How Long Does It Really Take to Get Over Your Ex?


How Long Does It Really Take to Get Over Your Ex?

When you are in the midst of a breakup or a painful divorce, usually people are there for you. It’s the one good thing about it. What they say though is sometimes another matter. For instance, people will give you all kinds of wild and contradictory advice, including how long it takes to get over someone. For a long relationship, say lasting five years, some say it takes twice as long to get over. But does that mean you’ll be stuck in a rut for the next decade? Others say it doesn’t take double the time. Instead, take the duration of your relationship and cut it in half. How long does it really take to get over your ex? The problem is way more complex than a simple formula. Plus not everyone is the same. In fact, there’s a lot of deviation when it comes to dealing with the emotional pain that follows a breakup. Some people have a tryst with a new lover and feel rejuvenated. Others pine away, spending months on the couch in sweats watching romantic comedies and wondering why they aren’t feeling any better.

There are a lot of reasons a breakup is not easy. One is biological. Researchers at the University of Berkeley found that dopamine, the reward chemical, is released when you are in love, the same kind of feeling you get from a drug high. You are, in a way, literally addicted to that person and must go through withdrawal. But everyone withdraws in their own way. According to British psychotherapist Elly Prior there are seven factors that influence how long it will take for you to move on after a breakup. These are: how long the relationship was, whether or not the breakup was recent, how obsessive or intense it was, whether or not it was meaningful to you, how things ended, if domestic violence entered the picture and whether or not one or both of you had an affair. Other important factors include if this is your first breakup, if you have a support network in your life, what other stressors surround you, if property or possessions still have to be split up, if you suffer from depression, how you interacted with one another and whether or not you are surrounded by reminders, say a photo on a shelf or your ex constantly springing up on your newsfeed.

One simple formula isn’t enough to solve such a menagerie. You may feel like you are being swallowed up in a pit of hopelessness and despair. But realize that emotions such as these don’t stick around for long. Pretty soon it will start to subside. There of course will be moments when you are reminded of the person. But those also pass. It’s important to tend to yourself at this time. Vent, have a good cry, spend time with friends and reconnect with people you lost touch with. Think about your future and what dreams you want to fulfill now that you don’t have any dead weight pulling you down. Reflect also on what you loved about the person. If things feel incomplete, make your own ritual and find an appropriate way to say goodbye. You don’t need their permission. They don’t even need to be there. Do it on your own. Try to turn around a breakup or divorce and make it a positive experience, one that you learn from and makes you a better person. For more on breakup recovery read, How to Survive the Loss of a Love by Peter McWilliams and Harold H. Bloomfield.

Helping your Spouse Cope with Bipolar Disorder


Helping your Spouse Cope with Bipolar Disorder

If your spouse or long term partner has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, helping them cope may seem overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. They are the same person you fell in love with. They merely have a disorder. We all have our health issues and this is there’s. Some people’s first reaction is to distance themselves from their partner. Instead, get closer to them. Show them how much you care for them. Be supportive. Make them feel good about themselves. Nothing helps lift someone’s mood like a little love. It should improve both of your lives.

Don’t hold your tongue. Ask your partner to take their pills or ask if they did take them. They might forget from time to time. Consider too being in on a session with their psychiatrist or counselor. Write down any questions you might have and get them addressed. It’s good to be conscientious. It will really pay off in the end. Recognize that there are some banal, everyday tasks that compound, enrage and frustrate someone with bipolar. Paying bills and filling out forms are some examples. Handle these things for them.

People with bipolar disorder go through manic and depressive episodes. Go with your partner when they are in a certain mood. If they are manic and excited go on adventures with them. If they want to have a sex marathon, or lock yourselves away and adore one another all weekend, why not go with it? Realize too that some medications decrease sex drive, and make accommodations if necessary. When they enter the depressed stage, be there for them. Support them as best you can. If they are irritable and lash out at you, understand that it is the condition talking and not your spouse. Don’t distance yourself from them at these times, be there to talk, to embrace them and to do what you need to do to make sure everything else runs smoothly.

Understand that they may not get better, though medication can control the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Love and accept them for who they are, condition and all. Understand that they may embarrass you publicly here and there. It’s just the disorder coming out. They aren’t doing it on purpose.  It is not a simple relationship when married to someone with bipolar disorder. It is quite complex and can be difficult at times. But if they are your spouse, love them and accept them for who they are. They’ll do the same for you in return. For more advice read, Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder: Understanding & Helping Your Partner by Julie A. Fast and John D. Preston, Psy.D.

Loving someone who is Bipolar


Loving someone who is Bipolar

Sometimes we can’t help who we fall in love with. And love is a beautiful thing. But loving someone who is bipolar can be difficult. Bipolar disorder or manic depression is when a person goes through bouts of serious depression, interrupted here and there with episodes of sheer happiness and elation. The person generally phases between the two. It can be helped through medication and therapy. Someone who has bipolar disorder has a brain that acts differently. At certain times the amygdala, a part of the brain that triggers fight-or-flight response, gets over activated. When this happens they become irrational. There is generally no reasoning with the person and even though that is your first instinct, it will likely make the situation worse.

Another problem is that many feel the need to judge someone with bipolar disorder. The thing to remember is that someone who has bipolar disorder has a different outlook than you do. They are simply acting on how they view the world. It’s not right or wrong, just the particular hand they’ve been dealt.  Instead of looking at things in terms of a right or wrong perspective, invest time, energy and care into getting to know how they view the world and making little changes to accommodate them and their needs.

