Are you Just a Toy?

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Are you Just a Toy?

Mutual respect is the baseline for any healthy relationship. Without mutual respect it cannot take root. Sometimes when we are looking for someone not just to date but to get involved with, it can be hard to determine what their intentions are. Do they want a relationship? Or are you just a toy to them, someone to enjoy and cast off when they get bored? There are specific warning signs to look for so you don’t waste your time with the narcissistic, the callous, the diabolical or the fearful of commitment types, and instead focus in on what you are really after. No one wants to be cruelly tossed aside like yesterday’s plaything. Take a look at these indicators and make sure to steer clear of anyone who is displaying them.

Do you make dates for the near future? Or does the person you’re involved with only contact you at night? If you are only getting calls and texts as a late night thing, or dates are planned on the fly, this person isn’t really serious about you. How often are you contacted when this person is inebriated? If you are their common drunk dial, they may only be feeling it for you when they imbibe, not a good sign. What is the cuddling situation like? Even the meanest, most cold hearted or strangest person will cuddle if they like you. Not wanting to cuddle is a sure sign they want to keep a distance from you emotionally.

Does this person reach out to you when they are feeling insecure? Is cuddling okay when they’ve run into an ex and need validation? You could just be an occasional ego booster, with no real potential for a future commitment. Does this person go out of their way to see you? If you’re the one doing all the calling, the date planning, and driving over to their place just to see them, and you aren’t getting any of this in return you are probably just a toy. When invited to a special event by this person, do you get a special invitation, or are you just part of the big, impersonal invite? If they really cared about you they would go out of their way to show you they wanted you there.

How are you greeted when you see them? Do you get a big kiss, even on the cheek? Do you get a hug? Or only a head nod? If it’s just the nod, this person really isn’t into you. Test them and stop calling. See if they call you. Make them make the effort to plan a date in advance, or go out of their way to come see you. If they don’t do it, or make a big deal about it, you know you aren’t important or worth it to them. And if you’re looking for a long term relationship you know now that this isn’t working for you, and you need to move on. For more advice read, You Can Do Better: How to Improve Your Self-Esteem, Stop Dating the Wrong Men and Start Living the Life you Deserve by Ash Green.

Are you Dating Someone out of Convenience?

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Are you Dating Someone out of Convenience?

Sometimes you’re in it for love, but other times you just want someone to be there for you. Lots of times, especially in the beginning, it’s hard to tell whether it’s a relationship where you are truly into this person or if it’s all just out of convenience. There are times when you literally date someone out of convenience. But there are others when you think you are into someone but it turns out that you were in love with being in love.

During the honeymoon phase, lasting up to two years within a relationship, everything can feel amazing. But after that, when you move into the more comfortable phase, trouble can occur. This is when you really get to know each other’s idiosyncrasies. The fog of infatuation finally lifts and what you have before you is the real person whom you say you love, but who you are really just starting to get to know. The best thing to do is to take a reality check after certain milestones in the relationship. If you are just keeping this person around so you aren’t alone, then what are you really getting out of this relationship? If you feel more comfortable and they know and don’t mind, then go ahead. But if you are leading someone on, you will break their heart for no reason, and they may never forgive you.

Once you hit the three month mark, you can usually tell if this is the sort of person you can see yourself with in the future. Lots of people blow the person they are dating up, only to become deflated when that person doesn’t live up to some extremely high imaginary standard. Instead, take time to reflect now and then on their behavior, how the relationship is going and how you feel about this person in light of what has happened. Do you feel better or worse about the relationship? Are there any hang-ups you or they have that might prevent you two from being happy together long term? If so, what are they and how can they be addressed?

Evaluate what emotional baggage you and your lover bring to the table and what that means for the relationship. Can you be comfortable and open with one another? Is this a cooperative or adversarial relationship? Does this person have your back or will they abandon you at the moment of truth? If this isn’t someone who is trustworthy, don’t spend another minute with them. You need trust and mutual respect in a relationship for real and lasting love to take root. For more on this topic be sure to pick up a copy of, Real Love: The Truth about Finding Unconditional Love & Fulfilling Relationships by Greg Baer.

Can Living Together before Marriage Prevent Divorce?

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Can Living Together before Marriage Prevent Divorce?

7.5 million U.S. couples, mostly 20-somethings are cohabitating today as a way to make sure they’ll stay together, in hopes of preventing future divorce. The reason is most of them grew up in the 1980’s when a lot of divorces took place. Millennials and Generation Y growing up in the 1970’s and 1980’s for the first time saw a record number of divorces due to a chipping away at the stigma and, what’s more, no fault divorce laws coming into vogue across the nation. These generations want to stave off marriage in hopes of making sure the person they are living with is the one for them. Divorce is of course a financially and emotionally shattering event in one’s life. But there seems to be some controversy in whether or not living together before marriage prevents divorce. According to Clinical Psychologist Dr. Meg Jay of the University of Virginia, who in a New York Times article wrote of what she calls the “cohabitation effect,” a phenomenon of cohabitating couples getting married and becoming less satisfied than those who did not live together, and so are more prone to divorce. According to Dr. Jay instead of getting married 20-something couples merely move into the direction of cohabitation instead of making it a point to focus on, discuss and decide on their relationship and where it is going, what she’s termed “sliding, not deciding,” meaning couples just drift into cohabitation rather than making it a serious decision as perhaps couples in past generations might have.

