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Facing money issues as a couple
As we move in and out of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, many of us are facing an uncertain financial future. Some people have been furloughed or lost their jobs. Some businesses have closed or lost much of their revenue. Months after the lockdown was first announced, redundancy is now the top search term on the Citizens Advice website, and their benefits advice page views are at their highest ever levels. Even in ordinary times, money troubles are one of the biggest causes of stress in relationships. More than half of couples include money worries in their top three relationship strains [1]. 60% of people who contact debt charities say they also have problems with their relationships, but they don’t necessarily seek relationship support [2].  On top of that, we’re feeling the effects of a global event that affects us in ways we can’t avoid and that aren’t our fault, which can feel unfair and unsettling [3]. When you’re struggling with money, you and your partner might have less time together and argue more. Arguments about money can be different to other types of arguments – they can last longer, are more likely to get out of hand, and can have a bigger impact on your relationship [4]. But there are practical steps you can take if you’re worried about money, from getting advice on what to do if coronavirus has affected you financially, to managing the stress together with your partner. Get some help Charities like Citizens Advice, Money Advice Service, and the National Debtline can help you figure out what benefits you can get — including coronavirus-specific relief — what to do if you can’t pay your bills or rent, and dealing with debt.  Consider seeking emotional support as well. Research has shown that relationship counselling can help people cope better with financial problems [6]. Organisations like Relate can help with telephone or webcam counselling and live chat services. Talk about money Couples who talk openly about money tend to cope better in tough times. In one study, couples who consciously worked together at finding solutions were better at maintaining their relationship through difficult financial periods. These couples made the decision to see their money problems as separate from the relationship, focusing on the importance of communicating well and working together [5]. Aside from overspending, one of the biggest money problems relationships face is appointing one partner to manage all the household finances while the other takes a back seat [6]. While this might seem simpler, it can often increase stress in relationships, creating an extra burden for the person in control [7], and leaving the other person in the dark. The couples who have the most success at dealing with their issues are those who recognise the need for trust and communication around financial matters. When you can trust each other to pay bills on time, discuss big purchases, and avoid overspending, you’re likely to feel more confident in your finances and in your relationship [5]. Make a budget Get together and write down your income and your expenses, starting with unavoidable things like housing and energy bills. If you’re not sure how to get started with a budget, you can find a free planner and some online guides through the Money Advice Service. Go through your expenses and work out where you can make cuts and savings. Can you change your energy suppliers or switch to a cheaper phone plan? Can you cut your food bills by going to a cheaper supermarket or buying things in bulk? What can you live without while money is tighter than usual? Remember that these changes might only be temporary – it can be easier to adjust when you know what you’re working towards. Take time for each other  You may have to cut back your spending, but this doesn’t mean you should stop making time for each other. During periods of lockdown, you might not have much choice about what you do, but some of these suggestions from couples might be useful as you think about the future: Look for cheaper alternatives to your preferred activities. For example, a football fan might pay for a subscription radio service as a cheaper alternative to the TV package. You can still have special meals while spending less than usual. If you're ordering in, cut the starters and sundries. Set the table and put some music on. Light a candle. Make an evening of it without spending more than you can afford. When the weather is nice, take walks in the park. Explore the open spaces in your area. Go off the beaten track a little – you might be surprised at what's available locally if you let yourself wander. Learn how to support each other well by reading our tips on coping with stress together.  Don’t delay If you’re worried about money, watch this story to see why you should act as soon as possible to deal with the issues and talk to your partner. References [1] Undy, H.,  Bloomfield, B.,  Jopling, K., Marcus, L.,  Saddington, P., &  Sholl, P. (2015). The way we are now: The state of the UK’s relationships 2015. Relate, Relationships Scotland, Marriage Care.[2] Findings from OnePlusOne interviews with major UK debt charities, further supported by Olson, G. Olson, D. National Survey of Marital Strengths, April 2003.(66% of problems in marriage are associated with ‘major debt’)[3] Dew, J.P., & Xiao, J.J. (2013) Financial Declines, Financial Behaviors, and Relationship Satisfaction during the Recession. Journal of Financial Therapy, 4(1).[4] Papp, L. M., Cummings, E. M., & Goeke ‐ Morey, M. C. (2009) For richer, for poorer: Money as a topic of marital conflict in the home. Family Relations, 58(1), 91-103[5] Skogrand, L., Johnson, A.C., Horrocks, A.M., DeFrain, J. (2011). Financial Management Practices of Couples with Great Marriages. Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 32: 27.[6] Doherty, H. F. (2006). Communication is vital to a couple's successful financial life. Dental Economics, 96(11), 92-93.[7] Rowlingston, K. & Joseph, R. (2009). Assets and Debts Within Couples: Ownership and Decision-Making. Friends Provident Foundation.
