Expert posts
Pornography: your questions answered
 We get lots of posts about pornography and masturbation. Many of you are worried about what it means if your partner uses pornography, or if masturbation might be reason you’re not getting as much sex as you might like. We’ve had a look at the science behind pornography and the effects it can have on your relationship, and we’ve answered some of your questions below. Is pornography bad for my relationship? This depends on your opinion of it. If you have a problem with pornography in general, then it’s unlikely you’re going to be OK with your partner watching it. This can have a negative impact on your relationship [1]. One way pornography can affect your relationship quality is by diminishing your self-esteem. If you aren’t happy about the idea of your partner using pornography, it can make you feel like you don’t matter in the relationship, or that you aren’t good enough. If you don’t mind pornography, or if your self-esteem is very robust, then it’s less likely to have a negative impact on your relationship [2]. Can pornography reduce sexual desire? Watching pornography doesn’t seem to reduce sexual desire. According to one study, pornography doesn’t take away your sexual urges, so it’s unlikely that this would be the reason a partner seems less interested in sex [3]. For more ideas on why sex might be off the table, check out our tips on being in a sexless relationship. Can we watch pornography together? Several studies have shown that couples who watch pornography together can experience improvements in their sex lives [3] [4]. As a shared activity, it can encourage you to talk about sex, creating a more open atmosphere for you to discuss your sexual desires and fantasies. While it’s important to remember that pornography doesn’t always present a realistic picture of sex, it can sometimes be a springboard for talking about what you like and don’t like [5]. How can we use pornography to talk about our relationship? Be open and honest about pornography. If you like using it, talk to your partner about why. If you don’t like it, let your partner know where you stand. These might not be the easiest conversations to start, but they can have a positive effect on your relationship by allowing you to learn more about each other. This can improve your sex life and may help make your general communication easier – couples who find a way to talk about their sexual desires in this way can even strengthen their relationship quality overall [6]. You may find that starting a dialogue around this helps you to be more open to experimentation, with a more varied and satisfying sex life. You can learn about each other’s likes and dislikes and talk about how happy you both are with the level of intimacy in your relationship [6]. Can’t I just use pornography alone? Yes, you can. However, it’s worth being aware that using pornography alone can lead to a decrease in sexual communication between you and your partner [6]. When sexual activity becomes secretive, sexual communication can too. Is there such a thing as ethical pornography? This is a tricky one, and a good question to ask yourself. While looking at pornography can be a healthy activity within your relationship, it’s important to think about where it comes from. You may not have considered whether the performers were paid for their work or even whether they have consented to do everything you’re seeing. It’s not always easy to find ethical material, or to know the background of the things you do find. One place to start might be the Toronto International Porn Festival, which has strict guidelines around its submission policy and encourages a diversity of sexual interests. It’s up to you and your partner to decide what you think is acceptable but, if you’re unsure about the ethics of a particular piece, the best advice is don’t watch it.   References [1] Maas, M. K., et al. (2018). A Dyadic Approach to Pornography Use and Relationship Satisfaction Among Heterosexual Couples: The Role of Pornography Acceptance and Anxious Attachment. The Journal of Sex Research, 55(6). 772–782. [2] Stewart, D., & Szymanski, N. (2012). Young Adult Women’s Reports of Their Male Romantic Partner’s Pornography Use as a Correlate of Their Self-Esteem, Relationship Quality, and Sexual Satisfaction. Sex Roles, 67(5), 257-271. [3] Brown, C., Carroll, C., Yorgason, J., Busby, S., Willoughby, J., & Larson, B. (2017). A Common-Fate Analysis of Pornography Acceptance, Use, and Sexual Satisfaction Among Heterosexual Married Couples. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 46(2), 575-584. [4] Maddox, A., Rhoades, M., & Markman, G. (2011). Viewing Sexually-Explicit Materials Alone or Together: Associations with Relationship Quality. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40(2), 441-448. [5] Daneback, K., Træen, B., & Månsson, S. (2009). Use of Pornography in a Random Sample of Norwegian Heterosexual Couples. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38(5), 746-753. [6] Kohut, T., Balzarini, R., Fisher, W., Campbell, L., Impett, E., & Muise, A. (2018). Pornography’s associations with open sexual communication and relationship closeness vary as a function of dyadic patterns of pornography use within heterosexual relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 35(4), 655-676.
