Three Practical Tips for Productive Communication (when you are both stressed)

Three Practical Tips for Productive Communication (when you are both stressed)

Three Practical Tips for Productive Communication (when you are both stressed)

Couples Communication Tips

Have you noticed a difference in your communication with your partner over these last several months? Maybe being around each other more often has led to greater opportunities for discussing both positive and negative aspects of your relationship, selves, and life goals. Productive Communication is essential for any relationship – but when faced with something like, say, a pandemic, your ability to communicate through the current change could ultimately make or break your relationship. 

As an online marriage counselor and relationship coach, I have been working with my couples clients lately around productive communication in stressful times. Not only are many of my couples clients experiencing a new kind of stress in their individual lives (careers, goals, hobbies, friendships), but they are also experiencing a new type of stress in their partnerships.

It’s not uncommon for couples to experience an uptick in stress when what felt like a relatively regular routine gets flipped on its side…we can probably all relate to this, right? When your entire life changes (working from home, transitioning to a new way of managing your day-to-day tasks, spending more family time, even homeschooling for many families), your relationship can feel like it’s on the backburner. In doing so, new anxiety, confusion, and stress can be brought to the surface surrounding you and your partner. 

I first want to tell you; you are not alone. We are all in this same boat together. It’s difficult enough to manage a regular life, relationship, and family structure but throw in constant change and the unknowing of tomorrow, and you have a whole new stress-mess to work through that can feel overwhelming and often lonely.

Today I want to share three practical tips for productive communication with you when you and your partner are both stressed and ultimately doing the best you can! 

#1 Name It: Call it what it is…

The first tip is to acknowledge to yourself and your partner that you are stressed. Life has recently thrown many things at us, and it is very common to go into problem-solving mode. We are wired to prioritize our responsibilities first and think of ourselves last. You may feel the need to be strong for everyone around you, or it can be hard to admit when things get to you. Take some time every day to check in with yourself. Name your feelings, tell your partner what they are. 

A quick way to do this is to identify your stress level on a scale, say from 1 to 5. This allows you both to be aware that your stress may be impacting how you interact with one another. It is also essential to be aware when you need additional support and skills to deal with your stress. 

If you find that your stress is consistently interfering with daily responsibilities or changing the way you see yourself and your partner, seeking an individual or couples counselor can do wonders. Take advantage of the increasing flexibility and availability of online counseling to get quick and direct support. 

Now more than ever, it is crucial that you increase your ability to manage stress.  If we don’t acknowledge how we are doing, it is easy for us to take things personally. This can turn us away from one another when we need the support of each other the most. 

#2 Give The Conversation A Purpose

The next tip is about coming to the conversations you have with a specific purpose. Before you begin talking about a difficult topic or when stress is at its highest, think about what you want to get out of the conversation. Are you looking for space to vent about what is going on? Would you like your partner to give you their advice or opinion about something? Maybe you need reassurance and encouragement. 

If you give the conversation a specific purpose and relay that to each other beforehand, you will have a better chance of being understood. Your partner also has a better idea of what they can do to contribute productively to the conversation. Stress can make it difficult to know how to help each other, and having a specific purpose will keep you both connected and on the same page.

#3 Stay On One Topic At A Time

When stress creeps in, there can be a rush of thoughts and emotions that overwhelm you. Your mind could be running a mile a minute. This has a way of interfering with how we communicate. 

Have you ever started talking about one thing, and then you are on a totally different topic a few minutes later? That is usually because our emotions have taken over the conversation, and we are now focusing on them instead of the issue at hand. 

If you find that your conversations are bouncing from topic to topic, try to catch each distraction and redirect back to the original topic and purpose. You may say something like, ‘I noticed we have gotten off track, let’s refocus.’ Then go back to the original topic. This can slow down the pace of the conversation and help you resolve one thing at a time. 

Practice Productive Communication

It’s true; you’re not going to have this figured out after one conversation (not even one really productive conversation) because the truth is, it takes time. You and your partner may have to work a little extra to create the time that you both need for productive communication. However, with practice and persistence, what can feel like an overwhelming or confusing conversation can ultimately start to grow into another beautiful chapter of your life. 

Here’s to productive communication!

Warmly,
Teresa Thomas, M.A., AP

 

Teresa Thomas Marriage Counseling Online Charlotte marriage Counseling black therapist online therapist charlotte NC

Teresa Thomas, M.A., AP is a positive, strengths-based therapist, marriage counselor, and life coach with a knack for helping people get to the root of their issues so that they can establish strong foundations for long-term change. She helps couples, families and individuals heal, grow, and feel good again.

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Real Help For Your Relationship

Lots of couples go through challenging times, but the ones who turn "rough-patches" into "growth moments" can come out the other side stronger and happier than ever before.

 

Working with an expert couples counselor can help you create understanding, empathy and open communication that felt impossible before.

 

Start your journey of growth together by scheduling a free consultation.

