Dr. Julie's Blog

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How do I set boundaries assertively without feeling guilty?

Dear Dr. Julie: I say yes a lot because I always feel guilty when I say no. But it's starting to be a problem. Right now, I need to set a boundary with my sister who wants to throw me a big birthday party at my house. I don't want a big party for my birthday and I don't want a party at my house. How do I set a boundary with her without feeling guilty for saying no?

--Feeling Guilty

Dear Feeling Guilty: I'm going to assume that you know how to set boundaries and focus instead on the feeling guilty part of your question.

First, "Should Statements" are playing a role if you are feeling guilty. If you think something like, "I should let my sister throw a birthday party for me" and you are going against that should statement (i.e., saying no), you will feel guilty. That's one source of guilt. Look at how your thoughts and desires are in conflict.

But let's dive a little deeper, why would you feel like you "should" let your sister throw a party for you? Where I typically...

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How can I get my partner to be more affectionate?

Dear Dr. Julie: How do I inspire my partner to be more affectionate, loving and communicative with me? Also, I would like him to be more adventurous and be willing to do more things with me.

--Not Feeling the Love

Dear Not Feeling the Love: There are a couple of things to consider here. The first is that he doesn't realize how much it means to you to be affectionate and communicative. I always like to start here because it minimizes your interpretation of why he is the way he is. If you talk with him about it, do so at a time when things are good between the two of you and neither of you are stressing about other things.

The second thing to consider is that this "just isn't him." He may not be a person who likes affection or feels the need to be communicative (beyond basic logistics). We might say it isn't his love language or we might guess that his personality just isn't structured that way or we might consider how he was raised and maybe he...

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How can I make friends when most people are fake?

Hello Dr Julie! I have a pattern where I intuitively understand if a person is real or fake. Given today's world, I usually encounter fake people. Because fake people make me uncomfortable, I'm not able to engage in small take or make friends easily. Can you please guide me on how to create friendships?

--Looking for Real People

Dear Looking for Real People: Having a sense of when people are being honest is a good skill. However, I suspect you are relying a bit too much on your intuition. Consider this, all people engage in impression management, which means everyone presents a "front" in social situations because it is important to make a good impression and fit in. Also consider that most people are uncomfortable when they don't know others in the room and will be more likely to put up that front. You may be reading all this as fake. If you give people a chance to warm up to you (and you to them), you may find they are not as fake as you initially thought. You just need to get...

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How do I tell if my shy neighbor is interested in me?

A man I'm interested in acts shy around me. Is he interested or not? What do I do?

Dear Dr. Julie: I am a 44-year-old woman who divorced 2 years ago. The marriage was an abusive one, with a husband who demonstrated narcissistic behaviors. I am now open to dating again. I've become acquainted with a neighbor, who I've caught staring from a distance and who becomes quite nervous around me. When we are in conversation, he can't look at me directly and can be awkward. He's definitely someone I would consider getting to know better, but I'm not sure if he's just shy or giving me hot and cold messages. There are times when I sense "interest" on his part, and then other times when I feel he's just too shy around me. Is he hesitating because I'm also the mother of a young child? I'm overly cautious about red flags after my marriage and just don't know what to do. Do I continue to have casual chats with him and see where things go?

--Interested but confused

Dear Interested but confused: You...

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My husband and I have different love languages. Is our marriage doomed?

My husband and I have different love languages. Is our marriage doomed?

Dear Dr. Julie: My husband and I have been married just over 5 years and we are fighting a lot lately. I recently read about love languages and it seems that we have incompatible love languages. I love words of affirmation and he's all about acts of service. It's not that I don't appreciate what he does for me, but I don't feel like he loves me because he doesn't tell me. I'm worried that our incompatible love languages will mean that our marriage is doomed. Can we make this work if we don't speak each other's love language? 

--Interpreter Needed

Dear Interpreter Needed: Yes, you can make your marriage work and it is not automatically doomed because you two speak different love languages. Make sure you honor his love language by appreciating what he does for you. Then ask him to honor yours.

