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Why Love Mapping Is the Secret to Saving Your Marriage

The daily grind: a swirl of job efforting, dinner cooking and traffic waiting. No wonder that it’s easy to fall out of touch—much less fall out of love—with our life partner. But there’s a solution, according to psychologist and relationship expert Dr. John M. Gottman, who claims that the couples most likely to enjoy marital closeness and satisfaction are the ones who build richly detailed “love maps.”

Love maps are an outline of everything you know about your partner: hobbies, dreams, frustrations, the whole enchilada (including and not limited to details like do they even like enchiladas?). Gottman’s theory, part of a therapeutic method he’s practiced and taught for more than 50 years, is that when we’re really clear on these details, our partner feels heard and cared for. We asked two therapists trained in the Gottman Method to help explain the whys and hows of love mapping.

What Is Love Mapping?

A metaphorical rather than literal map (although geography is one way to practice the exercise on paper), the love map is all the intel, both factual and emotional, you have about your partner. Think of it as plotting your partner’s emotional landscape, whether or not it corresponds to an actual map. As Bridbord puts it: “You creatively ‘map’ your partner’s inner and outer world. We all have different countries like our relationships to our partner, our work, our worries, our fears.”

Why get all up in your partner’s business, anyway? Bridbord says it’s because couples who regularly seek deep understanding of each other’s worlds are far happier. “Why do you think couples’ therapists are notorious for requiring date nights?” she asks. “It’s not to sit silently in a movie, it’s to have time to ask how was was your day, how is that project you’re working on and so on.” Critically, the information swap has to be a two-way street, McNeil says, in order for both parties to feel seen and heard. “I recently had a couple and she was doing all the inner questions and he would share his stories, then change the subject and he was not asking her questions back.” McNeil explains that the guy wasn’t asking questions because he didn’t care, it was because he’d get caught up in his own narrative. McNeil used the communications mismatch as a teachable moment about reciprocation.

When Should a Couple Try Love Mapping?

There’s no wrong time. In fact, couples can do it several times throughout the course of their relationship. That said, McNeil warns that if it’s not the foundation at beginning of relationship, you will have trouble later. And there’s a reason for that. “We project a lot at the beginning. We have endorphins and are not asking difficult questions because we don’t want to be abandoned and we want to stay in the happy place, but we’re not doing the work,” she explains. Later, after you’ve laid a foundation of extensive knowledge about your lover, the challenge is to stay current on their lives. “It’s a myth your partner is stagnant,” Bridbord says. “Life is dynamic, and we need to stay in touch with each other to cultivate connection.”

How Long Does Love Mapping Take?

Gottman-trained therapists recommend downloading the free Gottman Card Decks app, which has a Love Maps section of prompts like “Name your partner’s two best friends”; “What is your partner’s favorite musical group composer or instrument?”; and “What was your partner wearing when you first met?” The challenge is to choose a question, answer it, then have your partner answer it about you. The app recommends you don’t keep score, since the goal is meaningful conversation and connection, not winning. Overall, Bridbord recommends devoting at least 20 minutes a day, five days a week to focusing on your love map, i.e. accruing intimate knowledge, of each other in order to keep your intimacy alive. “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” she says.

Try to Go Deeper with Follow-Up Questions

In other words—go deeper. “If you just know their favorite color is green, that isn’t whole story,” McNeil explains, saying that asking follow-up questions is the path to lasting intimacy. “What does that color represent to me, how did I come to that, what does it represent?” Curious questions are a way to demonstrate you are being thoughtful. Bridbord agrees: “At the end of the day we all long to be loved for our authentic self, we are all perfectly imperfect. The happy, successful couples are the ones who ultimately love each other with warts and all. Their partner loves them authentically and knows not just that their favorite food is linguini with clam sauce, but the story behind it, like that they used to eat it at Sunday family dinner.”

Article by Dana Dickey, originally published on PureWow.

When Is It Time to Break Up With Someone? Consider These 12 Signs

Prepare to walk away when you encounter these red flags.

When is it time to break up? That’s never the question you want to be asking, of course. But, if you do find yourself wondering how to know when it’s time to break up, there is plenty to consider. Although the emotional toll of ending a relationship can be tough, sometimes saying goodbye is the right move. And there are certain signs it’s time to break up that are particularly common.

For insight into how to know when to break up with someone, we spoke with four experts:

Below, see 12 signs that may suggest when it is time to break up. If your relationship exhibits any of these symptoms, it could be time to think about leaving.

1. Your partner is abusive.

It is essential to state that physical and emotional abuse are grounds for a break up, and your physical and emotional safety must always come first.

While physical abuse is easier to identify, emotional or psychological abuse can be trickier to pinpoint. Overall, if being in the relationship makes you feel badly about yourself (and your partner takes no responsibility for their role in these issues), consider that to be a major warning sign, says psychologist Dr. Karen Bridbord, as is feeling uncomfortable around your partner, adds marriage and family therapist Steve Fabick.

