Honesty is supposed to be the cornerstone of a healthy relationship, and lying, an automatic dealbreaker. But should it be?
The good news is, it’s never too late to get your identity back.
It’s time to confirm whether you’re really compatible for a lifelong union.
You’re actually doing the wrong things, right.
There’s more than one side to every story.
Go ahead – pretend you’re better than you are.
If you’re not getting anything back, it’s time to go.
Love isn’t what I used to think it was.
Because what’s more important than your relationship, really?
They’ll always be our ultimate friends turned soulmates.
Life as a single lass can be sexy, wondrous and fun, but occasionally you’re going to meet, date and get naked with people who will insult your beautiful, perfectly imperfect mind, body and soul.
When it comes to sex and the single girl, it’s vital you maintain a strong body image and don’t listen to the haters. “Shake it off,” as T-Swizzle (Taylor Swift) would quite rightly say, and go find someone who not only loves you, just as you are, but a partner who’s secure in themselves and doesn’t feel the need to belittle you. You’ve got the world in the palm of your hand – stay strong –and find a man who raises you up even higher.
Trust me on this – I’m very old – imperfection is beautiful, curves are awesome and true beauty is within – don’t ever let someone sap your soul and take that away. And physical beauty comes in many, many different shapes and sizes. No one is perfect – least of all highly critical people who don’t love you as you are.
I dated many men before I met my husband at 34. Here are some of the nasty body and sex insults I suffered, for your hopeful amusement. They’re actually funny looking back – and, armed with a strong sense of self and my husband’s unconditional love – I can truly see how utterly ridiculous they are. However, verbal slurs in a relationship can really sting and prove damaging if you don’t maintain a healthy sense of humour, self-esteem and self-confidence.
Sex/body shaming insults and an appropriate response
- “You’re not very good at oral sex.” Now, any man who says this to you deserves to get a bit of teeth action, if you ask me. If a man can’t articulate to you what he likes in bed and insults you for good measure, do as I did and kick him to the kerb. The vast majority of men will love what you do downstairs and never ever be so stupid as to complain.
- “You need to lose weight”: In life, you must accept you’re not everyone’s cup of tea. And so what? There are many men out there who love and appreciate healthy curves and voluptuousness and whom will adore you, just as you are. And I’m always highly suspicious of men who don’t like curves. Want a stick figure? Go shag a broom, dickhead.
- “You’re too wet”: Yep, a man once said this to me in bed. For most sane humans, a well-lubricated lady is nothing short of a God-given gift, nay miracle. Learn to love your body and get to know what turns you on and never ever let someone tell you this is a bad thing. What a tosser! Naturally, I sent him packing…
- “Your nipples are too small”: It was beyond me at the time, still is now, why a guy I once seriously dated (and loved) felt the need to utter these stupid and hurtful words. Talk about a brain fart?! Breasts are beautiful – my cup runneth over – why would you ever insult the size of a woman’s nipples!? Don’t ever insult your lover’s body – and the same goes for women. My husband adores my double Ds and they’ve perfectly breastfed two children – again, you’ll probably meet and date overtly critical men who are never happy with what they have. Get rid of them, fast.
- “You just don’t do it for me”: If a man doesn’t find you anything less than a massive turn-on, feel sorry for him and move on as quickly as you (and your hurt pride) can. Some men are so particular about their sexual tastes; they’re looking for the unattainable. But it matters not – there are plenty of men out there who will think you the most perfect goddess who’s ever walked the earth. Go find him, now!
Images via topsecretwomensbusiness.com, iamapowerfulwoman.net, linkedin.com
Are you an over-functioning person? The type who can leap tall buildings in a single bound? Do you have a to-do list the size of your arm and appear to effortlessly complete the lot? And finally, are you tired of nagging to get things done only to end up doing it all yourself?
If any of this sounds familiar then you need to be aware that you aren’t in an equal partnership. Essentially, you’ve become the ‘parent’ or ‘caretaker’ and your significant other has become the ‘child’. It’s not exactly a turn on and it’s probably not what you want, either. Somewhere along your journey together, however, these are the roles you’ve created.