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Fight Racism, Part 1: Hope, Healing and Empowerment

Fight Racism, Part 1: Hope, Healing and Empowerment

Many people are connecting with strong emotions as they actively confront pervasive problems in our culture. Some are sitting with sadness, some are giving a voice to long-unspoken anger, and others are feeling hopeful — even exhilarated — that racism is being acknowledged and addressed openly. Today on the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is speaking with online therapists Teresa Thomas, M.A., A.P, and Zachary Gaiter, M.S., LPCC about Hope, Healing and Empowerment.

Signs of Low Self Esteem

Signs of Low Self Esteem

Signs of Low Self Esteem

Signs Of Low Self Esteem

And How to Overcome Them

Signs of Low Self Esteem: Do you struggle to feel good about yourself? Do you compare yourself unfavorably to others? If you make a mistake or experience a setback, do you assume that it’s because of your personal flaws or shortcomings? Do you assume that people don’t like you, and anticipate rejection at every turn? 

These are just a few of  signs of low self esteem, and if they’re present in you, it’s hard to feel confident in your own abilities, and generally secure around other people. As a Denver Therapist and online life coach I’ve worked with countless clients over the years who struggled with low self esteem. I know that this is an exhausting and disempowering way to live, but the good news is that with the right support you can start to feel good about yourself again. 

On this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, we’re talking all about self esteem in order to provide you with insight and direction about how to achieve healthy self esteem and stay confidently connected to your self-worth through the ups and downs of life. 

Specifically, we’re discussing:

The importance of Self Esteem

Self esteem refers to your basic trust in yourself, and your sense that you are worthy of love and respect. People with healthy self esteem are usually able to take setbacks in stride and cope with disappointment, set healthy boundaries with others, take guidance from their feelings, be appropriately assertive, and trust in their ability to be effective and make good decisions.  

People with healthy self esteem typically feel good about themselves and, more importantly, are able to support themselves compassionately when they don’t. (Instead of beating themselves up and judging themselves when they’re feeling down.) When people with high self esteem experience inevitable rejection or disappointment, they have a realistic understanding of all the factors that may have contributed to their negative experience — not just singular focus on their own shortcomings.

Perhaps most importantly, people with healthy self esteem tend to be effective in relationships. Because they have a strong sense of themselves, they are able to stay calm(ish) when their partner or loved one is upset. They’re also able to have empathy for their partner’s feelings and perspective without feeling that their own is being attacked or criticised. Because they do not need approval or external validation to feel okay about themselves, they are able to tolerate moments when their partner is not at their best without becoming over-reactive. 

Because people with high self esteem trust their feelings and have a general core belief that they are worthy of being treated well, they tend to talk openly about how they feel, ask for what they need, and swiftly set healthy boundaries with people who are being abusive or disrespectful to them. 

Low Self Esteem Symptoms

If you don’t feel like you are a fundamentally “good enough” person who is worthy of love and respect, you may blame yourself for many things and have a vicious inner critic berating you from the inside out. People with low self esteem often feel inappropriately guilty and ashamed, and are often consumed by negative thoughts about themselves. 

One of the hallmark signs of low self esteem is a tendency to compare yourself to other people, and often feel that you’re not as good as others are. Particularly for young people, feelings of low self esteem can be amplified by social media use, as they compare the curated images and “highlight reel” of others to their own life experiences… and feel like they’re falling short.

If you’re suffering from low self esteem it’s difficult for you to trust yourself. This often takes the form of minimizing your own feelings — particularly dark (and protective!) emotions like sadness and legitimate anger. When you feel guilt or shame for feeling upset, it is difficult to set healthy boundaries with other people, or talk about how you feel or what you need with others. This, in turn, has a negative impact on relationships. (And having difficult relationships, contributes further to your feelings of low self esteem). 

Causes of Low Self Esteem

If you’re wondering, “Why do I have low self esteem?” here’s an overview of some of the common causes of low self esteem:

  • Self Esteem and Depression:

    • Low self esteem is one of the symptoms of major depressive disorder. This is an important distinction, because if depression is present, it may be causing feelings of low self esteem. (Low self esteem does not necessarily cause depression!) If you get into mental health treatment for depression, ideally using and evidence based form of therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy, as your depression lifts it will also contribute to raising your self esteem.
  • Self Esteem and Trauma:

    • People who have experienced a number adverse life experiences including childhood abuse or neglect, or other significant, early rejections of traumas are often suffering from low self esteem as a result. Getting involved in high-quality, sometimes longer-term trauma-focused, evidenced-based psychotherapy will often help heal your self esteem as you work through the trauma.
  • Other Causes of Low Self Esteem:

    • While mental illnesses like depression or PTSD can create feelings of low self esteem, it is also true that many people who suffer from low self esteem (perhaps most!) have not lived through extreme abuse, neglect or trauma, nor are they suffering from symptoms of depression. Sometimes they’ve experienced a loss such as a breakup, divorce, or layoff that has been a gut punch to their self esteem. People who’ve been stuck in a toxic relationship will often feel badly about themselves. Other times, what causes low self esteem is simply a long-standing negative thought pattern that emphasizes personal shortcomings, and overlooks strengths and successes. Shifting that inner dialogue can help people start feeling better about themselves and their lives.

