Cheaters: Why They Do It & How to Prevent It

So you are in a “committed” relationship (or so you thought), but you have a nagging feeling that something isn’t right. Something is wrong. You start to dig for clues as to what is possibly going on, and slowly (but surely) drive yourself crazy wondering, “are they cheating??” Well I bet there is another question you haven’t asked yourself…”have I been meeting my partner’s needs?” Yep. I bet you haven’t taken a second to think “why would my partner cheat?”

I wonder why you haven’t asked this question because there is only one reason why people cheat. Yes, one. Here’s the big, top secret reason…their needs are not being met.

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That’s it. Every person needs certain things to be fulfilled. These things could be love, sex, passion, compassion, security, generosity, time, affection, and an assortment of other things. More often than not people wind up in a relationship where their partner cannot satisfy ALL of their needs. Now this is the point where you are probably thinking, “well if your needs aren’t being met, just break up with the person!” Relationships aren’t that simple. Imagine this…

If our emotional needs looked more like our physical needs such as food, water, & shelter, how would things pan out? Imagine you were in a relationship where your partner is providing 2 out of 3 (water & shelter), but they were starving you. No food. You have dropped hints that you are hungry, maybe even straight up asked for food, but were denied 90% of the time. Then you come across someone who is offering up a feast on a silver platter. What are you going to do?

A. Go home to your water & shelter and continue starving?

B. Leave your whole life behind with only a guarantee of food (none of the water or shelter)?

C. Or are you going to try and sneak enough food to meet your needs, then go home to a reliable source of water and shelter?

Let’s be honest with ourselves, the last choice makes the most sense. Now putting this back into the emotional sense…when you partner with someone because they meet most of your needs, there is a risk that the needs that aren’t being met will be met somewhere else. The other option is to learn to live without that additional need, but that is often easier said than done.

Now, you may be wondering “how do I prevent cheating from happening in my relationship?” Great question. Before I answer, I must remind you that relationships are SELFLESS acts. That means at any given point in a relationship you should be trying to meet the needs of your partner, while effectively communicating your needs as well.

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The best way to prevent cheating is by utilizing the time you spend as a single person figuring out how you can meet your own needs. This allows you the time and energy when you enter a relationship to focus on how you can meet your partners needs. Because again, relationships are not about you! They are about having a mutual understanding that you will support one another. If you can figure out your own needs, then you will want to be with someone who has done the same, and neither of you will be looking for a partner to complete them. Because you are a WHOLE person. No one can “complete” you.

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Here’s the trickier part. If you are already in a relationship and feel your needs aren’t being met, then you have to learn what it is you need, and teach yourself/partner how to meet that need. You cannot just say “I need your attention more.” You have to educate your partner on how they can give you more attention. Give them the who/what/when/where/why/how you learned in grade school. For example, if your need is sexual intimacy:

Who needs to be meeting this need? Obviously it takes two to tango, so your partner needs to be involved in meeting this need.

What is the need EXACTLY? Be clear. Is this need about actual sex, or is this need about general physical touch? Does foreplay meet this need? Would you like to kiss & hug more often? This is not just a single sentence answer. Go into detail.

When is the appropriate time to meet this need? Everyone has a preference, but also when is it feasible to meet this need? Maybe kids are in the house so babysitters have to be arranged. Or maybe this is a need that needs to be met more than just once a month. When would you ideally like to meet this need? Be open to some compromise in the process.

Where is the appropriate place to meet this need? The bedroom, a hotel, the shower? Hey, whatever floats your boat.

Why is this need important to you? This may be the most important question. This is where you help your partner and teach your partner the reason behind the need. Maybe you feel like there is a general lack of intimacy, or maybe you feel insecure about how you look and want to feel desired by your partner. Again, not a place for a one sentence answer. Be descriptive.

How can your partner support this need? Explain what role you would like them to play in supporting this need. If they can initiate sex more often or if they can provide compliments that make you feel sexy. Whatever it is, help your partner figure out how they can be supportive.

