Is He – Or Isn’t He – ‘The One’: 11 Signs Of A Bad Relationship

By Dr. LeslieBeth Wish

It’s difficult enough to meet someone who seems like a good love match.  But then, over time, things happen between you and your partner that make you wonder:  “Is this the right person for me?”

It seems as though it should be such an easy question to answer.  But once you fall in love, your head and heart can conspire to make you minimize your unhappiness.  As the saying goes, love really can make you blind.

Research about marriage reveals that even great relationships go through rough patches that can last months or even years.  Another surprising finding is that these mutally happy couples also live with important unresolved issues.

What keeps these couples happy together is that they sustain the building blocks of long lasting, mutually satisfying relationships:  commitment, passion, friendship, respect, complementary styles and abilities, good communication and problem-solving skills, and shared interests and values.

Every couple is different.  All you have to do to know that love has its wild cards is to look at all the combinations of couples that make you think:  “What an odd pair.”

Lifestyle Signs of a Bad RelationshipI can’t possibly know if your partner is the one for you, but I’m offering you this guide to help you assess whether you are in a bad relationship.  This list is based on findings from my five-year research with thousands of women for my book. It consists of statements that these women used to get a more honest picture of their relationships.

It’s possible that only one thing on the list below, such as domestic violence, is sufficient for you to know to get help or get out.  Use this list to educate you and to activate your newly informed intuition to help you understand your situation and make smart decisions.

Read each statement and think if it applies to your partner. There is no magic number that means you should leave.  As you can imagine, I strongly recommend you see a licensed mental health counselor for guidance.  Don’t let doubts linger or get swept under your radar.

Here’s 11 Lifestyle Signs of a Bad Relationship

1. I really respect my partner.

Almost all the time     Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Respect is earned.  It is a vital part of healthy love  Are you proud of your partner?.)

2. I really like how my partner treats me in public and in private.

Almost all the time     Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Loving partners do not air dirty laundry in public  They do not abuse in private.)

3. My partner criticizes me often and uses a sarcastic tone.

Almost all the time     Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Research shows that a sarcastic and criticizing style erodes love.)

4. My partner can be unhappy and even a little jealous of my successes.

Almost all the time     Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Your partner should want the best for you. Jealousy taints your joy.)

5. My partner always has to be right and have the last word.

Almost all the time     Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Mature partners are able to give up having to be right.)

6. My partner brings up my past mistakes whenever we have disagreements.

Almost all the time     Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Healthy couples get solution-focused, and they don’t replay the past.)

7. My partner rarely or never apologizes when he or she is wrong or hurtful.

Almost all the time       Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Inability or reluctance to say I’m sorry means someone does not take responsibility. Healthy relationships thrive on mutual self-responsibility.)

8. My partner is playful, tender, affectionate, and attentive when we make love.

Almost all the time      Most of the time                       Sometimes      Rarely

(Sex should never be demeaning or insensitive to your needs.)

9. My partner lets disagreements fester.

Almost all the time        Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Happy couples tell the partner what is bothering them.)

10. My partner has cheated on me, and he or she can be very flirtatious with others.

Almost all the time          Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Affairs are real threats to love. About a third of couples survives and thrives after an affair.)

11. My partner has lied to me about money or has used it without my knowledge or agreement.

Almost all the time          Most of the time         Sometimes            Rarely

(Stealing and lying about money is a real breach of trust and respect.)

 

What have you learned about your relationship?  Don’t act in haste.  Get professional help.  If you feel your life and safety are in danger, seek counseling to develop a safety plan first before you pack your bags. But even if it’s something as simple as you want to buy some contemporary wall art, but he gets angry with you for that, then it’s time to reconsider your whole relationship.

I hope these tips help.  My mission is to help you grow your emotional bravery and intuitive power in life, love, work, happiness, and success!  You can be part of my next book about intuition! Your story can help others! Go to my website www.lovevictory.com and sign up on the right column to receive gifts and information.

The 10 Commandments of Intuitive Parenting

By Dr. LeslieBeth Wish

Of course, there are more than ten tips about parenting! But an idea came to me that perhaps I could re-fashion the Bible’s Ten Commandments to apply to parents. As a disclaimer–I am not endorsing one religion or religious beliefs or texts over any other religions, texts, beliefs or behavior. I do hope, though, that you find these tips helpful.

1. Thou shalt not express favor or compare other people’s children to your own. (Don’t make your child feel rejected or unlovable.)

