Are your Friends getting between you and your Relationship?

gossip

Are your Friends getting between you and your Relationship?

Have you been through a series of broken relationships lately? Have you searched through your selection process, your personality, your emotional baggage and all other aspects of you, only to come up empty? If it isn’t you it could be your friends. Sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes more subtle. But your friends are a reflection of you. They can also get in the way of lasting love, if you let them. Are your friends getting between you and your relationship? Take a look at these indicators and see if you are the victim of love sabotage by your pals.

Do your friends ever tell you that your date isn’t good enough for you? If they call your date unattractive, stupid or dull right in front of you, you have a right to be upset. That’s really rude behavior. Still, take a look at the qualities of your date. If they cut the mustard, something might be wrong with your friends. If you are trying to chill with your new main squeeze and your friends are constantly turning up the volume, or the drama to get your attention, take note. They will drive a wedge between you and your partner. That’s not good. Realize that if they are your real friends, they’ll ask about your preferences. But if all they care about is their own entertainment, they won’t even think of asking what you think.

One of the most insensitive things your friends can do is bring up past relationships to your date before you are ready to expose them to these stories, and your role in them. Particularly if you’ve had a foible that’s run through many lovers, or a faux pas you want to put behind you, the fact that your friends, your own friends are bringing it up is enough to make you want to take them all out, ninja style. Currently, with pesky anti-ninja laws in place, they’ll have to live. But if they take part in this kind of behavior, don’t hang out with them anymore. At the very least, don’t bring any dates around them. Have you ever had a friend who wants you to cheat? Or a friend who thinks you’re perfect for their cousin or sibling and will sabotage other relationships so that you end up with a certain person? Yeah, lose that friend. They only have their own interests at heart, though they’ll swear they have your best interests in mind up and down. Their actions speak volumes, their words a pile of drivel.

The worst is a friend who puts you in the worst position. Like a friend who flirts with your date. Nothing is worse than a friend who overtly or covertly tries to steal your lover. Cut that Judas off immediately and remove their name from the record. A friend of the opposite sex flirting with you or making their feelings known is another potentially horrifying scenario. Let them down gingerly. For more advice read, Toxic Friends: A Practical Guide to Recognizing and Dealing with an Unhealthy Friendship by Loraine Smith-Hines.

Can you Repair a Relationship where the Trust is Gone?

repair trust

Can you Repair a Relationship where the Trust is Gone?

There are a lot of different reasons someone can blow the trust in a relationship. It could be infidelity, emotional cheating, cleaning out the bank account and blowing it in Vegas, a shopping spree and hiding the credit card bills, or instead a string of little things so long it makes one wonder if they ever told the truth at all. Whatever the reason, trust is the glue that keeps a relationship together. Without trust there is no intimacy and without intimacy, no relationship. You can’t be intimate with someone you have to constantly be on guard around. So can you repair a relationship where the trust is gone? Certainly no one is perfect. Depending upon what you believe and what they have done, there are ways to build bridges back to trust. It isn’t easy. It takes a lot of patience, forgiveness, owning up to what both parties have done and superb communication. It’s important to look at what led up to the violation. Oftentimes there are certain goings-on in a relationship, underlying problems that must be addressed so such a slipup don’t happen again.

Those who are the victims shouldn’t rub their partner’s face in transgressions. Nor should they ignore what contribution they themselves may have made to the situation. Only when each person is open and honest with each other can they make plans of action or rules of engagement that work for them, can they overcome these obstacles and rebuild trust. If both parties are still very much in love, engaged and committed to renewing the relationship then it has the highest likelihood of happening. But half measures will cause few returns. The person who has perpetuated the betrayal has to be sorry. But they should also be open and forthcoming in all aspects and ready and willing to change. The more open they are the faster the healing process will be. A betrayal can be implicit or explicit, meaning it may be something that was a spoken rule or just an obvious one. But it can’t be obvious to one person and not the other. When a transgression has occurred and the person lies or covers up their betrayal, these actions only make things worse. They also contribute to a longer and more difficult road ahead.