Article | pornography, masturbation
Parenting courses and disabled children
When you’re a parent of a disabled child, it’s wise to take as much help as you can get. There may be more support on offer than you realise, so speak to everyone who might be able to help – your child’s GP and other clinical professionals, your local children’s services, the school, and even friends or family who might know what’s available in the area. There is still a lot of stigma around parenting support. As a proud parent, you might be tempted to talk yourself into thinking that you don’t need it or shouldn’t accept it. However, when embarking on the most important job you will ever do, you might as well take whatever help is on offer. Seeking support isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a smart, practical choice to help yourself be the best parent you can. If you’ve been asked to do a parenting course, it can feel like you’re being judged. Many parents worry that their parenting skills are being called into question, or that their child is in trouble – try to remember that parenting programmes are designed to support you in developing the positive skills you already have. They can help you deal with stress and improve your and your partner’s relationship with your child and with each other. If you can get onto a programme with specific content for your child’s needs, you may find content that’s especially relevant, but a general parenting course can still help. For lots of parents of disabled children, attending parenting programmes helps to create a sense of stability. Having a specific course of action mapped out can give you a feeling of security which can help your child to feel more confident too [1]. Personal empowerment  A parenting programme can also have a positive effect on how you feel, alleviating some of the stress in your life, and helping you to feel better about your role as a parent. One study found that parents of disabled children felt more empowered and more empathetic after undertaking a specialist parenting programme [2]. Disabled children may be more likely to display behaviour that challenges than non-disabled children as they may have no other way of communicating that they are distressed or unhappy. As a parent, you may feel very alone, and worried about the best approach to take. Getting expert help through a parenting class can help alleviate your concerns, and it can be a relief to discover that other parents are facing the same issues. If you are dealing with behaviour issues, you can also read Contact’s guide Understanding your child’s behaviour. Family support If you can’t get access to an appropriate parenting programme, or don’t feel comfortable attending a generic one, you can still get support from friends and family – you don’t have to do everything on your own. Caring for a child with additional needs can be physically and emotionally exhausting, especially when tackled alone, so don’t hesitate to call on your social support network. Parents of disabled children cope better when they work together as a family unit. Having a strong group dynamic can actively strengthen the resilience of each individual family member [3]. This means that you, if you are the main caregiver, can benefit from the combined strength of your partner, your parents, and other family members. Lean on whoever is available. Accept help when it’s offered, ask for it when it’s not, and build a strong unit of support around your family. Short breaks Of course, not all families have good relationships. Sometimes, the arrival of a disabled child or the realisation that an older child has a disability, can add to already strained relations. Other family members may go through the same emotions as parents – including anger, grief and denial – and some find it hard to move on and accept the situation. Even if you feel disappointed by the support you receive from family members, there are practical services which may be available to give you the chance of a real break and to make time for you and your relationship. ‘Short breaks’, which ensure a disabled child or adult is cared for while the main carer has a break, may include: Overnight care in the family home or elsewhere. Daytime care in the family home or elsewhere. Educational or leisure activities for disabled children and young people outside their homes. Services available to assist carers in the evenings, at weekends and during the school holidays. Most breaks are arranged by social services – the department in your local authority, which is responsible for providing help to meet the needs of disabled children and adults. Usually, social services will need to assess your child and the family’s needs before services can be arranged but getting a break can be a lifeline for some relationships. For more information about getting a break, see Contact’s guide, Services and support from your local authority – England. If you can’t access short breaks, you can ask your local Family Information Service about local organisations offering relaxation sessions for carers, as well as activities in the holidays and at weekends for you, your disabled child and any siblings.   References [1] Nelson, P., Kirk, S., Caress, A., & Glenny, A. (2012). Parents' Emotional and Social Experiences of Caring for a Child Through Cleft Treatment. Qualitative Health Research, 22(3), 346-359. [2] Burton, R., Zwahr-Castro, S., Magrane, J., Hernandez, C., Farley, L., & Amodei, H. (2018). The Nurturing Program: An Intervention for Parents of Children with Special Needs. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 27(4), 1137-1149. [3] Suzuki, Hiratani, Mizukoshi, Hayashi, & Inagaki. (2018). Family resilience elements alleviate the relationship between maternal psychological distress and the severity of children’s developmental disorders. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 83, 91-98.
Article | disability, parenting
“Valentine 365: I feel loved and cared for when…”
Is it cards, chocolates, cuddly toys and uncomfortable underwear day again??? Valentine’s day has become about stuff… and we believe there shouldn’t be only one day when couples do romance. But, Valentine’s day is a good opportunity to start upping your game with a technique that will work ALL YEAR ROUND and the only ‘stuff’ you will need is a pen and paper. Try this with your partner tonight Each get a piece of paper and a pen. Across the top, write: "I FEEL LOVED AND CARED FOR WHEN…" Then write the numbers 1 to 10 down the left-hand side. Fill in 10 things your partner can do that would make you feel loved, cared for and supported by them (examples below). Once you have each written your list of things that would give you that warm and fuzzy feeling, SWAP your lists. You now each have a cheat sheet of simple things that you can do to make your partner feel loved and cared if they are having a tough day or you have been arguing or busy for weeks. Note: In really difficult times, some people do the entire list at once (!!). If your lists get stale in the future, you can refresh them with new items. Examples Run me a bath unprompted. Make me cheese on toast. Clear out the car. Bring home my favourite chocolate bar. Empty the dishwasher. Make me a cuppa. Buy me a magazine, then take the kids out for an hour. Stop looking at your phone from 8pm. Let me watch my TV show in peace. Ask me how I am. Book an event for the family. Take me for dinner. Plan a day out. What is stopping you? Write your lists and enjoy feeling loved, cared for and supported. Kate Nicolle Kate is a trainer for OnePlusOne, the organisation behind Click. This technique is from the practitioner programme, How To Argue Better.
