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How to Break Free From Unhealthy Relationships

How to Break Free From Unhealthy Relationships

What unhealthy relationships do you experience in your life?

Throughout my life, I had a fair share of unhealthy relationships, whether it was my sister or a close friend. Being in these relationships, I often felt confused and powerless. It felt easy to blame the other person for their behaviour. However, I also noticed that I had a responsibility for unhealthy dynamics. Don’t get me wrong, I do not think that their unhealthy behaviour was ok. They were responsible for it. However, the reality is that blaming them for their behaviour did not allow me to make better choices for myself. Some people may change, others won’t. Therefore, I asked myself how I could empower myself in these situations. I chose to be honest with myself and reflected on the dynamics.

What is holding you back from making healthier choices?

Overtime, I found out important principles that help me break free from unhealthy relationships. They also helped me choose healthy relationships in my life.

Stop making excuses

I noticed that I excused and explained their unhealthy behaviour, but I did not respect my boundaries. In the case of my sister, I deeply loved her and I knew her. I understood why she behaved the way she did since we have grown up in a dysfunctional family. I saw the abused child in her but I never saw in her the adult who was now responsible for their choices. She never chose to heal herself and break the cycle of violence. She never changed her unhealthy behaviour and violated my boundaries. I stopped excusing her and saw the adult she now was.

Hold people accountable for their behaviour

Therefore, I was able to hold her accountable for her actions – or inactions. I addressed the behaviour that was not ok for me and requested her to change. While I have compassion for people’s suffering, I stopped making excuses and took care of my boundaries.

Heal your blind spots

While it took me a while to recognize it, my sister and my best friend knew my insecurities better than I knew them. Each time I did something that they did not like, they used those aspects of me that I felt guilty for or insecure about against me. They were those parts of me that I avoided looking at because they were painful or I considered them as being worthless. The more I was able to take care of those parts, accept them and integrate them, the more I was able to liberate myself from emotional blackmail. I was able to stand up for myself and confront what was going on.

Acknowledge your needs

Last but not least, I sat down with my painful emotions and asked myself what the unmet need was underneath it. For example, in my relationship with my former best friend, I noticed that I often felt angry or bored and I asked myself what need I did not get out of this relationship. My friend never shared his story, and I needed this to feel connected with him. I asked myself what I needed in this relationship to continue with it.

You can make requests, but you cannot command people to change

I reflected on the specific behaviours I could request from him to get them met. I also marked those needs that were essential to continue with the relationship. Later, I had a conversation with him and explained my requests. He denied all of them. While it was a difficult conversation, it gave me the clarity I needed to let go of the relationship. It suddenly became easy.

If you do not take action, nothing will ever change

I am not saying that breaking free from an unhealthy relationship means that you have to let go of it. There is no definite rule for it, it depends on the other person and what you are willing to tolerate or where your boundaries are. However, stopping to find excuses, healing your blind spots and acknowledging your needs will help you to gain clarity about what your options are.

Change is uncomfortable, but nothing is as painful as staying where you are

While it is easy to write about it, I do not necessarily think that it is simple to implement when we are in the middle of an unhealthy relationship dynamic because our emotions may be messy – we may feel confused, angry, devastated, powerless, and full of doubts. Therefore, I think that it is a sign of strength to get help when you are in an unhealthy situation. At least, this is the promise I gave myself if I ever ended up in an unhealthy relationship again.

Check out my program “Break Free From Unhealthy Relationships.”

How to Find a Good Counsellor

How to find a good counsellor, this question was constantly on my mind when I first started my healing journey. In the beginning, I did not really know what to look for. Furthermore, I felt afraid of judgment and stigmatization.

How about you? What are your fears?

My first experience was difficult:

I sat in my psychologist’s office and said, Well, for me, it is over now. I have already packed up the stuff he had in my apartment and sent it back to him. Dr. Mueller looked at me with cool eyes and said, You are complicated. You will always find complicated men. I looked at her. Her words broke my heart. She was the psychologist. She was the authority. If she said it, it must be true. I asked her what I had to do because I truly wanted to heal. She told me that I could not leave my partner. I had to stay.

Until today, I have no clue why she made this assumption. I continued staying in an unhealthy relationship that wasn’t good for me because I thought it would help me grow. It never did.

