Talk to your therapist about how you are feeling, it’s a help to both parties in the room. Just remember that therapy is not an overnight “quick-fix” process nor like refreshing day at the spa. Therapy is an emotionally committed process that may bring up feelings of discomfort, although therapy can also bring about feelings of being reassured, less alone and a place where you can learn what to do with all of your emotions. Therapy can an exciting, scary and ultimately empowering process for many.
Alexis has been a part time contributor to the online website Patientworthy which is dedicated to education and awareness of rare and serious diseases. Links to articles written by Alexis: