5 Ways To Make Your Relationship More Romantic, So Get Ready To Swoon

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Relationships, like all things, change with time. And while there are many beautiful things about a long-term commitment to someone, keeping the spark alive can sometimes be challenging. After all, when you settle into a routine together, it’s not quite so simple to shake things up and retain that element of surprise. Don’t fret, though — there are plenty of ways to make your relationship more romantic, as long as you’re both creative and resourceful.

I checked in with the experts to get their thoughts on this, and their advice did not disappoint. “Our partner needs to know that we value them and that they have a vital role in our life,” says Susan Winter, relationship expert. “From this foundation of appreciation and gratitude, romantic feelings grow with abundance.” If you want to show your partner how much you care, one of the best things you can do is add some intrigue back into your lives. There’s something about a passionate, romantic evening together that electrifies your chemistry and reminds you why you chose one another. And it doesn’t have to be any huge gesture — even small changes can make a big difference! When you’re ready to get more intimate with bae, put these tips to use and watch your bond deepen in a beautiful way.



“We tend to underestimate the impact of phrases such as, ‘Thank you,’ and, ‘I really appreciate what you’ve done for me,'” Winter says. When your SO does something you’re grateful for, like buying you flowers or cleaning your room, let them know. After couples have been together for an extended period, it’s easy to forget to thank one another for small daily actions. But according to Winter, “kindness and appreciation are powerful aphrodisiacs.” You don’t have to make huge changes in your routine to make each other feel special — just express your love in little ways!



When you’re in a rut and your time together starts to feel monotonous, bring back a special memory you both share. “Break that cycle by randomly recreating your first date at home,” says Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist. “Candles, rose petals, dinner, movie, anything that can recreate that first date.” Or, try reminiscing in the actual place you first went out together! Think back to that time when you were first getting to know one another, and when everything felt exciting and scary and new. You’ll both be able to look back with fondness and also to see how far your relationship has come.



If you’re both craving a weekend out of town, consider taking a vacation — maybe even a couple’s retreat. “Not only will you learn new skills for enhancing communication, managing conflict, a renewed sense of commitment to one another, and deepening intimacy. But you also have a built-in vacation filled with romantic settings, dinners, and relaxation,” Silva explains. Sometimes, getting out of your shared space and into a new location can help you feel rejuvenated and more in love.



Shula Melamed, relationship and well-being coach, says that couples who try new activities together end up happier in the long run. “Maybe sign up for a course or cause that requires that the two of you to learn, create, or show up for something you both can be passionate about,” she suggests. If you have a shared love for something, it’ll bring you closer together, and it also gives you something fresh to talk about. Doing good for the world and doing good for your relationship? It’s a win-win.



No matter what you do, the most important thing is that you’re enjoying each other’s company. “Couples who play and explore with each other report higher relationship satisfaction,” Melamed says. “So the ‘work’ that goes into maintaining long-term committed relationships might be more depended on ‘play.’” The human brain responds positively to new experiences, so the more creative you can be, the more fun you’ll have together. Try to make a habit of trying something new together at least once per month! This helps you build a bank of shared memories together that will keep the romance alive.

Try to remember that even on days when you feel bored or out of touch with each other, you both chose this relationship for a reason. When you can reframe your brain to remind yourself, “I choose you,” you’ll be more thankful for your partner and more confident in your love. And at the end of the day, a box of chocolates and bouquet of roses never hurt anyone… so get cheesy with it and have a little fun.

Here’s How To Determine Exactly What You Want In A Relationship

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Image by Trinette Reed / Stocksy
In her new book Joy From Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend, clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., distinguishes between destructive fear and constructive fear. The former is the kind that immobilizes you and keeps you trapped in a stagnant or reactive way of living; the latter involves acknowledging your driving inner needs and using that knowledge as a catalyst for change, adaptation, and growth. We love the way Dr. Manly applies this dual understanding of fear to our relationships. In this excerpt, she guides us through how to get real about what we’re seeking when we connect with others and how to shift relationships bound by fear.

The essential qualities that are prized by some may not be prized by others. By acknowledging this truth, an objective and honest attitude can be maintained; different people will simply value different things. Destructive fear might want you to have a black-and-white mindset geared toward believing that there is one “right” list of essential qualities. It might also tempt you into believing that it’s not important to know or understand one’s essential qualities. Constructive fear would say, “A few key values such as integrity, honesty, respect, and kindness are essential for any true relationship. Beyond such basics, let your wise self be your guide. A vital element of self-awareness is the nonjudgmental knowing and cherishing of what is important to you. In this way, you can understand and honor what you find essential. Without self-awareness, you are constricted and bound by the beliefs you unconsciously adopted throughout life—going whatever way you might be led. Through self-reflection, you gain awareness of your own personal values and needs.” Armed with the wisdom of self-awareness, you can then take actions that lead you closer to your values. In this way, you evolve consciously, moving ever forward with the power of transformational fear.

The first step, then, is to generate awareness of one’s unique conception of essential qualities. As an individual becomes more self-aware, a personal “list” of essential qualities can be used both to form and to guide relationships. A firm understanding of one’s essential qualities allows for the open and honest communication of these essential needs to others. The more important the relationship is, the more critical it is to have a meeting of the minds and spirits on the necessary qualities for that relationship; when a relationship is more peripheral or less significant, there is often greater leeway. When it comes to core, true relationships, these precious connections tend to thrive when both individuals value and offer the same essential qualities. When one person lacks a quality that the other person finds absolutely essential, the relationship often suffers. When many key qualities are missing, disaster often results.

