Beliefnet
The Celebrity Therapist

imagesI’ll admit, that title sounds kind of like an ad for perfume or positivity or plastic surgery. But you don’t need to go shopping for the one thing you absolutely need to find a great partner.

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Love hurts. Sometimes it hurts a lot. However you got here—whether your partner broke up with you, or you decided to break it off—grief is a process you have to work through. Take the time to work all the way through it and you’ll come out the other side stronger and smarter.
In the beginning, you might feel numb or dazed or angry, guilty, shocked, crushed—or all of these things. You will probably careen from one emotion to the next. Sometimes you’ll need to relive and rethink the end of a relationship. Other times you’ll need a break from thinking about it.
Allow yourself to feel.
Just allow everything to be exactly as it is. Healthy grief lets you experience your feelings in your body, your mind, and your heart. Don’t try to repress or ignore your pain, because it will only come up again later. Don’t make the mistake of trying to distract yourself from painful feelings. It’s hard to hurt, but acknowledging and experiencing your pain is an essential part of grief. Feel what you feel—as much of it as there is.
Care for yourself.
This is the time to care for and nurture yourself. You need to create a safe and sacred space to process your grief. This might include massage or meditation, mani-pedis or spin classes—however you cherish and nurture yourself. Use self-care to give yourself the strength to experience your pain. Your resilience will surprise you.
Learn from it.
You will feel empowered as you gain some distance from your loss and find meaning from it. Now is the time to integrate the experience into your life by embracing all the lessons you’ve learned from the breakup. Create new interests, new perspectives, and new insights into what worked and what didn’t. Think about something you always wanted to do, just for yourself. Maybe it’s joining a gym, taking up yoga, hiking, knitting, or a book group. Now that you’re single, you finally have the time to do it.
Reconnect.
It’s also the time to reconnect with the activities and people you neglected while you were in your relationship. Reconnecting will remind you that you are cherished and valued by others. You may not have a love interest at the moment, but you have plenty of people who love you.
Here’s a great way to remind yourself of that: Throw a dinner party. Think about who you miss and who you’d like to see again, and invite them to dinner. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. If the idea of a dinner party seems intimidating, serve take-out on paper plates. But go shopping for the nice paper plates, and get the best take-out food you can. Buy a good bottle of wine, and treat yourself and your guests to something special. You all deserve it!
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Write it down.
Now, sit down and write your ex a letter. This is a great way to sort through your thoughts and feelings, and putting them on paper is very cathartic. Finally, you have an opportunity to say everything you have always wanted to say. You can tell your ex how much you long for him/her, miss him/her, and how much he/she hurt you, betrayed you, how bad in bed he/she was, how ungrateful he/she is.
This letter is for you only, an opportunity to lay everything out there emotionally so you no longer hold it in your body, your mind, your heart. Because you’re not going to send it, you don’t have to watch what you say or how you say it.
After you write it, you can burn the letter in a goodbye ceremony, tear it up, or flush it down the toilet. Or put it away and reread it whenever you’re tempted to try to get back together—to remind yourself of why that relationship will never work.
Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a Certified Transformation and Recovery Coach and the leading Psychotherapist on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab and Sex Addiction. She helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re a love addict, sign up for a 30-minute strategy session, or learn more about how to get over a break upShe is also the author of “The Marriage and Relationship Junkie:Kicking your Obsession”. Sherry maintains a private practice in Westlake Village, and is a sought after online dating and relationship coach. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com.

Relationship-Problems-–-How-Does-Meditation-Help-Solve-ThemMost of us tend to pick partners who reflect the vision we have of ourselves and our world. When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Compatibility and a sense of ease in a relationship come from having similar preferences, ideas, and values about things like money, religion, monogamy, parenting, and even what makes for good sex. The Legacy Project at Cornell University even did a study on this. They interviewed hundreds of people who had been married 40 or 50 years, and even longer. Most agreed that shared values are at the core of a healthy, long-lasting marriage.

But we don’t pick the people we’re with based on values alone.

We also choose people who have similar ideas about what relationships look like and how they should play out. This sounds good but it can also backfire.

If your caregivers never really modeled what healthy relationships look like, that could mean you end up being attracted to partners who remind you of your dysfunctional family relationships—relationships where you never got what you needed. In other words, if you have a world view that never really worked for you, you’re more likely to be in a relationship with someone who ultimately can’t give you what you need.

These kinds of choices fulfill that need to stick with what we’re familiar with. So we pick partners who remind us of the dysfunctional parental-child bonds we know so well. There’s a subconscious need to repeat that dysfunction, only this time with a different outcome—a kind of do-over. In other words, we’ll marry someone who is just like mom and dad (demanding, unnurturing, unresponsive to us), but this time they will give us just what we need. We’ll get to live our childhood over, only this time with a happy ending.

