Should Your Partner Be Your Best Friend?

holding seashells up in a heart

Jason is my best friend. By any and all qualifications that matter in a friend, let alone a best friend, he ranks supreme. He is the first person I text when I want to share news. He’s the first person I text when I have nothing to say. And he’s the only person that I’ll actually use my phone to call – except the government, my healthcare provider, and very rarely with some shame, Comcast.

How I communicate with him makes him my best friend. Not just when and how I communicate, but also what I say.

At the start of a relationship we tell each other whispered secrets as tests of loyalty. In bed at night, those first sleepovers, we stay up later than we’re used to, running on pure adrenaline. We tell each other secrets. I feel this way, I’ve never told anyone else before. We wait for them to scream. They don’t. We fall into the honeymoon period, we rock back and forth, we fall in love. And then, deep-seeded security, comfortable and content, it becomes all too easy to stop sharing these things. More often than not it’s because these feelings we used to share are now about this person. We wonder if it’s safe to share. I am afraid, are you afraid too?

A best friend says yes, a best friend says, lets be afraid together. Then maybe we won’t be so afraid anymore. The relationship you have with your partner, because of the depths it seeks, is one of the most important relationships you have.

The problem with articles that ask this question, this big question: who is your best friend? is that they work off of, and often value, outdated modes of relationships. Antiquities of culture. This perception that you will have a soul mate of a best friend, the same way you have a soul mate of a partner. Maybe you have a best friend, just one, the very best. The person who you have rated and graded, who floated to the top, the science experiment of all your people. I look at my friends and I see too many. I know that the work I put into these soul mate-friendships is what makes them special. No arbitrary grading scale will do.

Putting people into these boxes of best or worst or most valuable isn’t fair to me and it’s certainly not fair to my friends. I steal from polyamory, I steal and I don’t care. They’re all important to me in different ways.

Learning how to express this, learning how to value your friends so they feel best, that’s what’s the most important thing.

Need advice? Submit now!

Continue Reading

How To Move On From A Kissing Affair

Please help! my 50+ year old husband had a “kissing affair” with a bar tramp over two years ago. I was gone for weeks at a time taking care of my dying father, then my elderly mother. I am an only child, so it was all my responsibility. As a result, he had a “friend” that got him to go to a bar everyday after work. Yes, hubby had a choice, but his alcoholic friend needed an enabler and a ride home everyday… he had gotten a DUI a few years before and never got a license again. Anyway, long story short, he met this bar tramp who worked there and she began preying on him – yes he allowed it, but she knew exactly what she was doing!!!! She is the poster child for “daddy issues” and sociopath because I was later told she had done it many times before AND she bragged about it!!

I know it didn’t go any further because I overheard a conversation with a best buddy of his (that he shares everything with) and he said that he thanked God everyday that he never “f’d” her… his exact words. He said she was just some cheap easy tramp who paid attention to him at the time and that she was absolutely unattractive and I saw her picture.. she is!

The minute I found out I stopped it and forbade him to ever have contact again! Her numbers were blocked, he comes home everyday after work, has never been to any other bars and has done EVERYTHING right to make up for it. He read all of the christian books about infidelity, owns his mistake, and NEVER once blamed me! He said he was a weak, selfish bastard and will regret it forever and I know he still lives with the guilt. He has told me many times how sick it makes him when he can still see the pain he caused me. And since we’ve been together for 26 years, I know him well enough to know he’s truthful.

So, the only problem I have now is that I just can’t stand the thought of him kissing me now! I’ve become hyper sexual since then, and I’m 57 years old now! Also, since then, he’s had trouble getting erections at times. I resent the hell out of that! but beyond that, I gag at the thought of letting him stick his tongue down my throat now, knowing he was in her nasty mouth with God knows what in it! I want to move on because kissing is supposed to be more intimate than sex but the triggers make me want to vomit!

HOW can I erase the triggers and move on? This is the ONLY issue I still live with and your advice would mean so much. God bless you, your service is to be commended!

When someone is unfaithful the first thing I always ask myself is why were they unfaithful?