To help you diagnose emotional abuse, consider these examples and call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) if you need help or feel you could be in danger:

  • Gaslighting (when your partner denies facts, making you seem delusional)
  • Threats and insults
  • Humiliation
  • Overreaction to minor behaviors (e.g. when your partner yells at you for slamming a car door)
  • Controlling behavior (e.g. when your partner tries to dictate your schedule, how you dress or the company you keep)
  • Manipulation (e.g. statements like, “If you loved me, you would do XYZ”)
  • Stalking
  • Monitoring your phone or social media activity
  • Sexual coercion (which may or may not lead to physical abuse)

2. Your partner made a huge mistake and didn’t show remorse.

If your partner cheated or made another colossal mistake and you don’t think you’ll be able to get past it, it may be best to move on. But another sign to break up is if your partner denied the indiscretion or dismissed you as being too sensitive or insecure.

Similarly, if your partner hasn’t expressed remorse or shown a commitment to changing or rectifying their behavior, you can feel justified in ending the relationship.

3. Your partner isn’t managing their addiction.

Take caution if your partner struggles with addiction but hasn’t committed to managing the issue or made any progress, encourages Fabick. And keep in mind that addictions can take many forms including gambling, alcoholism, drug abuse and sex.

For help supporting a partner with addiction (as well as help supporting yourself), explore the resources on

4. You don’t like, trust or respect each other.

Friendship is foundational to romantic relationships, notes Dr. Bridbord. At the end of the day, you and your partner should like each other, enjoy being around one another and find each other endearing. You should also trust and respect each other.

As Dr. Bridbord explains, if you feel that your partner won’t consider or respect your feelings (basically it’s “their way or the highway”), you should both evaluate whether or not you’d like to move forward with the relationship.

5. Most of your interactions are negative.

The well-known psychologist Dr. John Gottman found that for stable and happy marriages, there must be five or more positive interactions for every one negative interaction during conflict. These positive interactions involve turning towards each other (listening and showing interest); while negative interactions involve turning away or against each other, such as ignoring or criticizing one another.

Dr. Bridbord notes that negative interactions can often beget more negative interactions, so try to “catch” yourselves and communicate the issue—before it gets out of hand.

6. Your partner displays one of these behavioral red flags.

According to clinical psychologist Dr. Piorkowski, there are several behavioral red flags that, if your partner is displaying, it’s time to reflect on your relationship and have a serious talk with your partner as you navigate where to go from here.

These behaviors and traits include the following:

  • Blaming: They never accept responsibility for problems and always blame others.
  • Conflict Avoidance: They avoid conflict since they don’t know how to resolve problems.
  • Emotional Hermit: They are out of touch with their feelings and struggle with expressing them.
  • Narcissist: One who brags, needs constant attention and is not empathetic.
  • Oppositional: They contradict everything you say, need to be right all the time or constantly criticize.
  • Passive Aggressive: They give the cold shoulder instead of expressing anger.
  • Immature: They never seem to grow up or are stuck in an earlier phase of life developmentally. (Think: partying too much or not paying bills on time.)

Your partner may not be aware they’re exhibiting these behavoirs, so be sure to communicate your notice of or discomfort with them. If they do nothing to change their actions or attitude, it may be time to reconsider the relationship.

7. Your partner has a troubling history.

If your partner lacks close friends or tends to cut people off abruptly, they’ll likely struggle with romantic attachment, notes Fabick. In addition to a string of cut-ties, another concerning trend is swinging dramatically between idealizing and disdaining others. It could be a serious sign of struggling with all types of relationships and connection.

8. You don’t have enough in common.

It’s important to have your own hobbies and interests—and it’s totally fine if yours differ from your partner’s as long as you find some common ground. But it’s essential to have some basic alignment on key issues like money, where to live and whether to have children, says Fabick. Although people sometimes defer having these discussions, he recommends communicating about these fundamentals early on, so you can determine which may or may not be dealbreakers.

9. Your loved ones don’t like them.

Fabrick encourages you to pay attention if your friends and family dislike your partner. Don’t take the common approach of going through mental gymnastics to disparage these views. Remember that people tend to see their mates through rose-colored glasses. While there is the chance that your friends’ opinions of your partner are misinformed, they likely have your best interest at heart and their thoughts should be considered.

10. You always think the worst of them.

One common sign it’s time to break up is when you find yourself struggling to give your partner the benefit of the doubt, says psychology professor Dr. Lewandowskiy.

What can this look like? When they do something positive (like grabbing you a latte from your favorite coffee shop), you’ll wonder what they’re going to ask for in return. Or, when they get on your nerves, you believe that they are intentionally trying to hurt you and are aware of their repetitively problematic behvaior.

11. You don’t communicate well.

You and your partner struggle to understand each other with your conversations often turning into arguments or going nowhere. Fabick urges couples who have trouble communicating to seek professional help to improve their communication. However, if either of you aren’t committed to improvements, it’s a serious—and possibly relationship-ending—issue.

12. Your partner doesn’t comfort you

“People need to feel psychologically safe with their partner, as if their partner is a haven from problems outside of the relationship,” says Dr. Bridbord. A partner not meeting your emotional needs can compound feelings of loneliness and disconnection within a relationship, she explains.

Again, it’s important to communicate this and other issues with your partner. If they do nothing to adjust their behavior, that’s when ending the relationship should be seriously considered.

What to Do Next

If your partner is physically or emotionally abusive, your safety needs to be prioritized. Seek professional resources and support from loved ones if you need help ending the relationship and keeping yourself safe.

