5 Inner Habits You Need To Make Any Relationship Last

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Image by Nemanja Glumac / Stocksy

If you ask someone in their 20s what matters most to them in life, they will usually say, “My relationship and my career.” Relationships and careers are the stabilizers in today’s world, bringing security, contentment, and purpose in life. Yet we don’t seem to be very good at the relationship part. Many of us are isolated, lonely, dissatisfied with our partners, and simply struggling to nurture and sustain healthy long-term relationships.

Is this reflective of our disposable and mobile culture? Whether we are talking about containers, appliances, or people, we now live in a world where we throw things away so easily. The environmental problems caused by plastic bottles and bags are a symptom. Similarly, when it comes to relationships, what do we do? If there are problems, end it; if there is hardship, look for someone better. We are becoming a culture of quitters.

But the tide is turning: Plastic bags and bottles are banned in many places, and we want sturdier appliances that last instead of cheap ones that fall apart and end up in a landfill. Is our attitude toward relationships also changing? Are we valuing longevity and commitment over a throwaway mentality?

To sustain “long term,” we need emotional intelligence and maturity in relationships, and that requires some basic inner practices. Many of the skills we need actually stem from our own self-awareness practices, such as that of mindfulness and meditation. When we have a better understanding of our own inner emotions, we’re able to respond from a place of generosity.

Based on key self-awareness principles, here are a few inner practices to consider for creating a relationship that lasts:

1. Let harmony be a priority.

Put harmony before being right. Does it really matter if your partner is wrong? Will you ruin the day’s peace by having an argument that could have been avoided by simply saying “OK, honey”?

Ask yourself: Why is it important for me to be right?

2. Listen and pause.

With inner calm and a relaxed mind, you’ll be better able to pause and listen to the other person’s point of view. Ask yourself: What are they feeling and why? Pause often in a conversation and try to understand. Most importantly, what is being communicated behind the words?

3. When there’s tension, love harder.

When there’s tension, what can you do to make the relationship stronger instead of putting it under more stress? Tension is not always a bad thing. It is like a warning bell telling you that something needs to change. Rather than expecting others to change, try to see what you can do.

What happens when you have had a bad day at work and you come home to a partner who has also had a tough day? Are you kind to one another? More often than not you have an argument simply because both of you are tired and irritated. If kids are also in the equation, it can be even more hectic. Dinnertime can be the cause of indigestion! So be kind. And remember, your attitudes and thoughts are even more important than the words you say.

4. Speak sweetly.

When the inner state is calm, speech will also be calm. Cultivate the way you speak so that your voice flows like nectar, in a soothing way without harshness or an edge. People will enjoy listening to you when you speak sweetly.

5. Make it a practice to think through the ways you’ve messed up.

At bedtime, take a minute to close your eyes and feel sorry for anything you have done to hurt others, even unknowingly. There is no need to feel guilty; just promise yourself you will not do it again. You will then sleep with a clearer, lighter conscience.

All of us want healthy, happy, fulfilling relationships—we just need the skills to let them happen. Life is not about running away from problems but facing them head-on with a cheerful and peaceful attitude. Much of the work of creating a long-lasting relationship actually starts with doing the inner work first.

5 Ways To Make Your Relationship More Romantic, So Get Ready To Swoon

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Relationships, like all things, change with time. And while there are many beautiful things about a long-term commitment to someone, keeping the spark alive can sometimes be challenging. After all, when you settle into a routine together, it’s not quite so simple to shake things up and retain that element of surprise. Don’t fret, though — there are plenty of ways to make your relationship more romantic, as long as you’re both creative and resourceful.

I checked in with the experts to get their thoughts on this, and their advice did not disappoint. “Our partner needs to know that we value them and that they have a vital role in our life,” says Susan Winter, relationship expert. “From this foundation of appreciation and gratitude, romantic feelings grow with abundance.” If you want to show your partner how much you care, one of the best things you can do is add some intrigue back into your lives. There’s something about a passionate, romantic evening together that electrifies your chemistry and reminds you why you chose one another. And it doesn’t have to be any huge gesture — even small changes can make a big difference! When you’re ready to get more intimate with bae, put these tips to use and watch your bond deepen in a beautiful way.

1. ACKNOWLEDGE THE SMALL THINGS

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“We tend to underestimate the impact of phrases such as, ‘Thank you,’ and, ‘I really appreciate what you’ve done for me,'” Winter says. When your SO does something you’re grateful for, like buying you flowers or cleaning your room, let them know. After couples have been together for an extended period, it’s easy to forget to thank one another for small daily actions. But according to Winter, “kindness and appreciation are powerful aphrodisiacs.” You don’t have to make huge changes in your routine to make each other feel special — just express your love in little ways!

