Archive of ‘Relationships’ category

Getting The Love You Want: Part One

“A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventur’d piteous overthrows
doth with their death bury their parents’ strife.”
This classic quote alludes to an age-old question; “Why do we fall in love with the people we do?” Many parents of teenagers may find themselves in the same predicament as Juliet and Romeo’s parents did, lamenting the romantic choice of their daughters and sons. We may even surprise ourselves with our own romantic choices. We vow never to return to a relationship like the one we just ended and then to our dismay, one day we realize our current partner has many of the same characteristics as the last! Beyond biology and evolution, which contribute to a foundational understanding of why we find certain people more attractive than others, many professionals in the field of psychology found themselves stumped as to why individuals tend to repeat certain relationship patterns (i.e. entering into the same relationship with one person over and over or have a certain type of relationship style with different people).

Jill Baumgarner,  Pre-Graduate Student Intern Supervised by Kirby Sandlin, LMFT, LPC

By: Jill Baumgarner,
Pre-Graduate Student Intern
Supervised by
Kirby Sandlin, LMFT, LPC

Hendrix Harville, Ph. D., discusses this subject thoroughly in his book “Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples”. Essentially, as we were socialized from a young age, our parents sculpted what type of adult we would become, what type of characteristics we would possess and what type of personality we will have. Sounds obvious, right? The problem is that as a child’s identity is sculpted by parental influence, and not allowed to manifest on its own, there is resistance and pain. All of those parts of ourselves that we exhibited but were not allowed to be were discarded and became our “lost self”. A sad and common example of this is with male children who are not allowed to express their vulnerable side because his parents shamed him whenever he cries. Therefore, “vulnerability” would become a part of the “lost self”.
How does this fit into our search for a partner, you might ask? Harville explains that the “lost self” contains the characteristics that you will be drawn to in a romantic partner. By being in a relationship with someone who possesses the certain traits we, as children, were not allowed to have; we can experience“wholeness by proxy” and no longer need to feel the pain of being deficient.
Ask yourself- “what part of me do I find deficient in some way?” Maybe you are clumsy? Maybe you are socially awkward? If you found yourself in a relationship with a person who is especially strong in this area (i.e. gracefully, the life of the party) you may find yourself surprisingly complete, rather than envious or more aware of your perceived shortcomings.
The tricky part is that we are not conscious of what characteristics make up our “lost self”; they have been pushed away from awareness because they were not conducive to our childhood. Through socialization and by learning how a child must and must not behave we rejected the parts of ourselves that were not accepted and believed society’s lie that we ever possessed those traits. Luckily, a way to discover the characteristics of our ‘lost self’, and in turn discover the traits we are attracted to in a partner, is by meeting and identifying our “false self”. It is the set of characteristics that camouflage our repressed parts (i.e. the lost self) out of awareness and protect us from further injury. They do this by presenting as the exact opposite of the characteristics that make up ‘lost self’. Ok, let’s look at an example to see this more clearly. Picture a man playing basketball with his friends. Someone makes a comment about how he “throws like a girl” and all of the sudden he is enraged that someone would embarrass him and be so offensive. Although it may sound like an exaggeration, this happens more than we know. Little triggers are hit and we react only later to think, “Why did I get so upset?” “That’s not me!” Perhaps the man in this example has developed the characteristic of ‘masculinity’ in his ‘false self’ to protect him from the ‘femininity’ in his ‘lost self’. In truth, we know our false self already, even though you may not be aware of it, because this is the part that appears when we are criticized, shamed, embarrassed, angry, or need to feel as though we need defense.
In the next portion of this blog series, we will continue to discuss how we are unconsciously undermining our relationships and what the ‘Imago’ is!


Five Healthy Relationship Tips for the Holidays

Staying happy and healthy during the holidays!

The holidays are most certainly one of the most stressful times of the year. Between the gift buying and giving, the holiday parties, the family visits, and other pressures, one can get lost in the true meaning of the holidays. Not only that, but no matter how long you’ve been in a relationship or commitment, it can begin to have a toll on you and your partner as well. Statistics show that more break-ups, divorces, and infidelities happen around the holiday season. This could be in part because of the stress that individuals are under can begin to pile up, making people unhappy and, at times, difficult to be around. However, many of these issues can be avoided with the appropriate tools and mind set. I’ve put together a list of five tips that you can try incorporating with your partner to maintain a healthy relationship during the holiday season.

By: Angelica Beker, LPC-Intern Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

Five tips for you and your loved one:

1) Communication is key: This first tip is the most important. Taking the time to talk to your partner, hearing their concerns and opinions, and discussing ways to mediate and combine plans and ideas can be crucial. Sitting down and discussing a plan for family visits and trips can ease the stress of making sure all family members and parties are seen during the holidays and each partner gets the time they want with their loved ones. Allowing each other to talk out the stresses going on at work, at home, and anywhere else can also be key. The foundation for a healthy relationship is open communication. As such, having the both of you talk out your concerns and wishes for the holidays can be very helpful.