What is a “relationship,” anyway?

Image by Trinette Reed / Stocksy

The word relationship carries many connotations—it means different things to different people. Therefore, it is often helpful to look at the roots of a word to regain a true and deeper sense of the original meaning. The “-ship” portion of the word relationshipindicates a state or condition, whereas “relate” stems from the Latin re, which means “back or again,” coupled with lātus, which means “borne, carried, or endured.” As such, it may be that a relationship is a state where those involved return to each other to bear, carry, and endure. This interpretation resonates with me deeply, for society uses the word “relationship” so loosely that it can become almost meaningless. Like the word “friend,” the word “relationship” has come to include those to whom we feel little or no trusting connection. Yet people are somehow surprised and left wondering what is “wrong” when a sense of trust or bonded intimacy is missing. They find themselves confused, hurt, and angry when disrespected and even betrayed.

What is missing—what has gone awry—is that many “relationships” do not involve bearing, carrying, and enduring the journey of life. Far too many relationships do well in good times and when immediate needs for companionship, sex, fun, or money are being met, but when it comes to weathering life’s truths, challenges, and deepening intimacy, the relationship has little or no strength. These generally superficial associations, which are often mere infatuations or connections of convenience, lack the essential elements that allow for bonded, lasting love. Many such connections are consciously or unconsciously built on the theme of “I’ll use you just as much as you use me.” Sadly, such situations are the breeding grounds of destructive fear—they perpetuate negative behaviors and throw mud on the concept of loving connection and growth. Indeed, a “relationship” formed or continued on a lack of integrity—disrespect, dishonesty, manipulation, and the like—is not a true relationship. “Convenienceships” is the term I have coined for such connections.

Here’s how to determine your “essential qualities” for true relationships.

These next exercises may be challenging, for they require substantial introspection, self-honesty, and nonjudgment. Allow yourself to proceed with a patient, gentle attitude. Remember that it is normal to feel uncomfortable at times in the course of self-reflection, yet as with any self-exploration, objective honesty is essential. When you are open to gentle reflection on your old patterns and ways of being, the strong arm of destructive fear has no choice but to slowly release its grip. Indeed, our most amazing improvements come as a result of noticing and attending to the areas where destructive fear has silently grown and festered. Now is your opportunity to shine conscious awareness and healing light into this area of your life. Listen for the friendly, nonjudgmental voice of constructive fear; let this voice be your guide and ally as you move into another realm of transformation.

As with every exercise, make certain that you are in a safe and relaxed environment and that you feel psychologically ready to proceed. With your notebook and pen by your side, take a deep breath. If you feel destructive fear stepping in at any time, simply notice that it is present. When you are ready to proceed without judgment, allow yourself to envision the idea of a true relationship. Close your eyes if it is helpful. Imagine every quality that is important to you in a true relationship. When you are finished, open your eyes. Make a list of the qualities you noticed; your list can be as exhaustive as you desire. When you have finished your list, pause to breathe.

In this next segment, place an E (to signify “essential”) next to every item that is essential to you; these are the traits that you find absolutely nonnegotiable in your true relationships. For example, a short list might read: integrous, honest, loyal, generous, playful, loving, tolerant, fun-loving, creative, respectful, kind, and tender. You may find yourself marking every quality on the list with an E. You may, however, find that you are led to mark relatively few items with an E. Allow the process to unfold without judgment. When you have finished, pause to breathe. The items marked with an E constitute your list of essential qualities. Make notes of any thoughts that come to mind. Breathe.

In this next phase, take a fresh look at your complete list of qualities—your personal outline of the qualities you find important for a true relationship. Pause to breathe. Then place an O (signifying “personal ownership”) next to every quality that is something you embrace and honor in your own life. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect in embodying these qualities—what is vital is that you honor your essential qualities and strive to hone them in your life. Destructive fear might step in with criticism or judgment; simply notice if it does. Allow constructive fear to guide you into honestly evaluating the characteristics that you actively strive to treasure and embody. When you have finished, pause to breathe.

Next, take objective notice of the items that have both an E and an O. Take note of those items that only have an O and no E or vice versa. For example, for an individual who values and embodies honesty as an essential trait, an E and an O would both appear. Yet even an exceedingly honest person may not demand honesty in relationships; in such a case, only an O would appear next to the word honest. On the other hand, an individual may demand honesty from others yet may not be honest in relationships with others and with the self. In this instance, only an E would appear next to the word honest. Once you have reviewed your E and O markings, pause to breathe. Make notes of any thoughts that come to mind. Breathe again.

In this next step, simply make a separate list of your essential qualities. Every item marked with an E will become part of this list. In the course of completing the above exercises, you may notice that you want to add or delete items from this list. Feel free to make any changes you find important. Ultimately, you will have a list—short or long—of your essential qualities. This list has the potential to be a most vital guide and ally in your life.

