Friends and peers in the Los Angeles LGBT community know me as a couples therapist working predominantly with gay men and same sex couples. Often my single friends half-jokingly say – “You work with gay couples, and what about us, Harel? How about some words of advice for the single guys here?” Of course, I am happy to share my insights with my fellow gay men. The main advice for all of the single gay men out there, who would like to change their relationship status, is simple: Start with Yourself. Creating our desired relationship takes quite a bit of personal work. Instead of waiting for the man of your dreams to sweep you off your feet, let’s use our time productively to get relationship-fit so when he knocks on your door, you are ready!
Being “relationship-fit” might sound unusual. We think of getting fit for a competition or a marathon, but not for a relationship. Nevertheless, a great mastery is required to create a nurturing, loving, harmonious union. This mastery is not limited to our interpersonal skills, our ability to be sensitive to the needs of others, our thoughtfulness, or our ability to connect and be intimate. A lot of the relationship mastery is rooted in the mastery we have over our own self. This mastery of our own experience starts with clearing our mind from the baggage of the past.
So let me ask you a simple question. If your prince charming enters the room this very moment and beelines toward you to ask you out – are you ready? Are you prepared to create the amazing relationship that you desire with this incredible guy? Or – are there still aspects of your past that you catch yourself dragging into you present? Are there negative relationship patterns that you notice repeat themselves in your life? If you notice things in you that may stand on your way of creating the relationship of your dreams, it is a sign of baggage. No worries – we all have it. The real question is not whether you have it, but how you let it go. This “baggage” has two main components: the emotional component of the unresolved negative emotions and the mental component of our limiting beliefs. Getting relationship-fit requires saying goodbye to this old stuff and creating a grounded and balanced state of mind supportive of the harmony we desire in our love relationship.
In case you were wondering, these relationship principles are universal, and are not specific to gay men and same-sex couples. However, some things are unique to the LGBT community. After a decade of psychotherapy experience doing couples therapy and marriage counseling with gay couples I have noticed great deal of shame-based trauma gay men endure. We carry the burden of internalized homophobia and shame, which play out and create destructive outcomes within our relationship. Our personal histories are studded with experiences of marginalization, rejection, and abuse. Often people closest to us inflict the deepest wounds. It means that for gay men there might be more healing to do in order to get relationship-fit. Greater challenge means greater reward. Let’s get to it.
How can Relationship Help assist me in creating the relationship I want?
To answer this question, let’s talk about some important and overlooked principles of how relationships, including gay relationships, come about. We all know that life happens in cycles and patterns. Our choice of partners and the unfolding of our relationships occur according to our personal patterns. These patterns are dictated by the relationships we had with our parents/caregivers in our formative years. The bonds we had with our caregivers, also known as our primary attachments, determine the quality of bonds we create with our intimate partners in adulthood. The core themes of the relationships with had with our parents reemerge in our intimate relationships. Overall, if we had primarily harmonious relationships with our caregivers, we will tend to create mostly harmonious intimate relationships with our partners. However, if our primary relationships were marked by abuse, rejection, neglect or abandonment, this emotional baggage will replicate the trauma and dysfunction in our adult significant relationships, prompting us to resolve our unresolved past.
Ironically, for us to be able to replicate the core themes of our primary attachment, we need a willing partner to play our game. For example, if our unconscious mind re-enacts the trauma of abandonment, we have to find a partner who will be able to abandon us in some way, in order to replay our childhood drama. On our search of a mate we will ultimately be drawn to one whose emotional baggage matches our own, and who will be a willing participant in our attachment game. Now, there is one point I want to underline: None of these dynamics are conscious. We are never aware of the unconscious process that draws us toward our prospective mate. The attraction and falling in love remain an unconscious process. Regardless of whether we understand the underlying dynamic or not, we are never able to control it. It is not until after the unfolding of our relationship that we understand the elements that drew us together with our beloved.
To summarize, all of our significant relationships are with the mates who are able to trigger our unresolved baggage, providing us with an opportunity to address and resolve our ‘stuff.’ This also means that the less baggage we carry with us, the greater our relationships will be. Relationship Help is geared to help you free yourself from your past. In our work together I will guide you through a powerful process of releasing past unresolved negative emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, guilt, shame and hurt. We will also identify and change limiting beliefs you hold about yourself, others, relationships and the world. This transformational process has a supercharging effect on one’s life. New people, experiences and opportunities will present themselves and your life will gently shift to reflect your heart’s desires. I know this must sound fantastic and you are curious about how exactly the Relationship Help process works. Here is a brief synopsis.
What to expect in therapy with Dr. Harel?
In my Los-Angeles based couples therapy practice I have developed a 3 Power-step approach to help my clients create the relationship they want - the A-R-C approach:
Awareness – During the first Power-Step we will meet together to discuss what brings you in, what is your current experience in your relationships and what is it that you would like instead. We will talk about your history and set course for our work together.
Release – The second Power-Step in the counseling process is geared toward addressing and resolving the baggage of the past. Here we will use advanced mind-technology of Neuro-Linguistic-Programming (NLP) and elements of light hypnotherapy to create rapid and profound shift in your experience. Both NLP and hypnotherapy are tools to release the old baggage of unresolved negative emotions and limiting beliefs, and clear the path toward your desires and dreams.
Co-Creation – The third Power-Step is designed to create a vision of your ideal relationship and set you on the path of achieving your heart’s desire. Here we will provide new tools and resources to solidify your gains and establish life trajectory toward the relationship you want.
I see the role of a psychotherapist to be similar to that of a guide. When you hire a guide to navigate an unfamiliar terrain, you expect the guide to take you to your destination in the shortest and safest route, while you agree to follow the guide and to do the walking. I can help you find your path and support you in achieving your heart desires, under one condition – you will have to do the walking
Is psychotherapy for me?
My clinic serves large and diverse Los-Angeles LGBT community and sometimes I am asked whether as a therapist I can guarantee my clients’ results. This is an important question to answer. Our time, energy and money are important resources and we want to make sure we allocate our resources wisely. When we talk about guarantee, there are two key elements to consider – You and me. As a therapist I can absolutely guarantee that my couples receive 100% of my knowledge, expertise, experience, attention and support. I can also guarantee that if my 100% commitment to your success is met with 100% commitment to your relationship or marriage, there is a 100% guarantee both of you will achieve your goals and our work together will have a transformative impact on your life.
My 100% success guarantee comes with 3 necessary attitudes on the part of my clients:
Ownership of full responsibility for our life. Knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally, we are 100% responsible and our life, including our relationship, is our making.
Willingness to let go of the old baggage, including resentments, anger, grief, beliefs etc.
Full commitment to making all changes necessary to achieve our goals.
This single-minded commitment to your success and wellbeing is the key component of our work. From my clinical experience at my Los-Angeles psychotherapy clinic I can attest that 100% of my clients who showed up with 100% commitment to themselves, achieved remarkable life-changing results during our work together.
So what if you are not quite at 100% commitment yet? What if, let’s say, right now you are at 75% commitment to your relationship? Perhaps, despite the pain both of you are enduring, you are struggling to fully commit to rebuilding your relationship. If this is the case, you are not alone. Sometimes we need a little nudge to help us bring our intent and motivation into a single-minded laser-sharp focus. Consider how a trusting loving intimate connection with your partner could change your life? What it would be like to wake up in the morning to a warm loving embrace? How would it feel to come home to a warm welcome by your spouse? What would time together without arguments be like? How rekindled intimacy would contribute to your wellbeing, career and health? If these pictures create curiosity or even excitement within you, pick up the phone and give me a call. Transformation, empowerment and growth are just a phone call away.