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Changes in a Life ~ 2

Love, Lovers, Friends & Friendship & their Relationships ~ 2

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Friends & Friendship ~ Relationships ~ 2
 
We choose our lovers and friends to mirror our souls development.

blisstattoo.jpg

 Age is but a notch on the tree of life. Does it really matter that I have more than he.
 We are all on a spiritual path. We choose lovers, friends and family to mirror our soul's development.
Partners of different ages can accelerate this growth.
 These diverse emotional experiences are opportunities of a lifetime.
Let's enjoy them.
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ARTICLES WITHIN THIS TOPIC ARE:

 

 1. I HATE YOU: Falling out with friends can be more more  traumatic than a break-up.

 

 2. How to keep friendship?

 3. Friendship is fragile.

 4. The essence of friendship.

 5. What are the real friends?

 6. Everyone needs a few close friends. (many links)

 7. Managing a failed friendship.

 8. People & relationships.

 9. Improving your relationships.

10.When a relationship is ending.

11.Quench your real thrist for lasting relationships.

12.Working out what's best for you.

 

13.Explaining away our relationships-  Does our cravng for an explanation hurt romance?
 

 14.  Friends Or Lovers? How To Tell the Difference in a Budding Romance ~ Some couples make better friends than lovers.

 

15. Is it possible for men and women to be just friends without being romantic?

 

16. Ending a friendship.

17. Why do friendships end?

18. How to end a friendship.

 

19. Ready to Dump a Friend?  Five things to ask yourself first.

 

20. Friends can dump you, just like a lover. And what's left is the vague fart waft of failure.

 

21. Now It's Time to Say Goodbye: Ending Friendships

 

22. How to End Any Relationship Instantly and Permanently

 

23. How to deal with negative people.

24. Communications in relationships.

25. Birds of a feather flock together.

26. Helping a friend who is hurting.

27.  Do's and Don't's of Relationship

 

28.  Learning From All Our Relationships

 

29.  Safe Relationship Spaces

 

30.  * * Make Your Relationship Last ~ A no nonsense down to earth, nuts to bolts article with an A to Z accounting. This is VERY long. Allow time to read it.

 

31.  Bringing Out The Best in Your Relationship

 

32.  Love Vs. Infatuation

 

33.  Maintaining Your Individuality In Love

 

34.  Multiple loves

35.  Rekindling old flames

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I hate you
 
 Falling out with friends can be more traumatic than a break-up.
Fiona Gibson investigates

My bottom lip trembles as I try to finish my Thai meal - my friend and I have argued. She glares at me over her wine glass. I feel like crying and hurrying out of the restaurant. It's much like arguing with a partner. Correction: it's far worse than that.

Other friends merely drift away when our lives take different paths. We figure out ways to avoid them. We book them in for a Monday night drinks (if we must) then cancel, rearrange, and invent migraines. A colleague admits, 'Zoe is my oldest friend; we grew up three doors apart.' Now, at 37 and well past the swapping dolls' clothes stage, Lisa finds Zoe, 'depressing and negative. She makes no secret of the fact that she thinks I have everything - a child, a successful husband, a supposedly great job as a copywriter - and implies that I don't appreciate what I have.' In turn, Lisa finds herself bouncing back by being 'patronising' - reassuring her that she will meet a suitable man, and will get out of her rotten temping job and the exasperation. The friendship faltered further when Lisa had a baby. 'Zoe would fill an entire evening with moans about her boyfriend, who would only allow her to call him on his mobile - and not mention my baby once.'

So Lisa ditched her. Simple as that. She didn't return calls and, when Zoe became persistent, told her she was too busy with the baby to see her for the next few months. Bingo: friend, surplus to requirements, Tip-pexed out of the Filofax.

Sounds harsh? According to Professor Stephen Palmer, Director of the Centre for Stress Management, 'You should ask yourself why you feel so drained after seeing certain friends. Then fix it, or cut them out.' But don't be too ruthless. Professor Palmer adds, 'It's good to have a wide circle of friends - each with different qualities - who aren't too demanding or possessive. In fact, a support system of friends is a good buffer against stress.'

And as for the friend you've argued with - the one you miss terribly? Well, you know her number.

Friendship fall-outs are traumatic. We just don't expect conflict with friends. We love them dearly but don't sleep with them - surely, the perfect recipe for lifelong, tiff-free relationships. And we need these people. Our families are scattered all over the place; in a survey by Red magazine, eight out of ten women admitted that friends are, at least, as important as family. 'People are concerned with keeping up connections,' says Rachel Claire, Senior Consultant at The Henley Centre. 'We lead much more fragmented lives than our parents did. We move around geographically and switch jobs more often - and it's stressful.'

Which may be why we dread falling out with our friends. Back to disastrous night out with best friend: I felt she was picking fault with my thrown-together outfit, making patronising remarks about my non-too-perfect relationship. She implied I was a soft touch. I bit back, immediately on the defensive, tearing chunks out of her relationship too. We left the restaurant, said cool goodbyes - and I hurried home feeling strangely distraught.

