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Relationship lessons from young people
We’ve looked at the results of a recent survey to see what can be learned from young people’s experiences of being in relationships. Looking back on the roller coaster ride of your own early relationships might fill you with a mix of fondness, amusement, and utter cringing horror. That shouldn’t mean you can’t learn from those experience but, if you can only bear to look through the narrow gaps between your fingers, then these insights from other people’s early experiences might help. Why relationship quality matters Love is complicated and it can take many forms – the love you feel for a sibling, is different from the love you feel for a friend, and the love you feel for your parents is different to the love you feel for a freshly baked marinara pizza. Mmmm, freshly baked marinara pizza. Anyway. When it comes to romantic partners, love gets even more complicated. When two people are in love, they depend on each other for support, but they also have to make each other feel special. Your lover may be your closest confidant, your source of safety and belonging, and the heart of your passion [1]. This isn’t an easy balance to get right. Relationship quality plays a huge part of our health, happiness and wellbeing. We all have ups and downs in life, and it’s the people we share them with that help shape the way we celebrate the good times and cope with the bad. As we enter adolescence, our closest relationships tend to be those we have with our romantic partners [2]. This doesn’t mean you should go rushing into a relationship with the next person who pays you the remotest bit of attention! Remember – it’s the quality of your relationships that makes the difference [1]. Learning from early relationships If you’re young and in a relationship, you might feel like you’ve found the one (and maybe you have – if so, congrats!) or you might be testing the water to find out what you want from relationships in the future. Either way, you can always work on the skills that will help you be a better and happier partner in the future. In a recent study, young people were asked what they’d learned from being in relationships. The most significant lessons these young people had learned from their early relationships included: Sensitivity. It’s important to keep an eye on your partner’s needs, without losing sight of your own. Realistic expectations. In the early days, we present our best sides. As we get more comfortable with each other, our quirks and foibles start to spill out. While this can lead to some relationships breaking down, it can also be a time when couples strengthen their bond as they start to see each other more completely. Honesty. Being honest and trusting your partner are essential components of any successful relationship. Compromise. A relationship is an ongoing process. You will both have to keep checking in on each other’s needs and making compromises, no matter how long you’ve been together. Balance. Many young people highlighted the importance of keeping intense emotions under control. Not just the negative ones like jealousy and anger, but also the overflowing excitement of falling in love in the first place. Freedom. While your romantic partner might also be your best friend and the most important person in your life, you both also need the freedom to be apart from each other. Stay connected to other friends and family members and remind yourself that you still have a life outside of your relationship. Communication. If you’re a regular on Click, you’ll know how much value we place on good communication. This is reflected in young people’s early relationship experiences too [3]. Whether you’re looking back at everything you’ve had to learn the hard way, or looking ahead to your next romantic adventure, take heed of these words of wisdom, and learn from the brave pioneers who went before you. References [1] Viejo, C., Ortega-Ruiz, R., & Sánchez, V. (2015). Adolescent love and well-being: the role of dating relationships for psychological adjustment. Journal of Youth Studies, 18(9), 1219–1236. https://doi.org/10.1080/13676261.2015.1039967 [2] La Greca, A. M., & Harrison, H. M. (2005). Adolescent peer relations, friendships, and romantic relationships: do they predict social anxiety and depression? Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology: The Official Journal for the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, American Psychological Association, Division 53, 34(1), 49–61. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15374424jccp3401_5 [3] Norona, J. C., Roberson, P. N. E., & Welsh, D. P. (2017). ‘I Learned Things That Make Me Happy, Things That Bring Me Down’: Lessons From Romantic Relationships in Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood. Journal of Adolescent Research, 32(2), 155–182. https://doi.org/10.1177/0743558415605166
Article | dating, new partner
0 4 min read
Making the most of relationship counselling
Relationship counselling doesn’t have to be disaster management, and may even be more useful when it’s used to strengthen the foundations of your relationship before things get out of hand. It might seem like relationship counselling is only for couples who are in serious trouble, but couples who seek it out sooner rather than later are more likely to feel the benefits. A study into the effectiveness of relationship counselling found that those who entered into counselling early on when their issues were still manageable were more likely to have positive results [1]. This echoes what we already know getting help before things get out of hand. Around three quarters of the couples in the study experienced benefits to seeing a counsellor. In the cases where it didn’t work, it was often because the issues were already too deeply entrenched to be resolved – particularly in cases of domestic violence, or where one partner was seeking a safe space to end the relationship. How to make the most of relationship counselling If you’re considering relationship counselling, you’re most likely to get things running