Unfortunately, many over-functioning individuals try tirelessly to even out this irritating equation. They have conversation after conversation about getting more help around the house and getting their slacker off their butt and into action – and I’d bet good money that things generally pick up for a while but soon slide back to a regular routine. The over-functioning partner will continue their behvaiour and as a result the slacker will ultimately continue theirs. It’s a vicious cycle.
What’s happening is that the over-functioning partner wants the other persons behaviour to change. That’s understandable, but what they don’t realise is that their partner’s behaviour is a response to their own. Regardless of the endless nagging, yelling, screaming, arguing or even threatening to leave, no-one can change what another person does, or in this case doesn’t do.
There is, however, one way things can change to even the equation and it’s easier than many over-functioning people think. There’s no nagging involved, no fighting, no nothing. In fact, all that needs to happen is the over-functioning partner needs to look objectively at what they have done to create their scenario.
For example, were they happy doing everything for their partner when the relationship began? Did they slide into this role as a response to some event? Did they get tired of waiting for their partner to do things and just decided it was easier to do it themselves? Or perhaps they like to have things done their own way and this is why the other person let them take over.
Whatever the situation, at some point these roles became established. Therefore, understanding how things developed into a routine is essential in changing the scenario. Now, this can work with any type of situation where changes need to occur. It’s incredible how people want change but they don’t change their behaviour. They just keep plodding along day after day and the change never happens. It’s often spoken of and argued about, but nothing can occur until there’s some type of behaviour shift.
So in this case where you have one partner over-functioning and the other under-functioning, someone needs to make it happen. If the over-functioning partner seriously wants more equality, they need to change their own actions and behaviours in a way that is more conducive to what they want. This may mean leaving jobs unfinished for the other to do, or creating a roster and only doing what’s on their own list.
In actual fact, this will be more difficult for the over-functioning person. While they have been busy doing everything, they’ve also had total control. They just might discover that control will be revoked and this is where the problem has been all along. However, if they want to get the equal partnership that many desire, then it really is the only way it can happen.
Image via familia.com.br
True confessions: I adore vampire-themed fantasy romances/horrors such as The Twilight Saga and True Blood; but I’ve got no time, energy or love for emotional vampires in real life.
Have you experienced the hell on earth that is spending time with an emotional-vampire “friend” and/or lover? These people are aptly named because they’re negative, exhausting and emotion-sucking drama queens who will sap your time, energy and spirit if you let them – abort, abort, abort!
Personally, I think life is way too short to spend time with people who constantly deplete your serenity and use your strength to bolster their fragile egos. Emotional vampires need constant attention and flit from one high drama or conflict to the next; indeed they seem to thrive on it, while you will be left feeling like they sucked out your soul.
In a healthy, long-standing friendship and/or relationship, you each take turns acting as caregivers, when needed. But with emotional vampires it is a very one-sided affair; they’re only interested in what they can take from you, never what they can give; indeed your thoughts, wants and feelings will be so irrelevant to them, it’s as though they don’t exist.
And when you inevitably find yourself emotionally exhausted and drained by your soul-sucking “friend”, having grown well tired of being their 24/7 mentoring/advice/counselling service and their extreme lack of empathy, they will most likely viciously turn on you if you dare to be emotionally honest about how you feel. And that’s OK; you’ve got to get off that emotional rollercoaster, girlfriend! And you’ve got to choose your friends very wisely, for what you accept you become.
It’s a sentiment echoed by a clinical psychologist I spoke to, who wishes to remain anonymous, who has more than 30 years experience in couples and relationships counselling. So, what are the warning signs that you’ve encountered an emotional vampire? “If, after meeting up with or chatting on the phone with a friend, you are left feeling hurt, angry, resentful or emotionally battered, there may be a problem with this friendship,” the psychologist says. “If the negative feelings occur every or most times you catch up with this particular person, ask yourself why you feel this way.”
And this is key: if you are unlucky enough to come across a narcissist; victim and/or venomous, controlling emotional vampire – for they can take many forms – who’s started to take over your life, leaving you feeling overwhelmed, negative and burdened, it’s definitely time to cut all ties with this person, if you can. Why? Demanding, constantly negative and self-absorbed people will only ultimately cause you much more pain than pleasure and it’s in your best interests, indeed an act of good self-care, to let them go.