In this instance, the friendship survived. I called the following day to tell her how angry I was; she apologised, filling me in on the various factors that had put her in a stinking mood. Sometimes you ask yourself: do I want to remain friends with this person? In this instance, I did (she wasn't usually like this; blame it on men, weather, hormones, British Rail - the usual suspects). But sometimes, a friend is destined for the ex-pile.

Natasha, 33, recalls the day when her friend was promoted over her. 'We had both gone for a more senior position and she'd got it - but that wasn't the reason we fell out. On her first day in her new job, she called me into her office and announced that despite our 10-year friendship, she was boss, I was not, and that things were going to change between us. I felt utterly betrayed and, although I managed to cope on a professional level, our friendship died that day.'

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 How to keep friendship?

It's one thing to start a friendship, it's quite another to maintain it, to keep it, to stay on what Lewis called "the same secret path." Even strong friendships require watering or they shrivel up and blow away. That's why George Bernard Shaw touched an exposed nerve when we read the words he scribbled to his friend Archibald Henderson: "I have neglected you shockingly of late. This is because I have had to neglect everything that could be neglected without immediate ruin, and partly because you have passed into the circle of intimate friends whose feelings one never dreams of considering."

It's so easy to take good friends for granted. And in a sense, we should. Like a comfortable pair of gloves, old friends wear well. But friendships that suffer from busyness and overfamiliarity can't afford to be neglected too long. They need renewal. If you want and need to keep true friendship alive and well, please, consider and think over a list of the most important qualities offered to help you. Probably it will help you to understand why you and your best friend haven't called up for ages, why you're getting embarrassed while being asked "Whom are you going to have fun this weekend with?" Like Shaw, you may neglect your intimate friends from time to time, but if you fail to cultivate these qualities—loyalty, forgiveness, honesty, and dedication—you can't expect to keep true friends.

Loyalty
The quality that tops the list in survey after survey of what people appreciate most about their friends is loyalty - support that you always give to someone because of your feelings of duty and love towards them.

Harry Truman's secretary of state, Dean Acheson, caused quite a stir when he visited his friend Alger Hiss in prison. Hiss was a convicted traitor, and it was bad politics to have any association with him. But when prudent politicians condemned Acheson publicly, Acheson simply said, "A friend does not forsake a friend just because he is in jail." That's loyalty.

The famous maxim that "a friend in need is a friend indeed" is not the entire story of loyalty, however. A friend in triumph may be even harder to find. Isn't it easier to be a savior than a cheerleader for our friends? It takes twenty-four-karat loyalty for a friend to soar alongside us when we are flying high rather than to bring us down to earth. Loyal friends not only lend a hand when you're in need; they applaud your successes and cheer you on without envy when you prosper.

Forgiveness
As important as loyalty is, our friendships don't always have it. Enter forgiveness. Every friend you'll ever have will eventually disappoint you. Count on it. That doesn't mean that every offense of a friend requires forgiveness; some slights need only be overlooked and forgotten. Winston Churchill's mother, Jennie, understood this when she said, "Treat your friends as you do your pictures, and place them in their best light."

Too many good relationships fade because some slight - real or imagined - cancels it out. Some people pout, brood, or blow up if their friend is not speedy enough in returning a phone call or if they are not included in a social event. They set such high standards for the relationship that they're constantly being disappointed. They can't let little things go, every minor lapse becomes a betrayal.

By the way, forgiveness is a two-way street. Unless you are a saint, you are bound to offend - intentionally or unintentionally - every friend deeply at least once in the course of time, and if the relationship survives it will be because your friend forgives, the friends we keep the longest are the friends who forgave us the most. And the essence of true friendship is knowing what to overlook.

Honesty
Honesty is a prerequisite to the true friends' relationship. "Genuine friendship cannot exist where one of the parties is unwilling to hear the truth," says Cicero, "and the other is equally indisposed to speak it." Does this require brutal honesty? Not exactly. It requires honesty that is carefully dealt in the context of respect. In the absence of respect, you see, honesty is a lethal weapon. Perhaps that's what caused Cicero to add, "Remove respect from friendship and you have taken away the most splendid ornament it possesses." Honesty is not only expressed in words; it means being authentic.

True friends aren't afraid to be honest and they aren't afraid to be themselves. True friends follow Emerson's advice: "Better be a nettle in the side of your friend than his echo." Translation: If you are afraid of making enemies, you'll never have true friends.

Dedication
When was the latest you and your best friend met? Dedication refers to the ability of two people to influence each other's plans, thoughts, actions, and emotions, to spend time and effort on friendship, to give up something important or valuable for sake of friendship. Think about it.

Back when you are a kid, the hours spent with friends were too numerous to count. Contemporary life, with its tight schedules and crowded appointment books, however, has forced most friendships into something requiring a good deal of intentionally and pursuit just to keep them going.