Here's one way to do that. Get clear on what you want to hear first. Then say to him, "I need your help. I know you...

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How do I choose men who are emotionally available?

How do I choose men who are emotionally available?

Dear Dr. Julie: I've been dating for a few years and I seem to be attracted to men who are emotionally unavailable. If I go out with someone for a few months, eventually it starts to feel like he's pulling away. Despite my efforts to keep the relationship afloat, we inevitably break up. There have even been a couple of men who have even ghosted me after seeing each other several times. I'm heart broken and don't know what to do. I really want to be in a close relationship but now I'm not sure I want to open up to yet another person. How do I make better choices in the men I date?


Dear Heartbroken: We are usually drawn to what is familiar AND interesting at the same time. Initially, the person you pick is interesting, but on a deeper level he is also familiar. You know how to interact with and what to expect from these men. It is especially puzzling because initially feel...

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Is my boyfriend really committed to me?

Dear Dr. Julie: My boyfriend and I have been dating for quite a while. He and I have agreed to be exclusive but I can't tell how committed he is to the relationship. Sometimes I don't hear from him for a day and he often makes plans with his friends without checking in with me first. It hurts my feelings and I wonder if he's really committed to us as a couple or if he's just having a good time.

--Together or not?

Together or not?: There is a lot to say about your situation. My first question is whether you have asked him your question about being committed or not. Communication is always the first step.

Secondly, whether you have asked him or not, you seem to be noticing that his words about being exclusive don't match your expectation of commitment. You have some expectation that if the two of you are exclusive, then you are committed. If you are committed, then he should check in with you before he makes plans. These are your "rules" and if you don't...

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What to do if your feelings upset your partner

Dear Dr. Julie, I feel like every time I try to express my feelings to my partner, he becomes defensive or shuts down, which makes me feel unheard and invalidated. I love him and want to build a strong and healthy relationship, but I'm unsure how to approach this situation. Do you have any advice on how to communicate my emotional needs without creating conflict or pushing him away?

Lost and Confused

Lost and Confused:  That's frustrating for sure! One thing to keep in mind is that when we say something to another person, it gets filtered through their experiences and beliefs. What they hear is often not what we said or meant.

Many men have told me that when their wives or girlfriends are anxious or upset, they feel like they have done something wrong. Although I doubt you were trying to tell your partner that he had done something wrong (or is a bad relationship partner), my first question would be to wonder if that is what he heard. Can you ask him? Be sure...

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New Year's Resolutions for Couples: Make this Your Best Year Yet!

It’s the start of a new year, and what better time to make resolutions to improve our relationships? Whether you’re single, committed, or somewhere in between, there are plenty of ways to take your love life up a notch.

Whether it is increasing quality time together or learning better communication skills, there are many ways to ensure this year is the best for your relationship. 

Take Time To Have Fun Together 

Relationships are all about having fun together. Make sure you take time out of your hectic schedules to do something fun and silly, like a hike or play board games together. It could be something as simple as going on a picnic in the park or ordering takeout from your favorite restaurant. The bottom line is that having fun together can help you stay connected and foster an even stronger bond. 

Communicate Effectively 

Communication is key in any relationship, so make sure you talk openly and honestly throughout this year. This means listening...

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Ways to Nurture Your Relationship During the Holidays

The holidays are finally here, and while they're often filled with joyous celebrations, they can also be a time of added stress. Not only is it hectic trying to shop for presents and attend holiday parties, but the hustle and bustle might also leave you feeling disconnected from your significant other. To make sure that doesn't happen this season, it's important to prioritize quality time together before getting caught up in all the fanfare.

In this post, we'll explore some fun ways to nurture your relationship during the holidays so you can share meaningful moments while enjoying all the season has to offer!

Spend quality time together

One of the best ways to nurture your relationship during the holidays is to spend quality time together. This can mean taking a walk to look at Christmas lights, cooking a holiday meal together, or simply snuggling on the couch and watching your favorite holiday movie. Whatever you do, ensure you are present with each other and enjoying each...

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