I stupidly let an emotional vampire into my life recently – an old work acquaintance with whom I’d never really clicked, who’d moved to my area. This woman would constantly burden me with daily problems and dramas. And when I started to feel sick in the pit of my stomach every time she sent me epic, daily texts asking for my advice, I knew it was time to end the “friendship” and I use the term very loosely.
Sure, I wanted to help her, but when her constant, toxic tales of woe and endless conflicts started to overwhelm me, to the point I was anxious every time I got a text in case it was from her, and counselling her was starting to eat away at both my time and my sanity, I finally gave her some gentle emotional honesty which was enough to end our relationship.
And you know what? I feel nothing but sweet, sweet relief and was even more grateful for the amazing, positive people in my life, including many long-term friends with whom I share the caregiver role. So, what is the best course of action when encountering an emotional vampire, according to my clinical psychologist contact?
“We all need to take responsibility for our own emotional well-being,” she advises, “So, if you feel that you’ve helped your friend as much as you can, and interactions with her leave you feeling drained and negative, you need to take steps to care for yourself.
“Your friend probably isn’t aware of the impact they are having on you. Try explaining that while you want to help them if possible, constantly dealing with their crises and problems and providing advice is a downer for you. Explain that for the friendship to continue, you want to keep things positive and light-hearted for at least a major part of the time you spend together. Be prepared though; your friend might decide it’s easier to move on than to change.”
For me, the final nail in the coffin in the “friendship” with my emotional vampire, was that I found I couldn’t do something as fundamental and basic as express emotional honesty in the relationship. For emotional vampires hate being challenged or questioned; so fragile are their egos and self-esteem, your feelings will only be seen as a threat. Hilariously and paradoxically, they may accuse you of being a bad person, when not five seconds before they were asking, yet again, for your life advice. Female friendships can be maddening complex; but unless there’s emotional honesty and a reciprocal caregiver role; aint nobody got time for that, girlfriend!
Brisbane communication and social media consultant Mel Kettle, 45, (pictured) has also encountered her fair share of emotional vampires – indeed she thinks it’s a common affliction among her closest female friends.
“If there are people out there who have made it to their mid-40s without an emotion-sucking friend, they are doing well!” she says. “And I use the word ‘friend’ loosely. I have had a few over the years and each time it has taken me a while to realise what they are. These women have all seemed lovely when I met them: intelligent, interesting, friendly and they each made an effort to spend time with me and to get to know me in the early stages of the friendship.
“There have probably been three over the years who I would say are real emotion-sucking ‘friends’. All have shared the same behaviours and characteristics: seeking my advice over and over (often on the same issues); needing validation for many of the decisions in their lives (some minor, however many that needed professional psychological or psychiatric guidance that I was not at all equipped to give); constantly negative about much of what is going on in their lives (and making no effort to change it, just constant whinging and complaining); expecting me to be available to meet or talk and to solve all their problems and rarely asking about my life, or if they do, showing little or no interest.
“After thinking about this a lot, I realised that none of these women had any empathy. After catching up with them, I always felt emotionally and usually physically exhausted.”
To counter this, as an act of self-care and self-preservation, Mel says she simply stopped making herself available to the emotional vampires – one of whom quickly latched on to someone else. “It was a hard decision to make, but once I did I felt a huge sense of relief,” she says. “Friendship needs to be two-way. Sure, there are times when you need more of your friends then they need from you, but it’s a cycle. Yes, I’m there for friends in need, however I expect them to be there for me too.
“A huge turning point for a couple of friendships was when my parents died. This experience really showed the true colours of a lot of people. One emotion-sucking friendship ended when this ‘friend’ barely offered me condolences and then spent 30 minutes on the phone telling me about all the problems she was having with a couple of her family members, including her mother; mine hadn’t even been dead for a week! That was the straw that broke that camel’s back for me!”
And like me, Mel says the older she gets, the less likely she will put up with other people’s emotional fuckwittage. “I have far less tolerance for selfishness and the rubbish that so many people think is important. I also have no time for constant negativity, people who are ungrateful for what they have, and glass-half-empty people,” she says. “They are too exhausting to have in your life when you are not that way!”
“A good friend of mine had a few friendships that were very one-sided – she made all the effort. She basically called them out and said that she would give them one more chance and if they weren’t prepared to make an effort to maintain the friendship then as far as she was concerned it was over. All were shocked, only one was apologetic and made an effort, the other friendships ended.”