Of course, dedication becomes most salient in times of crisis. When a friend's emotional bottoming out, for example, means canceling a date to provide a shoulder of support. That's what friends are for. So don't complain about having fair-weather friends if you are unwilling to be inconvenienced.
Personal sacrifice. Selfless devotion. Commitment. These are the noble qualities dedication requires.
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 Friendship is fragile

Is friendship fragile? It's a really difficult question, please, try to think it over...any ideas?...

On the one hand we should reply NO...friendship is bond for life...we have friends all over the world...all of them are busy...as we are...married...as most of us are...but we still have strong friendship for life...just not see or talk to each other each day...This is mobile society these days, so we can be together in many many different ways...Yes?...For sure.

But on the other hand running through our life we inevitably pass over a lot of changes...and as result we leave behind...give up...lose something...Mostly we regard friendship as a kind of pastime...Stop here and reply the question "When proposely will you have spare time?"...Indeed...We have just calls from time to time...e-mails even more seldom...what to talk about meeting...We should admit and realize that friendships are getting less and less close, geographically or emotionally, and most friendships have gone forever. Very few are strong enough to make us wish for a second chance.

There are times when all of us look closely at a friendship and realize that it just isn't working...and when friendship falters we are rarely equipped for the aftershock. Close friends, after all, often become like siblings - some "closer than a brother." As we make friends feeling soul-mates, like-minded people...FREE of obligations and engagements. But losing a close friend is not at all like losing a family member. We tend not to sorrow the loss of a friend; there is no memorial service for a shattered friendship. Most people don't seek shoulders to cry on to grieve the loss of friends like they do the loss of a family member or a romantic relationship. They don't go to counselors either to heal the relationship or to cope with the loss. Indeed, despite the evident high value so many people put on making friends, there is a surprising lack of focus in popular culture on the processes and feelings at work when friendships end.

Don't we need to repair lost friendship? Or it's just so easy to resolve?...and we just do not need any advices...

How much can you expect from a friend? Why does this question arise? Because your answer is a pretty good barometer of how well your friendships will weather relational storms. Let's face it, we don't ask much of casual friendships, the kind in which you invite each other to a party once a year. But we demand more from friendships characterized by strong feelings and a shared history. We expect friendships to be easier, more automatic than they actually are.

Think about your childhood friendships. They often set the tone for all the rest. You never "worked" on the friendships, they just happened. For example, your first best friend lived just two houses down from you and you literally met in the sandbox at school. The bond was almost instant. He/she liked vanilla ice-cream and building sand castles. So did you. What's to discuss? It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship—until your family moved to another town and you found another sandbox.

Just a few short years later, sandbox bliss was replaced by the tormented, possessive feelings of a third-grade relationship where blatant betrayal reared its head. That's when you learned that your new best friend was playing at another classmate's house after school. Sound familiar? It happens to nearly all of us.

There may be worse betrayals in store, but probably none is more influential than the sudden fickleness of an elementary-school friend who has dropped us for someone more popular. "It shouldn't be that way", we think to ourselves. But alas it is. It's the lesson our friendships continually teach us, a lesson we don't want to learn: Friendships are FRAGILE.

The seeming ease of friendships—compared to romantic and family relationships (more likely loaded with emotional baggage)—is part of the reason we value friendships so much. Relatively speaking, friendships just happen...So...as much easy it happens as easy it falls through???...

Well...the main point here is FREEDOM...It's your will, your decision, your action...Attemt to build a bridge...to reconnect and make things right...call your lost friend...tell him/ her "I don't know what happened between us...but I want to apologize"...sincerity always caughts off guard...apologize both for past insensitivities and laugh and laugh at how comical it all seems in retrospect...It'll be cleansing...you have a good chance...TRY IT...
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 The essence of friendship

Do you enjoy your friendships?...For sure – YES!...But please recollect when you've met your friends recently?...and called up?...and sent e-mail?...Ages and ages ago…


Contemporary life, with its tight schedules and constant lack of time and overloads, just do not give us FREE time for pleasant and interesting relations and meetings…They say: "Friends are thieves of time"…Work and family are considered to be the crucial values of a person's life…These are "MUSTS"…We must and we DO devote our life-time to the things…


Undoubtedly, there is "friendship" in the hot-list of human-life values…But please agree friendship is not the MUST…And this is really the most valuable and important aspect of friendship – FREEDOM…We are FREE here…free to choose time to get into touch with friends…free to choose place where we would love to be with them…free to choose way of spending time…and the best matter of friendship is freedom to be in the company of another person…In SUCH life we need it…We need take a breathe…Freedom…Friendship…

Who are the people whose company do we like sharing ? 
Actually, what most people call their "circle of friends" more closely resembles "a triangle".


The base of the triangle – acquaintances. It is pleasant to be in an Acquaintance's company – he/she gives you sincere cordiality and feeds you with admiration and even more better if it is interesting – there is no need to find any another amusements any more…Well…the acquaintances are PLEASANT if it's the best case and they are NEEDFUL in the worst (if you're upset, they'll cheer you up, low self-confidence – they'll help you to get assertiveness, would like to have fun – you'll get it). 