2. RECREATE YOUR FIRST DATE

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When you’re in a rut and your time together starts to feel monotonous, bring back a special memory you both share. “Break that cycle by randomly recreating your first date at home,” says Clarissa Silva, behavioral scientist. “Candles, rose petals, dinner, movie, anything that can recreate that first date.” Or, try reminiscing in the actual place you first went out together! Think back to that time when you were first getting to know one another, and when everything felt exciting and scary and new. You’ll both be able to look back with fondness and also to see how far your relationship has come.

3. GO ON A TRIP TOGETHER

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If you’re both craving a weekend out of town, consider taking a vacation — maybe even a couple’s retreat. “Not only will you learn new skills for enhancing communication, managing conflict, a renewed sense of commitment to one another, and deepening intimacy. But you also have a built-in vacation filled with romantic settings, dinners, and relaxation,” Silva explains. Sometimes, getting out of your shared space and into a new location can help you feel rejuvenated and more in love.

4. SIGN UP TO HELP A CAUSE YOU BOTH CARE ABOUT

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Shula Melamed, relationship and well-being coach, says that couples who try new activities together end up happier in the long run. “Maybe sign up for a course or cause that requires that the two of you to learn, create, or show up for something you both can be passionate about,” she suggests. If you have a shared love for something, it’ll bring you closer together, and it also gives you something fresh to talk about. Doing good for the world and doing good for your relationship? It’s a win-win.

5. COMMIT TO HAVING FUN TOGETHER

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No matter what you do, the most important thing is that you’re enjoying each other’s company. “Couples who play and explore with each other report higher relationship satisfaction,” Melamed says. “So the ‘work’ that goes into maintaining long-term committed relationships might be more depended on ‘play.’” The human brain responds positively to new experiences, so the more creative you can be, the more fun you’ll have together. Try to make a habit of trying something new together at least once per month! This helps you build a bank of shared memories together that will keep the romance alive.

Try to remember that even on days when you feel bored or out of touch with each other, you both chose this relationship for a reason. When you can reframe your brain to remind yourself, “I choose you,” you’ll be more thankful for your partner and more confident in your love. And at the end of the day, a box of chocolates and bouquet of roses never hurt anyone… so get cheesy with it and have a little fun.

Here’s How To Determine Exactly What You Want In A Relationship

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Image by Trinette Reed / Stocksy
In her new book Joy From Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend, clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., distinguishes between destructive fear and constructive fear. The former is the kind that immobilizes you and keeps you trapped in a stagnant or reactive way of living; the latter involves acknowledging your driving inner needs and using that knowledge as a catalyst for change, adaptation, and growth. We love the way Dr. Manly applies this dual understanding of fear to our relationships. In this excerpt, she guides us through how to get real about what we’re seeking when we connect with others and how to shift relationships bound by fear.

The essential qualities that are prized by some may not be prized by others. By acknowledging this truth, an objective and honest attitude can be maintained; different people will simply value different things. Destructive fear might want you to have a black-and-white mindset geared toward believing that there is one “right” list of essential qualities. It might also tempt you into believing that it’s not important to know or understand one’s essential qualities. Constructive fear would say, “A few key values such as integrity, honesty, respect, and kindness are essential for any true relationship. Beyond such basics, let your wise self be your guide. A vital element of self-awareness is the nonjudgmental knowing and cherishing of what is important to you. In this way, you can understand and honor what you find essential. Without self-awareness, you are constricted and bound by the beliefs you unconsciously adopted throughout life—going whatever way you might be led. Through self-reflection, you gain awareness of your own personal values and needs.” Armed with the wisdom of self-awareness, you can then take actions that lead you closer to your values. In this way, you evolve consciously, moving ever forward with the power of transformational fear.

The first step, then, is to generate awareness of one’s unique conception of essential qualities. As an individual becomes more self-aware, a personal “list” of essential qualities can be used both to form and to guide relationships. A firm understanding of one’s essential qualities allows for the open and honest communication of these essential needs to others. The more important the relationship is, the more critical it is to have a meeting of the minds and spirits on the necessary qualities for that relationship; when a relationship is more peripheral or less significant, there is often greater leeway. When it comes to core, true relationships, these precious connections tend to thrive when both individuals value and offer the same essential qualities. When one person lacks a quality that the other person finds absolutely essential, the relationship often suffers. When many key qualities are missing, disaster often results.

What is a “relationship,” anyway?

Image by Trinette Reed / Stocksy

The word relationship carries many connotations—it means different things to different people. Therefore, it is often helpful to look at the roots of a word to regain a true and deeper sense of the original meaning. The “-ship” portion of the word relationshipindicates a state or condition, whereas “relate” stems from the Latin re, which means “back or again,” coupled with lātus, which means “borne, carried, or endured.” As such, it may be that a relationship is a state where those involved return to each other to bear, carry, and endure. This interpretation resonates with me deeply, for society uses the word “relationship” so loosely that it can become almost meaningless. Like the word “friend,” the word “relationship” has come to include those to whom we feel little or no trusting connection. Yet people are somehow surprised and left wondering what is “wrong” when a sense of trust or bonded intimacy is missing. They find themselves confused, hurt, and angry when disrespected and even betrayed.