So, there you have it ladies: real-life examples and advice on how to combat emotional vampires – you’ve been forewarned. May none of your friendships suck!
Images via liveinthenow.com, Fast Company, Daily Mail
Few words have uglier connotations to me than “princess”; for life ain’t no fairytale and if you are desperately waiting and hoping for a white knight to rescue you, you’re just setting yourself up for misery and disappointment, sister.
Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo – I call bullshit. Personal power comes from a healthy self-esteem whereby you take responsibility for your life and make positive, empowering life decisions. You and you alone are responsible for your own self-care and happiness. Repeat after me: I am no one’s prize; I am nobody’s princess!
However, the princess myth and Cinderella-worship is so powerful and pervasive in modern-day culture, it’s everywhere we look: it’s rife in movies, women’s magazines, clothes, books and little girl’s fashion accessories, for starters.
And witness the public’s endless fascination with the real-life fairytale of modern-day princesses such as that of Mary Donaldson and her Danish prince and Kate Middleton (pictured at right), aka Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, with the couple recently welcoming their second child, Charlotte, into the world.
I felt a cold stab of fear in my feminist-heart recently when my Cinderella-loving three-year-old daughter announced that she too wanted to “grow up to be a princess.” I allowed myself a small lecture to her about being in charge of her own destiny, before happily handing her her mock diamante tiara from the dress-up drawer and letting her indulge in the age-appropriate fantasy.
So, why is the princess myth so damaging to adult relationships? I turned to Brisbane psychologist Kobie Allison, 31, for her interesting insight into the issue. The psychologist/director of a private practice – which specialises in children, teens and families and acute and complex trauma – says the wish of wanting to be taken care of or “rescued” by another can stem from co-dependency.
“Co-dependency is a learned behaviour which can be detrimental to relationships as it affects an individual’s capacity to have a healthy, balanced mutually satisfying relationship,” Kobie says.
“One symptom of co-dependency is that one partner is generally the caretaker, fixer, rescuer, controller or safeguard. Thus, the partnership is built on “caretaking” instead of a love sharing. A healthy relationship helps each individual grow their self-esteem, self-confidence, sense of self-worth and self-reliance, which are all part of developing a healthy sense of self-love.”
To ensure both you and/or your daughters don’t fall prey to the princess myth, here are the psychologist’s top tips for healthy relationship behaviours.
Top five signs of an co-dependent and/or addictive relationship
- A feeling of not being able to live without the partner.
- Loss of self-control and low self-esteem: looking to partner for validation and affirmation of self-worth.
- Making fewer decisions or plans: waiting for the partner to tell you what to do.
- Rushing things, like sex or marriage, so as not to lose the partner.
- Using drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms.
Top five signs of mature love
- Develops gradually through learning about each other.
- Sexual attraction is present, but warm affection/friendship is central.
- Characterised by calm, peacefulness, empathy, support, trust, confidence and tolerance of each other – there are no feelings of being threatened.
- Is based on reality not a princess fantasy of being “rescued.”
- Partners have high self-esteem and can make strong, independent decisions; each has a sense of self-worth with or without the partner and feels complete even without the relationship.
Top five important qualities to look for in a prospective partner
- Is not involved in other love relationships and is open to being in a relationship with you.
- Is well over heartaches and has not just recently broken up with someone else.
- Has time to devote to the relationship and is close to you geographically: in your city or state.
- Has high self-esteem; treats himself and others well, even if they are strangers.
- Is compatible with you in terms of social values and beliefs.
Images via theatlantic.com, marissabracke.com, hercampus.com
Most of us are in desperate need of some romance, but what do you do when you can’t get rid of the kids? It’s actually easier than you think. It’s as simple as having a family night in, including the kids and getting to the intimate romance once they’ve had their fun and gone to sleep. Sound too easy to be believed? Well it is…
How it’s Done
Putting a bit of romance back into your life is as simple as getting back to basics. Most of us don’t have time to breathe anymore because everything is moving way too fast. Parents are usually so busy rushing from morning ’til night that they rarely spend time on their relationship or make time for each other. Please STOP before you burn out and start prioritising romance – it’s essential for looking after the longevity of your family.