An explanation for infidelity is not an excuse for infidelity. Based on only what you’ve given me here, I would anticipate that perhaps your husband struggled with the illness in your family and your absence during that time quite a bit. It’s possible that he didn’t have an outlet for support. Does he have one now? I think that’s important because he should focus on growing and evolving from the mistake that he made. If he doesn’t grow from the mistake, it will make it more difficult for you to grow from it as a couple.

I believe that you’ve forgiven him and trust him but I’m not sure that you’ve let it go. And that’s a hard thing to do. Maybe it’s not something you should do. Letting it go and finding ways to move on are different things.

That kiss can be something that made you stronger, or it can be the thing that made you never enjoy kissing your husband again.

I would advise that you go see a therapist if you’re not already. Intimacy, once damaged, takes work to regain. I don’t think there’s one right answer. You may need to find new or renewed intimacy with your husband. You may need to seek forgiveness to the other woman who was likely struggling deeply in her own life to do this with married men. You may need to question your own values and feelings about intimacy, and kissing. You may just need more time.

Have a question about sex, life, love? Submit now!

Continue Reading

How to Emotionally Support Your Partner Through School

Jason is about to start his masters of business program. His school did something unreasonably cool and hosted a “partners panel” where previous students and their romantic partners discussed how they survived the two year haul. It helped me a lot and when I left I felt so extra-proud of the adventure my partner is about to embark on.

J will be working full time and going to school part time meaning that most of his free time will be filled with studying. Here’s what I learned from the panel.

Set expectations

Set expectations up front and try to be realistic. Working full time is already a lot of work, but when you’re in school, it’s like working two full time jobs. Your partner might space out sometimes, they might not feel or be total present. They may need to change plans last minute or bail completely. There may be an adjustment period where they’re more tired or more stressed out at the start.

Take on more than 50%

Relationships aren’t always 50/50. It’s hard to be in a relationship that is always one hundred percent egalitarian. It’s important to recognize when your partner needs more than 50% or when you’re taking more than 50%. That way you can prepare to gather than energy, or you can prepare to find ways to give appreciation. I think that understanding that things aren’t always 50/50 is important in setting expectations.

Keep busy with your own hobbies

While we do a lot of things together, and like to spend a lot of time together, I also feel pretty comfortable saying that we have our own separate hobbies that we really enjoy. He has nights where he goes and plays poker or goes and plays music with friends, and I have girls nights or stay in and write. I like to think of this as a positive in that while he is working on his school work, I can use that time to sit and work on my writing.

Be patient

Whenever there is a significant change in your life, expect there to be a period of transition. You may both experience some turbulence as you find your footing. Be kind and patient to each other, but also to yourself.

Speak up

School and work aren’t excuses to be a shitty person or a shitty partner. If you feel like expectations aren’t met (on either end) sit down and talk about what’s not working and figure out a way to work together to fix it.

Create a shared calendar

All the partners in the partner panel said they had some form of shared calendar (google or otherwise) that they used to know each other’s schedule. Jason and I have been doing this for most of our relationship and it’s super awesome for keeping everything straight. If you’re in a committed relationship and you don’t already share a calendar, give it a try! You can also include events of interest, special holidays, or little shared reminders.

Understand why it’s happening

Why is your partner going to school? To better themselves? To give themselves more opportunity? To get the right credentials for a new career? Either way, keep coming back to that starting point in your head. School isn’t forever, but the impact of the program can impact your partner and your relationship forever.

Have a question about sex, life, or love? Submit now!

Continue Reading

Going to Bed at The Same Time as Your Partner

J and I always go to bed at the same time. It has become a habitual synchrony. I pop my routine like vitamins and the next day, for having done so, I can tell the difference.

There’s something I’ve come to especially enjoy about being a morning bird, though. The quiet of the morning is different than the quiet of the night. The quiet of the night has a buzz like phone lines along the highway, an undercurrent of electricity. It’s too loud and too heavy with expectation. The morning presents itself as an empty slate.

It’s 9:00pm and I’m in bed. I’m in the middle of a mystery novel I’ve been trying to finish for months. (Tana French, In The Woods) J is reading the same series, four books down the line. I lean over and make guesses about the killer. He plays a poker face. I’m pretty sure I’m on to something.