Then there are "core friends" in the middle. These we know by first name, and we see them somewhat regularly. The essence of the friendships is pleasant USE – expressing our views, reviving spirits, getting support. It's easy to strike up the friendship when your souls are in perfect harmony. "We DO understand each other so easily!"- and you can feel the real soul-mate in the person…


As well here are our Companion-in-arms – the people with whom we have common cause who we NEED for business affairs…probably this is the most worth friends' group…Friendship is  luxury of human intercourse…but what is our reality, what the world where do we live in??? A lot of obligations to be fulfilled, a lot of works to be done SO it's very valuable and useful if we derive support and help from the friendships to deal with all this inevitable burden…Thank you, our Companions… 


At the top of the triangle are intimate friends. These people are closely involved in our lives, and their names are likely engraved on our hearts. Mostly there is ONLY intimate friend in our lives – the BEST friend – as the BEST concerns the unique things only. Here we feel FREE open all our heart sincerely and easily…and we feel FREE to turn to the friend in our hour of need…We are proud of having such friend…Best friend it's who rescues when it's extremely necessary…Savior…Asylum…


So…Please think it over…Who needs friendship most of all?...

Well…Friendship is possible and very precious part of a self-confident and strong people's life…but they do not need friendship and friends seriously.
Learn how to be the Friend…Learn how to be needful and reliable – in such a way you'll be able to help your friends…BUT…from the other hand – you should grow, work for improving yourself so you have need in friends less and less…

You must outlast longing for friendship…as every another weakness.
For sure…there are Childhood and Youth when a person do really NEED friendship…all the young stick together: they feel freer to express themselves, easier to defend…but you should grow up and stand on your own feet…to get STRONG…to live STRONGLY and FREE.
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 What are the real friends?

In the biblical creation story the Creator, having formed the first person, immediately declared our social character: "It is not good that man should be alone." Most of us, most of the time, would rather be with anyone than be alone. And when we compare being with anyone to being with a real friend, there is no comparison. The reasons are endless. Seventeenth-century philosopher Francis Bacon noted two tremendously positive effects of friendship: "It redoubles joys and cuts grief in half." How true. Friends make the ordinary running errands or eating lunch, for example, extraordinarily fun. And good friends ease our pain and lighten our heavy load. They also strengthen us, nurture us, and help us grow. And without our knowing, they can even save our lives. Literally.

There's exciting news about having a kindred spirit these days. Not only are friends good for the soul but for the body as well. Friends help us ward off depression, boost our immune system, lower our cholesterol, increase the odds of surviving with coronary disease, and keep stress hormones in check. Half-dozen top medical studies now bear this out. Their findings didn't seem to be influenced by other conditions or habits such as obesity, smoking, drinking, or exercise. The thing that mattered most was friends. What's more, research is showing that you can extend your life expectancy by having the right kinds of friends.

This brings us to a central issue. What are the "right kinds" of friends? What makes a friend "good"? What are "the real" friends?

We all know "fair-weather" friends are no good. These are the people who walk with us in the sunshine, but they are gone when darkness falls. Overly engaged and emotionally needy friends who don't know the meaning of reciprocity are "downers". They take and take while we give and give, but we never see a return on our investment. On the other end is "know-it-all friend" who mothers and smothers with unwanted advice but never asks for our input. In short, friends cannot be your family, they can't be your project, they can't be your psychiatrist. But they can be your friends, which is plenty.

Real friends are few.  The few real friends we enjoy generally come in one of two forms, both desirable and equally delightful. They are friends of the Road and friends of the Heart. Here are two stories to explain you what we mean.

Friends of the Road
Dale was crazy. That's why I liked him. He could always, I mean, always make me laugh. Whether we were hanging out at the mall, playing basketball in a park, sitting in Sunday school, or giving serious speeches in Mr. Olson's civics class, a mere glance from Dale could slay me. Dale and I had more in common than humor, however. We had countless conversations at all hours of the day and night about everything from pop music to the meaning of life. We also had soul-searching talks about our fears, our futures, our relationships. This was no lightweight relationship. We saw each other through the Storm of adolescence. Like two war veterans, we helped each other survive. At journey's end, however, the friendship faded. I haven't seen Dale, my high-school confident, since the day we graduated.

Is a friendship that fades away necessarily a bad thing? I don't think so. There is a line in James Michener's novel "Centennial" that speaks to how even good friendships can be fleeting: "He wished he could ride forever with these men ... but it could not be. Trails end and companies of men fall apart."

Some friendships are meant to be transitory. Like cowboys who ride hard together for miles, sharing both dusty perils and round-the-campfire coffee, we all have friendships that come to their natural end. Not because of discontent or lack of interest. Simply because the road has run out. We've hit the end of the trail together and it's time to move on to other things, other companies of men.                        

Understand, these are not failed friendships. Not at all. They are friendships of the Road, equally intense, equally necessary, equally worth cultivating and treasuring as the long-lasting versions. We couldn't survive without them. They get us through a particular stretch of road, and for that we can be grateful. The friends we meet along life's road make the journey joyful. And they are just as fulfilling as friendships of the Heart. Well, almost.