Article | communication, love
They mess you up, your mum and dad
As that PG-rated version of the famous poem goes, our parents have a lot to answer for. We may not know it at the time, but our attitudes to relationships are formed when we are children, and we learn a lot from seeing adults interacting with each other while we are growing up. Because of this, people who grow up with divorced or separated parents are more likely to have a negative view of marriage and may be less interested in romantic relationships in general. When they do form relationships, they might be more likely to get into arguments with their partners and less keen on the idea of making a long-term commitment [1]. If your parents were separated or divorced, it can affect the way you view relationships from the start. As you get older, this can then affect the way you interact with the people you have relationships with. This doesn’t mean that you’re destined to repeat your parents’ patterns, but it can be a helpful way of understanding how you relate to others. When you understand the source of your attitude to relationships, it can make it easier for you to set a pace that suits you and to recognise problems when they come up. It’s OK if you don’t feel ready to make a commitment and, of course, some level of conflict is to be expected in most relationships (it’s the way you handle conflict that matters most). But, if you aren’t as happy with your relationship as you’d like to be, and you’re looking to make some changes, then recognising the source of your feelings can be a good place to start. Ask yourself what you might have learned about relationships when you were growing up. Who were your adult role models and what kinds of relationships did they have? Most of what we understand about how relationships work comes from seeing the way our parents interact. When we see them supporting each other, making compromises, and getting over arguments, we learn important skills about how to do this in our own relationships. If you grew up with separated parents, you might have missed out on a lot of that, especially if your parents didn’t handle their breakup very well or continued to argue in front of you. Even when separated parents do get on well, their children can still miss out on important lessons. You could be left trying to figure out relationship skills the hard way – through trial and error. As a result, you might find it harder to deal with relationship stress and arguments with your partner, all of which can make your relationship feel less satisfying [2]. These issues can also be linked to problems with sex and intimacy. You may find that you are less interested in sexual experiences. You might not always recognise it when your partner is trying to be intimate with you, or you might just not be into it. This is quite common for people who grew up in homes with a single parent, particularly if there wasn’t much adult affection on display [2]. Go easy on yourself, especially in your early relationships when you are still figuring out what you want. Ask your partner to be patient with you and try to be honest about anything you are finding difficult. If intimacy is an issue, ask your partner to slow things down. If you find it hard to commit, just be clear about where you’re at so that your partner can manage their expectations. Growing up with step-parents Of course, if you grew up with step-parents, it’s possible that a lot of this won’t apply to you. Unlike children who grow up with both parents, you may have had the benefit of seeing how a successful relationship begins. This can play a big part in how you go on to form your own relationships. If your parents separated when you were a child, but another parental figure entered your life, you might even be better at starting relationships than people whose parents stayed together [3]. References [1] Cui, M., & Fincham, F. (2010). The differential effects of parental divorce and marital conflict on young adult romantic relationships. Personal Relationships, 17(3), 331-343. [2] Shulman, S., Zlotnik, A., Shachar-Shapira, L., Connolly, J., & Bohr, Y. (2012). Adolescent Daughters' Romantic Competence: The Role of Divorce, Quality of Parenting, and Maternal Romantic History. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 41(5), 593-606. [3] Ivanova, K., Mills, M., & Veenstra, R. (2014). Parental Residential and Partnering Transitions and the Initiation of Adolescent Romantic Relationships. Journal of Marriage and Family, 76(3), 465-475.  
Article | separation, divorce, dating
Raising a baby after a breakup
Raising a baby with your ex-partner is unlikely to be something you ever planned for. But, if you and your partner have separated while your child is still very young, you’ll need to find a way to make things work so that you can get on with the job of being parents at a crucial time.  The breakup of a long-term relationship – particularly when there is a child involved – can be profoundly painful. You might be feeling sad, angry, guilty, regretful, relieved, or any number of emotions as you’re left reeling from the shock of the separation. And, while you might need support to get you through it, you must also keep in mind that this time in your child’s life is more important than anything going on between you and your ex. If you feel unable to move forward, it can be useful to get some external help, either in the form of relationship counselling, or individual therapy. Talk to your GP or ask at your local children’s centre to find out what support is available locally. When your emotions are still very raw, it can be difficult to see past them to the next step. Your goal should be get to a stage where you’re able to be the best parent you can be. The first three years of your child’s life are a crucial stage of their emotional development. If you are sharing custody with your ex, be aware that overnight stays in two separate homes can impede your child’s emotional development. While you might both want to have the child living with you, you may have to set aside your own wants for your child’s needs. Don’t focus on fairness between you and your ex – focus on providing continuity and consistency for your child. To achieve this, you’re going to have to cooperate with each other and maintain a positive co-parenting relationship. Put your differences aside, and make sure that your child has access to the warmth and care of both parents, even if you no longer want to be with each other [1]. Positive co-parenting You can help your child adjust to your separation by maintaining a positive relationship with your ex. Your child doesn’t care which of you was in the wrong, or which of you is hurting the most – they just need you both to be there for them. When you and your ex are getting along well, it can actually be a positive force for your child’s emotional development [2], regardless of the fact that you’re not together as a couple. Further support Like many parents in your situation, you might feel like you are powerless to change anything, particularly if you’re finding it hard to get along with your ex. However, change has to start somewhere, so it might as well start with you. Let go of any resentments and set aside the temptation to blame your partner. You can be the one to make the first positive change. You may have to be persistent, but you can start to nudge your co-parenting relationship towards being the positive force that your child needs. For more practical support, try our short course, Getting it Right for Children. It’s completely free to use – if you’re not already registered with us, just create a free Click account and you’ll be able to get started. If it feels OK to do so, consider sharing this course with your ex. Suggest it as something you can both do to make sure you have the best co-parenting relationship possible for your child. References  [1] Pruett, M., Mcintosh, J., & Kelly, J. (2014). Parental Separation and Overnight Care of Young Children. Family Court Review, 52(2), 240-255. [2] Camisasca, E., Miragoli, S., Di Blasio, P., & Feinberg, M. (2018). Co-parenting Mediates the Influence of Marital Satisfaction on Child Adjustment: The Conditional Indirect Effect by Parental Empathy. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 1-12.