What is your experience of how to find a good counsellor?

While this therapeutic relationship was painful, it also showed me what a good counsellor shouldn’t do. It was an important lesson to learn. I continued looking for a good counsellor to support me. Later on, I found them while I let go of those professionals who weren’t good for me.

So, how to find a good counsellor?

Unfortunately, there is no simple rule. I cannot tell you that it depended on their degree, their education or their professional association. However, there were certain qualities that made our therapeutic relationship beneficial for my healing journey. Here are some guidelines you can consider concerning how to find a good counsellor:

They don’t judge, make dismissive comments or discount your feelings or experiences

The counsellors who supported my healing journey did not judge me or stigmatize me. I never sensed that they looked down on me because I was a survivor of childhood abuse. They were not shocked by my story but responded with empathy and compassion. I felt as if they provided me with a safe space where I was able to show my deepest pain.

They have the courage to be with you in your darkness until you come out of it

Working through painful emotions is part of healing. A good counsellor is comfortable being with these difficult emotions. I always felt accompanied by my counsellors, no matter how much pain I felt. I never heard phrases like “just get over it.” They never brushed me off. They were there for me and they trusted that I would eventually find my way out of my darkness.

They leverage the power differential

Counsellors have a position of power, but how they use this power makes a difference. Good counsellors actively manage the power differential so that they do not abuse their power. In the collaboration with good counsellors, I felt like I was the expert of my life while they were the expert in healing. Unfortunately, we also do not live in a perfect world. Discrimination and oppression exist. Often, it is hard to put a finger on it. A good counsellor takes into consideration the social context that might influence the relationship with a client. They also leverage their privilege so that the dynamics of oppression do not continue in the therapeutic relationship. They are able to listen to stories about discrimination and open to feedback by their clients. They believe you.

They support you to find your answers within yourself

Good counsellors never gave me advice or told me what to do. While they encouraged me to experiment, they also trusted me when something did not work for me. It was a creative process that always respected my needs and helped me to connect with my inner voice and find my answers within myself.

I hope that these guidelines support you in finding a good counsellor. Last but not least, trust your gut. If you have a counsellor and you do not feel comfortable, safe or heard, they may not be the person for you.

Do you want to learn more about my programs? Check out my offers.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

4 Refreshing Perspectives of Success

Success

We were in the kitchen, preparing dinner. I just had met my date a couple of weeks ago and I was curious to get to him better. I asked him what he wanted people to say about him about his life. He looked at me and said, he made lots of money. I felt surprised because it did not really fit into my definition of success. Was money really everything? I asked him how the money would serve him after he was dead. He never answered this question.

Is money really the only measure of success?

Looking at my family of origin, money, and possession was the only measure of success. Society was a direct mirror of my family: the bigger the house or car, the more successful you were. It was a simple formula. I started doubting this model when my mother died of cancer when I was 19. She was just 50 years old. She died with regrets. Her greatest one was that she never had a loving relationship with her husband. She only knew dysfunctional relationships. I often asked myself how painful it must have been to die without ever having had a satisfactory relationship with a loving partner. My mother’s death was full of suffering. My mother’s agony made me re-consider the definition of success I had learned at home.

What have you learned about success? How well does it serve you?

Over the years, I created my own definition of success. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing bad with having a successful career or having financial success, but it is not everything. Success consists of more than just finances. We need to dig deeper and ask ourselves how we define success for ourselves.

For myself, I have defined four important elements that create my success.

Success means having healthy and mutually respectful relationships

The quality of my relationships defines the level of success I have achieved in my life. My relationships are mutually supportive and nurturing. I have friends on who I can rely on and vice versa. I am not saying that it is an easy journey to find people like this but I am deeply grateful that they are part of my life. How about you? What means the quality of your relationships to you?

Success means being true to myself

I guess most of us have aspects of us that collide with the stereotypes of society, where we do not fit in. At least, I had. In these moments, we have the choice to either give in to the pressure of society or to have the courage to be how we really are. While it seems tempting to try to fit in, we pay a price for it because fitting in is not the same as belonging. We can only find belonging if we show up as we are. Being true to myself may not be always comfortable but it is empowering and, ultimately, the only way that I can feel proud about myself and see myself as a success.