Of course every relationship and situation is different. That said there are a few things anyone going on this harrowing journey should keep in mind. If you are the betrayer, fess up before they find out. The longer you wait the more damage you will cause and the more time it will take for the relationship to recover. Plus, unburdening yourself from the guilt will also be a great relief. Decide then and there to have absolutely no dishonesty in your relationship ever again. If you can’t be honest with your partner, why are you with them? At the time of confession and even after, allow your partner to ask questions. Be honest in answering. You want to communicate and restore goodwill. If you are the victim, you shouldn’t keep asking questions just to shock or hurt yourself. At a certain point, you have decided to stay in the relationship or go. If you are staying, it’s important to find the path toward healing, not dwell on the past. Patience is the best characteristic in this situation. Practice it unendingly. Keep in touch with yourself and your feelings. You don’t have to see eye to eye on everything to be fully present and listen to your partner as you work through things. Stay focused and if you are both meant to be together, you can get past this terrible time and find each other once again. For advice on keeping your marriage on the right track before transgressions start read, Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love by Linda Bloom and Charlie Bloom.

Using HEAL to Restore Trust

HEAL

Using HEAL to Restore Trust

A loving, supportive romantic relationship is one of the biggest joys in life. But it can also be a source of regret, guilt, anger, resentment and sorrow. We learn all about weddings and courtship as children and teens. But we really don’t learn much about how to make marriage work. This is reflected in the divorce rate. The latest is 41% for first marriages and 60% for second ones. Life’s stresses and having different expectations for things can railroad even the best of relationships. Something else that weighs heavily on a relationship is a phenomenon called “attachment injuries.” This is when a particularly stressful or painful event arises in our life and we need our partner to comfort us but they aren’t available either physically or emotionally. This leads to resentment and suppressed anger. Therapist Dr. Melanie Greenberg has come up with a certain type of therapy to counteract these issues and get relationships back on track. It’s called HEAL, an acronym standing for Hear, Empathize, Act, Love. It exchanges self-protecting behavior with reconnecting, loving, and compassionate behavior.

First you have to listen actively to your partner. Consciously take down your defenses and open up your heart to them. Look at their facial expressions, body language, register their tone. What else are they saying with these nonverbal cues? How are they really feeling? Are they actually expressing some sort of need that isn’t currently being met? Companionship, understanding, control, and love are all needs that perhaps are going unfulfilled. The best way to calm your significant other is to really listen, find out what need isn’t being met, and be open to changing and working hard to meet their need. Next, empathize with your partner. Realize what it’s like from their point of view. Feel what they are feeling and let it come over you. Sometimes one emotion such as anger resides at the surface, but is put there by another emotion lingering underneath, perhaps frustration, loneliness or feeling that you aren’t in control of your own life. Sometimes there is a deeper reason. But sometimes your partner just needs validation and compassion. Oftentimes these two are enough to quell the problem. The next step is act. Talk with your partner and find out what needs to be done or what you need to change in order to meet their needs. Finally, love. Feel love for the person and express it unconditionally. If your relationship has trust issues, restore it with HEAL.  For more advice read, I Love You But I Don’t Trust You: The Complete Guide to Restoring Trust in Your Relationship by Mira Kirshenbaum.

Should you take your Ex Back?

backtogether

Should you take your Ex Back?

No matter the situation, ending a relationship is one of the hardest things you can do. Somebody is getting hurt in one way or another, and probably both of you to some degree. But a harder decision still is whether or not you should get back together with someone you broke up with or even got divorced from. Sure, the situation plays a lot into it. Some couples break up in the heat of the moment only to get back together again, and joke about it later. Another throws dishes at each other one day, only to forgive the next via rapacious bedroom escapades. And we’ve all rolled our eyes at those who get back together after a once-upon-a-time protracted and painful divorce or breakup. You mean they’re back together again?! We screech. But the saner of us from time to time find relationships that are a lot more complex. It’s hard to sort through. So how do you decide whether or not to take your ex back, including your ex-spouse? Here are some important things to take into consideration.

