Helen Rice tells Happiful Magazine how her own ups & downs in love inspired her to become a relationship therapist and creator of BLC. And why she believes that ‘being love curious’ is the best way to deal with every relationship difficulty.
I think Curiosity is the bedrock of relationship therapy, to be honest. People are individuals with unique personal histories, values, beliefs, behaviours and emotional responses, so one-size-fits-all advice is very unlikely to lead to the kind of life-changing results our approach offers.
‘Being curious’ creates a sense of openness. It allows for an enquiry that’s free of judgement and this can help shift people’s understanding of themselves and others.
Ultimately, being ‘love curious’ helps clients to reveal new possibilities for their love life, sex and intimate relationships that are 100% relevant to them. When a client is coming from a self-discovered context, it’s more natural and far easier to put into action any new thought patterns or behaviours that emerge from the therapy than anything that could be offered as advice or ‘a fix’.
We want all our clients to feel able to speak openly, experience being listened to and understood, have more clarity about their goals and end each session enthused by what’s possible for them.
BeLoveCurious Founder & Relationship Therapist Helen Rice offers a simple tip to journalist Helen Croydon on how to make a decent escape from a disappointing date.
Why not offer some honest and helpful feedback to your companion instead of resorting to the little white lie. It’s OK to say “Sorry, I’m just not into you …” in a way that’s compassionate and kind. The upside here is that it will probably leave them and you feeling much more positive about yourself than a sneaky fib would.
Ask yourself – Would I like to hear what I’m about to say? Then let them know what’s not working for you here. You might say “I like you but I don’t think we are on the same page … politically/ musically/ culturally/ sexually … etc”.
Or, like others suggest here, why not give your disappointing date the benefit of the doubt for a little longer – at least if they tick a good few of your boxes. Sometimes it’s hard to make a good impression when you’re a little nervous, so why not give your date the chance to relax a bit while you take a bit more time to check them out. You never know, that might make the difference between yet another cut-and-run date and one that has a chance to develop and last the distance.
BeLoveCurious Founder & Relationship Therapist Helen Rice offers some simple advice on managing difficult family relationships to Psychologies Magazine.
In the article, Helen considers the traits and temperaments of loved ones who can be ‘Controlling’ or ‘Victims’ in the family and provides some helpful strategies for managing them – and yourself- when they’re acting up. Other commentators also give their advice on some other familiar faces; the ‘Tyrant’, the ‘Drama Queen’ and the ‘Denier’.
The article makes an important point – that although it can seem that the ‘difficult’ family member is the cause of discord and upset, others in the group are likely to be playing their part in the drama too.
Helen says “As a relationship therapist, I think of a family like a complex system with interconnected parts. Each person acts and reacts to every other person in a mix of subtle and overt ways, both deliberately and unconsciously. Surprisingly, how each of us acts and reacts in a given situation will be mostly pre-determined by our given role in the family.
Think of it like being given a role to play in a TV soap opera or a gritty real-life drama. Each person finds their role to play early in life and this becomes more ingrained over time. That’s why you’ll see the same person behaving in the same kind of ways in similar situations over and over again, and why our own habitual ways of acting/ reacting are so difficult to change.
In the search for a romantic partner or even at work, we can encounter people who remind us of a particular family member and find ourselves reacting in those very same familial patterns whether we like it or not!”
There is good news though. It is possible to find more successful ways of getting along with one another and bringing down the final curtain on your endless soap opera. Managing difficult family relationships starts with managing yourself and your reaction to them and then seeing how everyone else begins to change around you!
Some General Do’s & Don’ts
• Don’t make excuses for your own bad behaviour. Own it • Do set boundaries – be aware of your emotional needs and acknowledge that you have a right for these to be met • Do talk openly about relationship problems • Don’t settle for less than you want in a relationship • Don’t make yourself responsible for others’ hurtful words and actions • Do model effective behaviour – be the change you want them to take on • Don’t give up on them or offer a label • Do seek out professional help when things get too difficult.
BLC Founder &relationship therapist Helen Rice* offered some perspective on the age gap romance between Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and 22 year-old One Direction Star Liam Payne in a recent new!magazine article.