Start by putting technology in it’s place and turn it off for a night or two each month. This includes TV’s, DVD’s, tablets, computers and yes, even your mobile or cell phone which is glued to most of us 24/7. We survived long before this invention and we can all use a couple of nights of technology shut down.
Next, plan a night of family in-house, tech free entertainment. Not sure what to do? Luckily I’ve got some family friendly ideas which can easily be turned into a romantic night at home when the kids fall asleep.
When was the last time you sat around a small fire in the backyard and roasted some marshmallows? You don’t have to go camping to do this. If you don’t have room for a fire or if you live in an apartment, have a think about how you can improvise. Open the combustion heater, light a bunch of candles, or do whatever you can to get some real flames happening (without burning the house down, of course). There is something very soothing about fire and the kids will love it. Plus, after dark fire is particularly romantic. Grab a nice glass of wine, talk and spend some quality time with your lover.
Most of us in big cities don’t really see the stars on a regular basis. We live indoors and by night time we are tucked up inside. Even if it’s cold out, pick a night that’s not too cloudy and head outside. Pop on some warm clothes, throw something on the ground and as a family check out what stars you can see. The kids will love it and later when they’ve had enough, go back out there with your lover to a secluded spot and get naked under them!
The best part about getting busy is you generate a lot of body heat, so there’s no need to worry about it being cold! Just a word of warning: make it somewhere discrete. No-one really wants to catch their neighbors in the act.
Build a Fort
Kids love building and playing in forts, so why not make it dual purpose? Set up a nice family sized fort in the lounge room and have some down time with the kids. Grab a board game or make up your own and they will be sure to go to bed happy. If you have trouble putting them to sleep afterwards, however, read a bedtime story or two – this normally works a treat. Later, turn the fort into mum and dad’s secret love nest and bring out the adult games when the kids are out of the way.
These ideas are as simple as it gets, but seriously, when was the last time you switched off the box and varied the routine? Not only will the kids love it, but having fun as adults is important. It’s also essential for stress relief and helps keep your family strong.
If you have some family date night ideas of your own, we’d love to hear them in the comments below!
Image via tipjunkie.com
If you’ve ever felt like your man is indeed from another planet – nay galaxy far, far away – you’re not alone, sister.
Just recently, a best friend and I bemoaned the fact that our husbands were, at times, frustratingly highly skilled at offering unsolicited advice, but were far less capable listeners. Why can’t men just shut the f*** up and listen? Why do they have to offer solutions when you’ve never sought them? It’s an age-old relationship problem psychologists have long counselled couples about. So, why are men’s and women’s relationship needs so different?
Relationship experts say generally speaking, when we women have a problem, we usually want to sit down with a friend or their partner and talk about the issues, mull it over, express our feelings about the problem and receive empathy and encouragement. Above all, we just want to feel listened to and heard. Only after we’ve received this support do we want to move into problem solving, receiving advice and discussing solutions.
So, we women often become really frustrated and annoyed with our male partners when we try to talk with them about a problem, because men just seem to want to jump straight in with solutions and unsolicited advice. How many times has your loved one, bless him, said something like: “If you just do it like this…” or “You should have just done what I told you…” Gah!
However, clinical psychologists do concede many men are also bad listeners, cutting straight to problem solving when you just want to talk and feel listened to. And some men feel compelled to offer unsolicited advice for no reason; when you are actually more than capable of dealing with the situation by yourself. So, why do they do this?
For some, it may be a form of chauvinism, with the underlying belief that you as a woman can’t cope without their help and guidance. Grrr! Others may be well-meaning and genuinely want to help, jumping in with solutions and advice too quickly. Which category does your man fit into?
Another part of the puzzle is that relationship experts say men are genetically programmed to be problem solvers; and problem-solving behaviour rather than exploring feelings and motivations is encouraged in the majority of boys as they grow up.
The solution? They say to try encouraging our partners to be better listeners by explaining to them we’d really just like to talk about our problem and have him pay attention to us and really understand before he comes up with solutions. What’s more, we may have to gently remind him of this each time we want to talk about a problem. Sigh.
