Politeness in close, romantic relationships.

By David Joel Miller.

Is politeness in short supply?

Polite child

Polite.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

You don’t have to look far to notice a decline in politeness. Rude behavior seems to be the order of the day. We might be able to blame this decline in politeness on the media. Reality TV, politicians, and talk shows set an extremely poor example. It would be easier to forgive these public displays of incivility if the rude behaviors were spilling over into our close relationships.

Family counselors, particularly those who do couples counseling see a severe lack of politeness within the family. Research tells us that most people are far more polite to strangers than they are to those described as their “loved ones.”

Distressed families, couples headed for a breakup, are the ones who have run out of positive feelings for each other. One way to keep your close relationships positive is to practice your politeness closer to home. Here are some tips for improving politeness with your family and friends.

Give genuine compliments, not backhanded ones.

Say you did a great job, not “well you finally did something right.” Make it a point to notice when those close to you do something praiseworthy. Commenting on the accomplishments of your loved ones should be a time to build them up not an opportunity to try to make yourself feel better by putting them down.

Say what you can or will do.

Avoid focusing on what you can’t or won’t do. Constant negative expressions poison relationships. Rather than always being on the defensive, look for ways to express things positively. If someone asks you to help them today, avoid the temptation to assert yourself by setting boundaries in a negative manner. Rather than complaining that they are always expecting you to do things, consider a polite reply. Instead of saying “no, I can’t do everything for you,” say “I can help you with that this weekend.”

Be considerate.

Avoid self-centeredness. Before responding think first about their needs and their feelings. Avoid defensiveness and try to see things from others point of view. Look for ways to create positive interactions.

Focus on the new.

Let go of the resentments of the past. Continuing to rehash the resentments of the past damages relationships in the present. The way to get over past hurts is to create pleasant experiences in the present. Look for ways to strengthen relationships rather than ways to get even. Think of your relationship as being part of the team. The team doesn’t win by fighting each other. It’s a hollow victory if you win by hurting your partner in destroying your relationship.

Notice the positive in people and situations.

Be careful to avoid putting those close to you down. Whatever you pay attention to, you will get more of. Always picking on the faults of those close to you, turns the relationship negative. When people conclude there’s no way to please you, that everything they do is wrong, they learn to be helpless and give up trying. Focusing on the positive creates a happier relationship.

Show appreciation whenever possible.

Do not complain, nag or berate others. Avoid the attitude of expecting everyone to always do what you want. Show them some appreciation. Make it a point to notice all the helpful things others do for you every day. When you show appreciation, you make it easier for others to appreciate you.

Let them finish talking.

Do not interrupt. Especially when you think you’ve heard this before, practice patience. When you hear people out, you may be surprised at the things they say you were not expecting. Being willing to hear someone out is a sign of respect. If you want to be respected, you need to respect others.

Listen to them. Do not monopolize the conversation.

It is more important to understand other’s points of view than to sell yours. Do not monopolize the conversation. It’s not a conversation if one person does all the talking. Listening involves more than hearing the words. Pay attention to the feelings behind the words they are saying.

Evaluate ideas, not people.

Do not put yourself or others down. Lots of ideas look good on paper. It’s natural for people to think their ideas have merit. When you disagree, stay focused on the idea. Avoid calling people stupid or ignorant. Trying to win arguments by attacking others damages relationships.

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Where you live can make you lonely.

By David Joel Miller.

Where you live can make you lonely.

loneliness

Loneliness.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Where do you think people, are most likely to be lonely?

When I saw the research on location and loneliness, I was surprised.

It seemed logical the people who live in remote, rural areas would have less human contact and would be lonelier. That’s not what the research showed.

The highest rates of loneliness are reported in crowded, urban areas. It’s not surprising then that with more than half the world’s population living in large cities loneliness is on the rise. Here are some of the reasons we think people who live in large cities experience more loneliness.

Not knowing people in the neighborhood makes you lonely.

One of the common complaints about small towns is that everyone knows everyone else’s business. It’s harder, maybe impossible, to be anonymous in a small town. The upside of having everyone else know about you is that you know about them. In a large city, you may live in an apartment for years and never get to know other people in nearby apartments. That lack of connection results in loneliness. One cure for loneliness is to frequent places where people know your name.

Lots of crime around you increases loneliness.

