NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Monday, January 17, 2022

Self Confidence: Feeling Confident Enough to Choose a Healthy Relationship

In my prior article, What Are Green Flags in Healthy Relationships?, I discussed the positive qualities to look for in a person when you want to be in a healthy relationship. Aside from the qualities you might want in the other personyou also need to have a strong sense of your own self worth (see my articles: What is Low Self Esteem?  and Overcoming Self Doubt That Keeps You Stuck).

Feeling Confident Enough to Choose a Healthy Relationship

Needless to say, no one chooses to have low self esteem, but early unresolved trauma can leave you feeling unworthy and vulnerable as an adult to making poor relationship choices (see my articles:  How Trauma Affects Relationships and Emotionally Unhealthy Relationships: Bad Luck or Poor Choices?)

Along with a low sense of self worth, unresolved trauma can also affect your attachment style in relationships (see my articles: What is Your Attachment Style?).

What Do Self Confident People Do to Be in a Healthy Relationships?
The following is a list of some of things that confident people do in order to have a healthy relationship:
  • Set Healthy Boundaries: Confident people set healthy boundaries with the people in their life, including people they're dating or seeing in a relationship. They understand their own healthy emotional needs, they know what they need in a relationship and they're able to assert their needs in a positive way. They won't compromise away their needs or put up with ongoing bad behavior.  They don't lose themselves in a relationship and they don't abandon parts of themselves to be with someone who isn't treating them well (see my articles: Relationships: Setting Healthy BoundariesWhat is Self Abandonment? and Losing Yourself in a Relationship).
  • Accept Responsibility For Their Own Emotional Needs: Since they know their needs, they're able to assess if these needs are being met in their relationship.  If, ultimately, the relationship is at a dead end, rather than spending time pressuring, blaming and shaming their partner, they take responsibility for getting their needs met. 
  • Accept Responsibility For Their Behavior and Making Necessary Changes: Although they won't compromise what they know is essential to their emotional needs, confident people are emotionally secure enough to take an honest look at their own behavior, make repairs in their relationship, and make positive changes in themselves. They're not threatened when their partner expresses their healthy emotional needs. They're open to listening in an attuned way.
  • Remain Confident in Themselves Without Constant Reassurance: Although everyone enjoys hearing words of appreciation, confident people don't need constant reassurance that they're attractive, smart, talented, and so on, because they're secure enough in themselves. They know their self worth and they're not dependent upon other people to keep reassuring them.  
  • Feel Comfortable Being Alone: People who have a positive sense of self worth aren't afraid to be alone. They enjoy their own company and the solitude it brings. This doesn't mean that they might not want to be in a relationship with someone special.  Instead, it means they're willing to wait for an emotionally healthy person to come along who can meet their needs rather than being desperate and settling for someone who isn't right for them (see my article: Solitude vs Loneliness).
  • Get Out of Unhealthy Relationships: No one is infallible when it comes to choosing a relationship, but someone who is confident usually doesn't remain in an unhealthy relationship. Rather than wasting a lot of time trying to change their partner, once it becomes clear that their partner is unwilling or unable to give them what they need, they get out of the relationship. This is sometimes easier said than done, but the point is not to waste time (see my article: How Do You Know If You're in an Unhealthy Relationship? and Should You Stay or Should You Leave Your Relationship?).
Developing a Confident Self
When children grow up in a family where they're loved and affirmed with good enough parenting, they grow up to have a healthy sense of self and a secure attachment style (see my article: What Are the Characteristics of a Healthy Family?).

Attachment research indicates that about 50-60% of people develop a secure attachment style. That leaves 40-50% of people who have an insecure attachment style.

Just because you didn't develop a secure attachment style when you were growing up doesn't mean you're doomed to remain a person who is insecurely attached in relationships.  People, who are lucky enough to be in a relationship with loving person who has a secure attachment style, have a possibility of developing an earned secure attachment. 

For other people who are not so fortunate or where a relationship with a person who has secure attachment makes no difference, psychotherapy can help to develop an earned secure attachment style (see my article: Developing a Secure Attachment Style: What is Earned Secure Attachment?).

