Never Appreciated

unappreciated

Never Appreciated

Do you feel that you have control over your life, but you are always getting stepped on? You go out of your way to show love, devotion, and perform grand gestures in hopes that they will be reciprocated. Instead, they turn out to be expectations. It stings the most when it’s a lover. But often those who are taken advantage of by romantic partners suffer at the hands of bosses, professors, friends and family too. If you’re never appreciated, or taken for granted more often than not, read on and you’ll know how to change it all around, and put some new direction in your life.

First, evaluate what you do for your lover and what they do for you. Writing two lists might make sense. Compare. Are you actually being taken advantage of? If your column takes up two pages with footnotes and addendums whilst theirs is barely two lines long, your lover has some explaining to do. Don’t get heated though. Instead, start to take a look at the patterns you take part in, in life. Do you get taken advantage of often, and by whom?

A lot of people are people-pleasers, so don’t feel bad. These people gain self-esteem from the gratitude of others. When they bestow their gratitude you get a bump. The problem is this person doesn’t often voice their own needs, wants and desires. No where do they feel more awkward at voicing their needs than with their partner. They secretly believe their own needs aren’t as worthy as others. But they are. So sit down with your partner and discuss how you feel with them. Tell them how hard you work on your grand gestures and how disappointed you are when they don’t reciprocate. Understand that they will be defensive. Don’t point the finger at them, or make them feel guilty. Just tell them how you feel and ask how they feel about that.

Approach it as a problem and invite them in. Have solutions outlined already. If your lover is resistant perhaps they aren’t in it for you, just for what you do for them. Assert yourself with your friends and at work too. Ask for what you want. Don’t overcompensate for past behavior. Be reasonable and ask in the right manner. But don’t back down. They may try to scare you off, but stand your ground. When you stick up for yourself others recognize it and you get respect. For more advice read the New York Times bestseller, The Disease to Please: Curing the People-Pleasing Syndrome by Harriet B. Braiker, Ph.D.

Silence is a Relationship Killer

silent

Silence is a Relationship Killer

Sometimes when something is wrong in a relationship one or both people will practice bouts of prolonged silence. This isn’t a moment of reflection or a collecting of thoughts. This is a wall put up. It speaks to an absence of emotional and verbal intimacy. The truth is, prolonged silences propagated by a strong emotion is a relationship killer. It speaks to an intense feeling just below the surface. Bottling feelings up inside does not relieve them. They tend to build like steam building inside a furnace. Sooner or later it’s going to explode. And the results will be ugly.

It’s better to communicate directly. Take some time to sort out your thoughts. Ask your partner for a particular time when you are calmer to discuss the issue. Talking about the issue with your partner will actually make you feel better, not cause you to act out. Another problem with silence is that it is a form of control or coercion. We usually think about loud, yelling people as controlling and coercive. But silence does the job just as thoroughly. It can even be seen as a form of bullying. Even though they aren’t being physically hurt you are controlling them through your silence. Instead of talking to them, explaining to them and persuading them of your point of view, in a respectful manner, you are asking for obedience and apologies merely by clamming up.

Sometimes silence is used for a particular offense. The aggrieved party then plays a film out in their head with them as the lead role and their lover doing and saying everything they want to make it right. They wait for their beloved to say and do these very things. And when the lover has no idea what they want, they get very agitated. This isn’t fair. No one is a mind reader. And if you respect the person you are going out with, you need to open up and talk about what is troubling you. At other times silence can be a punishment. But the problem is that instead of making the relationship stronger it actually starts to tear it down. There is no avenue of communication. Anger, sadness and depression can set in in one or both parties.

The relationship can’t move forward until the silence is broken, either by one party opening up or the other apologizing, or kowtowing and promising to make it up. The first situation is desirable as it will get the problem solved, though it may have hurt the relationship, showing one person that the other is very high maintenance and doesn’t have good communication skills. In the second one, one party is dominating the other. Sooner or later the dominated party will feel that they are being abused and seek greener pastures. Neither speaks well to the relationship. So speak up. Communicate. And if you are with someone that uses silence against you, evaluate if you want to stay with them at all. For more advice read, Why Can’t You Read My Mind?-Overcoming the 9 Toxic Thought Patterns that Get In the Way of a Loving Relationship by Jeffrey Bernstein, Ph.D. and Susan Magee.

ADHD and Relationships

couple at therapy

ADHD and Relationships

When one person has ADHD in a relationship, and the other person doesn’t, unique problems can occur. The power dynamic can become that of a parent to child, which isn’t healthy. The non-ADHD person becomes the one with the power, guiding, reminding and helping their partner. When the ADHD partner has a chore to be done, their counterpart may remind them, indeed several times, until the ADHD partner does it. Or the non-ADHD partner may give up and do it themselves rather than keep reminding their other half. Eventually, too many chores or responsibilities are allocated to the non-ADHD partner.

The symptoms of ADHD unmanaged are permanent. Distraction, memory problems and other symptoms start to weigh on the relationship. The non-ADHD partner becomes the parent, the ADHD partner the child. The power dynamic in this relationship becomes off kilter, leaning only to one side. This leads to a lack of respect on the part of the non-ADHD partner as they begin to view their partner like a child, and a condescending attitude can ensue. The ADHD partner begins to resent their significant other.

Adaptation is generally considered a good thing. One partner sees an issue arising and both partners change to meet and overcome it. Some research has shown however that stronger couples see problems coming down the pike and counteract them before they become an issue in the relationship. For ADHD, this power dynamic increases over time. As more and more control is lent to the non-ADHD partner and the more they become the parent, the other the child, the more resentment builds. Both people in this relationship have their problems with the other. One doesn’t want to do all of the work of the other. The ADHD partner doesn’t want to be treated like a child. They get tired of constant reminders, general bossiness and nagging. And the non-ADHD partner gets tired of doing so. And this dynamic puts a strain on the relationship. The couple feels less inclined toward positive feelings of love, affection, physical intimacy and romance.