No matter what your need is, utilize these questions to effectively communicate to your partner how you two can work as a team to meet each others’ needs. A relationship is about support and giving. Taking preventative steps to care for your partner can help reduce the likelihood of having to take drastic measures to put a relationship back together. And at the end of the day if you are finding it difficult to have these conversations, make a therapy appointment! Therapy is a great place to learn how to communicate effectively and efficiently.

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Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby!: Intimacy During Pregnancy & Postpartum

Remember when you were having fun trying to get pregnant? I’m feeling sexy, let’s have sex!  I’m ovulating, let’s have sex! I’m bored, let’s have sex! Any reason was a good reason to do the deed. Then you actually got pregnant, and let’s just say you weren’t as eager any more. Then! You had the baby and thought you’d be eager to get back to having some fun, but that didn’t happen right away. Well that’s because pregnancies and children change your romantic relationship. The question is do you let it change for the better or for the worst?

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One of the most common statements in couples therapy is, “We never have sex.” Surprising? Maybe not, because of course lack of sex is often a result of lack of intimacy, respect, understanding, and many other things already missing from a relationship. These same things can get lost in the changes that occur during and after a pregnancy. Let’s talk about some of the ways sex changes when a baby is on the way.

1st Trimester

You may still look like yourself for the most part, but you probably don’t feel like yourself. Between morning sickness, severe fatigue, and just the stress of understanding that you are actually growing a human inside of you…sex is probably the last thing on your mind (I mean that’s what got you in this situation in the first place! #TurnOff). Your partner may still be very much into you though…no pun intended.

As you go through these unrecognizable changes your partner may still be ready to jump in the hay and may not understand why someone who was all about the sexy time a month or two ago is suddenly completely over the idea. This is the best time to talk to your partner about what’s going on for you and try to get them on the same page. As things start growing and feeling more and more uncomfortable, it will get harder to have a rational conversation about your partner’s needs as well as what you need.

Try practicing other forms of intimacy. Whether that be cuddling, kissing, hugging, eye contact or (let’s stay scientifically correct) fellatio or cunnilingus. If you don’t know what those last two are, Google it…actually on second thought. Don’t Google it. I’m talking about a good old fashioned BJ and well in the words of Cardi B let him “swim with his face”. Anyway…moving on.

2nd Trimester

The first 3 months can be rough, but with the 2nd trimester some changes may occur. The path of pregnancy is a continuously evolving one and you may notice changes in mood, changes in your body, and changes in your sex drive. Some women even experience an increase in their libido during this time! The tricky part about the 2nd trimester is getting back into the swing of things. If you got your partner on the same page during the 1st trimester it is easier to divulge to them that your desire is back and your ready to see what that body pillow was really meant to do.

Now, with a growing bump your partner may have some fears about what is and isn’t okay when it comes to sex at this stage. Always check in with your doctor to make sure they don’t have any concerns about you doing the deed (and trust that asking about sex is definitely not going to make your doctor uncomfortable…they stare at lady parts all day, they don’t have an uncomfortable bone in their bodies). Take the time to educate yourselves on what sex could look like at this stage, and possibly take a birthing class to help build trust and intimacy in this time of delicate emotions. Going to therapy during this time (individual or couples) can also be beneficial for exploring how you are really feeling about this pending new life.

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3rd Trimester

Things are getting a little lot more crowded and uncomfortable. You may have to get creative with your positioning in this stage, but the deed can be done (again, double check with your physician). Use this as an excuse to practice your listening skills and communicate what works and what doesn’t work for either of you. This is technically the last time you will be able to get it done for a few months.

Also, carve out time in your schedule to discuss how you are both feeling about this new life growing and how things might change after their arrival. Set expectations for how you would like to stay connected once sex is something that inevitably becomes less frequent (at least in the short term).