I flop the same leg over every time. He sleeps on his right side. I sleep on my stomach with one leg up, stretching my hips as I sleep. Sometimes we spend an hour talking. Sometimes it’s hot and I’m grumpy. Sometimes we play the-bed-is-lava. Almost every night we make up a song, replacing the actual words with the name of our cat.

One of our alarms goes off, usually around 6:00am. If it’s his that goes off first my body

click click click

and shoves him like an automaton.

If it’s my alarm that goes off first, I usually jump halfway up in the air, the volume still turned all the way up from the night before.

With our life in sync like this I think about all of the little moments we share that we would otherwise miss. Our time alone together is already so limited that those extra few moments together can make all the difference.

Do you go to bed at the same time as your partner? Why or why not? What are some synchronicities that you love in your relationship?
Have a question or need advice? Submit now and I’ll answer it on the blog!
The newsletter is coming! The newsletter is coming! Sign up now!
Continue Reading

How To Make Friends When You’re 28

We were at a house party with mutual friends and I was hovering around the chip table. The moment you went to the bathroom I leaned over to Shelly and said “I have to befriend her.”

This is what friendship looks like when you are 28. It’s tactical. Play one is always the same. You lean over to a mutual friend, your partner, your cat, and you whisper with awe: I have to befriend her.

You’re going on and on about all of my favorite hobbies and all of my favorite sports teams and all of my favorite foods and in my head I’m hopping back and forth clapping, in my head screaming “me too me too me too” with a basket full of vocal fry.

Instead I nod, curtly.

Yes, sports, mmhmm, you enjoy discussing sexuality with your peers, yes, that is the good time these days. 

I make a move to the bathroom and vomit all of the stress chips I just ate. Everyone brought Kettle sea salt & vinegar chips so when it comes up its like a salty, tangy wave of regret.

I come back and you’re standing in a new group of people and there’s no easy way for me to make my move into the circle. The kettle chips are wide open so I go back and start eating them again so I have something to do with my hands.


  1. Say “I have to befriend her” out loud.
  2. Develop a comprehensive list of everything you have in common.
  3. Don’t act like a total spaz when they say “I absolutely love this [one cult movie that you thought you were the only person in the world that saw it and now, here she is, your dream girl, and now that gay marriage is legal you’d totally propose because this might be it, this is probably it] – “
  4. Oh yeah, I like [that thing] too. We should totally [that thing] sometime.
  6. She’ll be like oh shit this girl is so cool we have one thing in common and she wants to hang out with me maybe I need to rebalance my friend stock portfolio but she just walked away like how could she do that she must not be very desperate for friends. Oh god should I be desperate for friends?
  8. At this point she will now awkwardly ask you to hang out and it will sound like shes asking you first even though you already asked her.
  9. Tell her it’s a great idea, you’d love to hang out, it’s so nice of her to ask, let’s exchange numbers.
  11. Don’t text them immediately. Wait like three days and then send them a gif of a bear riding a motorcycle. Type out “just like last night, so crazy” and right when you see that read receipt, PRESS SEND. Then throw your phone in a lake.
  12. You’ll see her by chance at the market, wave and say “Hey… You’re so and so, right? We should totally hang out!” DONT MAKE PLANS FOR LATER. You’re only available RIGHT NOW.
  13. Get her drunk. Tell her all of your deepest darkest secrets.
  14. Wait for her to tell you hers.

Invite her to your wedding. When you have your first born, call her Auntie so and so. Send her a card in the mail once a year for no reason that just says “you’re a real sweetheart.”

ERrea erraa erra (rewinding sound)


  1. Find friend. Proclaim with confidence “you’re my friend now.” Don’t overthink it – you’re awesome!
Continue Reading

Once a Cheater Always a Cheater?

This is a continuation of my series on infidelity. Read previous posts here!

If someone cheats once, are they more likely to do it again? At least one bit of research says, yes, if you cheat you’re more likely to cheat again. However, that same piece of research also says that people who have been cheated on once are also more likely to be cheated on again.

So what does it mean?


If you’ve read my previous posts about infidelity you might already know how I feel about this cliché. I don’t think that cheating once has any indication on whether or not you’re going to cheat again. I think it’s a statement used to shut down discussion of infidelity and shame the person who was unfaithful. Not super productive to understanding why the infidelity happened or how to prevent it.

