Staying Friends After a Breakup

Do you desire to stay friends after a breakup? Although that isn’t always possible, many have found the ability to do just that.

It likely will be a very different friendship from what it once was. But if you can go through life with one less adversary, hey, more power to you.

What follows are some ideas to give you a better chance of success at the “just friends” thing.

Both Sides Have to Want to Stay Friends

You can only control yourself. You already know that but we all struggle to remember that in day-to-day life. We fret and fume over things we can’t control way too much. In the process, we lose out on a happier, more fulfilling life.

No matter how much you want to be friends, if your former partner doesn’t want the same thing it simply won’t work.

If your ex doesn’t feel the same way as you, you’ll need to work through that. You tried to do what you could but it didn’t work. At least you’ll know that you gave it your best shot.

Now, focus your energy on self-improvement and reach out to others who need a caring person like you in their lives.

Both Sides Need to Have Peace with a New Type of Relationship

In other words, both parties need to have healed from past hurts that led to the breakup of your romantic relationship.

If one of you still secretly isn’t “over” the other person, this won’t work. One of you will always be trying to relive and repair a past romantic relationship that no longer exists. The other party will awkwardly resist these attempts.

If you want to be friends, it would be wise to communicate what that new friendship should look like. You both may have very different ideas of what to expect. Get on the same page first for a much better chance at success.

Include Your New Significant Other In this Process

For obvious reasons, your new partner could feel uncomfortable with or threatened by your continued friendship with your ex.

Such feelings are understandable. While there needs to be a level of trust from your new partner, there should be some ground rules in place to protect your current relationship.

These can include refraining from displays of affection that could compromise your current relationship, not being alone with your ex and limiting your interaction.

Regardless of what you decide, if you and your current partner can’t agree on how this should take place, you’re in for big-time relationship troubles.

At the end of the day, maintaining a friendship with your ex may or may not be possible. You won’t know whether you can unless you try. Ultimately, you’ll need to be at peace with the possibility that it may or may not work out.

If it is time for you to schedule your individual appointment, you can do so online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 430-7269, or text us.

Broke Up with Your Partner? Here’s How to Emerge Stronger

If you recently broke up with your partner, you’ve seen some turbulent days lately. You may feel empty, betrayed and broken beyond repair. There are few things as painful as what you’re going through.

Although a season of pain and bewilderment is normal, you’ll eventually reach a fork in the road. You’ll have to decide between becoming a weaker or stronger person through the experience.

If you harbor bitterness, mistrust, and hold onto sadness, it will eventually break you down. If you hold onto a positive attitude, reach toward hope and strive for something better, you’ll emerge stronger.

You can emerge stronger. Sadly, not all do. But whether or not you become stronger through your experience ultimately is a choice.

After a Recent Breakup, Exchange Negative Self Talk with Positive

A breakup with your partner can feel like an epic personal failure. But you at least had the courage to try even though you knew there was a chance that things wouldn’t work out.

One of the most agonizing aspects of a breakup is the emotional toll it can take on you through self-doubt.

Your internal dialogue will question whether you can be successful in another relationship, whether someone else will find you attractive again and will tell you that you can’t trust others anymore. There are million other negative ideas you’ll be tempted to believe as well.

Do your best to sit back and notice the internal dialogue assaulting you. Those in the most danger don’t step back and look at their negative thoughts from an objective vantage point.

Once you’ve stepped back, take those negative thoughts and speak true and positive ones into your life instead. And doing so doesn’t mean you ignore your failures (we all fail at points—it’s just part of being human). Admitting failure is the first step towards healthy change.

Here are few examples of this:

Negative Talk:

“You know your anger is why the break up happened, don’t you?”

Positive Response:

“I admit my anger may be part of the reason for my breakup although there were many reasons. But it doesn’t need to define me. With the proper support, I can and will do better.”

Negative Talk:

“You can never trust again. You’ll only get hurt.”

Positive Response:

“Although that’s how I feel right now, that’s not an option. Trust is a must if I’m to be successful in a future relationship. In time, I’ll learn to trust again.”