If you live in an area with a high crime rate, you avoid other people. In cities with high murder rates, people stay indoors at night. If you believe you live in a high crime area, you are likely to stay boarded up in your dwelling, hiding from other people. Work with other civic-minded people to reduce crime and dispel the loneliness.

Not expecting help makes you feel lonely.

When you don’t know people nearby, you don’t expect them to help you. People who have close relationships with those around them feel safer and are less likely to feel lonely. In crowded areas, people are often reluctant to help those around them. When there are many people present everyone tends to think someone else will take care of it. The result of this thinking is that when everyone expects someone else to help no one may act.

Not feeling safe where you live can make you lonely.

Lack of safety, feeling at risk and vulnerable increases your isolation and loneliness. People who feel unsafe barricade themselves behind locked doors.

Being afraid to leave the house makes you lonely.

Fear isolates people. As your fear of leaving your house increases, you will feel a corresponding increase in loneliness. People in poor, crowded, environments, become increasingly lonely because they try to avoid contact with others who they fear will harm them. Not feeling safe has resulted in a generation of kids who grow up playing in their homes, connecting only with electronics because their parents are afraid to let them go outside.

People who are afraid to go walking after dark experience an increase in loneliness.

Have you noticed the news stories about a group of people who all go walking together after dark? The premise here is that people’s fear of leaving their homes after dark increases their loneliness and increases isolation, and turns the streets over to people out to harm others.

If you live in a neighborhood was well-lit streets and have a busy shopping area close to your home are more likely to go out at night. When you must travel long distances, alone in your car, to connect with other people are likely to stay home and feel lonely.

What do you do if where you live makes you feel lonely?

The greatest cure for loneliness is human connections. Get to know your neighbors. Enlarge your social network. For some people moving to another neighborhood where they feel safe and accepted is an option. For other people, the solution is to work to change the neighborhood in which you live. Join community groups dedicated to making your neighborhood safer and a better environment. Make friends and be a friend. Loneliness, the feeling, tells you that you need more human connection. Increasing your social connections will help you overcome that feeling of loneliness.

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Problems with Unfounded Jealousy.

By David Joel Miller.

Sometimes relationship jealousy becomes pathological.

Jealousy in relationships can go from mild to off the scale, stalker type, pathological

Jealousy

Jealousy.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

jealousy. A little bit of jealousy seems to strengthen relationships. It’s nice to know that your partner wouldn’t want to lose you to a rival.

The level of jealousy in a relationship is affected by the level of trust. If one person in the relationship is untrustworthy, has cheated in the past, trust will be one of the casualties.

Excessive jealousy can become dangerous, even abusive. In some relationships, partners are jealous even when the facts give them no reason for the extreme level of jealousy they experience. A pathologically jealous partner may spy on their mate, going through their email, checking their phone messages and even following their partner around town. Excessively jealous partners are known to become violent and abusive.

Excessive jealousy is often reported among men in troubled relationships where it may lead to domestic violence. Pathological jealousy is often coupled with serious impairments. Drug use, alcoholism, and past histories of troubled relationships increase the risks. Unreasonable jealousy is also commonly reported among older adults with cognitive impairments. In Alzheimer’s and other dementias, the impaired person may believe their partner, who was also their caregiver, is cheating on them even when that partner is present all day long.

Intense love does not cause jealousy.

Jealous people often alibi their behaviors by saying they love the other person. Excessive pathological jealousy is not about the one who is loved. Jealous people’s behavior harms their partner and their relationship.

The sort of mild relational jealousy seen in loving couple’s results in increased attention and efforts to strengthen the relationship. Pathological jealousy results in harming your partner and efforts to control them.

Jealousy is caused by the fear of loss.

Sometimes feelings of jealousy can be functional. Jealousy’s role is to warn you when a close relationship is in jeopardy. If your partner is spending a lot of time with someone else, this may pose a threat to your relationship. Jealousy is not restricted to relationships that may turn sexual. If your partner or someone close to you become emotionally close to another person and shares with them things about you and your relationship, this can damage your intimate relationships

Jealousy is the result of insecurities.

People who are high in jealousy are insecure. They commonly believe that their partner would have many more opportunities to find a new mate then they would. That may not want their partner to leave the house and become easily upset if their partner looks too attractive. They become angry potentially violent if their partner communicates with other potential mates.

Jealousy may stem from unmet childhood needs.