Article | finance, money, lockdown
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
Two approaches to online dating
With more relationships starting online than ever before, we looked at the factors that can make the difference between a false start and a long-term future.  Developing relationships In the early stages, online daters tend to spend longer deliberating over their choices. Online relationships can therefore take longer to develop than those starting offline [1].  One reason for this is that online dating can give us the impression that there is an endless supply of potential matches. If you’re not sure about a relationship, you have a couple of choices – you can either pursue it and see how it goes, or you can end it and start looking for the next one. If you’re confident you can find another match online fairly quickly, ending the current one might feel like the easiest option [1]. The marketplace approach if you’re not quite ready for a long-term commitment or if you don’t yet know what you’re looking for, you might approach online dating sites as a kind of marketplace. Online daters using this approach tend to make quickfire assessments of a person’s potential as a romantic partner, turning the dating process into an exchange where potential partners are seen as commodities to be selected from a choice of many. And, when there’s a choice, it feels easier to exchange one partner for another – so we go shopping again [2]. This approach might mean you get to meet a lot of people, but it won’t necessarily lead to a successful long-term relationship. Relationships usually work best when two people respond to each other’s needs, rather than weighing up the costs and benefits as they go [2]. The long-term approach On the other hand, if you are specifically looking for a long-term relationship, you may find one online faster than you would if you went looking offline. When looking for a long-term relationship online, you’re likely to put more consideration into the selection process, and you’ll find it easier to ask those big questions that are hard to ask in the early days of a traditional offline relationship [3]. So, if you go into the process looking for love, and you already know what you want, it becomes possible to skip through a lot of the getting-to-know-you stuff that usually has to happen at the beginning of a relationship [3]. References [1] Paul, A. (2014). Is online better than offline for meeting partners? depends: Are you looking to marry or to date? Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(10).  [2] Finkel, E., Eastwick, P., Karney, B., Reis, H., & Sprecher, S. (2012). Online Dating: A Critical Analysis From the Perspective of Psychological Science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 13(1), 3-66. [3] Rosenfeld. Michael J. (2017). “Marriage, Choice, and Couplehood in the Age of the Internet.” Sociological Science 4:490-51.
