The Best Way to Fight With Your Partner, According to a Therapist

Couple having conversation outside

Fighting with your partner can be stressful, demoralizing, and scary. But fighting doesn’t have to be a source of such angst, and certainly doesn’t have to weaken your relationship. There are productive ways to argue with your partner and work through challenges that can bolster your connection and leave both people feeling better.

Of course, much of the difficulty of fighting comes down to each partner’s communication style. Sometimes, it’s not what we say — but how we say it — that leaves one or both partners feeling misunderstood, angry, and emotionally abandoned. Learning how to fight in a healthy way with your partner is much more important than trying to avoid fights in the first place.

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4 Tips for Dealing with Difficult People, According to a Therapist

Young man in city

Everyone knows difficult people — whether at work, at home, maybe even in your friend group. While people can be difficult for a variety of reasons, most people we’d identify as “difficult” share something in common: they are hard to interact with. Perhaps they are fixated on being right, always pointing out others’ flaws. They may make social situations tense by being quick to criticize or make fun of others, whether openly or passive-aggressively. They may explode when they are challenged, or have volatile mood swings. Often, others feel like they have to walk on eggshells around them.

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Is It Normal to Still Love Your Ex?

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Love’s favorite thing to do is to stick around when it isn’t convenient. Perhaps the worst thing about a breakup is that the feelings don’t walk out of your life as easily as your ex did. Instead, they linger. Unsolicited late night “I still love you” text messages ensue. And if you’re anything like me, you think about your exes often, you still write in your journal about them, and, most importantly, you struggle to resist the strong urge to stalk them on social media.

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What Ethical Non-Monogamy Can Teach Us About Healthy Relationships

polyamory love triangle illustration

I’m not so hot on monogamy. It’s always been strange to me that society decides one way of doing romantic relationships: boy meets girl; boy and girl date; boy and girl marry; boy and girl never date or sleep with anyone else ever again. If we’re all unique, why should we accept a one-size-fits-all rule of monogamy?

I’m not the only one skeptical: Increasingly, many people are embracing ethical non-monogamy. In this model of relationship health, having a happy and loving relationship doesn’t depend upon romantic and sexually exclusivity. Rather, ethical non-monogamy emphasizes communication and consent.

Many psychologists argue that the skills people in ethically non-monogamous relationships develop to stay happy and healthy are important lessons for everyone. Here’s how to know if ethical non-monogamy is right for you — and what it can teach us all about mental health in relationships, however we choose to love. Continue reading What Ethical Non-Monogamy Can Teach Us About Healthy Relationships

12 Things I Wish I Could Have Said to My Fiancé When I Was Crushed by Anxiety

anxious man with head in hands

This piece was first published on The Good Men Project, a publication that offers enlightened masculinity and stories from men.

1. I want to be strong, but I can’t.

On the days when I was really struggling, I simply could not muster up the strength to even get out of bed. I would for fear that you would resent me. I wanted so badly to be the man you needed, but I was broken and I had no clue how to fix myself.

2. When you cry, it destroys me.

On the days when you could no longer handle the person I had become and broke down, my heart broke into a thousand different pieces. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t. I was empty inside. Continue reading 12 Things I Wish I Could Have Said to My Fiancé When I Was Crushed by Anxiety

Mental Health In Bed: Cheating and Forgiveness

man kissing woman in bed

Anger. Panic. Betrayal. Broken trust. Emptiness. Loss. Suspicion. Grief. Ugly crying.

There are many emotions that accompany the discovery that a partner has been cheating, and they are all justified. Infidelity can rock the picture-perfect view you had for your future with your partner, shake your confidence in all realms of the relationship — including emotional and physical intimacy — and downright feel like a punch in the gut. It can also leave you questioning yourself and the value placed on your relationship.

In short, cheating is one of the worst things that can happen in a relationship. Continue reading Mental Health In Bed: Cheating and Forgiveness

Why Doesn’t My Friend Leave Their Abusive Partner – and How Can I Help?

woman hugging comforting her crying friend

You may see your friend crying, hear your friend’s partner make demeaning comments towards them, or notice they seem anxious around or afraid of their partner. Or your friend may open up to you on their own.

Knowing or suspecting that someone you care about is in an abusive relationship can be a deeply conflicting experience. You know it’s taking a toll on their mental and possibly physical health — and you want to help — but you may not feel equipped. You want to swoop in and “rescue” your friend, and yet you know you have to respect their right to make their own choices.

Despite these difficulties, it is possible to support a friend who is in an abusive situation — and often, a good friend’s support makes all the difference. Offering real support means putting our friend’s needs before our own desire to play the hero. It also means learning about the complex psychological effects of abuse.

We can understand the complexities of abuse by answering one common question: If this relationship is hurting my friend so much, why don’t they just leave? Continue reading Why Doesn’t My Friend Leave Their Abusive Partner – and How Can I Help?

Dating Someone With Social Anxiety: 6 Tips from a Therapist

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It’s hard to have social anxiety. You feel like everyone is judging you, and you’re frequently uncomfortable in your own skin. It can also be difficult to date someone who suffers from social anxiety. Sometimes it can seem like your life is being constricted in ways you didn’t sign up for, and that issue can lead to resentment and irritation. Here are some tips to keep in mind when your partner has social anxiety, so the relationship can withstand the pressure of this disorder.

1. Try Hard to Empathize With Your Partner

You may not have social anxiety, but do you have any other issues you wish you didn’t have, or that you are actively working on improving? Most people wish they were different in some way or other. For instance, if you struggle with ADHD, it is useful to compare the conditions in your mind, saying, “I don’t try to forget things, and my partner isn’t trying to be scared of social situations. We both struggle.” Continue reading Dating Someone With Social Anxiety: 6 Tips from a Therapist

7 Signs You May Be Sexually Incompatible With Your Partner

couple in bed man sleeping woman unsatisfied

Sexual incompatibility can range from a minor annoyance for some couples to the death-knell of a relationship for others. No matter what value you place on chemistry in the bedroom, though, the general rule is that if a problem is ignored, it grows in significance and leads to increased anger and resentment on both sides. If the following issues describe your relationship with your partner, I encourage you to start an open discussion with them about the role of sex and sexual compatibility within your relationship.

1. Your Partner Finds Sex “Silly” or “Unimportant”

When couples have a disparity in sex drives, that is one dilemma. The troubles really start, however, when one partner dismisses or discredits the other’s need for sex. If you are thinking your partner would even take issue with the idea of sex being a “need,” that mindset likely points to a problem. Continue reading 7 Signs You May Be Sexually Incompatible With Your Partner

Can A Relationship Make You Mentally Ill?

angry couple arguing on couch

Point blank — relationships are complicated. When they go south, they can sometimes be a blame game, and it’s all too easy point fingers at our partner when you-know-what hits the fan. But can we blame mental illness on our partner? While relationships can be amazing, enriching experiences, they do have the potential to be unhealthy and harmful to your mental health, and therefore, your overall well being.

Mental illnesses are very complex, often with multiple causes, which can be biological, genetic, or environmental. For example, while you might not have been born displaying the characteristics of a certain mental illness, you can be born with a predisposition to it, and it may be lying dormant until it’s triggered by a major life event or trauma. So, how do relationships come into play and factor into mental illness? Can love be so intense that a relationship makes you mentally ill? Continue reading Can A Relationship Make You Mentally Ill?