Healing After a Breakup: 7 Do’s and Don’ts on Your Self-Love Journey!

Breakups are hard. Let me repeat that, BREAKUPS are hard (at least they are most of the time). Regardless of whether or not it was “time to go,” or the “relationship was toxic,” or you “fell out of love,” just because we know it is best for us to end things, it does not mean it is easy to say good-bye! You may have been on the receiving end of another persons decision or maybe you were the one who initiated the breakup, either way, most people agree that the ending of a relationship can be complicated. One undeniable fact is that after a breakup, things change!

I have been on both ends of a breakup and I can honestly say, neither was comfortable, joyous, or easy. Usually, when we make a decision to commit to another person, share our body, our space, family and friends, open up our heart, and be vulnerable, we do not anticipate or desire that the relationship will come to an end. From my own personal and professional experience, working with clients who start therapy after a breakup, it can shake up your world and have you questioning your self-worth and identity!

Different people bring out different versions of who we are and within those dynamics there is so much rich information. We learn about how we love and want to be loved, we learn about our shadow self, our wounds, triggers, and our strengths. When I meet people who have recently experienced a breakup, I invite them to breath deeply, roll up their sleeves, give themselves a hug, and begin an examination of all that surfaced as a result of that relationship, from its beginning to its end.

How did you behave in the relationship?

Did you honor yourself? If so, how?

Were you sacrificial? overbearing? insecure?

Answering the questions above is helpful. Processing your breakup leads to more self-awareness and allows for healing and the opportunity for growth.

Self-Love Affirmation: “My experiences do not define me, they inform me and inspire me to grow.”

The most important thing you can do for yourself after a breakup is GRANT YOURSELF UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND COMPASSION. You will need your love at this time. You will need to not judge, not blame, and not feed into any narratives that make you feel unworthy or unlovable. Only you determine your worth and you are absolutely, 100% worthy of love. How can I say that without knowing you? Because as a human being, you are inherently worthy of love.

As soon as you know the relationship has ended, even if you feel powerless or as if your agency has been taken from you, be empowered. You get your power back by making a decision to deepen the relationship that matters most, the RELATIONSHIP YOU HAVE WITH YOURSELF! You do not need anyone else’s permission to love yourself. Will you do that for yourself? Will you give yourself permission to focus on your healing, your wants, and your needs?

YOU BE YOUR REBOUND RELATIONSHIP!

Begin your Self-Love Journey Today!

Your Self-Love Journey will provide you with more clarity of how you show up in relationships and why.

Your Self-Love Journey will help you understand your love languages and how that plays out in relationships.

Your Self-Love Journey will support your healing of childhood wounds (your inner child).

Your Self-Love Journey will familiarize you with your attachment style.

Your Self-Love Journey will teach you what unconditional love truly is and once you learn to extend it to yourself, you can extend it to others.

The quote by Matt Kahn, “People can only meet you as deeply as they have met themselves” helps us understand that in order to connect deeply with others, we have to first be able to connect deeply with ourselves. After a breakup, you have an opportunity to get raw and meet yourself deeper than ever before. Look yourself in the mirror, gaze deeply into your own eyes as you say to yourself, “who are you really?” and “how do you feel?”

Through the pain of loss, we encounter wounds that require acknowledgment and healing. Emotions get to be named and validated. The vision you had for your future with your ex gets to be mourned. In order to let go, we can not run from the pain. If we dismiss and compartmentalize it, the energy of the breakup will still live within us, blocking our ability to fully heal and open our heart to love again. Sometimes we rather avoid the uncomfortable emotions because confronting feels hard and hurts. Looking in the mirror takes courage. I encourage folks to be courageous. Keep asking yourself questions, and keep answering them honestly. If you truly want to let go and move on, you must first validate what comes up for you and then give yourself permission to release it in order to allow something else to come in and become a part of your life. You are in the process of creating the life you desire.

However, I have met people who are not ready to let go yet. Honestly, there were times in my life when I struggled with letting go to ideas, people, and habits because I was so attached to them that the thought of letting them go felt like too much. If it feels uncomfortable it can be tempting to practice denial, avoidance, and distraction. Most of the time we are subconsciously practicing avoidance as a way of protecting ourselves. When the relationship ends, especially if you were blindsided, accepting the breakup can take time.