Getting Help in Therapy
Working through unresolved trauma can help you to feel more confident and deserving of a healthy relationship.

Part of working through early trauma is working on attachment issues that could be making you feel either insecure or avoidant in terms of how you feel about yourself and your dynamics in a relationship (see my article: The Holding Environment in Psychotherapy).

A skilled trauma therapist can help you develop the tools and skills you need so you can lead a more meaningful life (see my article: What is a Trauma Therapist?).

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Therapy).

I work with individual adults and couples.

One of my specialties is helping clients to overcome unresolved trauma.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 or email me.

What Are "Green Flags" in a Healthy Relationship?

There's plenty of information these days on what to avoid when you're considering getting into a relationship (see my articles: Are You in a Relationship With a Narcissist?Unhealthy Relationships: Bad Luck or Poor Choices? and 10 Signs You're Being Love Bombed).

Healthy Relationship Green Flags

But aside from what to avoid, which are called red flags, it's also important to know what to pursue--the green flags--when you're considering getting into a relationship.  

More about relationship green flags below, but first a few words about unresolved trauma.

How Unresolved Trauma Can Affect Your Ability to Be in a Healthy Relationship
Before I discuss relationship green flags, it's important to address how unresolved trauma can affect your ability to be in a healthy relationship.  

For instance, people with a history of unresolved trauma often have difficulty thinking about what they want in a relationship (the green flags) because they're primarily focused on avoiding the red flags.  

Due to problems they've experienced in their family of origin or in previous relationships, their focus is on avoidance (see my article: How Trauma Affects Relationships and What is Trauma Bonding in Relationships?).

This avoidance perspective is understandable because people with unresolved trauma often have a pessimistic view of relationships (see my article: Unresolved Trauma Often Creates Negative Expectations For the Future).

Without help in therapy, it can be challenging for them to shift their thinking to include green flags. But when their traumatic experiences have been worked through in therapy, they often feel safe enough to consider green flag qualities that are important to them (see my article: Overcoming Childhood Trauma in Experiential Therapy).

What Are Healthy Relationship Green Flags?
Each individual will have their own set of priorities. The following list includes essential qualities to look for when you're considering getting into a committed relationship:
  • They Are Dependable: Someone who cares about you will be responsible for keeping promises, being there when they say they will be, and following through with their commitments. Aside from this, dependability is also about being emotionally dependable--they're there for you in emotionally consistent, stable and caring ways (see my article: Are You Keeping or Breaking Promises?)
  • They Value and Prioritize You: Along with being dependable, they value you as a person and you feel important in their lives. Being physically present isn't enough if your partner is constantly preoccupied and distracted with their phone or ignoring you in other ways.  This doesn't mean that each person in a relationship shouldn't have separate interests or hobbies. It's a matter of priorities, so if they're putting you last much, your emotional needs aren't being met.  It's also a matter of the two of you being able to negotiate and compromise on spending time together and time apart (see my article: Learning to Compromise on Spending Time Together vs Time Apart).
  • They Show Kindness and Empathy: A person who is a good partner will show basic kindness and empathy for you and others. Aside from treating you well, you also want to see they show respect and understanding for others, including your friends and family. In addition, notice how they interact with people they don't know well, like the building janitor or the server in a restaurant.  Someone who is unkind to the janitor or restaurant server is showing you a negative side of them, a definite red flag that will eventually show up in their relationship with you.
  • They Admit When They're Wrong, They Make Emotional Repairs and Make an Effort to Change: Every couple argues, but in healthy relationships both people can admit when they're wrong and give a sincere apology (a sincere apology is not, "I'm sorry you feel that way").  There's a give-and-take quality in a relationship with someone who can admit when they're wrong. Aside from apologizing, they also reach towards their partner and make gestures to emotionally repair the situation.  Beyond words, these gestures can be as simple as a loving gaze, reaching for a partner's hand or a gesturing for a hug (see my article: Making Loving Reparative Gestures is a Part of Healthy Relationships).
  • They Have a Desire to Keep Learning and Growing: Along with the other positive qualities mentioned above, a desire to keep learning and growing is an essential green flag quality. It's more than just admitting to being wrong--it's also a willingness to change and grow as a person. This includes an ability to reassess their beliefs and behaviors that aren't serving them or their relationship with you. Although change can be challenging, a willingness to learn and grow often helps to overcome obstacles to change (see my article: Growing as an Individual When You're in a Relationship).