smoothly again if you start as soon as possible. But, if you’ve gone into counselling when things are already difficult, you can still see an improvement, as long as you approach it with the right attitude. Bear the following in mind as you go into each section: The sessions are as much about listening and learning as about getting your own point across and being heard. You’ll need to look at things from your partner’s point of view to fully understand what’s going on. You’re more likely to solve problems by reflecting on your own behaviour, than criticising your partner’s. So, if you’re finding that conflict is difficult to resolve on your own, go and get some help while the issue is still small. Keep an eye out for warning signs and don’t be afraid to seek help with your relationship. Often, people can worry that going to a counsellor means they are in big trouble, or that it’s the beginning of the end but, if you go early enough, the opposite can be true! References [1] Hunter, C., and Commerford, J. (2015). Relationship education and counselling: Recent research findings in CFCA (33), retrieved from https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/relationship-education-and-counselling
Article | counselling, therapy
0 2 min read
“A newfound love for my ex”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I've been single for over 6 months now and I feel over my past relationship. I'm no longer sad or angry about what happened and I've been able to accept that it's gone and I don't particularly want to pick it up where it left off as I wasn't in a happy place mentally towards the end (brought on by battling my mental health issues, balancing work and family, and then also trying to find time for us where I wasn't talking about work, family or mental health) and it was making my boyfriend miserable too. We ended things on a reasonable note even though I was distraught but he couldn't be both my partner and a supporter while I was mentally unstable which I completely understand and respect. He said that one day when I'm mentally alright again and have done all I've wanted to achieve (higher self esteem, physical fitness, confidence) then we could potentially try again as he still loved me and didn't want to lose me which I agreed to at the time and never expected it would happen (I was in a dark place and thought he hated me for some time). Fast forward to now, I have felt myself still feeling love towards my ex which I've been trying to ignore or pass off as platonic but I know it's not. Small things like seeing his name flash up when I get a text, messages that remind me of how we used to talk and how close we were, all sorts of things are making my heart flutter and melt like it did 3 years ago when we were very much in love at the beginning of our relationship and taking on the world side by side. When people mention the future I see him and it's very much unintentional, and when I fantasize about being with a man I always end up thinking of him again and I can't seem to stop it. I don't find anyone attractive or interesting enough to want to talk to them or to start a conversation with them, except for him (who I've luckily not seen in person for most of the breakup period). I want to see if the two of us have a chance to be happy together now that both of us have had time apart to care for ourselves and mature a bit more but I have no clue how to approach this at all. I feel somewhat idiotic for posting such a thing online but I needed to see if anyone else has managed to get back with their ex partner and how they went about doing it (besides the straight up "wanna date" route) and what suggestions you guys have for me in my situation. I want to start fresh with him and not dwell on the past but I need help and advice. Any help anyone can give me is much appreciated!
Ask the community | dating, new partner
“My husband has disconnected from me”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I feel selfish posting this, but I can't help but feel like I'm alone in my marriage. My husband is a good person and a decent provider, but he's not there for me emotionally. I know his work environment has gotten pretty toxic in the past year or so (his employer has been forcing older, more long-term employees out the door and hiring younger, cheaper help), and I know he worries about not making enough money if he were to leave and go somewhere less hostile (we would survive, we're not poor), and I have encouraged him to look elsewhere for a less stressful job, but he hasn't done anything about it. Because he is stressed about work all the time, he comes home every night, eats dinner and then either fiddles with his phone surfing the internet or he sits in front of the TV until he goes to bed. We never go anywhere together, unless it's the grocery store or some other mundane thing, we haven't taken a vacation in years, and he never wants to do anything. We have seen a marriage counselor before, but he only went a couple of times until he decided that I was depressed and should continue seeing the counselor alone. Yeah, I AM DEPRESSED because my husband isn't in our relationship. I guess the last straw was today, our 16th anniversary, and he came home from work and flopped down on the couch with his tablet. I purposely sat down with him and he ignored me for about an hour until he mumbled "Happy Anniversary" and went to the fridge to heat up leftovers for dinner. After he ate his leftovers, he watched TV and went to bed. It is my wedding anniversary and I'm sitting on the couch with my cat. I am so angry and sad and hurt by this behavior of my husband that I don't know what to do. When I try to talk to him about it, he either ignores me (the damn TV, the phone or the tablet) or he turns it around on me and complains about how bad his job is and how I have no idea what the working world is like these days. (Um, yeah, actually I do. I worked in corporate America for 2 decades until I left and started my own business 2 yrs ago, which wasn't exactly an easy thing to do, either.) Can someone please give me some advice? I'm so sad right now.