What is missing—what has gone awry—is that many “relationships” do not involve bearing, carrying, and enduring the journey of life. Far too many relationships do well in good times and when immediate needs for companionship, sex, fun, or money are being met, but when it comes to weathering life’s truths, challenges, and deepening intimacy, the relationship has little or no strength. These generally superficial associations, which are often mere infatuations or connections of convenience, lack the essential elements that allow for bonded, lasting love. Many such connections are consciously or unconsciously built on the theme of “I’ll use you just as much as you use me.” Sadly, such situations are the breeding grounds of destructive fear—they perpetuate negative behaviors and throw mud on the concept of loving connection and growth. Indeed, a “relationship” formed or continued on a lack of integrity—disrespect, dishonesty, manipulation, and the like—is not a true relationship. “Convenienceships” is the term I have coined for such connections.

Here’s how to determine your “essential qualities” for true relationships.

These next exercises may be challenging, for they require substantial introspection, self-honesty, and nonjudgment. Allow yourself to proceed with a patient, gentle attitude. Remember that it is normal to feel uncomfortable at times in the course of self-reflection, yet as with any self-exploration, objective honesty is essential. When you are open to gentle reflection on your old patterns and ways of being, the strong arm of destructive fear has no choice but to slowly release its grip. Indeed, our most amazing improvements come as a result of noticing and attending to the areas where destructive fear has silently grown and festered. Now is your opportunity to shine conscious awareness and healing light into this area of your life. Listen for the friendly, nonjudgmental voice of constructive fear; let this voice be your guide and ally as you move into another realm of transformation.

As with every exercise, make certain that you are in a safe and relaxed environment and that you feel psychologically ready to proceed. With your notebook and pen by your side, take a deep breath. If you feel destructive fear stepping in at any time, simply notice that it is present. When you are ready to proceed without judgment, allow yourself to envision the idea of a true relationship. Close your eyes if it is helpful. Imagine every quality that is important to you in a true relationship. When you are finished, open your eyes. Make a list of the qualities you noticed; your list can be as exhaustive as you desire. When you have finished your list, pause to breathe.

In this next segment, place an E (to signify “essential”) next to every item that is essential to you; these are the traits that you find absolutely nonnegotiable in your true relationships. For example, a short list might read: integrous, honest, loyal, generous, playful, loving, tolerant, fun-loving, creative, respectful, kind, and tender. You may find yourself marking every quality on the list with an E. You may, however, find that you are led to mark relatively few items with an E. Allow the process to unfold without judgment. When you have finished, pause to breathe. The items marked with an E constitute your list of essential qualities. Make notes of any thoughts that come to mind. Breathe.

In this next phase, take a fresh look at your complete list of qualities—your personal outline of the qualities you find important for a true relationship. Pause to breathe. Then place an O (signifying “personal ownership”) next to every quality that is something you embrace and honor in your own life. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect in embodying these qualities—what is vital is that you honor your essential qualities and strive to hone them in your life. Destructive fear might step in with criticism or judgment; simply notice if it does. Allow constructive fear to guide you into honestly evaluating the characteristics that you actively strive to treasure and embody. When you have finished, pause to breathe.

Next, take objective notice of the items that have both an E and an O. Take note of those items that only have an O and no E or vice versa. For example, for an individual who values and embodies honesty as an essential trait, an E and an O would both appear. Yet even an exceedingly honest person may not demand honesty in relationships; in such a case, only an O would appear next to the word honest. On the other hand, an individual may demand honesty from others yet may not be honest in relationships with others and with the self. In this instance, only an E would appear next to the word honest. Once you have reviewed your E and O markings, pause to breathe. Make notes of any thoughts that come to mind. Breathe again.

In this next step, simply make a separate list of your essential qualities. Every item marked with an E will become part of this list. In the course of completing the above exercises, you may notice that you want to add or delete items from this list. Feel free to make any changes you find important. Ultimately, you will have a list—short or long—of your essential qualities. This list has the potential to be a most vital guide and ally in your life.

Finally, prepare to ask yourself five important questions with clarity and honesty. If destructive fear steps in with judgment or criticism, simply notice its presence. If discomfort, irritation, or other feelings arise, allow yourself to notice the feelings. Allow yourself to feel the kind, gentle wisdom of constructive fear. Allow yourself to remember that constructive fear wants to help you obtain wellness, fulfillment, peace, and joy. Pause to breathe. Now, ask yourself these five questions:

  1. Am I searching for qualities in another person that I do not have within myself?
  2. If so, am I willing to do the work necessary to engender these qualities in myself?
  3. Am I accepting a relationship with someone who does not have the qualities I find essential?
  4. If so, am I willing to talk to this person about my needs with honesty and dignity?
  5. If the other person is unwilling or unable to honor my essential needs, am I willing to walk away?

Write out your responses to each question. You need to do nothing but allow yourself to process your responses at your own pace. Pause to breathe. You are doing excellent work. Well done.