How to Improve Your Self Esteem

There are a number of effective strategies for how to overcome low self esteem. Generally speaking, passive, insight-oriented, traditional, vague “talk therapy” that seeks to create connections between life events and why you feel so badly about yourself (if not rooted in actual trauma work) will often just make you feel worse and more broken. Endlessly talking about how badly you feel about yourself, and why, will only amplify these feelings and make you feel increasingly stuck in them. 

A far more effective approach for how to overcome low self esteem is through a more positive, action-oriented approach such as CBT for self esteem. This type of therapy for self esteem does not keep you focused on the past, but rather teaches you new strategies to identify and shift negative, self-limiting thoughts. It also emphasizes empowerment, and encourages you to actively participate in behaviors that challenge you, and provide you with opportunities to experience your own competence. This strengths-based approach to self esteem counseling helps you correct the core beliefs about your “worthlessness” because it teaches you how to feel confident and effective in different situations. 

Another fantastic strategy for how to have high self esteem is through evidence-based life coaching that utilizes cognitive behavioral strategies. Particularly if your low self esteem is related to a recent loss or setback, like low self esteem after a breakup, or low self esteem after a layoff, this type of life coaching can help you feel better about yourself. 

Positive, future-focused life coaching can also teach you how to change the way you think, teaches you new skills for how to be more effective in common situations (particularly around communication and emotional intelligence). But good life coaching for self esteem will also help you set achievable goals and then take action to achieve them. Doing so, and creating a new reality for yourself, will help you feel positive, confident, and more trusting in your own abilities. 

Self Esteem Test

One helpful tool to measure your self esteem is our “How Healthy is Your Self Esteem Quiz.” This is an online self esteem test that explores whether or not (and to what extent) you have the signs of low self esteem. You can take this self esteem test online, and then get a report showing your results and recommendations for how to raise your self esteem. 

Self Esteem Podcast

For even more on this topic and a deep dive into the signs of low self esteem, the difference between “high self esteem” and “healthy self esteem,” an exploration of the causes of low self esteem, why traditional therapy can amplify feelings of low self esteem, and insight into the most effective ways of raising your self esteem, listen to this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast. 

It’s all for you!

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Dating Profiles, First Messages, and Red Flags

As a relationship therapist and dating coach, many of my single clients who are looking for that forever love, come to me asking, “What am I doing wrong?” expressing feelings of confusion, hurt, and even outrage at the current state of the dating world. Today I want to share with you dating tips to navigate the online dating pool of uncertainty and discomfort so that you can enter the dating world with confidence and assuredness that you’re not alone in feeling this way. 

It’s Not You…It’s Your Dating Platform

Okay, you’ve decided to jump in – to try out this online approach to dating, and what better time than now when social distancing is in full swing? It’s not like you can go to the bar or join a club to meet someone new these days, you have to get a little more creative and with SO many people circulating on and through dating apps and websites…where do you even begin?

When it comes to online dating, there are apps and websites galore for you to choose from. The biggest difference between using an app like Tinder vs. a website like OkCupid is that dating sites that require a questionnaire (or a financial commitment) tend to attract people that are more serious about looking for a relationship. Where it is more common to find people that are looking for a relationship as well as causal hookup up on swipe apps. 

Using an app or website is not necessarily better than the other but it may be helpful to think about what you are looking for and to choose a site or an app depending on the type of person that particular platform attracts. I often recommend that people join more than one platform to increase their pool of people.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read

Dating profiles are intimidating – they’re intimidating to create and they’re even intimidating to read. Dating clients will ask me, “How can I trust that this is real?” And it is true…people have a tendency to answer personal questionnaires as they would like to be, not as they really are. 

We all want to put our best foot forward, especially when it comes to meeting someone new. So, it’s likely that there will be embellishments on dating profiles. Consider the profile similar to a first impression – while you aren’t getting the full impression of the person, you are seeing (typically) who they want to be or believe they can be if they aren’t that person already.

My advice here is to not jump to conclusions. Don’t assume that what you read in the profile is completely true, but don’t discount what the profile says because it seems to good to be true. So while the personality questionnaire may not be 100 percent accurate they may at least give some idea of who that person is or at least who they aspire to be.

Use the dating profile as a jumping-off point to get to know the person, not to judge who they are or aren’t based on the answers they filled out. 

Finding Your Perfect Match: More than a Questionnaire 

For many online dating sites, the questionnaire will allow you to connect with similarly minded people – those who have a high percentage of matching with you based on the answers that you filled out. 