If you find yourself struggling, please consider leaning into your friendships and/or working with a therapist to support you with your grieving and healing process. Each breakup effects people differently and it is not uncommon for people to experience low mood, a depressive episode, anxiety, or adjustment disorder after a life transition. Some breakups are traumatizing. Your life changes after someone important to you leaves. That part is inevitable. Change is inevitable. Learning to accept and let go is a necessary part of your healing journey. In order to heal, you must love yourself fully. Every particle, within every crevasse, every shadow that you rather not see. Every part of you gets to be looked at and once you truly see yourself, forgive yourself, and nurture yourself, you will absolutely fall in love! Use the following 7 self-love do’s and don’ts after your breakup, to support you on your journey.

7 SELF-LOVE

DO’S & DONT’S

AFTER A BREAKUP

1. DO ENLIST SUPPORT – Friends, family members, or a therapist. After a breakup, it can be helpful to talk with people who can hold an emotional space for you. Be discerning with who you ask for support, you want to ensure that will not provoke you or feed hate, anger, or negativity. Identify what you believe you need, and then ask for it. Do NOT stay isolated!

2. DO BLOCK, UNFOLLOW, or MUTE YOUR EX on social media if you are being triggered. The days and weeks following a breakup are usually the most difficult and seeing what your ex is up to can be extremely triggering and hurtful. Taking a break from social media all together can sometimes be even more beneficial but at the very least, stay off their account. Do NOT stalk them on social media to find out what they are doing or if they are dating someone new. Once it is official and you are no longer a couple, it can feel like a loss of control. Often people try to regain what can feel like control by stalking their ex on social media platforms. Remember, social media usually shows you what the person wants you to see (not the full picture) and if you are obsessing over them, you can not possibly be focused on yourself.

3. DO BEGIN SAYING POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS and focus on your strengths. After a breakup the negative self-talk can get pretty loud. People begin to blame themselves, feel unwanted, unworthy, and unvalued. It will be crucial that you double down on compassion, self-love, and positive affirmations. You can reach out to those who care about you and ask them to name 5 things they love about you but that is not enough. How you feel about yourself matters. Identify 5 things you like about yourself and write them down. Then create affirmations or look for some online that are specific and can counter any negative self-talk or insecurities. Example: If your self-talk sounds like, “they didn’t value me anymore, I am unwanted” your positive affirmation can be: “I determine my value, I am worthwhile, and deserving of love.” Do NOT feed into negative self-talk or self-judgment.

4. DO CARVE OUT TIME DAILY TO GET TO KNOW YOURSELF. Take the 5lovelanguages quiz, find out your attachment style, and begin exploring how those things came to be and how they show up in your relationships. Compassionately explore the reasons why you do some of what you do. Do NOT avoid or dismiss your needs. You deserve to be understood, allow yourself time and space to understand yourself more.

5. DO CREATE SOME NEW RITUALS/ROUTINES and make sure they are healthy! If you do not already have a morning and evening ritual in place, create them. Especially if your ex was a part of those routines in the past. The way you begin and end your day makes a big difference in terms of productivity and overall mental health wellness. A breakup can create a feeling of instability. If nothing else, we recognize that some things have changed and change can be uncomfortable. Creating rituals can help you feel grounded and safe. Create a morning ritual that includes something just for you. It can be meditation, tea or coffee and sitting quietly or reading a book, watering plants, yoga, making yourself a healthy breakfast, creating a journal entry with a daily intention. An evening ritual can support you with getting a restful nights sleep. Winding down at night with restorative yoga, a warm beverage, a warm bath, reading, and an entry in a gratitude journal can make a huge difference. Do NOT wait until the last minute to think about your day, idle time after a breakup can be triggering and lead to endless mental chatter. Do NOT stay up late reminiscing or allowing negative thoughts to spiral. There is a higher likelihood of having interrupted sleep when we are not intentional around how we prepare our mind and body for sleep.