Adapted from Joy From Fear: Create the Life of Your Dreams by Making Fear Your Friend by Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., Reprinted with permission.

What To Know If You’re Dating Someone With Depression

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The helplessness of watching someone you care about experience dark thought patterns, hold themselves in such a negative light and often distance themselves from you can, in turn, make you feel like you’re not good enough.

I mean, you might be an absolute berk, but if you care enough to read this then chances are it’s really not you and it’s really not them; it’s their depression.

‘I was with my ex boyfriend when I got diagnosed with depression and anxiety,’ Sarah* tells Metro.co.uk. ‘At first, he was supportive and helped me to research mental health, treatment, and counselling. This was new for both of us so we were both struggling to understand what was happening.

‘However, within a few weeks he didn’t understand why I wasn’t doing ‘better’, because I’d started taking medication and had had a few weeks away from work.

‘He didn’t seem to understand me when I told him I wasn’t able to get out of bed, how I couldn’t even shower some days, and how I felt so low.

‘His messages of support and love soon felt hollow and were replaced with emotional blackmail; HE needed me. HE was lonely. HE felt abandoned.

‘I had to break up with him […] he was making me feel 100% worse. It was probably one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make.’ If you’re currently with someone who’s depressed, you might be able to relate to Sarah’s ex-boyfriend.

It’s easy (and understandable, so try not to feel like a crappy partner if this applies to you) to blame yourself for your other half’s mental health struggles, or to get cranky about how they ‘put on a show’ for everyone else, and then with you they’re always silent, retreating to bed or simply not engaging.

Chris* told me that before he knew his girlfriend was depressed, he was convinced she was always annoyed at him and that he was letting her down. (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk) ‘But as soon as she told me that she’d started to take antidepressants I realised that she wasn’t being moody, she was ill,’

Chris says. ‘She wasn’t locking herself up in our room because she hated me, it’s because she needed time to herself because her depression was flaring up.’ Look, depression has a different effect on everyone unfortunate enough to be encased in it. I cannot in any way speak for everyone suffering, but as someone who has been very ill with it before I can say that from my experience, depression makes you fairly self involved; it doesn’t occur to you that your partner or friend may be wondering how they can help, or be feeling like you’re shutting them out.

It would never cross your mind that anyone else is interested in why you’re feeling or behaving a certain way. When it was at its worst for me, depression essentially turned me into a narcissistic teenager, oblivious of anyone else. So don’t be afraid to ask your partner questions, because they’re unlikely to present any answers to you unprompted. Sandra Dean from Counselling Directory agrees: ‘For example, if it seems that your partner is making more of a problem of something than you think necessary (referred to as catastrophising), instead of saying “I think you’re overreacting”, ask why they feel the way they do about it. ‘Someone [with depression] can over-think things or may need more time to do things, or seem confused. ‘If you take time to ask questions, you can learn to empathise and thus help them to be themselves, and not worried to show or tell you what they are going through. ‘Acceptance is key in any relationship, so if you can both be yourselves and if you are compatible, there can be a lot of fun to be had. Look for compatibility as you would with any person.’ How your partner is feeling is in no way under your control, and is unlikely to be your fault (if you’re reading this piece then all evidence suggests you do actually care, bless your heart). MORE: HEALTH What is binge eating disorder? Three best friends pose together in their underwear to celebrate their stoma bags Disabled woman risks her life by doing yoga Obviously every couple is different – as is every experience of depression – but a good place to start is to do your own research into depression and mental health, and to take Sandra’s advice, I’d say. Simply asking someone what they need from you or how you can support them can make a huge difference, as can a heads up from your partner if they’re feeling far from 10/10. ‘I do struggle with my girlfriend’s depression,’ says Chris. ‘It’s stressful not knowing who I’m coming home to. ‘I told her this and we talked about having some kind of signal, so she started to use a raincloud emoji when she was feeling her worst and cancelling on plans, or to symbolise in advance that she would be in bed when I got home. ‘It’s such a small thing but it’s made it a little easier to manage for both of us.’ The poo emoji will probably work just as well. What works for Chris and his girlfriend won’t work for every couple, but it all ultimately comes down to compatibility, as Sandra highlights. If you’re prepared to learn about the condition and empathise with your partner’s struggles – as, say, you would if they were suffering from a broken rib – then evidence suggests you guys will be ok.

 

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2019/03/02/know-dating-someone-depression-8792369/?ito=cbshare

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7 Ways Couples Can Practice Self-Care Together

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Self-care is often defined by taking a step away from loved ones to focus entirely on yourself. But carving out moments for well-being doesn’t always necessarily have to be a solo routine. In fact, practicing self-care rituals with your partner has double the reward: Not only are you reaping the individual benefits, but you are also deepening your relationship and connection as a couple. Past research has shown engaging in personal-growth-related activities as a couple actually makes the relationship more satisfying andimproves one’s sex life. (A pretty sweet bonus!)