For the other issues, consider seeing a couple’s therapist before ultimately deciding that it’s time to break up. Below, learn how to begin navigating next steps.

First, try to resolve it.

Being part of a couple can be challenging at times—but Dr. Piorkowski says that you shouldn’t always give up, noting that people can change. If your partner makes a mistake or you struggle with a certain aspect of your relationship, the partnership may be able to survive through communication, admission of fault and the commitment to change.

However, Dr. Piorkowski says to pay attention to see if the issues repeat themselves. “If after six months to a year, you’re still feeling strongly that your relationship is going absolutely nowhere, then it’s time to break up sooner rather than later,” she says.

But once you decide, don’t delay.

If you’re unsure how to break up with someone, experts say to begin the conversation as calmly as possible. Oftentimes, people put off having this conversation until they’re very angry, explains Fabick. “If you rely on getting yourself in an excited state to act, things won’t go as well.” Try to present yourself in a forthright and kind way, but without sacrificing authenticity.

By ending your current substandard relationship, you’ll be opening yourself up sooner to the possibility of finding a new fulfilling relationship.

Originally published on The Knot.

How Does Mental Health Impact Parenting?

If you’re a parent living with a mental health condition, the way you interact with your child and how you care for yourself may be impacted.

Parenting is challenging, no matter what state of health you’re in.

Living with a mental health condition can affect your ability to be present with your child. But certain self-care practices may help you stay or become responsive, engaging, and attentive.

These key qualities help ensure your child develops a sense of safety, security, and a positive relationship with their environment.

In this article, mental health experts explain how mental health conditions can affect your parenting and what you can do to foster a strong, healthy parent-child relationship.

How do mental health conditions affect parenting?

“Parenting is a tough job, and mental health challenges most importantly impact the quality of parenting,” says Emily Chinitz, PsyD, of New York, NY.

For example, if you live with depression, you may find it difficult to manage your fatigue with an excited child in the room.

Suppose you experienced trauma in childhood and are living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In that case, your child’s age-appropriate behavior may remind you of previous trauma, which may cause you to feel overwhelmed or hostile.

Karen Bridbord, PhD, of Karen Bridbord & Associates in Brooklyn, NY, states that “mental illness is a thief of a parent’s ability to be present, responsive, and engaged with their children.”

She also notes that being removed from the present can lead to inappropriate and sometimes neglectful parenting, like forgetting to buy food or have bath time.

Tim Dowling, LPC, of Apple Valley Behavioral Health in Plantsville, CT, explains the importance of modeling healthy behaviors and how mental health conditions can interfere.

“If your child is misbehaving and you’re struggling with a high level of anxiety, you can sometimes react in a way that may damage the relationship.” Indirectly, this can teach your child that this is how they should react.

Having difficulty managing your emotions as a parent can feel like excessive:

These emotions can lead to feelings of guilt and shame surrounding your ability to be an effective parent.

Recognize that what you’re feeling is valid and shared by many parents. Parenting is one of the world’s most stressful and difficult jobs, regardless of your mental health.

Can my mental health affect my child’s development?

Your behavior as a parent influences how your child relates and interacts with others. In other words, your mental health will likely affect your child’s development.

According to research from 2021Trusted Source, parental mental health conditions increase the risk of children developing psychiatric disorders. The likelihood of developing anxiety and depression may be linked to genetics and parental behaviors.

Dr. Chinitz explains that children are deeply impacted by their environment — which consists mainly of their caregivers. “If you’re unavailable because of mental illness, it can impair your ability to be a sensitive and responsive parent, which is what develops a secure attachment.”

A secure attachment ensures that your child feels safe, loved, and understood throughout their development. According to Dr. Chinitz, “all of the research shows that a strong attachment to at least one parent buffers the impact of stressors in their lives.”

Though parents are important in their child’s development, the burden of ensuring that your child develops a secure attachment style doesn’t have to fall entirely on you.

According to the experts, these protective factors can benefit your child:

  • support from school teachers and parent advocacy groups
  • relationships with warm and loving neighbors, family members, and friends
  • fun skills and hobbies that build your child’s pride and self-esteem
  • parental warmth and positive reinforcement
  • parental employment to ensure financial security

How can I care for my child while caring for myself?

All of the experts we talked to agree that caring for yourself is crucial for sound parenting.

Whether it’s a 5-minute meditation session or cooking a nutritious meal, it’s important that you build some form of self-care into your daily routine.

1. Get regular exercise

Regular exercise doesn’t just benefit your body but also your mind.

“All of the research shows that exercise is essential for mental health,” says Dr. Bridbord.

Try to explore different types of exercise to find one that’s enjoyable and sustainable for you. For example, you can walk a few laps around the neighborhood, join a class, or hit the weights.

2. Eat nourishing foods

Although specific associations between food and mood are still under investigation, research is promising.

For example, it’s believed that eating certain foods — like walnuts and avocados — can improve mood-related chemicals like serotonin levels.

A small 2017 studyTrusted Source also showed that a 12-week nutrition program improved depression symptoms.

You can read about foods that can influence your mood here.

3. Prioritize sleep

Dr. Chinitz stresses the importance of quality sleep — it impacts everything about our wellness, especially mental health.

