Blog Posts by Tina Tessina

  • Creating Family Acceptance

    Lately, I've gotten so many anguished questions from people who are being criticized and rejected by family for making relationship choices the families don't like, usually for cultural or religious reasons, that I changed my mind about what I was going to write this month.

    If your choice of a partner, lifestyle, religion or place to live has received a lot of criticism and threats of rejection from your family, you are probably experiencing pain and confusion. Families do this because they don't accept that you're an adult, free to make your own choices, good or bad, and they assume your choices will either be bad for you or a negative reflection on them. Otherwise loving and caring parents can become surprisingly cruel and heartless in these situations, because they are afraid-and they turn that fear into anger. It may not be possible to get them to approve of your decision, but if you get them to think of you as an independent adult, they may be able to accept it with a little more

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  • Dear Dr. Romance: How Do I Make Sure He's Not Looking for a Visa Green Card Marriage?

    Dear Dr. Romance:

    I met a cute guy that's a foreigner in the USA from Russia. So how do I make sure he's not looking for a visa green card marriage?

    Dear Reader:

    Whether or not he wants a green card isn't the real question. The real question is, does he have good character, and does he love you, and do you love him? Take your time to get to know him, and find out what makes him tick. Does he have a job here? How is he making a living? Make sure he has no other attachments. Get to know his friends, and let your friends meet him -- you'll learn a lot through other people's eyes. Don't listen to his words, pay attention to his actions. Don't get ahead of the relationship. "Stupid Cupid" will help you figure out whether you two are ready to be serious.

  • Dr. Romance Video: On Having a New Baby when You Have Stepchildren

    (To view the video, click here.)

    You and your new spouse are over the moon about having a baby, but the children from your previous marriage are acting strange and upset or distant. What's wrong, and how do you fix it? Tina B. Tessina, PhD, "Dr. Romance" licensed psychotherapist and author, gives you steps to follow to make sure everyone gets onboard with the blessed event.

    Dr. Romance's 5 tips to parenting step children with a new baby:

    1. Give your current kids a chance to bond with the baby. Make it very clear that you are all one big family, and you love everyone equally, and act that way. Don't worry if everyone doesn't settle in right away; bonding takes time. Hopefully, your blended family was running smoothly before you became pregnant, but the adjustment to a new baby can take time for everyone.

    2. Have family meetings weekly. Give everyone (kids, too) a chance to share how they feel, what they like and don't like, and ask them to share both positive and negative opinions.

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  • User Post: Creating Connections: Draw Them In

    Many years ago, an Edwin Markham poem inspired me, and I've tried to live by it


    by Edwin Markham

    He drew a circle that shut me out -

    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.

    But Love and I had the wit to win:

    We drew a circle that took him in!

    As Markham says, we could see people who are distant or rejecting as upsetting, tempting us to call them bad names, but drawing them in with love works so much better. As I've said before in these pages, almost all of my genetic family are long gone, and I don't have that connection to draw on to surround myself with love, but that hasn't prevented me from drawing people in.

    There are more kinds of love than birth families, romance and marriage. Relationships are a precious resource, especially if your genetic family is far away, or doesn't get along particularly well. Not only does it take a "village" (community) to raise a child, but in our mobile and fast-paced society, a sense of community, family and connectedness helps us to

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  • Dear Dr. Romance: Why Do I Not Care that My Girlfriend Broke Up with Me?

    Dear Dr. Romance:

    This girl wasn't really my girlfriend but we pretty much were dating. I was thinking of asking her out in a few days. We talked today and she said she would rather be friends. I thought I should be mad or sad but the weird thing is I don't really care. Why? Is this normal? Is there something wrong with me? Please help! Thanks.

    Dear Reader:

    It sounds like you two just weren't that great a match, and you didn't have a chance to bond. It doesn't mean there's something wrong with you. You could learn something about yourself if you took a little time to think about what you liked and didn't like about this girl. Why were you attracted to her? What do you think made her turn you down? It might help you make a choice in the future. "You Be the Judge" will help you use your own judgment to decide whether someone is a good bet for a relationship or not. The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again gives you guidelines and information on how to make connections and keep them going.