Success means listening to my heart and following my dreams

I guess most of us have our dreams and we can choose to follow them or not. Following my dreams means to take risks because I never know how it will turn out. Sometimes, it is a rocky journey because it pushed me out of my comfort zone and challenged me in ways that I would have never imagined. Following my dreams is the most beautiful journey I have ever embarked on. Overcoming obstacles, growing as a person, and not giving up is the road to success.

Success means to have grown and healed myself

I am not sure whether there is anybody who did not receive some emotional bruises in their childhood. Maybe there are some lucky ones out there, but I have not yet met them. As a survivor of childhood abuse, I had my share of childhood wounds that needed healing. As adults, we have a choice whether we look at our childhood and heal our past or whether we repeat unconsciously unhealthy patterns. Healing may sound scary and, often, it is an unknown path, but it is our only option to break free from our past and any unhealthy conditioning we have received. And I think that the result is worth the effort.

I do not know whether any of these options resonates with you. I cannot tell you how you should define success. However, I hope that you start to create your own definition of success so that you know your direction in life.

How about starting your definition of success today?

Do you want to learn more? Check out the free ebook “7 Magical Principles to Find Happiness.”

Photo by Madhu Shesharam on Unsplash

Three Essential Lessons about Suicide

suicide

Outside my room, the sun was shining. In the distance, I heard the voices of children who were playing. Inside my room, I sat on the floor in my room. The outside world was hidden behind a gray veil. I just could not continue living with this pain anymore. It was unbearable. I had a knife. I knew how to cut my wrist. Time passed by endlessly slow. Life did not matter anymore. I did not want to live anymore. I faced my dark night of the soul – I wanted to die by suicide.

The ringing of the phone penetrated the heavy silence in my room. I could not answer. I could not move. How are you? How about going for a walk one day? I heard my friend’s voice on my voice box. His voice sounded genuine. He sounded caring. The phone call evoked a spark of doubt. Was suicide really the only option? Was there maybe somebody who cared for me? It took me another night until I decided that I would give it a try. Maybe another life was possible? Maybe there was a reason for living? I did not know but I wanted to find it out. As a result, I returned his call and we went for many walks together. My life started to change in tiny steps over the following years.

I learned the following lessons about suicide:

Suicide is associated with tormenting pain.

I became suicidal because I felt an excruciated pain in my soul as a result of the abuse I had experienced as a child. I do not know whether you have experienced abuse or not, but I felt a tremendous pain while having to accept the dark truth of my childhood. It wasn’t a question of being weak or strong, I just did not know how to be alive while feeling this incredible pain. Dr. Edwin Shneidman described it with the very accurate term “psychache” (Dozois, 2015). Have you ever felt a pain like this? I certainly have and, luckily enough, I was able to transform it over the years. However, I still do not know how profound other people experience their pain and how detrimental it is for them. Therefore, I do not judge them.

Stigma propels suicide.

I went to work every morning, and nobody had a clue what was going on within me. It was impossible for me to talk to them. Stigma made it impossible to reach out for them because it shamed me. As a result, my voice was silent and I could not see any option to get for help. However, no matter how much stigma blamed me, it did not change my suicidal ideations. It rather pushed me towards it by disconnecting me from people.

Real connection keeps alive.

People who searched for a true connection with me kept me alive. They didn’t judge, they did not look down on me, and they did not tell me what I was supposed to feel. They showed genuine care and I felt their empathy. These connections helped me discover a reason for living and find the strength within me to face my pain. I don’t know if I were alive today without my friend’s phone call. He taught me that the best suicide prevention is a genuine connection.

Supporting somebody who is thinking about suicide

Years later, I became the emergency contact for a friend who lived with depression and was thinking about suicide. When her symptoms worsened, she used to ask me whether I would take care of her cat if she were to die. When I heard this warning sign, I asked her whether she was thinking about suicide. We talked about suicide. She explained her plans. She expressed her her pain. I felt with her and told her that I cared for and that I was concerned about her. I encouraged her to ask for professional help. It wasn’t an easy journey. There was no fast track solution.

At times, I felt scared that I would receive a message that she had died by suicide. I knew I could be there for her, but, ultimately, I couldn’t save her. I knew enough people who had died by suicide – my grandfather was among them. The line between life and death is fragile. After several months, my friend got help and recovered.