In fact, the person who belittles the infidelity by saying “they did it once so they will do it again” is missing out on an opportunity to ask questions about why it happened so it doesn’t happen again. It falls into the narrative that people who cheat are inherently bad people.

It’s easy to blame infidelity on the person who did it rather than the situation that led to the infidelity. It prevents both partners from examining how to have better relationships in the future. If each partner is equally likely to experience infidelity again, discussing together (or with a therapist, or with friends) why they think that the infidelity occured is especially important.

To be able to do this we need to destigmatize infidelity, at least enough to be able to have some kind of conversation about it.

Do you have a question about sex or love? Need advice? Have a post suggestion? Submit now!

Continue Reading

Reframing Infidelity: What Counts as Cheating?

Earlier this month I reached out to my readers and my friends and I asked them to tell me about a time that they were unfaithful. I encouraged them to use my definition of infidelity: anything you did that you wouldn’t have wanted to tell your partner about.

When I ask people about a time they were unfaithful, using this description, most people have something that comes to mind immediately. I am very appreciative of everyone who took the time to message me their stories to be quoted in this post ❤️

I wrote a paper on infidelity and it was thrilling, guys.

I wrote my senior thesis on infidelity. Specifically, I wrote about a theme of guilt that appears in stories women tell about being unfaithful, and how that guilt is gendered. I found that women experienced guilt before, during, and after infidelity in ways that felt unique because they were women.


Guilt before infidelity: Women felt guilty that they couldn’t hold their marriage together. There is a lot of implied responsibility for women to provide the emotional structure of a relationship. If needs aren’t being met they may be called needy or greedy or over-attached. Women expressed guilt over their inability to “just be happy with what they had” even if what they had was a loveless, emotionless relationship.

Guilt during infidelity: Women felt guilty in ways that fell deeply inline with the virgin/whore dichotomy. They believed that the physical act of being unfaithful made them less than they had been before. Many women expressed guilt at wanting to feel good during sex. This is echoed in a lot of poor sexual education that does not encourage women to put their pleasure first (or even explain to women what pleasure is.)

Guilt after infidelity: Women felt guilty for disrupting the narrative of the happy home. They put a lot of pressure on themselves to hold their relationship together even if their male partner was not putting in similar effort. At times that weight was magnified if they had children, a large conservative family, or if they were active in a church.

Why infidelity, and what now?

I wanted to write about infidelity because it’s a subject that not many people talk about openly and honestly. Most of the time it’s a conversation that gets shut down by someone saying “if you do it, you’re a bad person, and you just shouldn’t do it.” It didn’t make sense to me that everyone who cheated was this archetype villain who set out to hurt the person that they loved. Everyone in my immediate friend group had a story about being unfaithful. So where was the in-between?

In my thesis I focused on physical infidelity. Not all infidelity is physical. Referring back to my definition at the top, infidelity is anything you wouldn’t want to tell your partner about. We’re all adults here and we can navigate that definition in ways that make sense to us. I’m not talking about surprise parties or that time you went into the other room to fart.

The goal of my research, and my continued interest in infidelity, is to open up some discourse on infidelity.

If we learn more about how infidelity occurs, we can better prevent it from happening.

The Starting Emotion

There is typically a starting emotion that occurs prior to infidelity. Someone who is in a long-term committed monogamous relationship doesn’t just walk into someone else’s penis by accident. There is almost always a fault. The crack in the ceiling.

Some starting emotions from the submissions I received:

  • I was with an abusive guy in a controlling relationship. I had been with him since I was 18 and he made me desperately unhappy.
  • His needs always came first and he gave no interest to what made me feel good.
  • [My fiancé] never partied and didn’t like that I did, so by matter of association,  I felt like I couldn’t be myself with him.
  • I felt as though I had been pulled into the relationship either by pressure, security or comfort.
  • I didn’t feel super happy with the relationship but I didn’t want to break up either.
  • I realized that I was compromising all of the time for him but he would never compromise for me. Being unhappy was so normal that I started to forget I was unhappy.
  • This guy at work was showing me attention that I felt I hadn’t gotten in a long time.
  • He moved away and started relying on new friends to help him through the tough times instead of his partner. I didn’t feel appreciated anymore.
  • I shared with him only the happy me, the one that he met that night at the party.
  • I didn’t realize I wasn’t myself around my boyfriend until I found someone I could be myself around. After that all I saw was how little my boyfriend tried to relate to me.