But that’s a fantasy. And people who seek out these types of relationships often end up trying to change their partner and control the relationship. The problem is, that never works. If your parents disappointed you, and you pair up with someone who is just like your parents, that person will also disappoint you.

Because we tend to pick partners who reflect our world view, people who are willing to give endlessly, often with little in return, tend to attract people who are happy to take endlessly and give back very little. When we’re disappointed, though, rather than move on, we start making excuses for our partner. And when we deny what is real in a partner—the bad as well as the good—we lose the ability to assess who we are picking and become more vulnerable to being exploited and even abused.

At the very least, we end up preventing out partner from growing and making the changes they really need to make. After all, if you keep making it easy for your partner to exploit you, they’ve got no reason to change.

The truth is that you’re powerless to change anyone but yourself, and you’re kidding yourself if you think you can. Only your partner can change themselves, and only if they really want to change.

We might long for a partner to parent the child deep within us—the one who is still angry and unfulfilled—the way we were never parented. But healthy relationships between adults are not about parenting. They are partnerships between equals. As long as we yearn for parents rather than true partners, we will never be able pick partners who can truly (and realistically) give us what we need as adults.

What this all means is that whenever you focus on fixing someone else, an alarm should go off. It’s a warning that there is something inside of you that needs to be addressed. Focusing on fixing another person is just a way to avoid focusing on yourself and on fixing your own issues.

Sherry Gaba, LCSW is a Certified Transformation and Recovery Coach and the leading Psychotherapist on VH1’s Celebrity Rehab and Sex Addiction. She helps singles navigate the dating process to find the love of their lives. Take her quiz to find out if you’re a love addict or sign up for a 30-minute strategy session. She is also the author of “The Marriage and Relationship Junkie:Kicking your Obsession”. Sherry maintains a private practice in Westlake Village, and is a sought after online dating and relationship coach. For more information visit www.sherrygaba.com.

Colours_of_Happiness_3In society today, as it has been for decades, there is a very different perspective on being single for males and females. Men are seen as being freewheeling and not to become tied down too quickly while women are seen as lonely, depressed or unhappy if they are not in a relationship after they are in their 20s.

This type of pressure is not always overt; it can be very subtle. It is found I advertising, literature, movies and in conversations around the kitchen table with family and friends. It is also seen in the pressure for women, as well as men, to stay in emotionally unhealthy or unfulfilling relationships rather than to be single and on their own in a world designed for couples.

In reality, the fear of being single is not only harmful; it is a very real issue. Fear of being single even has a name, and it is anuptaphobia. In a 2013 study by S.S. Spielmann and others in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers found that the fear of being single and the subsequent anxiety could be used to predict an individual settling for less in a new partner or remaining in an undesirable and unsatisfying relationship.

Settling for less in a relationship may not look like a major factor at first glance. It may even be put off as just being realistic and choosing a partner that is going to be available rather than holding out for the perfect partner or Mr. or Mrs. Right.

The Problem With Settling

The issue of settling for less than the partner you deserve and desire is not just a reality check. It is a defense mechanism and a way to appease society while abandoning your own goals and your own desires.

In my new book “The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking your Obsession,” this phenomenon of settling for someone in the mistaken belief they can be fixed or improved upon, or that all they need is your love to help them to grow and change for the positive is a potential sign of love addiction.

If you find yourself willing to overlook bad behaviors, emotional distance or even emotionally damaging and abusive things, you may not be just settling; you may be in a destructive and harmful place. If you find that being in any type of relationship is better than being single, this is more than settling. This is an addiction to be part of a couple, regardless of the deep unhappiness you may experience when the partner never changes, and the behavior simply gets worse over time.

In other words, the more you strive to be happy in a relationship, the more likely you are to enter into a relationship that will rob you of your happiness, your sense of self and your sense of worth.

The Healthy Way to Be Single

As I talk about in the book, learning to be happy being single is a way to break the cycle. It isn’t easy, but taking small steps to become comfortable in being you and being with just you in your life is a deeply rewarding journey.

Learning how to be happy and single starts by finding things to do on your own. Spend a day doing something you enjoy and go by yourself. Don’t take a friend or a family member, just be comfortable with yourself.

Try something you have always wanted to do such as taking a class, going on a vacation, learning a new hobby or volunteering in your community. Meeting new people and feeling comfortable as one of a group and not one of a couple is another step to take in growing as a person and realizing the value, the worth and the happiness you can find as a healthy, happy single.

Once you are in this place, where you are comfortable as single, you are ready to see the opportunities for a healthy, loving relationship. From this place, you will choose partners who will give and take, respect boundaries and see you as an autonomous individual, not simply an extension of themselves

 Take Sherry’s quiz to find out if you are a love addict. You can find her new book, The Marriage and Relationship Junkie: Kicking Your Obsession here. To learn more about Sherry Gaba and her work, visit www.sherrygaba.com.