Know Your Self Worth
Your self worth is your overall opinion of yourself.  Knowing your own self worth is an important factor in recognizing both red flags and green flags in a potential relationship. 

When you have a low sense of self worth, you're more likely to put up with bad behavior from your partner because deep down you don't feel you deserve better.  

Often feelings of low self worth develop as a result of unresolved early trauma. 

Getting Help in Therapy
Many people, who grew up in an unhealthy family environment, need help to learn how to choose and maintain a healthy relationship.

Even if, on a conscious level, they want to choose a healthier relationship, they might still continue to choose unhealthy partners on an unconsciously because of the early experiences they internalized in their family of origin.

A skilled psychotherapist can help you to overcome the obstacles that keep you are stuck, so rather than struggling alone, seek help from a licensed mental health professional (see my article: What is a Trauma Therapist?).

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 or email me.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Sexual Wellness: Savoring Pleasure

Just like a delicious meal is best appreciated by savoring it, slow intense sex is much more pleasurable than rushed sex (see my articles: Mindful Sex and What is Rec-Relational Sex?).

Savoring Pleasure

Although there's a time and place for fun quickies, a longer sexual buildup adds to pleasure and can lead to more intense orgasms (see my articles: Rethinking Foreplay as Just a Prelude to Intercourse and Closing the Orgasm Gap Between Women and Men - Part 1 and Part 2).

Savoring Pleasure
When it comes to pleasurable experiences, delicious food and good sex have a lot in common. With delicious food, you might think of it as starting with a much-anticipated reservation at your favorite restaurant.  

The pleasure of this experience begins after you've gotten the reservation and you're thinking about what you'll wear, how you'll slowly sip your favorite wine before appetizers arrive, being made to feel special by your server, the ambiance, choosing your favorite food, enjoying every tasty morsel, and pacing your experience to enjoy every moment.

Many individuals and couples who come to see me in my psychotherapy private practice in New York City tell me that they don't have time for sex and, even when they have time, they're too exhausted.  

Others say that the thought of scheduling a time for sex feels unnatural and they think it should happen spontaneously. But when they try to be more spontaneous, it doesn't happen--except, maybe, when they're on vacation.

Scheduling time to have sex might feel counterintuitive at first, but when you know you have the time and privacy to enjoy sexual pleasure, you can relax more and give yourself over to a pleasurable experience.  You'll enjoy sex so much more when you're free of your usual responsibilities.

In addition, scheduling time for sex often increases the anticipation and buildup of sexual pleasure. 

For instance, if you and your partner plan to have sex on a Saturday night while your children are staying with your parents, you and your partner can fantasize about what you want to do together, which massage oil and sex toys you'll use, and which sexual positions will be most fun (see my articles: Accessing Your Sexual EnergyDiscovering Your Peak Sexual Experiences and Reviving Your Sex Life With Your Peak Sexual Experiences).

Other couples, who have been together for a long time, complain in couples therapy that they've become so bored with their sex life that they've just stopped having sex (see my articles: Improving Sexual Intimacy in a Long Term Relationship and Overcoming Sexual Boredom in a Long Term Relationship).

Changing Your Sex Script
It's easy to get into a sexual rut where you're doing the same things and deriving less pleasure from them (see my articles: Changing Your Sex Script - Part 1: Sexual ArousalPart 2: The Beginning PhasePart 3: Understanding Sexual Motivation).

When you have time to be sexually intimate, you want to pace yourself in much the same way you would pace yourself when you're enjoying a special delicious meal.  