6. DO KEEP THE THINGS YOU LOVE/ENJOY ABOUT YOURSELF that you may have mainly done with your ex. Sometimes we have so many memories attached to an activity that we did with our ex that we only associate that activity with our them. It can be anything from baking cookies on Friday night, to going for a run on a Sunday morning, to visiting an art exhibit once a month. Identify whatever it is that you enjoyed doing, and give yourself permission to continue to do it. It may look a bit different, it may trigger you at first, but if there was an aspect of the relationship that you appreciated and miss (and do not involve your ex needing to be a part of) find a way to keep it. Bring it back in. Different relationships expose us to different things and we meet different parts of ourselves in the process. Sometimes we miss who we were in a relationship, or things we did in a relationship MORE THAN WE MISS THE PERSON. So take some time to dig deeper with this one. I personally found this exercise to be one of the most enlightening discoveries after my breakups. I would miss discovering new restaurants, going out dancing, sitting and having deep conversations, eating healthier, ex…Did my ex really need to be involved? Nope. It does not mean you will not miss them or that you will not have memories while engaging in the activity. However, in time you can actually take something that was once considered an “us” thing and make it a “you” thing that you can either keep for yourself or share with others. Do NOT shut down, dismiss, or eliminate anything from your life that brings you joy just because it was once something you did with your ex. Your ex is gone, you do not have to punish or deprive yourself of something just because you used to do it with them!

7. DO FUN THINGS! Even if you do not feel entirely up to it yet, identify new things that you think you may enjoy. Remember, you are getting to know a different version of yourself. Have you ever admired something someone else was doing but you never tried because you told yourself that you are “not that type of person?” Perhaps it is going to the gym, joining meetup.com and finding a group that interest you. I am huge on doubling down on self-love when needed and to me that looks like finding like-minded people and doing things that make me smile. Hiking, swimming, painting, dancing, reading, and learning a new language. Actually anything that seems like fun to you. You get to DO FUN THINGS! Do NOT prematurely shut down a new experience, convince yourself you will never have fun again, or punish yourself by getting bought into the idea that you don’t get to be happy. You do not have to put your happiness on hold. You are allowed to do fun things!

Rather than giving energy to your “life after the breakup journey.” I encourage you to give your energy to your “Self-love NOW Journey.” Let your love for yourself heal you. Double down on self-love and self-compassion and set the tone for how you want to and deserve to be treated. Focus on being the best version of yourself and being the love you want to attract. Be what you want in a partner. You be loving, you be warm, you be forgiving, you be patient, you be passionate. You be what you want and the good old law of attraction will surely bring you people and opportunities that will match your current vibration.

I am hopeful this blog offers some support to you at this time. If your heart is hurting, if you are struggling, and if you need help, please reach out for it. We all can use a little extra support at different times in our lives, today you may be the one that can use some extra care. In the future, you may be the one to extend help and support to someone else. That’s part of my story, I have been hurt, I healed with support and self-love, and now I support others. This moment is part of your story, how will you write your next chapter?

If you would like further information and tools, my new workbook, “After the Breakup, a Self-Love Workbook: A Compassionate Road Map to Getting Over Your Ex” is currently available on Amazon, Target, and Barnesandnoble.com. It can help you normalize your feelings, name your emotions, body sensations, love language, attachment style, etc. The chapters walk you through processing the breakup. Part I “The Power of Self-Love After a Breakup” is an introduction/normalization of breakups and the concept of self-love. Part II is filled with tools, information, mindfulness exercises, relatable stories, and practices for you to take with you on your self-love and healing journey. Sending you so much love…

Self-Love Affirmation: The energy of love flows through me effortlessly, releasing all blockages with ease.

Couples, Feeling Bored? “Happy Hormone” Boosting Date Ideas to Revive the Spark!

The quest for tips on how to keep the desire alive in relationships and how to reignite the spark is a common search for those in long term and sometimes, not so long term relationships. I am meeting more and more couples, asking questions regarding how to sustain happiness, fulfillment, and desire in their relationship before it becomes a “problem.” Currently, there are many “well functioning” couples beginning therapy stating they feel:

  • A lack of connection.
  • The spark is fading.
  • Unseen by their partner.
  • Unappreciated.
  • More like a roommate than a lover.

By well functioning, I am referring to couples who have low conflict, are cordial, they are best friends, faithful, manage money and the household well, take accountability, and sometimes are even the couple that others look up to. All of the pieces seem to fit together perfectly, but there is one thing that is getting in the way of them experiencing their relationship to the fullest, they feel the spark beginning to fade. They want deeper, soul connecting, pleasurable experiences. They are seeking the energy of desire but are stating they are experiencing increased boredom.

