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Facing money issues as a couple
As we emerge from 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 such as 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 such as 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. Some couples gave us their suggestions: 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 going to all the games. Go out but spend less. If you go for a meal, just have one course. Get a bottle of wine or some cans from the shop to take home. When the weather is nice, take walks and picnics in the park. Look for free activities in your area. You might be surprised by the fun events available at no cost. 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
"My heart is torn"
I am in desperate need of advice. I met a guy a little over a year ago at work. I did not feel any sparks or attraction whatsoever at first. He always seems shy and would only talk when spoken to. I would notice that when I was talking to someone else, he would stop and look at me, even though he was not part of the conversation. It almost seemed like he was watching me and the way I smiled and my mannerisms. I want to mention that he is younger than I by 9 years. I was happily married and never looked for anything more, that has since changed. Although, he is not aware of that. Fast forward to this year when covid entered the picture. We started working remotely and I got to know him over a different level. He is funny with a dry sense of humor and very intelligent. I noticed that it seemed like he never really had the same kind of connection with some of the other coworkers and would just get straight to the point with them and me, he liked to joke around a little. I would almost consider him flirting. He would ask personal question about things that I liked but never really gave too much away about himself. I finally saw him and I felt very anxious. I spoke with him briefly and he behaved like he always did before kind of shy and quiet. We talk pretty often over the computer and over these last few months, I felt like the chemistry was real. I am now wondering if this was just one sided. I recently was talking to him about a hard situation that I am going through in life and jokingly said so now be pleasant to me, in which he responded that he treats everyone the same (ouch). I then replied that I was joking and he was always pleasant to me and then he replied with a heart emjoi. I do want to add that our chats are monitored and he is very conscientious of that. I really like him and I am not sure what to do about it.
User article | attraction, flirtation
"We had an emotional affair"
About 10 years ago I met this guy and we instantly clicked and became best friends, we were inseperable, laughing all the time, spending all of our spare time together and had a really special deep emotional connection. I was in a toxic relationship at the time, and he was always there for me. When my relationship ended, we grew closer and shared a few intimate times together, other people always used to say to us 'why aren't you two together, you're perfect for each other' but we both laughed the comments off and said we were just friends, unbeknownst to each other that we were both secretly hoping the other would say we wanted more. We were both scared of saying something and getting rejected. So it never happened. Our friendship continued but within our group of friends at the time, some jealous comments were made by some people to me about things he had apparently said about why he didn't want to be with me (which he never said I have since found out), but at the time I thought he just wanted to be friends so on a night out that we were both at on new years eve one year I ended up having a drunken one night stand and left the pub with this person, subsequently I knew it had hurt my best friend but did not know that he was planning to get together with me that night and for us to start the new year together, as a proper couple. He was heartbroken and a few months later I asked if we could give things a go but he said he couldn't as he was too hurt by what had happened. We both lived in a small town and during the weeks and months that followed our friendship deteriorated and we saw each other around but didn't speak and it was devastating. I had lost my best friend and it was too much to bear. He eventually met someone else and they got married. I moved away to another city and we lost contact. I tried to get on with my life and not think about him or deal with the pain as it just felt far too painful to face. About 6 months ago I recently got back in touch thinking I would be able to handle it, but after seeing him even once I cried for hours after. All my feelings were still there. Then we started messaging about old times and we saw each other a few times more and started to talk about the past and I realised the extent of his feelings for me, he told me I was his first love, and that he fancied me since a young age, and he was madly in love with me but was too scared to tell me and that I had broken his heart and dreams of us being together, and he never got over it. We have been messaging constantly for the past 6 months and seen each other twice, both times I was left emotionally destroyed when he left to go back to his wife. I have been grieving over the whole tragic thing, how we missed out on what we could have had and we will never know what could have been, and we have basically had an emotional affair in secret, with it turning sexual on text as well. I have been emotionally destroyed by it, and felt so unbearably hurt and angry and jealous over him being with his wife, and about the fact that he didn't give us a chance and chose someone else, and I just can't get past it. I also looked at his facebook and saw pictures of them together which has absolutely destroyed me and I feel it has destroyed any chance of us recovering and having any sort of friendship now. I am heartbroken. I have chosen not to have contact with him for the past 2 weeks as it was starting to make me physically ill, having bad dreams and not sleeping. I am now thinking about him and the situation again, and don't know what to do. He wants us to repair our friendship and have contact but I just can not decide if or how I can handle this, but at the same time I can't imagine losing him completely again. Any advice really appreciated!