Here are seven ways to incorporate “couple’s care” together, as recommended by self-care experts:

1. Set aside time each day to talk about your goals together.

Setting and reviewing goals on a regular basis is generally a great way to make sure you’re always working toward your long-term vision for your life, and it can be a great way to feel in control of your present and future. Sharing this habit with your partner, however, can make you all the more efficient and dedicated to those goals because you have someone holding you accountable. Moreover, setting goals together lets your partner know what your vision is and allows your partner the opportunity to be your biggest support system, which in turn creates intimacy.

“You can work on setting your goals together, or set them separately and then share,” says certified life coach Melissa Snow. “This invites conversation about what they are excited about, what their fears are, and how you can help.”

When your partner is involved in your personal development, you’ll feel that much more connected to each other and able to understand each other in much deeper, more nuanced ways.

2. Always have a project you’re working on together.

Whether refinishing a dresser, picking out photos for a new family collage, or practicing a foreign language together, always having a project or hobby in motion allows for a sense of accomplishment as a team. Not to mention, it pulls you away from the habit of plopping down on the couch with Netflix.

“Learning something new is fun, and it also keeps the brain active,” says mindset coach Melissa Wolak. “When you share a project together as a couple, it cultivates teamwork but also an experience where you can learn together, create something new, and you laugh at mistakes.”

3. Read a personal development book together.

Sometimes, to overcome an obstacle or work toward a common goal, outside guidance provides a fresh perspective that a couple can learn together. Reading is a great way to reduce stress and build new skills, and sharing that experience together allows couples to bond over new materials at the same time.

“Reading provides new intellectual stimulation and a conversation topic outside of work and home life,” said Wolak. “On the cognitive side, reading, remembering the details, and discussing the book together are great brain exercises.”

And just imagine how sweet it is to read in bed with your partner.

4. Research your next vacation.

When the going gets tough, you can always daydream about your next getaway–and talking about it with your loved one can make that daydreaming even sweeter.

Whether a staycation, weekend getaway, or monthlong backpacking stint across Europe, life coach Vicky Shilling recommends physically writing down the plans and brainstorms in a notebook to make them more of a reality. “Many of us learn and are stimulated visually and absorb information much better when it’s visually presented,” she says. “Keeping a notebook with your plans will ensure you’re both creating the holiday you want, seeing a combined plan of where you’ll be going and what you’ll be doing so no one is disappointed. Writing down your brainstorms also means you’re not going back to square one every time you discuss it!”

Shilling also adds that keeping your notes will be a great memento, which you can build into a travel journal or scrapbook after your trip.

5. Sit back-to-back and breathe.

Meditation is a tried-and-true way of soothing the mind, finding inner balance, and releasing negative emotions. “When couples take the time and make the commitment to share their meditation practice, they strengthen their relationship and improve their overall well-being,” says executive wellness coach Naz Beheshti. Meditating together also helps an individual become more in touch with their intuition, which can allow them to become more in touch with their partner’s needs without anything being said.

Pick a time, either early morning or just before bed, to sit as a couple and breathe or meditate together. Feeling this stillness as one is powerful. Beheshti recommends a back-to-back position, which allows couples to easily synchronize their breathing because of the physical contact.

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6. Get outside.

While it may be hard to coordinate a trip to the gym together, couples can usually find the time to move their bodies by strolling around the neighborhood. While the endorphins are great, they’re actually the bonus in this situation. Simply being outside has been found to ease stress, as nature has a way of keeping incessant thoughts at bay. Research suggests it can be a particularly connective experience for couples, with the potential to boost trust and even arousal.

“Regardless of whether you have a dog to exercise, getting outside together is an ideal opportunity to combine exercise and fresh air,” said Karen Tindall, a certified life coach in Arkansas. “It creates a time when you can have undistracted conversations away from technology and prying ears of family.”

7. Express gratitude.

Research suggests even thinking about gratitude can have a positive impact, but writing it down can even help you sleep better and aids in reducing depression. When you’re more aware of the things you’re thankful for, you tend to be more mindful of them as they happen throughout the day (“This makes me happy; I’m going to write it in my journal tonight”), thus making your daily gratitude more apparent in your life.

While many people keep gratitude journals, it’s more commonly an individual practice. But why not share this beautiful habit with your partner? Adding this to your regular routine allows for the chance to communicate with your partner in a sometimes vulnerable way.

Marriage and family therapist Erica Basso recommends writing down three things you love about your partner and three things you’re grateful for that you’ve noticed them do recently; then share them with your partner to turn that gratitude into a shared experience. You can do this weekly or even daily.

Everyone needs a little self-care in their week, and bringing your partner into these practices can be a great way to not only share these benefits with another person but to create the added bonus of creating intimacy—which is itself something that will improve your well-being. So the next time you’re carving out a date night, consider incorporating activities that do both: allow for a sense of closeness and personal wellness.