Can you relate?

Sometimes, transitions in your personal life and the world at large weigh on individuals and if you are feeling the weight of the world, chances are, so is your relationship. Seeking professional help can make all the difference and as a licensed therapist, I encourage anyone who believes they may be experiencing a depressive episode to seek professional help. If it’s more depth, deeper connection, more joy, excitement, and intimacy you seek, then this blog is for you!

Do you ever feel like telling your partner, “I love you, but our relationship feels…BORING!”?

There is some debate around how long after the onset of “problems” couples wait to seek therapy. In the field of Marriage and Family Therapy it has long been believed that couples wait an average of 6 years before seeking therapy. A study done by Doherty, Harris, Hall, and Hubbard, published in January 2021, has now put that average to 2.68 years with many couples seeking support at the two year mark, which is promising!

The data helps us understand how long it takes from the onset of “problems,” however some couples do not categorize boredom or a decrease in “the spark” as a “problem.” Many believe that boredom, “comes with the territory,” and happens to “all couples,” and it is just “part of being in a long term relationship.” Oh the stories we tell ourselves! Yes, without attention and care, the monotony of our day to day and the stressors of adulting can indeed create exhaustion and a lack of enthusiasm about our romantic relationship. However, if it is important to you and your partner to reignite the desire, let’s discuss how to bring more fun, play, intimacy, eroticism, and connection into your relationship.

When I am asked, “Can we ever get that spark back?”

My answer is, YES, ABSOLUTELY! Followed by, if both people are open, willing, and able to not only talk about the disenchantment but do something about it, your relationship can be more sparktacular (made up word) than ever. Society may tell us that it is inevitable that the spark fades over time but that is a myth. I am not bought into that myth and if you are reading this blog, chances are you aren’t either! Your commitment to keeping things interesting is what makes the difference!

So yes, I am a positive and strength focused therapist, however, I am also transparent and keep things real. I do not believe in throwing in the towel in your relationship without doing your best to not only make it work, you get to make it thrive! Are there couples or individuals in couples relationships that give up “too easy,?” Honestly, only the individual can make that determination.

What I can say is this, if you are a person in a relationship where you are no longer excited to hang out with your partner, you do not feel “butterflies,” you are feeling bored in your relationship, the two of you are not touching as much, not kissing, not sleeping together (maybe allowing your child or pet to sleep in the bed), if you rather spend time at work, with friends, or alone, and you have nothing to look forward to with your partner, it may be time to RAMP THINGS UP!

INDIVIDUALS AND COUPLES NEED SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO!

What are you currently looking forward to doing with your partner that excites you? If your answer is: “Nothing,” “nada,” or “zilch,” all is not lost…we just get to figure that out!

How do we bring the spark back? Let’s talk a little bit about the science and then let’s get to the action steps. The feel good hormones also known as the “happy hormones” are oxytocin, dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. There has been research done on partner’s with high levels of oxytocin (the love hormone) being happier in their relationship, finding their partner’s more attractive than others, and one study found that males with higher levels of oxytocin kept a further distance from people they found to be attractive (please see below for reference sources).

What does this all mean and what are some action steps you can take to HACK THE SPARK USING SCIENCE TO INCREASE HAPPY HORMONES?

Do things with your partner that increase both of your dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins, and serotonin levels. I have worked with couples who within a couple of months have gone from feeling distant, disenchanted, and disconnected, to literally feeling like they have “fallen back in love,” with their partner! Couples are sharing that they are happier individually and within their relationship. This hack is not just for your relationship, this hack is for YOU!

Both partners have to be on board, while one person changing will inevitably change a dynamic, in order to create the relationship you both desire it requires mutual investment and energy.

LET’S HAVE SOME FUN!

Invite your partner to participate by saying something sexy like…

“Baby, let’s help our endocrine system produce some feel good hormones…(then gently whisper) TOGETHER!” (ultimate turn on!) Maybe it will intrigue them, maybe not. The bottom line is, it works!

Once you entice them with science driven “dirty talk,” go through the list of hormones and couple activities together. I have created the list below to support my clients and am sharing it on my blog to support couples with understanding how the dates/activities are conducive to happiness, connection, bonding, safety, desire, and overall mental health and well-being. Each of the four happy hormones will be explained and a list of date ideas is provided. Use one of the 17 date ideas AND HAVE FUN CREATING YOUR OWN “COUPLES ACTIVITES.” Surprising your partner is another great way to spruce things up! I recommend at least one activity per week, with partner’s alternating who plans the date/activity.