Ask Others for Help

To emerge stronger, everything rises and falls on whether you can conquer the battle of the mind.

Write down every negative thing you’re tempted to believe about yourself. Next, replace those negative thoughts with truth. The best way to do this is to write out positive responses in a journal.

But don’t stop there because you may struggle to come to the right conclusions alone. Be honest with a trusted friend and share the negative thoughts you’re tempted to believe.

A good friend will be able to give you plenty of ammunition against those lies as will a trusted therapist.

If it is time for you to schedule your individual appointment, you can do so online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 430-7269, or text us.

Coping with Depression After a Breakup

A break up is a very stressful life event and can lead to depression in some people. Even for those who don’t experience depression as a result, for a span of time, their life is in upheaval.

Everyone handles breakups differently. There’s no prescribed time to recover from the emotional hurt. However, if you feel like it’s been a while since the breakup and every day still feels bad, depression could be a possibility.

If that’s you, there are some things you can do to cope. Here are some to consider.

Dealing with Your Shattered Image: Depression after Breakup

Breakups can bring out our insecurities like nothing else. They can leave you feeling inadequate, unloving and unlovable. This emotional tornado can feel so strong that depression can overwhelm you.

These feelings cut to the core of who you are and cause you to question everything about yourself. Thankfully, although your emotions feel very real, they aren’t always centered in reality.

The truth is that we’re all broken people. We all know what it’s like to have key relationships break down because flaws or circumstances on both sides get in the way.

Anyone you decide to pursue as a significant other in the future will be flawed just like you. Don’t let your mind beat you up and tell you that you’re the only one who has failed or is flawed.

The story of humanity never was easy success. It’s one of perseverance. One of continuing to go on despite our failures to reach the summit.

Instead of focusing on what you’ve found is lacking because of the breakup, focus on something else. Zero in on how you can become a better person despite those setbacks.

And when you find that new significant other, you’ll be all the more ready for a healthy, thriving relationship.

Other Quick Tips for Dealing with Depression after Break Up

Exercise: Fight the urge to crawl into bed and stay there. Get out and raise your heart rate and your body will work better. You’ll also be happier with how you look and feel.

Journal: Write out your pain. Scream out powerful words on a page. Rage about the hurts and injustice of it all. But more than all of that, focus on the positive even if it feels weird at first. There is a lot of good to find—you just can’t easily see it yet.

Be Social: Yes, it’s the last thing you feel like doing after a breakup and with depression to boot. But you need to understand others and to be understood. Don’t worry about finding another significant other initially. Just look for people you enjoy being with and that you can trust.

Get Help: If you feel your depression is getting the best of you and you can’t pull yourself out, seek a trusted professional who can help. Remember that doing so isn’t a sign of weakness but a sign of inner strength.

If it is time for you to schedule your individual appointment, you can do so online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 430-7269, or text us.

How to Handle Running into Your Ex

Running into your ex can be a stressful, unpleasant encounter. Especially depending on the events surrounding your breakup, it can be one of your greatest fears.

While there’s no way to guarantee you won’t run into your ex again, there are some things you can do to make such unexpected encounters less stressful.

Here are a few ideas to help you prepare for the next time your paths cross.

Running into Your Ex: Admit It’s Awkward

just admitting that something is difficult makes it easier. This can be true of many scenarios in life including grief, public speaking, as well as running into your ex.

You can admit to yourself and possibly to your ex that “this is awkward.” He or she will probably agree. An interaction like that will lighten the mood. You might even get a smile or laugh out of the situation by admitting the truth.

Doing so won’t make the potentially unpleasant feelings go away. It will, however, help you to loosen up and relax some. And relaxed, non-defensive people make better decisions.

Resist an Emotionally Charged Interaction

A chance encounter is the worst time to let your emotions get out of control. You both already happened upon each other. You both were caught off guard.

Both of your brains and bodies have signaled high alert. Those defenses came up without you even thinking about it. The adrenaline is going.

Now could be an easy time to rehash old problems in a not-so-pretty way.