Parenting is a 24/7 job. Without restful nights of sleep, being attentive and patient toward your child is much more challenging.

Consider aiming for at least 7 hours of sleep per night to feel refreshed and ready to take on the day.

4. Seek community support

Sometimes, self-care means asking for help.

For example, you can chat with a trusted friend, support group, or mental health professional. There’s no shame in asking for help or trying to improve yourself.

“It really does take a village. Having support structures in place for both children and their parents creates more opportunities for secure attachments and shared healthy experiences,” says Dr. Bridbord.

5. Communicate

In parenting, it’s important to encourage open communication.

Dowling expresses the importance of “openly processing your feelings.” By doing so, your children will be able to identify when they’re experiencing similar feelings.

Dr. Bridbord states that it’s helpful to be clear about how you’re feeling, provided that you do it in an age-appropriate way. “If you have to, get some support about how to express yourself in a way that your child can understand.”

6. Meditate

“The research is overwhelming around the positive impacts of meditation. We know that brain structure changes to accommodate less reactivity and greater reflectivity,” says Dr. Bridbord.

Reflectivity allows you to move through moments with an improved sense of calm and without attachment to your thoughts.

Conveniently, meditation doesn’t have to take up a large chunk of your day. Dr. Bridbord emphasizes that meditating for just five minutes can be beneficial.

To give it a try, consider using a meditation app to get you started.

7. Pursue creative outlets

Dowling explains that activities like mindless eating, watching TV, or scrolling through your phone can be ways to unplug or detach from the present.

These actions can become unhealthy coping tools that distract you from acknowledging your feelings.

“We all need some type of creative outlet, like art, music, or journaling. It teaches emotional intelligence and helps us process our feelings,” says Dowling.

So, instead of unplugging, it may help to search for a creative passion or way of expressing yourself that you can practice regularly.

Let’s recap

Parenting with a mental health condition can leave you feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, or out of touch with your own needs. It’s important to recognize that taking care of your children often begins with taking care of yourself.

You can take many steps to improve your mental health and parenting skills.

Remember that it takes more than just one or two people to raise a child; there’s no shame in asking for help.

See the original article on Psych Central.

Bipolar Relapse: Triggers, Signs, and Tips to Cope

All About Bipolar Disorder Relapse

Symptom recurrence is common in bipolar disorder. Managing your stress and following your treatment plan may help.

Were you recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder? Or have you been feeling symptom-free for some time but now feel like your symptoms are returning?

No matter what type of bipolar disorder you have, symptoms are likely to recur at some point. Even if you’ve been following all your prescribed treatments, you may still experience a return of symptoms.

A recurrence of symptoms in bipolar disorder isn’t uncommon, but there are ways to prevent it and manage it when it happens.

What’s a bipolar disorder relapse?

The natural course of bipolar disorder includes periods of wellness followed by periods when symptoms return or recur.

A recurrence occurs when symptoms such as depression, hypomania, or mania return after a symptom-free period.

Instead of “relapse,” using the words “recur” or “return” is a more accurate way of framing the overall nature of bipolar disorder. It also eliminates the negative associations with the word relapse, such as feelings of failure or shame.

How common is it?

So, just how common is a symptom recurrence in bipolar disorder?

The rate of symptom recurrence can vary depending on the following factors, according to a 2016 studyTrusted Source:

  • the type of treatment you receive
  • your overall adherence to the treatment plan
  • whether you have a family history of mood disorder

With medication treatment alone, research from 2015Trusted Source found that recurrence rates were be anywhere between 40% and 60% over 2 years.

According to research from 2019Trusted Source, psychotherapy in combination with medication delays the overall symptom recurrence rate. Indeed, those who pursue psychotherapy may find that symptom recurrence is less common.

How long does it last?

The duration of each recurring episode can vary depending on which type of bipolar disorder you’re living with and the type of symptoms you’re experiencing.

According to a 2017 studyTrusted Source, depressive episodes generally tend to last longer than manic or hypomanic episodes. Researchers found that depressive episodes lasted about 5 months, whereas manic and hypomanic episodes lasted about 3.5 months.

In the same study, depressive episodes were also found to last longer in those with bipolar II disorder than bipolar I disorder.

What triggers a bipolar disorder relapse?

Two of the most well-known triggers that can result in a recurrence of bipolar disorder symptoms are stressful life events and non-adherence to medication.

Karen Bridbord, PhD, of Karen Bridbord & Associates in Brooklyn, emphasized the effect of stressful life events and self-care on symptom recurrence in bipolar disorder.

“If you aren’t sleeping, eating nutritious foods, or are under significant grief, it can easily push you into symptom recurrence,” Bridbord says. “The fundamentals of health are profoundly important in bipolar disorder.”

Stressful life events

Stressful life events can assume many different forms, but each can impact the stability of your mood. Additionally, the particular event can determine whether you experience a manic or depressive episode.

According to a 2019 studyTrusted Source, recurrences of manic symptoms were associated with social life stressors, whereas depressive recurrences were associated with personal life stressors.

Examples of common life stressors can include:

  • marital or family conflicts
  • sleep disturbances
  • financial loss, difficulty, or unemployment
  • moving
  • death of a friend or family member
  • troubles with a neighbor
  • traveling

Bridbord states that stressors can be positive events too such as getting promoted or having a baby.