Finally, prepare to ask yourself five important questions with clarity and honesty. If destructive fear steps in with judgment or criticism, simply notice its presence. If discomfort, irritation, or other feelings arise, allow yourself to notice the feelings. Allow yourself to feel the kind, gentle wisdom of constructive fear. Allow yourself to remember that constructive fear wants to help you obtain wellness, fulfillment, peace, and joy. Pause to breathe. Now, ask yourself these five questions:

  1. Am I searching for qualities in another person that I do not have within myself?
  2. If so, am I willing to do the work necessary to engender these qualities in myself?
  3. Am I accepting a relationship with someone who does not have the qualities I find essential?
  4. If so, am I willing to talk to this person about my needs with honesty and dignity?
  5. If the other person is unwilling or unable to honor my essential needs, am I willing to walk away?

Write out your responses to each question. You need to do nothing but allow yourself to process your responses at your own pace. Pause to breathe. You are doing excellent work. Well done.

Adapted from Joy From Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend by Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., Reprinted with permission.

Don’t Settle Down Until You Find Someone As Weird As You

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Don't Settle Down Until You Find Someone As Weird As You

Don’t settle for someone who is always nudging you to be quiet, someone who rolls their eyes at your jokes, someone who wishes you would take life more seriously.

Don’t settle for someone who makes you feel bad about being yourself, someone who acts like your interests are immature, someone who does not see the value in the way you are able to go with the flow.

Don’t settle for someone who expects you to tone yourself down out in public, someone who gives you a set of rules over how you are meant to behave, someone who tries to smother the real youunderneath a picture perfect version.

Don’t settle for someone who makes you feel bad about being a weirdo. Date someone who matches your weirdness, who encourages it, who loves you exactly the way you are.

Date someone who admires the fact you are a kid at heart. Date someone who gets your jokes, someone who appreciates the way you make them laugh even in the most inappropriate situations. Date someone who would never change your weirdness because it’s one of the many reasons they’ve fallen in love with you.

Date someone who will build pillow forts and sandcastles and Sim houses with you. Date someone who will come up with their own nonsense words to replace honey and love and sex. Date someone who makes weird jokes, makes weird noises, makes weird movements without a real reason.

Date someone who isn’t afraid of looking like a complete idiot in front of you — and likes you best when you are looking like a complete idiot in front of them.

Don’t settle for someone who wants you to act prim and proper all the time. Don’t settle for someone who teases you about how childish you are. Don’t settle for someone who thinks being a mature adult means being bland and boring.

Your forever person is not going to bat an eye when you act like a complete weirdo. They are going to get used to your quirks. They are going to understand the way you tick. Even better, they are going to fall in love with your weirdness. They are not going to want you to act normal. They are going to appreciate how utterly, shamelessly strange you are. They are going to be relieved they found someone who is authentic, someone who is unafraid of embracing their true self.

Don’t settle for someone you have to put on an act around. Don’t settle for someone who makes you feel like you have to hold back your weirdness in order to be accepted. Don’t settle for someone who wants a cardboard version of you instead of the real deal.

Don’t settle until you find someone who considers your oddities adorable, someone who laughs along with you, someone who makes you feel accepted. Don’t settle until you find someone you don’t have to worry about scaring away because they are as big a weirdo as you are.

What You Need to Know if You’re Dating Someone With Depression

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When my boyfriend and I first started dating, he told me that he struggled with depression. In retrospect, I think I was naive. I didn’t realize how much it would impact me and our relationship. What can I do to help him? What can I do do help our relationship when he’s struggling? —Down (Not Out)


You are not alone and neither is your boyfriend: According to the American Psychological Association, as many as 17 million adults in this country suffer from depression. Depression does not discriminate based on age, socioeconomics, fame or success. In fact, many celebrities have spoken openly about their own difficulties with depression, including Lady GagaKristen Bell. Most recently, reports have come out that the newly married Justin Bieber, while thrilled with his marriage to Hailey Baldwin, has been struggling with depression and has undergone treatment for it. This really speaks to depression being an underlying issue and not a reflection of someone’s relationship. That said, it impacts a relationship enormously. Studies have shown that relationships where at least one partner suffers from depression have a divorce rate that’s nine times higher than the average. Understanding the signs and difficulties that depression can bring, and exactly how to get help, are crucial to keeping yourself — and your partnership — on an even keel when tides get rough.

The symptoms of depression can vary from upsetting and concerning to debilitating, and it’s obvious how this would impact a relationship. It is common to see sufferers struggle with apathy, hopelessness, loss of joy or interest in things that once brought pleasure, mood swings, exhaustion, obsessive thinking, sadness and anxiety. And in terms of lifestyle or behavior, depression can impact sleep (insomnia or sleeping too much), eating (loss of appetite or overeating), energy (low energy or restlessness), and cognitive ability.

Often, depression in men shows up up differently, in the form of agitation, irritability or anger. While anyone can experience depression related to a life event — a death of a loved one, loss of a job, traumadivorce, e.g. — certain people are more prone to general depression. People who have one or both parents who struggle with depression, have experienced abuse, suffered from neglect growing up, and people who have drug or alcohol issues are among those who can be predisposed to depression. Whether your partner is dealing with a-once-in-a-while down mood, or has been diagnosed with a mental illness that will be part of your lives for good, here’s what you need to know.