Postpartum

The baby is out! Woohoo! Time for sex, right? Wrong. You have another 2 months (at least) before any doctor will give you the okay for sex. Let’s be honest those first 2 months you’re probably not going to have the time or energy for sex anyway (a newborn can really suck the life out of you). Use these two months to practice less physical intimacy (refer to 1st Trimester) and start discussing your birth control options with your ob/gyn as these will need to be started ASAP if you don’t want to be doing this all over again in 9 months. Note: you CAN get pregnant while breastfeeding, so do not use that as a form of birth control.

This is a time of transition for any couple, so recognizing that things will not be exactly the same, and putting in place some ways to create small, intimate moments that now work with your new life will be critical. If you are struggling in this time to communicate with one another your needs, utilize your village and have someone babysit for an hour or two (take up friends/family on their offers for help). You both deserve a break. Take some time to go on a date or go to therapy together. Giving yourself some grace allows you to be a better partner and parent.

“Situationships”: 5 Ways to have Healthy Relationships in College

With the so called “cuffing season” upon us, what are your #RelationshipGoals for the season? Are you looking for something physical and nothing more? Are you looking for someone to bring home to family events, so you stop getting asked why you’re single? Or are you looking for someone to call “bae” through Valentine’s Day, but say “bye” by summer?

Whatever you are looking for, there are healthy and not so healthy ways of interacting with potential partners. Let’s go over some of those crucial skills with 5 ways to have healthy relationships in college…

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Be Real with Yourself

The first step to any relationship is being real with yourself. What do you really want to get out of this interaction? Why are you looking for what you’re looking for? Be real…

Is it because your friends are saying you need to get out there? Is it because your hormones are raging? Is it because you are stressed and see a relationship as a way of seeking support? Is it because you can’t stand being single? What about being single do you hate so much? Is it society’s rules and expectations about partnering up? There are about a dozen more questions I could ask, but you get the idea. Ask yourself the hard questions, and recognize your intentions with seeking a new partner.

Be Open & Honest about What You Want

Once you look at yourself and decide why you are getting suited up for “cuffing season”, the next step is deciding what you actually want. No judgment, some people don’t want to be in a serious, committed relationship. That’s okay. As long as you KNOW that for sure, and don’t decide 3 months into a “situationship” that you want something more. Sorry to inform you, but you will be disappointed.

If you know WHY you want a certain type of relationship, this may be helpful information to share with a potential partner, so as they do not expect you to change your mind down the road. And on the other side of things…when someone tells you exactly what they want do not expect anything more or less of EXACTLY what they said! Do not project your dreams and desires onto a person that does not hold the same values.

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Set Up Boundaries

When deciding what type of relationship you want with whomever, make sure there are boundaries that you are both aware of before getting involved. If you want something casual, but don’t want to share this casual relationship with anyone else that is something to express. If you want to be free to explore all your options, that should be clear as well. It only makes things awkward when you go out and see your “situationship” having a situation with someone else. So be upfront, and don’t get involved with someone who doesn’t match your idea of a successful relationship.

Be Respectful of Others’ Mind, Body, and Soul

When you involve yourself with somebody else, you are involving yourself with ALL PARTS of that body. Whether you want something physical, emotional, or spiritual, you will get all 3 in any relationship. Everyone has their baggage and although they may not intend to unload it on you, it can be laid out on the table verbally and/or non-verbally. Be respectful of what someone is bringing to the table and be sure to discuss whether you are willing to take it all or none. There is no in between.

Reminder as well…being a part of someone’s body means being a part of EVERY body they have come in contact with…if you get my drift. This is a risk that you must come to terms with before choosing to expose yourself figuratively and literally. Wrap it up!

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Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Lesson of the day is…communicate! If you listen to your own needs, and communicate those desires to the person you choose to have relations with, you will have a much easier time navigating your relationships. Practicing your communication skills (negotiating boundaries, expressing likes & dislikes, asking questions, etc.) will help you in all aspects of your life. College is a time to gain knowledge. Use this time to learn about yourself and you won’t regret that degree!