Article | separation, divorce, co-parenting
Loneliness for new parents
Being a parent of a disabled child keeps you extremely busy and changes the patterns of your lifestyle in ways that are hard to anticipate. You may not have the same access to your social circle as you used to, and many new parents say they feel socially isolated and lonely [1] [2]. “With a non-disabled child, you feel isolated, but with a disabled child that feeling is exacerbated. For the first two years of Nathan’s life, I had a lot to come to terms with, and at the same time I had to put an enormous amount of things into place like facilities and the professionals involved in Nathan’s care”. Why do new parents get lonely? A lot of the pressure of parenting comes from practical changes to your lifestyle – new working patterns, lack of sleep, more things to worry about, extra costs, and so on. Another reason you may feel more alone is that your couple relationship has to take a back seat while you adjust to your new circumstances [2]. Ordinarily, your partner might be the first person you’d go to if you’re feeling lonely – they may even be the person who stops you from feeling lonely in the first place. During the transition to parenthood, your best source of social support isn’t as available as they used to be, and you might be less available for them too. This can be magnified when you have a disabled child, or when you are concerned your child may be disabled but don’t yet have a diagnosis. Some parents worry that it is their fault their child is disabled because of something that happened before the baby was conceived, or during pregnancy. It is important to remember that it is rarely anyone’s fault, but it is still emotionally very draining to see your child suffer or struggle, and you may not have much energy left for your partner. It can be equally difficult asking for help or admitting that you need it. “I wasn’t brought up to ask – there’s enough guilt around having a disabled child anyway.” “Any difficulties between my husband and I are exacerbated by the additional stress and time lost to caring for a disabled child.” The pressure to be a perfect parent Another cause of loneliness in the early days of parenting is the pressure to live up to the standards that society sets for new parents. All parents face this to some extent but, when you’re dealing with the extra challenges of caring for your disabled child and figuring out what kind of additional support your child needs, the pressure can be overwhelming. You might look at other parents and wonder if you’ll ever be able to have the same kinds of experiences as them, particularly around issues like breastfeeding, sleep and potty training. When everyone around you seems to be coping better than you are, it can leave you feeling isolated and alone [3]. It’s important to remember that there is help available. You can find information, advice and further help in these guides from our partners at Contact: Helping your child’s sleep Feeding and eating Potty and toilet training Support from other parents Trying to access support can be very distressing. It can seem as though support is lacking and that the places parents usually go to meet are not accessible or even welcoming to you. This is when it’s particularly important to find other parents of disabled children you can talk to. Sharing practical solutions to shared experiences is a valuable source of support that many parents get from talking to others who’ve been there too. “Her condition has thrown us into a world that we never knew existed, we had to adjust. Me and my partner are forced into these new experiences, and we didn’t know how to talk about it with each other. I think that parents who don’t have a disabled children find it hard to relate to us and they don’t understand what we’ve been through.” Look on your local authority website to find out if there are any support groups near you – these can be a lifeline, and many parents talk about an overwhelming sense of relief at finding other parents like them. Getting in touch with other parents can also put you in touch with local support you may not know about. For example, you may be entitled to a short break from your caring role, which can give you and your partner space to be with each other and reconnect – this can be vital when you’re busy caring and fighting for support. “Taking time to be with yourself and your partner can re-establish relationships that are buried under doctors’ appointments, being told what they can’t do, and hopes and disappointments of life.” While feelings of loneliness can be very difficult to deal with as they’re happening, it’s often a temporary state [3]. It’s important to get support in place, but it’s also worth reminding yourself that this too shall pass. Your partner can help As a couple, try to be sensitive to each other’s needs. You’re both going through a huge change and dealing with news and practicalities that you haven’t had a chance to plan for, but your experience of these things may not be the same as each other’s.   Get together with your partner and talk about your experiences of parenting. Be honest about the disappointments and acknowledge how difficult the transition to parenthood can be. Opening up about the things you’re most worried about, including feeling lonely, will make it easier for your partner to understand what kind of support you need. Your relationship relies on each of you knowing how the other is doing, which means taking time to talk about thoughts, feelings, hopes, concerns, and needs. Each of you needs to know the other has heard them. That means really listening to each other – listening to the words and understanding the feelings that underlie them. When your partner shares their feelings with you, don’t judge them – listen and try to understand. Recognise your differences. Try not to make assumptions about what your partner is thinking and be as open with your partner as you can be. Look at where you might be able to make changes that might make things better. These conversations can help you feel closer as a couple, making parenting feel more like a shared experience and reducing the sense of loneliness felt by many new parents [3]. “Neither my husband nor I can imagine life without the other – neither of us could cope with the children without the other’s help. There is a bond between us that can never be shared by anyone else.” Old friends and new friends Another reason new parents can feel socially isolated is the sudden change in social circles [4]. When you become a parent, your life patterns change completely, and you may find it harder to spend time with friends, particularly as a couple. When your friends do invite you out, you may have to decline, or one of you may attend as a representative while the other stays at home with the baby. Try to use this time as a chance to connect with other parents in your local area. As you familiarise yourself with your child’s care team and other local services, you may find yourselves spending time with people in similar situations to your own. These new social connections can become invaluable sources of practical and emotional support. While clinical and therapeutic support is vital, there’s nothing quite like getting together for a chat with people who really understand you [4]. References [1] AXA Healthcare (2015). Social isolation putting first time mums at risk. Available at: https://www.axappphealthcare.co.uk/health-information/womens-health/social-isolation-putting-new-mums-at-risk/ [2] Keizer, R., Dykstra, P., Poortman, A., & Kaslow, Nadine J. (2010). The Transition to Parenthood and Well-Being: The Impact of Partner Status and Work Hour Transitions. Journal of Family Psychology, 24(4), 429-438. [3] Lee, K., Vasileiou, K., & Barnett, J. (2016). ‘Lonely within the mother’: An exploratory study of first-time mothers’ experiences of loneliness. Journal of Health Psychology, 135910531772345. [4] Toombs, A. L., Morrissey, K., Simpson, E., Gray, C. M., Vines, J., Balaam. (2018).  Supporting the complex Social Lives of New Parents. Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Paper no. 420. Available at: https://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=3173994