INTIATION AND EXECUTION MATTER!

Upping your mood together will not only support both of you as individuals, it will create stronger connection and bonding. Seeing one another engaging in something new, feeling and looking confident, and enjoying themselves is attractive. When we put shared time together, with adventure, touch, and a mutual desire to create the relationship we seek…wonderful things can happen!

DIFFERENT DATES FOR DIFFERENT HORMONES, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SPARK?

DOPAMINE:

• Reward center in the brain. Every time we do something we enjoy dopamine is released in our brain.

• Controls feelings of pleasure.

• Released SLOWLY and you feel the mood boosting sensation after the activity.

• Dopamine deficiency contributes to low mood.

• Satisfaction of completing something.

• It plays a key role (along with serotonin) in sexual desire.

• It’s the feel-good neurotransmitter.

INCREASE DOPAMINE with:
• Sleep, sex, running, listening to music, eating well (no processed foods), managing stress, meditating

COUPLE ACTIVITIES:

1) Create your own at home concert! Create a playlist and have a dance party!

2) Make a meal together, set the table, and create your own visually pleasing indoor dining experience! Avoid processed foods. Foods such as avocado, soy, bananas, and poultry are high in the amino acid tyrosine (boost dopamine levels in the brain and helps with memory and mental performance), so try to include some of those foods on your menu!

3) Take a dance class together! This can be a lot of fun and will not only increase dopamine, you will also get an increase of endorphins and “the love hormone,” oxytocin!

4) Go for walks together when the sun is shining. The sun and brisk walking are two ways to increase your dopamine levels. Try to stay away from any housekeeping or stressful topics. Use the time to talk about things you want to try together and/or ways you want to grow individually. Sharing your joint and individual desires creates more connection. Remember to ask your partner questions and validate them, ensuring you both have a chance to heard.

5) One of my favorites, meditate together! Having your own meditation practice is beneficial in countless ways. Have you ever had a meditation date? It can be quite intimate. Sit across or beside one another and either hold hands or rest one hand on your partner’s knee and the other hand on your own knee and put on a 10-minute guided meditation. Remember to be still and just allow yourself to embrace your connection to your partner and yourself.

ENDORPHINS:

• Natural pain killer that is part of the brain’s reward system.

• They are released QUICKLY during a specific act.

• Neurotransmitter Chemicals /hormones the body releases during pleasurable activities.

• They create a sense of well-being.

• Improve mood.

• Boost self-esteem.

INCREASE ENDORPHINS with:
• Sex, laughing, dark chocolate, dancing, meditating, acupuncture, exercise.

COUPLE ACTIVITIES:

1) Have fun outdoors if possible, going hiking, biking, kayaking, frisbee, and running all increase endorphin levels which leave you feeling clear headed and calm afterwards.

2) LAUGH. Watch a comedy or go to a comedy club. Invite your friends over and play a game that makes you laugh. Give yourselves permission to be silly and playful. You can have your own comedy night where you both try your hand at standup! Laughter releases endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin. There are many benefits to Laugh Therapy.

3) “Music, makes the people come together.” – Madonna. Yes, music does indeed make the people come together and that means it can bring you and your partner closer together. Especially, when it is upbeat. Music Therapy is becoming more and more popular, it releases endorphins and creates a feeling of well-being.

4) Invite dark chocolate into your diet in moderation as a decadent indulgence. Plan a date to bake at home or go out for a dark chocolate dessert. Dark chocolate has flavonoids that trigger our brain to release endorphins. Feeding it to one another can be playful, connecting, and sexy!

OXYTOCIN:


• Referred to as the “love hormone.”

• It is released when we are excited by our sexual partner or are falling in love. The release of oxytocin during sexual activity appears to play a role in erection and orgasm (this is still being researched).

• Creates a feeling of bonding and trust. It has a social function by impacting social recognition, the creation of group memories and bonding.

• Oxytocin is released in response to the activation of sensory nerves, with low intensity stimulation of the skin through touching, stoking, hugging, kissing. It is also released through stimulation of the nipples.