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P.S. If you are interested in individual therapy during those college years, request an appointment at a reduced fee, here!

 

What to Look for in a Good Therapist

Finding a therapist can be one of the most daunting tasks after deciding you want to start your therapeutic journey. Between referrals from friends, Psychology Today profiles, and insurance network requirements, you can get lost in the lists of names, specialties, and areas of so called “expertise”. Speaking from personal experience, I didn’t know where to start to find a therapist that seemed like a good fit for me (yes, therapists have therapists). Even after checking off little boxes of preferences to “filter results”, I was still left with a laundry list of therapists in my area that supposedly had all the qualities I was looking for.

So here are my suggestions for finding a therapist that fits your specific needs…

desk laptop1. Look into the Therapist’s Preferences

This may sound like the opposite of what you should be doing to find a therapist, but it is often the best indicator of if they’ll be the best fit. Exploring a therapist’s website, Instagram, and business profiles will often show you what population the therapist prefers working with.

For example, I love working with minority couples and interracial couples in the early stages of their relationships. Although I work with all types of couples at various stages of their relationships as well as individuals and families, this specific population I just find the most fun and really find it rewarding to work with. Being in a therapist’s preferred population usually leads to building rapport faster, meeting goals quicker, and an overall stronger therapeutic relationship. It also pretty much guarantees that your therapist has more experience with that specific population.

2. Base Your Search on Your Values

It is often beneficial to share similar values with your therapist (unless you are questioning your values, in which case it may be beneficial to choose a therapist with opposite beliefs, so as they will hopefully challenge those beliefs). Having similar values means a mutual understanding of what is important to you, and what aspects of your beliefs may be a strength or barrier in a therapeutic setting.

For example, for a LGBTQ couple it would be very important to find a therapist that is open to discussing and well versed in LGBTQ issues. This may mean finding a therapist that identifies as being a part of the LGBTQ community, or just finding someone who is a LGBTQ ally. I’ll let you in on a secret though, checking off “Gay”, “Lesbian”, or “Bisexual” under the sexuality preference on Psychology Today, is not going to necessarily find you a therapist that identifies as “Gay”, “Lesbian”, or “Bisexual”. Therapists often use this indicator to show that they are open to working with the LGBTQ+ community or that they specialize in LGBTQ+ issues. Finding a therapist that specializes in trauma, eating disorders, relational issues, or whatever issue you are facing doesn’t necessarily also require them to be experts in sexual orientations, as that may not be relevant to the issue at hand. Which brings me to…

3. Do Your Research on Evidenced-Based Theories

Most, if not all, therapists have a theory that they follow that structures how they proceed through the therapeutic process with you. Depending on the issue you are hoping to work through in therapy, there are various theoretical approaches that may work best or at least better than others. Some of the most common Evidence Based Theory include Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, EMDR, Dialectical-Behavior Therapy (all of these are often used with trauma issues), Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Narrative Therapy, or Emotion-Focused Therapy among others.

In my work with clients, I use a combination of Narrative Therapy and Solution-Focused Brief Therapy to create a space where the client is the expert in the room and ultimately knows how to use goal setting and exploring solutions to help them “re-write” their personal story. Therapists often use a combination of theoretical approaches to best fit the needs of their clients. So asking a therapist which theoretical approach they are most familiar with or use the most often can give you some insight into the type of therapeutic setting you’ll be stepping into.

4. Be Okay with Shopping Around

One of the single best ways to decide if a therapist is a good fit for your specific needs is to sit in session with them. If a therapist offers a FREE initial consultation either by phone or in person, I would definitely take it! This person will be the one that you share some of your deepest emotional concerns and biggest secrets with, so make sure it is someone you feel that you can trust. Although not all therapists offer free consultations, even if you pay for a first session, don’t hesitate to let the therapist know that the relationship isn’t clicking and you will be continuing your search for the therapist that is best for you. Any decent therapist will respect this decision, and it is more common than you think. Don’t settle in just because you’ve started the process with them. Therapy is something that you have to make a long term commitment to, so make sure it is a relationship you are willing to invest your time and money into.


