COUNSELLING BLOG

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The Secrets to a Better Relationship

1. Make sure you spend time alone together.

2. Appreciate each other, and express your gratitude. Don’t take them for granted – or you may regret it later!

3. Major on communicating openly and honestly (share and talk about everything).

4. Don’t allow small offenses and minor irritations to morph into huge resentments.

5. Work through, and get a handle on any feelings of jealousy.

6. Allow your partner to be a flawed human being. Don’t expect them to be perfect, or to please you all the time.

7. Show affection, and demonstrate you care.

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A Second Chance at Love

Love can be successful the next time around by paying attention to the following:

1. Let go of old grudges and grievances. If you carry old baggage from the past into your new relationship, they will likely cause problems and contaminate your love.

2.  Think about what did work in your previous relationship. There were things that worked well – not everything was bad. So think about the attitudes, actions and words that brought your love to life, and added magic and spice.

3. Focus on keeping the communication lines open. Communicating well must be a top priority. You need to talk and listen so the problems get ironed out, and minor irritations don’t turn into volcanoes.

4. We tend to fall into old patterns and predictable routines. So make sure that things are different from the way they were last time. It takes commitment, time and effort to really make a change.

5.  Make sure you treat each other with kindness and respect. It’s hard to trust in love if you’re always being attacked, or your partner’s lacking empathy, or doesn’t seem to care.

6. Relax. Try not to always worry about something going wrong. Enjoy the present moment – and what you have right now. Tomorrow, and the future, are outside of your control.       

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Crucial Ingredients for a Great Relationship

1. Shared sense of humour; lots of laughter and fun

2. Little gestures of thoughtfulness

3. Personal space (there needs to be separateness in your togetherness)

4. Having the ability to spend hours together (simply doing routine or humdrum things)

5.  Having “fairness and respect” rules in place for when you argue or fight

6. Having an attraction that goes beyond the physical; liking each other, and your personality

7. Believing that your partner has what it takes to live the life they want to live – believing in them always, especially when they’re down

8. Having a relationship that’s built on trust, openness, honesty and faithfulness.  

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6 Ways to Build a Strong Relationship

1. Relationships aren’t about having another person satisfy or fulfil you. They’re about building each other up, and appreciating each other’s uniqueness - whilst also enjoying togetherness, and a degree of interdependency.

2. Although the first flush of love can blind you to their flaws, you need to see your partner for who they really are. That is, we all have our shortcoming, our weaknesses.

3. Be willing to learn and grow with your partner. Instead of being defensive, or demanding your own way, take the time to understand your partner’s perspective – and, hopefully, your partner will learn from you, as well. 

4. Learn to appreciate solitude. We need to be comfortable being alone, and to accept and be at peace with the unique person we are, in order to be healthy in relationships.

5. When it comes to arguments, look for the real reasons why you fight and disagree. Often there’s a pattern to when and why we fight – which points to buried issues, to hurt and unmet needs.

6. Embrace the ordinary in your relationships. In time, the fairy-dust will settle and things will feel humdrum. But the day-to-day has meaning when it’s shared with those you love.

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How to Cope with a Break Up

1.      Cry as much as you want to and need to. Don’t try to repress or to bury the feelings.

2.      Listen to breakup music as research shows it is therapeutic and helps you to recover. Also, it lowers your heart rate, reduces pain and helps to relieve any feelings of stress.

3.      Allow yourself to feel completely numb for a while. It’s going to happen – so go with the flow.  Also, don’t be afraid to be real with your friends and tell them “I feel empty and dead inside”. Know in time that will change; it’s a temporary thing. 

4.      Talk about it with your friends – they will help to bolster you. You need all the people and support you can muster. Also, it’s likely that the break up will dominate your thinking so keep on talking till you start to feel you’re freer.

5.      Set a limit for your grief. That doesn’t mean you have to feel better by then – but eventually you’ll want to think about your future life again. You have your whole life to live so don’t get stuck in the pain.

6.      Review the relationship and why it ended. Were the reasons cited by your partner really fair? Was he or she just blaming you, or running away? Were you truly happy? Was it really a good match?

7.      If you think it’s worth it, then try and reconcile. But only do that once as it usually doesn’t work … and you’re simply dragging out the disappointment and the pain.

8.      Stop sitting and waiting for the phone to ring. Try and fill your life with other people and new things.

9.      Don’t stalk your ex on tumblr or facebook. Block them if you need to … but get them out your mind. 

10.    Reminisce about the bad times – and be glad that they are gone. It’s time to build a future that’s much better than that.