Friends of the Heart
Greg. Jim. Monty. Kevin. Mark. Rich. These names sketch out my life, some since childhood. Together, they could tell you more about me than both my brothers. They are my real friends. They are the pals who know my mood swings and my family history. They've watched me soar and seen me fail. Unlike friends of the Road, these guys have stayed with me beyond trail's end. No matter how many months or miles intervene, the friendships endure. Our cumulative years of shared biography preserve our connection, propelling us together on the same path. After years of tireless talks we now speak in shorthand.

None of these friends lives near me now, but we rendezvous at weddings and while passing through each other's towns on business. We plan reunions on occasion, and a few of us have recently shared vacations. Sporadic phone calls, as well as e-mail and a few cards or letters here and there, bridge the connection between long lapses. We don't keep up on daily details, but these friends know my headlines and I know theirs. We count on each other and we share an irresistible impulse to keep going together.

There's nothing like a real friend of the Heart, long-lasting pals who know us sometimes better than we know ourselves. They bring such comfort to our lives. It's nearly inexpressible. Dinah Mulock, however, describes it pretty well: "Oh the comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are - chaff and grain together - certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping and with the breath of kindness blow the rest away."

Are friends of the Heart more important than friends of the Road? Not really. We need both. What matters is how a relationship sustains you right now. An achieved real friendship - of any brand or bond - is among the best experiences life has to offer.

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 Friends
Everyone needs a few close friends – they're the ones who can offer support, comfort and an ear in a time of need. There's no room in your life to be best friends with everyone. Your friendships are a reflection of yourself, so you need to select your friends carefully and treat them with respect.

Keeping friends requires work. So what happens when the relationship go wrong?

Things aren't always what they seem, so when the rumour mill has stopped churning how do you know what's the truth? Who do you believe?

How do you cope with bullying, bitching and gossip? It can be difficult to work out who your real friends are – those you can trust. You can you avoid unnecessary heartache by maintaining healthy friendships.

Some friends might make you look good, but the important ones make you feel good. A friendship is healthy when you:

  • Can have a good laugh or cry in each other's company
  • Listen and understand each other, including what you both want and need from the relationship
  • Feel comfortable, safe and supported
  • Are accepted for who you are, without being judged
  • Can share ideas, opinions and feelings regularly and honestly.

Have you ever stopped to think about what makes a good friend – what you really value? For in stance -There's nothing worst than friends who stab you behind your back. So maybe you are looking for loyalty. Or sincerity, or honesty or a generous spirit.

And what about you - are you are good friend?

Have you ever stopped to assess the relationships you have? Reach Out have some great tips on how to work out what's the best kind of friendship for you.

For hints about friendships and how to keep them in good shape go to external Reach Out

For more information on friends check out these other articles:

external Coping with peer pressure
Reach Out can help you understand peer pressure and how to handle it.

external Friends
Child and Youth Health brings you questions, information and a quiz on real friendships.

external Friends. Being a good one…
Headroom discusses what makes a good friend.

external Friendships
Reach Out can help you to work out who your friends are and manage arguments.

external Maintaining a happy relationship
Reach Out provides you with suggestions for keeping relationships strong.

http://www.abc.net.au/talkitup/talkitout/friends.htm

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 Managing failed friendship

 

Are you feeling that's your sweet friendship just crashed down?...Calm dawn...cool off...If you have a long-lost friend with whom things ended badly, you may be able to make a meaningful reconnection. Sometimes we need to get sound judgement to manage our personal situation as we just can't realize it clearly and completely ourselves...it's useful and really may help to find way out...you know..

Please allow us to offer for your considering the following five-step plan which will help you determine whether or not a particular failed friendship should be saved and, if so, how you can do it. While these specific steps should not be treated as the answer for finding every lost friend back...they may just give a lead for guiding you in your unique journey...

Step One: Count the Cost
First of all you must determine whether your failed friendship should be repaired. An unhealthy relationship is not worth repairing if it forces you to compromise your principles or overthrow your self-respect. You have the right to ask a friend to change if he/ she is making you feel less cared about, less respected, or even worried. Realizing that a friendship no longer works can be a positive step.Please don't fall into the trap of believing that if you lose a friend you'll never find another. The opposite may be true: you may not make another friend until you sever your association with an unhealthy person. The point is that just as good friendships can boost your sense of belonging, bad friendships can undermine your security and self-worth.

So carefully consider the price you pay for keeping a faltering friendship alive. And if the cost is too high, make a clean break. If you seek closure in a more direct and responsible way by exploring your feelings together, it is likely to pay off (for both of you) in greater openness in your new friendships.

Step Two: Make Meaningful Contact
If you have decided it's wise to reestablish contact, you need to write a note or call the person to convey one primary message: "Our friendship is valuable to me, and I miss seeing you. Is there any way we can resolve what stands between us?" That's all. In making contact the point is simple, to convey your desire and explore their openness to considering a discussion. At this stage, there is no need to go into airing your grievances or even making elaborate apologies. For now, you are simply calling a peace talk to open up honest discussions about bringing resolution to your relationship.