2. Thou shalt not take or display more images or speak more favorably of one of your children’s accomplishments over the others. (Love and accept each child for who he or she is—and isn’t.)

3. Thou shalt not swear or say cruel words or do hurtful acts to your children. (Do not use violence, sarcasm, picking or criticism. Words can—and do—hurt. These forms of communication are love-killers.)

4. Remember the importance of family fun. (Children of all ages thrive on the rituals of fun family time—as well as fun time with friends or alone. All work and no play can squash creativity and independence, and it can create resentment and loneliness.)

5. Honor, foster, and support each child’s interests and abilities—especially if they do not “fit” into the family style of history. (Celebrate each child—and do not expect your child to be your chance to please YOUR parents.)

6. Thou shalt not kill your child’s childhood or development by making your child your best buddy or your comrade against your ex or by not allowing them to learn from mistakes. (Recruiting children emotionally is a person-killer. Keep boundaries between your love life and your parenting role. Learn the balance between protecting your children and allowing them to learn from their mistakes.)

7. Thou shalt not commit adultery. (Affairs can lead to the breakup or erosion of a loving family life. Seek professional help immediately when you are unhappy in your relationship.)

8. Thou shalt not steal from your child’s development by becoming a workaholic. (Balancing working and being physically and emotionally available is needed to establish and maintain “family flow” of sharing time with each parent and participating in family responsibilities for age-appropriate chores.)

9. Thou shalt not accuse, blame, ignore or criticize your children without knowing the facts. (Intuitive parents learn to communicate by both asking “What’s wrong/What happened?” and telling “What’s concerning you about them.” The Ask and Tell approach works well with partners/spouses, too!)

10. Thou shalt not covet other people’s life styles because it fills the house with shame, resentment, and excuse-making. (Aiming to improve and set goals is good, but complaining creates a victim identity and robs children of the spirit of contribution to the community and world.)

Need To Move On After A Break-Up? Here’s How …

By Dr. LeslieBeth Wish

Perhaps the end of your most recent relationship is a good thing regardless of who did the leaving. But now what’s the best next step for you?

Every situation has different details, but here are the top things to consider that emerged from my research and work with thousands of women.

1. Don’t swear off love for a long time. That decision could start an unhealthy cycle:

  • You fear not being able to recover from any more hurt.
  • Your guardedness feeds a negative self-view of you as someone who can’t trust her own judgment.
  • Over time, your relationship restriction makes you rusty at reading potential partners.
  • Something happens in your life such as illness or job crisis that increases your fear of being alone.
  • You then become vulnerable to choosing the next okay-enough-person who comes along.
  • This person ends up not being a wise choice, and so you decide to swear off love again.

If this pattern sounds familiar, you are not alone. Almost three-quarters of the women from my research and private practice got caught in this Hurt-Lonely-Scared Cycle.

2. Understand that it is normal to feel unhappy, lonely, confused, angry, or relieved about your break up. If you become too depressed or furious, seek professional help immediately. Here’s a checklist you can use to chart your emotional reactions and determine that it’s time to get professional help.

Break up Recovery Checklist

If you experience the items on the list for more than two weeks, I recommend you see a counselor. I never like to volunteer to close doors. You have far more to lose by not getting some guidance and tips. Invest in you! You are worth it.

Check the statements that describe you.

  • My appetite has changed. I’m either eating too much or too little.
  • I am relying on drugs or alcohol to make me feel better.
  • I have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • I’ve lost interest in things that I normally do.
  • I can’t concentrate or motivate myself at work or school.
  • I can’t stop thinking about my partner who left me. I wonder if there is a new person in his or her life already.
  • I’ve been contacting my ex and leaving mean messages or stalking him or her or damaging my ex’s property and basically making his or her life miserable.
  • I cry a lot.
  • I have lots of aches and pains and headaches and stomach upsets.
  • It feels like my life is over.
  • I don’t feel like being around my friends and family.
  • I don’t have a lot of energy, and I’ve stopped exercising or doing things that made me feel good.
  • I don’t think my life is worth living much longer, and I think of how I might kill myself

3. Learn from your past relationship. No one likes making the same mistake too many times. Here are some questions to help you understand your past relationship.