First, it’s high time to evaluate the initial breakup. Remember there is no right or wrong when it comes to reasons for breaking up. But what elements of the relationship led to it? If there was physical or psychological abuse, you shouldn’t go back there. If their snoring was too loud and you’ve found comfortable earplugs, maybe give it a shot. Next, think about what circumstances have brought you back together. Does it have to do with the pressure of responsibility, to piece the family back together? Is it a sense of guilt? Is the other person pressuring you? Or does it just feel comfortable and right? If you two have fallen deeply in love all over again and the problems of the past are resolved, go for it. If you truly love this person and see a bright future together, realize that life doesn’t always give you second chances at happiness. Would everything be great if you got together again, or would the same problems keep creeping up? If you just want to be in a relationship, don’t do it. Learn how to be with yourself first. You can’t be with someone else, if you can’t deal with being with yourself.

Think about what your previous relationship was like overall. Consider different aspects. Was it really a fight over something frivolous, or were there deeper issues at work? If they were controlling, had an anger management problem, a substance abuse problem or something else that’s serious, it’s important to consider who they are now. You may be walking right back into the same booby-trap with open arms. If the person tells you they want to change, be skeptical. If they tell you they have changed, look for proof. If they can prove to you they have changed, move ahead slowly. There’s no problem in being friends first, going slow and watching how things progress. It’s easier to extricate yourself that way. People can tell you all kinds of beautiful words. Remember their actions don’t lie. It is in these you can solemnly trust. Don’t let your guard down at first. Watch carefully. But be open to the possibility. Don’t deny yourself a second chance at love. Your heart is a sacred jewel. Protect it as such, and only give it to those who will treasure it. For a better chance the second time around read, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary D. Chapman.

Can a Set of Questions Make you Fall in Love?

Ilustracion con una pareja de jovenes

Can a Set of Questions Make you Fall in Love?

In a recent piece in the New York Times Style section, professor Mandy Len Catron talked about how she used a set of questions from a lab experiment to see if it could make two people, namely her and a male acquaintance fall in love. This social experiment was based off the work of psychologist Dr. Arthur Aaron. He had two strangers ask each other these questions. Afterward, the participants were to gaze into each other’s eyes for four long minutes. There is a set of 36 questions. It takes about 45 minutes to complete the entire set. At the end of the now famous 1997 experiment, the couple threw a wedding six months later and everyone at the lab was invited. You can find the questions here: nytimes.com. They are separated into three sections. The first section includes questions like “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?” Some others, “Would you like to be famous? In what way?”, “When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?”, and “Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.”

But they begin slowly probing after that, uncovering deep inner desires, parental relationships and even how affectionate and loving a person is, as well as the role love plays in their life.  Aaron was a professor at Stony Brook University. Catron is a British Columbia writing professor. You can tell this was someone she had an interest in. After going to a bar together her male companion posited this question, “I suspect, given a few commonalities, you could fall in love with anyone. If so, how do you choose someone?” She explained Aaron’s experiment and that psychologists have been trying to get two people to fall in love for some time. He prodded and they decided to try. Of course, Catron’s experiment took place in a tavern, not a lab. She and her acquaintance spent two hours answering the questions on her iPhone together. Then they stared into one another’s eyes for four minutes over a bridge in a romantic setting and presto, they were in love. Of course, it does sound like this couple was interested in one another from the beginning. Catron calls what she experienced “accelerated intimacy.” She explains how when we are young over summer camp, we get used to talking all night and becoming close to someone quickly. But as we grow older, we are more wary and perhaps take longer to get to know someone.

Catron says the most uncomfortable parts were the questions that made her reveal more about herself. But to create interpersonal closeness the barriers have to be broken down, though the questions do this in a slow, subtle kind of way. In a sense, these interrogatives are designed to include another person in our sense of self, and vice-versa. When we ask what the person likes about us, or we tell what we like about them, what is said establishes a link, an air of mutual appreciation and understanding. Catron says staring into each other’s eyes silently for four minutes was both exhilarating and terrifying. It wasn’t just seeing another, but having another see the real you that made such an impact, she says. One of the problems with love that she points out is that we start to look at it as a given. But really it’s an action. The study brings that part of it to the forefront. You can find Aaron’s study here: psp.sagepub.com. For more on the scientific aspect of love read, Decoding Love: Why It Takes Twelve Frogs to Find a Prince, and Other Revelations from the Science of Attraction by Andrew Trees.