In previous posts I’ve written about the starting emotion as being unhappiness. In most of these examples, it’s easy to pull out that sense of unhappiness. Usually it’s reflected in some kind of need not being met. Often it has something to do with not knowing exactly what is wrong but feeling a sense of wrongness.

We aren’t taught how to deal with these feelings and often they can feel like a normal part of a relationship. While they are common, they should not be normal.

The Opportune Moment

Following this moment of unhappiness, or realization that some need is not met, an opportunity presents itself.

Some examples of opportunities from the submissions I received:

  •  I was at a friend of a friend’s house (with the friend) and sex came up.
  •  It was one summer in high school- I attended two summer programs, back to back.
  • I met a guy at a party, and we hit it off really well.
  • There was one particular coworker that caught my eye.
  • I found myself befriending and becoming infatuated with someone I worked with.
  • I met a new friend and we immediately clicked.
  • On my 21st birthday a friend threw a huge house party “for me” and invited about 50 people that I didn’t know.
  • We would go to this karaoke bar and dance and sing the night away and he would drive me home, kissing my cheek when he dropped me off.

Dim the lights and shine the flashlight up your face because this is the scariest part of all. The opportune moment is basically happening all the time. It’s sitting in a car with someone. It’s being at the same party. It’s working in the same office. It’s anything that puts you into close proximity with someone else.

A lot of people understand that this is how infidelity begins and they cope with this by becoming absolutely over-the-top controlling. You can’t see her! You can’t talk to her! I’m going to go into your account and block all the women!

Bless their hearts. They’re doing it all wrong.

Controlling what someone does isn’t going to make them faithful. It’s only going to make them resentful.

Every couple should define their own boundaries together, and as your relationship goes along you may create new ones when you find a situation makes you uncomfortable. You can’t never go to work, never meet other people, or never go to a party. And you shouldn’t avoid these situations. Meeting new people and engaging with new people is fun. And it’s what I think is an important part of a functional relationship. A good support system is critical.

And, anyways, the opportune moment can’t operate on it’s own. If you put someone in a happier, more adjusted relationship into any of these situations, they’re going to come out the other end much differently.

Turning Opportunity into Apocalypse

This is the singular moment when the door of opportunity opens up and you put your dumb dumb foot in:

  • You’re at a party and your significant other is getting tired. They’re ready to leave but they want you to stay and have a good time. Instead of calling it quits early, you take them up on the suggestion, and get yourself another drink. There’s a guy that you think is really cute and he’s sitting alone so you take the opportunity to get to know him a little better. Ten minutes into the conversation you find yourself with your legs draped over him, wildly gesticulating about how funny he is. You go home and tell your s/o that it was a pretty boring night after they left.
  • You’re sitting with your co-worker talking after work and you decide to get drinks. You feel a strong sense of chemistry. You want to keep talking to her because she’s making you smile and it’s lighting up this energy you haven’t felt in a long time. You text your s/o to tell them that you’ll be home later because you’re getting drinks with work friends, a lie through omission.

This is the landing zone for infidelity. You’re clearly doing something that you don’t want to tell your s/o about. You’re also opening the tiny little slit of opportunity and making it worse on purpose.

For a lot of people, this New Relationship Energy is what drives the opportune moment past the breaking point. New Relationship Energy (NRE) is that giddy excited feeling you get when you start connecting with someone new. It’s that sense of chemistry.

If you’re in a long term relationship, you may not have a lot of NRE. It fades over time and it might require a little more to get the same buzz. A sustainable long term relationship, I think, depends a lot on committing yourself to reviving that NRE over and over again.

But when you catch yourself in this moment, with this new person, and you feel that feeling, you may not even realize that it was gone. All you’ll know is that you want a quick fix. And if you go back again for a second fix, you might start to question yourself. Do I feel this way because I love this person? Do I feel this way because I don’t love my person? 

Constantly chasing NRE is a really easy way to avoid the real work and responsibility of a monogamous relationship.