Article | loneliness, disability
Loneliness at university
Going to university can be the start of a whole new social life, but it can also be a lonely time. Loneliness comes from the gap between the social life you want and the social life you have. Any unplanned or unwanted alone time can leave you feeling lonely [1], particularly when you’re in a new place, away from all your familiar people. When you’re young and already going through a lot of upheaval, loneliness can be a powerful sensation. You’re trying to map out your future and your social world is rapidly changing. Your friends – even if they’re not be the same ones you had a few years ago – are becoming more important than ever before [1]. How does loneliness happen? The changes you are going through are often linked to some of the significant factors that can cause loneliness in young people: Changes in your social network. Becoming more independent from your parents and family. Exploring your identity [1]. As we grow up and start to figure out who we are, our social circles tend to shift from away from family, towards friends, perhaps because it’s easier to discuss the big issues with people in similar situations. When you leave home and go to university, you’ll be figuring out more about who you want to be. You may make new friends and start to let go of old ones, choosing to spend time with people who reflect your new interests and ambitions, people who can help you feel like you’re working towards the future you’ve just had your first glimpse of. This doesn’t mean that your family stops being important or that they leave your social circle entirely, but you might notice that the centre of your circle drifts closer to your friends. Transitional periods Feelings of loneliness can be exacerbated by any big life transition, including moving out of your family home and going away to study. A strong support network of close friends and family can help ease this pressure [2] but you may not always have access to this. If you’re going to university and you don’t know anyone, take advantage of the social activities on offer. Make plans to spend more time with the people you meet and seek out others who share your interests. And don’t go thinking you’ve got to rush to find a romantic partner to stop you from feeling lonely! Friendships can be just as good for you, boosting your self-esteem and mental wellbeing, and giving you all the benefits of intimacy and companionship that you’d get from a romantic partner [2]. The power of sharing One interesting way that you can deepen your sense of feeling socially connected is to share your possessions [3], which can be easily done in shared accommodation. As well as simple loans of things like books and clothes (if that’s your thing), there are a few other ways to think about sharing possessions. Setting up a TV or games console in a shared area means you and your housemates can enjoy it together. If one of you has a car, giving lifts is a good way to be helpful (in exchange for a contribution towards fuel, of course). Laptops and printers can be a handy loan for last-minute assignments. You can all save money by clubbing together for kitchen staples like salt, oil, teabags and washing up liquid. You can also save space by sharing kitchen equipment. If, say, one of you has a big frying pan and one of you has a colander, sharing these items can help you feel more connected – but do make sure you wash up afterwards! If you do lend and borrow possessions, be clear about what the boundaries are around when things are expected to be returned and in what condition. If you’re worried, a good rule is to avoid lending or borrowing anything that you can’t afford to replace.   References [1] Laursen, & Hartl. (2013). Understanding loneliness during adolescence: Developmental changes that increase the risk of perceived social isolation. Journal of Adolescence, 36(6), 1261-1268. [2] Lee, C., & Goldstein, S. (2016). Loneliness, Stress, and Social Support in Young Adulthood: Does the Source of Support Matter? Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45(3), 568-580. [3] Gentina, E., Shrum, L., & Lowrey, J. (2018). Coping with Loneliness Through Materialism: Strategies Matter for Adolescent Development of Unethical Behaviors. Journal of Business Ethics, 152(1), 103-122.
Article | university, loneliness
Community posts
“The end of an affair”
Two years ago, I became great friends with someone I met through work. A year into our friendship, it became more and we started an affair. We are the same age, both married, and have been for over 25 years each. We both have children. For my part the intimacy in my marriage disappeared about 9 years ago and although on the whole we get along I have missed the sex and have often felt sad and lonely. For years I tried to repair and discuss our issues but now I have lost the desire for my husband which I suppose lead to the affair. I can honestly say that I wasn't looking for anything outside of my marriage, I just shut down the feelings I had. When the affair began I confess to having very little guilt about sharing my body with someone new. Sex happened only a handful of times in the first 6 months and not at all from then on but I quickly fell in love. I never made any demands on him to leave his wife and family, honestly, I would have continued as we were happily. However for my lover, the guilt was to much and after 12 months I ended it as I couldn't bear to see his emotional struggle any longer. I'm struggling to cope with the loss of the relationship which is not helped by him wanting to stay friends. I now feel such a myriad of emotions, grief, loss, anger, jealousy and finally guilt... it took its time but there it is. However much I try to move on and forget him, I cannot seem to. The loss of my friend is such a physical pain that I sometimes feel I might curl up and die from it. I keep trying to look at the situation from outside with as rational a view as I can and whilst I know my faults and his it doesn't seem to take away the grief I feel. I haven't shared any of this with another living soul except for him which is why I'm on here I guess, I don't know what I'm looking for, possibly absolution or advice on how to move forward? Please be kind, I don't know if I could cope with outside hate, it's pretty tough from the inside already.
