Are You in a Codependent Relationship?

couple man giving sick woman pill glass of water

There is a phenomenon therapists often see in couples counseling when one partner gets “better” in some way, but then, paradoxically, the relationship actually deteriorates rather than improving. This can happen when a partner recovers from depression or learns to manage their anxiety more effectively.
Often when there is one partner with obvious “issues” such as addiction, the other partner falls into an enabler role, and a codependent relationship can result. When one partner is no longer struggling with this issue, the relationship structure must change entirely. Sometimes, the relationship does not survive this shift.

Some couples, however, are able to navigate this change and develop a healthier and more interdependent — rather than codependent — relationship.

In my practice I find it useful to recommend books and movies to help clients learn more about relationship dynamics and psychological issues. To understand the dynamics of codependency and how relationships change when one partner is in recovery, my favorite movie to recommend to clients is When a Man Loves a Woman with Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia.

Note: This post will contain movie spoilers. You can also choose to watch the film first and then return to this article. Continue reading Are You in a Codependent Relationship?

7 Signs Your Partner Is A Narcissist

woman with narcissist man partner smug expression

Narcissism, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder, has hit the mainstream. Although narcissism was always prevalent in about the same percentages of the population, the disorder is more widely discussed now than ever before. Because of the prevalence of discussions about narcissism in the political sphere — and its appearance in books and articles shared on social media — many clients wonder if their partner meets a criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Nobody can be diagnosed without being evaluated by a professional, but there are some clues in your everyday life that your partner may, in fact, be a narcissist. I will use the male pronoun here, but narcissists can be any gender. Continue reading 7 Signs Your Partner Is A Narcissist

How Narcissists Act in Bed Might Surprise You

woman in bra looking in mirror illustration

In recent years, there has been a huge uptick in awareness about narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Many people notice flagrant examples of narcissism, like a coworker who talks endlessly about herself or a date who says most women tell him he’s the most attractive guy they’ve met on Tinder. But sometimes narcissism can be less obvious, and its signs may be counterintuitive.

This is the case particularly in the bedroom. Here’s a list of some sexual characteristics of narcissists. Some might not surprise you, but others could challenge your preconceived notions of narcissism.

Unexpected Generosity

Narcissists may actually be very “generous.” You may envision a narcissist as a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am type of lover who is only out to have his or her own orgasm and then rolls over and goes to sleep. Some people fit this description.

Others are much the opposite, though. Many narcissists pride themselves on being expert lovers who can give a partner multiple orgasms and the best experience of their lives. The only downside to this is that narcissists might expect their partners to rhapsodize over their lovemaking skill, and may even prompt partners to discuss this in awkward detail. Even providing oral sex for a partner is still all about the narcissist’s own ego. Continue reading How Narcissists Act in Bed Might Surprise You

10 Signs You Have Social Anxiety, According to a Therapist

anxious woman in windowsill

Many clients are surprised to learn they have a diagnosis of social anxiety. In fact, according to the NIMH, an incredible 18% of the population suffers from anxiety. Of those, 63% aren’t receiving treatment, and 34% of those aren’t receiving adequate treatment. Some sufferers assume they might only be shy, introverted or quiet; others think they are awkward or lacking in social skills. Interestingly, women are 60% more likely to suffer from anxiety than men.

Here are 10 signs that what you’re dealing with might be social anxiety, and not simply shyness:

1. You skip events you are interested in, only because you think you will feel awkward.

Salsa dancing sounds cool. But you cringe thinking about how stupid you’ll look doing it, so you don’t go. Even if other people don’t know how to dance either, you assume they’ll look less silly than you. If an event involves any aspect of performing, you’re even more scared to go. Continue reading 10 Signs You Have Social Anxiety, According to a Therapist

7 Fears You Might Have About Couples Counseling

couple in therapy with therapist

Couples counseling can strike fear into the hearts of many people. Couples might picture a therapist who judges them, allies with one partner over the other, gives couples unworkable or fluffy “solutions” to their problems or who means well but is a waste of time and money.

It’s unfortunate that so many couples feel this way. As a couples counselor, I have seen how couples can benefit greatly from counseling. Here is a rundown of some couples counseling fears and myths versus reality. It will help you decide whether or not to start counseling with your partner. Continue reading 7 Fears You Might Have About Couples Counseling

4 Issues That Come Up In Couples Counseling During The Holidays

couple christmas tree ornaments

The holiday season can be a wonderful time of closeness with loved ones, but it also causes a lot of stress for many couples. Couples counseling can provide a safe space to work through many common issues that plague couples during the pressure-filled holiday season.

If you are in counseling, some of these issues might resonate with you. Maybe you can raise them in upcoming sessions. If you’re not seeing a therapist, and any of these issues have led to significant conflict in your relationship, it could be time to schedule an appointment with a counselor who can help you work through these concerns. Continue reading 4 Issues That Come Up In Couples Counseling During The Holidays

6 Ways to NOT Let Your Family Stress You Out Over the Holidays

Gilmore Girls family fighting

Are you dreading the holidays? Chances are it’s because every year your family stresses you out when all you’re trying to do is take a break from the stress of work. It’s especially bad if seeing your family evokes painful memories and dredges issues you would rather save for a therapist.

To help you manage this stress, here are six tips for staying calm and dealing with the most challenging members of your family. They might reduce that holiday dread.

1. Set Boundaries

Sometimes family members upset us frequently to the point where we have a rough idea of how long it takes for them to stress us out. Do you know what your limit us? If so, make sure you can say goodbye to your family before approaching that limit. Tell them your time frame ahead of the reunion so they can manage their expectations. This will also help you avoid hurting their feelings.
If you don’t know what your limit is, try to be careful and figure it out for next time. For now air on the conservative side.

You can also set limits on what you’re going to do when you’re with family. If they have a holiday habit of goading or guilting you into something you hate, tell them ahead of time that you’re not going to put up with that. Continue reading 6 Ways to NOT Let Your Family Stress You Out Over the Holidays

5 Qualities That Will Help You Get the Most Out of Therapy

5 therapy art heads

Anyone can benefit from a fresh, skilled perspective and a supportive ear. There are, however, some types of individuals who make more — or at least faster — progress in therapy.

Here are some traits that predict a beneficial outcome in counseling, from my experience working with adults and couples in my private practice. You can still succeed without them, but doing so might take longer. Continue reading 5 Qualities That Will Help You Get the Most Out of Therapy