It’s Not About You

Depression greatly impacts the way a person thinks. It creates a lot of negative filters when it comes to how a person views the world. Someone who is depressed tends to see the glass as half-empty and anticipate the worst a situation or person can offer. They typically do not feel worthy of love, kindness and care. They may appear lethargic or lazy when in fact they are just too physically exhausted from the depression to do much of anything. Many people who are depressed feel emotionally numb or sad much of the time.

RELATED: I Thought I Needed Klonopin — Turns Out I Needed a Divorce

Keep in mind that his depression is not a reflection of you or your relationship. (Think of Justin Bieber and how over the moon he is for Hailey, even while he says he’s “struggling a lot” and asking for prayers and healing.) While it impacts you, this is your partner’s own struggle and it is important not to take it personally. Separating yourself from the “cause” or reason your partner is depressed can help you better support him. Understand that even if it’s hard for him to take action against depression, he does not want to be depressed. Depression is not a choice. Do not feel blamed or attacked for it “happening to” you or your relationship; and speak about it with empathy. Getting mad at someone for suffering from depression is like getting angry at someone for having cancer.

View Getting Help as a Sign of Strength

The single most important thing you can do to help your boyfriend is to encourage him to get treatment. In a more general sense, creating a judgment-free zone where he can be vulnerable and talk about his struggle can be very healing. Anything you can do to help reduce his stress and lighten the load while he is struggling can be helpful.

In order for you to help your partner, it is very important that he be open to help. Too many people who struggle with depression mistakenly think that getting help is a weakness. A woman recently wrote to me on Instagram saying that she had been “so weak” that she started therapy. The opposite is true. Getting help shows enormous strength. It is brave to be willing to face your pain, work on making things better, and be honest about your emotional state. Many people are too afraid to do the work. It is important that your boyfriend knows that you view this as a strength.

And the “work” shouldn’t be seen as insurmountable. Depression is extremely treatable. It is the common cold of psychotherapy, and something every licensed therapist knows how to handle. Psychotherapy can be very helpful treatment. For those who are experiencing depression that is more resistant to psychotherapy, the combination of antidepressants along with talk therapy can be extremely effective. Helping your boyfriend to utilize whatever support system he has is important. People who are depressed tend to isolate from those who love them, which only feeds their depression. In addition, encouraging him to take good care of himself is an important component of treating depression and even preventing it. Encouraging him to get enough sleep, eat healthy, get sunlight, exercise, and utilize stress reduction techniques can help.

RELATED: How to Salvage Your Sexless Marriage

De-Stress Your Sex Life

Depression will impact your sex life together. It can kill a person’s libido, or simply challenge intimacy as it makes your boyfriend struggle to connect. If he is pulling away from you in bed, it does not mean he is not sexually attracted to you, it is the result of a chemical imbalance. And unfortunately, some antidepressant medications can lower libido, too. Do your best to work together to address these issues. You won’t want to put pressure on him to perform, as that could exacerbate the problem. Each person should have space to express their wants and needs, and the safety to know their boundaries will be respected. Proceed with care.

Look Out for You, Too

Men who suffer from depression often experience it as anger, meaning they have a short fuse and can be very moody. It is also not uncommon for them to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol which can have terrible results in terms of mood and temperament with their partner. It is important that you have good boundaries and self-care when it comes to how he treats you. If his illness manifests in poor treatment of you, or abuse of any kind, you may not be able to stay together. If someone is unwilling to get help and is consistently mistreating you — as hard as it can be to leave someone you love — sometimes you have to leave for your own well-being. You are allowed to do this, even if the other person is suffering from mental illness. You are not expected to endanger or harm yourself out of a sense of guilt for what the other is going through.

Call for Help

In some severe cases, people with depression may become suicidal. If your boyfriend expresses anything along those lines it should be taken very seriously. It is important to share with his therapist if he has one, family and support system, especially if it seems as if he isn’t addressing it how he needs to. Sometimes it is necessary to call authorities so they can determine if he’s a danger to himself, and needs to be checked into a hospital where they can monitor and treat him. (This is called “50150,” and can be a life-saving measure.) Another resource if you are concerned about suicidality is the Suicide Prevention Hotline (there’s a web chat, or you can call 1-800-273-8255). That can be a resource for you, for him, or for anyone else who is concerned.

What Love Is And Is NOT

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I was thinking about love and healthy relationships a lot in the past few months. I always ended up with the wrong person which alway lead to a heartbreak. I don’t want to make the same mistakes again, so I started to define what I consider love and the foundation of a healthy relationship.

What is NOT love?

When you are looking for your other half

I often hear from people: “I am so happy I found my other half.” And the point to their partner. “I wish I would find someone who completes me.” When I hear this on a date it is always a huge red flag and I close the date within an hour.

I consider this a toxic approach for relationship. As far as I see all relationship when one or both person consider their partner the other half, or someone who completes them fails miserably sooner or later.

If you feel you are not complete alone, you need someone who completes you. You need some time to work on yourself first. You are far to be ready for a healthy relationship. If you are looking for someone unconsciously who can solve your problems, it is not healthy. This problem could be anything, from the anxiety of being alone, feeling not loved, lonely to any other issues. You should never put this weight to another person’s shoulders. They won’t fix your problems and they shouldn’t even try it. It’s not their job. Once the euforia is over after a few months or weeks, you’ll realise you still have problems, and you’ll start to blame others for not fixing it. It leads to thoughts maybe he/she is not the one. You are wrong! You are the one who has to face with your problems, solve it and start a relationship after.