NOT so FUN FACT: Symptoms of low oxytocin: Difficulty achieving orgasm, sexual interactions that feel mechanical, more anxieties and fears than usual. Which is further evidence of the possibility that part of what can be contributing to the missing spark in your relationship can be you!

INCREASE OXYTOCIN with:
• Sex, at least 1 ten-second hug daily (some studies suggest 8 hugs), loving-kindness meditation, acupuncture, touching your pet, massage, music and singing, gift giving, volunteering, food activates touch receptors in your mouth, warm and cold temperatures, and yoga.

COUPLE ACTIVITIES:

1) Plan a “get to know you” session on your next date night. Come prepared with 5 questions each. You can create your own questions or purchase helpful cards such as “The And” Couples Edition from “The Skin Deep” or Esther Perel’s, “Where Should we Begin a Game of Stories.” Give one another undivided attention and sit in close proximity to allow some form of touch. Ask provocative and erotic questions, make them playful or insightful. The most important part is staying interested, being vulnerable, and digging deeper.

2) Massage one another. You can plan a home date where you both focus on massaging one part of your partner’s body (foot, leg, neck). Take turns, get a pleasing scented lotion and play some music to set the mood. Focus on how good it feels to provide pleasure to your partner and try not to talk in order to be fully immersed in the experience.

3) Sing a song out loud. Do you both have music you enjoy singing together? If so, do it! Research has shown that listening to music and singing along for 30 minutes, significantly increases oxytocin levels (reference link below). Karaoke for two?

4) Take a warm or cold shower together. Extreme temperatures have proven to increase oxytocin levels. Taking a warm bath together and finishing off with a cold rinse, can be fun and will have both of you on an oxytocin high!

SEROTONIN:

• Neurotransmitter and hormone that sends messages between nerve cells.

• Chemical messenger that acts as a mood stabilizer.

• It is responsible for happiness.

• It affects emotions, appetite, and digestion.

• There’s a link between lack of serotonin and depression.

• It plays a key role (along with dopamine) in sexual desire.

INCREASE SEROTONIN with:
• Physical activity, 15 minutes of sunlight daily, stress management, correlation with probiotic-rich foods, tryptophan-rich foods (eggs, nuts, milk, animal protein, soy products), and thinking happy (gratitude filled) thoughts.

COUPLES ACTIVITY:

1) The walk wins again! Walking in nature and breathing in fresh air raises oxygen in the brain which in turn, boosts serotonin levels. Try going out during the day together, the sunlight helps increase serotonin levels.

2) Thinking happy thoughts can raise serotonin levels. Each partner can begin keeping a gratitude journal and carve out time in your day and week to share it. You can also create an album with pictures of joy filled moments. If you already have albums, pull one out and reminisce. Joyful memories are a gift, give yourself permission to bask in them together!

3) Have a brunch date and get dressed up! Ensure there is probiotic yogurt and nuts, or eggs and a soy or animal protein on the menu. Whether you are in the comfort of your own home or trying a new restaurant together, eat foods high in tryptophan and talk about things that make you smile.

4) Create a Couple’s Vision Board. Get some magazines, quotes, pics, and anything else that makes you feel good and connected. Think about the experiences you would like to have and shared goals. Create a visual representation of what you are working towards creating in your shared life.

5) Stretch together. Movement supports all of the feel-good hormones. Stretching and yoga help with stress management. Focus on your breathing and support one another with slowing down and stretch one another out. Listen to the needs of your body and your partner. It builds trust and intimacy. Play relaxing music or light a candle to set the mood and promote relaxation.

Remember to do your part and give your partner an opportunity to show up differently.

Over the years, I continue to share with couples that we all grow and we get to give our partner’s an opportunity to show us who they are now and who they are becoming.

No one likes to be boxed in and not given an opportunity to grow. Being stagnant and stifled does not only lead to low mood and depression, it is also not very attractive!

Additionally, according to a top relationship expert, psychotherapist, and author, Esther Perel, in order to increase desire, couples need time apart to allow the relationship to get some air and within that space the individuals get to explore their passions, do things they are good at, and be confident when alone.

Perel states, “desire needs mystery and, in the beginning everything is mysterious.” It is within that mystery of your partner where desire and eroticism exists. It is within the dates and activities above that closeness and intimacy are nurtured. Through active and intentional participation, you can create a balance of both, periodically assessing to allow for recalibration.