The article by journalist Sarah Morton asked whether the 10-year age gap might be a problem as Cheryl is allegedly keen to have children, while Liam is just launching his solo career.
Helen suggests that there’s no need for the couple to rush into things. Here’s Helen’s full response to Sarah’s questions:
What attracts a woman to a younger man? Life has moved on from the time – not so long ago – when it was the norm for women to be financially and reproductively dependent on their male partners. It used to be widely understood and accepted that rich and powerful men would be drawn to ‘pretty young things’. These days, women too have the power and confidence to make life choices that suit them – including who to date and for what purpose. It’s unlikely Cheryl’s chosen to date Liam to be her long-term partner and baby-daddy (although she might), but more a case of it being an undeniable ego-boost to have such an attractive younger man’s attention and sexual interest as she’s emerging from a rather messy and painful marriage.
He’s at the cusp of a solo career – will he even want kids right now? And if Cheryl does how will they work it out? Cheryl said recently that she’ll leave the decision to get pregnant up to fate and at 32 there’s definitely no hurry – biologically the optimum childbearing age is between 20 and 35 years old so the couple have a while yet to see how things work out. It’s the couple’s emotional, not their actual, ages that will determine how they’d cope with having children right now though. The age gap doesn’t really matter – it’s what they’ve been through and how they’ve learned to cope with life’s ups and downs that does. Building a relationship has everything to do with being on the same page and working towards shared goals so if they’re both ready to settle down and start a family then why not. If Liam is more interested in kick-starting his solo career then at 22 he might not yet be ready for that commitment.
Is it wise to go into a relationship with a sell-by date and wanting different things? Timing is everything, surely? To be in a successful relationship, couples don’t have to do everything together or think the same as each other – that’s actually quite impossible. It is important though that they share core values and have similar priorities and goals when it comes to the big stuff. If each person wants different things – or the same thing but at different times in life – it can be incredibly hard to stay satisfied with a difficult compromise over the long haul. The person making the sacrifice can feel they gave way too soon or that their partner let them down in some way. The bottom line is it is much easier to build and sustain a happy relationship if a couple’s mismatched priorities are limited and relatively insignificant in the big picture.
NOTE: *The article mistakenly refers to Ann Rice, but the reference to BeLoveCurious.com is spot on!
Tesco Magazine tackled the thorny issue of dealing with finances in relationships in its February 2016 ‘Love is …’ edition.
‘Spare your money blushes’ asks experts for advice to help navigate some of the awkward conversations around money. BeLoveCurious Founder Helen Rice explains how she helps couples to manage difficulties that arise when there is a significant imbalance in the amount of money available to each partner.
This can arise through differences in salary, where one person stays home to look after the children while the other works, or when one has benefited financially from their family background or an inheritance for example. For many couples, the perceived ‘unfairness’ can be a source of tension and argument. However, the economic divide can also be about more than just the money – often it reflects a deeper concern about differences in status and value in the relationship too.
Helen’s approach is to work with the couple to understand where each person is coming from in how they feel about money matters and the relationship more generally so they can begin to have those tricky discussions about money-matters without it escalating into a row.
Helen expands on some of the key points raised in the article with these 4 key ways to make money talk easy:
1 Share decision-making
Every couple is different in terms of what’s acceptable, but something everyone can do is agree to share all spending decisions that affect both parties – for example how much to spend on furniture for the home, or where to go and how much to spend on holiday. The process of give-and-take can be challenging of course, since either or both of you will have to give up something of your position, but relationships are all about negotiation and cooperation, so why should discussing money matters be any different?
2. Have some ‘fun money’
If one partner has a great deal more disposable income than the other, it may be useful to have a ‘fun money pot’ that’s used for treats together – both can put the same amount into this or perhaps the higher earner contributes more. The point is that both parties feel comfortable with their own and their partners contribution – and both of you get to enjoy the fruits of your joint effort together.