Article | online dating
Choosing the perfect gift for your partner
The simple act of buying a gift for a loved one can make you happier and, for the recipient, it really is the thought that counts. Choosing a gift for someone who matters to you can be a stressful experience. Whether it’s for a birthday, Christmas, or an anniversary, you can find yourself worrying about how much to spend, and how to find the perfect gift for a loved one. Choosing the perfect gift can feel like an ideal way to show your partner how much you love them, so it makes sense that you’d put a lot of pressure on yourself to get it right – particularly if you find it difficult to express your love in other ways [1]. Getting it right can be a positive experience. One study even showed that spending money on other people can make you happier than spending money on yourself [2]. So how do you choose the perfect gift? While it might seem important to get your partner something they can keep forever, you might want to think about going for an experience instead. Depending on what your partner likes doing, consider buying them a few laps round the track in a sports car, or tickets to a new musical. A shared experience like this can help you both feel closer to each other, and give you fun memories to cherish. Opting for experiences over material goods can also take away some of the ‘who got what from who?’ social pressure that often pervades [3]. You could also try giving a gift that reminds your partner of an important moment you’ve shared, like a photo frame or album, or a souvenir from your first date. Or they might enjoy something they can use in an activity you share, like a travel guide for a place you’ve always wanted to visit together. Personal touches like this can give you both a boost of happiness [4]. Remember too that gifts don’t have to be big or expensive to have an impact. Something you’ve made, or something that shows you’ve really thought about what matters to your partner can be more moving than shelling out a ton of money on something big. As with many other aspects of being in a relationship, it’s often the little things that count. While it is important to make an effort for your partner, relationship science tells us that the most important thing is how much your partner appreciates what you do, and vice versa [5]. So, amidst all the pressure to get things right, a birthday, anniversary, or festive season could be a really good time to let your partner know just how much you appreciate them – even if that means doing a big fake smile when you unwrap the socks and bath salts. References [1] Compeau, L. D., Monroe, K. B., Grewal, D., & Reynolds, K. (2015). Expressing and defining self and relationships through everyday shopping experiences. Journal of Business Research. [2] Dunn, E. W., Aknin, L. B., & Norton, M. I. (2008). Spending money on others promotes happiness. Science, 319, 1687-1688.                                                                                                                        [3] Howell, R. T., & Hill, G. (2009). The mediators of experiential purchases: Determining the impact of psychological needs satisfaction and social comparison. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(6), 511–522. [4] Aknin, L. (2012). On financial generosity and well-being: Where, when, and how spending money on others increases happiness (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from Electronic Theses and Dissertations 2008+. (Accession Order No. T17:53:34Z). [5] Curran, M. A., Burke, T. J., Young, V., & Totenhagen, C. (2015). Relational Sacrifices about Intimate Behavior and Relationship Quality for Expectant Cohabitors. Marriage & Family Review, (j).
Article | christmas, love
Dating someone from another culture
Keeping lines of communication open can help strengthen your relationship, particularly if you and your partner come from different cultural backgrounds. Historically, falling for someone from another culture might have been big trouble, but a lot has changed over the last few decades and people are generally much more accepting of young people’s choices of partner these days. Dating across different cultures – which includes different races, ethnicities, or different faiths – has become much more common among young people and carries less stigma than it used to [1]. Celebrating difference Some studies have shown that couples from different cultures might be more likely to experience conflict in their relationships.Talking about these difficulties, however, not only alleviates the conflict but can actually help your relationship to develop and grow stronger [1]. In other words, having differences can be a really positive thing, as long as you celebrate them. Making an effort to understand and appreciate each other’s backgrounds can be an enriching experience that also helps you maintain your relationship quality. Religious differences If you have a partner whose religious beliefs are different to your own, you may find your differences are particularly pronounced, which could lead to more disagreements that are harder to resolve [1]. This may be because we often develop our religious beliefs from a young age, but also because we feel them strongly and can struggle to articulate them [2]. On the other hand, you may also find it’s possible to ignore your religious differences for the most part. They may not affect your romantic relationships at all until you reach major life events like marriage – when you’re younger and still exploring relationships, religion doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge issue. Generally speaking, it’s really helpful to be open and communicative about any cultural or religious differences you have with your partner, as this can help you both feel more satisfied with your relationship. If you’re in a relationship with someone from a different culture or religion and you haven’t talked about it yet, have a think about how you might express an interest in your partner’s background and beliefs, and see where it takes you. Let us know how you get on in the comments below. References [1] Reiter, M. J., & Gee, C. B. (2008). Open communication and partner support in intercultural and interfaith romantic relationships: A relational maintenance approach. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 25(4), 539-559. [2] Perel, E. (2000). A tourist’s view of marriage: Cross-cultural couples – challenges, choices, and implications for therapy. In P. Papp (Ed.), Couples on the fault line: New directions for therapists (pp. 178–204). New York: Guilford Press.