Some people are chronically high in the trait of jealousy. Their high trait jealousy may be the result of adverse childhood experience which leads to mental health issues we call “attachment disorders.” If your close relationships in childhood did not meet your needs, you may feel insecure and doubt your close relationships as an adult. People who have experienced high levels of jealousy and past relationships need to work on themselves and their feelings of insecurity.

Jealousy jumps to conclusions.

The more jealousy-prone you are, the more likely you are to interpret normal events as posing a threat to your relationship. If your partner gets an occasional email or text from another person that shouldn’t trigger automatic jealous thoughts. If when your partner’s late getting home from work you assume their meeting someone else your mind may be taking you in a very bad direction.

Jealousy assumes the worst.

Jealous people are constantly looking for evidence to confirm their preconceived bias. If your partner talks to someone on the phone you assume they’re trying to make a hook up rather than assuming this is work-related or concerns financial transactions? When “Sarah” from the insurance company calls for your husband you assume it’s because she’s flirting or you think it is about an insurance policy?

Low self-esteem fuels jealousy.

People who are low in self-esteem are often high in jealousy. Their underlying assumptions is that if they lose this partner, they would have trouble finding another, while they believed that their partner has lots of choices of desirable mates. If you don’t feel good about yourself, it’s more difficult to believe that your partner wants to continue this relationship.

Stay tuned in for more posts about jealousy; it’s causes and its treatment, which is coming up soon. More information about Jealousy and its treatment is or will be at Jealousy.  

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

The Times Loneliness Takes Over.

By David Joel Miller.

Loneliness is worse at transition points.

loneliness

Loneliness.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

It’s common for people to feel lonely at certain times in their lives. The feeling of loneliness can have survival value. One person, by themselves, is in a dangerous situation. A group of people together can protect each other. In limited amounts, loneliness can motivate you to seek out others and create new supportive relationships.

Sometimes loneliness becomes excessive and can result in feelings of rejection, isolation, and distrust. High levels of loneliness can damage your physical and emotional health, harm your relationships, and result in self-harm, or abusing substances.

The effects of loneliness intensify when you have fewer supportive relationships. Knowing when loneliness is likely to strike can help you to understand that this is a normal part of life rather than something wrong with you.

If you are feeling especially lonely right now, reach out to others and work on improving your support systems. If loneliness has gotten you in its grasp, consider getting some professional help to get you through this time. Here are some of the times in life you are likely to feel lonely and what that loneliness is trying to tell you.

When you don’t feel you belong, you get lonely.

People used to know where they “belonged.” Historically individuals were connected to groups and locations in ways that told them where they belonged and where they didn’t belong. Over the last hundred years, most of these connections have weakened to the point that people no longer can tell you where they belong.

For most of human history, people lived in small groups. First, there were small bands, then larger tribes. Over time humans progressed to building dwellings and being parts of families. Next people belonged to a particular city or state. The group you lived in might have been loving, or it might have been harsh and cruel. Either way, you were likely to feel that where you were was where you belonged. People who grow up in a rural community or a small town typically put down roots. No matter where you go afterward you can feel anchored to your “hometown.”

People used to be able to define themselves by their social role. Men, when asked to describe themselves, would tell you what they did for a living. They were farmers, fishermen, shopkeepers, or they worked in the factory or mine. Women used to define themselves as wives or mothers. Over the last hundred years or so women moved into the workplace. Certain occupations became traditional “women’s work.” When asked who she was, a working woman was likely to cite a handful of common women’s jobs. She might have been a teacher, a nurse, or a cashier in a retail store. The work role person a person “belongs in” is more fluid today.

Most people used to be affiliated with a group. Church or religious memberships were the norms. There was a time in America when you ask someone about their religious affiliation they would give you the name of a particular denomination. They would say they were Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, and so on. They likely attended functions at the church even if they didn’t fully believe that church’s doctrine. Membership in occupational groups, like a grange or union was much more common in the past. So was membership in social and fraternal organizations.

In this new millennium, most group affiliations have weakened. People move frequently. Most people must change their career multiple times in their life. Women have moved into jobs that were once exclusively done by men, and in a few areas, men moved into traditionally female occupations. Church membership has declined. Today most people describe themselves as “spiritual rather than religious” or as simply “Christian” rather than as a member of a specific denomination.