3. Suspend your judgement
Most conflict comes from thinking you’re right and your partner’s wrong. Yet these ideas of right and wrong are generally just ideas that have been instilled in us from an early age. As it’s likely that you both grew up in very different households with different attitudes and rules about money, being willing to discuss your stories about having/not having enough cash-to-splash and what it means to spend and save is the way to reach a better understanding of each other. Realising that your partner isn’t just being mean or spendthrift can help you offer a little more give and take and can pave the way to developing practical strategies that serve both your needs.
4. Be accepting
It may sound obvious, but just learning to accept that your partner earns more or less than you, and being happy that they are willing to let you contribute in the way that you do, is a significant step towards peace. No one is ultimately valued for their financial worth – especially in a loving relationship – so try to bring some focus onto what you are contributing and learn to value the collective effort of creating a life and a home together.
Metro journalist Amy Dawson explores why some of us love bad boys so much and asks BLC Founder Helen Rice why dating Mr Wrong can be so alluring – and how to break the habit!
In the article – prompted by the Twitterama around Natasha’s love tangle with bad boy Anatole in the BBC’s adaptation of War & Peace – Amy quotes Helen as saying there are a number of reasons many of us find bad boys (or girls) so attractive. And dating one usually serves a purpose.
Helen says “Women are often attracted to the thrill and gravitas of being with a bad boy. Especially if they have always been something of a ‘good girl’”. It might also stem from insecurity. “Some girls (and guys) just don’t think they deserve any better. Perhaps previous bad relationships or earlier experiences have left them believing they can’t be with someone who treats them right (which is simply not true of course, so if that’s you please stop it!).
One thing Helen is quite clear about though, while you may be getting something from a bad boy relationship when you’re in it, it’s unlikely to lead to a lasting, sustainable relationship. You won’t be able to change him/her, unless they’re ready for change – and that always has to come from within them. It’s very rarely prompted by you.
The good thing about infatuation with a ‘bad boy’ is that if you can keep your distance for a while, the intensity of the attraction usually dies down. Then you can learn something about yourself and move on to finding someone who will respect you and treat you right.
Here are few extra suggestions to help you get started on breaking the bad boy habit:
Am I really getting what I want here?List the qualities you don’t want in your relationship. Then list the qualities you do want. Which side is winning?
How does dating my bad boy make me feel?Write down the good and especially the bad things. Do you feel anxious every time you have a date planned thinking he might not turn up again; Do you flinch each time he gets a text, wondering if it might be another girl competing for his affection? Tell the truth now …
Why am I willing to tolerate this? Start with the words .. I’m dating X in order to …feel better about myself … fit in … not be alone … avoid doing what I really want to do … Are you sure this is a good enough reason to be with them?
Say to yourself “I deserve better”. You already know your ‘bad boy’ won’t change and is extremely unlikely to commit. So, be kind to yourself and put some distance between the two of you. In most cases breaking the bad boy habit simply starts by putting a bit of time and space between you to get over the infatuation
Consider whether it’s ever worth the effort in trying to change him/her. It might help to remember that succeeding in changing your ‘bad boy’ to a more manageable version would leave you dating someone very different to the person you fell for in the first place!!
Read Sophie’s Story to hear how a few coaching sessions with Helen helped her to swap her endless pursuit of younger, unavailable bad boys for the life of travel and adventure she secretly craved.
BeLoveCurious Founder & relationship therapist Helen Rice offers her suggestion to push your boundaries and take on a small challenge every day. She says by ‘facing the fear and doing it anyway’, you will really start to transform your negative confidence habit. Starting with a small daily challenge such as smiling at a stranger, or making a phone call you’ve been avoiding, will help you gather some positive experiences.
It is this positive reinforcement – done again and again – that will eventually help you shush your own critical inner voice. After a short time you’ll find your challenges will have to get bigger as your confidence naturally grows!
BeLoveCurious Founder Helen is featured prominently in this Daily Mail You magazine article. Journalist Ruth Tierney focuses on women who are life coaches to their friends.
In the piece, friend Marsha explains how Helen gives her the support and advice to deal with her dating dilemmas. She describes Helen’s style as non-judgmental, warm and open and says it’s Helen’s own story of “having been there and done that in terms of bad relationships” and finally finding happiness that she finds most inspiring.