The truth is, there is no foolproof way to succeed in finding the perfect match but there are definitely things that will increase your chances such as having a great profile, clarifying for yourself what you are looking for in a partner and how to assess others for that quality, having a positive mindset about dating, having a positive mindset about yourself, identifying your shortcoming when it comes to dating and taking steps to improve those things, and obviously being willing to go on lots of dates!

Don’t discount a potential match because your “match rating” is lower than others. Dating requires getting to know people – talking, listening, and seeing where your compatibility is outside of the questionnaire answers you both filled out. 

Your Dating Profile IS Your First Impression

You may get the opportunity to turn your matches into real-life dates, but the relationship ultimately starts from your profile. As mentioned before, dating profiles (creating and reading) are intimidating! Some of my tips for creating a standout dating profile are: 

  • Include good quality and thoughtfully chosen pictures. The pictures may be the only thing someone looks at – each picture should have a purpose that gives information about you (no selfie bathroom shots!!!!). It should also be easy to identify who you are in the photo (keep it simple, don’t include a bunch of group photos). For more tips on taking outstanding dating profile pictures, see: Denver Dating Coach: How to Get The Best Online Dating Profile Photo
  • Share something unique, interesting, and important. Give people enough interesting information in your profile that they have something for a conversation starter. Saying “I like dogs and beach volleyball” might be an easy way to plan that first date, but ultimately doesn’t share anything about who you are.
  • Don’t complain. I cannot stress this enough, don’t complain and especially don’t talk about how much you hate online dating in your profile (you’d be surprised at how often this happens). 

When you find a match – or someone you’re interested in getting to know a little more, you may have the opportunity to send them a message. When messaging others, ask a specific question or comment about their profile, don’t ever a start a conversation with nothing but a “hey.”

Avoid Appearing Desperate

Dating apps are often used for casual hookups and brief interactions – and when you are looking for more than just a one-night stand it can be hard to come off as fun and flirty when you know that ultimately what you want may not be what 99% of your matches are looking for. 

Be honest about what you are looking for in your profile, and then behave in ways that are consistent with what you want. If you want a serious relationship then don’t engage in behavior that is consistent with hook up culture – meeting up late at night, texting when drinking, etc.. Also remember that the main purpose of a first or second date is only to see if you’re interested in a second or third date. Relax and enjoy getting to know people without interrogating them about future plans on the first date to avoid coming off as desperate. Be patient, these things take time.

Beware of the Bright Red Flag 

The biggest red flag is someone that waits extended periods of time between responses (days to weeks). People that are committed to this process tend to be responsive and make themself available. People that are looking for a partner are not wanting a pen pal. Limit your messaging to a couple of days and then find a time to meet in person (in public), that way you don’t waste time messaging someone for weeks only to find out that there is no real connection when face to face.

Dealbreakers – What Matters Most

Dealbreakers are specific to each person. You need to decide what are YOUR dealbreakers are before you begin dating. Some people feel like a difference in politics is a dealbreaker where that is totally fine for someone else. Be thoughtful about what you are ok with and what will end up destroying a relationship in the long run. 

If you are looking for a serious relationship, a long-term commitment, you have to be honest with yourself about what works and doesn’t work for you. To say, “Oh, I can grow to love that about them,” or “It’s not that big of deal, really” will only hurt you in the long run. 

Dating More Than One Person at a Time

Your matches are lining up, you’re feeling pretty good about your prospects and the conversations that are unfolding – but is it okay to date more than one person at a time? How many people you choose to date at a time needs to be dependent on each person. If you tend to jump into relationships quickly and put all your eggs in one basket, you’re better off dating multiple people at once. If you tend to struggle to commit, and dating lots of people supports that avoidance, try dating one person at a time. 

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to go about online dating – show up as yourself and be honest with yourself throughout the process. When things start to feel like “too much” know it’s okay to walk away, and if things start to “fit” then move forward. The wonderful thing about dating is you get to choose how you’ll move forward or when you’ll walk away based on your wants and needs. 

Here’s to you and your online dating adventures!
Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT

 

Online Marriage Counselor Denver Couples Therapy Premarital Counseling Online Family Therapy Postpartum Perinatal Denver Tech Center Therapist

Jessica Small, M.A., LMFT is a couples counselor, premarital counselor, therapist, and life coach who is passionate about helping individuals, families & couples create more fulfilling lives and relationships, and to function at an optimum level of health and happiness.

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As a Denver marriage counseling and online couples therapy “relationship expert” I often speak to people seeking relationship advice about matters of the heart. Knowing when keep trying, or when to call it quits in a relationship is always confusing. Even in a fundamentally strong relationship, when your relationship has been feeling hard it’s absolutely normal to have doubts and wonder when to end a relationship. You might wonder whether you’re compatible with your partner, or whether your relationship can be saved.

