Dating & relationships – can counselling help?
Myth: Counselling is just for people whose lives are falling apart or going through a crisis.
Myth: Going to counselling is an admission of failure or sign of weakness.
Counselling can be a really helpful tool for people who feel that they are generally doing ok in life, but have areas of their life, such as dating and relationships, where they feel a bit stuck. A counsellor can help you explore those areas, to help you get from where you are to where you want to be. Counselling won’t guarantee you a marriage! But it can be one of many tools to help you on that journey of meeting new people, dating and relationships.
So you’ve decided to give counselling on dating and relationships a go – what can you expect? A counsellor will never give you advice or insist you take a particular course of action. Their goal is to walk alongside you, supporting you and as the relationship is built, also gently challenging you. It is your time, so you can feedback what you are finding most or least helpful and what you would like to do more of. Below are some of the areas that your counsellor may suggest exploring with you.
- Explore your desires for a future relationship: What do you hope to receive from a relationship? What do you hope to bring to a relationship?
- Explore previous relationships or dates to see what you most enjoyed about them but also any unhelpful patterns: What drew you to those people you were in a relationship with? How did you feel about the person? What made you decide it wasn’t right for you? Or how did it end?
- Coaching to meet more people of the opposite gender. Do you feel that although you have a good friendship network, you’re not meeting anyone new or rarely? A counsellor may help you to explore new ways of meeting people.
- Explore all areas of your life: work, friendships, hobbies, and explore questions such as when in the last week did you feel most alive, when did you most feel life draining out of you; when were you happiest, when were you saddest. Although there will always be times of difficulty, when we’re doing more of what we enjoy, and have balance in our lives, we’re more likely to be ourselves and meet similar minded people.
- Get to know your relationship style. When growing up, if one or both of your parents were unreliable, or distant, then your view of yourself might be negative. As an adult it might be then difficult to completely trust others, or depend on them; or we might become overly dependent on a partner for support. By being aware of this, we can grow in self-confidence and enjoy a rewarding emotional connection with a partner whilst appreciating their own thoughts and feelings.
Through exploring all these areas, not only will it help us to meet more people, and date, but also to get to know ourselves better, which will impact on our lives as singles with our friends and work, but also in a future marriage. Counselling can compliment other ways that we might explore this area such as talking to friends, a mentor, books and dating workshops.
What do you think of these suggestions? Do you have other suggestions that have helped you?