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  • Dear Dr. Romance: I Really Wish I Could Go Back in Time and Fix This

    Dear Dr. Romance,

    I have read some of your articles and am very impressed. I am about to write about something that will probably be one of the most bizarre cases you have ever heard. About 12 years ago, I felt a strong attraction towards a girl who was in my high school. We both were in our junior year. It was instantaneous. I think she felt the exact same way towards me.

    Due to everyday friction with my father, I was extremely bitter and angry during that time and there was no way for me to release my feelings. I was very tense about my studies and wanted to make sure that I get in my desired college. I was also very shy back then.

    Therefore, I was extremely frustrated most of the time at school and I completely ignored her. I was too fearful and did not have the courage to approach her and let her know how much I was attracted to her. I could not even return any of her smiles. I was very hateful and barely smiled at anyone. She took it very personally. I was able to get the

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  • Coping with Critics

    No one likes to be criticized, fairly or not. It's always difficult to deal with, and it can hurt. Because I'm a writer of books and columns, and because I've lectured, appeared on radio and TV, I am sometimes recognized in public. I'm glad I'm not more recognizable, for along with the lovely feedback, gratitude and complements I get from many people, others feel compelled to criticize, often in a mean way, and often without having even read whatever book or column they're criticizing. So, I've been forced to learn to deal with negative comments, even when they're mean-spirited, and intended to hurt me. Because we all get criticized from time to time, you may find the following ideas helpful.

    Whether criticism is intended to be helpful or harmful, you can use it positively. Evaluate the critic-is it a good friend, a kind person, a mentor? Criticism from any of these is likely to be constructive, and you can probably trust it and learn from it. Is the criticism from a competitive

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  • Dr. Romance Video: How to Apologize

    (Watch the video here.)

    Uh-oh. You messed up, and now you boyfriend, relative or best friend is really mad at you. Do you even know why? Dr. Romance licensed psychotherapist and author, explains how to figure out what's wrong and resolve the anger.

    Dr. Romance's 4 Steps: How to Apologize

    1. Surrender to your responsibility. When you become aware that you have made a mistake, admit it and apologize. Use it as an opportunity to learn and grow. You don't have to be afraid of punishment or rejection - apologizing makes it easier to be forgiven.

    2. Don't be afraid to admit you're wrong. This fear comes from a culture of blaming and accusing -- where your early family or schoolmates may have picked a "culprit" when something went wrong, and focused on blame, rather than on fixing the problem and healing the hurt. Don't approach every situation as if you're on trial, and don't compulsively try to convince everyone you're not guilty. Apology and subsequent forgiveness is stress-releasing,

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  • The Courage to Hope

    We've heard a lot about hope recently, but one thing was not said. Hope is scary. Anyone who dares to hope runs the risk of disappointment and feelings of failure. With the overwhelming focus on success in our culture, the threat of failure and disappointment is blown out of proportion. In my counseling practice, I see a lot of people who are afraid to follow their dreams without a guarantee.

    On the other hand, hope is what keeps us going, gives us the courage to pursue our dreams, and draws us into creating the future. Without hope, we fall in to depression and despair, and we have no way of getting thorough life's disappointments and problems.

    Optimism works-research has shown that people who are optimistic have better lives. Expectations, on the other hand, are like demanding things of others, and of life . It's like beginning with the thought, "If I don't get what I want, I'll be upset," which is throwing a temper tantrum. A life full of little emotional temper tantrums is not a

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  • Dr. Romance Happiness Tip: The Magic of Reassurance

    Dr. Romance writes:

    There are a few simple communication techniques that work like magic in relationships, whether with committed partners, friends, co-workers or relatives. One of the most effective is reassurance, which is simple to do , and calms both of you down, which allows your discussion move on without struggles. When a discussion begins to get difficult, if you learn to stay calm and reassure the other person you'll find it works very effectively. As you practice reassuring yourself and each other, it gets easier to do, and the more reassurance you give each other, the easier and smoother your discussions will be.


    When you and your partner, friend, co-worker or relative are accustomed to arguing or struggling to be "right" and make each other "wrong", your discussions can be blocked by the fear that every conversation will be just another struggle, someone is going to lose, someone will end up feeling bad, or nobody will win. Worse yet, after all the hassle,

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