Easy? Yes.

Wise? No.

After admitting that the encounter is awkward, do your best to keep the conversation short. Keep things “businesslike” even though that may be the last thing you feel like doing.

Another good idea is to avoid physical contact a much as possible.

There’s a reason you broke up. You and your ex likely hashed the thing out many times in your mind since and in person. Doing so now won’t fix anything.

Work at Forgiving your Ex

When there’s a breakup, both parties are left with some baggage. Both sides feel some level of being wronged.

We tend to hold onto these hurts and stew over them. It’s easy to minimize our own failures and magnify those of our ex.

Although there will be an inevitable stage of anger and loss following a breakup, holding onto these feelings too long isn’t healthy.

In time, for your health and the wellbeing of others, you’ll need to let go of your hurts.

For many, this isn’t a one and done decision but a daily one for a while. Without letting go of the hurts you experienced, you become a self-imposed prisoner.

You’ll eventually need to choose not to relive hurts in your mind. You’ll have to get to the point that you refrain from badmouthing your ex as this only causes unforgiveness to grow again.

Letting go of hurts doesn’t mean denying they happened. It does mean that you choose life and health for yourself and others. Doing so will make those unexpected encounters with your ex more bearable.

Doing so will also set the groundwork for a healthy relationship with your present or future significant other.

Still struggling with a past relationship? We’re here to help whenever you have the need.

If it is time for you to schedule your individual appointment, you can do so online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 430-7269, or text us.

Looking for a Mate Who’s Just Like You?

Searching for a mirror-image mate? As cool as you are and all, that may not be the best strategy.

Could it work? Absolutely.

But it turns out that the whole “opposites attract” thing is more than just a cute saying.

Why is this the case? Here are a few important reasons.

Just Like You: Unattainable Expectations

Are you in danger of setting your expectations too high because you want a mirror-image mate? If so, that could backfire. You may end up another year older and still all alone.

We aren’t talking about high character standards here or similarities in values. Everyone who wants a lasting relationship needs to strive for those in a mate and to be those expected things themselves!

Instead, the danger is that you want your mate to be so much like you that you never find the “clone.” And what if you were one of the rare “lucky ones” who did find their exact match?

Is it possible that the uncanny similarities in your mate would drive you batty instead of creating a utopian relational bliss?

Yep.

That brings us to our next point.

Variety Can Complement Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Finding a mate who’s different from you can create a winning strategy. Imagine a football team full of players whose only gift was kicking field goals or a baseball team full of pitchers who couldn’t hit a baseball to saves their lives.

Teams like that wouldn’t stand a chance because a good team requires balance. In the same way, your relationship needs balance. A varied list of strengths, weaknesses and interests between you and your mate will help to create such a balance.

Maybe you’re the serious type. Perhaps, someone with a bubbly personality or good sense of humor would help you strike a balance.

Or maybe you’re the right-brained, creative type. A left-brained, analytical mate would be a great help with your finances while you could help the two of you think outside the box about life.

Differences aren’t necessarily bad. Embracing them can make for a stronger match that functions much better.

Expanding Your Horizons Can Be Fun

By focusing on shared values instead of trying to get everything the same, you’ll broaden who you are as a person.

You’ll find it exciting to try new foods, consider different options for meaningful work and find unique leisure activities you never would’ve considered otherwise.

Go ahead and look in the mirror. That’s fine.

But when searching for a mate, put that mirror away and observe the amazing variety.

If it is time for you to schedule your individual appointment, you can do so online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 430-7269, or text us.

What Qualities Should You Look for in a Partner?

People look for many different qualities in a mate. So, not surprisingly, there’s a lot of confusion about traits you should look for in a partner.

After all, we’re highly unlikely to get everything we’re looking for in a significant other. There will need to be some compromise on both sides.

However, there are some underlying, foundational qualities you need to look for to ensure a successful relationship. The difficulty lies in the fact that these traits aren’t always the ones that jump out at you.

They’re usually either quietly working under the surface or they aren’t. Here are a few non-negotiable traits to look for in a partner.