Article | culture, dating, religion
A lesser known risk of online first, meeting later
Dating apps have changed the way we meet potential partners. But, while they can help take some of the hassle out of meeting new people, there’s one risk you may not have considered. Apps like Tinder, OkCupid or Hinge can widen your dating pool by connecting you with other single people you might not otherwise have met. They can also give you information much faster than you might get it in real life. By the time you and a potential partner have decided you want to meet up, you may already have learned lots about each other that might have taken weeks in the real world [1]. This early interaction can remove much of the mystery of dating and help speed up the process of getting to know each other. It can also help to know that there is at least some attraction between you by the time you first meet [1]. Yet, relationship research has shown that this can set many online daters up for failure. Think about the process of building your own dating profile. It’s impossible to give a complete picture so you pick and choose – and, naturally, you want to present your best side. You select the best photos, make the most of your interests, and generally remain on your best behaviour while trying to convince potential matches that they should pick you. This is a normal part of the dating process but what you may not have considered is that we tend to idealise the people we’re getting to know through apps. As you get to know someone online, you build up a version of them in your mind, based partly on reality and partly on filling in the blanks left by their profile. Over time, this imaginary version can become very compelling [2]. When you meet, the imaginary version makes way for the real thing – sometimes, this will be a person you want to continue dating and sometimes it won’t. However, if your online interaction goes on for too long without meeting up, the imagined version gets so ingrained that the real thing doesn’t have a hope of living up to it. The longer you delay the face-to-face meeting, the greater the risk that you’ll be disappointed with each other, and the less likely the relationship is to succeed [2]. So, the next time your dating app presents you with someone you think you might like, don’t wait too long to meet them. Give them the best opportunity to live up to the version of them that you think you’ve been talking to and you the best chance of meeting the real them! References [1] LeFebvre, L. E. (2018). Swiping me off my feet: Explicating relationship initiation on Tinder. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 35(9), 1205-1229. [2] Ramirez, A., Sumner, E., Fleuriet, C., & Cole, M. (2015). When Online Dating Partners Meet Offline: The Effect of Modality Switching on Relational Communication Between Online Daters. Journal of Computer‐Mediated Communication, 20(1), 99-114.
Article | dating, online dating
Talking to young people about relationships
The language used to describe relationships changes constantly. For young people these days, the terminology is getting pretty vague. So how do you talk to your adolescent children about their relationships? Early relationships are a big part of how we figure out who we are and what we want from life. Many young people forming these early relationships will look to their parents for information and support… although maybe in a roundabout way. But how can you be sure you’re offering the right kind of support unless you know what they’re talking about in the first place? A new study has taken a closer look at the language young people use to define the dating process, and how this differs from what their parents’ generation understands [1]. Where, in the past, this was a clearly defined and ordered process - meet, flirt, date, hold hands, kiss, etc. - young people today are facing a lot more ambiguity in the way relationships are defined. The study was set up to try and gain a better understanding of young people’s relationships to help improve support services, but it could also be useful for parents. Results suggested that the language young people tend to use around relationships is not particularly well defined and could differ from one group of friends to the next.  For some, dating means literally that – going out on dates together. For others, it could be attached to a casual hook-up, or a friends with benefits situation. When young people seek their parents’ support, these blurred boundaries can create confusion, if there is a disconnect between the ways different generations label their relationships and emotions. For example, if a young person comes to you and says they are having trouble with someone they’ve been dating, they could be talking about anything from a deep emotional connection to a casual sexual relationship. Be careful about making assumptions. The next time you’re in a conversation with your own child about relationships, take a moment to establish what it is you’re talking about, and how they define the terms they’re using. It could make all the difference to the support you’re able to offer. References [1] Rochelle L. Rowley & Jodie L. Hertzog (2016): From Holding Hands to Having a Thing to Hooking Up: Framing Heterosexual Youth Relationships, Marriage & Family Review
Article | dating, communication
Your crush may be good for your relationship
