Peers Talk Relationships Through Warmlines

Women's Dating

Callers Talk to Peers About Relationships Through Warmlines

Sheena Holt

Written by: Sheena Holt

Sheena Holt

Sheena Holt comes to DatingAdvice with a BA in English and creative writing. Sheena's work has appeared in numerous literary and culture publications, including Lithium Magazine. Her work as an editor and writer has taught her a lot about the ins-and-outs of dating in the 21st century. As Managing Editor for DatingAdvice.com, she has interviewed hundreds of dating professionals and relationship experts. Sheena also enjoys writing long-form fiction in her spare time to keep her storytelling skills sharp.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

Discuss This! Discuss This!

The Short Version: People working through relationship drama sometimes find it challenging to know who to talk to about their experiences. Warmlines can provide a practical and free option to talk things out. The peer-run support lines help individuals who are struggling with non-crisis mental and emotional well-being issues. 

Relationship drama can be harrowing. Not only are you going through the pain of fighting with someone you love, but you may also feel unable to confide in anyone about your situation. Your mutual friends may relay the information you share, or family members may hold onto resentment against your partner, so they make for unreliable confidants. You may feel alone in your relationship with no one to talk to about what you’re experiencing. The problems you are facing — however manageable — may begin to feel like insurmountable obstacles that will cost you your relationship.

Warmline.org founder
Howard Trachtman is the founder and owner of Warmline.org.

No matter how alone you may feel, resources are available to help. In addition to therapy, you can take advantage of Warmline.org, a directory highlighting peer-run phone lines staffed by individuals dedicated to mental health recovery. The website founder Howard Trachman connects people with active warmlines, which are a free resource for individuals who are not in crisis but need peers to help talk through issues.

Being in a complicated relationship can have serious adverse effects on your mental health, especially if you struggle with pre-existing behavioral issues. The volunteers at non-crises warmlines listen to callers discuss their mental health issues every day and are thus well-equipped to provide support for those dealing with romantic struggles.

Kim Harol, a Warmlines affiliate and former phone-line operator, has plenty of experience talking to people experiencing hard times. She told us that not only was she able to use her life experience to talk to callers, she came to know the details of their situations through multiple calls. With few staffers at each individual Warmline, repeat callers and phone operators often have time to establish a rapport. “If a person has a question about a relationship that I am familiar with, as a peer, then I can offer my personal experience as well,” she said. “It’s more like talking to a friend.”

Low-Pressure Support

Getting support while you’re fighting or experiencing other relationship drama with your partner  can be especially difficult. When the issue is new or isolated, you may have difficulty deciding whether it’s worth seeing a mental health professional. The cost can be high, and even getting an introductory appointment takes time. Professional help is well worth the price for serious, long-term issues, but it may not be the best way to handle every individual disagreement in a relationship.

For many partners struggling with their relationship, consulting friends and family can feel more drastic than consulting a therapist. Close friends and family may accept your partner when the relationship is going well. But if they learn of your disagreements, they’re likely to side with you and their judgment can last even after you have repaired your relationship. After my friends complained to me about their partners’ shortcomings, I became more protective of them than before. You can work through many problems in relationships, but your friends may not be so forgiving.

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Warmlines can offer impartial support as you deal with your emotional struggles.

Warmline phone operators are the perfect intersection of unbiased resource and friend. As unlicensed volunteers, their service is free and easily accessible. They don’t need the entire backstory of your life to build a long-term professional-client relationship with you. They are approachable and can advise you with the empathy of someone who has experienced their own mental health and life issues.

At the same time, a person manning the phones at warmline will not have the bias of your friends and family often have. The call operators don’t immediately take your side and assume the worst in your partner or give you extreme advice when it’s unnecessary for your well-being. Friends may be quick to tell you to dump him, but Warmline operators tend to be more impartial in their thoughts. 

Warmlines communications consultant Paul Komarek says, “How far do calls go? Nobody expects a warmline to have answers to ‘Is this your true love?’ but I do think it is fair to help folks with distress and anxiety and coping strategies around relationships.”

Free and Convenient Help

Financial woes can make the pressure far worse when you’re experiencing any strain in your life — be it fighting with your partner, job loss, medical issues, or even general mental health struggles. Money problems cause many emotional issues and can exacerbate existing ones. Adding bills from a new therapist or psychologist to your list of concerns can worsen your relationship problems, especially if money is tight in your home. 

If you share finances with your partner, adding the expenses for psychological services can add to your stress and can raise questions and concerns that may blow your current struggles out of proportion. If your partner realizes you are seeking professional help about your relationship issues, they may feel the problems are even more profound than they are. Of course, seeking treatment when you need it is essential, especially when your partner is victimizing you. But in the case of routine issues, solving them for free likely makes more sense.

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Using Warmlines is as easy as picking up the phone.

Fortunately, Warmline.org is a free and convenient option for anyone trying to figure out how to deal with their relationship issues. It’s an accessible resource for any finding a warmline operating in the U.S. Then all you need to do is call. 

“Even if you consult a therapist, with warmlines, you can get a different perspective,” Kim said. “I think what would be ideal is to talk to both, and the advantage of the Warmline is it’s there for you any day. Whereas you can only see your therapist once a week at best.” Trying to talk to a therapist outside of office hours is expensive at best and impossible at worst. But when you use a warmline, you can get free and practical help any day of the week. 

Therapists are excellent at solving underlying issues, working on coping solutions, and making long-lasting changes. But when you want a friendly voice to guide you through an immediate concern, a call to a warmline is often the way to go.

Warmlines Offer a Safe Space for Everyone

When you’re struggling with mental health or an interpersonal issue, finding help can be an added source of anxiety. Many individuals who are not in crisis, but still need help, may fear they will be labeled if they seek treatment or support. They may worry that an overzealous mental health professional will intervene in their lives, despite knowing they are not presently a danger to themselves or others. Without an intermediate support option, many individuals with manageable issues find it difficult to access the level of care they require.

Individuals working through difficulties in their relationships can find an ideal short-term solution by calling a warmline. The free, peer-run service is an effective way to address emotional and interpersonal issues with someone who understands your struggles from their own experiences. 

If you’re experiencing suicidal ideation, domestic abuse, or another crisis, you should contact the 988 suicide and crisis hotline or domestic abuse hotline or go to the emergency room. Warmlines are great options for handling day-to-day problems, but their resources are insufficient for crisis solutions. Still, contacting a warmline is a viable solution for assisting in your recovery or preventing a current issue from reaching the point of crisis. 

The volunteers at Warmlines do not typically refer callers to other resources, as most individuals only want someone to talk to about their issues. But in some cases, Warmline operators can tell that an outside referral is necessary. “We want to listen, to support callers, and to help them explore their options, but sometimes it’s clear that a referral would be helpful,” Kim said. “We can offer it to them if they’re in crisis, we can tell about the recovery learning community, or we can open doors to the arts or other programs. That might be a good fit, but we don’t generally try to hit them over the head with referrals.” 

If you need to talk to someone about your relationship problems but don’t know where to turn, check out the Warmline.org directory and find a call center that’s open to listening.