Dependency is NOT love

When you are depending on your spouse in any way, emotionally, financially or any other possible way. It is not love. People often interpret this as love, but it is leads to a toxic relationship which will almost always end. You should never put your wellbeing into the hands of external things — other people. You should fix your life first, be independent individual. See the previous point one.

Take responsibility for your own life and understand that it’s not your partner’s job to entertain you.

Attraction is NOT love

People are attracted to others. It is a fact and you have to accept it. Attraction will happen even if you are in a long term relationship, marriage or single. I attracted to many people for many reasons. I liked the way they laughed, I liked their humor, their mindset, the way they lived their life. Attraction could be, but not always sexual. I found people sexy because the way they smelled, the way they walked or talked or the way they were thinking. Many people tend to think attraction is love, but it is not. Attraction is magic. Attraction is based on completely inexplicable reasons. You don’t control this initial attraction. This is true for many of us. The problem is, most of us sink too much importance in attraction and, worse, they tend to mix it up with love. And while you don’t control who you’re attracted to, you do, however, control where you invest ourselves — time, energy, and emotion.

Wanting to be together or text all the time is not love. Wanting constant reassurance is not love. These are weak and toxic demonstrations of affection and insecurity. Love is never a give or take, it is never about keeping score, it is never about wanting and expecting.

Everything you see on TV it is NOT love

What is communicated in the media and in the movies is not love. You see love in an amorph bastardized way. That deep romantic visualisation of love simply does not exists. It is not possible to live in constant happiness, full of passion for years over years. Love and relationship is full of ups and downs. People fall in and out of love with the same person, and if you are lucky you and your spouse never fall out of love at the same time. If you are chasing what you see in the movies, you are chasing a shadow.

When we chase romance and excitement, we do to love what porn does to sex

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

What is love?

Love is a choice

Love is not a feeling. Love is a choice. You don’t make this choice once at the beginning of the relationship. You have to make this choice every single day. Good love is the way you love them. It’s you loving their being, you loving their essence, you loving their ups and downs and imperfections and dumb complaints and irritations and short-comings and differences, you loving their decisions — each day. And you have to make this choice each day.

Love is friendship

Love should be based on true deep friendship. Friendship should be based on high level of mutual respect. When your friends visits you and breaks your mug, you say it’s ok, i’ll buy a new one. When your spouse does the same you starc screaming. Why don’t you treat your spouse as you friend? Friendship means caring for each other, be there is the other needs you. Respect the other as an individual with an own personality, own goals in life. You never treat your friends as an object, or your belonging. It is based on mutual respect. Love is teamwork. You have to formulate a strong team with your spouse. You two have to be stronger together than as individuals. You have to work to fulfill your dreams, reach common goals, support each other in the hard times, or just work together simple tasks every single day, like the housework.

Love is commitment

You can see in many blog posts the key of a long lasting relationship is communication. It’s not true in my opinion. There is no doubt it is important, but commitment is has a greater factor. You have to commit every single day to your partner. You have to commit even when you are not feeling it. When you have some downs. Or even when you are attracted to someone else. Love is not a feeling. If you define love as a feeling in which you fall in, eventually you’ll fall out at some point. Because feelings change. And people change. And it is normal! If you want to stay together you have to commit even when you are not feeling it.

Love is consistency

You show love and respect for your spouse consistently. Of course there are ups and downs, there are fights and arguments. But you consistently have to let the other feel loved, and safe. Consistency creates safety. Safety creates peace. Peace creates stability.

Love is change

You have to accept the fact people change over time. You cannot stop it. You change too. You shouldn’t try to date with the person your partner was X years ago, you should date with the person they grow in years. As your partner changes, you have to accept, encourage, appreciate and fall in love with the person they become.

Most people think about love it is something just happens to them, or something they are in. They mistakenly think attraction or dependency is love, or they just want to be with someone for the wrong reason. They think it is something just happens to them. They do not realise mature, grown up love is an investment, they have to invest time, energy, work in it.

Love is a decision, a choice and work, it is not magic, it is not something superficial, not something you can’t control. It’s about choosing and committing every single day, it’s and act, it is work.

What To Know If You’re Dating Someone With Depression

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The helplessness of watching someone you care about experience dark thought patterns, hold themselves in such a negative light and often distance themselves from you can, in turn, make you feel like you’re not good enough.

I mean, you might be an absolute berk, but if you care enough to read this then chances are it’s really not you and it’s really not them; it’s their depression.

‘I was with my ex boyfriend when I got diagnosed with depression and anxiety,’ Sarah* tells Metro.co.uk. ‘At first, he was supportive and helped me to research mental health, treatment, and counselling. This was new for both of us so we were both struggling to understand what was happening.

‘However, within a few weeks he didn’t understand why I wasn’t doing ‘better’, because I’d started taking medication and had had a few weeks away from work.

‘He didn’t seem to understand me when I told him I wasn’t able to get out of bed, how I couldn’t even shower some days, and how I felt so low.

‘His messages of support and love soon felt hollow and were replaced with emotional blackmail; HE needed me. HE was lonely. HE felt abandoned.