When asked what her most memorable moment was, Marsha explains “it was Helen calmly sipping her tea after I’d given her the nitty-gritty on my sex life“
The Relationship Mentor
When Marsha Derevianko, 26, a blogger from London, has a dating dilemma, the first person she turns to is friend and coach Helen Rice, 48.
‘Helen will be my friend – and mentor – for life,’ says Marsha (right)
Marsha Says:The first time I met Helen on a personal development course eight years ago, I instantly sensed she was the kind of person I could open up to. She is warm and trustworthy, with a big heart. We kept in touch after the course, meeting for coffee where we would chat about whoever I was dating in a light way.
But it was in 2014 that I first really sought Helen’s advice because I was feeling stuck in a long-term relationship. On the surface Robert seemed to be the perfect guy. He was adoring, generous, faithful – an old-fashioned gentleman. My friends loved him, my mum wanted me to marry him – but I was unhappy. There were no fireworks, no tingly feelings. On the other hand, he was a good friend and would make a brilliant husband and father one day. I broached my dilemma in passing with Helen and she offered to come round to discuss it in more depth.
Helen began coming over one evening a week. We’d curl up on the sofa with homemade brownies and I’d pour my soul out as Helen listened, only offering advice if I directly asked for it. She gets to the heart of what I’m saying, then reframes it back to me. It encourages me to reflect and to discover that I already have the answer within me. I can talk to her about anything – including sex – and she never judges.
I respect Helen’s opinion because I know her history: after years of failed relationships, she found her Mr Right three and a half years ago. They are best friends and clearly so in love, and seeing them together makes me think, ‘I want some of that.’ I wouldn’t trust the advice of a friend having one-night stands.
Helen said I deserved to love wholeheartedly and that I shouldn’t settle for comfort. But plucking up the courage to end my relationship with Robert took months of talks with Helen. She was always there for me, whatever time of day or night. I could forward his emails and ask her opinion, and even called her at midnight when I was stressing out about hurting him. Helen never made me feel like a burden, while other friends lost patience.
When I did finally break up with him last July, Helen was the first person I rang. As I cried down the phone, she told me that although it would hurt for a while, when Robert finds a woman to love him in the way he deserves, he will realise I did him a favour.
Helen advised me not to rush into another relationship. I took her advice, but I’m feeling ready to date again now. Our girly chats at mine have continued and Helen has helped me through the guilt and encouraged me to think about what I really want from the next man.
The fact that Helen is older than me is an advantage because we can have conversations of substance rather than bitching and gossiping. She will be my friend – and mentor – for life.
Helen Says: When Marsha asked for my help last year, I initially worried that getting down and dirty rooting through her personal life as a therapist would affect our friendship. I was a research director when we met, but have since completed a Master’s Degree in Relationship Therapy, have a private practice in London and I’ve set up online love-life coaching business Belovecurious.com – so things have changed a lot since we became friends.
It’s not typically advisable to mentor a friend, but Marsha and I have a friendship forged through other personal development work we’ve done so it made this an easy choice. Marsha can talk for hours, but we can be quite straight with each other and get to the bottom of things because I know her so well. When she was worried that breaking up with Robert would hurt him, I offered a different perspective by asking how staying in the relationship would impact him.
I think the world is a better place if you are there for others. I feel privileged that people want to open up to me. My weekly chats with Marsha were instrumental in giving me the confidence to launch my coaching business last January, and I’m delighted that giving her my listening has allowed her own voice to come out, which is what it’s all about.
We date online, so why not get relationship help and advice that way too?
Lovelorn daters who are familiar with online dating and social media are increasingly turning to a virtual relationship coach for guidance.
Deciding to put her own approach to love – and us – to the test, Metro journalist Helen Croydon opted for a couple of hour-long sessions with BeLoveCurious’ Founder and relationship therapist Helen Rice.
Despite feeling a little bit apprehensive, she tells how the experience of ‘being love curious’ actually turned out to be rather fun, a little bit “self-indulgent” and quite unexpectedly insightful.
With Belovecurious, your very own ‘love coach’ will help you explore your relationship history and help you to set goals and tasks … all without leaving your living room!