User article | someone else, emotional affair
“Mind games”
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 took a trip to Germany and came back by bus. I didn't notice at first, but the guy sitting next to me kept trying to sneak his eyes on me. He stops in London I suppose. I didn't even dare to look at him because I have a boyfriend. I tried several times to see how he looks like tho, I couldn't get a full picture of him. I'm afraid that when I acted like I notice him, he would make a move on me and I don't know what to do. He hopped off the bus staring right straight at me wanting to talk to me or something, but I walked away acting like I don't notice him. He's pretty attractive, and I can sense that he's interested in me by the way he tried to get my attention. This is so weird of me. Sometimes I don't even know what I am doing why I would I feel the way I feel when I already have a boyfriend. A part of me wanna know him while my whole knows this isn't right at all. I just wanna release my unfinished business mind game so that I can just move on living my life like it used to be. I feel uneasy when I get attracted to him so easily even though we don't even know each other. If you would by any chance see this. I just wanna say I notice you, and you look like a daydream, but it's just unreal to be true....
User article | someone else, emotional affair
“My boyfriend lied about his special friend”
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. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Sorry, it’s long! I am 37, separated with no kids and my boyfriend is 31, separated, with two kids from his ex-wife and his first born from a relation he had prior to meeting his ex-wife. We started dating nine months ago… First two weeks were like a fairy tale then he had to leave for work (he works offshore on four weeks rotation). We kept in contact when he was away, and video called each other every day. He came back and we went for a short holiday together, it was when he said I love you first (after just seven weeks). We seemed to be so intertwined with each other. We gave a lot of attention to each other, missed each other etc… It was such a lovely period where we were both falling in love with each other like crazy. He seemed very happy and according to him, the happiest he’s been as he finally found an understanding, beautiful woman who he can be open with. Before we met, after he separated from his wife (he separated seven months before he actually met me, and it was from her side, she stopped loving him, and he was totally devastated) he started going out with his sister (40) and her best friend (48) who is also a family friend. This woman and my bf had built a certain bond between them and they became ‘special friends’. I knew about her and the first time I actually met her during a family wedding, two months into dating, I immediately felt/realised she liked him from the way she greeted me, which was a ‘hi’ and she turned away. When I asked him about it he said that she does have a soft spot for him, but they are just friends. I accepted it and It stopped there. I never told him not to message her or anything… she was just a female friend and he seemed to be head over heals in love with me. Roll on five months from the beginning of our relationship and he went for a guys’ night out with his boy-friends. At a point, in the beginning of the night, he sent me a selfie of him with his two boy-friends, on a table at this particular lounge/restaurant drinking Rose wine. The following day I asked him how the night has been and he briefly explained the night; at a point just mentioned they bumped into his sister and her friend. Five days later I see a picture on FB of his sister with her friend, dining at the same place as him, having rose wine as well, possibly on the same table. I asked him about it and there is where all the lies came coming out. At first he told me they bumped into them and decided to dine with them and later he said that he found out last minute his sister was going out to the same place so decided to join them. (1. please note that this is a busy restaurant and it’s not easy to go and get a table for 5 without reservation, 2. If he had planned to have a guys’ night out, I don’t think it’s on for him to do last minute changes and meet his girl-friends together with his mates) Then, even the details of the night were getting different from what he had briefly explained. I couldn’t believe him and was thinking that he deliberately hid from me since there was this ‘special’ friend of his. He kept on insisting that they are just friends and nothing ever happened between them. Two weeks later he ‘confessed’ after I told him to tell me the truth, that they had agreed upon this night only a day before and he did not tell me because 1. I had other plans anyway, 2. They were planning to go clubbing (just the boys) after they’re done from this lounge. I decided to believe him but my instinct knew there was something I don’t know. When I asked why he didn’t tell me immediately that they met them and dined on the same table and he even sent a picture misleading me, he told me that his ex-wife was very jealous and not understanding and he would hide to her in order not to create any arguments. So, his first reaction was that of hiding, even though there was nothing. After that night, I met this woman twice. First time during a family picnic where she tried to make a fool out of me, being rude to me and ignoring me etc etc.. I spoke to him about it and he got the excuse that she’s like that with everyone especially until she gets to know a person. Then I met her again on his mum’s birthday dinner, we were only five of us on a table and again she totally shut me out. Especially since these incidents happened, I wasn’t happy, I was getting more and more anxious, feeling that there is/was something I really need to know. I asked him to tell me what there is/was between them several times and he always insisted there’s nothing but they’re just good friends. At one point he told me she finds him very hot, another time he told me that they had mutually agreed that they cannot possibly be with each other, at other times he tells me that he isn’t even attracted to her. I couldn’t believe him, I was hearing too many contradictions and lies. For the past 3 months, whenever her name comes up, I used to ask him about her, hear ‘lies’ and get anxious. He couldn’t keep up with my anxiety because it was because of him. He was telling me that there is nothing else that I don’t know and to please stop talking about her as there really is nothing, that this is getting out of hand and that he had nothing else to say or do about her to reassure me. I tried to shut up as much as I could, even though my anxiety was killing me. I wasn’t trusting him. I didn’t want to push him away, nagging about the same thing, but then I couldn’t hold it any longer. Last week I was really anxious and after a conversation about her, I asked him to show me her chats! At first he did not want to, he told me that if he does so, he’s going to resent me, then he told me that by doing so he would go down the same road he was with his wife, and finally he told me ‘ok, I’ll show them to you, but not now, when you are calm because now you will interpret everything wrong.’ He then tried using his mobile, telling me that he’s just scrolling and didn’t want me near him. I knew he was trying to delete messages… At a point I snatched it from his hand and I found out very playful conversations, not every day, but with sexual innuendos. He sent him her selfies and he sent her his pictures including shirtless pics with his abs showing. He told her stuff like, ‘sexy and a naughty devil’s icon’ after one of the selfies. Or once she said something after he sent her a shirtless pics and then he went ‘and I haven’t even touched you’. Or she sends him ‘missing you’ or ‘thinking of you’ or she sends him loads of hearts and kisses and stuff. These mainly happened during the first 3 months of us together. One day, two months into our dating, she texted him in the morning ‘thanks for the surprise’ to which he answered ‘that was my plan, dear. I just landed in…. ’ He was on his way to work and I had just dropped him off at the airport and he had just left me a loving card on my bedside table before he left – when I asked him about it, he couldn’t even remember what the surprise was. It was also very clear there were some messages deleted but he kept on denying this. They also had a video chat on one particular night, when he was off-shore and he was feeling down. I also found out on the messages that they had agreed on that night out, a good 3 weeks in advance! I was mad and furious… I grabbed my bags and left! To be fair, these messages had stopped 3-4 months ago, when this thing of his night out happened and I was suspecting there’s something. Since then, there were only a couple of normal messages (one liners with no hearts and kisses). He is now trying to explain that there was absolutely nothing between them and that is just the way they talk and joke with each other. He told me that he had stopped everything the minute he thought he was going to lose me and he never told me the whole truth because he didn’t want to hurt me or lose me. He was afraid to tell me to go out with them because he knew how she is and wanted us (me and her) to get to know each other before we all go out together. He’s begging me to stay, telling me that he never cheated on me and that he loves me. That he never meant to hurt me and that he’s utterly sorry for what happened and for how he made me feel. He is not eating and sleeping. I told him I need to move on but deep down I don’t know what I should do. What is worrying me the most, is not the kind of relationship they had, even though those were not appropriate messages at all, but the fact that no matter how many times I asked him, no matter how bad with anxiety he used to see me, he never came clean about her. He lied and lied and was never vulnerable enough to come clean. If he did, I would have probably been mad for a short while, tried to understand and appreciate the fact that he’s owning up to his mistakes and perhaps I could see a real man in front of me. But now all I’m seeing is someone who was hiding from me and lying to me! These last three months, he stayed home because the company stopped all contracts and will resume work again in a month. He spent ALL evenings with me, including weekends – it was his decision not to go out with friends at night. We used to sleep together every night, either at his house or at my house. Sometimes he also drove me to work. We were inseparable. We loved being with each other. We did everything together. When he had his kids, once a week, we used to take all 3 of them out to nice places and spaces suitable for them, I loved them and they loved me. He loved that fact and told me plenty of times that I’m much of a better parent then their own mothers. He mentioned several times that he had never received such love and care from his gf and her family. Even though I was trying to build my trust back in him after that incident, I loved him with all my heart and so did my family. Our sex was great and he seemed very happy with me. He used the flaunt me with everyone and tell them I’m the apple of his eye. He told me that I’m now his life and that he won’t live without me. I am now so confused! What shall I do? Shall I forget and go back with him or shall I just move on? He promised me he wouldn’t talk to her anymore, even if it means he opt out of family do’s, because of her. But I’m scared. I’m scared he’d lie to me again if something else is to happen – not just with this woman. Also, I’m thinking that if there really was nothing, what he was doing was to get attention from another woman, which I don’t like, especially considering it was done during the first months, when we were falling in love with each other and when he was telling me the most beautiful of words. I think this is a huge sign of immaturity or that he’s a perv. I’m so confused… I don't think I should consider going back with him. Will I be able to ever trust him again??
Ask the community | someone else, emotional affair
“Why doesn't my husband want 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 have been married for 12 years. My husband and I are happy, we do not have a perfect marriage but who does? From the start of our marriage we never had much of a sex life, even as newly weds. We would average maybe four times a month on a good month. He is not very affectionate toward me either. I had never felt attractive in my marriage, I am always the one who initiated sex and most of the time I got turned down. He does not kiss me and never performed oral sex for me at all, but expects it from me every time and sometimes just that for him and nothing at all for me. Later I found out he was watching porn A LOT. This broke my heart, because he never wanted me. About nine years and two sweet daughters later I found out that he was cheating - it was a one night thing. He swore that it meant nothing, in order for me to stay I demanded he tell me eVerything. I also found the other woman and talked to her about it. The stories matched up - apparently the plan was to cheat with her but he could not get an erection despite her best efforts. I asked him if he had kissed her (which he never kisses me) and he had - not only that but because he couldn't perform he gave her oral sex! He never does this for me! Well of course i was very upset and left him. He was devastated and apologised and said he would be a better husband and do all those things for me blah blah blah. So for my children and the fact that I love him we worked it out. He has done much better - he still will not kiss me but he will occasionally do oral. And he is more affectionate and I can honestly see that he is trying more than he ever has. Our sex life was great, 5-6 times a week and much more passion than ever before. But for the past two weeks he has not touched me, despite my attempts. When I asked him about it he said he was just in a down spiral (I forgot to mention he has cycling bi-polar disorder) and that his sex drive decreases when he has a down phase, so i tried to understand and be supportive, but I checked his phone last night and his history was absolutely full of porn! So his sex drive is decreased but he can watch porn and not want to have sex with me? I do not understand this and it makes me feel disgusting! I even offered for us to watch together but he did not want to do that. My body has changed a lot since having our children, and he knows how insecure I am about it. He says my body has nothing to do with it it's just his bipolor decreasing his libido. But i don't know about that seems like if libido was decreased it would be decreased for everything not just your wife, and be perfectly fine for porn. Can anyone help me understand this?
