Featured
Relationship lessons from young people
We’ve looked at the results of a recent survey to see what can be learned from young people’s experiences of being in relationships. Looking back on the roller coaster ride of your own early relationships might fill you with a mix of fondness, amusement, and utter cringing horror. That shouldn’t mean you can’t learn from those experience but, if you can only bear to look through the narrow gaps between your fingers, then these insights from other people’s early experiences might help. Why relationship quality matters Love is complicated and it can take many forms – the love you feel for a sibling, is different from the love you feel for a friend, and the love you feel for your parents is different to the love you feel for a freshly baked marinara pizza. Mmmm, freshly baked marinara pizza. Anyway. When it comes to romantic partners, love gets even more complicated. When two people are in love, they depend on each other for support, but they also have to make each other feel special. Your lover may be your closest confidant, your source of safety and belonging, and the heart of your passion [1]. This isn’t an easy balance to get right. Relationship quality plays a huge part of our health, happiness and wellbeing. We all have ups and downs in life, and it’s the people we share them with that help shape the way we celebrate the good times and cope with the bad. As we enter adolescence, our closest relationships tend to be those we have with our romantic partners [2]. This doesn’t mean you should go rushing into a relationship with the next person who pays you the remotest bit of attention! Remember – it’s the quality of your relationships that makes the difference [1]. Learning from early relationships If you’re young and in a relationship, you might feel like you’ve found the one (and maybe you have – if so, congrats!) or you might be testing the water to find out what you want from relationships in the future. Either way, you can always work on the skills that will help you be a better and happier partner in the future. In a recent study, young people were asked what they’d learned from being in relationships. The most significant lessons these young people had learned from their early relationships included: Sensitivity. It’s important to keep an eye on your partner’s needs, without losing sight of your own. Realistic expectations. In the early days, we present our best sides. As we get more comfortable with each other, our quirks and foibles start to spill out. While this can lead to some relationships breaking down, it can also be a time when couples strengthen their bond as they start to see each other more completely. Honesty. Being honest and trusting your partner are essential components of any successful relationship. Compromise. A relationship is an ongoing process. You will both have to keep checking in on each other’s needs and making compromises, no matter how long you’ve been together. Balance. Many young people highlighted the importance of keeping intense emotions under control. Not just the negative ones like jealousy and anger, but also the overflowing excitement of falling in love in the first place. Freedom. While your romantic partner might also be your best friend and the most important person in your life, you both also need the freedom to be apart from each other. Stay connected to other friends and family members and remind yourself that you still have a life outside of your relationship. Communication. If you’re a regular on Click, you’ll know how much value we place on good communication. This is reflected in young people’s early relationship experiences too [3]. Whether you’re looking back at everything you’ve had to learn the hard way, or looking ahead to your next romantic adventure, take heed of these words of wisdom, and learn from the brave pioneers who went before you. References [1] Viejo, C., Ortega-Ruiz, R., & Sánchez, V. (2015). Adolescent love and well-being: the role of dating relationships for psychological adjustment. Journal of Youth Studies, 18(9), 1219–1236. https://doi.org/10.1080/13676261.2015.1039967 [2] La Greca, A. M., & Harrison, H. M. (2005). Adolescent peer relations, friendships, and romantic relationships: do they predict social anxiety and depression? Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology: The Official Journal for the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, American Psychological Association, Division 53, 34(1), 49–61. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15374424jccp3401_5 [3] Norona, J. C., Roberson, P. N. E., & Welsh, D. P. (2017). ‘I Learned Things That Make Me Happy, Things That Bring Me Down’: Lessons From Romantic Relationships in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood. Journal of Adolescent Research, 32(2), 155–182. https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558415605166
Article | dating, new partner
0 4 min read
Depression during pregnancy