11.    Go outside and get some exercise. Research clearly indicates that exercise can change how you feel, and help you put life in perspective. It’s worth the extra effort as you’ll reap the benefits.

12.    Be nice to yourself – you need to give yourself a break. Just because some other person has dropped you from their life, it doesn’t mean you’re worthless or you’ll never find true love. Appreciate your strengths, and really love who you are, and think about the fun times you have had with others friends.  You deserve to be happy and loved for who you are.

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How to identify if you are in an abusive relationship

It’s crucial for your safety that you know the warning signs:

·  He/she blames you for their anger

(Note: There is a difference between having a bad day, and always being blamed for upsetting someone.)

· He/ she sees themselves as a helpless victim; they have no sense of personal responsibility

· He/ she has a substance abuse problem or addiction.

· He/ she has trouble managing intense feelings, such as anger and rage.

· He /she has a history of aggression and reacting violently.

· He/ she threatens you and others others regularly.

· He/ she insults you, puts you down and call you names.

·  He/ she dictates your life – what you should wear, who you can spend time with, how you should act etc.

· He/ she tries to isolate you from family, friends or others who could help you (as they could influence how you see the abusive relationship).

· He/ she  breaks, throws away, or “loses” items that matter to you when you upset them

· He/ she makes you doubt yourself and your sanity. For example, through blowing trivial things out of proportion so that they escalate into huge arguments. (This is believed to a form of mind control.)

· He/ she accuses you of creating imaginary problems in the relationship – just to provoke an argument.

· He/ she says derogatory and hurtful things to you - but later says that you imagined it.

· You start doing things you don’t want to do just to stop them getting angry with you, or ending the relationship.

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How to Get Over Your Ex

1. Take them down from that pedestal – even if they were great, they still had lots of flaws and were less than perfect.

2. Recognise that it is over – and actively decide to leave the past behind and move on with your life.

3. Don’t contact them at all. It is hard to move on, and to start again, if you keep them in your life.

4. Avoid the places you know they tend to be; and only see mutual friends when they are not around.

5. Go out with your friends, don’t stay at home on your own. If you’re out having fun you will think of them less often.

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Exploring Emotionally Abusive Relationships

Characteristics of an emotionally abusive relationship include:

·         Using money as a means of control

·         Threatening to walk out or abandon you

·         Creating fear and anxiety through looks, words, threats and actions

·         Destroying things (and often things you value) – either in a cold and heartless way, or in an angry fit of rage

·         Using blaming, shaming, minimizing and denial to control you

·         Verbally attacking and demeaning you (includes name calling, shouting at you, criticising and putting you down – especially in public)

·         Attacking and putting you down in private, and acting loving and charming in public

·         Minimising the abuse; acting as if you’re over-reacting and it’s “no big deal”

·         Deliberately withholding approval, affirmation and affection as a means of punishment or control

The effects of living with emotional abuse include:

·         A fear of being natural and spontaneous

·         A loss of enthusiasm

·         Insecurity related to how they coming across to others

·         An inner belief that they are deeply flawed

·         A loss of self-confidence and self esteem

·         Growing self-doubt (so they’re afraid to make even the smallest decision, or to take on even the simplest of tasks)   

·         Never trusting their own judgment (as they believe that they’re likely to get it wrong, or to misunderstand or misread everything)

·         Having a constant critic in their head

·         Feeling they should be happier and more upbeat than they are (in order to meet the approval of others)

·         Feeling they’re too sensitive, and ought to “toughen up”

·         Fearing they’re going crazy, or losing their mind

·         Having a tendency to live in the future (“Everything will be OK when/after ….”)

·         A desire to break free, escape or run away

·         A distrust and fear of entering into any close relationships again.

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Myths about Soul Mates

1. The relationship should be natural, easy and uncomplicated: The truth is that all relationships take time, effort, commitment and energy. You need to make time for each other, to do fun things together, to work on communication, and to learn to negotiate and compromise.

2. The relationship should be conflict free: Because we are each individual and unique we all disagree with others at times, so conflict is natural, and not to be feared. In fact, conflict can force us to confront our differences, and to grow as individuals, and as couples too.

3. Soul mates are romantic: Real life is not the movies, and love can be expressed in countless different ways, and still be genuine. Look out for all the signs that show your partner cares, and don’t be disappointed if they’re not “the stereotype”.  Don’t force them to be something that is maybe nor their style.