Discontinuing medication

Taking prescribed medications regularly is important in bipolar disorder because they can help stabilize your mood. While taking them helps to prevent symptom recurrence, skipping them hastens recurrence.

Lithium helps to reduce symptom recurrence in about half of people who take it, according to research from 2022Trusted Source.

A 2021 reviewTrusted Source found that other common medications for bipolar disorder — such as aripiprazole, lamotrigine, and quetiapine — may also delay recurrence rates.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of bipolar disorder typically include episodes of depression, hypomania, or mania.

Since bipolar disorder is further classified into bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder, the specific symptoms you experience during a recurrence will first depend on the type you’ve been diagnosed with.

Additionally, symptoms might differ from those you’ve experienced at an earlier date. Keeping track of your symptoms can be a helpful way to identify symptom patterns that are unique to you.

If you’re living with bipolar I disorder, you may experience a return of either manic symptoms, hypomanic symptoms, or depressive symptoms.

If you’re living with bipolar II disorder, you may experience a return of hypomanic or depressive symptoms.

In cyclothymia, you may experience a return of hypomanic symptoms or depressive symptoms.

Manic episode

  • increased or faster speech (being very talkative)
  • sense of extreme happiness or very high self-esteem
  • extreme irritation
  • racing or uncontrollable thoughts
  • quickly changing ideas or topics when speaking
  • easily distracted
  • restlessness, increased activity
  • risky behavior such as reckless driving, quitting your job, spending lots of money, etc.
  • needing fewer hours of sleep

Hypomanic episode

The symptoms of hypomania are essentially the same as manic symptoms. But hypomania, which literally means “below mania,” isn’t as severe and doesn’t last as long. These symptoms also:

  • don’t interfere as much with your life
  • don’t result in the need to visit a hospital
  • are present for at least 4 consecutive days

Depressive episode

  • overall depressed, hopeless, or helpless mood
  • lack of pleasure or loss of interest in the things you usually enjoy
  • feeling tired or lethargic
  • feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • trouble thinking, focusing, or concentrating
  • increased or decreased appetite
  • changes in weight
  • suicidal thoughts or actions
Tips to prevent a bipolar disorder relapse

An effective way to prevent bipolar disorder recurrence can be to ask a healthcare or mental health professional about adding another type of therapy to your treatment plan or additional therapy sessions.

There are various psychotherapies that have been shown to reduce the overall rate of symptom recurrence in bipolar disorder. According to research from 2019Trusted Source, these include:

Aside from these, it’s also crucial to:

  • take any prescribed medications regularly
  • seek treatment for other mental health conditions that you may be living with
  • visit a mental health professional if you’re experiencing or anticipate a stressful life event
Let’s recap

A recurrence of bipolar disorder symptoms can be frustrating and disheartening. If you’re currently experiencing symptoms, remember that it’s not your fault.

Before and during a recurrence, it’s crucial to manage your life stress and continue taking prescribed medications. Both these factors are proven to help manage symptoms.

When medication and stress management isn’t enough, another type of psychotherapy or additional sessions may offer additional benefit. Consider talking with a mental health professional about which therapy might be right for you.

See the original article on Psych Central.

How to Deal with Taking a Break in a Relationship

Set the ground rules for success.

By Valerie Nikolas October 21, 2021

For many of us, our first exposure to the concept of taking a break in a relationship was Ross’s “we were on a break!” outburst. Through high school, college, and early adulthood, we saw our friends go on breaks with their significant others, or went on them ourselves. Breaks can be messy and emotional, but sometimes they are a helpful option for evaluating the future of a relationship.

A break is like a time out for a relationship, where both people agree to pause the relationship for a period of time. What does taking a break mean for your relationship? Is it warranted? Or just a pit stop on the road to breaking up? It depends on the situation, but experts say that breaks can be beneficial for both personal mental health and the well-being of a relationship—when done correctly.

When should we take a relationship break?

“An important time to take a break is when we feel we’ve lost touch with ourselves or our own compass,” says relationship expert Karen Bridbord, PhD, a Gottman-certified therapist. “A break is ideally for when you feel you don’t know what you want or are confused.”

This confusion can come from interpersonal tensions, the stress of long-distance, or outside factors like work, school, or family that are putting strain on the relationship. Breaks typically work best for couples who have feelings for one another and are still willing to continue the relationship once the issue is resolved.

Breaks are less likely to work if there is a glaring incompatibility or dealbreaker, or if one partner needs has an untreated mental health disorder that is placing stress on the relationship. “Taking a break is usually about connecting with oneself and doing the work that needs to be done within a relationship and with one’s self,” says Bridbord.

Even if you feel you have the best of intentions, it’s important to know if you are taking a break for the right reasons. “Try to assess whether you’re being avoidant,” says Bridbord. People with an avoidant attachment style tend to pull away from romantic partnerships, especially once conflict arises, rather than seeking resolution. While there are times that conflict means you should step away from a relationship, no relationship is impervious to conflict and sometimes they just need some troubleshooting.

Feel like you need space from your partner? Here are some tips for approaching a break in a healthy way.

Have a strategy.

Going on a break is an opportunity to both see and do things differently. “The point of a break is to see things from a different perspective,” says Bridbord. “In order to have a different outcome, you need to develop deeper insight.”

