Why Is The Death Of An Ex So Unsettling?

Why Is The Death Of An Ex So Unsettling?

Sally Baker was recently interviewed by journalist Liz Connor about how the death of an ex-partner or spouse can negatively impact your current relationship. The press interest was sparked by the recent news of the broken engagement between US singer Ariana Grande and comedian and actor Pete Davidson following the death of her ex-partner rapper, Mac Miller.

Grief can take us by surprise so even when you are very content with your current relationship you can feel blind-sided and distressed by the death of someone from your past who was once important to you.

How does grief affect your relationship?
Everyone handles grief differently but what always happens is that a loss, even of an ex-partner, can cause an upheaval of emotions. Situations and relationships that were left permanently in the past can be suddenly brought into sharp focus by the death of an ex-partner.

The effect of grief on a relationship can be detrimental when one part of a couple is not comfortable with how their partner is manifesting grief for an ex. It can make the non-grieving person in a relationship feel vulnerable that their partner may still have a strong sense of loss for someone from their past and it can make them mistakenly question their partner’s commitment to their current relationship.

Can a relationship survive bereavement – particularly the death of an ex-spouse?
When one partner is mourning the death of someone for whom they’d had feelings for in the past any unresolved issues or insecurities in their current relationship can come under more pressure.

If the relationship is strong, with good clear communication between them then ideally a person will be able to mourn the loss of an ex and have their feelings acknowledged and respected without their current partner feeling threatened by their obvious sadness and grief.

When someone is experiencing the death of an ex-spouse their emotional response can be complex and contradictory. They may feel surprised by the intensity of the sadness they feel for the loss of someone whom in reality treated them badly or let them down. They are an ex for a reason but empathy, care and even love for past partners isn’t linear and doesn’t stop entirely when the relationship is over.

The more loving, open and in touch with their authentic emotions a person is then the more likely they are to be open to experiencing sadness and grief for an ex-partner or ex-spouse.

However, a current partner can be impatient with their feelings of grief for an ex-spouse and feel their grief is not permissible or is even inappropriate. The person mourning their ex will soon learn to hide their emotions so as not to upset their current partner or family.

With their grief pushed down they will often feel unsupported, and their sadness can take longer to process and release than it would have in a more supportive environment. Not having their feelings respected sows seeds of doubt too that they are in the right relationship for them after all and this will weaken their current relationship.

How can you stay connected as a couple during grief?
It is possible to stay connected as a couple during grief and allowing your partner to mourn for an ex-spouse is to show the strength of the current relationship. Grief isn’t logical and as well as mourning the loss of an ex a person is also mourning the loss of that particular time in their life and everything that episode conjures up for them.
Experiencing feelings of grief for a past partner isn’t a measure of commitment to their current relationship either, but it can be a test of a relationship.

It’s important to make it clear to a partner experiencing the death of an ex that their sadness is valid and its okay for them not to be okay.

The whole experience can improve a couple’s bonding, help build better communication and connection and prove to both partners in their current relationship that they are resilient enough to cope with painful emotions and that they can still hold together.

If you are struggling with the emotional fallout from a loss or experiencing grief then reach out and connect. Grief doesn’t just happen when someone dies. When faced with chronic disease or a serious diagnosis we can feel grief for who we were or how we previously thought and felt about ourselves. Make that call.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


Parents: Should You Tell Your Daughter She’s Pretty?

Parents: Should You Tell Your Daughter She’s Pretty?

















Mothers have been passionately debating on social media whether it is harmful to their young daughter’s emotional development to praise them or not for looking pretty.

Their well-meaning concern is in part because they acknowledge how all-pervasive the media is at objectifying girls, and increasingly boys, who may be influenced to measure their self-worth by how attractive they look.

In this visually obsessed world of smoke and mirrors where young models and celebrities regularly undergo surgical enhancements and have perfect body physiques, impressionable young people can feel intensely dissatisfied with their own bodies. All of this is aided and abetted by the photoshopped images and Instagram filters that distort and remake reality as something unrecognisable.

The bar can seem to be set unimaginably high for mere mortals. This feels especially true in the UK after this summer’s obsession with ITV2 television’s Love Island series. Buff young men and beautiful young women contestants paraded around daily in designer swimwear in a Spanish villa retreat. It was the fourth series of the show but the first to capture the imagination of so many people with record audience figures of 14-year-old girls upwards glued nightly to each episode of its eight-week run.