‘I had to break up with him […] he was making me feel 100% worse. It was probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make.’ If you’re currently with someone who’s depressed, you might be able to relate to Sarah’s ex-boyfriend.

It’s easy (and understandable, so try not to feel like a crappy partner if this applies to you) to blame yourself for your other half’s mental health struggles, or to get cranky about how they ‘put on a show’ for everyone else, and then with you they’re always silent, retreating to bed or simply not engaging.

Chris* told me that before he knew his girlfriend was depressed, he was convinced she was always annoyed at him and that he was letting her down. (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk) ‘But as soon as she told me that she’d started to take antidepressants I realised that she wasn’t being moody, she was ill,’

Chris says. ‘She wasn’t locking herself up in our room because she hated me, it’s because she needed time to herself because her depression was flaring up.’ Look, depression has a different effect on everyone unfortunate enough to be encased in it. I cannot in any way speak for everyone suffering, but as someone who has been very ill with it before I can say that from my experience, depression makes you fairly self involved; it doesn’t occur to you that your partner or friend may be wondering how they can help, or be feeling like you’re shutting them out.

It would never cross your mind that anyone else is interested in why you’re feeling or behaving a certain way. When it was at its worst for me, depression essentially turned me into a narcissistic teenager, oblivious of anyone else. So don’t be afraid to ask your partner questions, because they’re unlikely to present any answers to you unprompted. Sandra Dean from Counselling Directory agrees: ‘For example, if it seems that your partner is making more of a problem of something than you think necessary (referred to as catastrophising), instead of saying “I think you’re overreacting”, ask why they feel the way they do about it. ‘Someone [with depression] can over-think things or may need more time to do things, or seem confused. ‘If you take time to ask questions, you can learn to empathise and thus help them to be themselves, and not worried to show or tell you what they are going through. ‘Acceptance is key in any relationship, so if you can both be yourselves and if you are compatible, there can be a lot of fun to be had. Look for compatibility as you would with any person.’ How your partner is feeling is in no way under your control, and is unlikely to be your fault (if you’re reading this piece then all evidence suggests you do actually care, bless your heart). MORE: HEALTH What is binge eating disorder? Three best friends pose together in their underwear to celebrate their stoma bags Disabled woman risks her life by doing yoga Obviously every couple is different – as is every experience of depression – but a good place to start is to do your own research into depression and mental health, and to take Sandra’s advice, I’d say. Simply asking someone what they need from you or how you can support them can make a huge difference, as can a heads up from your partner if they’re feeling far from 10/10. ‘I do struggle with my girlfriend’s depression,’ says Chris. ‘It’s stressful not knowing who I’m coming home to. ‘I told her this and we talked about having some kind of signal, so she started to use a raincloud emoji when she was feeling her worst and cancelling on plans, or to symbolise in advance that she would be in bed when I got home. ‘It’s such a small thing but it’s made it a little easier to manage for both of us.’ The poo emoji will probably work just as well. What works for Chris and his girlfriend won’t work for every couple, but it all ultimately comes down to compatibility, as Sandra highlights. If you’re prepared to learn about the condition and empathise with your partner’s struggles – as, say, you would if they were suffering from a broken rib – then evidence suggests you guys will be ok.


Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2019/03/02/know-dating-someone-depression-8792369/?ito=cbshare

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7 Ways Couples Can Practice Self-Care Together

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Self-care is often defined by taking a step away from loved ones to focus entirely on yourself. But carving out moments for well-being doesn’t always necessarily have to be a solo routine. In fact, practicing self-care rituals with your partner has double the reward: Not only are you reaping the individual benefits, but you are also deepening your relationship and connection as a couple. Past research has shown engaging in personal-growth-related activities as a couple actually makes the relationship more satisfying andimproves one’s sex life. (A pretty sweet bonus!)

Here are seven ways to incorporate “couple’s care” together, as recommended by self-care experts:

1. Set aside time each day to talk about your goals together.

Setting and reviewing goals on a regular basis is generally a great way to make sure you’re always working toward your long-term vision for your life, and it can be a great way to feel in control of your present and future. Sharing this habit with your partner, however, can make you all the more efficient and dedicated to those goals because you have someone holding you accountable. Moreover, setting goals together lets your partner know what your vision is and allows your partner the opportunity to be your biggest support system, which in turn creates intimacy.

“You can work on setting your goals together, or set them separately and then share,” says certified life coach Melissa Snow. “This invites conversation about what they are excited about, what their fears are, and how you can help.”

When your partner is involved in your personal development, you’ll feel that much more connected to each other and able to understand each other in much deeper, more nuanced ways.

2. Always have a project you’re working on together.

Whether refinishing a dresser, picking out photos for a new family collage, or practicing a foreign language together, always having a project or hobby in motion allows for a sense of accomplishment as a team. Not to mention, it pulls you away from the habit of plopping down on the couch with Netflix.

“Learning something new is fun, and it also keeps the brain active,” says mindset coach Melissa Wolak. “When you share a project together as a couple, it cultivates teamwork but also an experience where you can learn together, create something new, and you laugh at mistakes.”

3. Read a personal development book together.

Sometimes, to overcome an obstacle or work toward a common goal, outside guidance provides a fresh perspective that a couple can learn together. Reading is a great way to reduce stress and build new skills, and sharing that experience together allows couples to bond over new materials at the same time.