What Women Find The Most Attractive In Men, According To Science

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Straight men have pondered the answer to this not-so-simple question since the beginning of time: what do women want? The answer will not be found in a Mel Gibson rom-com, but it might be lurking in a research paper.

Science is doing its best to solve the age-old puzzle of the female brain. Scores of experiments have attempted to name things women find attractive in men, with varying degrees of success. The studies are often small, and rely on iffy self-reported feelings for results, but at worst they provide food for thought, and at best they offer real insight that could take you from dud to Don Juan.

Here are six science-backed traits that women find irresistible.

Good Looks, But Only Sometimes

Take the abs of Matthew McConaughey, the biceps of Chris Hemsworth, and the flowing locks of young Brad Pitt, and you have the perfect man – right? Physical attractiveness can be a factor, but it’s not as important as you might think. Study after study after study has confirmed that while women choose better looking guys for flings, they fall for other qualities for long-term relationships.

A Sense Of Humour

Ask a woman what she like in her partner and she’ll almost always say “He makes me laugh.” It’s not news that ladies love a man who can tickle their funny bone, but science helps explain why. One study found that a good sense of humour is sexually attractive because it reveals intelligence, creativity, and other ‘good genes’ or ‘good parent’ traits.

A Furry Friend

No, it’s not just a stereotype – women really do love men with dogs. Studies suggest that dogs facilitate social interaction between humans. Another experiment found that dog ownership can increase the long-term attractiveness of men, as it indicates the ability to nurture and suggests tendencies for relationship commitment.

Risk-Taking

Time to brush up on your CPR and sky-diving skills. A studyconfirmed the prediction that women would prefer physical risk-takers (brave, athletic, fit) over risk-avoiders as long-term mates, but only if the risk was taken during an altruistic act. Another experiment discovered that modern risks are considered unattractive for either sex, while risks that harken back to our hunter-gather history are attractive when undertaken by men.

Altruism

study published in The Journal of Social Psychology observed that both males and females significantly preferred altruistic mates for long-term relationships, and the size of this preference was greater than for other traits in mate choice. Women are especially likely to choose a mate based on his tendency for prosocial behaviour.

Wearing Red

Last but not least, one that doesn’t require a complete personality overhaul or the commitment of owning a pet: wearing red can make you more attractive to women, according to research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. A man sporting the vibrant hue is perceived as better looking, more sexually desirable, and higher status.

If I could talk to my 16-year-old self, what would I say to her? I’d tell her that she eventually escapes that toxic relationship, but it sadly takes her years to leave. I’d tell her this to give her hope and motivate her to say something sooner. I’d tell her to speak up, to find […]

via Escaping An Abusive Relationship — The Healthy Mindset Project

5 Times It’s OK to Take a Break From Your Partner

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When you first start dating—or you first get married—it ’s totally natural to have this shared energy, this idea that you want to take on the world as a team. And you should! One of the best parts of being in a committed relationship is having someone to support you, to help you, and be on your side. But that understanding can sometimes lead to a pressure—to this idea that you and your partner should always be together. And that’s not the case.

Independence is great for a relationship. Not just in the sense that you should have your own hobbies in your own friends, but also because sometimes you just need a break from your partner. That’s OK—in fact, taking a little time out occasionally can keep your relationship happy and healthy. When we talk about breaks, that doesn’t mean you need to move out for a week, it can be as simple as taking a bath, going for a walk and a coffee on your own, or a weekend away with other people who are important to you.

Does the idea of taking some time for yourself make you feel guilty? Here are some of the times when it’s definitely OK to take a little breather, because taking some time apart can actually make you so much stronger together.

When You Feel Like You’re Losing Your Sense of Self

One big sign that you should take a break from your partner is that you feel like you’re losing grip on who you are. Maybe you’ve been doing lots of coupley things or only spending time with theirpeople. Maybe you’ve been at home with kids or you’ve been focused on how stressed out their job is and trying to help. If you ever find that your needs have been completely shifted to one side and you feel like you’re just part of a couple—rather than a person—you need a break. Taking one afternoon a weekend for yoga and coffee with friends will do the trick or maybe you need to just go away for a few days and get back in touch with what you want. Reclaiming your sense of self now can make your relationship so much better in the long run.

When Someone You Care About Needs You

Even though your relationship with your partner may be the primary relationship in your life, it’s not the only relationship. It’s so important to nurture and maintain relationships with other people, whether that’s your close friends or your family. So if someone needs you—if you have a sick relative, if you have a friend who’s struggling—taking a few days to be there for them is totally acceptable. When you’re in a relationship, especially a marriage, it’s easy to let all of these other relationships fade into the background, but keeping them alive helps make you a stronger, more well-rounded person.

