A Therapist’s Guide to Cohabitation

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Cohabitation is the practice of living with another person while in a relationship, typically of a romantic or sexual nature.

Cohabitation is relatively common these days, with some past estimates (from 2012) indicating that as many as 7.8 million couples were living together, unmarried. This number has dramatically increased in the past few decades as our culture has shifted from a more religious and conservative stance to a more progressive and practical (though anxious) one.

It’s almost more uncommon to meet a couple who hasn’t taken the proverbial “test drive” in cohabiting before marriage. It’s a relatively practical solution to difficult emotional problem — how two people can coexist peacefully and happily under the same roof.

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How to Set Boundaries in a New Relationship

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As a couples therapist, I see many couples who are enmeshed, meaning that they have very poor boundaries. This means that both partners are only friends with the same people (or with no people, if partners didn’t agree on which friends were tolerable), they hang out only together, and they have no external interests that aren’t shared.

Often, one or both partners secretly — or openly — feels constricted and trapped within the relationship. However, they struggle with asserting their own needs or desires for independence, because the relationship has developed into this pattern and there seems like no other option is available.

In the earliest stages of dating, when it feels like you and your new partner are the only people on earth, it is normal and even healthy to want to spend all of your time together. This is the infatuation or honeymoon stage, and it can feel very intense and amazing. But this stage doesn’t last forever, and it is unhealthy to try to extend it for the entirety of the relationship.

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4 Ways to Avoid Sabotaging Your Mental Health While on Dating Apps

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When I joined the online dating scene in 2011, I strategically crafted my profile with the right keywords, phrases, and photos that I thought would grant me the best chance of landing a date, and hopefully, a long-term relationship that would end in marriage. It was challenging to accept this new level of vulnerability and publicly announce that I’m single, looking, and by the way, would you please pick me?

Dating apps like Bumble represent some of the highest-grossing social experiences in app stores worldwide. Bumble’s $1 billion valuation comes as it surpassed $100 million in revenue in 2017. It reached these heights by offering something different to the dating app experience: letting the other party initiate the conversation.

Dating in the modern era is a process that requires patience as you swipe, click, and message your way through a sea of potential significant others. To safeguard your mental health from the first day you create your profile, follow these key guidelines as you navigate dating apps.

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Our Relationship Expert Gets Real With Your Questions About Love

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Relationships are complex, and require a great amount of effort between two people, one or both of which may be working through mental health challenges. We recently asked Talkspace Instagram followers to share their burning questions about relationships, specifically in a mental health context.

Talkspace’s relationship expert, clinical psychologist Iris Reitzes, PhD, kindly lent her expertise to help answer your important questions.

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8 Red Flags to Look Out for When Dating

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We’ve probably all experienced — and ignored — red flags while dating. It’s so easy to get swept up in the novelty and excitement of seeing someone new that we’re blind to the not-so-great things going on.

It’s one thing if you’re just looking for someone to casually hook up with — but if you want a real relationship, if you want things to get serious and take things to the next level, you need to be willing to take a step back, wipe the hearts out of your eyes, and get real.

Here are 8 red flags you should look out for if you’re trying to make something blossom into a serious relationship.

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The Chemistry Behind Summer Flings (and How to Enjoy Them)

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Sandy and Danny from Grease aren’t the only ones who’ve experienced getting friendly down in the sand on romantic summer nights. Something about summer love makes it unlike any other type of romance we experience.

There are a lot of reasons summer flings are so popular and so intense. Long walks on the beach, sharing ice cream cones, late night skinny dips, cuddling in bed with the air conditioner on full blast — what’s not to love? Not to mention, summer flings are way more exhilarating than those of lazy winter cuffing season.

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Dating as a Woman: Balancing a Desire for Intimacy with the Threat of Violence

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“Why don’t you date?”

My therapist’s comment took me aback. After a difficult relationship, why didn’t I put myself back out there? After all, meeting new people would be a healthy distraction, enrich my social life, and build up my confidence by reminding me how ridiculously charming and attractive I am.

Okay, maybe I don’t have a problem with confidence.

I have never been shy or reluctant to meet new people. But the idea of dating left me exhausted. More sexist men, more risk of sexual violence, more worrying that — Cat Person-style — a seemingly innocuous date would reveal a shock of coercion under his charm.

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8 Ways Being Single is Great for Your Mental Health

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Let’s get one thing straight: Being single doesn’t mean you’re going to be forever alone. If nothing else, being single is a learning experience — one that happens to be good for your mental health, believe it or not.

So stop stressing over those seemingly endless (and cliché) “I SAID YES!” posts everyone shares on Instagram, and start appreciating the benefits of single life. Here are some ways being single is actually beneficial to your mental well-being.

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How To Get Over A Breakup

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Breakups suck, whether you’re the one who’s dumped or the one doing the dumping. When overcome with such intense emotions, it can be difficult to keep your mental health in check and figure out how to get over a breakup. Already plagued with depression, breakups are particularly difficult for me, often leaving me bedridden and writing bad poetry.

My first serious boyfriend made my biggest fear come true when he broke up with me because he could no longer handle my mood swings and depressive episodes that were “bringing him down.” I thought he was the man I’d marry…and then that was shattered. My next boyfriend broke up with me for strange reasons I can’t begin to get into, and then drove across the country to move to California. This split left me unable to be awake for more than a couple hours at once, let alone eat.

I’ve experienced some pretty serious heartbreak that really messed with my mental health, but I at least learned how to get over a breakup. Here are my pointers to stay well during a turbulent time. Continue reading How To Get Over A Breakup

7 Tips For Dating A Survivor of Sexual Abuse or Assault

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As a sexual abuse survivor, dating terrifies me. Abuse taught me that a relationship meant losing all of my agency and performing sexual acts I didn’t want to — “no” wasn’t an option. Subsequent relationships have been mixed at best, from the partner who got mad when I froze during sex, to the dates when I could barely squeak out what my job title is because I was so petrified.

Survivors like me are not rare, especially considering the statistics. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted, including both male and female victims. This means at some point in your dating life, odds are you will encounter a survivor.

“If we’re going to be dating, and if we’re going to be dating a lot, we’re going to run into someone who probably is a sexual assault survivor,” says Cynthia Stocker, a licensed clinical social worker with more than 30 years of experience. “It’s really pretty common.”

Dating as a survivor often brings out traumatic memories, sensations, and emotions because of past experiences. When a current partner is empathetic, educated, and understanding, however, that can make dating easier to manage for both parties.

With that in mind, here are seven tips for dating a survivor. Continue reading 7 Tips For Dating A Survivor of Sexual Abuse or Assault