Reflecting on the reasons for the break, both on your own and with your significant other, can help you determine what you want to get out of it. “You need to have a strategy so you can achieve success,” says Bridbord. Maybe you want to determine if you were with this person because it was convenient, or maybe you want to work on yourself outside of a relationship. Determining what you want and how you will get there will set you up for success.

Lay some ground rules.

Before initiating a break, have a discussion with your partner about ground rules, preferably in person. Be clear on what your break will look like and how certain rules will contribute to your shared strategy. Will you follow one another on social media? How often will you communicate, if at all? “Think about whether you can meet your goal if you’re having constant contact,” says Bridbord.

Set boundaries.

During your initial discussions, make sure to set clear boundaries about what is considered an absolute deal breaker for you, such as dating or hooking up with other people. “I think a lot of couples struggle with boundaries in breaks,” says Bridbord. “Conflict often comes from crossing boundaries.”

Work on yourself.

To get the most out of a break, it should be a time of personal reflection and self-care. This could include therapy to help you work on your wants and needs in relationships, as well as any personal issues you may be struggling with. As Bridbord says, “Your relationship to someone else can only be as strong as your relationship to yourself.”

Even with the most careful and open planning, breaks can be a time of stress and uncertainty. Be gentle with yourself. “It’s definitely a time to break out the fuzzy slippers,” says Bridbord.

Give yourself time.

“Taking a break should allow you to assess how you feel being away from your partner,” says Bridbord. “Are you feeling relieved or are you missing them?” Sometimes it can take time to really assess how you feel spending time away from the relationship.

If the point of a break is to achieve a certain goal, it should give you enough time to meet this goal. Personal reflection and working on yourself can take time. Going into a break with a set time limit can actually contribute to feelings of pressure and stress, so it’s best to be open-ended and establish check-ins to discuss how you’re feeling as the break goes on.

You may naturally feel the break coming to an end as you start to realize you either want to stay together or go separate ways for good. The more you follow these guidelines, the more certain you may feel about making the right decision for you and your relationship.

Originally published in Wedding Wire

What Is Chemistry in a Relationship? Learn How to Recognize the Signs

Figure out whether the spark is truly there between you and your partner.

by Valerie Nikolas Carson
Updated Oct 04, 2021

We’ve all experienced chemistry in a relationship at some point. Maybe you felt an instant, inexplicable connection from the first date. Perhaps when you thought of them, there was a fire in your belly. The connection could even defy reason. Still, something drew you to this person like a magnet.

Wondering whether you have chemistry in your relationship? Keep reading for the inside scoop.

What Is Chemistry?

“Chemistry is energy,” says relationship coach Jaime Bronstein. “It’s an energetic connection you can feel.” Some indicators of this connection are body language cues like butterflies in your stomach, a rapid heart rate, smiling and prolonged eye contact between the two of you.

Many of these biological processes are caused by a rush of neurotransmitters, including dopamine, the “feel-good” hormone, and serotonin, the mood regulator. “There’s so much going on biologically in the brain as people fall in love,” says Karen Bridbord, a Gottman-certified therapist. “It’s like a drug.”

While many of us equate chemistry with the heart-pounding, energetic feeling people get when they first meet someone they click with, Bridbord says that’s actually limerence, the feeling of infatuation that appears during the initial stage of a relationship.

Bridbord and Bronstein agree that true chemistry is much deeper and more complex. “Being with this person feels like home, and you feel peace in your heart,” Bronstein says. “There’s a feeling of being understood, seen and heard without the need to explain yourself. It’s innate.”

3 Signs of Chemistry in a Relationship

Bronstein, who hosts the radio show “Love Talk Live,” says the following three types of chemistry make for a healthy long-term relationship.

1. Physical Attraction

Physical or sexual attraction is often what first comes to mind when people think about chemistry, and it’s passion that stems from finding the other person attractive. Sexual chemistry is influenced in large part by pheromones, chemical signals present throughout the animal world that communicate between two members of a species. Bronstein says physical chemistry is, “either not there, or it’s on fire. With the person you marry, you want it to be on fire.”

2. Intellectual Chemistry

This type of chemistry comes down to communication. Two people who have mental chemistry should feel like peers. The conversations you have with this person should stimulate you and leave you energized. “You want to be intrigued by this person,” Bronstein says.

3. Emotional Connection

When two people understand each other’s wants and needs, they form a strong emotional connection. Bronstein describes this as a back-and-forth flow of energy and understanding.

The hallmark sign of an emotional connection is good communication. Openness, empathy and vulnerability are all necessary to build an emotional bond. “Building an intimate friendship is really important for chemistry,” Bridbord says. And for a long-term relationship, that includes learning how to be close friends in addition to romantic partners.

While all the types of chemistry are important, many experts consider emotional chemistry the most significant part of an enduring romantic relationship. “Emotional connection is a key marker of good chemistry,” Bridbord says.

Chemistry vs. Compatibility

There are distinct differences between chemistry and compatibility, but both are essential for a healthy relationship. Unfortunately, they don’t always go hand in hand: Some people have great chemistry, but poor compatibility, and vice versa.

“Compatibility is what’s on paper,” Bronstein says. This can include more logical considerations like age, race, religion and academic achievement. However, those who seem compatible on paper may not always feel chemistry with one another.