But if this doesn’t work, and if the man in your life continues to jump in too soon with solutions and unsolicited advice, you could try:
a) Punching him in the arm (er, just kidding) or
b) Talking to the women in your life for the empathy and understanding that you need, then…
c) When you’re ready to address the problem, talk to the man in your life for solutions to your problem.
Intimate relationships sure aren’t easy at times, but hopefully the bargaining will pay off. What do you think? Why don’t men listen to women and offer unsolicited advice?
Images via listcult.com, kikiandtea.com, huffingtonpost.com, someecards.com
Ladies, it’s time to tackle the controversial topic of the “mercy fuck”. And by this I mean when you take pity on a lustful, randy partner and offer them sex, even if you don’t 100 per cent feel like it.
Just to be crystal clear, I am not talking about rape or unwanted sexual advances; I’m talking about consensual sex, where you may find yourself getting turned on unwittingly by the generous and loving act of pleasuring your amorous significant other.
Now, some prominent Australian sex therapists, such as the always-controversial and alienating Bettina Arndt, have long preached the advantages of regular “servicing” of a man in a relationship. Indeed, last year she hit the headlines with what she claimed was the secret to a truly happy heterosexual marriage: “The truly lucky man is blessed with a sexually generous woman, one who believes in taking one for the team.”
Now that’s a very unfortunate choice of words if you ask me – she made the idea sound distinctly unpalatable and degrading. But does it have to be? Couldn’t “chore sex” turn into swinging-from-the-chandeliers hot sex?
And in a marriage, I think both women and men may find themselves not wanting sex for a variety of reasons – fatigue, stress, kids-sucking-the-life-out-of-you and more.
So, should you really put out for the health of your relationship, and/or for your own personal well-being too? The health benefits of sex are both well-documented and varied: good sex can boost your immune system and your libido – kinda like fine wine or chocolate, the more you have, the more you crave – and it even lowers your blood pressure and heart attack risk.
But is it too compromising to offer sex if you’re just not 100 per cent feeling it? SHESAID went in search of answers from the good doctor herself, leading Australian sexologist Dr Nikki Goldstein (pictured). Below, she shares her wisdom and insight on this tricky and divisive topic:
Should women be expected to put out for a mercy fuck?
I really think this is a case-by-case basis, but women need to start seeing this as something nice they are doing for their partner. Just like sometimes we want our partners to take the trash out, sometimes we might or should just have sex with our partners when we don’t 100 per cent feel like it.
Say, in the case of a tired, new mum, is a mercy shag an important way of reconnecting with your partner?
Sex can be a way to show your partner that you love them and reconnect. You might be tired if you have small kids, but men – especially Australian men – are taught to see the physical as a way of showing love. In a country that doesn’t encourage men to be open with their emotions, this is one way they show and can feel love. If you are exhausted, you might not want to go the full way, but some affectionate touching and kissing might be all that is needed.
And there are other things that a couple can do to increase intimacy and pleasure without intercourse – anything where skin-to-skin contact is involved. Even just being able to stimulate each other’s genitals or even an all-over massage with a sexy twist.
Can women (or men) get in the mood for sex during the actual act?
I do truly believe that even if you are not totally wanting sex, once you start to get into the act, your feelings might change and sexual desire might kick in. Start with some foreplay without the promise of intercourse and see how things progress. It might just be a night or touching and kissing or it might turn into a night of wild, crazy unexpected passion.
Is a mercy fuck an act of generosity and kindness in a marriage?
It’s important that your sexual relationship is not always a mercy fuck, but I do think from time-to-time it’s something you should do. Keep in mind however, that compromises are key. You might not feel like intercourse, but maybe there are others ways to be intimate and physical with your partner.
How important is sex in keeping the spark alive in a relationship?
Sex has so many benefits, both physically and mentally, and is important to connect a couple, but it’s important a couple thing outside the square when it comes to their sex life. It’s not always about penetration, but it’s the “sexy time” that’s important in a relationship: time for you and your partner to desire each other, make each other feel loved and wanted and pleasure each other.
What do you think? Is a mercy fuck ever OK?
Image via www.sodahead.com
We crave relationships in which we can trust our partner and share our deepest feelings without fear, yet, often we stand in our own way. Some of us take a long time to develop intimacy with another person. Others enter a new relationship with an open hear, but start building walls at the first misunderstanding. So how do we create intimacy in our relationships and keep it alive?
