It has been a pleasure sharing my professional relationship thoughts with you throughout the life of this blog. As much as I’ve enjoyed writing and creating Relationships in Balance, I feel the time is right to move forward. I hope that this blog has provided insight, education, and useful information regarding the dynamics of various relationships. I welcome emails from anyone who would like to share how Relationships in Balance has helped you.
Lastly, I’ve been asked on several occasions about my availability for therapy. I have a full-time private psychotherapy practice in New York City, which accepts new intakes. Availability varies, so please contact me, if this interests you (info below).
I want to publicly thank John Grohol and Psych Central for bringing me aboard to share this blog, and I want to thank all of you for reading and for your comments along the way. I wish everyone health, love, and continued curiosity within yourself, and in your relationships.
Nathan Feiles, LCSW
People love to make fun of the stereotyped therapy party line: “How does that make you feel?” Yes, it’s one of the biggest cliches in the therapy field, however what this question stands for still remains an important piece of psychotherapy.
When people come in for therapy, it’s generally because they aren’t happy with the way they are feeling, in one way or another. Whether it’s about relationships, depression, anxiety, stress, jobs, career, or any other areas of life, the reasons people start therapy is both to help the concrete, external situations, but overall it’s how these situations makes someone feel that matters most. Basically, if you’re feeling good about something, then you probably wouldn’t seek emotional help with it.
It can be difficult to appreciate who we are. There’s so much each of us has to offer to each other, and so much to offer the world. It would be nice if everyone could look at themselves and realize the power they possess within themselves.
Unfortunately, it isn’t so easy. We feel the pain, hurt, and rejection more than we feel the happiness, satisfaction, achievements, general positives, and so on. As a result, we end up with depression, anxiety, addiction, repeated unhealthy relationships, and more.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just let the negatives roll off of our backs, rather than holding onto them to the point of emotional injury? Obviously, it’s not a conscious decision. We don’t desire to hold onto the negatives, but when the hits are painful and repeated, eventually we’re going to get hurt. I imagine it more along the lines of rug burn. At first, it’s not such a big deal, but if you experience it repeatedly, it becomes raw and painful.
How many times have you ended a relationship and continued to be at least somewhat involved with your ex? At first, there is the pain, or the relief, the anger, sadness, etc. But as time goes by, people often end up drifting back together — they start talking, having sex, spending time together, and soon they’re a couple again, even if unofficially.
This is a highly common thread in relationship breakups. People want to believe that when they break up from a relationship that they’ve ended the relationship. But this is generally not so simple. What people refer to as the breakup is really more of an announcement to their partner that they’re going to attempt a commitment to separation from the relationship. An actual breakup that lasts takes much more of an active commitment than people tend to realize.
Sex can be difficult to sustain in relationships. While there are some who are able to do it, there are generally factors that can counter sexual excitement in relationships. For example, part of what makes sex exciting is risk and unknown. Think of the difference between the first time you had sex with someone and the 50th. Repetition and familiarity with a long-term partner removes the element of risk and unknown, which can also remove some of the excitement of sex.
Also, shame becomes an issue in relationships, which can inhibit sex. The more partners become known to each other as people with vulnerabilities, flaws, etc., the more shame increases. The fear of rejection, judgment, and ego annihilation increases, and can therefore shut down uninhibited sex.
As the new year approaches, people often take the opportunity to re-evaluate who they are and consider the changes they’d like to make in their lives. This is something people would benefit from doing the whole year round — reflecting on the choices we make, the way we treat others and ourselves, our commitment to self-care, etc.
One of the mistakes people often make in their relationships is attempting to change their partner. Eventually, they end up realizing that the more they push their partner to change, the more resistant their partner becomes to changing in the direction they were hoping to see. One of the secrets of a successful relationship is for each partner to continue to improve themselves, both as a person and as a partner. If each person does their due diligence to be a good partner, the relationship takes care of itself. You each focus on taking care of each other in the relationship, rather than worrying about how the other should take care of you.
This year on Christmas day and New Year’s day, try turning off your phones, tablets, and computers for the day. Be in the present with those closest to you and try to disconnect from mental escape routes, such as texts, emails, social media, etc. It may be a challenge at first, but it will help open connection with your loved ones. People tend to feel quite liberated when spending a day apart from technology. See how it feels for you.
Nathan Feiles, LCSW
Relationships in Balance
This is the “part 2″ to the article “10 Signs You May Be in an Unhealthy Relationship“.
It was brought to my attention that in the first article I made points of the things to keep an eye on, however I made few suggestions of how to handle those ten points. So this article is to address how to handle the ten signs of an unhealthy relationship that were listed in the previous article.
Technically, a relationship needs to only be defined by the people who are in the relationship. What is a “good (or healthy) relationship” for two people may be completely different than a “good (or healthy) relationship” for two other people.
However, there is a difference between a relationship having its own shape and character, and a relationship that is either harmful or generally unhealthy for one or both partners. These relationships can be difficult to spot from the inside because one or both partners grow accustomed to the life of the relationship. Denial can also be a factor due to fears of change, failure, or otherwise. So while it may seem like it should be obvious when you’re in an unhealthy relationship, it isn’t always so simple.
Here are some signs of concern within relationships. Note, the presence of one or more of the following signs doesn’t necessarily mean you should end your relationship. These are things to keep an eye on, and if they persist, may need further attention in order to improve the state of your relationship.
As we well know, while the holidays can be a source of joy for many people, the holidays are also a source of sadness for many others. If you’re someone who finds it generally depressing to check your Facebook wall and see all of the images of happiness, then imagine all the television shows and commercials, the decorations in stores and on people’s homes, the grocery stores, and shopping malls all reflecting the enthusiasm of your Facebook wall, with a joint holiday theme. It may sound nice if we’re living in your favorite holiday movies, but not if you’re someone who struggles just to get through the holidays each year without breaking down.