But if your relationship has been feeling frustrating, painful and unsatisfying for a long time — to the point where the relationship problems are starting to feel permanent fixtures — you might start asking yourself things like, “When is it time to break up?” Or, “When is it time to divorce?” Figuring out whether your relationship can improve or when it’s time to call it quits in a relationship is often the first step in knowing what to do, one way or another.

On this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast we’re taking a deep dive into the different situations that lead couples and individuals to wonder whether it’s time to throw in the towel and get a divorce, or if not, how to begin the long road of repair. Skip to the bottom of this post to access the podcast player and comments section, or scroll through for a few more insights and tips that may resonate with you if you’re trying to figure out how to know when it’s time to break up. — LMB

“Is My Relationship Over?”

All couples, even the most happy, fundamentally healthy and compatible couples will always be confronted by things that challenge them to grow as people. Most of the time, these opportunities first emerge as “relationship conflict.” Deep down, these moments are simply an chance to reflect on who you are, whether or not your current relationship skill set is working for you, and how you can make positive changes that benefit you, your partner and your family.

But these opportunities do not look like inviting “growth moments” that are framed so clearly. No. What they usually look and feel like are ongoing, sometimes even nasty and hurtful conflict between you and your partner. 

Most people are not aware of their “relationship growth opportunities” as they start butting heads with their partner, and getting feedback about things that are being perceived as hurtful or unloving. Instead they feel angry, defensive, attacked, or hurt. (And often express that, passionately). It is not obvious or intuitive in these moments that the frustration, hurt and annoyance can be a doorway to growth.

In reality, most couples can’t calm down enough and shift into a space of intentional understanding when they’re feeling triggered and upset. Not on their own anyway. They just go round and round, until someone eventually withdraws. [Read more about the joys of “Emotional Flooding.”] But if a couple can get involved in meaningful growth work together, ideally, an evidence-based form of couples therapy conducted by a legitimate relationship expert, all of a sudden that constant conflict reveals a treasure of new awarenesses, unhelpful old patterns just begging to be released, the chance to heal old wounds, new experiences that help you understand each other on a whole new level, and motivation to learn new communication skills and emotional intelligence strategies that will empower you in every aspect of your life — including your most important relationship. 

There is so much opportunity. But couples only have this aspect of conflict revealed to them when they are in a safe space and being guided by a skillful and knowledgeable marriage counseling or couples therapy expert who knows what they are doing. (Sadly, most don’t.)

But most relationships fail without ever having had the chance to do this kind of meaningful growth work together. They never get to learn and grow. They never get instruction and support around how to do things differently. Instead, couples fall into predictable, increasingly negative patterns of relationship conflict and then wind up making decisions about when to call it quits in a relationship because they haven’t been able to make positive changes on their own. They don’t see the path forward so they assume that the only solution to their relationship problems is the “final solution” of divorce or breaking up. And that’s really too bad.

So if you are asking yourself questions like, “When is it time to break up?” or “When to call it quits on a relationship” because of ongoing unresolved relationship conflict, and feeling stuck in a “pro and con” list, or feeling anxious about whether to get divorced, try this instead: Ask yourself a different question. Ask, “Is meaningful growth and change possible for us?”

Also, remember that it’s absolutely normal and expected for couples in distressed relationships to be (any combination of) hostile, emotionally unavailable, withdrawn, blaming, avoidant, passive-aggressive, not following through with household obligations, not meeting expectations, and generally being hurtful and annoying. People in distressed relationships do all of these things because their relationships are distressed.

So then the question next question becomes not “Should I end my relationship based on what is happening right now?” but rather, “If we were both feeling loved and respected in this relationship, and learned how to communicate, manage expectations, work as a team, etc., how could our relationship be different?”

If you’re like many people the immediate answer is, “NO! Not possible. I’ve told him 500 times how I feel and he always gets defensive and it never changes so we cannot grow. No.” That is often a reflexive answer based on the experiences you’ve had to-date, and often based on how your partner is functioning in the context of a distressed relationship. (i.e., Not their best selves!)

When I sit with my Denver therapy or online life coaching clients and really unpack this with them the true answer is more like,

“I don’t really know yet whether or not growth is possible for us. We are angry with each other. I haven’t been my best self either. We’ve never been in a situation where we worked with a relationship expert who used an evidence-based model to help us understand each other and ourselves, and who taught us new skills and strategies, and who held us accountable for making changes.”

If that is the case for you, too, the first step in getting clarity about whether you should call it quits is to find out for sure whether or not change is possible. Then you will be able to move forward with clarity and confidence, one way or the other.

When To Give Up On a Relationship

Of course, for some couples, growth and change is not possible. How do you know for sure if it’s time to break up, or when it’s time to divorce? Your answer lies in the action.