One of Love Island’s most high profile contestants, a young woman in her early twenties called Megan Barton Hanson reportedly underwent over 25K of plastic surgery procedures to enhance her appearance.

Some of the same mothers debating whether to praise their daughters as pretty or not were also worried that Megan had made mainstream the idea of submitting to a knife if they were not completely happy with how they looked.

I think all of these concerns need to be viewed on a spectrum with women like Megan at one extreme. She has chosen to follow a particularly competitive, glamour-model career path that puts an almost exclusive emphasis on how one looks.

I’m sure the kind of investment in cosmetic enhancement she has made is also part of the territory, and her successful competition in her field will have probably made similar investments to improve their looks.

It should also be recognised that a glamour model career has a steep but short trajectory so that financial investment is probably essential to maximise a limited period of time as a high earner before they are supplanted by the next surgically perfected creature to catch the media’s attention.

It doesn’t mean that the extremes of surgery these young women are willing to endure to reach their career goals are normalised so that all women would do the same if they were able to meet the high costs.

We can trust that women are as diverse in their looks as they are in their ambitions and aspirations and it comes down to more than being told if they’re pretty or not while growing up.

Some mothers are adamant that they won’t tell their daughter they are pretty at all and avoid doing so at all cost.

Marina Fogle, a mother of two was reported in the UK press as one such mum who has decided she will never tell her daughter she is pretty. She wants to only emphasise her daughter’s abilities, not her looks and she said she struggles with how to respond when people praise her daughter for being pretty.

Unfortunately, that awkwardness will speak volumes to her young daughter, and even with the best of intentions, it would be healthier and a more honest reaction just to say ‘Thank you’ for the compliment and change the subject or move swiftly on.

Never alluring to any physical attributes and not telling your daughter she is pretty or your boy child is handsome is an omission and omissions have a way of conspicuously showing up as imbalances.

Making an effort to have something remain unsaid can result in giving it more emphasis. It becomes amplified in its absence until it is akin to a silent cri de cour.

It can also set up for a child a desperate ‘holy grail’ search for affirmation. This stance has the potential to be as psychologically harmful as making physical attractiveness the only attribute that a parent ever praises their children for having.

Some other mothers who are in favour of acknowledging how pretty their daughters happen to be also try hard to balance praising their child’s physical appearance with praise for other personality bases attribute such as kindness, or courage or athleticism.

They attempt to praise in smarter ways that acknowledge and appreciate their off-springs qualities beyond just the superficial.

However, it would be naive not to acknowledge there is a ‘pretty premium’ in society today too. It is well documented that those who are deemed beautiful women or handsome men are given greater opportunities in the workplace, more leniency in the courts of law and more often win the hearts of higher status partners than their plainer looking cohort.

In an attempt to rebalance society’s obsession with how everyone looks it makes sense to praise a young girls’ qualities and achievements instead of just their outward appearance. It’s also vital that young girls be encouraged to use their bodies to run, jump and climb and to facilitate them being active and confident in their physical abilities and not just someone who is superficially good looking.

For my clients, both men and women, it was growing up and never being allowed to express what they were told were ‘ugly’ or unacceptable emotions that have caused them the most enduring confusion and harm.

To have been raised in a family where they were only ever allowed to be compliant and never allowed to express any negative emotions is a burden beyond being told if you’re pretty or not.

To be a young child who always fears the threat of having parental approval unceremoniously removed can make growing up feel as though it’s on shifting sands. The child who is constantly chided for displaying their own emotional needs can only avoid feeling unsafe by disconnecting from their emotions and many adopt shutting down and disassociation as a survival strategy when they feel they are powerless to do anything else.

Pretty or not children often don’t get the parenting they need to grow to be resilient and develop a healthy sense of self-esteem. If any of this resonates with you then you can reach out and book an obligation free call with me. The link is on this page.


If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


Does Your Partner Respect You? Answer These 5 Questions….

Does Your Partner Respect You? Answer These 5 Questions….

Respect is the key to any healthy relationship.

To communicate openly and honestly you and your partner need to have respect for one another.

It takes mutual respect to come to agreements and to reach a compromise.

So, if you suspect that your partner doesn’t respect you, then your relationship is probably in trouble already.