  • Why did I choose this person?
  • What do I think went wrong?
  • What was going on in my life when I chose this person?
  • What qualities do I now know I need in a relationship?
  • What is my Emotional Default Drive Attraction to a person who is not good for me? In other words, do I end up creating the same kinds of problems I had in other relationships?
  • What influence did my parents and childhood have over my love problems now?

4. Become careful about rebound love by jumping into another serious relationship immediately. That decision could land you in the most common and unhealthy love pattern:

You get trapped in the Relationship Flip where you over-correct your previously unhappy love pattern.

For example, if your previous partner was too mild or insecure or unreliable, you fall for someone who seems to take charge and has lots of confidence—but who ends up wanting to take charge of you! Or, if your previous partner was too controlling, you choose someone whose mildness morphs into meekness.

But notice that these two examples are just upside-down versions of the same pattern where someone is either too much or too little in charge or too passive.

The healthiest relationships consist of partners who fill in the gaps for the other partner’s weaknesses and who offer flexibility and reliability.

Know the reasons why you are in another relationship. Don’t do the following:

  • You choose someone quickly to prove to your ex that you can attract someone.
  • You choose someone who pleases your parents or family.
  • You choose someone because life circumstances such as feeling lonely or getting older make you act in haste.
  • You choose someone you don’t respect or—and who doesn’t respect or value you.

5. Become an expert in your reactions, feelings and assessments while on dates or in new relationships. Observe you on a date and your date at the same time. Observe important cues from your date such as:

  • How does your date treat the wait staff?
  • Does your date listen or talk only about him or her?
  • Does your date “charm” you too much and make you feel too “special?” These could be signs of this person reading your vulnerability—and then taking advantage of you.
  • Observe your own levels of too much excitement and anticipation for a date with this particular person. This reaction could be a sign that you are falling for your Emotional Default Attraction.
  • Go to the restroom and check your pulse—and your thoughts. Get in touch with you!
  • Read books about reading people.

6. Make the goal of dating to test your ability to read people accurately. Date lots of different kinds of people. Don’t worry if the person doesn’t seem your “type” or if there isn’t any “chemistry.” Give you and your dates time to build trust and respect and closeness. You might be surprised. Often, the best way to learn about you and your needs is to get to know different people.

7. Don’t have sex so soon. Get to know someone over time, and don’t let the high of sex flood your brain with pleasure hormones that cloud your ability to see and think clearly. Ask yourself: Are we both making love—or are we having sex? Do we share the same vision about what this experience means?

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Want To Know The Secret To HAPPINESS? Here It Is …

By Dr. LeslieBeth Wish

Had rotten parents who abused, neglected, criticized or abandoned you? Or something happened to you later in life such as assault or rape? Or your disappointing love relationships hover overhead like mylar balloons glinting at your failures?

Well, here’s the good news: rotten pasts for any reasons don’t have to mean you will have an unhappy life. Positive psychology researchers such as Martin Seligman, author of the inspiring book, “Learned Optimism,” studies resilience and how to develop the positive effects of optimism on your health, coping mechanisms, problem-solving ability, emotional regulation and more.

Seligman identifies several traits that make optimistic people, well, so optimistic. I discovered very similar findings when I was researching the effects of childhood abuse on women’s career and love happiness. Look at the abbreviated list below. Check the ones that describe you.

Optimism Checklist:

I am intelligent.
I can regulate my moods and impulses.
I enjoy planning for the future.
I may not have had a great childhood, but I’ve triumphed over it.
I regard myself as successful.
I like taking on challenges and learning new things.
I can soothe myself without relying on substances such as alcohol, carbohydrates, shopping or impulsive sex with just about anyone.
Even though my life is not perfect now, I enjoy and cherish it.
I’m good at problem-solving.
I can handle disappointments and setbacks.

Obviously, the more you checked, the more likely you are a happy optimist.

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo has developed a method he calls Time Perspective Therapy, which he uses to help people change their negative outlook. The Wall Street Journal article from August 27, 2013, “Still Hung Up on Your Past? A Therapy Says ‘Let It Go’ is an overview of Zimbardo’s analysis of what makes people happy. He discovered that happy people have the following view of themselves:

I love and value my past.
I enjoy my present and know how to balance work and pleasure.
I like planning for the future and believe I can accomplish my goals.

But, oops—what if you don’t agree with these statements or if you didn’t check many things on the Optimist Checklist? Here are some secret tips to help you gain the benefits of optimism.