“Reading provides new intellectual stimulation and a conversation topic outside of work and home life,” said Wolak. “On the cognitive side, reading, remembering the details, and discussing the book together are great brain exercises.”

And just imagine how sweet it is to read in bed with your partner.

4. Research your next vacation.

When the going gets tough, you can always daydream about your next getaway–and talking about it with your loved one can make that daydreaming even sweeter.

Whether a staycation, weekend getaway, or monthlong backpacking stint across Europe, life coach Vicky Shilling recommends physically writing down the plans and brainstorms in a notebook to make them more of a reality. “Many of us learn and are stimulated visually and absorb information much better when it’s visually presented,” she says. “Keeping a notebook with your plans will ensure you’re both creating the holiday you want, seeing a combined plan of where you’ll be going and what you’ll be doing so no one is disappointed. Writing down your brainstorms also means you’re not going back to square one every time you discuss it!”

Shilling also adds that keeping your notes will be a great memento, which you can build into a travel journal or scrapbook after your trip.

5. Sit back-to-back and breathe.

Meditation is a tried-and-true way of soothing the mind, finding inner balance, and releasing negative emotions. “When couples take the time and make the commitment to share their meditation practice, they strengthen their relationship and improve their overall well-being,” says executive wellness coach Naz Beheshti. Meditating together also helps an individual become more in touch with their intuition, which can allow them to become more in touch with their partner’s needs without anything being said.

Pick a time, either early morning or just before bed, to sit as a couple and breathe or meditate together. Feeling this stillness as one is powerful. Beheshti recommends a back-to-back position, which allows couples to easily synchronize their breathing because of the physical contact.

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6. Get outside.

While it may be hard to coordinate a trip to the gym together, couples can usually find the time to move their bodies by strolling around the neighborhood. While the endorphins are great, they’re actually the bonus in this situation. Simply being outside has been found to ease stress, as nature has a way of keeping incessant thoughts at bay. Research suggests it can be a particularly connective experience for couples, with the potential to boost trust and even arousal.

“Regardless of whether you have a dog to exercise, getting outside together is an ideal opportunity to combine exercise and fresh air,” said Karen Tindall, a certified life coach in Arkansas. “It creates a time when you can have undistracted conversations away from technology and prying ears of family.”

7. Express gratitude.

Research suggests even thinking about gratitude can have a positive impact, but writing it down can even help you sleep better and aids in reducing depression. When you’re more aware of the things you’re thankful for, you tend to be more mindful of them as they happen throughout the day (“This makes me happy; I’m going to write it in my journal tonight”), thus making your daily gratitude more apparent in your life.

While many people keep gratitude journals, it’s more commonly an individual practice. But why not share this beautiful habit with your partner? Adding this to your regular routine allows for the chance to communicate with your partner in a sometimes vulnerable way.

Marriage and family therapist Erica Basso recommends writing down three things you love about your partner and three things you’re grateful for that you’ve noticed them do recently; then share them with your partner to turn that gratitude into a shared experience. You can do this weekly or even daily.

Everyone needs a little self-care in their week, and bringing your partner into these practices can be a great way to not only share these benefits with another person but to create the added bonus of creating intimacy—which is itself something that will improve your well-being. So the next time you’re carving out a date night, consider incorporating activities that do both: allow for a sense of closeness and personal wellness.

11 Lies About Love

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It was in counseling that Stephanie realized another significant impact of her abusive marriage. She thought that getting away from her husband would be enough to free her, but her mind was still trapped. He said abusive things like, “You are a fool,” “You can’t do anything right,” and “You are worthless,” she now repeated in her head. Worse yet, her perception of love radically changed.

She now saw love as dangerous, confining, and vulnerable, yet she longed to be loved again. The roots of her poor perception of love were not just the result of an abusive marriage, it also stemmed from her childhood. Her alcoholic mother never attached to her so Stephanie was constantly looking for love from all the wrong people. This left her susceptible to an abusive husband.

Unfortunately, Stephanie had twisted definitions of love born out of dysfunctional parenting and an abusive marriage. These erroneous perceptions of love did significant damage to her and her relationships. Some of the lies may even be hidden in seemingly innocent remarks. So Stephanie decided to write out the lies that cause the destruction of a loving relationship.