Along with church membership, participation in fraternal and social groups has declined. Even union membership has become more fluid. Many of the newer jobs are not unionized and as people move from job to job they may move from union to union. Rather than being able to define yourself by the groups you belong to, today people must define themselves by the things they have. As you move through life, your changing experiences are likely to trigger feelings of loneliness.

When you are a teenager, you are likely to experience loneliness.

Part of being a teenager is moving through changes in relationships. During these years, teens make the shift from being part of the family to becoming a separate, individual person. Loneliness can drive you to find out who you are as a separate individual. During these years, the relationship between you and your parents or caregivers needs to transform from being close and affectionate to being a more separate adult relationship. You will need to make your first step to overcoming loneliness by finding out who you are as a person.

The teen years are a time when being accepted is important. Teens want to be liked and be a part of a group. Some kids become part of the “in” popular group. Others may become “stoners” or “nerds and geeks.” Increasingly teens find it hard to fit in anywhere. This lack of belonging has resulted in increasing depression and anxiety.

Those who don’t find the group to belong to may become lonely, isolated and develop significant emotional problems. As difficult as this stage is for some teen’s learning to cope with changing social relationships as a part of the growing up process. The hard thing to understand for many as they pass through this stage is not to take it personally. Not being a part of the group doesn’t mean there something wrong with you.

During your teenage and early 20 something years, it’s important to learn the skills to make and to maintain relationships. One of the biggest hazards of being lonely at this point in your life is that you will rush into a romantic, sexual, relationship to avoid feeling lonely. The most important developmental task during this stage in your life is not finding a life partner but learning to tell the difference between the potentially good partners and the bad ones.

When you live alone, loneliness tries to move in.

One of life’s challenges is learning that when you are alone, you do not have to be lonely. Most people tried to avoid the loneliness beast by staying constantly busy. You’re either going to school or working. First, you are a part of a family. If you go away to school, you probably have roommates. Many people move rapidly into romantic relationships. Some of the clients I’ve worked with moved in with a partner after the first or second date. A few of these relationships succeed. Most do not.

At some point in your life are likely to find yourself living alone. The minute you’re sitting there in an empty house or apartment loneliness moves in. If you can learn to be your own best friend, to be happy and content when you’re all alone, there won’t be room for loneliness in your life. People who manage to achieve a good balance between the time they spend with others and the time they spend with themselves are more likely to create a contented life, free from the presence of the loneliness beast.

When you are unemployed, loneliness comes calling.

What you do gives your life meaning and purpose. When you are young, you go to school. When you get older, most people must work. All those activities involve interacting with other people. The day you wake up and don’t have anywhere to go, you are likely to experience loneliness. Whether you have left your job voluntarily, resigned, been fired or watched the workplace close not having some purpose can leave you feeling depressed and lonely. The cure for this loneliness is to get out there and find another job.

When you are sick or disabled, you may be lonely.

People with a significant disability or those faced with a serious illness spend a lot of time alone. The most difficult part of this experience can be the emptiness of the time you must be alone. During these life transitions, it’s important to stay as active and engaged as possible. Newer technologies have made staying connected easier than ever. But staying connected requires effort on your part.

When you become an older adult, you spend more time alone.

Time alone does not have to equal loneliness. Developing the skill of being comfortable when you are by yourself can ease this life transition. As you age, it becomes harder to maintain connections with other people. For some people, the retirement years are active ones. For other people, the exit from work leads to isolation and loneliness. Families move away, and friends pass away. Overcoming loneliness in later life requires effort to maintain your friendships and social connections.

Now that you know the times that loneliness may come calling, what efforts will you make to keep him out of your life?

Read more about the causes and cures for loneliness.

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Managing Relationship Jealousy.

By David Joel Miller.

Relationship jealousy is a major reason people seek marriage counseling.

Jealousy can destroy your primary relationship. Couples who come in for

Jealousy

Jealousy.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

relationship counseling, are commonly plagued by jealous behaviors. Often one of the parties believes the other is having or has had an affair. Sometimes it’s this discovery of the affair the brings the couple in to see the marriage counselor. Other times the truth of the affair comes out as the couple explores their jealous feelings.

The most destructive type of jealousy is the pathological, delusional variety of jealous, in which one partner is constantly checking because they believe their partners are cheating despite a total lack of evidence. If you do not manage this extreme variety of jealousy, it can escalate to violence, police involvement, restraining orders and can bring an end to the relationship.

Before coming to counseling, many couples have tried coping with jealous feelings by using unhelpful coping strategies.