Are you in a relationship? Are you also harbouring a secret crush? It turns out this might not be such a bad thing after all. A recent study has shown that having an unspoken crush probably isn’t doing your relationship any harm and, in some cases, may even contribute to an increased level of intimacy with your partner [1]. The researchers surveyed around 200 women, all of whom had been in a relationship for at least three years. Most were married and aged between 19 and 56. The women filled in an online questionnaire where they answered questions about their partners and other sexual attractions. As many as 70% of those involved in the survey said that they had been attracted to someone else while in a relationship. Perhaps not surprisingly, most of these crushes happened at work. When asked if they were worried about their crushes, most of the women said they weren’t, stating that having an attraction to someone else hadn’t affected how they felt about their partners, nor had it had any kind of negative effect on the relationship. A small portion even said that being attracted to someone else had strengthened their relationships by making them feel more attracted to their partners. This may be the result of increased sexual desire being unleashed within the relationship. As long as you recognise where the line is drawn in your relationship, infatuations at work or elsewhere may well be perfectly healthy and safe. We’re certainly not suggesting you seek out a crush but if you have one, and you remain committed to your partner, perhaps you needn’t worry too much. References [1] Mullinax, M., Barnhart, K. J., Mark, K., and Herbenick, D. (2015). Women’s Experiences with Feelings and Attractions for Someone Outside their Primary Relationship. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 42 (5), 431-447. doi:10.1080/0092623x.2015.1061076
Article | crush
How to be understood
Picture this: you’ve had a long day at work and you’re glad to be home. There’s some washing-up left in the sink from last night and you want to get it done so you can sit quietly in a tidy kitchen and have a cup of tea from your favourite mug. While you’re washing up, you remember an incident at work today that you didn’t handle very well. As you replay the moment in your head, you let out a big sigh. Because your partner isn’t inside your head, they might think you’re sighing over the washing-up. If they’ve had a tough day too, they might leap to the defensive and explain why they haven’t had a chance to wash up yet. Before you know it, you’re arguing about something that hasn’t even happened, and your hard day at work has gone unacknowledged by the person you rely on most for support. Why it’s important to feel understood Relationships are all about communication – not just what you communicate to each other, but how you each understand what’s being communicated. When you need something from your partner, the first step is to communicate that need. The second step is for them to recognise the need. Without that recognition, it’s unlikely you’ll get that support. And that’s why understanding each other is so important to having a satisfying relationship [1]. Being understood helps us feel secure and looked after [2]. What you say and what you mean If you want your partner to know you’re feeling sad, do you tend to sulk until they notice, or do you step up and say, “I’m feeling a bit down today”? When someone misunderstands you, or fails to even notice you, it’s easy to get cross and to blame them for not listening properly, or for not caring. What difference could it make if you decided to take responsibility for everything you communicate? What if, when someone misunderstands you, you make the choice to re-frame what you’ve communicated until it makes sense to the other person? Try applying this not just to the words you convey, but also to the emotions. Don’t assume your partner knows what’s going on in your mind Your partner may be the person who knows you best but it’s not their job to read your mind. So, while sulking might work from time to time, the direct approach is almost always more helpful. How many times have you moped around waiting for your partner to notice how sad you are? It might feel like your partner doesn’t care, but the reality is that many of us tend to over-estimate how much emotion we are conveying [3] [4]. Many of also assume that our partners instinctively know what we’re feeling [5], but that isn’t always the case. These assumptions can be among the biggest hindrances to communicating effectively in relationships, leaving you feeling unheard, rejected and liable to lash out in response [6]. Being clear about your feelings can protect against all of this. The next time your partner misunderstands you, take a moment before you respond. Try to remember that they’ve only misunderstood you because they don’t have all the information, and take responsibility for filling in the gaps. Being clear about how you feel almost always makes it easier to get what you need. References [1] Reis, H., Clark, M., & Holmes, J. G. (2004). Perceived partner responsiveness as an organizing construct in the study of intimacy and closeness. In D. Mashek & A. Aron (Eds.), Handbook of closeness and intimacy (pp. 201-228). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. [2] Collins, N. L., & Feeney, B. C. (2000). A safe haven: An attachment theory perspective on support seeking and caregiving in intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 1053-1073. [3] Vorauer, J. D., Cameron, J. J., Holmes, J. G., & Pearce, D. G. (2003). Invisible overtures: Fears of rejection and the amplification bias. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84, 793-812. [4] Cameron, J. J., & Robinson, K. J. (2010). Don’t you know how much I need you? Consequences of miscommunication vary by self-esteem. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1(2), 136-142. [5] Eidleson, R. J., & Epstein, N. (1982). Cognition and relationship maladjustment: Development of a measure of dysfunctional relationship beliefs. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 50, 715-720. [6] Cameron, J. J., & Vorauer, J. D. (2008). Feeling transparent: On metaperceptions and miscommunications. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 2, 1093-1108.