  • When you make a sincere effort to get you and your partner into a meaningful growth opportunity…. and they refuse to go.
  • Or, even if you meet with an effective, evidence-based online marriage counselor or Denver couples therapist together, your partner will not participate in a deep level. They might show up for the appointments but they may continue to blame you, engage in gaslighting, and deny any responsibility for the issues.
  • When the marriage counselor invites them to share their perceptions of the problem, your partner may give voice to a perspective grounded in an absolute lack of empathy for yours.
  • They may flatly reject any efforts of the couples therapist to help them unpack their feelings, or make links between what they learned in their families of origin, and how they are showing up in their relationship.
  • Furthermore, they may not be coachable, meaning that they are not open to learning new skills or trying to do things differently for the benefit of the relationship.
  • They may show you, through their behaviors, that they are more committed to continuing their own negative patterns than they are to staying married to you.

As frustrating as this is, it’s also okay. Positive, even. Because then you know for sure that this relationship is over. There is no hope. Nothing can change. It may not be the answer you wanted, but it’s an answer you can use to find solid ground and make a new plan for your life. You are free to go and find peace, love, and understanding elsewhere.

When To End a Relationship Vs. When To Grow?

Of course, when considering when to call it quits in a relationship there are additional complexities above and beyond the need to figure out whether or not growth is possible. For example, if you are married with a crush on someone else (or having an affair) it can cast a lot of doubt and confusion on your relationship. It would be to your benefit (and to the benefit of your spouse, honestly) for YOU to get involved in individual therapy or effective life coaching in order to get clarity about your next steps. Only if you’re committed to your relationship will any change be possible, and if you have an emotional attachment to someone else, it makes it really hard to work on your relationship.

When You’re Feeling Trapped In a Relationship

Another reality for many people is the experience of feeling trapped in a relationship due to practical circumstances, like co-parenting, financial inequities, or concerns about housing. If you want to leave your marriage but feel that you can’t due to concerns about how you’ll make it on your own, or if you have concerns for your children that lead you to stay, it’s important that you enlist the support of a professional therapist, life coach, or career coach to help you set meaningful goals and make a sustainable plan to move forward. (Even if it’s a long-term plan.)

When To Call It Quits In a Relationship… Or Not

Because all of these questions are often complicated and difficult to sort through, they’re worthy of exploration and discussion. If you’ve been twisting yourself into knots trying to figure out when to call it quits in a relationship, I hope you find some comfort in the knowledge that its extremely difficult to find a clear “stay or go” answer in the context of a messy, multifaceted situation. The answer to the question of whether to break up or stay together is often, honestly, “it depends.” 

Whether or not to end a relationship often depends on whether growth is possible (or not), for your partner. But it may also depend on whether or not growth is possible for you, too. It also often depends on what external or internal factors are creating barriers that make you feel forced to stay in an unhappy relationship. There may also be emotional factors at play that make you feel like you should stay in the relationship… even though in your heart of hearts you might not want to.

No matter what you ultimately decide, whether to end your relationship or whether to attempt a new chapter, the path forward is always first getting clarity about what is possible… and what is not. Only with that clarity can you have the confidence to take action — action that feels like it’s connected with your highest values and personal integrity — one way or the other. The process of getting this clarity can take weeks, months, sometimes even years. It may involve you and your partner working together to get this clarity. It may involve just you educating yourself, and giving yourself the time and space to do some individual growth work.

To help you get clarity on the variables that may impact your decision about whether to call it quits in a relationship, or whether to try to foster a relationship growth experience, I’ve devoted an entire episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast on the topic of how to figure out when to break up or stay together.

I’ll be addressing specific questions to help you figure out whether you should end your relationship, or keep trying like:

  • How can you tell whether growth is possible for your relationship, or whether it really needs to end?
  • Why do couples wind up breaking up prematurely, without knowing or not whether growth was actually possible?
  • What are specific indications that your partner, if given meaningful and effective opportunities to change, is able or willing to do so?
  • What are the signs that there is no hope for this relationship, and that is time to divorce or break up?
  • What are the sneaky, toxic relationship signs that can lead you to stay stuck in a relationship that is fundamentally not good for you, and unlikely to change?
  • What are the growth opportunities that YOU might need to engage in, in order to feel more clear and confident about your commitment to your current relationship…. Or more clear and confident that it’s time to end your relationship?
  • What if you want to break up or divorce, but are stuck because you feel guilty about it?
  • How do you handle leaving a relationship if your partner has a problem like a mental health issue, substance use disorder, or other issues?
  • What to do if you’re unhappy in your relationship and would like to divorce, but are facing practical realities such as co-parenting concerns or financial consequences if you separate?

All that, plus more insights, thought provoking questions, and actionable advice to support your path forward, whether it’s time to reach for hope and growth… or time to call it quits.

All the best,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

PS: Resources discussed on this episode include a link to my online “How Healthy Is Your Relationship Quiz” as well as www.thehotline.org.

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When To Call It Quits In a Relationship

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Brick Fields, “This Time Coming Soon”

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Attachment Style Quiz

Attachment Style Quiz

Attachment Style Quiz

How Do You Love?