1. How to deal with the past.

Okay—so you had parents who wouldn’t win any parenting awards. Or later in life you had some very bad experience in love, life and work. Zimbardo recommends meditating or making a list of your positive attributes.

These can be good, but the women in my study for my book, “Smart Relationships,” used these methods that yielded potent results. Use them repeatedly whenever you feel down and out of control over your mood and life.

Make a chart with four columns. In the first column list a negative thought, idea, feeling or regret you have about you and your life.

In the second column list your parents’ or caregivers’ negative words or actions toward you.

In the third column, describe how their words and actions tell you more about them and how they were treated as children. If you take your time and focus on what you know about them, you will increase your ability to see that the words you carry in your head and that your view of you may truly not be true about you!

In the fourth column, now write your good attributes and your rebuttal and revisions to your negative self-view.

The women in my study found this exercise helpful because it brings to the surface all those negative thoughts and fears so you can then battle against them.

2. How to deal with the present.

Zimbardo recommends elevating your mood by exercising and rewarding your work effort with something enjoyable such as getting a massage or going to dinner with friends.

These are great suggestions. Going to dinner with friends is very effective because social engagement has proven to boost your immune system, coping mechanisms, sense of belonging and feeling valued and less alone. Exercising also strengthens your immune system and triggers the pleasure hormones in your brain.

Here are some other tips that the women in my study used.

Make contact with friends, family and the community. Email, write or call a friend. Make plans every month to be with people whom you like and who care about you.

Volunteer. Being active and giving in your community is great medicine. You feel valued, and you get a perspective on the lives and struggles of others. Don’t ignore your circumstances, of course. Your pain is your pain and it is important. Volunteering, however, is a great way to get out identifying with being a victim—or using it as an excuse not to take action.

Do things that scare you. Yes—that’s right! Doing things that make you feel nervous or stupid become a training ground that makes you more comfortable with new things. This desensitization can enable you to take some necessary, moderate and realistic risks in your life. For example, if you are afraid of starting a business, I suggest that you attend seminars, read books and consult with successful people. Yes, you will feel anxious, but the more you expose yourself to what frightens you, the more you develop inner strength.

3. How to deal with your future.

Zimbardo recommends learning an new skill and thinking about what’s good in your life. Here are some more suggestions from the women in my study. These tips are much easier to do if you took the advice above.

Okay—it’s time for you to make another chart. In the first column make a list of what you would realistically like to accomplish in the future.

In the second column list all the things you need to do to achieve those goals.

In the third column list all your fears and the things that hold you back. Now go back to that very first chart I asked you to make in how to deal with your past. Do you see similarities? How many of your fears come from them?

In the fourth column write some words of encouragement, including your rebuttal and revisions to the negative input from your parents and caregivers. You will most likely have this inner dialogue between the old and new you for the rest of your life. But the more you increase your awareness, the more you can rewrite a different view of you and your future happiness.

Be featured in Dr. Wish’s next book about intuition! Click here to tell her your story!

And also check out more of Dr. Wish’s advice in one of her other books right here:

On The Brink Of Breaking Your New Year’s Resolutions? Try These Tips …

By Dr. LeslieBeth Wish

Many New Year’s resolutions are broken by the end of January. If that sentence describes you, don’t fret. New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep because we humans—and probably most primates—have brains that are designed for pleasurable sensations and encounters such as eating delicious food, having sex, socializing or mastering a difficult task.

And you probably guessed it—New Year’s resolutions defy your brain’s wiring for pleasure. And when your fun actions stimulate your brain’s hormones of oxytocin and endorphins, you don’t want to stop.

Soon your brain makes neural connections for those experiences that make you feel good. No wonder you don’t want to deprive yourself of your favorite food or activity. Too much restriction feels so horrible that you over-correct by bingeing. And then you resolve to work harder to stop whatever it is that you are trying to fix—and you get trapped in a resolution-restrict-indulge-resolution cycle.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magic pill or process that guarantees New Year’s resolutions success, but here are some tips that have worked for the women in my study and for people in general. You will have to experiment to see which ones work for you.

Smart Steps for New Year’s Resolutions Success:

1. Evaluate to motivate.

Make a list of all the things you’d like to change. Now rate them in both in degree of importance and difficulty. Ask yourself, “How likely am I to do this?”Since health issues are often the most important, you might choose to work on that. Yet, some health-related problems such as losing weight are the toughest ones to address. What should you do?