1. Accept your partner for who he or she really is
At the start of a relationship we are often blinded by passion. Everything about our partner is perfect and he can’t do anything wrong. But as we get to know each other, we start noticing traits that are not so attractive, we start fights and we try to change the other person. It never works. You can’t change anyone who doesn’t want to change, but you can take the comfortable feeling out of the relationship where each person can be who they are without having to pretend.
2. Appreciate what you have
Rather than focusing on your partner’s imperfection, appreciate all the good things about him and show appreciation often (don’t assume he already knows). You’ll make your partner feel valued and you’ll also take your own focus away from the negative and towards everything that’s going well.
3. Make time for just the two of you
The more difficult it is to find opportunities for intimacy because of work, children or other commitments, the more important it is to consciously create the time for it. It may not be as spontaneous as it once was, but at least if you put it on the calendar, you have a better chance of making it happen.
4. Practice sharing openly
Intimacy is about being able to share your feelings with each other and this doesn’t just mean saying “I love you” often. Each of us has something that leaves us feeling vulnerable and we’d rather keep it to ourselves. Do you express your anger, sadness or frustration and ask for support? Do you talk about sex? Do you sometimes hold back because of fear that your partner will judge you? Start small and build your sharing muscles, and your intimacy will grow, too.
5. Take responsibility for your own issues
Most of us carry around unresolved issues from our past. Ideally, you’d leave them behind and not bring them into a new relationship, but the reality is that healing can take a long time, sometimes a lifetime. There’s no need to wait until you’re over the past before starting a new relationship, but it’s also not fair to make your partner responsible for it. Be aware of your own stuff and when it comes up, share it with your partner, but without expecting him to make everything right for you.
6. Don’t hold grudges
If you’re someone that still brings up negative events from three years ago in your thoughts or in your arguments, stop. You’re undermining your own trust in your relationship and you’re also instilling fear in your partner that he might say and do something wrong, and it will be remembered for years to come. Only because your partner has made a bad judgement once, it doesn’t mean he’ll do it again. And even if he does – no one is perfect.
“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly” ~ Sam Keen
Image by takazart via pixabay.com
When someone is really listening to us, we feel drawn to that person and willing to open our hearts. Listening is one of the most important skills we need to build meaningful relationship. But what does it mean to be a good listener?
We’ve all been taught to make eye contact, not interrupt and not get distracted by TV, phones or other gadgets (and half of the time we still forget). But it takes more than that. I invite you to dive deeper into your conversations and use the following qualities of a good listener.
Be present for the other person and listen to what they’re saying without judgement. Don’t try to guess what’s going to follow next, keep an open mind and allow the conversation to unfold.
Focus on the other person
We often process the conversation through our own stories. This may be how we relate to other people’s experiences, but it can be annoying when we always respond with ‘Me, too’ or ‘I have a better story’. If someone shares their achievements with you, acknowledge them and be happy for them (even if you have done better). If they’re expressing a concern, give them the space to voice it without immediately sharing a similar challenge that you may have had or advice they may not want to hear.
Another easy trap to fall into is thinking about what you’re going to say in response. I do this a lot. As an introvert, I need some time to think before I speak. I often panic that the other person will finish talking and I’ll have nothing to say, so I start composing my response in my head while they speak. But if that’s what you’re doing, you’re not truly focusing on them, but on yourself, and you may be missing out on important cues and information. With practice, I learned that there’s nothing wrong with pausing for a few seconds to think before responding. In fact, the person you’re talking to appreciates it a lot more.
Show that you care by having open body language and eye contact. Asking good question will send the message that not only you’ve heard and understood what has been said so far, but you’re willing to go deeper. And don’t change the subject!
No one is a perfect listener all the time, but we can all get better with practice. There will be times when you get distracted – gently bring yourself back to the conversation and admit that you’ve missed something, or acknowledge that this may not be the best time for you to have that conversation and schedule a different time. People will appreciate your honesty much more than a pretend smile and non-committal remarks.
Image by Mark Sebastian via Flickr.com
Loads of parents teach their kids to think for themselves, have goals, opinions and not follow their mates, if they want to jump of a cliff. We encourage them to be proactive in making the world around them a better place. After all, we want them to be able to cope in the world without holding their hand.