Likewise, people who have great chemistry may not be compatible for a long-term relationship. Bridbord says some couples find out this is the case when they move in together. “If people are incompatible, it’ll affect chemistry,” she says.

Can Chemistry Change Over Time?

You might be wondering whether a lack of chemistry initially can mean a relationship is doomed.

Opinions differ on whether chemistry can make or break a relationship. “True chemistry does not increase over time,” Bronstein says. “True love increases over time.” According to her, chemistry is a reflection of individual personality traits that either work together or don’t.

Bridbord disagrees. “I believe you can develop skills to hone chemistry together,” she says. “I’ve seen some couples start as a slow burn and others as a big fire.”

Regardless, initial feelings of limerence tend to fade in a long-term relationship, so it’s important to keep cultivating chemistry by maintaining open lines of communication and respect. “In order to preserve and protect the chemistry, you need to do the emotional work together,” Bridbord says.

One important thing to remember about chemistry is that looking inward is as important as looking outward. “Self-care is really important for cultivating chemistry,” Bridbord says. “Your relationship with your partner can only be as strong as your relationship with yourself.”

Originally published on The

The hidden meanings behind celebrity tattoos, revealed — from Amy Winehouse to Post Malone

by Kaleigh Fasanella,Yahoo Entertainment Special Features

When remembering Amy Winehouse, it’s impossible not to visualize her vast and beautiful collection of body art. The iconic pinup woman on her right arm, the lightning bolt on her wrist and the name “Cynthia” — inspired by her paternal grandmother — are just three of 14 known tattoos the legendary singer had that gave people a glimpse into her world.

Two of the “Rehab” singer’s most meaningful tattoos — including the famous pinup piece that was etched on her upper arm — paid homage to her grandmother Cynthia, whom Winehouse was very close with until she lost her battle to breast cancer in 2006 (the same year Winehouse released her second album, Back to Black). Cynthia was also a singer and hugely inspirational to her granddaughter. So it’s no wonder Winehouse wanted to honor her life with some bespoke body art.

“She was a kind of beacon for Amy,” said the singer’s former tattoo artist and good friend, Henry Hate, in a past interview. “It was only later on in our friendship [when] she showed me a photo of Cynthia in her youth and I could see she had been a real head-turner,” he added. Given their strong connection, some believe Cynthia’s death contributed to Winehouse’s drug and alcohol addiction — a disease that took the talented young Londoner’s life in 2011, at just 27.

While we’ll never know for sure, there’s a solid chance Winehouse got these tattoos for her grandmother as part of the grieving process. (Almost like her way of saying goodbye.) After all, tattoos were a major form of self-expression for the British vocalist — another outlet, just like singing — so it’d definitely make sense if that’s what she did, even if it was done subconsciously.

“Looking at Amy Winehouse’s tattoos, and as a huge fan of her music, I believe that she was an extremely passionate soul who literally wore her heart on her sleeve,” says Beverly Hills-based tattoo artist Katrina “Kat Tat” Jackson. “I feel that her tattoos were not premeditated or thought out for years, but rather spontaneous and representative of her strongest emotions at the time that she got each piece done.”

Moreover, licensed psychologist Karen Bridbord says she has seen myriad people get tattoos to help heal from grief and loss. “The tattoo process is a journey where the recipient keeps alive what is no longer through one’s own physical body,” she explains. “It’s a way to hold on to — through physical representation — who or what is most important to them.”

In Winehouse’s case, it seems she wanted to hold on to her grandmother Cynthia — a woman who fully encouraged her to be the unforgettable artist she was and remains to fan.

Of course, Winehouse is far from the only celebrity who’s used body art as a way to work through adversity and express themselves mentally and emotionally.

Ariana Grande — who reportedly has over 50 tattoos now — got a tribute piece for her ex-boyfriend the rapper Mac Miller, who died suddenly of a drug overdose in 2018. In a similar vein, Lady Gaga honored her father with some ink shortly after he underwent open-heart surgery in 2009. (Thankfully, he lived to see it.) Then there’s Demi Lovato, who had “Stay Strong” famously tatted on her wrists after getting out of rehab, where she was treated for self-harm and bulimia in 2010.

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How to Set & Model Realistic Work-from-Home Expectations with Your Team

Support your evolving company culture

by Beth Castle,Managing Editor, InHerSight

While researchers and media platforms (ours included) love to tout the benefits of working from home, it’s becoming quite clear that working remotely during coronavirus is vastly different from a standard work-from-home setup. The pandemic continues to take a toll on the mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing of our workforce, with increased caretaking demands, anxiety, and loneliness and lack of work-life boundaries affecting employees in different but important ways.

More than half of women say their productivity and amount of work completed have changed since beginning to work from home during COVID-19. In a May 2020 survey by InHerSight:

  • 25 percent of women say their productivity has increased;

  • 31 percent say their productivity has decreased;

  • 32 percent say they’re doing more work on average;

  • 31 percent say they’re doing less work.

That means only 44 percent of women are as productive as they were before the pandemic, and only 37 percent are producing the same amount of work.

Job satisfaction is changing, too. Twenty-four percent of women are more satisfied, and 37 percent are less so. Only 38 percent are equally happy working from home as they were in the office.