Overall, therapy is a unique journey for each individual person. Do your research and take your time finding someone to start that journey with.

If you are interested in working with a culturally-competent, solution focused therapist in the San Diego area…contact me at 619-363-3127 or request an appointment here. I look forward to hearing from you and learning more about your story!

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How to Tell the Kids about Your “Conscious Uncoupling”

Ever heard of giving your kids “the Birds & the Bees” discussion? Well you’ve probably never heard of “the Conscious Uncoupling” discussion. Yes it is just a fancy name for “divorce”, but it exemplifies how you should approach discussing this topic with your children. Being conscious to the fact that this decision affects them just as much as (if not more than) it affects you, and being conscious to the fact that they deserve input to this process where it is appropriate.

When you and your partner decide that the relationship is no longer healthy for either/both of you, it feels like a very personal and individual decision. However, it has a rippling affect on the people closest to you, most importantly the children closest to you. There are multiple ways however to cushion the blow when announcing a separation to children.kids and dog

Be Open and Upfront

You may think that you’re doing a great job of hiding any negative feelings between your spouse and yourself, but the kids know. Children have a “sixth sense” when it comes to problems between their parents. They know when things are going well and they definitely know when things are not. Make your kids a priority in the situation and prepare them for this change. The only reason to postpone telling your kids is if you aren’t sure if it is actually going to happen. No need to jump the gun on this difficult conversation.

Continue Showing a United Front

This is extremely important. In your children’s eyes you are a package deal. Whether you are separating, divorcing, or “consciously uncoupling”, you are both still a parent to your children. They still need the same things from you that they needed when you were together. That means being able to respect one another and (at least pretend to) be as friendly as possible. Although you can decide to stop being in a relationship, you can not decide to stop being a parent.

Spare Them the Details

Telling your kids that their parents are no longer in love is hard enough. Do NOT add on top of that all the reasons you think the other parent is [insert bad words that children should not hear]. Your decision to separate is about your relationship with your partner, not your child’s relationship with their parent. Trying to damage that relationship is not your place and is just plain old cruel. Children will grow into adults and decide for themselves what they think of their parents and what type of relationship they want to have with them. Do not try to make those decisions for them.

Emphasize Your Relationship with Your Child Instead of with Your Partner

Spend this time explaining to your kids your love for them, and how that does not change. Children are very self-centered. It is just how they are at this stage of development. Honestly, your kids don’t care that you are no longer going to be together. They care about whether you and them are going to stay together. This is most likely the first time they are being introduced to the idea that two people can stop loving one another. This makes them fear a change in their relationship with you. Your job is to reinforce that your relationship with them is not going to change. This is also a good time to mention that the separation/divorce is not their fault. Be very clear that it has nothing to do with how much you love them.

Try to Create Routines and Consistency Between Two Households

Kids thrive when they are able to predict what will happen next. Divorce is a big shock, but it doesn’t have to unravel their sense of security. Creating consistency between two households can be difficult, but it will make all the difference in making the transition smooth. Don’t make a custody schedule based off of your needs. Make it based on what works best for your children. If your kids are old enough to give input, please give them that courtesy. Consistency looks like…

  • Keeping some of their favorite things at both homes (favorite toys, snacks, etc.)
  • Sticking to the house rules they have always had (bed time, amount of TV, etc.)
  • Having both parents at family activities (birthdays, school events, etc.)
  • Not changing plans at the last minute (who’s weekend it is, who’s picking them up from school, etc.)

 

When finding it difficult to have these discussions or finding that co-parenting isn’t going as smoothly as you would like, consider family therapy. It gives a safe place for kids to have their voices heard and for parents to practice helpful tools in the process of creating a new family dynamic.

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