Common Relationship Blunders

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Common Relationship Blunders

No matter what stage you’re in, whether you are in a new relationship and want to do it right or just walked away from a bad one, anyone can benefit from learning what common relationship blunders take a couple who have potential and drive them apart. If you can catch these early on, or you and your partner have the gumption to renew your bond, you can change your fate and fall into a close, loving, and supportive relationship.

One of the most common is that as time wears on couples tend to slip into a very comfortable phase. The niceties slip and sooner or later they are taking each other for granted. It’s important to show your appreciation for one another. Reflect on what your life would be like without them. Then think about what they bring into your life. Leave them love notes. Tell them they look nice in what they’re wearing. Whisper sweet nothings into each other’s ears. Make it special and make it count. If you take each other for granted, each of you will feel undesirable and unfulfilled, and may stray outside the relationship in order to fulfill those needs.

Another problem is when it goes the other way. One partner appreciates the other too much. That is to say they become dependent, or needy. If you feel insecure, look to the signs of your relationship to see if these feelings are justified. Do they call when they say they will? What do they say to you? Do they compliment you? Do nice things for you? If all signs point to a healthy, stable, well-adjusted relationship then relax. If you or your partner are feeling these signs of insecurity perhaps discuss them, or even seek the help of a mental health professional.

Do you complain about your partner to everyone except them? First, you two have to learn how to deal with your problems directly. You shouldn’t be complaining about them to everyone. Deal with them directly, or vent to a confidant. But if you are constantly focusing on the negative you will not see the positive in your partner and the relationship will thus sour. Come to terms with your sweetie’s shortcomings and expect them to come to terms with yours. Otherwise if you can’t, this isn’t the person for you. The same thing goes for passive-aggressiveness. Instead of slinging barbs learn to communicate in a positive and productive manner. For more on this topic read, Relationship Advice: How to Rekindle and Cultivate Healthy, Passionate, and Long-Lasting Relationships by Henry Lee.

Why many are Scared of Love

fear of love

Why many are Scared of Love

Did you know that most divorces and breakups happen at the beginning of the year? January seeks the most separations of couples. Why is that? Speculations abound but no real reason has been pegged. It could be that people want to have a new life in the New Year. Or perhaps they see Valentine’s Day down the road and run off before it gets there. But this begs the question, why do so many breakups and divorces happen at all? One reason, lots of people are scared of an emotion that should instead empower them, love.

These fears don’t always surface at the beginning of a relationship. They may lay dormant waiting for the right trigger to bring them forth. They all come down to one thing, a fear of intimacy. And even though initially this fear is seen as a protective quality, it ultimately keeps us from the intimacy and closeness we desire most. There are lots of ways to be scared of love. See if any of these describe you or someone you know. First is fear of vulnerability. This usually happens at the beginning of a relationship. Love means letting someone else in. You are suddenly dependent upon someone else for your happiness, not just you. And this fear of vulnerability can often affect or even end a relationship, the fearful partner driving the other away.

Falling in love also brings up old scars from the past. Childhood traumas are often brought forth. Anger, resentment, neglect, rejection and fear can all resurface in conjunction of finding love in one’s life. Love can oppose our old perceptions of ourselves. We may think we’re unlovable or undeserving of love. There are those who sometimes mistake their inner critic for how they actually feel about themselves. They let those negative voices become their opinion of themselves. The inner critic is an amalgam. It is nothing but a collection of negative messages we were exposed to when we were young by our parents and others, or those which our parents felt about themselves which we internalized and made about ourselves. Other negative messages from bullies and other peers may become part of this amalgam. Eventually it gets ingrained in the individual. Falling in love, and being validated by someone who loves you, throws a wrench in that perception. And since our biggest fear is that of the unknown, the person who is loved but doesn’t feel that they deserve it doesn’t know what to do.