Article | communication
Community posts
I love my gf but also love another girl
Hello, I am very confused and don't know what to do so i thought im gonna ask the internet, maybe that will make me realise what to do. I've split it up in different sections so it is easier to read, i hope. I'm dyslectic so this isnt easy for my to write. So please don't mind my spelling and sentence construction. Me: I’m currently 22 years old and have a girlfriend that i have been with for 3 years now. This is the only serious relationship i’ve ever had (i had 1 relationship before her when i was 16 but that really ment nothing) She is the only one I have ever had sex with (i’ve fooled around with 2 other girls before her (Kissed and foreplay)) but except for that she is the only one i have ever really had sex with. She on the other hand has had multiple boyfriends before (but i am her longest lasting relationship) obviously she also had sex and other experiences before with her previous boyfriends. I’m absolutely not jealous, not even a little bit. I trust my girlfriend 300%. I was always pretty shy especially when it comes to girls. Ever since i met my girlfriend i’ve really grown and I’m absolutely not shy anymore. That is mainly because of the relationship i think. It made me love myself more and made me more proud and certain of who i am. I’m a very passionate, romantic and caring man. If i want to learn something new i go for it 100% and get totally obsessed with it, because i want to be the best at it. I like buying presents for people and do that a lott and sometimes even exaggerate it with my girlfriend. My girlfriend: She on the other hand is pretty jealous and isn’t always the easiest person to live with. This is not just me saying this, also her parents, friends and even herself know this. She sometimes can get really pissed off and then says she wants to break up because of something i did when in reality i really did not do something terrible and wrong. But i know that she just says this and doesn’t mean it but sometimes it still hurts when she says those sort of things because i really really love her and she truly means a lot to me. So she sometimes gets mad about the stupidest things and then blames me for it. I know how to handle those sort of situations because i know her better then herself sometimes. But still i sometimes think that i can’t keep doing this my whole life. For me it feels like im the one that always fights for the relationship and she just always immediately gives up when things gets rough. this makes me question our relationship sometimes because i want a real good and sturdy relationship in my future and that is required with the study and carrier that im going to have in the future. Before my girlfriend: I was 18 years old and just started university. I had great fun with my friends and i lived in a student house where i met this girl (lets call her lucy). She also lived in this student house and we got really close. We got together almost every night to watch something (a tv show or something) in her dorm, on her bed, just the 2 of us. Like literally almost every night, when i wasnt out partying with my friends, i was with her. She had a boyfriend but halfway through the year she broke up with him (i still think that it was because she had developed feelings for me). Im sure if i tried to make a move, i would have succeeded and we would’ve become a couple. But sadly i didn’t because i was to shy and not confident in myself enough. But i really really liked her, I dremt about her, i pictured myself with her. She also was really pretty. I met my grilfriend: The first year at university was almost over and in the last month I met a girl (my current gf). She was good friends with my sister and that’s how we met. I knew she liked me because she told my sister and her friendgroup started teasing us. but i was to shy to do anything again. But was flirting with her. But mostly she took the steps and initiative and i just went with it. But is was mostly her moves on me because i had no moves. I also told lucy this and even though she acted excited for me i now know that she was pretty sad about me meeting someone. The beginning of my relationship with my gf was hard. I was still a virgin so that was exciting and thrilling. but after that phase passed things got hard. She was really jealous and sometimes really toxic. I now realise that our relationship then was really toxic. She always got mad and i always took the blame and felt really bad for it because i thought i did something wrong but now i realise that that wasn’t the case i was just being used as a victim. My relationship now: But now 3 years later our relationship is pretty healthy. I would not say great because she still is a difficult person but i know how to handle her. And I don’t let her control me like she did in the beginning. We have a pretty stable relationship and we are both very happy iwth eachother and have a lot of fun and laughter. Yes of course sometimes we