When You’re Getting on Each Other’s Nerves

No, you’re not imagining it—sometimes your partner is really, really annoying. You know why? Because sometimes everyone on the planet is really, really annoying. A good sign that you and your partner need a little more space is if you’re starting to find each other irritating or difficult. Spending too much time together can mean you start seeing all of the tiny, nit-picky things that are wrong with each other and you stop seeing why you love each other so much in the first place. Either find more time in the course of your normal schedule to take breaks from each other or decide to take a weekend with friends and reset. They’ll seem a lot less annoying when you get back.

When You’re Questioning the Relationship

Occasionally, we start to question our relationship completely. Now, sometimes this is just a totally normal, momentary worry—something that you shouldn’t stress about. But if you find yourself constantly questioning the relationship and really wondering if it’s the right relationship for you, then you may need to take a break. If you’re spending lots of time with your partner, you can’t get the perspective that you need to decide whether or not the relationship is actually working. Taking some time away will let you approach the issue with a clear head.

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When You’re In a Stalemate

Sometimes, you hit a relationship roadblock that it can feel impossible to move past. Maybe one of you has an opportunity for a new job that means moving to a different city—and you’re split on whether or not to take it. Maybe you’ve reached a disagreement in wedding planning that you can’t seem to move past. If you’re having the same argument over and over and not getting anywhere, call a timeout. Take some space from each other to really consider the issue—from the other person’s point of view as well as your own—and then come back together. You need to start the conversation afresh for it to be constructive.

Taking a break from your partner doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Sometimes, there may be a big issue at play—like questioning your relationship—but sometimes you may just need a break because you’ve been spending too much time together or you’re missing your friends. If your relationship is strong, then taking little breaks is just a way to come back even stronger, with each partner feeling more in touch with themselves and what they care about. Don’t be afraid to make sure both of your needs are being met—because two happy people make a happy relationship.

 

How To Let Go Of Relationship Baggage, According To Psychologists

Author Article

As people say, sometimes your past comes back to haunt you.

About five years ago I met someone we’ll call Josh via Tinder. He was charismatic and smart, and I was new to New York and desperate for something stable. As our relationship progressed, red flags sprung up, but I was too manipulated by his charm. He became extremely unreliable and would gaslight me into thinking I was just being overly emotional during our fights—even though he did extreme things like kicking me out of his apartment late at night and even cheated on me. I finally ended the relationship when he became physical during a nasty fight. To put it simply, those 10 months were a roller coaster so insane it would put Six Flags to shame.

Even though I haven’t had contact with the guy for years, the anxiety and pain from that experience still festers up inside of me each time I start to see a new guy. Will he be just like Josh? Will I not realize it until I’m knee-deep in it again? Or is this all just me? My heartbeat quickens whenever a guy’s behavior even remotely reminds me of Josh, and at its worst, I can spiral or pick a fight with my new partner when I perceive any even slight similarities. My relationship with him has somehow put a negative filter over any new relationships I’ve created.

Emotional baggage is the intangible but very real emotional weight we carry due to unresolved issues or traumas from previous relationships or childhood, according to Chicago-based clinical psychologist John Duffy. Until we face these issues, we’ll most likely bring our baggage into each new relationship.

“When a previous partner did something that your body perceived as a threat to security, your body will often have an emotional reaction, which is known as a trauma response,” Jessie Leader, a Minneapolis-based marriage and family therapist, tells me. It’s comforting to know how I’m feeling is a physiologically appropriate response. “Your body is trying to keep you safe and will prompt you to fight, run, or freeze from the threat.”

It’s normal for traumatic relationships to have such an impact on someone’s life. A 2011 study examined 63 intimate partner violence survivors and their mental health needs and found they have significant associations with post-traumatic stress disorder, including feelings like shame and guilt-related distress.

Tired of letting my bad memories make me feel ashamed or afraid—and thus tucking them away into the back of my brain—I’m starting to think of them as a chance to reflect, heal, and grow in my new relationship. Besides, everyone has baggage in some form or another.

“It is your job to be curious and explore why it happened and process feelings associated with the hurt,” Leader says. “It isn’t about letting go, rather about having a better relationship with this part of you.”

Here’s how to begin this process of healing and acceptance, according to psychologists and therapists:

1. Purge.
While getting pampered at the salon is always a nice way to practice self-care, getting a new haircut doesn’t mean you’ll instantly forget about your previous relationship. That being said, physical changes actually can help to some degree, explains Massachusetts-based psychological counselor Morella Devost. They can help you “remap your subconscious mind” as you create a new life, she says. So feel free to get a new hairstyle or rearrange your furniture—whatever helps you change the energy of your environment and feel like you’re on the cusp of a fresh start.

Additionally, it can be very helpful to get rid of all reminders of the toxic relationship, like pictures or gifts, she says. It’s especially constructive to discard this “visible baggage,” not only because it’s triggering to look at but because the very act of tossing it out can be powerful to the subconscious mind. In other words, purging your physical space can help you purge your mental space.

For me, it was so liberating to dispose of anything and everything that reminded me of Josh. Give those items a new start by donating whatever you can and throwing away the rest.