If you have doubts –  you’re probably in denial

If you are in a relationship where you feel you are not being shown respect you need to acknowledge that this is an indicator of serious future emotional or physical abuse. Lack of respect is the starting point of dehumanising behaviour which needs to be addressed immediately so that it’s not allowed to develop and become normalised within your relationship.

There may be a time when you believe you are not being respected is because your partner doesn’t realise the effects of his or her actions or behaviour has on you.

This is your chance to clarify if these are just momentary lapses in behaviour or just how they really are as people. To do this, you’ll need to call it out. Highlight how it feels when they ignore you or speak over you or put you down and see how they respond. 

Try really hard not to fool yourself here. Soulmates don’t make you feel bad about yourself, so if you are not getting clear signs back from your partner about how sorry they are and how they will never behave in this way again, you need to be prepared to let them go.

There are the five warning signs that may indicate if your partner doesn’t respect yo

1. Do they speak over you or interrupt you?

Disrespect can be shown through small actions such as your partner speaking over you, interrupting you, or making little decisions without your input.

If you start to notice this kind of behaviour make sure to call it out and let your partner know that it’s bothering you.

2. Does your partner consult with you?

If your partner tends to make decisions – large or small – without consulting with you first.

Make it clear to him or her that you are not happy with this situation and give them an opportunity to change how they behave. Try to do this in a non-accusatory way stop encourage a conversation instead of expressing a judgement about the kind of person your he or she is.

3. Do you have to make excuses for them?

Are you left in the awkward position of having to explain some of your partner’s behaviour, to your friends or family?

When people who love and care for you don’t quite see the appeal of your chosen one then you need to take a closer look at him or her too. If the people who know you and care about you all best of all have no hidden agenda and just wish you well then alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear if they don’t rate your partner.

4. Do you compromise to keep the peace?

The healthiest relationships are pretty balanced between who compromises and who doesn’t. At any point in time it’s probably not 50:50, but generally, it evens out so that both people respect each others standpoint and if its relevant to one of them then the other will try their best to accommodate them. It’s about being heard and supported and not just being put down all of the time.

5. Is it all your fault?

If you feel you are to blame all of the time and your partner is quick to point out to you that you’re at fault, then you are most likely not respected in your relationship. Worse than that is that being invariably found to be in the wrong and being blamed for how ‘bad’ you make the other person feel is called ‘gaslighting’ and is a form or emotional abuse.

Respect is crucial for a healthy relationship

So have these 5 quick questions promoted you to reappraise your relationship? Th real test for whether you are respected in a relationship or not is how do you feel? If you were to take the time and really listen to your gut instinct or your intuition, then you will hear the truth for sure.

It’s hard to walk away from a relationship you care about but understand that respect is a crucial emotion and if it is not there then nothing good can build on those hollow foundations

If you are not sure what to do about your relationship but feel something is out of kilter, then reach out and make contact with me. Relationships often follow a pattern so understanding your relationship dynamic is the first step in transforming your essential ties with people. There is a link on this page to an obligation free discovery call.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


Dating: Is the green eyed monster colouring your vision?

Dating: Is the green eyed monster colouring your vision?


Is the green Eye’d monster colouring your vision

Feeling jealousy when you see an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend out with their new beau says a lot more about how you think and feel about yourself than just reacting to the pang of the green-eyed monster.

Ex’s are ex’s for all the right reasons so you can wish every last one of them well and thank the lucky stars that you are not with them anymore. Being footloose means, you can focus on doing things that make you happy and increase your sense of self-confidence and self-fulfilment.

To wholeheartedly let go of your past you need to trust that your future is positive and the best is still to come. You may need to fake that feeling until you can own it for yourself and make inner-optimism your default mindset.

Even with only a glass half full approach to life, you are more open to possibilities and new beginnings than the glass half empty jealousy mantra you’ve been focusing on about someone who’s not even worth the mental attention you are paying them. It’s just BS thoughts so stop it now!

Some people have a well-developed sense of resilience – the ability to bounce back from disappointments and let-downs. You can often tell who they are as they are fortunate enough to have unwavering faith in themselves and their ability to recover from all sorts of adversity. They are not prone to jealous feelings are they are determined to live their lives and thrive.

Not everyone’s childhood was ideal, and the seeds of jealous reactions and self-doubt were probably sown when you were growing up. Sometimes childhood experiences hamper you developing your inner-resilience, and this affects your ability to shrug off disappointments in love too.

if you are the kind of person who struggles more with self-doubt and self-esteem issues, there is plenty you can do develop those core skills now and to move on from past relationships and leave jealousy behind you.