That said, no one in the relationship should put up with abuse. And either party can be prone to abuse, either emotional or physical. Establish boundaries and have your partner do the same. Work out a set of rules together and stick by them single mindedly. Realize that to a certain extent abuse in this case is up to perception more than anything else. If one or both parties find it isn’t working or that their needs aren’t being met, they should choose to leave the relationship without any guilt.  There is a high stress factor for getting involved emotionally with someone who has bipolar. It isn’t for the faint of heart. Still, like anyone with any condition, love, caring, understanding, patience and nurturing can help bring the sufferer a long way.

Bipolar disorder can be difficult. But just because they have a condition, doesn’t mean they are undeserving of love. We all deserve love. It can work but just know that it is a bumpy road ahead where you will be lost, confused and are bound to go through some thrills and misadventures together. Though there are plenty of trials there are also great wide, energetic bursts of love, energy, enthusiasm and hope. Bipolar disorder isn’t an end to a rich, fulfilling love affair, the relationship only needs to be managed in a new and accommodating way. If you really love someone, love them deeply despite anything that comes. Your life might not be easy but it will be rich, deep, textured, and well lived. For more advice read, Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder by Julie A. Fast and John D. Preston, PSY.D.

Don’t Let Rumination Ruin your Relationship


Don’t Let Rumination Ruin your Relationship

Ruminating is thinking about something from every angle, replaying mistakes over and over in your head and obsessing or over-thinking about important aspects of your life, such as your relationship or career. Obsessive behavior is often born out of rumination. Studies reveal that constant rumination can have negative side effects such as depression, anxiety, binge-eating, alcohol and substance abuse and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What happens with rumination is that you get caught up in these negatives thoughts and they consume you. The more you think about them the more you get stuck in their pull and it becomes a viscous cycle.

Professor at Yale University Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, Ph.D, a psychologist says of this phenomenon, “when people ruminate while they are in depressed mood, they remember more negative things that happened to them in the past, they interpret situations in their current lives more negatively, and they are more hopeless about the future.” Rumination pulverizes our problem-solving skills by making us feel helpless, and that it is all just a waste of time. You become so obsessed with the problem and how it makes you feel that you cannot make any plans for actually solving the problem.

What’s more, when a problem looks hopeless, all the people around you become tired of your negativity sooner or later. Says Nolen-Hoeksema, “When people ruminate for an extended time, their family members and friends become frustrated and may pull away their support.” So why do people ruminate if it can be so destructive to personal and romantic relationships? Some people are just overloaded with stress in their lives. Nolen-Hoeksema adds that, “Some people prone to ruminate have basic problems pushing things out of consciousness once they get there.”

According to the professor, women are more apt to ruminate than men. So how do you reduce the problem? First, do things that make you feel positive. Volunteer. Get some exercise. Take part in your favorite hobby or past-time. According to Nolen-Hoeksema, “The main thing is to get your mind off your ruminations for a time so they die out and don’t have a grip on your mind.” Next, empower yourself. Instead of wallowing in the thought that there is nothing you can do, make plans on how to conquer your problem or fear and follow through with those plans. Finally, replace rumination with positive self-reflection. The difference? Focus on the things you can change, the positive things you can do to make your situation better. Don’t let rumination ruin your relationship. To read more pick up a copy of, Women Who Think Too Much: How to Break Free of Overthinking and Reclaim Your Life by Susan Nolen-Hoeksema.

Science Confirms the Honeymoon Effect


Science Confirms the Honeymoon Effect

You know how a relationship seems spectacular, whimsical and perfect in a relationship or marriage just at the beginning but as time wears on more and more problems, issues and things that drive you and your lover crazy start popping up? This is called the “honeymoon effect” and it’s not just what people say, science has confirmed its existence. Researchers at New York University, led by Dr. Michael Lorber, studied 396 newlyweds in their initial two and a half years together as husband and wife. Researchers found that 14% of the husbands experienced the honeymoon effect. Though elated at the beginning, these men were highly unsatisfied by the end of the study.

10% of the wives in this study also encountered the honeymoon effect. But researchers found something interesting here. These women were not as satisfied at the beginning of the relationship as women who did not experience the effect. According to Lorber, “Men who were more depressed or aggressive, or whose fiancées were more depressed or less satisfied with the relationship, were more likely to exhibit the honeymoon effect. Things worked out pretty similarly for the women as well … The more depressed or aggressive women were, or the more depressed, aggressive, or dissatisfied their fiancés were, the more likely they were to have fairly high initial satisfaction that dropped sharply.”

According to Lorber, if you can see this idealization at the beginning of a relationship it could tip you off to steer clear of this person, saving you grief and time. As things move on there could also be interventions to help couples navigate the harsh waters of marriage and get their relationship back on track again. But this forecasting method of course isn’t foolproof. According to Lorber, “We can make some predictions about which highly satisfied newlyweds or soon-to-be newlyweds may not stay that way, and then try to help those people … it might be easier to do some relatively ‘light touch’ interventions early on than to do intensive marital therapy after things have already soured.”

Anyone entering into a relationship and especially a marriage should not just dive in with their gut feeling without evaluating the relationship. Are both partners being practical about its ministrations? Are they practical in their outlook of their relationship and their evaluation of one another? It’s important that you do recognize your soon-to-be spouse’s shortcomings and have come to terms with them. Accepting who we are, who our lover is and what our relationship is like, and how it should be in a practical sense is important. Realize that no one is perfect. If you feel like you are marrying someone who is perfect, or they think you are perfect, be wary. Perfection does not exist in the world. Find someone who is instead perfect for you. For more advice read, Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow: From Habit to Harmony in Sexual Relationships by Marnia Robinson and Douglas Wile, Ph.D.