One in ten pregnant women experience mental health problems, and often go undiagnosed until after the baby is born. The pregnancy and parenting charity Tommy’s has produced a video encouraging pregnant women to seek support if they feel anxious or depressed. The short clip follows the story of a woman’s journey through pregnancy as she realises she’s not coping and finds someone to talk to. Around 10-15% of pregnant women experience mental health problems like anxiety and depression [1] but, despite antenatal depression being very similar to postnatal depression, many go undiagnosed and untreated until after the baby is born. Symptoms of anxiety and depression can include feelings of sadness, hopelessness, irritability, and losing interest in activities that used to be fun. Most women feel more emotional than usual during pregnancy, but the video urges you to seek help if you notice that you’re unhappy more than half of the time, or if feelings linger for more than a couple of weeks. When you’re pregnant, it might seem like there’s a pressure on you to feel happy all the time, or to be flushed and glowing with the joys of impending motherhood. If this doesn’t describe your experience, it can be quite distressing and you may even feel guilty for not living up to the expectations of those around you. Your midwife or health visitor will understand. Speak to them and let them know that you need support. You partner, family, and friends can also offer support, by talking things through with you and offering practical support. Let them know you’re not feeling yourself and that you might need some extra support. If you can, hand some of your regular chores over to your partner, or ask someone to help out. Friends love to feel like they are helping, but sometimes need to be given specific tasks like popping to the shops or watering your plants when they come over. Try to eat as healthily as possible, take some gentle exercise, and rest whenever you have the opportunity. Getting regular sleep can have a positive impact on your mood. Take time out to focus on yourself and do something you enjoy. Allow yourself a chance to relax and ease some of the pressure. If you are worried about other areas of your life, such as finances, housing, or your relationship, look into the support available for these specific issues. If you can keep external factors under control, you may find it easier to cope with whatever feelings you are juggling. Keep talking to your partner. Help them to understand what you’re going through, what you’re doing to try and make things better, and what kind of support you need at home. References [1] National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) (2014). Clinical guideline 192: Antenatal and postnatal mental health: clinical management and service guidance https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg192 (Accessed July 2018) [2] Howard L.M, Molyneaux E, Dennis C et al (2014).  Non-Psychotic mental disorders in the perinatal period.  Lancet 384: 1775-1788.
Article | pregnancy, depression, postnatal depression
0 2 min read
Making the most of relationship counselling
Relationship counselling doesn’t have to be disaster management, and may even be more useful when it’s used to strengthen the foundations of your relationship before things get out of hand. It might seem like relationship counselling is only for couples who are in serious trouble, but couples who seek it out sooner rather than later are more likely to feel the benefits. A study into the effectiveness of relationship counselling found that those who entered into counselling early on when their issues were still manageable were more likely to have positive results [1]. This echoes what we already know getting help before things get out of hand. Around three quarters of the couples in the study experienced benefits to seeing a counsellor. In the cases where it didn’t work, it was often because the issues were already too deeply entrenched to be resolved – particularly in cases of domestic violence, or where one partner was seeking a safe space to end the relationship. How to make the most of relationship counselling If you’re considering relationship counselling, you’re most likely to get things running smoothly again if you start as soon as possible. But, if you’ve gone into counselling when things are already difficult, you can still see an improvement, as long as you approach it with the right attitude. Bear the following in mind as you go into each section: The sessions are as much about listening and learning as about getting your own point across and being heard. You’ll need to look at things from your partner’s point of view to fully understand what’s going on. You’re more likely to solve problems by reflecting on your own behaviour, than criticising your partner’s. So, if you’re finding that conflict is difficult to resolve on your own, go and get some help while the issue is still small. Keep an eye out for warning signs and don’t be afraid to seek help with your relationship. Often, people can worry that going to a counsellor means they are in big trouble, or that it’s the beginning of the end but, if you go early enough, the opposite can be true! References [1] Hunter, C., and Commerford, J. (2015). Relationship education and counselling: Recent research findings in CFCA (33), retrieved from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/relationship-education-and-counselling
