Jealousy, sexual problems, infidelity, routine, arguments… There are many reasons why a couple can start therapy to save their relationship. A team of psychologists from the ifeel application has drawn up a document with the main recommendations that psychologists offer to patients who come to their offices to solve their relationship problems.
Although jealousy is age-specific, it tends to be very frequent in young couples, with a very low degree of personal maturity in each of them, serious deficiencies in communication and a type of insecure bonding that ends up being really toxic. Nor is it specific to men or women. Jealousy is an unpleasant thing that separates partners and makes them feel extremely uncomfortable; they suffer instead of enjoying the relationship.
In each case it is necessary to examine whether or not this emotion, even if it arises, is problematic for the person, why, what consequences it has on their well-being and on the quality of their relationship. It is not the same to feel a slight, easily manageable discomfort when we see our partner talking amicably with someone attractive as it is to suffer continually from jealousy. It is not the same to think that you have been enjoying sex with an escort in Sydney than just talking to a friend. Control the level of jealousy.
The psychologist’s advice is to try to transform the way we understand the relationship, from understanding it in terms of mutual belonging to understanding it in terms of freedom, less rigid. On the other hand, to begin to take into account that what lies behind extreme jealousy is an enormous insecurity, that is, a great fear of being abandoned. This fear is legitimate, but we must learn to manage it in a way that is neither aggressive nor abusive, but more respectful towards our partner.
Infidelity, understood as a situation in which one or both partners maintain a sexually affective relationship with people outside the relationship in contravention of the exclusivity pact that was implicitly or explicitly agreed at its origins, is as old as humanity and a source of enormous suffering for those who are involved in either of its two poles. It has always existed and will always exist. Independent escort sex services are, moreover, booming.
The person who has been deceived in these cases is usually faced with an accumulation of emotions and sensations that range from sadness, grievance, anger, fear, stupefaction and, of course, a great doubt that they find it difficult to clarify for themselves: what to do from now on.
The psychologist’s advice, in case of doubt, is not to let oneself be carried away by the first impulse that arises, either one way or the other. In other words, don’t assume that the relationship has to end because there has been an infidelity, nor assume that it is a bump in the road that can be fixed and move on if we don’t feel it as such. We need to take time to reflect on what the partner’s infidelity means to us and how it impacts on our commitment to our partner. This may take some time, so it is worth taking the time to make the decision you feel is the most appropriate.
There are many sexual problems, but basically two recur. On the one hand, lack of sexual desire, which is very common in long-term couples, both men and women. On the other hand, physical difficulties, which generate a problem in sexual relations and, therefore, enormous dissatisfaction and concern. In the case of men, these difficulties are, above all, premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction, while in the case of women they are pain during penetration and difficulty in reaching orgasm.
The psychologist’s advice is that it is necessary to clarify the causes of the problem, determine the characteristics of the problem itself (not just, for example, an erection problem as such, but the psychological discomfort it generates and how this manifests itself) and identify those circumstances that are maintaining it over time.
Self-esteem can be damaged, so it is advisable to repair those cracks with very clear messages: “It is not true that you will never be able to have a sexual relationship with penetration”, “Penetration and erection are not everything in sex”, “Erection and virility are independent things”, “Your sexual attractiveness goes far beyond your performance at the moment of penetration”?
I can’t make up my mind to divorce
Assuming that a relationship has ended and that it is time for everyone to go their own way is a difficult process for anyone, but it often causes a major blockage for some people. This blockage ends up making the situation much worse, because it keeps the relationship in a “comatose”, indeterminate, unsatisfactory situation, but without reaching a definitive conclusion, thus preventing its members from opening up to new possibilities of well-being separately.
The psychologist’s advice is to try to imagine the consequences of not making a decision, to explore the meaning of the relationship you are considering leaving and also the emotions that are aroused when you interrupt it. In short, “we must be encouraged in a flexible way to make the choice to live according to our values and needs and not so much according to fears about the future of nostalgia for the past”, says Rafael San Román, psychologist at ifeel.
Disenchantment with love
Although this type of situation occurs at any age, even at much older ages than we imagine, it is common for very young people in particular to consult a psychologist as a result of having suffered what is known as a “disappointment in love”.
These are situations in which someone we really like officially tells us that they do not want to have anything to do with us or that they no longer wish to have anything to do with us. In this case, the person’s emotions are usually very active, which prevents them from having a rational and logical perspective on the true importance of what has happened.
These disappointments usually take place not so much at a point in the relationship – if there has ever been a relationship at all – situated in a relaxed love, but at a peak of infatuation, where the “fall” is tremendously pronounced.
The psychologist’s advice is that we should examine the true significance of what happened so that we can gradually adjust our emotional reaction in a way that is more consistent with the facts. That is to say, we can allow ourselves to feel pain about this disappointment, but it is not convenient to understand it in terms of all or nothing, thinking that this person was “the only one for us” and we have lost him or her, nor thinking that we will never recover from such a painful break-up, because that is not the case.
I like someone of the same sex
Discovering – or finally coming to terms with – that one’s sexual orientation is outside the heterosexual norm is not easy for anyone, but it can be a real conflict for many people. This is as true for young people who are entering the world of sexual and emotional relationships for the first time as it is for people of a more mature age. Living a homosexual relationship in a natural and satisfying way can be problematic for some people.
The psychologist’s advice is that we should live our sexual orientation in a normal and natural way, take the time to experience all these aspects in a spontaneous and non-catastrophic way and find our own way of not being heterosexual, which does not have to correspond to the way of other non-heterosexual people.