2. Build in on-going help and support.

Get professional guidance immediately. You don’t want that first week at the gym to be your last. The best solutions combine motivation and pleasure. Weight Watchers uses group support and motivation, and they design diets that permit treats. Tell all your family members and friends about your resolutions and ask them to help you—or join you!

Get a buddy. Tell a friend to check in on you—or go with you or speak up when you shop or eat too much. Going it alone courts failure. Or, if you really want to quit smoking, consult a professional and find a support group.

Even if your partner does not want to join you, do it without him or her—at first. Usually, one partner’s new behavior eventually sparks the other person to participate, too. Be careful, though, of the temptation to give up together!

3. Take small steps to train your brain.

Rather than make big resolutions, vow to take one small step a day. Allow your brain to get used to going without the pleasure of a cigarette or drink or dessert. In some cases, though, eliminating totally your unwanted behavior works better. Now you can see why resolutions are so complicated! Some people don’t make New Year’s resolutions at all since the resolutions are almost always too big. Instead, truly take it one day, one hour at a time.

4. Know your moods triggers.

Get mindful of your feelings and state of mind. Do you feel insecure, lonely or unloved? What have you done in the past to soothe you—drink, eat, shop, for example? Ask yourself: “How am I feeling right now and what would I normally do about it that is not good for me? And what can I do to handle my situation that is good for me?”

5. Start again—and learn. Don’t give up.

Get back on that horse, as they say. Giving up old behavior that made you feel less stressed and unhappy is difficult to change. Learn from your setback. Ask yourself, “What triggered my relapse?” When you relapse, which is very common, just start over—and be more vigilant about your triggers. Remember, behavior is a choice.

6. Create rewards to assist your brain to connect pleasure with discipline.

A reward might be permission to eat one or two small bites or buy one item under a certain amount—or not buy anything at all! Eventually, your success will become its own reward. Or, create a money jar where you deposit a dollar or all your change every time you stay on course. Or, don’t allow yourself to watch your favorite show or use social media until you complete your task for the day.

7. Be your own buddy and stay positive.

Think about your previous success in overcoming your urge to spend, smoke, eat, drink or do any other undesirable behavior. Keep a Success Journal so you can read what you did to recognize and resist the temptation to give in. Say these words out loud: “I know this change is difficult, but I deserve to be healthy and happy.”

Happy Smart New Year!

Holiday Stress Tips & Family Grievances

By Dr. LeslieBeth Wish

Oh—so you think that just because you are together with your family that it’s a good time to have one of those heart-to-hearts where you grab the opportunity to air your emotional hurts and open wounds. Well, not so fast. It just may not be the best time to settle your grievances.

Why It May Not be a Good Idea:

1. The Power of Emotional Time Travel.

When you get together with your extended family, the “home” you are going to is not in the present: You are going home emotionally to the one from your past. You start your journey as adult and end up as a child. Welcome to the world of Emotional Time Travel. As a result you bring all your old defenses and behaviors. For example, if you tended to sulk or get snippy as a child, then exposure to your family will tend to activate the old you. It’s as though you fall back into your old groove. Don’t underestimate the power of the family. Think of the weakening effect of kryptonite on Superman.

2. Family Reactivity.

People tend to be the most emotionally reactive when face to face. Blindsiding your family members with hot topics will most likely activate their Emotional Default Drives and bring out the worst in them—and you as well!

3. Old Views of You.

Stirring up the family can create factions, taint the atmosphere and sustain the family’s old and negative image of you.

However, having heart to heart talks can be a good idea if you take the following tips. And, even if you don’t have any issues to settle, these tips may keep you from falling into your old, ineffective family groove. The goals are to present your best self so you can bring out the best in others and build healthy bonds.

If you sustain these new behaviors over time, you will increase the possibility of having a positive and effective conversation during the holiday celebration. However, don’t air all your grievances at once. Changing family patterns takes time. Pick one issue—but make sure you offer a solution. If your communication has been smooth, you can initiate some talk about the issue in your texts, emails and cards. A good guide is to limit your discussion to about three to five sentences—but not long ones!

Wiser and More Effective Ways to Build a Better, Stronger and Loving Family:

1. Early Bonds.

Start building new and different relationship patterns with your family early. There are so many meaningful and powerful ways to do this. Send emails, text messages or snail mail cards for their birthdays and other events. Inquire about important things in their lives such as their health, job or vacation. Tell them good things about you. Thank them for something that you appreciate or learned from them. Ask them to write you or send a recording of their life or fond family memories. Tell them you are creating a family journal of all these memories and stories.