Understand Your Relationship Attachment Style

Before you jump into taking the attachment style quiz, first understand relationship attachment styles and how they impact your results in life and love. Then your attachment style test results will be meaningful and helpful to you as you seek to grow and evolve within yourself and in your relationships.

Where does our attachment style come from? Our childhood affects us in more ways than we imagine. Because everyone is raised differently, we all have varying styles of connecting with others, communicating, and seeking emotional fulfillment. While your experiences in your family of origin can certainly set the stage for your attachment style, your early-life friendships and your first romantic relationships can impact the way you relate to others too. Knowing our needs in terms of approval and attention — and understanding how others are seeking to relate to you — is crucial, if you want to maintain a healthy and secure long-term relationship.

In this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, you’ll learn about different attachment styles, how they impact the way you relate to others, and how to figure out the attachment styles of people you’re in relationship with. You’ll also have the opportunity to take an attachment style quiz to better understand your own way of relating, through this relationship attachment style test.  

To begin, I’m speaking with dating coach and therapist Maya Diamond about attachment styles and how we all have different ways of relating to other people. She gives insights about how we can develop better relationships with those around us through self-awareness and being secure in our worth. Finally, she gives advice with regards to dating, particularly during the quarantine. (Learn more about Maya on her website, and check out her TexEx!)

Tune in to this episode to learn how our attachment styles affect our relationships. Then get the attachment style quiz emailed to you so that you can take the relationship attachment style test and learn about yourself, and where your growth areas are.

On This Episode: 

  1. Discover what an attachment style is and its different types.
  2. Learn how we develop our personal attachment style and how it affects our relationships.
  3. Gain insights about dating in the current pandemic situation.
  4. Get awareness about your patterns in relationships.
  5. Receive tips for how to avoid emotionally unavailable partners.
  6. Then, get the attachment style quiz to learn about the early experiences that shaped YOUR patterns.

What Is Attachment Style?

  • Attachment styles refer to how we’re organized around relating and how our primary caregiver related to us as a child.
    • This comes from our early childhood, from the moment we are born to five years of age.
  • There are four attachment styles: secure, anxious, avoidant, and disorganized.

Secure Attachment Style

  • Secure attachment means your primary caregiver was emotionally responsive as you were growing up.
  • They also mirrored your feelings, which allowed you to understand your own emotions.
  • Having a secure attachment style allows an individual to develop emotional intelligence and empathy.

Anxious Attachment Style

  • Anxious attachment means your nervous system is often on high alert. You also have a tendency to put a lot of time and energy into relationships.
  • This can stem from inconsistent parenting, wherein you sometimes received emotional attunement and sometimes did not. It can also happen when you’ve had negative experiences in other relationships — particularly when your trust has been broken.
  • Anxiously attached people often worry about abandonment and can be jealous.
  • They frequently question their relationships and have general distrust of their partners.

Avoidant & Disorganized Attachment Style

  • Avoidant attachment stems from either neglect in terms of emotional attunement or engulfment and invasion of boundaries.
  • This makes an individual self-reliant and self-regulatory when it comes to their needs in relationships.
  • Disorganized attachment is a combination of both anxious and avoidant. Growing up, your primary caregivers were a source of panic and fear, as well as love.

Attachment Styles in Relationships

  • Most people have a combination of all four, with two styles being predominant.
  • Romantic relationships in adolescence and adulthood can also change or reinforce your attachment styles.
  • People with anxious and avoidant styles have such different needs. When these two are in a relationship, it could trigger a cycle of pushing each other away. 
  • You can become more secure in relationships by doing deep, healing work on yourself.

 

Why Understanding Attachment Styles is SO Important When You’re Dating

Some relationships can feel challenging from the start, when two people are coming together with very different needs and hopes for the relationship. For example, if someone with a more anxious attachment style is in a new relationship with someone who tends to be avoidant, a push-pull dynamic will quickly ensue. The more anxiously attached person will often experience their partner as being uncaring or distant, which increases their anxiety. Likewise, their avoidant partner will have difficulty in meeting their emotional needs and having compassion for them, and instead, will often experience them as being clingy, unreasonable, or demanding.

A much better pairing for someone who has a more anxious attachment style is a securely attached partner, who is better able to be emotionally responsive to them. Furthermore, a securely attached individual will be better able to tolerate an avoidantly attached individual’s desire for space, and difficulty with communicating.

How to Identify Attachment Styles Early

  • To find a secure relationship that meets your needs, ask yourself first what you feel when you’re with this person and when you’re not.
  • Because of Hollywood, people are looking for excitement in a relationship. However, the person who excites you can trigger your childhood wounds and trauma.
  • Be with someone who makes you feel safe, peaceful, and calm.
  • There are little moments where we bypass the red flags that we should pay attention to.