You can enhance your experience by using Sensate Focus techniques, which were originally developed by Masters and Johnson:
  • Taking Turns With Hand-riding: Hand-riding begins with non-genital touch. The partner being touched places a hand on top of the hand of the partner who is touching and gently guides them on how they like to be touched--where, how much pressure, etc. 
  • Adding Lotion or Massage Oil: According to Masters and Johnson, one way to increase pleasure is to change the medium of touch.  So, adding lotion or oil can add a new dimension to make touch more pleasurable.
  • Mutual Touch: Using hands, lips and tongue, you explore each other's bodies at the same time (rather than taking turns during the initial stage of Sensate Focus with hand-riding).
  • Sensual Intercourse: Masters and Johnson emphasized sensuality, so they used the phrase "sensual intercourse" instead of "sexual intercourse."  Rather than beginning with sexual thrusting, sensual intercourse focuses on first experiencing the sensations of warmth and touch, like brushing genitals against each other.
Savoring Pleasure During Solo Sex
Savoring sexual pleasure isn't just for couples.  

Whether you're in a relationship or not, as I mentioned in my article Sexual Pleasure and Developing the Erotic Self, you can also enjoy solo sex by taking the time to discover what's pleasurable to you.  Knowing what you enjoy sexually can also enhance partnered sex.

Getting Help in Therapy
Many individuals and couples need help to establish or revive their sex life, but they feel too ashamed to seek help (see my article: Why It's Important to Talk to Your Therapist About Problems With Sex).

A skilled psychotherapist can help you to overcome the barriers that keep you from having a more fulfilling life, so rather than struggling on your own, seek help.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT, Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 or email me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

What is Trauma Bonding in Relationships?

Trauma bonding is a psychological response to abuse. The abuse can be emotional or physical, and trauma bonding occurs when the person who is being abused forms an unhealthy attachment with the abuser (see my articles: How Trauma Affects Relationships).

Trauma Bonding in Relationships

The trauma bond occurs where there's an ongoing pattern of abuse and positive reinforcement so that after each circumstance of abuse, the abuser professes love, regret, tries to make the partner feel safe and the partner trusts the abuser again--until the next reoccurring cycle of abuse and positive reinforcement.

This pattern of abuse followed by positive reinforcement is what makes trauma bonding so confusing the person being abused and so difficult to leave.

The term "trauma bonding" was coined by Patrick Carnes, Ph.D.  The term has been compared to "Stockholm Syndrome" where hostages develop an attachment for their captors.

Signs of Trauma Bonding
During trauma bonding, the partner being abused often:
  • covers up or makes excuses for the abuser's behavior
  • lies to friends and family about the abuse
  • doesn't feel comfortable leaving the abusive relationship
  • blames him or herself for the abuse
Clinical Vignette: Trauma Bonding in a Relationship
The following clinical vignette, which is a composite of many cases with all identifying information changed, is just one example of what trauma bonding can look like when there is emotional abuse:

When Sara met John at a friend's party, she was immediately drawn to his good looks and charismatic personality. She told her friends that she felt swept off her feet by all his affection, attention, and romantic gestures as they began dating.  Not only were they spending a lot of time together for two people who just met, but he was calling and texting her several times a day (see my article: 10 Signs You're Being Love Bombed).

Two months later, John moved into Sara's apartment after his lease expired. Everything seemed to be going well at first. But a few weeks after he moved in, John, who was usually complimentary of Sara, told her that he didn't like that she had gained several pounds over the holidays and, as a result, he didn't feel as sexually attracted to her.  

Sara felt hurt by John's comment, but she also wanted very much to appease John, so she began dieting so she could lose weight.  She really wanted their relationship to work out, and she was determined to do whatever she could so John would be attracted to her again.

During that time, they went to dinner with Sara's best friend, Jean, and Jean's boyfriend, Mike.  Sara hadn't eaten all day because she was trying to lose weight so she was hungry. When she ordered a burger, John gave her a look of disapproval and said in front of her friends and the server, "If you want to lose weight, do you really think you should be ordering a burger?" (see my article: Belittling Behavior in Relationships).