Child/parent dynamics will almost inevitably lead to relationship or marital dysfunction. ADHD should be treated with the help of a mental health professional. Both partners should be involved. But if you are married or seriously involved with someone who has ADHD or if you have ADHD make sure to talk about it in depth with your partner. Treatment should also be sought. For more advice read, The ADHD Effect On Marriage: Understand and Rebuild Your Relationship in Six Steps by Melissa Orlov.

Should You Stay with Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Get Married?

long term

Should You Stay with Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Get Married?

Sometimes you are at a point in a relationship where you are so in love, everything seems perfect. You and your partner have been together for quite some time and you are expecting things to progress. But when you broach the idea of marriage, the other person gets anxious or defensive. Perhaps they don’t believe in marriage. Maybe they’ve been down that road before. Or maybe you get a noncommittal “we’ll be married, someday” without a hard date to count on. If you are with someone who is eluding your efforts to get married, or just says they don’t believe in it, while you do, what do you do? You could hand them an ultimatum, either marry me or I will find someone who will. But that usually doesn’t end well. Should you stay with someone who doesn’t want to get married? That depends on a number of factors. First, are they against marriage in total or just marrying you? If the relationship is mutually beneficial, warm, open, loving and stable but marriage is against your partner’s personal philosophy then you can negotiate and come to some sort of compromise. If this person is just biding their time with you until someone better comes along then this person is not the one for you.

Another important thing to do is to search your feelings about marriage. Why is it that you feel as though you need to get married? For some, it has something to do with their culture or religion. Others are being pressured by a family member. It could be something you have always dreamed of. Or it might be because all of your friends have gotten married. Start to uncover what your real feelings are about getting married and why you feel that way. It will give you a better perspective on why it is so important to you and how to address the issue. If you just want to walk down the aisle, have a great reception and be the center of attention, think of the aftermath. You are supposed to spend decades of life with this person, living side-by-side. So you want to make sure your desire to get married is genuine. Then consider the person themselves. Is this who you really want to spend the rest of your life with? Do they love you? Are they supportive? What’s the communication situation like? How is the sex? If you were both thrown into a crisis situation together, would your relationship make it through? You don’t want to set yourself up for divorce.

Don’t just wait around for a proposal and brood. That will never make it happen. If you’ve still decided this person is right for you, discuss all the insights that you’ve come to with your partner. Don’t pressure them with an ultimatum. They will probably pull away from you. That won’t get you anywhere. Instead, slowly get your partner used to the notion. Introduce things subtly and make the idea seem like theirs. British psychologist Anjula Mutanda says to ask your partner, “If we were to get married, what would be your ideal way of doing it?” Agree with their answer and make it sound as if you are very impressed. Keep subtly moving things along like this and see if you get anywhere. If you want to take a more straightforward approach, sit them down in a comfortable place when you are both in a good mood. Make sure it is free of distractions. Compliment your partner and tell them what they’ve done right and what personality traits you adore about them. Tell them how close you feel to them and how much the relationship means to you. Let them know the reasons why you want to spend the rest of your life with them. Explain to them in a calm manner why marriage is so important to you and why you want that person to be them. Tell them you aren’t pressuring them or giving them an ultimatum. Let them know that you can make each other so happy. And then give them time to think about your thoughts and feelings and let the matter drop. Don’t blame. Don’t be defensive. Instead, use a positive, complimentary and romantic approach. If they still refuse to marry you, you’ll have to be ready to either move on or settle for not ever being married. But if they really love you and you were meant to be together, you two will find a way forward. For tips on being extremely persuasive in your quest read, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini.

What Exactly Is Cheating?

WHAT-IS-CHEATING

What Exactly Is Cheating?

One person’s cheating is another’s playing the field when it comes to dating. In a relationship things are more clear cut but there still may be some areas of ambiguity. Is having an office spouse cheating? What about emotional intimacy, can that exist outside the couple? What exactly is cheating? It turns out infidelity may be determined by your gender and age. In a recent poll 40% of men and 56% of women said that if their partner kissed someone other than them on the lips, it was cheating.

But as women got older the number that shared this opinion dropped. 75% of younger women ages 18-29 considered their partner locking lips with another cheating. 53% of women age 30-44 thought so. 38% of women 45-64 shared this same view, and for the 65 and over crowd, only 30% considered it cheating. For sending a sext, that is a sexy photo or text message to someone, 74% of men thought it was cheating, compared to the 80% of women who shared the same view.

When it came to developing a deep connection, women and men’s opinions were divergent. Only half of men considered this to be cheating compared to 70% of women. The participant’s age played a factor in whether or not forming a deep bond with someone was cheating. 52% ages 18-29 felt this way, compared with 69% of the 65+ respondents. Political persuasion played a factor as well. When polled about whether going to a strip joint was cheating, 19% of Democrats said so, compared to 35% of Republicans. 51% of Republicans said it wasn’t cheating while 86% of Dems agreed. What about reconnecting with an ex on Facebook, is this cheating? 21% of guys thought so, but 56% didn’t. For women, 26% thought it was cheating while 42% thought it wasn’t.

When it came to Facebook, a political bend played a factor as well. 19% of Democrats thought reconnecting with an ex was cheating, 51% didn’t. For Republicans, 29% considered it an infidelity while 44% thought it was okay.  Talk with your partner on what you consider cheating at your particular stage in the game. Have a conversation and establish some ground rules. If you aren’t exclusive realize what that means, and if you are outline what that means too. If you and your partner have experienced infidelity read, After the Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful by Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph.D.