Step Three: Forgive as Best You Can
When someone slights you, offends you, or deeply hurts you, the urge to respond in kind is natural. The problem with this urge is that we don't know when to stop, we don't want to balance the scales, we want them tipped in our favor. And once we feel the compensation is satisfactory, our enemy takes his turn at punishing us again. The cycle repeats itself over and over...But...Stop!...here is talk about friendship!...Please, stop and free yourself from a desire to hurt back, put an end to your vindictive spirit and save yourself from further harm. Set your pride aside and try your best to see the situation from the other person's perspective. If you keep this in mind you will be well on your way to practicing forgiveness instead of trying to balance the scales.

Step Four: Diagnose the Problem
Finding out what went wrong is critically important if we are to learn what caused the problem in the first place—and avoid repeating it..."Everybody's human"...you know...BUT...we want people to be neater than they are, less complicated. We don't want to face the fact that people are partially good and partially bad. But most of life, including our friendships, plays variety of colours. And if you don't accept that, you miss out on a lot of relationships that might have been. Diagnose what's the problem together and move to the next step. After all, if a friendship can't survive an honest discussion of differences, that may be a sign that the relationship ought to end.

Step Five: Rebuild Respect
If your friendship is to survive it will ultimately depend on the reviving of respect. "Remove respect from friendship," said Cicero, "and you have taken away the most splendid ornament it possesses." Well...let's beleive the Roman philosopher...and consider two things how to revive respect for a fallen friend.
You begin by noting your friend's most admirable qualities. Make a list of these qualities of character. The point is not to whitewash your friend's personality. Some friends, for example, are great when you need a ride to pick up your car from the shop, but no help at all when you're in despair over a lost love. Once you know a friendship's limits, it's easier to enjoy it for what it is without feeling let down about what it's not.

Next, you need to own up to your end of the relationship by offering a sincere apology for not being the kind of friend you could have been. Identify specific things you did that contributed to the friendship's failure and confess them to your friend in an apology. Ask for forgiveness...with all your heart sincerely... If you do that, mutual respect is almost certain.

And finally...Some relationships, no matter how hard you try, never recover the joy they once had. But if you feel pain of regret or remorse when you think about a lost friend and do nothing about it, you'll never know what might have been...Good luck and good friends...You're really worth it...

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 People & Relationships

Relationship is defined as a state of connectedness between people. Although in today's society with its crazy rhythm of everyday life, when people tend to live in densely populated megapolises, spending most of their time in the office and hardly knowing their neighbor's name, we still find ourselves in some kind of a relationship – with friends, family, or colleagues.

Family relationships are the first people's relationships to enter into. Parents and relatives influence our emotional development by creating a model that we are sometimes bound to follow all our life, often subconsciously. People who have grown up in large happy families usually feel more emotionally secure than those, whose parents had gone through a divorce. For sure you know quite a few attractive and successful women who remain single for some 'mysterious' reason. They often turn out to be victims of their past. Deep inside they cannot overcome the fear of being abandoned, that comes from their childhood, when one or both of their parents left them or just did not pay enough attention. A well-established young man can be scared of a commitment in a relationship as his parents' family model failed to convince him that getting married makes one happy.

In daycare, at school, then in the office we spend a lot of time among fellow students and coworkers. We learn to maintain business relationships, to work in a team environment, then form smaller groups of like-minded people and finally select some of them as our friends.

What is a true friendship? How does it start? Are we destined to become friends with certain people or can we actually plan whom to be friends with?
 
"Everybody's friend is nobody's", said Arthur Schopenhauer. Unlike a companionship based on belonging to the same team or group, friendship is a very personal and selective type of people's relationships. It calls for trust, sincerity, and emotional bonds. It's not without reason that we call our friends our alter ego. 

Sociologists believe that most of the people are looking for similarity of views, social status, and interests when choosing friends. No wonder that our friends are often people of the same age, sex, and education. Another important factor is joint activity and solidarity. This is the reason why many of us befriend their colleagues and people who work in the same field.   

Another underestimated common prerequisite for friendship is geographical proximity. If our friends move out of town or overseas, it is a very common reason why friendship falls apart. Maintaining a long distance friendship is a challenge, and not many of us pass this test.

Most people would agree that a friend is someone who would always listen and understand. "Understanding" in this context implies a lot of meanings – compassion, sympathy, and emotional closeness. It's a process when your friend deciphers your emotional state, shares your feelings, identifies himself/herself with you.

"Friendship is like money, easier made than kept", said Samuel Butler. To maintain friendship we have to make an effort. Friendship can be time consuming and might require some sacrifice from our part – staying up all night comforting a girlfriend after a hard breakup, canceling you hairdresser's appointment to babysit your friends' kids, or taking care of someone's pets. But friendship rewards us with a warm feeling of being there for someone, being important, being part of someone's life.