You can absolutely grow together if you continue to stay open to getting to know yourself and getting to know the latest version of your partner.

Six Tips to making this process successful:

  1. Stay open – to growth and doing things differently.
  2. Stay curious – do not make assumptions.
  3. Stay loving – operate from your heart
  4. Take accountability – own your role through accountability
  5. Listen to understand – VALIDATE them and do not take ANYTHING PERSONALLY!
  6. Be intentional – about the time and energy you are putting into your relationship!

Remember…HAVE FUN!

REFERENCES USED & FOR FURTHER READING:

https://www.premierhealth.com/your-health/articles/women-wisdom-wellness-/5-Ways-Mother-Nature-Can-Lift-Your-Mood/

https://www.optimallivingdynamics.com/blog/25-effective-ways-to-increase-oxytocin-levels-in-the-brain

https://www.verywellhealth.com/how-to-increase-serotonin-food-pills-natural-tips-5209264

https://www.healthline.com/health/endorphins#vs-dopamine

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/oxytocin-the-love-hormone

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/dopamine-the-pathway-to-pleasure

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275795#what_is_oxytocin

https://www.estherperel.com/blog/letters-from-esther-37-eroticism-is-an-art-but-its-also-a-practice

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33411353/

Infidelity: Now What? Ease the Pain of Heartache with These 7 Self-Care Practices!

Infidelity hurts. There’s no sugar coating it, an infidelity is a betrayal and while partner’s can betray one another a variety of times and in a variety of ways throughout their relationship, there is something about the betrayal of infidelity, whether emotional or physical, that strikes a chord that is a bit more piercing than any other form of betrayal.

This blog is not about who is right or who is wrong. There is no blame here and no labels. When infidelity occurs, it is usually indicative of hurts and wounds experienced by both partner’s during the course of their relationship. While there is no justification for cheating, there are drivers to that behavior. This blog is about what you can do and how to take care of yourself, when you first learn about the infidelity. The focus is on self-compassion throughout the process.

As a human being, I have been impacted by infidelity. I have felt my heart stop and then race uncontrollably. I have felt numbness, fear, and insecurity. I have felt the disappointment and the anger.

If you are experiencing an infidelity, I know it is hard, and if your heart is hurting, I am sorry you have to feel that kind of pain. I recognize finding out your partner has cheated brings up different thoughts and feelings for people. We are all so unique and our views about relationships, cheating, and ourselves vary. Although, there are differences in perspectives, most people will agree that infidelity hurts.

As a licensed marriage and family therapist, who has now worked with hundreds of couples, and individuals impacted by infidelity, I have held space for people in the midst of the trauma, in the middle of confusion, and have helped them ground themselves after experiencing days, and sometimes weeks of deep sadness, anxiety, and denial. Their coping skills vary from seeking out support to maladaptive behaviors that can be harmful to them or others.

Breaches hurt, especially when they are made by the people we love and trust the most. That initial shock can be the most difficult time in your process. Whether you are the person who stepped outside of the relationship or the partner who recently learned that the person they trusted has been unfaithful, infidelity hurts all those involved. Most partners do not set out to “cheat,” and what this indiscretion can mean for the relationship may still be undetermined. It is true that some couples come out of this shake up stronger than ever, however, there are times when that is not the case.

One truth is that infidelity changes things. It changes the people involved and it changes the couple dynamic. It can be the catalyst to growth and expansion, whether it be together or apart.

I have heard a lot of perspectives around whether a couple should stay together after an infidelity or part ways. Common questions I receive are:

Can the relationship be saved?

What does it say about me if I stay?

What does it say about me if I go?

These are heavy hitter questions. They are the questions we hope to never have to ask ourselves. For many, infidelity is their greatest fear.

The question I have for clients when they come into my office after learning about the infidelity is…

Question: What does it say about you if you give yourself the time, space, validation, and energy you need to figure this out?

Answer: This is a person that is not reactive, that gives themselves permission to not rush their process, and will hopefully come to a decision that they believe is best!

You get to give yourself the time you need to heal. No one else gets to tell you what to do or how to do it.

When you learn about a betrayal, it can be traumatizing and trauma takes time to process.