argue and have rough days but nothing big or serious. I love her very much and she loves me too. there is only one thing that bothers me: Sex. I think in those 3 years we had real sex less than 20 times. I have a pretty high libido so sometimes its really hard for me. But we do do foreplay and so on but not that often. She is also struggling with vaginismus i think, it was never diagnosed (i have knoledge of these things, so i think im right when saying she has vaginismus). We talk about it sometimes and I always say that she needs to go to a gynecologist and she agrees but keeps delaying it because she is scared. In the beginning i was supportive for her because it wasn’t her fault (she just had too much pain that i couldn’t even penetrate a full finger). I was very supportive and caring but she keeps delaying going to the doctor and therefore i almost stopped trying to have sex or any form of foreplay because it only leads to dissapointment. I really like it when we do these things annd i tell her that but i also want the real thing (real sex) because i never had anyone before her so i want to experience those things too. We haven’t had sex in over 1,5 years now i think. And i still love her to bits, Like really really love her. The story of lucy: After my first university year I switched to a different student house and my girlfriend sleep together almost every night. I lost connection with Lucy a bit (I still met her at parties sometimes and i’d flirt with her a little (more as friends) but nothing too serious because i am loyal and would never cheat on my girlfriend never. But then my grilfriend would get mad for “flirting” with her but i really wasn’t actually flirting ( this was in my girlfriend and i toxic phase)). So i saw lucy sometimes and soometimes we would send each other some messages but nothing big or nothing like it was before. The year after that was covid so nothing really exiting happend. I stayed in quarantaine with my girlfriend and my family that whole year of covid, that improved our relationship a lot. Then comes this year, covid is over and back to the student house. Lucy asked if i knew any nice student houses for her. I said that she could try the student house where i resided and she did. But still me and my girlfriend still spend almost every night togheter in my dorm. That lucy was in the same student house as me of course meant i saw her more often again, but still nothing compared to the amount we did the first year of university. But still i had those same feelings about her eventhough i have a girlfriend that i love very very much. One day lucy and were going to the same party (that happend a lot and wasn’t exeptional) she was already there and i was stil at the studetn house. She sent me a text asking if i would grab something from her dorm and take it with me to give to her (a sweater or something, i dont remember). So i did that but when i went in her dorm i saw her diary (she had this small book that she would write things in and put memories, pictures and so on inside, and she wrote about her life). We had talked about the diary before and she was pretty protective about me not reading it. But as i was alone in her dorm grabbing something for her, i couldn’t resist. I opened it and read it. I read about our first year in college and she had noticed that i liked her and she kept things and funny notes that i wrote that i didn’t even know that she had or even forgot that they existed anymore. I ound that really cute. I could also read her disappointment she felt when i told her i met my current girlfriend. And she even wrote about me these past 2 years when we met at parties and talked/flirted with each other. I think i can say that she also liked/likes me. the vacation I also went on a weekend away with some friends (and friends from my friends) without my girlfriend and here i got to know a girl (she was a friend of a friend) and i did find her very pretty but i didn’t really know her, i saw her at a few parties before throughout the years and we looked at each other and noticed a connection that we found each other attractive but nothing serious. During this weekend we flirted with each other and this time actually flirted and while drunk and dancing even danced close to each other and against eachother. When everyonne went sleeping she and i were the last ones left, just the two of us. I knew i had a girlfriend and i shouldn’t feel this but i really had the urge to have sex with her eventhough i knew i shouldn’t. I had never felt this temptation before it was really weird for me (she also really wanted me). We stood face to face to each other and the tension was really really high but i just couldn’t do it. I was drunk but luckly i did’nt do anything stupid. It was pure lust i did like her but it was more pure attraction i had no real feelings for her. When i came back that weekend i had a mixed feeling: i didn’t regret not kissing her but i also but was also happy that i didn’t do it because i know i shouldn’t