Relationship Advice Tips from Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

psychotherapy for relationship anxiety

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Do you want to get close to someone you like and feel attracted to, but hold back because you feel the need to protect yourself from hurt? 

Are you so torn between these two needs that you hesitate to make decisions and move on with the relationship?

When you hesitate your partner may interpret it as a sign that you aren’t that interested and feel hopeless about the relationship. Your loved one is only able to see the part of you that holds back, while the part of you that craves connection is hidden. The entire relationship becomes strained making your fear about hurt even more likely to occur.

psychotherapy for gaining trust in relationships west los angeles 

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

How would it be if you could build the confidence to guide your decision about getting more involved?

It can happen if you get some help to quiet the voices of insecurity and stress at the very moment they shout the loudest.

Cora turns a genuine connection with Bert into something unreal and untrustworthy.

Cora had the best time of her life with Bert at their weekend getaway. She loved the ease with which they melded together without any sense of embarrassment or self-consciousness. It was what she had always dreamed of and now it was real. Yet as soon as she switched gears from romance mode to ‘regular’ mode, the entire experience was turned into a dangerous illusion that had to be trashed so that she couldn’t be fooled and hurt in the future.

 “Bert wasn’t telling me I was the only one and the best ever, so that must mean he isn’t that into me!” was one of the destructive remarks that began the disconnection from the happy weekend.

 Then her mind went to a place that said “he will probably find someone else and dump me!” Before she could unpack, Cora had found a sure fire way of protecting herself from deeper involvement. She had anticipated rejection and took a preemptive strike.


psychotherapy for problems making decisions west los angeles

 photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Cora can’t decide between wanting to be close and needing to protect herself.

Bert called later that night to touch bases and invite her out to a preview show with select guests. Cora loved these events and wanted to be seen with Bert as a couple. She was torn between enjoying the event with him and protecting herself from watching him talk to other women making her fears real.

 “I’m not sure if I can make it. I don’ have anything to wear and I don’t have time to get something!” Cora responded.

 All Bert’s efforts failed to persuade Cora. Bert was confused. How could she have been so eager to be with him over the weekend and now use clothes as an excuse for getting that feeling of togetherness back into their lives?

 A day later Bert tried again, but Cora was still on the fence battling with the part of her that totally wanted to be with Bert, and the part of her that feared rejection.

psychotherapy for trust issues in relationships west los angeles  

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

Research finds that mistrust rises when you are torn between a need for connection and self-protection.

The Journal of personality 2012 reported on a set of studies that looked at how people react when faced with the dilemma of having two conflicting relationship needs. The researchers found that when someone like Cora wanted to get close to Bert but also had a need to protect herself simultaneously, she was most likely to opt for protection. The self-protective need makes Cora mistrust Bert’s motivation and genuineness. The need to affiliate and connect takes a back seat, making her hesitate and give the impression she is not fully invested in the relationship.

 The study found that priming someone like Cora to get in touch with and recall feelings of security and safety improved the level of trust in the relationship, making it easier to decide by choosing connection.

psychotherapy for problems investing in relationships west los angeles 

photograph copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

So how can Cora prime herself to feel safer and more secure?

1.    Cora can recall the pleasure she enjoyed over the weekend among other close moments.

2.    She can remind herself that she was wanted, loved and important.

3.    She can use images in her mind of the togetherness she enjoyed with Bert to bring much needed evidence to counter the mistrust building up inside her.

4.    She can let those comforting feelings wash over her and calm her stress so that she can once again enjoy a close connection with Bert.


How can Bert prime Cora to feel safer and reconnect with him?

1.    Bert can invite Cora to share happy memories they had together so that her desire to recapture those moments will develop.

2.    Bert can talk about how they will be together as a dating couple at the preview event and after, making her feel valued and safe.


The more often Cora is primed to feel secure, the more she will trust her instincts to connect with Bert, and the greater the chances of them having a solid relationship.


Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

You may also like:

 How to manage rejection sensitivity and be more open to love

Are you and your partner together on what ‘togetherness’ means?

How to manage that decision you have been putting off

Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reactions you may have when reading the content or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.