Things to Be Aware of on the First Date

  • Pay attention to how they treat waiters and talk about their exes, parents, and childhood.
  • Listen to what the person says they want in their love life right now. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to change their mind.
  • Understand if the other person is ready for a serious relationship and wants to invest their energy in you.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open and your blinders off.

How to Develop Security in Your Attachment Style

  • The basis of being secure is knowing your own value and worth.
  • We all want to be met. But when you are coming from a place of self-love and self-worth, it becomes easy to say no to the wrong fit and yes to the right fit.
  • For people with anxious or avoidant attachment, having guidance and support helps you feel secure and let love into your life.

Dating in the Time of Pandemic

  • The current quarantine is amazing for your love life because it’s making everything go slower, from dates to physical intimacy.
  • Being alone and isolated makes us crave connection and find love even more.
  • Utilize technology to connect with people.
  • Even on a video date, you can still fill the energy and excitement around you. Pay attention to that.

 

Understanding Your Own Attachment Style: Take the Attachment Style Quiz!

When you’re ready to take this to the next level, text “ATTACH” to 55444 in order to get your copy of the attachment style quiz, and deepen your understanding of your patterns in relationships. Note: this is not a “here’s-your-score,” superficial type of quiz, but rather an attachment style assessment that can help you uncover the early experiences that shaped you, and how your attachment style is impacting your relationships now. Disclaimer: This attachment style quiz invites you to consider early experiences, for the purpose of gaining self awareness. It may be most helpful for you to do this attachment style assessment under the direction of a great therapist or relationship coach who can help you use this activity as a part of your longer-term personal growth work. Self-awareness is often the first step of targeted work in shifting an changing old patterns, particularly when it comes to attachment styles.

5 Powerful Quotes from This Episode

“Something that I think is really significant that people don’t talk about as much as well is that in your adulthood, you have these different romantic relationships, and they can really impact your attachment style.”

“All the statistics don’t matter. What matters is knowing what you need and being able to really follow that and stick to that.”

“He is not everything on your list if he doesn’t want a relationship.”

“I think just listening, like just really keeping your eyes and ears open and not your blinders on. I think you have these blinders, which, again, are usually from our childhood.”

Healthy Attachment Mantra: “I can give and receive love freely, but I’m only going to do it with someone who is at my level of what I’m able to give and receive.”

Enjoy This Podcast?

Learning how you could create love, happiness, and success for yourself has never been this easy. If you enjoyed today’s episode of the Love, Success, and Happiness Podcast, hit subscribe and share it with your friends!

Post a review and share it! If you enjoyed tuning into this podcast, then please don’t hesitate to leave us a review. You can also share this with your family and friends so that they can discover the power of healthy friendships.

Have any questions? You can contact me through our website or find me on Instagram or Facebook. You may also reach out to us and inquire about online therapy and life coaching. Growing Self is also on Instagram and Facebook.

Thanks for listening! 

To finding love, happiness, and success

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

https://youtu.be/oGWCNSchj8M

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What's Your Attachment Style? Take the Attachment Style Quiz

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Torus, “Introspect”

Spread the Love Happiness & Success

Please Rate, Review & Share the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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What to Do When Your Partner Has a Problem.

Can You Help Someone Who Won’t Help Themselves?

What to Do When Your Partner Has a Problem.

Does Your Partner Have a Problem?

It is agonizing to be in a relationship with someone you love very much, but who has a serious — and untreated — problem. If your partner is struggling with something like depression, anxiety, alcoholism, drug addiction, pornography addiction, ADHD or PTSD it can wreak absolute havoc in your relationship, not to mention make you (both) miserable. And it can be hard to tell when “being supportive” slides into “being codependent.” If the problem has been going on for a long time, it may even make you question whether you should continue to support and help your partner… or whether it’s time to cut your losses and end the relationship.

This topic has been on my mind lately, as I’ve recently had a number of listeners of my Love, Happiness and Success Podcast ask me these questions:

  • How do I help my partner who is depressed (or anxious / ADHD / addicted to something) and refuses to get help?
  • What are signs your partner will get their act together, and what are signs you should break up?
  • How do I help my husband who is suffering from PTSD, and won’t talk to anyone?
  • How many chances should I give my alcoholic / addicted partner?
  • I promised, “For better or for worse,” but it wrong of me to bail on this marriage if my spouse is not holding up their end of the bargain?
  • Is my boyfriend ever going to be cured of his pornography addiction?
  • Should I feel guilty for ending this relationship, even if I feel like I need to save myself?

These are big, serious questions. But you, my dear listener, told me this is what is important to you… and I’m listening to you. We’re going there on this episode of the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast. I hope that this discussion helps you find your way through this dark time, and back into clarity and inner peace.

All the best to you,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

 

 

Listen & Subscribe to the Podcast

What To Do When Your Partner Has a Problem

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music Credits: Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, with “Waitin’ For The Orange Sunshine”

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Please Rate, Review & Share the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

iTunes

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

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