The number of single people is growing every day, making modern psychologists question the need for a serious relationship between men and women. People are getting more and more self-sufficient and don't seem to need a life partner any longer. Now, when successful career and professional self-realization have become priority for fresh graduates, when taking maternity leave will take away your chances of ever catching up with your more successful and commitment-free coworkers, most people tend to delay settling down or even moving in with someone until their late thirties. And by this time many of them are so much used to living independently, that they find a mere thought of living with someone or considering any kind of commitment repulsive. "I am not a marrying type. I am missing the bride gene", says Carrie Bradshow in the "Sex and the City", who has become a role model for many single women around the world.

It's a reality we have to acknowledge – people become more and more alienated, introverted and scared of getting closer to each other. Does it seem familiar? Each gender is trying to make con¬tact with the other side, but is becoming trapped and confused in the process. Like a beast who has come too close to a hot-wired electric fence, we've seen both men and women jump back and retreat from the oppo¬site sex, because they are afraid of risking the potential pain of rejection. So they keep their distance.

However, psychological studies reveal that people who manage to maintain healthy relationships really have more happiness and less stress. There are simple ways to make relationships healthy, even though each one is different… boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues, professors, roommates, and classmates.

Here are some tips to keep any kind of people's relationships healthy:

• Accept people as they are and don't try to change them.
• Be yourself. Healthy relationships are made of real people, not images!
• Talk with each other and genuinely listen.
• Be reliable – keep your promises, meet deadlines
• Don't criticize. Avoid blaming the other person for your thoughts and feelings.
• Admit mistakes and say 'sorry' when you are wrong

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 Improving Your Relationships
By Peter Shepherd
 
These factors would apply to an intimate relationship:
  1. Does what you and the other are doing align?
    Take a look at what is going on in a current relationship. Do it with the other person if possible. Make an honest assessment of the current situation and then work together to align these different elements:

    • What is the Actual State of affairs?
    • What is the Basic Intention of each of you regards each other?
    • What is therefore the Ideal State of affairs?
    • Therefore what Desired Objectives do you share?
    • Work out an Overall Plan to achieve those objectives.
    • What are the Daily Actions that will be needed?

  2. Responsible for what?
    Examine the responsibility each is taking. Work toward a full responsibility for the overall relationship and one's own reactions, but do not attempt to be responsible for everything about the other person. Their beliefs and feelings are their own responsibility. What are you willing to be responsible for regarding (other person)? What are you not willing to be responsible for regarding (other person)?"

  3. Is there a competition?
    Sort out any issue of competition for territory. What kind of game are you and the other playing? If it is a game, then consider it as such and enjoy it. Is there something there isn't enough of that has to be fought for? If so, reassure that there is enough to go round (love, affection, money, communication, whatever).

  4. Is there something one of you needs to know?
    Upsets between people usually result from a failure of communication, very often one not knowing what is in the other person's mind, and therefore not acting accordingly. Work out what you don't know and get an answer; ask the other what they need to know and provide it.

  5. Is something being kept back?
    With the other person, work over the following questions as long as there is still anything to find on them. With somebody who has been a long relationship, that might be a LOT. What has (other) done that was hard for you to experience? What has (other) failed to say about that? What have you done that was hard for the other to experience? What have you failed to say about that?"

  6. Lost the original excitement?
    Go back to when you first got together and examine what you saw in each other, what was fun and exciting. Get all the details and particularly the feelings. If the other person is available, do it at the same time with closed eyes and arrange it so you see each other first thing when you open your eyes. Transfer the feelings to the present.

  7. What have you learned?
    Reframe the relationship as a learning experience. Find out what specifically each of you might have to learn from each other. Perhaps one person can do some things better, one can tolerate some things more easily, one can appreciate some things more readily. What do you have to learn from each other? What have you learned from each other?

  8. What do you agree about?
    Find out what you both actually agree on, what you see the same way, interests you have in common, stuff you have the same feelings or same reactions to. Come to realize how much common ground you have to build on.

  9. Communication withheld?
    What do you want to say to the person, but for some reason can't say or aren't saying? Why not? Imagine actually saying them to the other person, then do so out loud and imagine the reply. Then go ahead and say it. Allow the other freedom to be themselves.

  10. Likes and dislikes?
    What do you like about the other and what don't you like? Does the other person have to be perfect for you to like them? Are you perfect? Do either of you need to be perfect or would you rather be yourselves? What is unique about you and the other?

  11. What's needed and wanted?
    Ask each other what is needed and wanted from the other person. Honestly inquire what the other person actually wants. Not having any argument or discussion about it, but simply find out what it is the other side would like.

  12. Talking honestly?
    Get together and tell each other what you really want to say about each other. Try to keep to what is personally felt, how things are perceived from either end. No "You ..." statements allowed. Continue until you each learn to respect what the other person says and begin to have more understanding of each other.

  13. Secrets?
    Examine what each of you keep secret from each other. Secrets tend to build and make you grow further from each other. Find out what isn't being faced up to, what isn't being taken responsibility for. Is there anything you would never say to the other? Do you have secrets from each other? Why?

