Relationships

5 Ways Therapy Can Help Your Love Life, According To Experts

The benefits are endless.

If your love life isn't what you'd like it to be, the answer to your problems might not be signing up for another dating app. Instead, try searching a little closer to home with the help of a trained professional. There are many ways therapy can help your love life, and seeking it out is nothing to be ashamed of.

“Helping singles with their love lives is one of my specialties, and I have encountered people who've been surprised that, as a therapist, I can help them find love,” Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love, tells Elite Daily. “I can understand why people might seek out a dating coach for help, but a therapist can help too."

Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples therapist in Los Angeles, agrees therapy can make a difference, but only if the person seeking it is willing to put in the work. “For those who are open, honest, authentic, and courageous enough to look inward, there can be a tremendous benefit,” Brown tells Elite Daily. “People can learn about their wishes, dreams, and desires for the type of relationship they'd like to be in, and any unconscious barriers they may be erecting that hamper their ability to find and grow love.”

Dr. Martha Tara Lee, a relationship counselor, clinical sexologist, and founder of Eros Coaching, says newly single people can also benefit from therapy in order to avoid bringing harmful patterns from their past relationships into future ones. “By addressing and resolving the underlying issues in their lives, they'll be able to ensure a more successful and happier relationship moving forward,” Dr. Lee tells Elite Daily.

Singles aren't the only ones who can benefit from individual therapy. People in relationships can also find guidance on a one-on-one basis. “Couples therapists frequently help individuals,” Chlipala explains. “The therapist keeps the relationship in mind when working with the client on their accountability, improving themselves, and how they can positively impact the relationship — even without their partner in the room.”

Regardless of your current relationship status, therapy can be beneficial. Here’s how it can help you find, form, and foster healthy relationships.

01
Therapy can help you be more secure in what you want.
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Knowing what you want in a relationship and being able to voice those needs confidently is just one of the ways therapy can help improve your love life. And even though that may sound simple, Chlipala says it can be anything but — especially for clients who feel like voicing their needs will make them seem "needy".

“Too many women put their needs last. I tell my clients their needs are valid, and that speaking up for your needs is a great litmus test in terms of whether you should keep dating someone or not,” Chlipala shares.

A therapist can not only help you discover what you need and want, but also encourage you to be honest about these things. As Dr. Brown explains, this can create a positive snowball effect. “As you gain more clarity about what you want, your ability to be more confident in your choices can certainly enhance your confidence,” he says.

Therapy can also help you weed out the kind of people who aren't the right fit for you. “Not only is it important to gain an understanding of what you do want in a relationship, but it's also equally important to explore and identify what you don't want in a relationship,” says Brown. That way, she explains, you'll know what you're actually looking for in an ideal partner and learn how to avoid people who aren't going to be the right fit.

02
Therapy can help improve your self-esteem.

Therapy can be a powerful tool for improving your self-worth because the better you feel about yourself, the better your relationships can be, explains Dr. Lee. “The saying, 'You can only love another person when you love yourself', clichéd as it sounds, certainly rings true. It's when we're happy, well adjusted, and successful that we're most likely to be able to form mature adult relationships,” she says.

Higher self-esteem can also impact the kind of people you let into your life, says Chlipala. “If you don’t expect to be treated well, you’ll keep a jerk around because you don’t think you can do better, or because you think this is the kind of treatment you deserve. If you respect yourself and expect to be treated with respect, you won’t put up with crappy behavior,” she explains.

03
Therapy can help you better understand real compatibility.
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If it seems like you have a habit of picking the wrong people to date, you might be basing your choices on the wrong criteria. Chlipala says therapy can help you uncover this and change up the way you look for potential romantic partners, leading to more successes. “For example, almost every one of my singles mentions similar interests as something they look for in a partner. But research shows similar interests have little to no bearing on whether a relationship will work!" she shares. "This information always shocks my clients. So, what they’ve been looking for in a partner is irrelevant in terms of relationship success.”

04
Therapy can help you identify unhealthy patterns and change them.

Does it seem like your relationships are stuck in a time loop? The faces may change, but the same issues play out again and again? You might be stuck in an unhealthy pattern. A therapist can not only help you discover these patterns, but also assist you in changing them.

“We can engage in unhealthy patterns for years without even being aware of what's happening. We all play a role in our relational dynamics,” Todd Baratz, a licensed psychotherapist, tells Elite Daily. “Therefore, it’s crucial to understand what it is we bring to the table. We share 50% of all unhealthy and unsatisfying dynamics. Except in cases of abuse, we often elicit the reactions we’d otherwise want to avoid. That's why, to understand this, we must develop the ability to self-reflect and understand what wounds drive the reenactment of these earlier patterns.”

05
Therapy can help you identify and overcome what's blocking you from the love life you deserve.
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One of the trickiest things about improving your love life is figuring out what issues you’re facing to begin with, which is where a therapist is uniquely able to help.

Emotional baggage is real. Carrying around past trauma can impact both your present and your future if it goes unaddressed. A therapist can help you unpack any emotional trauma, even all the way back to your childhood. “Individual therapy can always help with healing our past relationships, including with our lovers and, first and foremost, our parents. After all, our parents or caregivers are our first adult relationships, and usually first loves in our lives,” explains Dr. Lee. If you grew up with toxic examples of love, those absorbed messages and beliefs from childhood may be holding you back from having healthy relationships as an adult, she explains. “With more self-awareness, change can then happen. Through therapy, one can recognize dysfunctional behaviors acquired from the past, reconcile with them, and reclaim our future,” Dr. Lee says.

Baratz agrees that resolving these earliest relational issues may be the key to creating a happier and healthier love life. “Individual therapy involves developing self-awareness in the context of a safe and validating relationship. This is the road map or story for who we are as relational beings," he says. "Relationships are learned, and it starts from day one with our family or whoever raised us. In these relationships, we learn about ourselves, others, and the world. When we grow up, we don’t leave this behind — we take it all with us. It’s simply part of our identity. It's expressed in all our experiences, from careers to love and sex.”

To discover the root cause, Chlipala says you need to dig deep with the guidance of your therapist. “We explore everything from your family of origin, to your beliefs, to your attachment styles to figure out what's blocking your love life,” she explains.

The first step to growth is just realizing you need help, adds Dr. Lee. “From there, one can take small steps towards recognizing patterns and consciously changing them,” she says.

If this is resonating with you, it might be time to seek out a therapist. The sooner you begin to resolve and explore your struggles, the sooner you'll be able to give and receive the kind of love you deserve.

“It might be helpful to think of a therapist as a teacher giving you the information and the tools you need to have a happy and healthy love life,” Chlipala says. And who couldn't use a few more specialized tools in their emotional toolbox?

The wise words of RuPaul ring true. "If you can't love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?" A therapist can help you improve the most intimate relationship in your life — the one you have with yourself. And that is worth all the time and effort in the world.

Experts cited:

Todd Baratz, a licensed psychotherapist

Dr. Gary Brown, a prominent couples therapist in Los Angeles

Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love

Dr. Martha Tara Lee, relationship counselor, clinical sexologist and founder of Eros Coaching