After this point things can go a couple different ways. No relationship is the same and no infidelity is the same. Maybe the girl who threw her legs over the guys legs ends up kissing him that night. Maybe the boy who goes to get drinks with his co-worker sleeps over and lies about a late night video game marathon with the boys. Maybe they realize what a terrible decision it was and maybe they keep chasing that feeling.

This should be a book

There are so many things I’m leaving out. Boundaries vary. Relationships vary. Some people are poly. Some people are open. Some people never talk about boundaries. Some people are in healthy relationships and infidelity happens. Some people are unhealthy relationships and infidelity happens. Sometimes infidelity is the way out. Sometimes they never tell. Sometimes they do. Most people seem to feel really, really bad when it happens. Even when they shouldn’t. (A whole section of my thesis was about how even physically or sexually abused women feel guilt for cheating on their abusers. I won’t tell anyone how to feel, but I think there should be some serious absolution here.)

What I’m pretty sure any infidelity does have in common are these two factors: a sense of unhappiness or some kind of need not being met, and an opportune moment.

For some people, flirting is no big deal. Am I going to smile extra hard at the barista when I’m in a good mood and hope they throw some extra shots of espresso in? Uh, maybe. But my intent isn’t to get in their pants. It’s to get a good buzz. Equally I feel no discontent in my partner throwing his charms for a mood boost.

But there are other circumstances, and you’ll know them when you find them.

They make you feel dark and grey inside. You know they are wrong and you’ll wonder how you managed to find yourself there to begin with.

Better understanding yourself and how to handle these situations could, in the long run, prevent something unfortunate from happening. 

Learning to take your unhappiness seriously can also help prevent infidelity.

It’s easy when you’re in a long term relationship to push aside feelings of unhappiness or dissatisfaction as just a normal part of a relationship. If you’ve been in a consistently unhappy relationship where you constantly feel like you are putting in more work than your partner is, that’s cause for concern.

Take your unhappiness seriously. If your relationship has a blister, don’t go walking around on it all day. Talk to your partner about the things that are concerning you. Talk to your partner about what you want your relationship to look like.

Finally, don’t tell your partner you’ll never cheat on them. Because that’s what everyone says, and it still fucking happens. What I find much more realistic, and much more romantic, is committing to your partner that you will always be truthful to them, you will always be honest with them, and you will always confront difficulties in your relationship together, as a team. To me, that’s essentially the same thing as saying “I’ll never cheat on you.” But, it also encourages you to break down what cheat means and discuss the pre-infidelity-vibes when they start to happen.

Do you have a question about sex or love? Submit now and I’ll answer it on my blog! Want to read more of what I’ve written on infidelity? Click the #infidelity tag on this post!

Continue Reading

Going to Couples Counseling Even if You Don’t Have To

If my phone is recording and analyzing everything I say all day long and is capable of running reports on content, you would see a recent uptick in sentences that begin with “my therapist said.”

I spent a good portion of my youth complaining about math. Maybe I just wasn’t stemmed hard enough or stem didn’t exist yet or I had too many people encouraging me to do exactly what I wanted in my life. And, I mean, who really really really wants to do math? (I know some of these people, we’re constantly at odds.) My deep hatred for math began when I almost got held back for not being able to learn subtraction. I remember very clearly having to stay in at recess and after school as the teacher tried to explain the concept to me.

Teacher: How many pens are there?

Me: Five.

Teacher: (takes away two)

Teacher: How many pens are there now?


Teacher: No. Right here. How many are right here. In front of you.

Me: There are three pens here but there are five pens YOU JUST HID THEM BEHIND YOUR BACK. Why are we ignoring the fact that there are still five pens. They didn’t disappear. They’re still here. I can actually see them. Red. Blue. Green. Yellow. Purple. Five colors, five pens.

You can imagine my disgust when I was forced to learn imaginary numbers.

The neuroscientist who taught me subtraction

It wasn’t until I signed up for an advanced neuroscience course I had no business being in that I learned a very rudimentary concept. We have to learn math because it develops a part of our brain that would not develop if we were not forced to think in that way that math makes us think. I failed neuroscience but I did learn why subtraction is important so it was probably worth the thousands of dollars I spent that year.