You get to allow all your feelings to be felt and acquire tools to learn how to sit with and validate uncomfortable feelings so you can move away from guilt, blame, and shame and get to non-judgment, validation, and acceptance.

Judgment is never helpful, whether it is judgment about your partner, yourself, or your feelings. It is not the time for judgment, it is a time in which high doses of self-compassion get to be taken throughout each day, because you truly need your love and attention as you move through this time.

You may feel overwhelmed. You may feel numb. You may feel angry. You may feel all or none of the above and I am here to tell you that your feelings are valid and you get to feel how you feel! The initial shock is tough and people handle it differently due to a bunch of different reasons ranging from how you were raised, to the current state of your relationship, to whether or not there are children involved.

No two relationships are the same, and the reasons why people decide to cheat vary, so there is not going to be a quick, fast, absolute, or “right” decision to make in terms of your next steps.

The one move that can be most helpful is to seek support. Yes, I am a therapist and I do believe in the therapeutic process wholeheartedly. I am also a person who has experienced infidelity and will share that no one should have to go through that alone. Seek support. Whether it is a friend you trust, a family member, a religious/spiritual group, or a licensed professional. If you are struggling, confused, feel isolated, anxious, and/or it is impacting your job, other relationships in your life, and the way that you are taking care of yourself, I encourage finding someone to support you.

You deserve your time.

You deserve your care.

You deserve your self-compassion.

You deserve your self-love as expressed through your boundaries, using your voice, and taking the time you need to process how the infidelity has impacted you. You get to make the decision that is best for you at this time.

The purpose of this post is to encourage you to take a breath, to slow down, and to give yourself permission to take the time needed to figure things out. Oftentimes, people feel compelled to take an immediate action and make a decision around next steps for their relationship right away. While you do not want to prolong the process, you also do not want to rush it.

People will have their opinions, and their opinions may support you, but your opinion matters most. Again, an infidelity will be the end for some relationships and for others, it will be the catalyst for change within the relationship that supports them with creating the relationship they desire together.

If you decide to work on the relationship and the infidelity opened the door to having difficult conversations, and creating a new, more fulfilling, relationship together, I absolutely wish you the best. The fact is that for some couples, with therapy and support to help identify the drivers that led to the infidelity, solutions and interventions can be discovered to help resolve them, and couples decide to stay together and can have a stronger relationship than they did before.

There are times that with or without processing some couples decide not to stay together. Sometimes that decision is mutual, other times one partner makes the decision for both. When infidelity is involved, it is often unpredictable how a couple will proceed until they have both had time to unpack what it means for them individually and what it means for their relationship.

I would never recommend staying in an abusive relationship. If your relationship is abusive or you feel unsafe, get immediate support.

7 PRACTICAL TIPS TO SUPPORT YOU AFTER LEARNING ABOUT THE INFIDELITY:

I have worked with hundreds of clients who have gone through infidelity, while in group practice and currently in my private practice. Here are some immediate steps:

  1. Prioritize your mental health and well-being: by putting yourself first as you work through these steps.
  2. Validate your emotions: accept all of the feelings you are experiencing without judgment and allow them to flow through you.
  3. Try not to be reactive: try not to make an immediate, emotionally charged decision.
  4. Seek support: either a therapist or someone you can trust.
  5. Practice self-care: nutrition and proper sleep are vital. Practice compassionate self-talk, take care of your hygiene and if you are struggling with self-care, please refer to #4.
  6. Identify your needs: reflect, journal, and check in with yourself around what you need in this present moment.
  7. Establish boundaries: create your own emotional safety by creating boundaries.

I have created a journal that includes prompts, practices, affirmations, and exercises that pull from mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and attachment theory to better understand your feelings at this time. It was created to help individuals work through their initial shock and uncomfortable emotions, create healthy boundaries, and nurture self-love by providing information, validation, and tools that will be useful throughout their lives, long after they have processed the infidelity. I have used the tools in my own life and many of the tools have supported hundreds of clients. I am happy to be able to share them in the form of a journal. The journal is called, “Healing from Infidelity: A Guided Journal,” and is currently on sale on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Target. It is not meant to be a replacement for seeking support at this time. It can be a useful tool on your healing journey.

Sending you love and reminding you that you get to be the author of the story of your life. An infidelity does not have to define you or your relationship.

YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE AND DESERVING OF TRUTH

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