To help you to do that learn to interrupt your over-thinking when you find yourself replaying the ‘What if’s and the ‘If only’s’. Ruminating on the past is called disordered thinking, and it’s a stumbling block to your happiness.

If you naturally feel pessimistic and your self-esteem feels battered by past relationship breakdowns you could help yourself gain some useful perspective by acknowledging the reality of those relationships.

It’s easy to hanker over some overly-romanticised and idealised version of what you two had together. Seriously, if your ex-lover was that great why did he or she make you feel insecure, doubt yourself, or make you feel sad? And, why did they end up sleeping with your best friend?

The dreaded re-coupling with an unsuitable ex often takes place in a moment of self-doubt when you’ve managed to over-ride your gut instinct that is shouting ‘No!’ Come on it happens and you can find yourself back in a relationship that is not good for you. Take a deep breath and connect with your inner courage that is there hidden and often ignored in all of us before you break the news that ‘It’s me and not you’ and leave them to get on with their own life while you duster yourself down and prepare for more. Coupledom might be called settling down, but it’s not called settling for less.

The person out there in the world for you is the one who makes your world a better, happier place to live in and who sticks around to work things out with you. The way you’re guaranteed to find him, or she is to kick jealousy into touch and get busy enjoying your life to your utmost will make you magnetic and irresistible.

Do you find yourself attracted to partners who let you down but find it hard to break those ties? If jealousy is one of your key emotional responses, it’s time to let go of old patterns of behaviour that do not serve you. You can book an obligation free call with me via the link on this page.

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


Relationships: Side-ways Walking Will Save Your Marriage

Relationships: Side-ways Walking Will Save Your Marriage

Stephania Piazzalunga is a psychotherapist working in Italy and a great advocate for the curative power of walking. She says that it is when we walk that our inner thoughts are revealed to us via a sort of meditation in motion.

Piazzalunga believes that walking in silence or quiet contemplation is one of the most natural and original forms of self-help, with the mere act of moving encouraging an improved sense of well-being and self-esteem.

Walking also has a role to play in improving communications and is the ideal activity to do while having those difficult conversations.

Psychiatry professor Albert Scheflin said that the way we hold, carry, and orient our bodies—convey multiple nonverbal messages. He uses two categories, or his term ’frames’ to explain his theory.

The Vis-à-Vis frame. Is when two people greet and address each other in a face-to-face position.  The vis-à-vis frame is a prerequisite for making eye contact.

The Side-by-Side frame. Often, this is a communication choice, especially among men. It precludes eye contact.

When women talk with other women, as well as men, they orient themselves toward the other and tend to use the vis-à-vis frame, maintaining eye contact. According to Deborah Tannen, women also display more general immediacy behaviours than men, such as leaning forward, nodding the head, smiling, and touching. The vis-à-vis frame enhances and encourages more eye contact, which creates more bonding and connection. It keeps people focused on each other.

Men favour the side-by-side frame as direct eye contact can be construed as challenging among men; a face-to-face frame is a more competitive posture and stance.

When a man and woman need to have a tricky conversation with one another, they will do well to take a walk together while talking. Due to the side-by-side frame, things can be said without sounding threatening or confrontational that might have been heard as more alarming or inflaming in a face to face frame.

Later, they may be able to communicate on a deeper level with greater mutual understanding in a face to face frame where they are more able to mutually ‘read’ each others micro-expressions.

Anthropologist Helen Fisher suggests a bit of gender-bending androgyny would be of assistance in improving men and women’s communications. In Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage and Why We Stray, she writes, ‘A woman should probably adopt at least one nonverbal, side-by-side leisure activity that her spouse enjoys, whereas men could improve their home lives if they took time out to sit face-to-face with their mates to engage in talk and active listening.’ 

To find out more fascinating insights from Helen Fisher you can click here to buy her book now from Amazon UK

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.


The curse of romantic expectations

The curse of romantic expectations

​Years ago when my son was just a boy, we adopted two cats from a local North London cat rescue centre. They were a brother and sister and beautiful pedigree cats with saucer-like golden eyes and the softest white fur.

The Rescue Centre told us the cats were the victims of an animal cruelty case up before the magistrate's court against a local publican. The cats had been given by him to his partner as a surprise February 14th gift and unimaginatively named ‘Val’ and ‘Tine’.