Jealous couples may deny they have a problem.

Some couples have an unspoken agreement that they will pretend the jealousy between them is normal and not a problem. When the jealousy is largely on one side, more commonly the male, that partner frequently will deny that they have a problem with jealousy and will blame their partner. The jealous person may refuse to take responsibility for their jealousy and tell their partner “you make me jealous.”

Stonewalling and refusing to talk, will make jealousy worse.

A common way jealous people avoid looking at their part in the problem is to refuse to talk about it. Refusing to discuss problems is very destructive of close relationships.

Seek revenge on your partner or rival doesn’t help jealous feelings.

An unduly jealous partner may drop in on their partner at work, destroy things and try to prevent the object of their jealousy from being able to see or to talk to the person they perceive as their rival. I’ve witnessed jealous people, both men and women, show up at a class and threaten or attack the person they believe to be flirting with their partner.

If jealousy is a problem in your relationship, seek help.

Don’t wait to deal with jealousy in your relationship until it escalates into violence, legal involvement or destroys your relationship. When couples come to counseling and jealousy is an issue there are several things the counselor will look at. Is the jealousy problem a couple’s issue, the result of poor communication or disagreements about appropriate behavior?

When a couple first gets together a shy or insecure person may be very attractive to an outgoing, friendly, person. After a while, what they like the attention, they become jealous when their partner acts in precisely the same that originally attracted them.

One other thing the counselor needs to rule out, sometimes the feeling of jealousy is well founded. Your partner’s behavior may be a genuine threat to the relationship. Sometimes the causes of the jealousy are your partner’s inappropriate close relationship with another person. Jealousy may be well found if your partner is having an affair.

Here are some of the techniques counselor might use to help couples deal openly and honestly with the issue of jealousy.

Talk openly and honestly about your feelings of jealousy.

Not talking about things leaves the imagination to magnify insignificant events into horrific threats. Rather than letting jealousy poison your relationship the jealous person should explain when they are jealous and what is making them feel jealous. It’s important for the jealous person to take ownership of the feeling rather than to blame their partner by saying “you make me jealous.”

Requesting reassurance from your partner may reduce jealousy.

It can be helpful to the jealous person to hear from their partner that their relationship is intact. Hearing that your partner values the relationship and is willing to do things to make you feel less threatened and more secure can help reduce feelings of jealousy.

You may need to reevaluate your relationship.

When a partner can’t reassure you or is unwilling to stop seeing the person that is causing your jealousy, one or both people may need to reevaluate this relationship. If your partner insists they will continue to see someone else, there may be good reasons for your jealousy. Sometimes the feeling of jealousy is trying to tell that there is a real threat to your relationship.

Reduce jealousy by questioning your assumptions.

Many feelings we call “negative feelings,” are based in reality. These feelings tell us that something bad is or has happened. Other times, however, those negative feelings you are experiencing are the result of a lot of “unhelpful thoughts” you are having. Rather than assume that your partner’s jealousy means your relationship is threatened; re-examine those beliefs. Be very careful about jumping to conclusions. People with a bias towards jealousy, anger, anxiety, and depression, are likely to perceive everything is being much more significant and much more negative than it is. If jealousy is troubling your relationships, consider working with a professional to see if you have reason to be jealous or you are making faulty assumptions.

Stay tuned in for more posts about jealousy; it’s causes and its treatment, which is coming up soon. More information about Jealousy and its treatment is or will be at Jealousy.  

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Is watching porn causing your relationship problems?

By David Joel Miller.

What would your therapist say about watching pornography?

sex-on-a-cork-board

sex-on-a-cork-board.
FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In this Internet age, pornography is much more available and widely viewed. Occasionally a client tells their counselor they think they have problems with viewing pornography. Much more often this issue comes up in couple’s sessions when one partner, commonly the woman, is angry, or hurt, or feeling insecure, as a direct result of her partner’s watching of pornography.

Some counselors and therapists received a little bit of information on the problems connected to pornography during their training. Most did not. Those counselors who work with couples are likely to hear about the conflicts couples are having regarding pornography use. What they say to their client’s is probably largely based on their own beliefs, what other clients have told them or their personal “field research.” So just how big a problem is pornography causing in relationships?

The two questions above are, of course, two very different questions. Recently I came across a professional journal article which looked at the training, attitudes, and competencies counselors have when it comes to helping couples work through the issues involving pornography.