We have a baby and he doesn’t contribute
The arrival of a baby in the family is usually a happy but also a stressful event. Relatively often there are ifeel consultations, usually by women, in which it is expressed that the harmonious contribution of both partners after the arrival of a son or daughter is not happening. This generates a feeling of overwhelm in the person who is taking more responsibility for the baby and also a feeling of loneliness, as if the couple’s relationship – which is always affected by the arrival of a child – is more deteriorated than would be normal.
In these cases it is useful to clarify whether this feeling of disproportionate mutual efforts already existed in some way before the arrival of the baby, whether there are additional conflicts, whether the person concerned explicitly conveys to the other person how he or she is feeling about the situation, whether or not this is expressed assertively, what responses are received, etc.
The aim, of course, will always be to preserve the well-being of all family members as much as possible, paying special attention to the baby being as little affected as possible by this situation, and to help the partners to take healthier, more balanced and adult positions in the face of the family challenges that now lie ahead of them, leaving aside as much as possible patterns of abuse, submission, lack of protection or loneliness.
The psychologist’s advice is that the two responsible adults should contribute in a balanced way to the management of the upbringing, the household and, of course, the couple’s relationship. To this end, they should intensify their communication skills, organise their time for rest and childcare and, above all, be patient and benevolent with themselves and with their partner.
I’m dating someone but I get dizzy
Although it sometimes seems very easy, in reality it takes a lot for a relationship to build and prosper, it takes a lot for us to get to know each other and for the other to get to know us, it is a real miracle – even if this miracle happens thousands of times every day – for two people to meet and decide to become a couple.
In that process, which includes different kinds of interaction and, of course, negotiation, we are not always loyal and respectful of each other’s time, energies and feelings. We are not always at the famous “same point” and this, unfortunately, leads to certain slips in communication, in the expectations we generate in the other, or in the interpretations we make of the messages the other sends us… The game of seduction or the process of getting to know each other beyond the first dates and moving on to something more serious and structured is not always as clean as would be desirable.
The psychologist’s advice is to assume that certain imbalances of this type are going to be present in any more or less incipient relationship. But if the “dizziness” becomes the backbone of the interaction, then measures must be taken. Such action will basically go in two directions: either stand firm and explicitly demand stability, or end a relationship whose worrying indeterminacy is making us suffer rather than enjoy it. Where the line is drawn between the two scenarios is a matter for each individual to decide. After all, it is a matter of feelings, not square metres of land.
We work together
Mankind has been mixing work and partner since the beginning of time, probably because it is inevitable and because in many cases it is beneficial to work this way. However, if you and your partner work together or are considering starting to do so, you should take certain precautions to ensure that this does not lead to avoidable wear and tear.
If a couple works together it can multiply the time they share, and that may be fine for people who enjoy each other’s company very much, but it can be a weakness because it diminishes the individual spheres, those spaces that the members of a couple use to clear their heads and enrich themselves personally outside the relationship and that have the wonderful function of being “that which we can tell each other” when we get together.
The psychologist’s advice is to make certain separations between work time and the time spent together as a couple or family, so that both facets do not take up everything, do not contaminate or confuse everything. From such and such a time we are working, it is true that this does not mean that we stop being a couple, therefore we do not stop loving each other or, for example, being affectionate with each other
, but in those hours and in that place we give priority to professional issues and codes, and we try to leave domestic matters to one side. Rafael San Román, psychologist at ifeel, adds that: “Talking things over and setting limits will always reduce conflict and avoid uncomfortable situations or hurt feelings, as well as reducing the risk of one sphere invading the other”.
I am incapable of leaving him/her because I am afraid of him/her.
There are relationships that “demand” an end, but not because they have naturally concluded their evolution, but because they are toxic relationships, they should not exist, they should be interrupted for the health and safety of its members.
A toxic relationship is not only one in which there is serious mistreatment by one partner towards the other – or by both partners towards each other – for example in the form of physical abuse or serious abuse. These are the most extreme cases but fortunately not all of them are like this. A toxic relationship is one in which at least one partner knows that the other person is not good for him or her and, despite knowing this, feels unable to leave the relationship.
Usually people say that they do not take the step of leaving a relationship for fear of loneliness, but they overlook the significant level of dependency they feel towards their partner, even to the extent that the relationship has come to cancel them out. In this sense, it is not just fear of the future, fear of loneliness or when we simply love someone with whom we have had a healthy relationship and therefore it breaks our hearts to think about the possibility of leaving.
Far from that, we talk about the inability to leave someone even though we know they do not love us, or thinking that their way of annulling us is a legitimate way of expressing their love for us. In these cases, comments such as: “He/she is a very good person, but he/she controls me, restricts my friendships, reproaches me for not paying attention only to him/her” or “He/she insults me, threatens me, humiliates me, but I love him/her”, and similar expressions appear.
The psychologist’s advice is to listen carefully to oneself and to the people who love us in order to realise our inconsistencies: if he/she mistreats us, he/she does not love us, if he/she mistreats us, he/she is not a good person, if he/she is not a good person, we should not want to share our time and energy with someone like that.
These are things that cannot happen at the same time. Obviously this is very difficult, so the first thing is to learn to be clear about the basics in order to open ourselves to new relationship possibilities, to broaden our focus: there are wonderful people in the world, we should not settle for someone who treats us badly.