User article | emotional affair
"I'm OK with her having sex with him"
My wife and I are both retired and 60. No children as we met and married 15 years ago. My wife has always owned her home and I rented. Since the retirement we sold up and downsized to a smaller place in a tiny village. This was last Christmas and the place needed doing up so I have been very busy. My wife is not handy or does she enjoy DIY but that is fine. To get to know the community she joined lots of local groups. Gardening and a reading one. This I encouraged and she has made some great friends. One of her friends is an older man whose wife needs care due to her suffering from dementia. He has daily carers who help and even has overnighters when required. He is of a similar background to my wife both politically and intellectually. Both ex teachers. I was a manual worker and have no interests on those fronts but that is not a problem for me. I enjoy that my wife is happy. When we met, my wife had not been in a great place due to a previous relationship and I was working on a building she was working in. I would cheer her up and plucked up the courage to ask her out! She accepted and I was ecstatic. I have little experience with relationships and as strange as it might be have hardly any sexual history. That has blighted my life as for some reason sex is not for me! Never has and that is still the case. So my wife and her friend are having a sexual relationship or I am fairly sure they are! He used to visit here and have the odd meal and share a bottle of wine but has not been for some months. Instead my wife visits him during the day. The reason being he can't leave his wife! But I have seen then about holding hands and kissing! She is wearing new clothes and more feminine shoes of late! The issue is I don't want to lose her and I am ok with her having sex with him. I have to talk to her but how?
User article | non-manogamy, affair
"The importance of counselling"
At one time or another we all experience difficulties that can leave us feeling overwhelmed. Issues at work, relationships worries, family pressures, finance related pressure, stress etc. They can all make us anxious and reduce our sense of purpose and wellbeing. Counselling can be helpful in lots of different situations. Talking therapy is for anyone who's going through a bad time or has emotional problems they can't sort out on their own. They may be the same or more effective than medication. Counselling can help you understand how your feelings affect your thoughts and behavior. How counselling can help Sometimes it's easier to talk to a stranger than to relatives or friends. During counselling, a trained counsellor or therapist listens to you and helps you find your own answers to problems, without judging you. Very often even when we speak to a trusted friend or family member we don’t always share what we are truly thinking or feeling for fear of being judged. It’s quite normal to hold information back as sometimes we are so distressed or upset by our thoughts and feelings that we don’t wish others to know them, this can be due to feelings of shame or not wishing to burden anyone else with them. Talking with a trained counsellor provides a safe space where you can vocalise how you really feel and what thoughts you have – being able to do this can enable you and the counsellor to gain some real insight into your problems and help you to deal with them. The therapist will give you time to talk, cry, shout or just think. It's an opportunity to look at your problems in a different way with someone who will respect you and your opinions. This process of unloading and sharing with another person can be very liberating. If you’ve never considered using this service, reconsider. Sometimes in life it is the things we dismiss immediately that are the most beneficial and we often wish we’d embraced sooner. Authors: Nishi Shah, Psychologist Harshita Murai, Psychologist
User article | counselling
"I'm falling for someone else"
I have been in my current relationship for 3 and a half years, I've been living with him for just over 2 years. I am ready to settle and be married and have kids but he is more interested in going out to the club and getting drunk 3 times a week. In all these years he has not shown me one but of commitment. He has never told me he loves me and if I ask him if he does love me then he says he doesn't know. My question to him is how can you not know after more than 3 years? He also never says stuff like one day when we are married or one day when we have kids. I've never had any indication of commitment from him. I have sacrificed so much for him. I left my job to move in with him and got another job which broke me, I was so passionate about teaching and then I wasn't, so I got another job working 7-5 which made me lose focus on my studies. Then when lockdown came, I lost my job and my partner became super demanding and has started treating me like a kid. There is 8 years between us. His time is limited so I know if I had to end it that I will be find because I am young (23). Anyway I've come back to my old job to do my practicles and I've met someone else. Nothing has happened between us but I feel this spark and connection. And we have the same interests, teaching kids. Any advice would be great, thanks. Basically should I end it or try make it work? I really do or did love my current boyfriend but I feel like I'm falling out of love because he hasn't shown me any commitment. He also never comforts me when I am upset, he always just says toughen up, or deal with it or you'll get over it.
User article | someone else, commitment