2. Thankfulness, Praise and Surprise.

When you are all gathered at the table or your family focal spot, speak up and say you would like to go around the room or table and say thanks and praise to each person. You will feel awkward because it doesn’t “seem like you” and because it is “out of the family groove” and will shake everyone up. Well, the element of surprise is one of your most powerful tools for changing family communication patterns and their inaccurate view of you.

3. Triggers and New Style.

Before you go, get mindful of what exactly sets you off. Write down your hot topics and what you and your family members typically feel, say and do. For example, if your hot topic is being single or divorced, think about what family members say or ask you. What do you usually say or feel? Make a list of the things you dread most about going home again. The goal is to be prepared.

Change your thinking about their behavior. Keep in mind that what they say tells you more about them than it does about you.

Develop a new style. As soon as someone says their usual things (“Are you seeing anyone?” “Are you still dating so-and-so?” “Are you still working in that place?” “Thirty-five—aren’t you working on having children?”), be ready to do these two potent things:

Thank the person for their concern (it is a mixed up way of saying they care)

Ask for their advice (their remarks are also a mixed up way of asking to be valued and included).

You might be surprised at their responses. Often, people get the message that they are not being helpful, but they also hear that they are appreciated.

Want To Fall In Love During The Holiday Season? Maybe You Shouldn’t …

Soon there will be sales everywhere. Tinsel will hang from clothing racks. Christmas trees will totter on counter tops. Holiday songs will play in loops, and couples and families will burst through aisles with shopping bags while you’re supposed to be happy, too.

Oh, sometimes that holiday atmosphere can trick you into feeling giddy in love–or more alone and more down on yourself. The whole world seems to sparkle, and you wonder: “Why shouldn’t I feel this way with the person I’m with?” Or: “Why don’t I have someone to be with?”

These questions are part of the fall-out from constant exposure to what seems like false or enforced holiday cheer. Holidays are tough times if you feel lonely, hurt or disappointed in love. So, it’s tempting to make the following top mistakes.

Mistake #1: You go for the Last Person Standing who sort of is an okay love match.

You know that you are too picky or critical. You think: “Why not loosen my perfection and choose someone who is not a great match—but so what—who is these days?”

Mistake #2: You allow yourself to get swept away.

You’ve been suffering from Skin Hunger—that painful longing from not being touched. Your past relationships have hurt you emotionally so much that you swore off love for too long. Your life has been all work and no play. Now you’re surrounded by happy couples and families and smiles and laughter and gifts, and you want to feel alive again—even sexually. You think: “Why not toss caution to the wind and just go for that person over there with that dangerously appealing edge?”

Mistake #3: You’ve experienced major setbacks or changes that now make your loneliness and fear of life barely tolerable.

You might getting older, and you feel that time is running out. Or, you’ve had a major loss in life such as declining health, loss of a job or financial stability. Regardless of your situation, you think: “Well, this person is better than being alone in the world.”

Mistake #4: You convince yourself that you are in love with the one you are with.

You’ve been with your partner for a long time. You’ve gone back and forth over whether to get married or break up or at least move in together. Everyone else seems so happy, even though you know for a fact that many of the couples have problems. You think: “Just do it. Open your heart all the way to this person and commit and just forget about those doubts and dull feelings.”

Mistake #5: You are on rebound.

It’s over. You knew it wasn’t working, but still, being dumped feels horrible. You think: “Well, I am just going to show so-and-so that I can get a new person just like that in no time.”

If these mistakes sound like you, here is some advice about how to avoid them.

1. Get mindful of your life situation and your emotional state during the holiday season.

Keep a journal where you can write out your feelings and thoughts. Refer to your journal often. Know your weak spots.

When you re-read your journal, be aware of your physical reactions. Are you getting tearful? Do you feel sick to your stomach? Is your heart racing from anxiety? Make a list of your reactions.

Now add your best guess as to why you are feeling this way? What frightens you?

2. Get a buddy.

Tell a trusted friend about your increasing loneliness and fears. If that person is not going to be at the holiday parties, arrange ahead of time for them to answer your Reality Check Phone Call. If they are at the same parties and events, agree to meet up a few times during the event. Tell them to interrupt you when you are spending time talking to someone. It’s great to get your buddy’s feedback and to observe this new person with your trusted friend.