Sara blushed. She was so embarrassed she wanted to cry, but she managed to hold back her tears and she ordered a salad instead.  Later on that evening, when Sara and Jean were alone in the ladies room, Jean told Sara that she thought John was being disrespectful towards Sara with his remark.  But Sara brushed it off by saying, "John had a hard week and, anyway, he's just looking out for me."

But when Sara and John got home, she told him, very sheepishly, what Jean said, and he responded with anger, "Your friend is just trying to start trouble between us!" Then, he refused to talk about it anymore (see my articles about: Stonewalling in Relationships and Improve Communication in Your Relationship: Eliminate the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse).

But the remark at dinner was just the start of John's emotional abuse.  Two months later, Sara saw a text message from woman on John's phone when he left his phone unattended.  When she called the number, she found out from the woman that she and John had been having a sexual affair during the last few months and the dates and times coincided with times that John told Sara he was working late (see my article: Coping With Infidelity).

When Sara confronted John, he admitted to the affair, but he blamed Sara for it.  He told her that if she had not gained weight, he wouldn't have felt the need to be with another woman. But when she cried, he took her in his arms, told her that he never loved anyone as much as he loved her and he would never cheat on her again.

Although Sara was deeply hurt by John's infidelity, she blamed herself for not being as attractive and she became even more determined to lose the weight (see my article: A Dangerous Myth: It's a Woman's Responsibility to Keep "Her Man" From Cheating).

After that, John was attentive and affectionate with Sara for a few weeks.  He complimented her after she lost the weight and he lavished her with gifts.  But a few weeks later, Sara discovered that John was cheating on her again with another woman.  

Once again, when she confronted him, he blamed her.  This time he said that she was to blame for not initiating sex.  And, once again, when Sara became upset, John promised he would stop having affairs, and Sara believed him.  She also made an effort to initiate sex more to please him.

As this trauma bonding pattern continued, Sara's self esteem suffered increasingly.  She didn't feel comfortable talking to her friends about how she was feeling because she knew they would tell her to leave John, so she kept her feelings to herself and made excuses whenever her friends invited her out (see my article: A Relationship With a Narcissist Can Have a Negative Impact on Your Self Esteem).

Ever since the time when John criticized Sara at dinner, Jean suspected that John was continuing to be emotionally abusive with Sara--even though Sara denied it.  So, one day, after Sara turned down another invitation from Jean for lunch, Jean went over to see Sara when she knew John was away on a business trip.  

What Jean discovered was even worse than she had anticipated: Sara spent the whole day in bed, undressed, unbathed, just waiting for John's call.  Sara admitted to feeling helpless and hopeless about John's numerous affairs, but she continued to blame herself rather than blame John.

Soon after that, Jean and several of Sara's other close friends went over to see Sara to urge her to get help in therapy.  At first, Sara agreed because she thought the therapist could help her to revive her relationship. But, instead, her therapist explained the concept of trauma bonding to Sara and pointed out the dynamics in Sara's relationship with John.

By that point, Sara had become so emotionally dependent upon John that she refused to see that she was being emotionally abused (see my article: Are You Afraid to Leave an Unhealthy Relationship?).

But, over time, Sara allowed herself to see that she was being mistreated by John.  She also saw the connection between how she was being abused in her relationship with how she was emotionally abused as a child by her father (see my article: Overcoming Childhood Trauma With Experiential Therapy).

The work Sara did in therapy was neither quick nor easy.  Along the way, she had lapses where she blamed herself and she wanted to appease John in hopes of getting him to treat her better.  But whenever she had these lapses, she addressed them in therapy.

John also tried to get Sara to quit therapy because he saw it as a threat to their relationship.  But Sara stuck with therapy, even though it was hard. Eventually, she felt confident enough in herself that she believed she deserved to be treated better, and she ended the relationship.

After she grieved her relationship and when she was ready to date again, Sara worked through the childhood trauma that made her susceptible to trauma bonding and she began dating someone who treated her well.

Trauma bonding can take many forms, including emotional or physical abuse.  It's often difficult to get out of this type of relationship because the person who is being abused often doesn't recognize the abuse because they're in denial about it or they blame themselves for it.