Kindness

Although some have the tendency to be attracted to “good guys” or “bad girls”, kindness still is king.

Being with someone who is kind to you but not others may be thrilling for a while. There’s the “bad” appeal.

But what happens when your partner is no longer able to compartmentalize their rudeness and they start treating you like they were treating everyone else all along?

Kindness gets a person further in every area of life. In no place is it harder to practice and more essential than in a committed relationship.

If your partner is consistently a “jerk” to you later on, that will get old fast. However, if there’s an inherent respect and kindness towards you, that will sustain you even in the tough times.

When evaluating whether a date is kind, don’t only look at how he or she treats you. Your date may be able to fool you for a while.

Instead, how does your date treat their parents, restaurant workers or those less fortunate? Find out the answer to that and you’ll have a good clue.

A Positive Outlook on Life

The quality of a positive outlook in a mate can come out in a variety of ways. But one thing’s for sure: Without this trait, life can really become a drag.

If your partner is consistently negative, it will eat at you like cancer. Life will become unbearable and you may take on the trait of negativity yourself.

Living in negativity is like a fish living in a tank that’s never clean. It feels suffocating, unhealthy and toxic. It kills your productivity and snuffs out your hope.

Avoid negativity at all costs. Find someone who can see life in a positive light and the sky will be the limit.

This trait can exhibit itself in a quiet contentment, a good sense of humor or resiliency in tough times.

Closely watch how your partner handles difficult situations–especially the little ones. Life is mainly made up of a myriad of small sufferings that if, born well, enrich the life of the sufferer. If born badly, “the little things kill”, as the song goes.

The Qualities You Have and Want to Become

In conclusion, what are the qualities you possess and want to become? You’ll have to be a bit of a speculator when looking for a mate.

Learn to locate the most-important traits in raw form. We’re all still a work in progress and, hopefully striving to get better.

So, you could say, besides the obvious trait of trustworthiness, the quality of wanting to become a better person is a must.

Arguably, the greatest beauty of a strong relationship is that you become better people together. Oh, there are storms and there are problems, but you chip the rough edges off of each other.

The process isn’t always fun and sometimes it’s painful. But, you become better together and, as a result, make the world a brighter place.

If it is time for you to schedule your individual appointment, you can do so online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 430-7269, or text us.

Dating after Losing a Spouse

Are you considering dating after losing a spouse? If so, you likely didn’t arrive at that conclusion easily. You just experienced what many consider to be the most difficult challenge someone can go through–the death of a spouse.

So, as you consider how to go about that process, you probably have a whole bag of questions, insecurities, happy anticipation and maybe even some guilt.

Here are a few thoughts to help you during this transition.

Is the Time Right to Date After Losing a Spouse?

There’s something extremely important to realize: A time of healing needs to happen before dating again after the death of a spouse. That amount of time is different for everyone.

If you aren’t “healed” yet, you’ll bring this into any new relationship potentially causing significant problems. A hasty decision during an emotional time could also cause you to make a decision you’ll regret.

You’ll never be the same person you were before losing your spouse. That’s ok and something that, in time, you can have peace about. You can become a stronger person because of the struggles you went through.

Men tend to have fewer social connections and often feel the need to remarry sooner, sometimes even within months after a loss. Women tend to take longer and may wait for years to enter the dating scene again. But these are generalizations. You are unique and so your timing will show that.

Some never remarry. Those fine with such a decision shouldn’t feel the need to apologize or feel societal pressure to be someone they’re not.

Crocodile hunter, Steve Irwin’s widowed wife is a recent example of someone who has no plans to remarry. She had her time of love and is OK with being single now.

Letting Go of Guilt

If you’re considering dating after the death of a spouse, you’re almost certainly dealing with emotional conflict.

On one hand, you feel some excitement about getting into the dating scene again. On the other, you feel some guilt. Dating again feels like unfaithfulness to your spouse.

These feelings are understandable after being in a committed relationship that may have spanned decades. They are very real feelings but not based in reality.

