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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Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

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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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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.

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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Are You Enemies, Sidekicks, or a Team?: Defining Your Relationship with Your Parenting Partner

You see your child in front of you with that bottom lip stuck out. They are asking to do/for something that you have already said “No” to multiple times in the past. You try not to fall victim to those sad puppy dog eyes. You quickly glance around the room to make eye contact with your partner. Do you…

A. Find them no where in site, and therefore have to go by what your child tells you they said.

B. Find them not to far away, but completely ignoring your desperate stares.

C. Meet their gaze and know they are going to back you up no matter what you say.

Or D. Some rendition of one of these or a combination of one, two, or three of them?

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If you answered A.

You may be enemies. This probably isn’t the first time they’ve been m.i.a., and it probably won’t be the last either.When your partner is no where to be found it is hard to feel supported or appreciated. It also isn’t real conducive to that whole “united front” idea. If this is your relationship it is important to work on two things…communication and appearances. You have to have very open and reachable communication with your partner. If they aren’t going to be by your side when making a decision, they at least need to know what decision they are suppose to be supporting. This is where appearances comes in. You want it to appear to your kid(s) that you are both on the same page with any and all decisions being made. Any sign that one parent is out of the loop, you might as well be bleeding into a tank of sharks…those little monsters will sniff that out and take advantage.

What To Do: 

  • Be aware of any permissions your child(ren) may be asking for
  • Have an open line of communication
  • Do NOT waiver on any agreed upon decisions

If you answered B.

You may be sidekicks. Your kid(s) probably know that they will hear, “Ask [insert other parent]” instead of actually getting an answer. Someone in this parenting dynamic is the boss, and someone in this dynamic is probably disengaged from the relationship and/or family. This can be dangerous because not only is there a lack of support, but there is a lack of care. One parent is left making all the decisions and feeling like they are in it alone, while the other doesn’t even know what decision is being made.

What To Do:

  • Practice making eye contact
  • Ask how you can help or ask for help
  • Set aside time to engage with spouse/family
  • Do NOT defer to the other parent

If you answered C.

Congrats! It sounds like you are already acting as a team! Your kid(s) recognize that an answer from one parent is as good as an answer from both. You put on a united front that shows teamwork and consistency. No one parent is taking on the burden of being “the bad cop”, and all parties are being shown mutual respect.

What To Do:

  • Continue being consistent
  • Discuss decisions with each other before coming to a final conclusion
  • Do NOT argue in front of the child(ren)

If you answered D.

Consistency isn’t your strongest attribute. Sometimes your partner is a dependable ally and sometimes they are your worst enemy. Either way, you are probably craving the same stability your kids are searching for. Being inconsistent can create resentment and an unstable environment for a couple and family. A lack of dependability leaves one partner unsure of what to expect and reluctant to share their needs. If you don’t know what response you will get you are more likely to avoid any communication.

What To Do:

  • Practice consistency with small tasks/decisions
  • Prioritize with partner what really needs their full attention
  • Do NOT flake on decisions that have been set

 

At the end of the day, your relationship with your spouse and family is affected by how you choose to parent. Attending couples and/or family therapy can help you gain insight on how to make improvements that will make parenting easier and more rewarding. If committing to weekly sessions is not suitable for your schedule, look up local parenting workshops and parent groups that may lend the support you are looking for.

“Coming together is a beginning; Keeping together is progress; Working together is success.” ~Henry Ford

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Why Money Matters…

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Financial Therapy Association Annual Conference in San Diego, CA. This was an extremely rewarding experience and I must give kudos to the President of the Financial Therapy Association (and my former mentor), Ms. Megan Ford, for helping put together such an extraordinary event.

I knew almost immediately that I would have to write about this event because of all the valuable reminders I received about how money can influence relationships. So today I bring to you the Top 5 reasons you should see a Financial Therapist…

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1. Money is Power.

You may have heard this saying before, but it can be interpreted in many ways. When it comes to financial therapy money and power may be connected in terms of power dynamics in relationships. Whether that relationship be a romantic one, a parent-child relationship, or even sibling relationships, people often use money to exert power over someone else. For financial therapists, we may see a couple that is struggling with one breadwinner holding their contribution to the household over their partner. One partner may feel powerless in the relationship due to the fact that they do not contribute financially to the relationship. With parent-child relationships, it is not uncommon to see wealthy parents withholding inheritances from a child until they accomplish certain things, such as, getting married or having children. Or in other instances withholding money due to the child not marrying the “right person”. In sibling relationships, we may see siblings arguing over their share of finances after a parent’s passing. Or money being used as a drive for competition between siblings.

All of these examples are ways in which people use money as a source of power and manipulation of the individuals they are in relationships with. Financial therapists would have the tools to bring this power dynamic to light and help individuals, couples, or families decide on more healthy ways of dealing with money in their relationships.

2. Money is Confusing.

This is almost self explanatory. Whether you are struggling with figuring out your taxes or finding a way to save, financial therapists are equipped to educate you about options, resources, and ways of increasing your confidence in your ability to deal with the confusion that can be money. Feeling helpless or depressed about your money situation can hinder you from making the moves necessary to get yourself out of it. Though financial therapists do not provide direct advice on what to do with your money, they can help build the self-confidence needed to make a decision for yourself.

3. Money is Stressful.

We have all been stressed about money at one point or another in our lives. Stress caused by money can look like not knowing how much money to spend on a Secret Santa gift or being stressed about whether you have enough money to pay the rent next month. When dealing with stress related to finances it can be helpful to talk to your friend, family member, or your regular therapist, but they may not be able to educate you on ways you can not just reduce your stress, but deal with the money that is the cause of that stress. Visiting a financial therapist can help with both sides of this issue. Gaining an understanding of your financial situation and gaining coping skills for life’s stressors together can be the most effective way of dealing with money stress.

4. Money is Scary.

Fear is something that can exist in our lives in many ways, shapes, and forms. When it comes to money, fear often shows up in someone’s need to save every last penny or someone else’s need to spend every last dime. The fear of losing your home or of never truly enjoying life can make people spend or save in very drastic ways. A financial therapist can help an individual or couple understand why they treat money the way they do and how fear is keeping them from utilizing their money in different ways.

5. Money has Value.

This brings us to the value of money. Obviously money has a monetary value, but money is often times deeply rooted in our core values. Coming to a financial therapist can help you understand where your values around money lie. Clients often realize the money struggles from their childhood have influenced how they relate to money. Some might realize that they were spoiled as a child, so they continue buying whatever their heart desires whether their bank account can afford it or not. While others grew up watching their parents’ struggle to make ends meet, and so they focus (maybe too much) on being successful in their career and saving extensively for a “rainy day”. These are just a couple of examples of the ways our values are influenced by money. What are some values you have around money?

At the end of the day, money influences our lives in multiple ways and understanding those ways can help us better manage our finances. Seeing a financial therapist can be a great way of figuring out how money influences your life and how you might be able to get yourself in a better financial situation. How could a financial therapist help you?

 

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