Article | counselling, therapy
0 2 min read
“A newfound love for my ex”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I've been single for over 6 months now and I feel over my past relationship. I'm no longer sad or angry about what happened and I've been able to accept that it's gone and I don't particularly want to pick it up where it left off as I wasn't in a happy place mentally towards the end (brought on by battling my mental health issues, balancing work and family, and then also trying to find time for us where I wasn't talking about work, family or mental health) and it was making my boyfriend miserable too. We ended things on a reasonable note even though I was distraught but he couldn't be both my partner and a supporter while I was mentally unstable which I completely understand and respect. He said that one day when I'm mentally alright again and have done all I've wanted to achieve (higher self esteem, physical fitness, confidence) then we could potentially try again as he still loved me and didn't want to lose me which I agreed to at the time and never expected it would happen (I was in a dark place and thought he hated me for some time). Fast forward to now, I have felt myself still feeling love towards my ex which I've been trying to ignore or pass off as platonic but I know it's not. Small things like seeing his name flash up when I get a text, messages that remind me of how we used to talk and how close we were, all sorts of things are making my heart flutter and melt like it did 3 years ago when we were very much in love at the beginning of our relationship and taking on the world side by side. When people mention the future I see him and it's very much unintentional, and when I fantasize about being with a man I always end up thinking of him again and I can't seem to stop it. I don't find anyone attractive or interesting enough to want to talk to them or to start a conversation with them, except for him (who I've luckily not seen in person for most of the breakup period). I want to see if the two of us have a chance to be happy together now that both of us have had time apart to care for ourselves and mature a bit more but I have no clue how to approach this at all. I feel somewhat idiotic for posting such a thing online but I needed to see if anyone else has managed to get back with their ex partner and how they went about doing it (besides the straight up "wanna date" route) and what suggestions you guys have for me in my situation. I want to start fresh with him and not dwell on the past but I need help and advice. Any help anyone can give me is much appreciated!
Ask the community | dating, new partner
“My husband has disconnected from me”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I feel selfish posting this, but I can't help but feel like I'm alone in my marriage. My husband is a good person and a decent provider, but he's not there for me emotionally. I know his work environment has gotten pretty toxic in the past year or so (his employer has been forcing older, more long-term employees out the door and hiring younger, cheaper help), and I know he worries about not making enough money if he were to leave and go somewhere less hostile (we would survive, we're not poor), and I have encouraged him to look elsewhere for a less stressful job, but he hasn't done anything about it. Because he is stressed about work all the time, he comes home every night, eats dinner and then either fiddles with his phone surfing the internet or he sits in front of the TV until he goes to bed. We never go anywhere together, unless it's the grocery store or some other mundane thing, we haven't taken a vacation in years, and he never wants to do anything. We have seen a marriage counselor before, but he only went a couple of times until he decided that I was depressed and should continue seeing the counselor alone. Yeah, I AM DEPRESSED because my husband isn't in our relationship. I guess the last straw was today, our 16th anniversary, and he came home from work and flopped down on the couch with his tablet. I purposely sat down with him and he ignored me for about an hour until he mumbled "Happy Anniversary" and went to the fridge to heat up leftovers for dinner. After he ate his leftovers, he watched TV and went to bed. It is my wedding anniversary and I'm sitting on the couch with my cat. I am so angry and sad and hurt by this behavior of my husband that I don't know what to do. When I try to talk to him about it, he either ignores me (the damn TV, the phone or the tablet) or he turns it around on me and complains about how bad his job is and how I have no idea what the working world is like these days. (Um, yeah, actually I do. I worked in corporate America for 2 decades until I left and started my own business 2 yrs ago, which wasn't exactly an easy thing to do, either.) Can someone please give me some advice? I'm so sad right now.
