My mom had one response to our childhood complaints of schoolyard mean girls: “They’re probably having problems at home. Let it go.”
I, of course, wasn’t having any of it. “But they’re mean to me,” I would wail. “Can’t you take my side?”
Now that the grade school social scene is firmly behind me, I understand that my mother didn’t literally mean that every kid who picked on others had a difficult home life. She meant instead that people hurt one another for a reason, and understanding those reasons can help us make sense of hurtful experiences and move on.
Research on forgiveness backs up my mother’s advice, with numerous studies (below) finding that forgiveness not only encourages emotional healing, it can improve your physical health.
Continue reading Do You Have to Forgive to Move On?
“A friendship between college girls is grander and more dramatic than any romance.”
So says Hannah Horvath, Lena Dunham’s character in the hit TV show Girls, which follows four women in their twenties through romance, career — and most importantly, friendship.
It’s not just college women who have grand and dramatic friendships. While friends tend to be given short shrift to romantic relationships in our culture, our friendships are super important to our mental and emotionl lives. And the joys and traumas of friendship can be just as painful, if not more so, than the ups and downs of a romantic relationship.
Continue reading How To Survive a (Friendship) Breakup
After a breakup, many people desire time and space to heal, and choose not to interact much with their ex-partner. However, more people nowadays continue living with their partner after a breakup. There are multiple reasons, including financial issues, the desire to remain friends, or being joint “parents” to a pet.
Other people simply don’t like change, and want to remain in their homes.They assume that if their breakup wasn’t contentious, they will be able to continue to live amicably with their ex.
There are some situations where this arrangement can work out well, but it can be risky for both partners. There are important variables that impact whether or not this will work for you and for your ex-partner. Here are a few to consider.
Continue reading Is Living With a Partner After a Breakup Bad for Your Mental Health?
A little bit of jealousy is healthy for a relationship. If you didn’t care at all about your partner leaving you for someone else, this would generally be considered a bad sign for your relationship. In fact, in evolutionary psychology, there is a phenomenon known as “mate guarding,” which is when an animal guards their mate more closely around potential rivals.
Humans do the same thing when they become more aware or vigilant about their partner’s behavior around other attractive people. And people often respond positively to minor signs of jealousy in their partners. They assume that it means that their partners value them, consider them attractive to others, and don’t want to lose them.
Continue reading Is Relationship Jealousy Damaging Your Mental Health?
Everyone knows people who are very difficult to deal with, but when does “difficult” cross into “toxic”? While toxic is not an official diagnosis, there are some individuals that cause endless interpersonal conflict, and tend to make others feel bad about themselves on a regular basis.
Some individuals with Narcissistic, Histrionic, or Borderline Personality Disorder can fit these descriptions, but just having one of those disorders doesn’t necessarily mean that someone acts “toxic” to everyone or to anyone. Do you recognize anyone you know in the following descriptions of habits of toxic people?
Continue reading 6 Traits of Highly Toxic People
“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.
Continue reading Dating as a Woman: Balancing a Desire for Intimacy with the Threat of Violence
“I promise I’ll change.”
These are four words most people in a relationship with an abusive partner have probably heard. Longed-for yet dreaded, the words can offer both hope and disappointment. Hope that things really will get better this time, and disappointment when, inevitably, the abusive behavior—whether emotional, physical, or verbal—begins all over again.
We’ve all heard that a leopard can’t change its spots. But what about an abusive partner?
Continue reading My Abusive Partner Promises They’ll Change. Will They?
Originally, I was asked to write this piece about a time I felt empowered as a woman. All day I sat with the prompt, but nothing came to me. How sad is that?
Over the next couple of days, I asked a few of my female friends if they could think of a time they felt empowered. They couldn’t think of a specific time, either. I felt sad for them. I felt sad for myself.
Of course, all these other thoughts came flooding into my mind — about all the times I felt like my power was threatened as a woman (e.g. most of the time). All the times I’ve been in situations that made me feel like a piece of meat — something to look at and touch, but not a human to be communicated with, respected or honored.
Continue reading International Women’s Day: Speaking Out Beyond #MeToo
Even the most dynamic of duos has the occasional fight. Whether it begins with “Who forgot to take the dog out?” or “Do I really have to go to your brother’s birthday party?”, having arguments is a common — and healthy — part of any relationship.
But in some cases, what we call an “argument” is actually something worse. Ever had a partner who criticizes everything you do? Who shouts and uses cruel language when they get angry (and they may fly off the handle a lot)? Who makes you feel like you’re wrong or “too sensitive” when you try to speak up?
Continue reading Is It a Normal Fight or Verbal Abuse? Here’s How to Tell
As a therapist, I can’t tell you how many times clients come to me with information that they have gleaned from checking their partners’ phone. Some people will come in with screenshots of text conversations between their partner and others, hoping to dissect them to determine whether their partner was flirting or whether the conversation was just platonic.
Others come in with call records, telling me that it can’t be innocent when a partner calls a “friend” five times in a week. Some people fear that a significant other is cheating on them and comb through their partner’s email, looking for something that they can use as evidence of infidelity.
Continue reading Why You Shouldn’t Check Your Partner’s Phone