Pornography is hard to define.

Even the courts have found it difficult to define pornography. Contemporary standards have changed. You will see things on prime-time television now which once would’ve been considered inappropriate and pornographic. Technically the term pornography is customarily used to refer to explicit sexual material that crosses some line or boundary and therefore becomes illegal.

When clients talk about pornography what they usually mean is “adult entertainment” consisting of pictures of naked people or suggestive poses. Often it includes depictions of people engaging in a variety of sexual behaviors. The intended purpose of this material is to cause arousal in the viewer.

In the year 2000, sexual material was the number 1 item viewed on the Internet and accounted for more than half of the money spent on the Internet. It’s possible that Internet shopping, social media, and the increased popularity of videos has altered those numbers, the way doubt it’s changed that much. It’s quite possible that people viewing pornography were early adopters of the Internet. Whatever the statistics say today, it’s common for individuals and couples in counseling to report using the Internet for a variety of sexual activities (Ayres & Haddock, 2009.)

Pornography is the primary relationship problem for some couples.

Researchers have identified 5 ways internet usage may be harming a couple’s relationships

The largest consumers of pornography are reported to be married heterosexual males. There use of porn significantly impacts their partner, resulting in reduced self-esteem, loss of respect and trust, and impairment of the connection between the partners (Bergner & Bridges, 2002; Schneider, 2000.)

While some couples are reported to view porn together, this rarely brings them to counseling. The type of viewing which causes the largest problems is when one person, usually the male, views it privately and in secret. The keeping of secrets part significantly damages the trust in the relationship.

Time spent in this secret activity is time away from the partner and family. Discovery of this secret leads to marital discord and frequently separation and divorce.

Online sexual activity can lead to affairs.

Two types of affairs can be facilitated because of online sexual activity.

Cyber affairs and cybersex results in the parties meeting their needs online and having less sex with their regular partner. Online sexual activity can cause the same damage to relationships as real-world affairs.

Sexual activity online can also be a way to facilitate real-world hookups resulting in either a string of casual sexual relationships or a longer lasting affair. One of the ways these hookups, which are being facilitated online, comes to the attention of the relationship partner is the contraction of a sexually transmitted disease.

Pornography can create individual problems also.

About 10 percent of pornography viewers spend 90 minutes a day or more searching for and viewing sexually explicit materials. Individual issues may include an increase in erectile dysfunction at a young age. Internet viewing porn has been described as “the great porn experiment.” 

In addition to altering patterns of arousal, heavy use of cybersex and pornography has been reported to lead to sexual addictions. The diagnosing of sexual addictions remains controversial. But the pattern of behavior closely matches the pattern of drug addiction. The person addicted to sex spends more time seeking it, engaging in it, and more effort trying to hide what they are doing.

As a sexual addiction develops, the addict shows tolerance, needs more and more sexual encounters and seeks activities that will increase the arousal. The addict lowers their standards and will engage in sex with people they would not have found attractive in the past.

The typical content of adult entertainment is likely to create unrealistic expectations for partners and distorted beliefs about the roles of women. The plots are often bizarre, fantastic, and feature atypical behavior rather than the way in which most couples typically express their sexuality.

Can pornography and cybersex addiction be treated?

Individuals with the pornography problem or sexual addiction can be treated, often with good results. Where these activities have damaged the couple’s relationship, couples counseling can help. Just like in-person sexual affairs, couples can recover from these experiences.

Treatment for sexual issues is very specialized, and you should seek someone experienced in working in these areas. In addition to the couple’s issues, each of the parties probably needs to see a counselor for individual therapy.

If your partner has a problem with pornography or cybersex, it is important not to blame yourself. It’s common for women to believe there is something wrong with them and ask what it is that the other woman had that made them more attractive. The truth is it’s rarely the woman’s fault. What was attractive, whether it was online pornography, cybersex or an in-person affair, was largely the result of one person’s individual problems, their need to constantly seek something different. Individual counseling for the partners of sexual addicts is extremely important.

Pornography and sexual addictions are only one way in which trust can be damaged.

Look here for more on the topic of trust.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

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Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

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Trust.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Trust sign.

Trust.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Trust

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.”

― William Shakespeare, All’s Well That Ends Well

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

― Ernest Hemingway

“Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

“It is more shameful to distrust our friends than to be deceived by them.”

― Confucius

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Trust