There are a lot of things that we have to learn growing up. Some lessons come sooner than others and some never come at all. Like how to do our taxes, how to navigate boundaries in relationships, how to find the g-spot, and the very super secret reason people actually have sex. It’s not to make babies like my health teachers said all those years. If only we’d known.

We also need to learn about how to communicate our feelings internally (to ourselves) and externally (to others). We talk about our feelings a little bit in school, but it’s kind of in a super secret closed door way. Like when your 7th grade teacher sees you writing a suicide note and sends you very publicly to the counselors office to talk. (This is a true story. It didn’t happen to me, but it did happen to a girl in my class.) Therapy is more or less shamed from the moment you first hear someone you know is going to therapy. They’re in therapy. They’re attending therapy. They’re being analyzed. We shouldn’t think about therapy in this “OoooOOooOOOOoh you got called the the principals offfiiiiiiiceeeee” kind of way. We should think about therapy more like, uh, downloading an app to our life that makes us better people. Therapy is like yoga for the brain.

Going to therapy doesn’t mean you’re broken on the inside, or: we’re all broken, actually.

Due to the assumptions about therapy and the fact that it’s a little terrifying talking about yourself to a stranger, a lot of people don’t go to therapy until it’s too late. Too late is sort of a wishy-washy way of saying that people usually go to therapy after they’ve hit a max of what they can handle, or something has happened and they are in crisis.

So you’re in therapy and you’re talking about this horrible thing that is going on in your life and then you realize that after a few weeks you’re starting to make progress on this one thing. At this point you can segment this one horrible thing off from the rest of who you are as a person, or you can admit to yourself that this one horrible thing is a part of a much larger picture of who you are. And you keep going. And you keep going, and you keep going. This is what I call maintenance therapy.

Crisis therapy: I’m going to attend therapy until I feel like I can tackle my crisis.

Maintenance therapy: My whole life is basically a crisis tbh.

So I started going to therapy so long ago that I think I can quantify it in months now. And though I feel like I did go for crisis, or a particular reason, I honestly can’t remember what that reason was. As soon as I was there, the importance of having some uninvolved third party to talk to became super apparent. So I just kept going.

Attending Couples Therapy even if you don’t have to: YTMND

Then, one day, and I don’t know why I always put the point of my post at the bottom, but I brought my partner to therapy with me. I had been to couples counseling before, but I had only ever been to couples counseling in crisis. We sat in the waiting room together and my therapist welcomed us in. Here’s the thing, here’s the spoiler about long-term relationships: never fool yourself into thinking you know everything about your partner. Never fool yourself into thinking there are no surprises left.

First: You can know someone very very well but there is always something you don’t know. Second: Never tell your partner that you know everything about them because this is basically transmitted as “there are no surprises left, you could not surprise me.” Which is, kind of, y’know, a bummer. Thirdly, if you’re in a relationship that is dynamic and thriving and changing, your partner will be meeting new people, learning new things, and will be growing and changing as an individual. I believe a sustainable long term relationship requires falling in love with slightly different versions of your partner over and over and over again.

Like any other couple there are things we disagree about or we aren’t super clear about and it was helpful to be able to just have another person in the room helping guide us through a conversation. I learned some new things about him and he probably learned some new things about me too. This is the new kick I’m on. Maintenance therapy for couples. Just be wary, because if you go into therapy thinking you know everything about your partner and sunshine literally comes out of your asshole, you’re probably in for a rude awakening.

Finally, and this is important, but you can skip it if you’re in a hurry: I want to be better than the person I was yesterday. That means that I have to come to terms with the face I make when I hear the word math or chemistry. I made a promise that if I had children I would not recoil in fear when I saw a spider because I wouldn’t want to pass down my fear of arachnids. If I had children, I would also want to find somewhat honest enjoyment in math. So far this has been the most effective form of birth control. Don’t try to be better than anyone else. Just try to be better than you used to be. Attend therapy. Attend couples counseling. Write in a journal. Conquer a fear. Do your taxes before the day they’re due. Avoid that moment where your life becomes a crisis.

Have a question, need advice? Submit now! at Ask Suggestive and I’ll answer it on my blog.


Continue Reading