What this tells us is that the majority of women are shifting the way they interact with work to accommodate a new and unprecedented environment. Whether that’s good or bad remains to be seen, but it’s crucial while we’re still in the early stages of a work culture shift to establish expectations, boundaries, and communication that protect employees from burnout and additional anxiety. Taking action now is a way of keeping that 37 percent of less satisfied employees from growing in number in the months to come. Low job satisfaction, we know from research at Columbia University and other institutions, contributes to increased turnover, while high job satisfaction is linked to higher productivity and better performance.

Organizational psychologist Karen Bridbord, who acts as a consultant for companies hoping to improve workplace dynamics, shared with InHerSight her tips for setting and modeling realistic work-from-home expectations for everyone on your team—the overworked, the overwhelmed, and the people who fall somewhere in between.

Emphasize the importance of deliverables

Employees who are parents or caretakers are distracted; so are employees struggling with isolation. Take that into account as you communicate needs with your team. “Billing hourly is not practical when people are distracted during work hours,” Bridbord says.

She recommends “working smarter, not harder.” Employers often follow the utilization model, which measures employee worth by hours spent working, but Bridbord says a value model, wherein employees are evaluated based on deliverables met, is more flexible and sustainable. “Punching in simply is not realistic,” she says. “Remote work becomes more efficient when managers set goals and expectations so employees know what they’re being evaluated on.”

Schedule boundaries

When working from home, some employees might find it difficult to separate their home and work lives, which is why Bridbord recommends helping them to map out firm, even scheduled, times to step away from their computers. “Take breaks, and make sure you have downtime in the morning and at night,” she says.

Going for a walk or listening to a podcast can help overworked team members reset. Bridbord also says many employees might miss unwinding during their commute to and from work. Encourage them to reserve that time for self-care activities, and if you’re manager or executive, make sure you’re doing so yourself, and sharing out your activities, so your team sees what boundaries look like in action.

“It’s a trickle-down effect,” Bridbord says. “Employees look to managers to see how they should respond in crisis.” If you’re working all the time, your employees will, too.

Structure check-ins

“It’s through our relationships that we often get work done,” Bridbord says, which is why she encourages managers to schedule a consistent time for their entire team to meet to talk about something besides the pandemic.

She says fun icebreaker questions are good ways to get everyone involved in the conversation.  “Get connected by asking questions we normally wouldn’t ask:‘If all these restrictions were lifted, what would be the first thing you’d do?’ or‘What is the most obnoxious thing your kid has said to you in the past 24 hours?’”

Besides relationship-building, another benefit of regular check-ins is guarding your employees’ mental health. Bridbord says, at this point, loneliness is akin to cigarette smoking. “Loneliness is detrimental to people without friends or family at home,” she says. “Work becomes their venue for getting social contact. Knowing that, it’s important to check in with how employees are doing.”

Read more: How to Check In with Employees When Everyone Is Overwhelmed

Build understanding

Everyone on your team is experiencing the pandemic differently, which is likely why InHerSight saw such varied results in our productivity poll. Family, money, health, personality, race, gender, and a host of other factors impact the burdens your coworkers bear in a crisis. In fact, when we look at data just from working moms, the percentage of women saying their productivity has decreased jumps from 31 percent to 59 percent.

Encourage your team to be patient with one another, especially as you navigate conflict. Bridbord says to lean on using in-person chats over email and Slack, and to “Imagine the positive intent of each other instead of the negative.”

“Understanding and mutual respect are key,” she says. We’re all in this together.

About our source

Karen Bridbord, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and consultant who combines the expertise of clinical psychology, organizational behavior, and counseling. She works on a personal level with couples and individuals as a therapist and on an organizational level to help corporations with her firm Karen Bridbord & Associates.

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Interview in California Business School Magazine

Psychologist, organizational consultant shares next steps for leaders as they prepare for the new school year

By Julie Phillips Randles

Relationship counseling may seem like an odd place for educators to turn for job advice, but the need for this kind of input will be greater when educators and students head back to school sites.

California’s students will re-enter schools carrying more than backpacks, tablets and colored pencils. Many of them will be toting worries, fears, even trauma from the covid-19 isolation experience that turned their childhoods upside down.

Educators will need the right skills to cope with these emo- tional needs in conjunction with math, reading, science and the arts.

Karen Bridbord, Ph.D., is the right professional for these times. Her career is built on a unique combination of clinical psychology, organizational behavior and counseling, and her clients include business owners, corporate executives, couples and individuals seeking to solve relationship problems and achieve life goals.

To read the rest of this story, download the PDF.

On-Demand Webinar Available Coping, Cooperation and Conflict Resolution Skills for Parents and Co-Parents during COVID-19

Many parents and co-parents are being exposed to an unsettling amount of stress during COVID-19, whether it’s from being quarantined with a soon to be ex-spouse, dealing with the added responsibilities of schooling children, or trying to overcome an impractical custodial arrangement. In this prerecorded webinar, led by our matrimonial and family law co-chairs Lynne Strober and David Carton, and psychologists Dr. Naama Tokayer and Dr. Karen Bridbord, we offer a few coping, cooperation and conflict resolution skills that you may find helpful during COVID-19.

View the webinar recording here