The reality is that your spouse, above all else, would want for you to be happy. If part of that happiness involves remarriage, a loving spouse would want what is best for you.

By letting go of this unfair guilt, you’ll feel better prepared to enter the dating scene again.

Your Date is Not an Extension of Your Deceased Spouse

It’s understandable and natural to think of your new date and potential spouse as an extension of your previous spouse. So much of your life was wrapped up in your spouse.

However, doing so would be detrimental to your new relationship. To expect your new date to be like your former spouse is unfair. It would set him or her up for failure.

A great illustration of this is found in the movie, The Patriot, starring Mel Gibson. Mel plays the role of Benjamin Martin who lost his wife and later fights for the US militia in the Revolutionary War.

At the end of the movie, Benjamin falls in love with his deceased wife’s sister, Charlotte. In one of the final scenes, Benjamin’s new love tells him, I’m not my sister.” Benjamin replies, “I know” but the viewer gets the idea he’s still coming to grips with this fact.

Just like it was a struggle for Benjamin Martin, it likely will be for you, too. Of course, it’s ok to bring up your former spouse from time to time. Just remember that you’re now dating a uniquely different person.

In conclusion, dating after losing a spouse is certainly not without its challenges. However, many have found meaningful and lasting love after experiencing profound grief.

If it is time for you to schedule your individual appointment, you can do so online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 430-7269, or text us.

How to Know If This Person is “The One” For You

Finding “the one” is a big priority for most people and understandably so. It involves something way more enduring than an emotional “Hollywood high.”

You’re looking for something that will last a lifetime, not for a mere day or week. But deciding if someone is the right one can be stressful.

Here are a few ways to tell if that special someone is “the one and only”.

You Trust Each Other

Mutual trust is the foundation of the house of your relationship. If you doubt you have trust at the early stages, you can almost guarantee that you won’t have it later on.

There needs to be a settled confidence that you and your partner will consistently act in the best interest of each other.

Without trust, your relationship will be built on a shaky foundation. All it will take is a little adversity and that house will collapse.

Trust is crucial and indispensable. If you don’t have it in your current partner, they are not the one.

You Make Each Other Better

If you’re in a toxic relationship, deep down, you know that you don’t make each other better. You don’t bring out the best in each other.

But if you’re in a good, healthy relationship, the answer is clear. You can easily see how much you’ve progressed as people because of each other.

You better understand life, have learned selfless devotion and have gone through adversity only to come out of it stronger than before.

You mutually respect each other, encourage each other and help each other improve in all aspects of life.

You Have Similar Values, Goals and Beliefs

Do you feel like you and your partner have compatible goals?

Things to consider include career goals, family dreams and religious beliefs.

Do you feel that given what you know, the two of you will be compatible or will there likely be a source of ongoing friction?

This is an important question to ask. If the person you’re getting to know is “the one”, the answer will be “yes”.

Spending Time Together Is Enjoyable

Do you have a blast when you’re together or do you feel like you’re in shackles?

If you’ve found the one, you won’t need to hesitate on this one.

If you’ve found “the one” you’ll have a long list of things you do together that are fun. You’ll have a smile on your face you won’t be able to wipe off.

It really comes down to whether your relationship is working for or against your wellbeing.

Need some additional help sorting out whether your partner is “the one.” Speaking with a trusted professional can give you the confidence to make the right choice!

If it is time for you to schedule your counseling appointment, you can do so online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 430-7269, or text us.

How to Stop Telling Your Partner He/She is Wrong (Even If They Are!)

Did you know that telling your partner they are wrong can be harmful to your relationship?

It doesn’t mean that you ignore destructive tendencies in your partner like physical abuse, compulsive spending or substance abuse, for instance. But it does mean that you learn to overlook some things.

Certainly, there is a time to bring up problems in a relationship. But does your partner need to hear about every time they are wrong?

No, and here’s why.

Self-Discovery is the Most Powerful Change Agent

You love your partner so it’s natural that you want to speak the truth about the lies your partner believes. Failing to do so would be unloving.