Talking about suicide

Suicide is a difficult topic to talk about, and it is easier to deny it. It is hard to face the reality that people we love are thinking about suicide. However, denial, stigma and silence will not make suicide go away. As a community, we need to challenge stigma. We can shame people who are suicidal or we can be there for them. Everybody has the choice to give empathy and compassion to people who are thinking about suicide. The only question is which choice we make. It is essential that we talk about it, even if we do not feel comfortable doing so. The more we can give people a safe space to share their suicide story, the better we can support them. This way each one of us can make a difference.

I have initiated the community development initiative “Let’s Talk About Suicide.” Our vision is to create a community that is free of stigma.

Do you want to join us?

Join us today and get the latest updates about our events. Take action towards creating a community that is free of stigma.

Sign up below:

Do you need help concerning suicide?

If you are currently thinking about suicide or if you want to support somebody who is thinking about suicide, please reach out for help. The following web page gives you an overview about the local crisis centres all over Canada:

Crisis Services Canada

Do you have more questions?

I would love to hear from you. Please send me a message.

 

References

Dozois, D. J. A. (2015). Abnormal Psychology. Don Mills, ON: Pearson Canada Inc.

Do You Know What Freedom Is?

On a warm night in September when I was just 19 my mother died after a life-long battle with cancer. I woke up and I knew that she was gone. I walked down the stairs. My stepfather had locked the house, and hid the telephone. He told me that I could stay but only if I behaved the way he wanted me to.

I somehow managed to phone my sister. The moment she came, my stepfather was on top of her, trying to beat her to death. I froze. Please don’t let this be my family. We escaped. I stood outside of the fence. The police came and said that they don’t intervene in family affairs. My mother’s doctor came. She said that my mother was finally free. I had no clue what she meant. I only knew sadness and violence. By the energy of her words I had a sense that freedom must be something wonderful. That day, I grabbed a bag and left. I promised myself to find freedom… Over the years I have found it.

For me, freedom has three essential components:

Freedom is choosing something different

My family was shaped by hatred, blame, discrimination, and violence. My parents never took responsibility for their behaviour or to heal their pain…. They were never happy.

I chose something different – I learned to trust – I chose to heal myself.

Today I know that no matter what happens to me, I have choices: I either allow it to destroy me or to make me a better person.

Freedom is standing-up for myself

I made a career change. I became a counsellor. One day I attended a large training for one hundred therapists and social workers. All was silent. In front, next to a therapist, a client sat with her head down. She sat next to the therapist, her head down.

The therapist asked: “What were the incidents in your family?” She replied: Sexual abuse and violence. Her voice broke. A shocked murmur spread.

I shrugged. For how many years had I felt stigmatized by the generic judgment of being a hopeless case? For how long had I allowed other people’s opinion to define my worthiness? … My answer was, for too long. I looked at her and ask myself: How does this murmur make her feel? She shrank in her seat. She was a picture of myself years ago.

Suddenly, the counsellor next to me said: “Poor thing, she’ll never recover.” I opened my mouth, and I wanted to tell her, it is possible to heal, but I didn’t find the words to tell it to her. I felt like a failure. I felt like I betrayed the woman on the chair.

That day I decided to write my memoir. I wrote it for the woman in the chair. It is my way to tell her that she is not alone. It is my way to tell her that I disagree with my colleagues. It is my way to express my hope that, one day, we will live in a world where people can share their stories without being judged.

Freedom is following my dreams

My dream has always been to create a sanctuary for cats that are different. When I was volunteering at a colony for feral cats in Barcelona, a shipbuilder brought a little box. Inside the box, I saw a kitten with two huge bandages around the back and another helper at the colony said he would die that night. I brought him to a vet. He said that it would be a miracle if the kitten were to survive. I called him Angel, visited him in the clinic and gave him Reiki. I told him that he had a home with me if he wanted to live without back legs. Five weeks later, I brought Angel home. Today, he runs and fights just like any other cat.

Living in Canada has always been my secret dream. In 2013, I arrived at the Vancouver airport with one suitcase and my three cats.