4. You should always see things the same way and have the same opinions, outlooks and beliefs: You both have different backgrounds and have individual brains so you’re going to sometimes differ in the way you look at life. That needn’t be a problem – you don’t want to be clones.

5. My soul mate will always like and love me: Consideration, respect and a concern for your partner are symptoms of a loving relationship. But being rude and disrespectful or irresponsible are not endearing qualities that build relationships. Instead, we need to give to get – as it’s not “all about me”.      

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Tips for Healing a Broken Heart

1. Go through – don’t hide from - the experience. You need to fully experience all the negative emotions before the healing process can begin.

2. Allow yourself to wallow in your independence. Don’t rush into a new relationship. You don’t need another person to make you feel complete. You’re enough in yourself. You are NOT inadequate.

3. Make a list of your strengths. It’s important that you focus on your good qualities as a broken heart can cause our self-esteem to plummet. Make a note of your successes and accomplishments. They didn’t disappear with the relationship!

4. Don’t try to suppress all the memories you have. Allow yourself some time to go over one or two … But don’t pitch your tent there - as the future’s now your focus.

5. Reach out to others who are suffering. You’re not the only person who is having a hard time (although you often feel you are when you’re broken-hearted) … and comforting another will distract you from your pain.  

6. Allow yourself to laugh, and allow yourself to cry. Both of these are healing, and can bring release. They can help us feel more “normal”, and can bring a sense of peace.

7. Make a “good and bad list”. Make a list of all the things that you need to stop doing, to try and put some distance between you and them. For example, if you’re always checking their stuff on facebook then you’ll likely find it is harder to get them out mind. Alternatively, going out for a jog or meeting up with a friend can help to lift your spirits, and to change the way you feel.

8. Hang onto your hope. When a relationship ends (or if our love is unrequited) we can feel that life is pointless as there’s nothing good ahead. But the future is still open – and there’s definitely hope … And one day you will notice that you’re smiling naturally.             

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What Men and Women Want in a Mate

Buss et al (2003[1]) surveyed over 10,000 men and women from 37 different countries to see what they wanted in a mate. The results were surprisingly similar

What HE wants

1.       Mutual attraction – love

2.       Dependable character

3.       Emotional stability and maturity

4.       Pleasing disposition

5.       Good health

6.       Education and intelligence

7.       Sociability

8.       Desire for home and children

9.       Refinement and neatness

10.   Good looks

  What SHE wants

1.       Mutual attraction – love

2.       Dependable character

3.       Emotional stability and maturity

4.       Pleasing disposition

5.       Education and intelligence

6.       Sociability

7.       Good health

8.       Desire for home and children

9.       Ambition and industriousness

10.   Refinement and neatness



[1] Buss, D.M., (2003). The evolution of desire: Strategies of human mating. New York: Basic Books.

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Tips for Relationship Success

1.    Always be truthful and honest with your partner.

2.    Be completely reliable and dependable. Always keep your promises.

3.    Don’t just bury things that are upsetting you. Communicate them with your partner.

4.    Deal with problems when they first arise. If you just ignore them they are likely to get worse.

5.    When working on problems always go after a win-win solution. If one person always wins and the other always loses it is going to lead resentment and more problems.

6.    Be willing to forgive each other. We all do thoughtless, stupid things at times (although don’t put up with any kind of abuse).

7.    Believe in your partner. Seek to be each other’s main cheerleader.

8.    Encourage healthy growth; help your partner to reach their full potential.

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Tips on Flirting

1.      Make eye contact. Throw small glances and catch the eye of the person you’re interested in. Hold their gaze briefly, then smile and look away.

2.      Smile at the person. To be most effective, smile slowly (rather than grinning widely), and crinkle your eyes. That kind of smile is more genuine and appealing.

3.      Talk to them. You don’t have to commit to a full conversation but at least say “hello” and acknowledge their existence!

4.      Initiate a conversation with them (one step on from point 3). Think of easy ways to get a conversation going. In many ways the topic isn’t so significant. You just want to talk to them, and try and pique their interest. General guidelines are … ask a neutral question; try and find some areas of common interest; gauge their response before showing more interest; and keep things light and impersonal.

5.      Make use of body language. Non-verbal cues can say a lot more than the actual words you speak. Some pointers to remember include: maintain an open stance (don’t cross your arms or legs); turn your body toward them; casually touch them (for example, hold their hand to help you balance when you’re getting up from your seat); play with your hair (if you’re female).

6.      Compliment them (but don’t get too personal yet).

7.      Keep your interactions brief. Scarcity creates demand. If you’re not always available it makes you more mysterious and more desirable.

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