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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6 Ways to Bounce Back After a Relationship Meltdown

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Relationship meltdowns happen to the best of us (and they’ve certainly happened to me).

As humans it’s only natural that we make mistakes, have freak-outs, and overreact sometimes. Lots of things can cause us to have a meltdown, from fear of abandonment to jealousy issues. We can’t control the past, and once we freak out, what’s done is done. Luckily, we can control how we act after we have a meltdown, and that’s what’s going to make all the difference.

Here are 6 steps for bouncing back after having a relationship meltdown.

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What To Do When You Hate Your Partner’s Parents

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There comes a moment in many serious relationships when it is time to meet your partner’s parents. In a perfect world, you will instantly connect with these individuals who raised, supported and love your partner — after all, those very family members will likely become a major part of your life if this is a relationship for the long haul.

But that isn’t always the case, and you may find yourself completely disliking your loved one’s parents.

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Is It a Rough Patch or You Should Break Up?

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Relationships can be difficult, and the majority of couples go through ups and downs as they determine whether they are compatible for the long haul. However, some rough patches are more serious than others, and are indicators that the relationship may not, or should not, survive.

Fortunately, there are some ways to figure out whether you’re just in a low point or whether you need to consider ending your relationship.

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How Not to Sabotage a Relationship When It’s Going Well

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I’ll never forget the beginning of the end with my first serious boyfriend.

We were madly in love, and I had no doubt that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him…and then one day I told him he should dump me and leave me now, before he inevitably would at some point in the future. He told me I was being silly and brushed it off. But then every night we spent together, I ended up crying, telling him again and again, “Just leave me now! I know you’re going to at some point.”

Eventually, it (and other things) got to him. He broke up with me, leaving me alone wondering if I’d done it all to myself and I was the reason for my own heartbreak.

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Passive Aggressiveness: Why We Do it and How to Stop

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You’re having a conversation at a party. It sounds normal enough, but something doesn’t feel right, although you can’t quite put your finger on what. You recognize that your friend is telling you something without telling you something — “I normally don’t like the way you dress, but that dress looks great on you!” she says.

Ouch. It hits you: She’s being passive aggressive.

Passive-aggressive behavior is a way of expressing anger in a seemingly non-hostile way — a deliberate and masked way of expressing covert feelings. It’s a behavior that encompasses more than just eye rolls and faux compliments; it involves a range of actions designed to get back at another person without him or her recognizing the underlying anger.

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Five Ways to De-Escalate a Fight With Your Partner

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A few years ago, when I was freshly dating my now-husband, I came across an article where a blogger wrote about something interesting that her husband does something interesting.

If she and him are disagreeing, he says, “I love you,” in the middle of the argument to diffuse it. “In the middle of a fight, say, ‘I love you you’re the most important person in the world to me,’ even if at that moment, those words are the hardest ones to choke out because you’re so mad,” she wrote.

I couldn’t fathom it then, and I can’t fathom it now. The last thing on my mind during a heated discussion is adoration, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can be done to soften the situation.

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Does Your Mental Health Condition Need to Align With Your Partner’s?

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One in five American adults experience mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance abuse, and more. These issues can impact every facet of life including, of course, your romantic relationship.

Some worry that their mental health issues will sabotage their relationship. Others believe that things will possibly be better if their partner has a similar issue. Are compatible experiences with mental health really necessary for a successful relationship?

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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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How to Emotionally Prepare Yourself for Your Next Relationship

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I’ll admit it: when my Talkspace editors suggested that I write about how to overcome harmful relationship patterns, my first thought was “Hey man, I wish I knew.”

I, like most of us, have had my fair share of bad relationships, from “it’s complicated,” to “it’s really complicated,” to abuse (and there’s no Facebook status for that). I, like most of us, have gone into each new relationship hoping it will be different this time, but worrying that old patterns will come back to bite me in the derrière. And I, like many women and queer people, have swiped through a dating wasteland of those too eager to show me their genitals, wondering why it has to be so difficult to find someone who will treat me with respect. And of course, I’ve had my fair share of wonderful moments, sweet partners, and fulfilling relationships, too.

But in a world where many of our experiences of intimacy are marked by trauma or negative patterns of behavior, how can we work through the bad stuff to find enduring, healthy love?

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