My dreams have always been the fuel to overcome my fears and search for freedom. Freedom means to choose something different, to stand up for myself and to follow my dreams.

I hope you find your version of freedom as I have found mine.

Thich Nhat Hanh said:

“Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice…”

Learn more about Thich Nhat Hanh and his Mindfulness Practice Center Plum Village.

Stalking is Not OK

Stalking

It was a dark night in November when the doorbell rang at 6 p.m. I pushed the button to open the door, thinking that it must be a delivery. I felt safe. Someone entered but did not turn on the light and I wondered why. I heard the heavy footsteps walking from door to door on the main floor, as if searching for something…or someone. My inner voice told me to shut the door and hide. Suddenly, I knew it was him. I closed the door and looked through the peephole. A couple minutes later my father appeared. After 10 years, he had finally found me – despite my secret address and safety plan.

Stalking is a potential threat. You need a safety plan.

My father was emotionally abusive throughout my life. He told me how often I had to see him twice a month. Each time, I visited him, he sent his wife into the sleeping room for two hours and brainwashed me. He badmouthed my mother’s family and blamed them to be solely responsible for his misfortune. He told me that the last cruelty my mother had done before her death was to allow me to study. As a woman, an apprenticeship would have been good enough for me. He told me that my mother’s cancer was God’s penalty because she had left him. He treated me like a possession. He never took responsibility for his actions or showed any intent to change. He was always right, I was always wrong.

Stalking is not about misguided love

When I was 28, I cut contact with him because I was sick and tired of being abused. From that day on, he stalked me. Since he did not have my private address, he sent letters to my workplace. His letters contained abusive content: blaming me for not respecting him, intimidating me, badmouthing my mother’s family or talking to me as if I was three years old. I filed a police report and got a secret address so that he could not find out where I lived. I also developed a safety plan so that I would know what to do if he were to find me. Still, after 10 years, he had somehow gotten my address and was at my door.

Stalking is about power and control

16 years after cutting contact and even after moving abroad, my father still stalks me as soon as he got an idea where I might be. He sends me postcards and letters which I cannot be returned because they have no return address. On the surface they may seem benign, but….

I cannot change his actions and I will never understand what goes on in his mind. However, I have found a way to empower and keep myself safe.

Stalking is never ok. Stalking is not a sign of misguided love, it is about power and control. Stalking is a criminal offense in Canada. If you are being stalked, you are not alone. Here are some suggestions that have helped me. Hopefully, you will find something that resonates with you.

What can you do if somebody stalks you?

It is not your fault

Stalking is confusing, intimidating and abusive. It is difficult to process it emotionally. The following sentences were my mantra to keep myself sane:

  • You have a right to say “no” to family members.
  • You have a right to cut contact with family members.
  • If they decide to stalk you, it is their choice.
  • Stalking is abusive and it is not ok.
  • You are not responsible for their behavior.
  • It is not your fault.

Create a safety plan

If you’re being stalked, you need to establish a safety plan. I always have a safety plan in place. I will never know to what extremes my father may go, but I want to keep myself as safe as possible.

Talk to the police

I am not saying that it was comfortable, but when I lived in Germany, I went to the police and got the best protection I could. I also got a secret address so that my father could not find me. You may also want to file a police report and discuss measures on how you can keep yourself safe. Know your rights and claim them. Keep notes about the occasions when your stalker tries to contact you.

Share with people who believe you

I was fortunate enough to always find people who believed me. I shared the fact that my father was stalking me with friends, police, and employers to protect myself. Unfortunately, I have also met people who did not believe me. They were counsellors, friends, family members and, more than 20 years ago, even the police. Although society has changed a lot in recent years, not everybody understands the dynamics of violence and there still is a tendency to blame the victim and to deny violence. The reasons vary. Acknowledging that a family member is abusive is painful and denial or minimizing can be a powerful protection. However, minimization and denial is not ok. It is important that you trust your guts as to with whom you share your story. If somebody doesn’t believe you, you can choose to distance yourself. Surround yourself with people who support and believe you.

Get professional support to heal yourself

Stalking is intended to confuse and terrorize you and to ultimately leave you feeling hopelessness and powerlessness. It can be hard to work through on your own. I got professional help from a counsellor to deal with the effects of my father’s behaviour. In the end, I cannot control what he does, but I have full control over how I deal with it and how I allow it to affect my life.