Some people fear inevitable pain from the elation of love. That the breakup will hurt just as bad as the love now feels. But how do you know that it won’t work out? Lastly, some people fear that the other person loves them more than they love that person. They’re afraid that this dynamic will never change. Love changes over time and moment to moment. Do not fear love. Let it be a transformative force in your life, not a blast that forces you to crouch but an updraft that makes you soar. For more advice read, Love Me, Don’t Leave Me: Overcoming Fear of Abandonment & Building Lasting, Loving Relationships by Michelle Skeen, PsyD.

Do You Suffer from Love Addiction?

love-addiction

Do You Suffer from Love Addiction?

Everyone’s seen at least one couple like this. Where the woman is gorgeous, sweet and has a startling career or is packing a tremendous IQ. But she’s engaged to a dimwitted, repugnant loser. What on earth is she doing with him?! Or the guy who has everything going for him and he dates a woman who is coarse, vain, boorish and obtuse. What’s going on here? They may be love addicts, all hopped up on intimacy. They would rather be with someone substandard than be all alone. Rutgers University biological anthropologist Helen Fisher says love comes on in our brain like an amphetamine, followed by a dazzling opiate, all of which our own systems create. There is scientific data backing her up. A recent study of heartbroken lovers found shocking results. They had their brains scanned under an FMRI and found that a painful breakup mimicked quitting a cocaine addiction. That’s how powerful love is, and how the absence of it can feel. And of course, just like anything some people get addicted to it.  For those who truly suffer love addiction, generally one or both parents were emotionally unavailable. Here the person is perpetually trying to win the love they missed out on in childhood.

Tennessee detox and recovery clinic “The Ranch” specializes in all kinds of addictions, including sex addiction, emotional co-dependency and intimacy disorders. Psychologists there say that love addicts come in many different hues. Love addiction is defined as a compulsive need toward romance, relationships and sex that is harmful to both the addict and his or her partner. According to Ranch psychologists, “Although it may sound less damaging than other addictions, it shares many similarities.” Here love is a façade. The person goes and creates situations filled with drama as an entertainment and distraction. Only their lover can make their life meaningful, they say. Without their partner they don’t want to live. At least, until another one comes along. For women in their 40’s, a biochemical reason may be at fault. Hormones trick women of a certain age into thinking they are so in love, far more so than usual, in order to receive a fresh course of genes before the last of the eggs are gone, signaling the onset of menopause.

There are different kinds of behaviors a love addict can get involved with. Some get too attached. Then they undermine the relationship themselves causing it to end, so that they can get another partner and feel that rush of love beginning anew, once again. Others have abandonment issues. They will hold onto a bad relationship no matter the cost. There are those who are manipulative and controlling, others clingy and desperate. Sometimes love addicts target those who avoid intimacy, forming a sort of strange codependency, a mechanism where the relationship becomes a constant skirmish filled with pain and pleasure, in a war without end. Picture a tornado of constant bickering intermingled with makeup sex. But is that really a great love worth fighting for as such addicts claim? For most of us it is a recipe for a long-term headache but a relationship which won’t last. Besides dopamine—the reward neurochemical released in the brain, oxytocin is also present. This is the bonding biochemical which initiates the “calm and cuddle” response. This, evolutionary anthropologists’ believe, is essential to the creation and raising of children.  In men, a similar neurotransmitter is present called vasopressin. So take a look at your relationship, or the one you just walked away from, to see if you’ve been laid victim to a biochemical dependency, if in fact you are as the Huey Lewis song claims “Addicted to Love.” If you believe you may actually have a problem pick up a copy of, Facing Love Addiction: Giving Yourself the Power to Change the Way You Love by Pia Mellody and Andrea Wells Miller.

How Women can save their Relationships When they earn more

FEMALE-BREADWINNER

How Women can save their Relationships When they earn more

In America today, the mother is the sole breadwinner in 25% of households that have a child under eighteen years of age. That number has increased four times since 1960, over five million women. Though, in general, men make more, the number of educated women in professional careers has exploded. There are lots of couples where the woman makes more than the man. There is a growing number of stay at home fathers too; their numbers increased by the toll the Great Recession took. Men however often feel threatened or that their sense of manliness has diminished if their wife makes more or is more successful than they have been.