Sliding works like this: sex leads to leaving a tooth brush at someone’s place, then some personal care products and sooner or later the couple has moved in together. “Mission creep” is another term used for the same phenomenon. The couple seems naturally to fall into cohabitation. But according to Dr. Jay research has shown that the sexes view cohabitation differently. Women see it as an avenue to marriage while men see it as a way to have a relationship. What’s more, Dr. Jay says that the standards they hold for a spouse aren’t as high as one they hold for a cohabitating partner. As the relationship develops a new stage will sooner or later crop up, what Dr. Jay calls “lock-in” which she defines as, “the decreased likelihood to search for or change to another option once an initial investment has been made.” Once the couple is established, they are splitting the bills, have a group of friends, and even have pets. It is harder to extricate one’s self. Also, entering into dating after you’ve been lodged into this type of relationship is scary. If the relationship at home is of a lower quality than one would have if one were looking for a marriage partner, it seems as though it’s easier to settle for what you have at home than to get rid of that person and set out to seek a spouse. So people in this group settle for what they already have, says Jay.

Jay argues that 20-somethings and others stay in mediocre relationships for years, not being really happy simply out of convenience and a fear of the unknown. She says relationships that would have lasted only a few months now drag on for years, and so in her view wastes those 20-something years. Still, cohabitation seems likely to stay, not only for social reasons, or fear of divorce, but also financial ones. Lots of 20-somethings having to forgo marriage for longer bouts of education just to be marketable in the job market have staved off marriage for career. Some 20-somethings are so overburdened with work and school that they don’t have time to develop their love lives. In this sense, a default mode or staying in a non-traditional or even a non-monogamous relationship in order to get one’s needs met while still keeping one’s grades up and earning a paycheck could be more practical for 20-somethings. A whole shift in how people engage in their love lives is not based merely on the younger generation experiencing their parent’s divorce but in shifts in our economic system and other factors as well. People are also living longer today. Being married to one person for the rest of one’s life is looking less and less like an attractive option. What once only lasted a few decades can now go on and on for even half a century or more. There are many more options open today for young people due to the proliferation of internet dating and dating apps. What’s more, a generation of young women, college educated and able to support themselves are in a peculiar situation. Many don’t see themselves supporting a man. They aren’t tethered to men for financial support and so can choose and steer the course of their own romantic relationship with far less of the stigma that once occurred in the past. Dr. Jay may be on to something in one sense. But there also may be many more factors at play complicating the issue. Some psychologists and others are calling this the end of marriage. Others believe marriage will only change. Some are proposing different scenarios such as an open marriage, marriages that expire after a certain number of years but that can be renewed, even situations such as “monogamish” where couples have a few rules about when they can stray outside of the marriage. How marriage plays out in America in the future is anyone’s guess. One thing is clear, we are at the beginning of a tremendous transformation in this category of life that isn’t projected to change anytime soon. For more pick up a copy of the book, The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter- and How to Make the Most of Them Now by Dr. Megan Jay.

Ethical Non-Monogamy

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Should marriages last forever, or should they have terms and conditions (theglobeandmail)? What if you could renew the contract every five or ten years or so? Many couples today have traded passion for a low stress environment. Their relationships are convenient and centered around the children. But inside they yearn for more. Infidelity occurs and the marriage is then stressful, leading to divorce. Or perhaps one person decides to leave when they can’t take the emptiness of the void inside any longer. Perhaps then a new concept of marriage should inhabit the modern world, giving people the comfort and dependability they need, without ignoring their emotional needs. This is the subject of a new book by author Pamela Haag entitled Marriage Confidential: The Post-Romantic Age of Workhorse Wives, Royal Children, Undersexed Spouses and Rebel Couples. In her view, married couples in semi-happy marriages should be able to have affairs and discuss them openly, but they should take place 50 miles or more from the home.

According to Ms. Haag 55-65% of semi-happy marriages end in divorce in the U.S. With the sexual revolution of the 1970’s, people have a lot more options today than they did in the past. Yet, marriage and relationships have not been reinvented. Polls have shown that women are less happy today than they were in the 70’s, mostly due to having to balance family and career. There is a lot of strife with the case of marriage today, even in semi-happy, low conflict marriages. Even though these look fine from the outside, when the couple’s needs aren’t being met, a growing problem threatens to tear them apart. Still, most people don’t talk about these problems. They ignore them, which is why they grow bigger without abatement. According to a Pew research poll, 50% of younger Americans think marriage will become obsolete. Marriage therefore, in Ms. Haag’s view, has to adapt in order to survive. In other cultures, such as in Europe, affairs are carried on and spouses ignore them. In the U.S. they happen all the time but are considered horrifying. Still, according to Ms. Haag, these relationships are already going on, and attitudes are changing. Non-monogamy is a special kind of relationship not suited for everyone. The jealous, insecure or anxiety ridden should not take part. But those who can mutually agree that they can have more than one relationship that is healthy, consensual and non-threatening, according to Ms. Haag are happier than the semi-happy who end up divorced.