After my father appeared on my doorstep that night, I phoned the victim’s department of the police. They knew my case. The officer said that she would phone my father to let him know that I did not want contact with him. A couple of hours, she phoned back, she told me: “I have many years experience in the department for victims of violence. I have talked to your father and I know that you have every reason to fear him.”
Her words were the most healing I had ever heard in the ordeal with my father’s stalking.

The cruel side of stalking is that there is no true justice. It is extremely hard to stop a stalker because they often know how to operate to escape being charged. I will have a safety plan until the day my father dies. However, I choose to give him the least attention possible and, to instead, to focus on living a happy and fulfilling life. I believe that is the best protection I have.

Further resources about stalking

Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime

This resource offers information about the legal situation in Canada as well as ways to create a safety plan.

Local Crisis Lines

Domestic Violence Helplines

Case Study: Jill

Jill had a partner who told her every day that she wasn’t good enough. One day, she was too fat, and the next day, her ideas were insane. He looked at her with disapproval. Jill was unhappy in her relationship but felt unable to leave her partner because she thought that she didn’t deserve anything better.

Deep in her heart was hidden the story of a child. One day, this child told her father full of excitement, I am 2nd best in my math exam! She was proud, and she longed for his appreciation. He looked at her with depreciation and said coldly, why aren’t you the best? 2nd best isn’t worth anything. You just aren’t good enough. He walked away, leaving his daughter alone, feeling rejected and disappointed. She tried harder to get his appreciation. And his reaction never changed. This child learned that she just wasn’t good enough and as an adult, she repeated the same pattern in her romantic relationships.

During her mentoring process, she connected deeply with her needs and wants, took responsibility for her emotions and owned the rejected parts of her story she formerly rejected. She created a new, powerful story about herself and learned to love and accept herself as she was. Her inner growth empowered her to be ready for the relationship she always dreamt of.

Case Study: Emily

Emily was unable to trust her partner, and she always found men whom she has to save from their unhappiness – a task impossible to achieve.

Emily was the daughter of a mother who had problems with alcohol. How often her mother had promised her to make the dinner? How often had she broken this promise? Emily couldn’t remember how often she came home and found her mother in the living room on the sofa, nearly unconscious while sleeping off the intoxication. She never complained. She just started to cook and to take care of her mother, but with each broken promise, her heart was breaking, and her trust faded away. She unconsciously repeated this pattern in her relationship. She took on responsibilities that wasn’t hers and neglected her needs and wants.

During her mentoring process, Emily learned to take care of her inner child and to accept herself unconditionally. She started to take care of her happiness and let go of the need to save her partner. She began to claim her relationship rights, to set healthy boundaries and to develop healthy relationship behaviours like developing trust in her partner. This way, she opened her heart for love and was ready to have the relationship she always wanted.

Do You Struggle With Online Dating?

Online Dating

I sat in front of Emma. She was a white-haired lady with a colorful hat and vibrant blue eyes. I was ready for a new relationship, and, being an introvert, I needed advice on how to find him. Emma looked at me. She said, online dating in is the way to go. I was skeptical. Online dating? Really? I had never done this before. I took a deep breath and decided to go out of my comfort zone and give it my best try. How can I judge it if I never tried it?

Experiment with Online Dating

Over the next months, I gave my best try, and I was creative. I used different platforms and read articles on how to use it the best way. I do not know how many hours I spent there looking at the profiles and trying to find a connection. Often, it was impossible. I felt bored. The two phrase description did not really give me any hint or any excitement to talk to the man behind the profile. I got more and more frustrated. I didn’t really find a way to connect with men in a meaningful way. The conversations were superficial, sometimes confusing. If these are the only men out there, I’d rather stay single.

When I evaluated my progress after several months, It was not all negative but I had only one positive experience: I went on a date with one man and we had a good conversation, however, there was no spark. Overall, I had lost interest in looking at any profiles at all. I had a sense that it was just a waste of time.

Is Online Dating Really True to You?