2. Open up with trust.
Since my relationship with Josh, I told maybe a total of two guys about what I went through. I was afraid it would sound like I had brought the entire thing on myself or that I was lying about such an extreme experience. So I kept it to myself—and let it consume me. For example, when my current partner Brendan showed up late to my apartment a few times, I found myself feeling frustrated and anxious because it reminded me of when Josh would leave me waiting for him for hours past our meeting time and without so much as a text.

“If you find yourself doubting your partner’s commitment, ability, or intent—consider how you might be activated by past hurt,” Leader says. “Then compare this to current evidence from your partner’s actions. Maybe you find that your partner is showing up in many ways, but your hurt from the past relationship is blinding your ability to see it.” (If they’re not, then this is the time to have a conversation about that.)

It was getting to the point where I felt like I had to let Brendan know why just showing up late bothered me so much. Leader encourages opening up to our partners about our past if we fully trust them.

“You can be compassionate with yourself and current partner by being explicit about past hurt and how trauma responses show up in an irrational way,” she said. “If this part of your story is named, then you can team up against this insecurity. If your partner is able and willing, they can use awareness to be more sensitive about how they show up. Awareness will help them notice actions that might make you feel insecure, scared, or distrusting.”

3. Focus on you.
The most important person in unpacking your emotional baggage isn’t the perpetrator or your new partner (no matter how awesome they are). It’s you.

“A toxic relationship can undermine your self-esteem and leave you with new limiting beliefs about yourself, about the nature of relationships, and about life that you didn’t have before the relationship,” Devost says. The best way to tackle these consequences is by working with a professional who has experience in trauma and PTSD. It’s vital that you take the time you need to fully process what happened and to let your wounds heal.

On top of that, you should look into simple practices like affirmations, deep self-care, and journaling. The beauty of these exercises is that you can turn to them whenever you feel triggered and overwhelmed. Devost especially recommends journaling because it can help you sort out your thoughts and feelings about the relationship and yourself. Some questions to ask yourself:

Who are you blaming?
What needs to heal?
What can you learn from yourself about the experience?
Although I don’t journal that regularly, I’ve found it cathartic to write down my thoughts while listening to one of my favorite playlists. Getting my thoughts out on paper is like transferring my spirals onto something more tangible and out of my system.

Healing from my relationship with Josh hasn’t been easy, and it isn’t entirely over. It’s a process in which I’m learning more about myself both alone and with a partner. As each day passes, I find myself growing more into the person who I know deserves all the love they can get. I find myself no longer ashamed of what happened and instead proud of myself for not letting it define me.

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What Are the Signs of Damaged Emotions?

Author Article
Healthy emotions are vital for well-being and harmonious relationships. Emotional damage can occur as a result of mental illness, trauma or a combination of both factors, and may impair a person’s ability to form relationships and handle everyday stressors. Learning to recognize the signs of damaged emotions allows you to identify problems sooner and alter the behaviors that perpetuate them.

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Trust Issues
While blind trust can be dangerous in some situations, an inability to trust loved ones can be a sign of emotional damage. According to AT Health, children who are abandoned by their parents often experience trust issues in adulthood, making it difficult to form close interpersonal relationships.

Lack of trust can result from painful past experiences, including acts of betrayal. Examples of situations that could trigger trust issues include abandonment as a child, romantic infidelity or a variety of forms of dishonesty.

Low Self-Esteem
Self-esteem refers to the way in which people view themselves and their worth. Low self-esteem can result from internal sources like mental health conditions or external causes like bullying. The “New York Times” lists low self-esteem as a common symptom of depression.

Signs of low self-esteem include shyness, anxiety about one’s appearance or competence, feelings of worthlessness and unnecessary guilt or shame. It’s possible to use positive affirmations to help raise self-esteem by reaffirming positive attributes.

Anger and Aggression
While unpleasant, anger is a natural emotional response that can be useful when channeled effectively. When managed improperly, anger is capable of tearing apart relationships and leading to frequent altercations between individuals.

Inappropriate anger can masquerade as jealousy, manipulation, suspicion or passive-aggressiveness. If allowed to continue unchecked, anger may even deteriorate into verbal or physical abuse. Long-term suppression of unpleasant emotions like anger can lead to inappropriate behaviors, reinforcing the need to handle anger as it arises.

Self-Destructive Behavior
Emotional damage often manifests as self-destructive or self-defeating behavior. Eating disorders, substance abuse and self-mutilation are examples of self-destructive behavior.

According to the American Humane Association, destructive behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse, suicide attempts and withdrawal can all result from emotional abuse.

Treatment Options
Many options exist for healing emotional damage. Counseling or group therapy can help patients work through unpleasant emotions and get to the heart of their issues. Trained mental health professionals offer solutions by teaching patients stress management techniques and coping skills to help deal with daily problems. When emotional damage affects married couples or families, couples counseling and family therapy may be helpful.

In cases of mental illness, medications like antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs may be prescribed in conjunction with talk therapy.

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