In cases where there is physical abuse, call 911.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you have tried to overcome problems on your own without success, you could benefit from seeing a licensed mental health professional to help you overcome obstacles to your well being.

A skilled psychotherapist can help you to develop the tools and skills you need and work through a history of trauma so you can lead a more fulfilling and meaningful life (see my article: What is a Trauma Therapist?).

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Sexual Wellness: What You Can Learn From Kink Culture About Consent

In kink culture negotiating consent before any sexual activities begin is a normal and accepted  practice (see my article: Destigmatizing Sexual Fantasies of Power and Submission in Relationships).

What You Can Learn From Kink Culture About Consent

Even if you're not engaging in kinky sex, you can learn a lot about how to arrive at consent between sexual partners, which is an essential part of sexual activity.

Consent involves clear communication, honesty and mutual respect (see my articles: How to Talk to Your Partner About Sex - Part 1 and Part 2).

What's the Difference Between Arriving at Consent vs Giving Permission?
When you and your partner arrive at consent, it's different from just giving permission. 

Giving consent is an active process where you think about what each of you want and both of you have an active voice. Whereas when you give permission, you're often agreeing or just going along without thinking about it much.

Active Sexual Consent:
  • Must Be Explicit: An absence of a "no" isn't consent. Consent is an explicit "yes" to particular sexual activities.
  • Can Change at Any Time:You or your partner can change your mind at any time about sexual activities--even activities you have engaged in before.
  • Requires that You Check In If You're Unsure About How You or Your Partner Feels: If you and your partner agree to a particular sexual activity, but you sense your partner is tense or uncomfortable while you're having sex, check in with yourself and your partner to make sure neither of you is just going along when, in fact, you don't want to do it.
  • Might Require You to Slow Down: It's okay to slow down or stop if one or both of you aren't sure you want to continue.
  • Does Not Involve Alcohol or Drugs: You and your partner can't give active consent to sexual activities if there is excessive alcohol or drugs involved and you're impaired.
What is SSC and RACK?
  • Safe, Sane and Consensual (SSC): In the kink community, Safe, Sane and Consensual means that all parties are involved in sexual activities that are safe and they have the mental capacity to consent to the particular activities.
  • Risk-Aware Consensual Kink (RACK): Some people in the kink community prefer the concept of RACK, which stands for Risk-Aware Consensual Kink.  RACK emphasizes individual responsibility for sexual activities.  This means that each person is responsible for his/her own well-being.
Lessons to Learn From Kink Culture About Sex and Consent
  • Have a Dialog About Consent: Negotiation about sexual activities (as opposed to just a "yes" or "no" conversation) is a core concept in kink culture. It's a collaboration to enhance pleasure and ensure emotional and physical safety.  It involves negotiating sexual boundaries beforehand, whether you're engaging in kink or "vanilla" sex, to ensure that everyone is on the same page.  Never agree to anything you don't feel comfortable doing or try to push your partner to do things s/he doesn't want to do.
  • Be Aware that Consent is an Ongoing Process: Consent is an ongoing dynamic process--not a one and done matter.  You can't assume that what someone consents to on one day will be acceptable on another day, which is why there needs to be an ongoing dialog.  Also, you and your partner need to be specific in terms of defining what you mean.  For instance, if you're talking about spanking, be specific as to how, when, where and what you want.  This applies to any sexual activity.
  • Be Playful and Seductive, if You Like, in Your Dialog: Having a conversation about consent and what is pleasurable for you and your partner doesn't have to be overly serious and boring.  You can be playful and seductive as long as you both have a clear understanding.
Getting Help in Therapy
If you have problems talking about sex because of your family history, religion, culture, values or a history of trauma, you're not alone (see my article: What is a Trauma Therapist?).

You could benefit from working with a skilled psychotherapist who has experience helping clients to overcome these obstacles.

When you're free from obstacles that keep you from communicating your needs, you can have a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 or email me.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

7 Tips on How to Stop Rushing Into a Relationship Too Quickly

In my prior article, How to Stop Rushing Into a Relationship Too Quickly, I began a discussion about the pitfalls of getting involved with someone before you really know them.  This article gives you tips on how you can avoid these pitfalls.