But should you highlight every time your partner goofs up? No, because doing so is degrading, unnecessary and demotivating.

No one likes all their faults put on the big screen. In most cases, the most compelling motivator for your partner to make a positive life change will be found by you being a consistently loving and forgiving partner knowing that you need the exact thing.

Think about it this way: Would you want a friend or parent who picks out every fault in you or one who loves you through your imperfections as you grow to be a better person?

All relationships work better when you can overlook what you can. Decide what you can overlook while still maintaining a healthy relationship.

Within the framework of a healthy and supportive relationship, something powerful is unleashed. Because there is accepting love, your partner will be able to have transparency and support to overcome issues through self-discovery—on their terms.

Not because you rehashed your partner’s faults but because your partner noticed them first.

If the idea to change comes from your partner’s internal dialogue rather than your constant input, they’ll be way more apt to change.

They have to at least think it’s their idea!

Encourage Self-Discovery in Your Partner

We all have a natural desire to improve as people although we sometimes face seemingly insurmountable roadblocks to that end.

Make a point to help your partner practice self-discovery instead of stifling it.

One of the best things to do is to talk about your goals, hopes and dreams. Be an active listener for your partner and work to bring out the best in your partner.

Praise your partner as much as you can. This will make it way easier to bring up topics that need to be addressed when those moments arise. You’ll face a lot less resistance and defensiveness, too.

In Summary

Loving action is the greatest motivator to help your partner change. It isn’t found in constantly diagnosing faults as much as it may seem that way.

Need a little more help encouraging your partner to change? Be open about your own faults and the areas you personally want to improve in.

If you still need an extra boost, we would be happy to help you in this process. Healthy relationships and families are what we’re all about!

If it is time for you to schedule your counseling appointment, you can do so online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 430-7269, or text us.

Is Your Partner Having an Affair?

There arguably can be no greater fear in a relationship (besides the prospect of the one you love tragically passing away).

There are few if any betrayals stronger in life than your partner having an affair.

Virtually every person in a committed relationship has at least entertained such a fear—even if they have ample reason to trust their partner.

But, perhaps for you, trust is beginning to erode and you’re starting to fear the worst. If that’s you, here are some potential signs your partner is having an affair.

A Spike in Protectiveness of Their Devices

If you notice this diminished transparency, it certainly is a reason for concern.

Maybe you find that where you once shared cell phones, email or computers, there is now a hard line of secrecy.

There are your electronic devices and there are your partner’s. The mutual sharing of these that once existed clearly no longer exists.

You now find yourself locked out and when you bring up the change, your partner becomes angry, defensive or intentionally unclear.

For the affair to take place or continue, there needs to be a way to communicate. If you have access to these devices, their cover will be quickly blown.

Unexplained Time Away

Not surprisingly, if you have fears of an affair, part of the issue is that your partner is away more than normal.

Maybe they’re going out with friends when previously there wasn’t as much of a priority or staying at work longer.

Along with this, there will be an attempt to hide what’s really going on. You find that your partner doesn’t act themselves or is defensive when you ask them where they were.

You also feel a relational coldness previously not experienced.

Unusual Smells

Without realizing it, you’ve grown used to typical odors in your home. Unusual odors are a common way for a partner to blow their cover.

They’ve grown used to these odors on their clothing and no longer smell them but you, not being immersed in them, do.

It could be smoke, perfume, cologne or other odors that typically aren’t in your home that make you question what your partner’s been up to.

In Conclusion

There are times when partners will exhibit some of the symptoms of an affair and still be faithful. Do your best to suspend judgment until you know for sure.

Whether you’re convinced of an affair or aren’t yet sure, seeing a licensed professional can help you voice these concerns in a healthy, discreet and safe way.

Whether this all ends up being just a scare or more, your counselor will help you navigate through these challenging times.

You can also work through the possibility of an emotional affair that may not yet have turned physical and discuss other warning signs not mentioned in this post.

If it is time for you to schedule your counseling appointment, you can do so online using our online scheduling tool, call us at (949) 430-7269, or text us.