Was online dating really the right way for me? Did it really feel true to me? My inner voice said clearly no. In many ways, it contradicts my personality. I hate chatting and small talk, and I do not have the time for casual dating. What other options do I have to meet new men? I have met my ex-partners either at work or at some leisure activity I love. This way, I got to know them first before we went on a date. I don’t think that we can force when we will meet our partner. People come into our lives and we have to get to each other before we can decide whether we are a good fit for a relationship. It takes time to get to know somebody. People may wear masks for the first couple of months, but the true face normally shows up after a while. I do not want to have an illusion but a real experience.

How would you love to meet new people?

My introvert’s dream would be to meet my partner on a bench during a walk. However, this is an unlikely option. I definitely will not meet him while sitting at home. Therefore, I decided to become more active because I am committed to making my dream of a relationship a reality. I brainstormed activities I really love that allowed me to meet new people. Important was that I enjoy the activities. I came up with the following list:

  • Volunteering
    I enjoy volunteering, and I am passionate about causes related to animals and helping people. It is also an opportunity to meet new people and the good thing is that we have something in common.
  • Meetup and sports groups
    Meetup and sports groups give me a chance to select groups that fit my interests. While I am not good at small talk, I like groups that encourage deeper conversations. For me, that’s a good way to meet new people and have conversations in a meaningful way. Altogether, I am more likely to meet somebody who has a similar interest here than on an online dating platform.
  • Public transport
    I use public transport to protect the environment. While it is not as comfortable as a car, it gives me the option to meet people. I had some nice conversations on the train.
  • At a coffee shop.
    I now work in a coffee shop. It is better than sitting at home and it is an opportunity to meet people.

What feels true to you?

Overall, there are a million ways to meet a new partner, and online dating is just one option. Important is to find an option that feels true to you. Some of my friends love to go to bars, others are excited about online dating. I am not. Love will find us when we do what we love. There is no right or wrong way. There is not the only way. I encourage you to check in with yourself to find the best strategy for you. We are all unique so what is suitable for me may not be suitable for you. However, I know that you can find a way to meet new people when you listen to your heart and trust your inner voice.

How would you love to meet new people?

Do you want more tips? Read this article.

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Blame May Damage Your Relationship

My colleagues and left the fairground. My feet were hurting. I was happy to feel the sun on my face and to leave the noise of the exhibition hall behind me. My phone was ringing. I picked it up. “You left a rotten mango on the kitchen table,” my partner yelled at me. I felt irritated about his blame.

Do you think that blame could ruin a relationship?

His phone call wasn’t the warm welcome I had expected. What was he talking about? I had left the mango in the kitchen because he liked them. I took a deep breath and said, “It was ok when I left.” He continued yelling. “And you didn’t clean up the apartment. It’s full of cat’s hair.” His voice was full of contempt. He was partially right. I had left on Sunday without having cleaned the house completely. I did not have time for it. Who has set up a rule that I have to do everything on my own? My inner voice whispered in my ear. I started to feel angry but I did not bother to say anything. I did not see any sense in it. He continued yelling. I hung up How long will he continue to blame me for everything? I asked myself silently.

Constant blame ruins a relationship

This blame game had been going on since a couple of years. I felt a sense of powerlessness. Three months ago, I had asked him to go to couple’s therapy and he had refused it vehemently. That night in the hotel room, I cried myself to sleep. I couldn’t take the blame anymore. I had taken it long enough. That night, I decided to leave him despite the pain and heartbreak the separation would cause. Blame is toxic for a relationship and constant blame damages a relationship. When he blamed me, I felt disconnected from him, I only understood everything I did wrong but I never got a sense what I could do better. After our break-up, I started to look for healthy ways to communicate.

Promise yourself a no-blame policy

Nowadays, I have promised myself a no-blame policy in my relationships. It is mutual. I don’t blame others, but I take care of my emotions and communicate them assertively. What are my unmet needs and desires that are hidden in these emotions? This helps me to communicate properly and keep my boundaries intact. If somebody blames me, I ask them to stop, give them empathy and inquire about their feelings and what they really want. This helps me to understand them better. It also gives me a choice – I can decide whether I can give them what they want. In the end, I don’t want to mess up other people’s lives but create something with them that makes their life more beautiful. For me, that’s what relationships are all about.

Will you promise yourself to refrain from blaming?

Do you want to read more? Check out my memoir “A Brave, True Story.