2) Alter your vision of a “perfect” holiday: Many people envision the holidays to be “so romantic” and “perfect” due to the portrayal of holidays in movies, television, and other media. Due to this, individuals may have unrealistic hopes and visions for the holidays, such as expecting a proposal or saying “I love you” or introducing a significant other to family too soon. The holidays do have a romantic feeling surrounding them, but this does not mean one should get carried away. Having healthy, realistic expectations for your relationship and where you relationship stands. Live in the moment, count your blessings, and appreciate the positive, holiday cheer that comes with it.

3) Make time for one another: Because of all the last-minute work deadline, holiday parties, family visits, etc., you and your significant other may realize you are spending less time one-on-one. Allow yourselves to do something together – even something as simple as baking or cooking, getting a massage, a bubble bath, movie night, or having a glass of wine together. This will allow you to have quality time with your partner and appreciate one another and devote time to each other.

4) Don’t be afraid to say “no”: If you feel you can’t afford throwing or attending another party or buying a certain gift, don’t. It is important to take note of your finances together and remember that material things are not what make the holiday. Financial stress can be difficult on relationships and can cause fights. Make a budget with your significant other and be aware of what you can and cannot afford. Don’t stretch yourselves too thin. Cutting back on spending money and making time to spend with one another and your loved ones can be more rewarding than spending more money than necessary and then stressing about it post-holiday season.

5) Ease up on the sweets and treats: The final tip is in regards to the food and drinks of the holiday season. Holiday parties can be delicious and full of sweets and treats! However, watching what you eat and drink can be beneficial to you and your partner. An overabundance of sweets, alcohol, and fatty, unhealthy foods can directly impact your mood. It can also activate the stress hormones in our bodies as well. Being aware of this can help keep your stress down and can in turn make you and your partner feel better, healthier, and happier, while warding off negative feelings and reactions.

Be sure to show love and understanding.

The holidays are a beautiful time of year and just remember, make sure you let your partner know how much you love for them and appreciate the relationships. Be sure to express gratitude and appreciation towards one another. It is simple to get caught up in the holiday madness, so let’s make this holiday a happy and healthy one for you and your partner!


Myths About Domestic Violence: Part 4

If you have watched the news lately in Travis County, it was reported that a woman was killed by her boyfriend earlier this week, and that over the weekend a teen male held a shotgun to the neck of his girlfriend and threatened to kill her if she tried to break up with him again. It is clear that the epidemic of domestic violence is still on the rise, and with that truth I bring you the final part of my blog pertaining to myths about domestic violence. Stay tuned for future blogs on the subject – the discussion will not stop as long as the problem persists!

By: Susanna Wetherington, LPC-Intern Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

By: Susanna Wetherington, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

Myth #12: He is afraid of intimacy and abandonment.

Jealousy and possessiveness are common traits of abusive men, and their destructive and coercive behaviors often escalate when their partners attempt to break up with them. This supports the statistic that the victim is 75% more likely to be seriously injured or killed after trying to leave or just after leaving or ending the relationship.

Myth #13: He hates women.

Many believe that abusive men are abusive toward women because they have had largely negative experiences with women in the past, such as having an abusive or overbearing mother. The truth is most abusers don’t hate women – the issue is they do not respect women. Their attitudes toward women fall on a spectrum from being able to interact fairly well with most women (as long as they are not intimately involved with them) to being staunch misogynists who treat most women they come across with superiority and contempt. These attitudes of disrespect tend to come from their culture of values and conditioning, rather than previous negative experiences with women. Research has actually shown that men with abusive mothers do not tend to develop negative attitudes towards women, but men with abusive fathers do – the disrespect shown by abusive men toward their female partners and their daughters is often absorbed and mimicked by their sons.

Myth #14: There are as many abusive women as abusive men.

It is true that there are women who treat their partners badly, from berating them to attempting to control them. However these instances are much less frequent and the instances of physical abuse, including physical intimidation and violence, and sexual abuse are even more rare. According to a report published by the National Institute of Justice, “women experience more intimate partner violence than do men,” with 22.1% of women surveyed reported they were physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabitating partner, boyfriend or date, as opposed to 7.4% of surveyed reporting the same.[1] The same report shows that the majority (64%) of women who were physically assaulted, raped and/or stalked since the age of 18 were victimized by men, specifically a current or former husband, co-habitating partner, boyfriend or date. It is important to note that men can be abused by other men and women can be abused by other women. The key aspects of verbal and emotional abuse, specifically using sarcasm, put-downs, twisting everything around on the other partner, and using other tactics of control, are seen in all abusive relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual.

Myth #15: His abusiveness is as bad for him as for his partner.

The perpetrators of abuse get over the pain of abusive incidents far faster than those they abuse. In fact, abusers often tend to benefit in many ways from their controlling behaviors. Abusers often outperform their victims on psychological tests, such as those given for custody disputes, because they have not been traumatized by the long-term psychological or physical assault they inflict on their victims. Thus, if his abusiveness were truly as bad for him as it is for his partner, you would see him display the same reactions of trauma.


[1] Tjaden, P. & Thoennes, N., (2000) Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey, National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

1 15 16 17 18 19 20