3. Get a therapist.

Seek therapy before you make another love misstep. Develop a plan that helps you become more observant of you and the person who interests you.

4. Get preventive by boosting your social participation.

Look at your current behavior. Are you turning down invitations? Are you avoiding arranging times to be with friends and colleagues? Examine how much in-person time you spend with others. Do you do volunteer work? Do you make excuses for not attending lectures or your town’s free events? Social isolation increases feelings of loneliness. And when these feelings get too intense, they can put you at risk for acting hastily.

5. Feel your feelings.

Don’t bury them with food, alcohol, overspending or endless time on social media sites with people you barely know. When you make friends with your emotional pain, you will be less likely to let your unhappiness cloud your judgment and intuition about people. Recognize that feelings of loneliness and desperation are warning signs that you need to connect in meaningful ways with others. These feelings are most likely adaptive responses that evolved over time to force social contact with families, groups and tribes for the purposes of increasing chances of survival—including better health. Medical professionals have long known that being alone impairs health and longevity.

6. Don’t define yourself negatively.

Almost all of us have gone through bad times that tempt you to let them define you. So what if you are alone or recently divorced or older or whatever it is that makes you feel too flawed for love. Make a list of people who care and value you. List your accomplishments and what you’ve overcome. Use your own measurements of success. After all, few if any know how far you’ve come in life.

And, contrary to many suggestions, make a list of negative beliefs you have about you. Now ask yourself: Where did these beliefs come from–disgruntled previous partners or from my parents? And could their words to you really tell you more about them and their problems?

7. Slow down.

Even if you do meet someone who might be a good match for you, take your time in the relationship. Postpone sex until you know each other better over time. And make this time together resemble real life as much as possible. Hang out with friends, watch your favorite shows together, and let your new partner see your quirks and reactions.

Holiday Family Stress: Tips for Survival

By Dr. LeslieBeth Wish

Do you think that just because you are together with your family that it’s a good time to have one of those heart-to-hearts where you grab the opportunity to air your emotional hurts and open wounds? Well, not so fast. It just may not be the best time to settle your grievances.

Why It May Not be a Good Idea

1. The Power of Emotional Time Travel.

When you get together with your extended family, the “home” you are going to is not in the present: You are going home emotionally to the one from your past. You start your journey as adult and end up as a child. Welcome to the world of Emotional Time Travel. As a result you bring all your old defenses and behaviors. For example, if you tended to sulk or get snippy as a child, then exposure to your family will tend to activate the old you. It’s as though you fall back into your old groove. Don’t underestimate the power of the family. Think of the weakening effect of kryptonite on Superman.

2. Family Reactivity.

People tend to be the most emotionally reactive when face to face. Blindsiding your family members with hot topics will most likely activate their Emotional Default Drives and bring out the worst in them—and you as well!

3. Old Views of You.

Stirring up the family can create factions, taint the atmosphere and sustain the family’s old and negative image of you.

However, having heart to heart talks can be a good idea if you take the following tips. And, even if you don’t have any issues to settle, these tips may keep you from falling into your old, ineffective family groove. The goals are to present your best self so you can bring out the best in others and build healthy bonds.

If you sustain these new behaviors over time, you will increase the possibility of having a positive and effective conversation during the holiday celebration. However, don’t air all your grievances at once. Changing family patterns takes time. Pick one issue—but make sure you offer a solution. If your communication has been smooth, you can initiate some talk about the issue in your texts, emails and cards. A good guide is to limit your discussion to about three to five sentences—but not long ones!

Wiser and More Effective Ways to Build a Better, Stronger and Loving Family

1. Early Bonds.

Start building new and different relationship patterns with your family early. There are so many meaningful and powerful ways to do this. Send emails, text messages or snail mail cards for their birthdays and other events. Inquire about important things in their lives such as their health, job or vacation. Tell them good things about you. Thank them for something that you appreciate or learned from them. Ask them to write you or send a recording of their life or fond family memories. Tell them you are creating a family journal of all these memories and stories.

2. Thankfulness, Praise and Surprise.

When you are all gathered at the table or your family focal spot, speak up and say you would like to go around the room or table and say thanks and praise to each person. You will feel awkward because it doesn’t “seem like you” and because it is “out of the family groove” and will shake everyone up. Well, the element of surprise is one of your most powerful tools for changing family communication patterns and their inaccurate view of you.