and i couldn’t do that to my girlfriend. But it made me realise that i have those feelings of lust and that because i was with my girlfriend i can’t have those random hook ups and enjoy my youth. But i also don’t want to give her up for some random girls. But htat was the first time i had that feeling. This was also the first time i really questioned our relationship and we had 2 weeks were it went really really rough because i was really questioning if i wanted this girl for the rest of my life. Now: It is better now i still really love her but i still sometimes ( once every 2 weeks) i get that thought in my head that this relationship isn’t gonna last and that i have to end it even though everything is great between us and we have lots of fun togheter. There is still Lucy that spooks in my head all the time everytime i see her i realise i like her a lot and it feels like she is the one that got away. I also find Lucy prettier then my own girlfriend and i think she is more stable and more wife material than my current girlfriend. I just really have the feeling that she is the one that got away. everytime i see her i want to talk to her and make her notice me. I get butterflies if i see her, smell her, see her online on instagram,... I think about that a lot and i make myself crazy thinking about it. I really like Lucy but i have this whole life build up with my girlfriend and her family and we have the same friend group and i know if a break up with her we can’t be friends anymore. I can do that but i just know that she can’t, she is unreasenable in some things and that is definitely one. I really don’t know what to do. I have the feeling that im still with my grilfirend out of habit, we don’t even have sex. But still i love her and sometimes when we are together i just keep smiling because im happy with her and she does somethinng cute. But still i have doubts that Lucy is th eone for me. And then there are also the feeling that i want to be single for some time because i am in the prime of my life and want to have experience with other girls (not neccesarly hookinng up because im not that type of guy that hooks up with random people) but still i find it hard to believe that im never gonna have that feeling of being single and no attachments in my life. Conclusion: Im confused to what i should do. Should i calm myself down and don’t worry and just be with the girl that i think i love (my girlfriend) and be with her and skip that exciting phase in my life of being single. Or should i breakup with her and live that single life and see if Lucy truly is the one (whoch i really think she is) But maybe i’ll regret it one i broke up with my gf and Lucy is not that what i thought it was (but i really really like her). If i break up with my girlfriend i loseeverything that we build togheter (echothers famillies, parents, friends, habits,...) I dont want to lose that because our lives are basically togheter and we are always togheter. Please help me and give me advise on what i should do. Sorry for the extreme long post but i’m really stuck with my thoughts.
User article | breakups
Relationship struggle after baby
Anyone else’s relationship hit the rocks after having a baby? It’s only been one month from my little boy came along and it feels like my relationship is on its last legs. From he was a week old the baby bubble faded and the arguments started. At the beginning of parenthood I felt nothing but love, reassurance and support from my partner now all I feel is judged on anything I do. I think this is partly due to him having another child (6y/o) to his ex partner. Anything he suggests or says to do is gospel to him and I’m expected to follow suit for being a first time mother. Anytime I disagree or do what I feel is right an argument starts and I’m the horrible person. The last week and a half has been extremely difficult as all we do is argue which is starting to put a wedge between us making me second guess our relationship. I have put up with and accepted a lot of crap throughout our relationship such as deleting and blocking fellas on my social media/numbers he feels threatened by who have just been friends, having to send proof of my whereabouts when I leave the house, getting accused of cheating if I don’t answer my phone or reply back too slow. But he can go and do as he pleases no questions asked while talking to a number of girls on a daily basis on social media. This issue was addressed half way through my pregnancy and it has gotten better with the odd hiccup here and there but generally our relationship was amazing after that right up until the baby was 1 week old. For the baby’s sake I want nothing more than for him to grow up in a loving secure family home but I know that’s not possible if my partner and myself are not happy together. I want to hear other first time mothers experiences did your relationship go through the same, is it the hormones or am I holding on to a loose end?
User article | parenting together, controlling, baby