When the cats were offered to us, they were in an extremely traumatised state as they had been thrown out in the middle of the night during a fit of murderous rage by the same man who had not long before given the cats to his partner as a token of his ever-lasting love.

The cats were collateral damage thrown onto the busy, and potentially deadly Edgware Road where it is a miracle they didn’t get run over.

This couple’s romantic liaison had not ended well.

Over twenty-five years ago I began what turned into many years of working with a psychotherapist to help me to resolve the anguish and disappointment of my divorce from my first husband. It was an emotionally shredding experience. I remember my therapist saying then that romantic expectation is as potentially dangerous to a relationship as pornography is for distorting realistic expectations.

Ironically, his words echo regularly in my work as a therapist when seeing clients who are struggling with their relationships.

For instance, I often see clients who are massively aggrieved by their partner’s behaviour. On hearing them list all their grievances part of my check-in is to ask if they are looking to explore and manage an exit strategy or find a way to reconnect.

Nine out of ten people who only moments earlier were detailing their partner’s failings honestly long for reconciliation and improved connection but feel powerless to make any meaningful changes.

What becomes clear is that both partners are probably as deeply unhappy as each other and locked in a cycle of stand-offs and recriminations that keep them divided. One of them has to initiate a change, and as I usually only one of them in my consulting room it has to be that person.

All romantic expectations about wanting the other person to magically change their behaviour and become the person they want them to have released. No-one is psychic - least of all our partners.

However, an approach that comes from an honest place of vulnerability and expressing wanting to make things better between them will have a greater chance of connection than a wall of silence or a whole slew of passive-aggressive demands pointing out their partner’s faults and short-comings.

I also see clients who haven’t dated for a long time and who want to get back into having a relationship. Often they have sub-consciously chosen to be single as they are still feeling traumatised by their previous relationships.

When they think about dating again, they become haunted by negative limiting beliefs and low self-esteem. These feelings need to be resolved and erased for them to have the chance of a different and healthier kind of dating experience. 

This is particularly true for those people who continually date the same personality type but in various guises and it may well mean tracking back familiar patterns of behaviour all the way back to their childhood to lay those old ghosts to rest.

Other clients who came to see me initially for weight loss often come back again when they’ve achieved their target weight as they're ready to date again but not sure how to go about it.

Often they have lost the habit of going out, and I joke with them that unless they want to date their postman, they’re going to have to embrace wider horizons and preferably put themselves into situations where their potential mates would go too.

These same clients are often convinced there is no-one out there for them and I remind them what I believe is the truth that good people are looking for them but can’t find them as they’re stuck indoors.

Of course, lots of people are successfully meeting on-line these days. I am happily married to my second husband, and we met through the Guardian Newspaper Soul Mates column eighteen years ago. My son met and married his lovely wife through Tindr almost four years ago, and my mom and dad were long-distance pen-pals before they met and fell in love with each other in the late 1940s.

There are lots of horror stories abounding about sharks on the net but if you’re sensible and with a healthy self-esteem and a well-developed sense of intuition that you respect and listen to you then you can’t go far wrong. Just don’t waste weeks and weeks emailing a potential date. Get to meet them, even just for a coffee as that’s the real test to see if they are for you or not.

I’ve had other weight loss clients that had called me in anguish and confusion when their sustained weight loss had inextricably plateaued even though they’re not doing anything differently from when they were steadily on track towards their goal weight.

A session to explore their weight time-line never fails to shed light on what is going on for them.

Often their weight plateau will coincide with a previous time in their life when something traumatic happened to them, and there will be a sub-conscious link between the event and their weight stalling. It may emerge that the last time they weighed X amount they were in an abusive relationship or a close relative or friend had died.

The event itself will differ widely, but any fear of repeating that pattern or failure to thrive in the face of personal loss will require that it is resolved and released before they will be able to continue to fulfil their life potential.

Contact me if you feel haunted by your past disastrous relationships or feel you are living a Ground Hog day of dreadful dates. You might need some help to get closure with your past so that you can go forward in your power and attract the right person for you. Click on the button at the top of this page

If you want to lead a happier more fulfilled life it’s almost impossible when you’re doubting yourself or sabotaging your chances of success. Therapy isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ‘tried everything’ it could be just what you need. You can book an obligation-free 30-minute discovery call to find out for yourself.