How to Stop Rushing Into a Relationship

7 Tips To Avoid Getting Into a Relationship Too Quickly
  • Know What You Want: If you're clear on what you want, you'll be able to articulate your wants and needs to anyone you date early on so you can determine if you're both on the same page.  You're also more likely to avoid getting hurt by having unrealistic expectations and finding out that the person you're seeing had a different understanding (see my article: Dating vs Being in a Relationship).
  • Know Your Own Self Worth: If you have a low sense of self worth, you're more likely to get involved too quickly and tolerate bad behavior.  So, learn to develop a healthy sense of self (see my article: Taking Steps to Increase Your Self Esteem).
  • Learn to Enjoy Your Own Company: If you're uncomfortable being alone, you're more likely to get involved too quickly with someone you're not compatible with (see my article: Solitude vs Feeling Lonely).
  • Avoid Having Sex Too Soon: Sex tends to speed up intimacy for many people before they really know each other.  If there's a potential for things to develop into a relationship, you could rush things if you get sexual too soon. After you've been sexually intimate early on while dating, you might feel like you know the other person, but you really don't.  
  • Limit Your Contact: If you're trying to take things slowly so you can get to know each other, limit your contact with the person you're seeing.  Texting and calling everyday speeds things up so that you end up getting emotionally attached before you really get to know them.
  • Focus on the Here and Now: Rather than projecting into the future and imagining what it might be like to be married or living together, stay focused on the present.  Focusing on the here and now keeps you in the present moment rather than getting too attached to your fantasy of how things could be. Getting caught up on fantasies can lead to potential disappointments (see my article: Relationships: The Ideal vs the Real).
  • Stay Connected With Friends and Loved Ones: People who tend to get involved too quickly often neglect their family and friends because they're too wrapped up with the person they're seeing. If you tend to do this, once again, be aware that you're more likely to rush into a relationship prematurely.

Get Help in Therapy
There can be many reasons why you might have a tendency to rush into relationships, including unresolved emotional trauma.

A skilled psychotherapist can help you to overcome a history of unresolved trauma that might be affecting you in the present (see my article: Reacting to the Present Based on Your Traumatic Past).

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help from an experienced mental health professional (see my article: What is a Trauma Therapist?).

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 or email me.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

How to Stop Rushing Into a Relationship Too Quickly

Rushing into a relationship is a common impulse for many people.  Since we're all hardwired for attachment, it's understandable that people, who hunger for love, want to jumpstart a relationship while dating someone new before they really get to know them.

See my articles: 

How to Stop Rushing Into a Relationship Too Quickly

Getting involved too quickly has many pitfalls. That's why it's best to resist the "urge to merge" so you can get to know someone well during the dating phase before making a commitment to be in a relationship.  

When you bypass the dating phase by rushing into a relationship, instead of "falling in love," you fall into a ditch and it can be hard to climb out (see my article: Dating vs. Being in a Relationship: Take the Time to Get to Know Each Other).

People who are emotionally insecure with an insecure/anxious attachment style and people who have codependent tendencies often rush into relationships (see my articles: What is Your Attachment Style? and How Your Attachment Style Affects Your Relationship).

Problems With Rushing Into a Relationship Too Quickly
When you rush into a relationship, you often encounter the following problems:
  • You're probably not seeing your situation with the other person clearly because your need to be in a relationship is so great.  You might be blinded by sexual chemistry so you're "filling in the holes" to substitute for things you really don't know about the other person.  Remember: There can be "chemistry at first sight," but there's no such thing as "love at first sight."  
  • You say things you don't mean, including saying "I love you" because you're confusing infatuation with love (see my article: Is It Love or Infatuation?).
  • You make promises you can't keep, like declaring the other person to be your soul mate and making a commitment to be in a "forever relationship" before you know him or her.
  • You create expectations that neither you nor the other person can fulfill because these expectations aren't based in reality.
  • You don't give the relationship time to grow in a healthy way because you're too busy pushing for a relationship so, once again, you don't get to know the other person.
  • You spend too much time with this new person and not enough time with friends so you try to make the new person your "everything."
  • You're too caught up in the emotional thrill of being with someone new so that when things settle down in an established relationship, as they normally do, you feel bored because you're not experiencing that "new relationship energy" anymore.
In my next article, I'll continue to discuss how to stop rushing into relationships prematurely (see my article: 7 Tips on How to Stop Rushing Into a Relationship Too Quickly)

Getting Help in Therapy
Everyone needs help at some point.  If you're struggling, you're not alone.  Help is available to you.