3. Triggers and New Style.

Before you go, get mindful of what exactly sets you off. Write down your hot topics and what you and your family members typically feel, say and do. For example, if your hot topic is being single or divorced, think about what family members say or ask you. What do you usually say or feel? Make a list of the things you dread most about going home again. The goal is to be prepared.

Change your thinking about their behavior. Keep in mind that what they say tells you more about them than it does about you.

Develop a new style. As soon as someone says their usual things (“Are you seeing anyone?” “Are you still dating so-and-so?” “Are you still working in that place?” “Thirty-five—aren’t you working on having children?”), be ready to do these two potent things:

Thank the person for their concern (it is a mixed up way of saying they care)

Ask for their advice (their remarks are also a mixed up way of asking to be valued and included).

You might be surprised at their responses. Often, people get the message that they are not being helpful, but they also hear that they are appreciated.

10 Things to Remember With Opposite-Sex Friends

Here is the age-old question: Can a man and woman be friends and stay strictly platonic? The answer is “Yo and Nes”—each word, as you can see, is a combination of Yes and No. So, how do you know if your friendship with a person of the opposite sex might cross over into “dangerous territory?”

In the movie When Harry Met Sally, Harry declares that men and women can never really be friends because “sex always gets in the way.” In other words, at some point, one or both of them will have a sexual desire for the other. Is that always true?

Well, few things are always true. In the television show Seinfeld, Jerry has one night of sex with Elaine, and they both realize that they are better off as friends. But some platonic friendships last even if there has never been any sex. Here are some ideas to help you sort out your feelings, honesty and platonic relationships.

If you are happy with your life–including your love life, then you can most likely sustain a platonic relationship. Good friendships can offer another point of view and serve as a sounding board for things that bother you. Platonic relationships can add to genuine and meaningful social connections. Social isolation can impair the immune system.

However, if you are unhappy in love and life, then platonic-oriented relationships may be the first baby step into the love waters.

If this situation sounds like yours, read these 9 tips.

1. Get honest with you!

Ask: Why am I in this platonic relationship? What are my expectations?

2. Rate your unhappiness in your current intimate relationship.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 the highest degree of unhappiness, rate your answer.

3. Don’t let your need to be valued because of being a “Nurse Nancy” to your platonic friend fill your life.

If you can’t give up how your platonic friend makes you feel, then you might be robbing your existing relationship of depth and connection. You might also be using platonic emotional tape to bolster your self-esteem. Seek counseling to learn more about your emotional needs and emotional injuries.

4. If this person were not in your life, what would you be missing?

If your answer borders on “I would feel lonely, empty, misunderstood,” then you might need to examine your current intimate relationship to find out what you are not getting from your partner. Include asking yourself how you contribute to this situation. Why do you think the relationship has changed?

5. Observe what you and your platonic friend talk about.

Do you have gripe sessions about your current relationships? Are you sharing lots of things that your partner doesn’t know?

6. Don’t get hasty or stupid by having sex with your friend—and jeopardizing your current relationship.

Slow down. Keep a journal to learn more about you. Observe your reactions and interactions for about a month to learn about you and your partner and your unhappiness. Talk to your partner and offer solutions–NOT just complaints. Seek counseling—and stay with it—before you rush a decision or take actions that could be damaging. Never do things that require you to close a door without good cause.

7. Keep a journal of your life for about 2-4 weeks and see what you learn about you and your life.

Keep track of how much time you spend with your platonic friend. What are you taking away from your life and love partner? How often are you texting or contacting this person in any way, such as late at night connections.

8. Observe and value your partner’s expressions of jealousy.

Listen to your partner’s complaints and observe his or her reactions. What buttons is this platonic relationship pushing in your partner? Are their grounds for it? For example, do you and your partner have a history of cheating or separations?

9. If there is no reason for your partner to be jealous, reassure your partner of your fidelity and love.

Tell him or her all the good things about your relationship together. Explain to your partner about your platonic friend and how this person il like your friends of the same sex. Tell him or her how you would miss your platonic friend if he or she were not in your life, but that you would not fall apart or feel empty.

10. Are you being flirtatious with your platonic friend?

Think about whether you are taking extra time to dress for this person or fantasizing what sex would be like with this person.

Friendships of any kind are fun and meaningful for us all. However, if you keep these 10 things in mind when you are in one with the opposite sex, you will be much happier when you keep it intentional.