  1. “I’ll show you love when you do what I ask.” Lie: Love is conditional.Lasting love is not based on a person’s performance. Rather, it is grounded in seeing the best in someone despite what they may do. But this doesn’t mean that abusive behavior should be tolerated. Boundaries can be established for safety and a person can be loved from a distance without it being conditional.
  2. “If I didn’t love you, I won’t be so mean.” Lie: Love is cruel. Truth can be spoken in a kind and non-hurtful manner without damaging a person’s ego, generating fear, or destroying an image. A person in a truly loving relationship should experience more thoughtfulness, compassion, and kindness than a friend or stranger might receive.
  3. “If you love me you will do it now.” Lie: Love is impatient. Demanding immediate compliance, being intolerant of other’s timing, or getting annoyed/irritated by another person is not love. Not everyone has the same pace in life. Loving someone means being tolerant of the person’s speed which is usually determined by personality, trauma, and motivation.
  4. “You love the kids more than me.” Lie: Love is jealous. Comparing love for one person over another is dangerous. The love a parent feels for a child is not the same as the love for a friend, spouse, parent, or even pet. Each has different weights and significance. Accepting love from a person means finding satisfaction in their ability to express it without jealous demands.
  5. “When you show me love, I’ll show it back.” Lie: Love itemizes. Keeping a record of rights vs. wrongs in a relationship does not show love. Rather, it places the relationship on a ledger where a person constantly has to prove their value in comparison to another. This wears a person out and exhausts the relationship.
  6. “It doesn’t matter if you feel loved, it matters how I feel.” Lie: Love is selfish. In the ‘it’s all about me’ culture, the concept that love is not self-focused but other-focused is lost. Too often it is about what a person gets from a relationship not about what a person gives to the relationship that becomes the emphasis. This hinders the free expression of love.
  7. “You HAVE to love me!” Lie: Love is forceful. No one has to do anything. A person should have the freedom to choose to love and not feel it is an obligation. Mandating love limits the power of love to work in life and relationship. When forced, it becomes a destructive weapon that can leave a permanent scar.
  8. “I love you more than anyone else could.” Lie: Love brags. Anytime a person says this statement, it is more about the insecurity of the person speaking than the value of the person receiving the comment. This is designed to ‘put a person in their place’ as a form of unnatural submission. A person who loves someone a lot has no need to brag, their actions speak far louder than words.
  9. “If you love me you won’t brush your teeth that way.” Lie: Love nick-picks. On any given day, there are probably 1,000 things that a person can do in an annoying fashion. Focusing on these small items and demanding change is not loving the person for whom they are. True love overlooks the small infractions and sees the larger picture of a person’s character.
  10. “No one can love you because of what you have done (or who you really are).” Lie: Love is resentful. The saddest of the lies is the one which displays long-standing resentment and hurt. Granted there are some issues that may end a relationship but that doesn’t mean there needs to be bitterness going forward. If the relationship is to survive the pain, then the anger must be released, or it will cause its own end.
  11. “I’m going to leave because you don’t love me.” Lie: Love quits. Real love does not give up on another person. However, it might set safe boundaries to keep from getting hurt again in the future. Not giving up on a person means hopefulness remains regardless of the circumstances.

Most of these statements don’t arise when the conversation is normal and functioning. Rather, they tend to surface during a confrontation. It is when a person is under pressure that the true nature of their character and misguided beliefs about love are revealed.

Why My Husband and I Sleep in Separate Rooms

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This post is written by contributor Chelsea Becker

Here’s something you might not hear every day, but my husband and I have our own bedrooms. Yep! He has a room with his own bed, closet, TV, and video games. And in my room, my clothes, my favorite bedding, and a drawer full of face masks. Whenever this comes up with new people, they give me a side eye or immediately think something’s wrong with our relationship, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. We’re very happy together – separate bedrooms and all. Why the seperate bedrooms then?

I have sleep anxiety

This is the backbone of why we have our own rooms, so I’ll start here. I’ve struggled with falling asleep for decades, and especially when someone else is in the room, I have sleep anxiety (more on that here). On top of that, my husband snores, so falling asleep with him snoring is next to impossible for me.

While we slept in the same room for years as we didn’t always have enough space for our own rooms, I just dealt with the anxiety. It wasn’t healthy, as me not sleeping was detrimental, and my anxiety was really bad. Neither of us wanted to sleep on the couch, so I dealt with it – but as soon as we could, we got a place with multiple bedrooms to have extra space.

Sleep is too important

Without sleep, no one is their best. Even when we got a guest space, my husband and I would try to sleep together and then I’d kick him out once the snoring got bad – or I’d toss and turn and finally head to the guest room. Me constantly waking him to turn to his side made him sleep shitty, and me waking up in different rooms wasn’t great for my zzz’s either.

After a certain point, we realized it was crazy! We were grumpy in the morning and always tired at work and whyyy? Soon after that, we decided to split up the rooms and started getting better sleep.

It doesn’t bug us

When he moved to the guest room, we said we’d see how it went. If we felt disconnected or weird, we’d move back to one room. But guess what? Neither of us has been affected at all. In fact, I think it’s been amazing for our relationship because I’m not resentful of his snoring and he’s not worried about keeping me up.

We still have sex (and now we get to switch it up between his room or mine – ha!), cuddle on the couch until bedtime or in our beds in the morning, but we also get our own space. I’m someone who needs a lot of alone time, so I love this aspect. I get to go to bed when I want, read until I want – and he gets to watch sports until midnight. And on top of all that, he gets his area to be messy. I’m OCD about keeping things neat and he’s naturally messier, and he can just close the door if his bedroom is a hot mess. No nagging needed from me.

Funny enough, my parents have been happily married for 35 years and haven’t slept in the same room since I was in college for similar reasons. Turns out, they were on to something! At least for us, it’s been such a blessing in our relationship – and one that fits us for now. We have a baby due in April so we’ll see if anything changes, but for now, separate it is.

Have you ever considered having separate rooms?

Podcast: What to Do About Toxic Relationships

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Toxic relationships come in many forms. They can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, and more. Most of us, at one point or another, will find ourselves in one… perhaps with a romantic partner, possibly a friend, or even with a family member. Even good relationships can sour and turn toxic. So what do we do when we realize that we’re in such a relationship? Listen for some excellent advice and information.

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