Despite this being an excellent way to raise productive, responsible, thoughtful individuals; the major downfall is the determination which presents itself, as they get older. By the time they reach double digits, they have strong beliefs and values, feel comfortable voicing their opinions and question the authority of their parents. You might be thinking to yourself, “What on earth have I done?”
Don’t despair, because if they are questioning you, they are also questioning the world around them. They won’t be likely to smoke that cigarette, because their mates are doing it or go against their values and beliefs in other ways. The main thing you need to know, is how to cope with this determination, without undoing all your hard work or passing them along to a family member, in fear grounding them for life!
Firstly, congratulate yourself on making it this far and creating a determined kid. Every child on the planet at the age of around 10-12 will begin to break away from their parents. Some start earlier, some later, but during this critical age, they are developing their self identity. Therefore, there is a lot going on behind the scenes, which they aren’t even aware of. Hormones are playing havoc with their brains and their bodies.
As the supporting parent, you need to let them become the person they are envisaging and the person you have encouraged them to be. This doesn’t mean they can get away with being disrespectful or rude either. This is where boundaries will be a parents best friend. Set your boundaries and stick to them.
This can be easier said than done. If your child is especially determined, they will push every boundary you put in place for them. They want to see how far they can go, before you set the limit. They are actually pushing to find that limit, and if you don’t give it to them; be prepared for anarchy. They will run the household. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a home run by hormone consumed kids or teens!
They need to know that you are still the parent and they are still your child. This won’t be an easy time as a parent. You thought toddlers were hard work, right? Well teenagers are much like toddlers, except they know they are making your life a living hell! Don’t show them that they are wearing you down and if you have a partner, you need to work together and be a united front; unbreakable and un-dividable.
If there are any cracks in your relationship, your determined kid will find them. It won’t be something they do on purpose. At this age, they are entirely egocentric. You will need to constantly remind them that they are not the only person on the planet.
It’s not all bad though. After this time in their life, your teen will thank you for the support you have given them and the boundaries you set for them. They will know that you have their back, no matter what. Calm will then return to your home. Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour, knowing you have created a very strong, capable person.
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By Kim Chartres
Meeting the parents can be a nerve-wracking experience for anyone. You’ve seen Meet the Parents, right? Even if they’re the nicest people in the world, the experience can be quite intimidating.
Hey, we’ve all been there. So here are a few tried-and-test tips that will ease your nerves. Consider this invaluable relationship advice for building a healthy relationship with your partner and his family.
Preparation has everything to do with it, especially when it comes to dressing the part. How you should dress for the event depends on where you’re meeting, but the key message is: better play it safe than sorry.
There is a caveat here. You shouldn’t want to portray someone you’re not, so the best course here is to dress a little more conservatively than your regular style. And cover up enough so that you’re not flashing too much flesh.
When you meet someone for the first time, there are a few things that you’ll inevitably talk about. Most common being where you live, what you do, and future plans. Don’t over-compensate by going into a diatribe about your job or that you hate your room-mates, just keep it short and sweet with a funny anecdote or two.
3. Be polite, but be true to yourself
Of course, we want everyone to think that we’re happy and nice people. Even if you are, there is the chance that it will come off as insincere. You don’t have to be a yes-woman. There’s nothing wrong with saying that you’re not particularly fond of a certain type of wine (but avoid going into a five-minute criticism of a movie you hated that the parents loved).
4. Avoid certain topics
There are a few things that you shouldn’t talk about. Religion and politics are two of them – they’re hot button issues for most. Marriage or overtly gushing about their child are others.
Avoid talking about marriage, as it’s probably too soon. Oh, and they also know that their son is great. They raised him and they love him, so you don’t need to rave about how amazing he is. Keep it classy.
This cannot be stressed enough; his mother is everything here. Most of the time, you’ll find that the dad couldn’t really care less as to who his son dates so as long as she is stable and makes him happy. However, this isn’t the case for mum.
In order to win her over, show her and her family respect, show an interest in her work, life and hobbies, and offer to help her with the dishes (if you’re having a meal at their place) or ask if you could get her a drink (if you’re meeting at a restaurant). Remember, she’s probably nervous too, so if you can show her you’re a normal person who cares about her son, you’ll alleviate a lot of her nerves.