Ask the community | pornography, masturbation, sexless
“Recent widow, now involved in an affair”
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. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   My husband died eight months ago after a two-year fight with cancer. He was my life, my heart, my love. People at work were and continue to be supportive. My best friend, male, has been there every step of the way. I admire him for his loyalty to his wife and kids, and how he treats his family. One day while he was comforting me, he kissed me. I kissed him back and it was all I could think of for the entire weekend. We did kiss off and on, got handsy with each other, and had oral sex...all at work. We did send some racy pictures of ourselves to each other on Snapchat, and flirted via text. He would tell me that his family will always come first and I would not hear from him on nights and weekends (other than the snaps.). He thanked me once for not making his life complicated. He mentioned his guilt several times, worried that I would resent him one day. I told him that I was aware what we were doing. He is very busy with his family, yet would say he would come by to help with equipment, mowing, pool care, etc, but would never show up. I trust this man with all my heart that he doesn't want to hurt me. He would come in on Monday mornings and whisper in my ear that he missed me. He would pull me in for kisses and hugs. Oral sex, but not to completion, was an almost daily event. He finally orgasmed, and the next day the entire mood changed. He blamed his upset stomach for not being romantic...this lasted days. When I finally asked him about it, he said that he felt guilty, that I needed to have patience. I admit that I did pull out of the tricks I have for making him want me more. I want him to want me more, knowing that he will never leave his wife. He is truly one of my best friends who has helped me (even before we were romantically involved) with the grief of my husband's death. I see him every day at work, his office faces mine. I can't imagine working without him by my side. I am trying to act like everything is OK when at work, but it isn't. How could I have two totally different yet totally painful heart breaks in such a short time?
Ask the community | breakups, rejection, cheating
“Haven't had sex in two months”
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. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Hello. New to the group here... We have been together, 12 years, my husband says he is very much attracted to me, and basically wants no other. Our sex life, I believe was very good. Porn, not an issue, toys, not an issue, exploring, not an issue. But for him, he has not had an interest in sex in at least two months. Yes I have mentioned it to him. Yes I have said I miss having sex with him. I am a very sexual person. We have had relationship issues in past, but i believed we were past. Apparently not enough to where it has now affected our sex life. He drives trucks and yes i am with him in truck 24/7, but i do go home every 4 weeks for a few weeks to handle appointments. No, he is not one to be a cheater or even consider cheating. I am truly his world and his true love. I just would really like us to have our sex life back. I have even gone to the point of telling him i have my vibrator with me in the showers these days and its not an issue for him where as in the past it would have been. I have lost weight. I am not a big girl, I am a medium size person. I am attractive, so far so say, yes, sexually looking. Just he has no magnetism towards me, and i remember so long ago when we first met, he had his ex-wife living with him, and they were not sexual, that is how i feel at this point. We live together, sleep side by side, and have no sexual contact. But he says he will never be without me. I so desperately want our sex life back...i am a very sexual person and need want my husband... HELP... I'm at a loss here.
Ask the community | sex, communication, sexless
“I have fantasies about someone else”
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 really don't understand myself. I hate to admit it to say the truth even to myself. I consider myself a loyal person who doesn't wanna mess around. I want a relationship that works. I'm in a relationship with my first love. We're certain about our future. We're gonna build a family together. However, my mind oftentimes slips away and fantasizes other guys. I always convince myself that it is just a short-time madness, and most of the time it is. The feeling did fade away, but I feel so terrible for my boyfriend. He doesn't deserve this. We always have sweet talks like always. I love the way we are. Stupid and shitty as it is, I am fantasizing my professor. I never have until he appeared in my dream once. I've started to notice him like what the f**k. I've started to lock swift eyes on him. Weird thing is I caught him does the same shit. My mind and my head is a complete mess. I am naturally attracted to good looking guys, but as I say I don't fall in love if my mind does not think about it further. It fades, but when my mind keeps thinking and analyzing shit, it will be messed up. Like what the hell. Normally, my boyfriend and I always share every secret with each other, but this. I don't wanna hurt him cuz it'll hurt me too. I don't share my sheepish stories even with my best friend because I believe time will make everything up for me as it always does. And, another thing is we used to break up once due to some other reasons, but we were back together after a short period of time cuz we couldn't live without one another. But, during that time, I was hurt as hell, but I let myself loose to see good in other guys. Three guys were falling for me. My mind was so conflicted. I had some feelings for them too, but I know deep down I love my bf, so I didn't give them any chances. Why am I always like this? It is so unfair for my bf. I don't wanna be like this too, but I can't stop my messy head oftentimes. I just wanna release my thoughts. Keeping it to myself makes it hard on me. I would like to hear other people's stories too.
Ask the community | someone else, emotional affair