A skilled psychotherapist can help you to overcome obstacles to your emotional well-being by helping you to develop the skills and tools you need as well as helping you to overcome a history of trauma that might be impacting you now (see my articles: When the Past is in the Present: Understanding How Trauma From the Past Can Be Affecting You Now and How Trauma Affects Relationships).

Rather than struggling on your own, seek help from a licensed mental health professional so you can lead a healthier, more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT (for couples), Somatic Experiencing and Sex Therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 or email me.

Monday, January 3, 2022

10 Relationship Goals to Create a Stronger Relationship

In my prior article, 7 Tips For Creating a Stronger Relationship With Relationship Goals, I introduced the concept of creating relationship goals.  This article is a continuation with suggestions for 10 relationship goals that can strengthen your relationship.

10 Relationship Goals to Create a Stronger Relationship

10 Relationship Goals to Create a Stronger Relationship
Although each couple will have their own priorities in terms of the goals that are important to their relationship, the following goals are essential to most successful long term relationships.
  • Make Each Other a Priority: Life is often so hectic and stressful that couples often forget to make each other a priority, especially couples in long term relationships. Consistent love and attention are an important part of any successful long term relationship.
  • Show Mutual Respect: You and your partner might not see eye-to-eye on everything, but showing each other mutual respect is essential.  When you treat each other respectfully--even when you disagree--you're both letting each other know that your relationship is solid enough to allow for differences.
  • Be a Friend: Strengthen the bond of your relationship by doing things that you both enjoy together.  Whether it's taking a class, learning a new skill or hanging out and relaxing, being friends with each other is an important part of building your relationship.
  • Make an Effort to Understand Each Other: Setting relationship goals and negotiating these goals helps you and your partner to understand each other.  Understanding means really listening to each other and, as mentioned above, showing mutual respect.  You and your partner might agree on many goals, but you might also have different approaches for how to get there (see my articles: What Are the 5 Love Languages and What to Do If You and Your Partner Have Different Love Languages).
  • Align Your Core Values and Beliefs: As you and your partner work on relationship goals, you both have an opportunity to understand each other's core values and beliefs.  You might not agree with all of your partner's values and beliefs, but you can respect them (see my article: Living Authentically Aligned With Your Values).
  • Embrace Imperfection: Accept that both you and your partner are imperfect beings--just like everyone else.  Practice patience and tolerance with each other, and recognize that real life relationships are different from relationships in movies or on social media.  
  • Improve Communication: One of the keys to a successful relationship is good communication.  Recognize that you and your partner grew up in different family environments and, most likely, you each learned your style of communication in those environments.  If you were lucky enough to see good communication modeled for you by your parents, you're more fortunate than many people.  If not, you'll need to learn to improve your communication skills.  When you communicate anger or hurt, speak from your own experience rather than criticizing your partner (see my article: Improve Communication in Your Relationship: Eliminate the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness and Stonewalling).
  • Be Emotionally Supportive During Tough Times: It's easy to be in a relationship when things are going well, but when you're going through a rough patch, getting through it successfully means that you're each emotionally supportive of one another.  You're both pulling together and going in the same direction.

Getting Help in Therapy
If you're having problems overcoming challenges, you're not alone.  Help is available to you.

Rather than struggling on your own, seek assistance from a licensed mental health professional who can help you to develop the tools and skills you need to overcome your problems.

When you're free from the obstacles that are holding you back, you can lead a more fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed New York City psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist.

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 or email me.