Ask the community | communication, mental health
How to see the best in your partner
Seeing the best in your partner can help keep you both happy, reminding you of the person you fell in love with in the first place, and putting your relationship in a positive light. It’s natural to want to compare your partner to other people but the way you do it can make a significant difference to how you feel about your relationship. One study found that comparing your partner to someone else can be a positive experience as long as you find a way to make peace with the comparison [1]. Making comparisons is one of the ways we make sense of the world. We choose our partners because we like them more than we like other people, so it’s understandable that we would keep comparing them to others. To take a practical example, if you notice that your partner isn’t as good at tidying up around the house as your best friend’s partner, you might start to find them lacking. But, if you accept that perhaps your partner doesn’t have as much free time as your friend’s partner, or that you’re happy to do the majority of the tidying, then you might be more willing to let it go. This kind of justification can help you to see your partner in a more positive light. It’s when you don’t, or can’t, justify the negative comparisons that you risk feeling more stressed and getting into arguments. One of the things that affects the way we’re able to make these kinds of justifications is the way we view our role in the relationship. If you see your relationship as a unit, and refer to yourselves as ‘we’ and ‘us’, rather than ‘I’ or ‘me’, you may be more likely to compare your partner favourably to others, and let things go. This is known as ‘self-other overlap’ and helps you see the best in your partner. When you talk to your friends about what you’ve been up to lately, try to notice whether you say ‘I’ or ‘we’. Saying ‘we’ might just be the key to seeing your partner more positively next time you find yourself comparing them to somebody else. References [1] Thai, S., Lockwood, P. (2015). Comparing You = Comparing Me: Social Comparisons of the Expanded Self in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 41 (7).
Article | communication, trust
0 2 min read
Dealing with disapproval as a same-sex couple
Although attitudes towards LGBTQ+ people and same-sex couples seem to be becoming more positive, many LGBTQ+ people still face a considerable amount of stigma, discrimination and prejudice.Same-sex couples often face unique additional difficulties which can include coming out, negative reactions from family and friends, fear of public displays of affection and homophobic abuse.Here, three same-sex couples tell their stories:  Kat (21) and Carly (20) Kat and Carly have been together for a year. Kat is out to her immediate family and they are accepting of her sexuality and her relationship with Carly.While being very happy in their relationship, Kat is not entirely comfortable with her sexuality. She keeps her relationship hidden from other extended family members including her aunt, to whom she introduced Carly as a friend. Kat worries about holding hands in public.Carly, on the other hand, is completely comfortable with her sexual identity and public displays of affection. Carly is helping Kat face her fears by holding hands in public, but she remains very aware of her surroundings and the reactions of others. Brendan (24) and Josh (23) Brendan and Josh have been together for three years. They have experienced verbal abuse more than once while holding hands in public. This has mostly happened on weekend nights. However, on one daytime occasion, as Brendan and Josh were walking hand-in-hand, a man in a white van slowed down and shouted homophobic abuse and expletives at them. Brendan shared their experience of this upsetting event on Twitter and received lots of positive support. Both Brendan and Josh say that homophobic abuse will not stop them from being themselves and holding hands in public. Lindsay (30) and Dana (31) Lindsay and Dana have been together for two years. Lindsay’s parents reacted very negatively to her coming out. They were verbally abusive, equating homosexuality with paedophilia, and disowning their daughter. This experience was heart-breaking and emotional for the couple, and Lindsay says it was the hardest six months of her life. Despite this, the couple feel they are stronger because they got through it by communicating, spending time together and seeking support from their close friends. Lindsay has since been able to repair the relationship with her parents to some extent, but they don’t associate with Dana much, which puts pressure on them both. Lindsay has accepted that her parents don’t like her relationship and believes her parents are missing out by not knowing Dana. These case studies come from a PhD research project by Danni Pearson of the Open University. The research is entitled ‘The Trials, Tribulations and Celebrations of Young Same-Sex Couples in Long-term Relationships’ and explores how young same-sex couples experience and sustain their relationships. The research is also connected to the Enduring Love project.
Article | same-sex, LGBTQ+
0 3 min read
“When do I give up?”
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 boyfriend and I have been on and off for the last six years. Most recently we have been together for a little over a year and at one point he moved hundreds of miles away from family and friends to be with me. However, recently we got into a fight which resulted in him moving back home the next day and us breaking up. It was an amicable split and I thought it was really the end of things because we both agreed we loved each other, but it just wasn't working. After a few weeks apart he texted me saying he wants to work on things and figure out how to be together. I'm frustrated beyond belief because I'm now in a terrible situation. We are back to being in a long distance relationship, and my friends and family are all happy that he's out of my life, because I haven't told them yet. He wants to pursue counseling and work on things together. I'm having a hard time because I really do love this man and want a future with him, but I don't want to go back to the way things have been in the past. In addition, we're only 20 and I worry that this is too young to already be needing counseling in the relationship for trust and communication issues. My question is, do I invest a little more time into the relationship in the hopes that we can resolve some of these things through counseling? Or is it finally time to let go?
Ask the community | communication, long distance