Ask the community | communication, mental health
How to see the best in your partner
Seeing the best in your partner can help keep you both happy, reminding you of the person you fell in love with in the first place, and putting your relationship in a positive light. It’s natural to want to compare your partner to other people but the way you do it can make a significant difference to how you feel about your relationship. One study found that comparing your partner to someone else can be a positive experience as long as you find a way to make peace with the comparison [1]. Making comparisons is one of the ways we make sense of the world. We choose our partners because we like them more than we like other people, so it’s understandable that we would keep comparing them to others. To take a practical example, if you notice that your partner isn’t as good at tidying up around the house as your best friend’s partner, you might start to find them lacking. But, if you accept that perhaps your partner doesn’t have as much free time as your friend’s partner, or that you’re happy to do the majority of the tidying, then you might be more willing to let it go. This kind of justification can help you to see your partner in a more positive light. It’s when you don’t, or can’t, justify the negative comparisons that you risk feeling more stressed and getting into arguments. One of the things that affects the way we’re able to make these kinds of justifications is the way we view our role in the relationship. If you see your relationship as a unit, and refer to yourselves as ‘we’ and ‘us’, rather than ‘I’ or ‘me’, you may be more likely to compare your partner favourably to others, and let things go. This is known as ‘self-other overlap’ and helps you see the best in your partner. When you talk to your friends about what you’ve been up to lately, try to notice whether you say ‘I’ or ‘we’. Saying ‘we’ might just be the key to seeing your partner more positively next time you find yourself comparing them to somebody else. References [1] Thai, S., Lockwood, P. (2015). Comparing You = Comparing Me: Social Comparisons of the Expanded Self in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41 (7).
Article | communication, trust
0 2 min read
One simple change to improve your sex life
If you are among the many couples who put so much pressure on themselves to have amazing sex that you are avoiding it all together, one simple change could make all the difference. In a poll of 6,000 people, nearly half said they were happy with their sex lives. However, that leaves more than half of us wanting something more. Just over half said they had not had sex at all in the last month. Researchers involved in the study suggested that simply changing your attitude can make all the difference to how happy you feel about your sex life. Many couples say they want sex to be more spontaneous but, due to the nature of our busy modern lives, it’s sometimes necessary to plan for our intimate moments. This may not be such a bad thing, especially as it can reduce the pressure you’re putting on yourselves, and help you enjoy the sex you are having. Another easy way to change your attitude is to recognise the good things you already have. Rather than trying to live up to sex you see on TV, or what you imagine other people might be doing, just allow yourself to enjoy the reality of your own relationship. Remember also that sex doesn’t always have to mean intercourse – it all counts, and the important thing is that you both have a good time. If you’re very busy or exhausted after a long day, sometimes just an intimate cuddle can be enough to help you feel close and remind each other of the connection you share. Psychosexual therapist Cate Campbell says: “It’s sad that so few people are sexually satisfied and put pressure on themselves to perform. Noticing what is going well, rather than dwelling on problems, is quite difficult when we’re all bombarded with messages about how sex ‘ought’ to be. “Sex definitely doesn’t have to be disappointing – there's plenty that can turn your situation around so you can enjoy a sustained, fulfilling sex life. What constitutes a satisfying sex life can vary wildly from one person to the next, so working out what makes you tick is a great starting point”.
Article | sex, communication
Managing handovers with your ex-partner
If you are feeling awkward or upset at the prospect of facing your ex, then handovers can be very difficult. You may have to exercise some self-control just to stay calm.If you still have very raw feelings about your ex, you may be tempted to use handovers as an opportunity to speak your mind. Keep in mind that children are very sensitive to the feelings and attitudes around them and that they will pick up on conflict between their parents. For your children’s sakes, it’s important to try and make handovers as pleasant as possible.Some handover etiquette: Be courteous. Turn up on time - let the other parent know if you are delayed. Make sure the children have everything they need. Keep difficult conversations away from the children. If you are struggling with this, consider alternative ways of managing the handovers so that your children are protected. Dealing with change over time Transitions are difficult for everyone, especially in the early days. Coming face-to-face with your ex and saying goodbye to your children can bring up some very difficult feelings. It can help to have something planned for the time immediately following the handover so that you can remain upbeat. While it’s hard now, you may eventually come to value the opportunity to have some space to yourself.Children have their own feelings to cope with at handover time. They will need time to settle down, adjust to being in a different home, and get used to their mum or dad not being there. Transitions can be sad reminders to children that their parents aren't together anymore and it's not unusual for young children to come home from a weekend with the other parent in a bad mood. Understanding this can help you manage your expectations, and cope with any changes in your child's behaviour.Follow this link for further information on children in the middle after separation.
Article | parenting apart, ex-partner
0 2 min read