Since men were the traditional breadwinners it makes sense that their egos would be bruised by the woman in their life being the sole breadwinner or earning more. A Cornell University study from 2010 found that men in a cohabitating relationship between the ages of 18 and 28 and together for more than a year were five times more apt to cheat if he was financially dependent on the woman. Another problem is women feeling guilty about foregoing household duties and taking on too much of the chores and childcare to compensate, driving themselves crazy and wearing themselves out in the process.

Washington University in St. Louis in collaboration with colleges in Denmark conducted a study and found that when a wife’s salary was just a nudge higher, her husband was 10% more likely to need prescription medication for insomnia, anxiety and erectile dysfunction (ED). The higher her salary the higher his chances of experiencing ED. An independent survey of 1,033 women found that they were less satisfied and more embarrassed by their relationships when they made more than their partners. So what is the solution? How can women save their relationships if they earn more? It isn’t easy and of course it’s different for every couple. One important thing is to not over-criticize your man. Don’t emasculate him.

According to relationship coach Alison Armstrong, a woman needs to make a man feel as though he is a provider, even if he isn’t bringing in dollars and sense. For instance, lots of women do things men can do, try to change them and constantly critique how things are done. But this wears her husband down. It doesn’t build him up or make him feel like a man. Find ways to encourage him. Let him know that his contribution is important. Show your gratitude for having him in your life. Include him in financial decisions so he doesn’t feel emasculated. Ask his help with things and ask his advice, even if you don’t really need it. Call him your mentor and tell him you couldn’t do it without him. To read more on this subject pick up a copy of, When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women by Farnoosh Torabi.

Abolish Subliminal Romantic Messages

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Abolish Subliminal Romantic Messages

There are romantic messages in movies, TV, fairy tales and pretty much every other media in our culture. David Sbarra, Ph.D., relationship expert at Youbeauty.com, recently said, “We get messages about happy endings, soul mates and destiny. In this way, pop culture ideas—while fun to engage in and with for a bit—can cast a huge shadow over real-life relationships.” Movies make it okay to give one word answers for explanations. So in Jerry McGuire when she says “You had me at ‘hello’,” you know that wouldn’t fly in the real world, especially from how he treated her in the beginning. In the real world, anyone who’s been in a relationship knows that that’s just not going to fly. The idea of completing a person, while in the movie world sounds so romantic, in the real world is not psychologically healthy. Classic Disney films like “Sleeping Beauty” show little girls that they need a handsome prince to come and rescue them. Yet, many a lady waits her whole life for a prince that never comes. She exports her problems, her power, and her happiness to some ideal male other. We all know this doesn’t and shouldn’t happen in real life. Every person should be in charge of their own happiness. Relationships should merely enhance that happiness. Let’s make sure that little girls are raised to be more like Merida from “Brave”; self-reliant, capable and free.

Do you remember the famous film “Love Story?” Their tagline was “Love never means having to say you’re sorry.” What a lot of hooey that is. Apologizing for transgressions in relationships is dutifully important. But you should never apologize for who you are, only for the missteps you do. Also compromise is key. Of this Sbarra said, “Even the happiest and most successful couples fight and sometimes quite a lot, but they’re fighting for their relationship. If we see a fight as a sign that things aren’t ‘meant to be,’ we’re only ever engaging a fantasy relationship.” Romantic comedy’s themselves are written to look as though love is so easy that it just falls into place. Take “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” where Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson can’t seem to ditch one another, though they each swear they don’t want  a relationship and keep trying to sabotage theirs from forming. Beyond that, the problems they unearth and solve are done in a snap, making it even easier for the couple to end up together. The messages we cull from romantic comedies “…cause(s) two problems,” says Sbarra. “First, we come to think we’re defective if things don’t work out. And second, we come to see the hard work of making a relationship successful as indicators that something is wrong.” Don’t take mass media as a model for your relationship. Take it for what it is, entertainment. For more on this topic pick up a copy of, Sex, Love, and Romance in the Mass Media: Analysis and Criticism of Unrealistic Portrayals and Their Influence by Mary-Lou Galician.