  14. Is there some co-dependence?
    Each person needs to look at the responsibilities they have given up or areas they have withdrawn from by being in the relationship. For example, no longer maintaining friendships "because the other wouldn't like that." What does your relationship allow you not to deal with? Is this resented?

  15. Are you making yourself right?
    Look for fixed ideas about what is right. How do you think this relationship is supposed to be? What principle are you operating by? What piece of logic do you use? Is one of you making him or her self right by making the other wrong in some way?

  16. Are you different?
    What is similar between you and the other? What is different between you and the other? What qualities does one person have that the other is lacking? How can you make the most of these differences to complement each other rather than conflict?

  17. Talking about yourself?
    Turn the complaints you may have about the other person around as something you are really saying about yourself. Find the parts of yourself that match it. This is a very common phenomenon, that whatever one doesn't like or doesn't accept about somebody else is really what one does like or accept about oneself. One can't really change it in the other person, but one can change it in oneself, once one finds that part of oneself.

  18. Are you allowing changes to occur?
    Examine your willingness to let the other person change. Sometimes the different parties in a relationship try to keep the other person the same, or keep them in accord with their ideas and expectations. If the other person suddenly changes they don't like each other so much any more. That is not very useful, so increase the tolerance of change when you can. Find the underlying qualities you like about each other, but free up any fixedness about specific required behavior and circumstances. Consider: "What changes would you allow (other) to make?"

  19. And in the future?
    Visualize how you would like the relationship to be in the future. Check if that is really congruent, or if it is just an abstract dream. Backtrack it toward the present. How can you make that happen?

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 When a relationship is ending

Getting through a relationship break up

Breaking up may be nobody's fault. It can be hard but sometimes it might be the best thing for two people to make the decision that they cannot grow anymore in this relationship.

People may react differently when a relationship ends. It is not uncommon to feel sad, angry, disbelief, guilt or relief. Managing these feelings may be hard. For more information about managing your anger you may want to check out the anger fact sheet.

It may take some time to accept that the relationship has ended and it is time to move on from the relationship. Sometimes the ending of a relationship can give you time to learn more about yourself, spend time with your friends and do things that you enjoy doing. Having someone you can talk to may be helpful. This may be a friend, family member, youth worker or counsellor.

You may also find it helpful to:

Keep busy - Keeping active and doing things you enjoy may help to keep your mind off the break up. You may want to hang out with friends, read a book, go for a run or walk or listen to music.

Try something new - Sometimes it is helpful to make a fresh start by trying something different. There may be a course you have always wanted to do, for example drama, art, yoga or you may want to start playing sport.

Look after yourself - It may be a difficult time and it is important that you look after yourself. Eating a healthy diet and doing something active may be helpful. It may also help to treat yourself. Do something that you enjoy.

Remind yourself that you are OK - Think about your achievements, your friends, the people that have said good things about you and the things that you enjoy.

Talk with someone you trust - Getting some support when a relationship is ending may help you work through how you are feeling. You may find it helpful to talk to your friends, your parents, a teacher, school counsellor, doctor or another person that you can trust. Check out the Finding Help section for more info about how these people can help.

Ending a relationship

Over time your interests may change, you grow apart or you have less in common and it may be time for you to think about ending the relationship.

If you do decide to end a relationship, it may be difficult for both people, and respecting one another may make things easier. Once you decide to end the relationship, it is a good idea to be honest, kind and definite.

You may want to use words that tell the other person what you have been feeling and thinking and what you want for yourself. It is not helpful to blame each other or try to pick out faults. Sometimes people are just different and getting to know someone during a relationship can show up differences that you didn't know before. Differences are natural and they may not be helping you, or this relationship, to stay strong, happy and healthy.

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Quench Your Real Thirst for Lasting Relationships

by Judy Clark


One summer in Colorado, a friend and I met some runaways from New Mexico. They dropped out of high school and wandered around dancing, and holding out a cup for money.

At first glance, you might think they were wasting their whole lives. But after I spent a couple hours with Gabriel, Sean, Matt, and Peter, I realized they were living out something most people long for.

These guys had little money, no shelter, dirty torn clothes, and barely enough food to stay alive. My friend and I invited them to dinner. We sat in a diner and watched the four of them devour hamburgers, burritos and shakes, and listened to their stories. I realized they were a community.

They looked out for each other. If one got something, he shared it. One guy only ate half his food because he wanted to share the rest with a buddy who wasn't with us. They talked about watching each others' backs. They were parents to each other. They really loved each other. They talked about being afraid, missing their moms, feeling abandoned, being hungry. They were living in a way that I would never choose--but they had something that many clean, educated, "acceptable" people don't.

They had each other. They had real relationships. They were connected.

That's what we all want. We want real life. We don't want to be like the hamster who runs through the Habitrail and spins on his wheel all day--alone and never getting anywhere. We want to relate. We want to connect. We want to be part of a community that takes care of each other.

My friend Rebecca recently graduated from Vanderbilt University. As she faced entering the "real world," she said to me, "I just want to be Amish."

Her comment had nothing to do with the religion and everything to do with the community. They have neighbors and families. They help each other build barns. They come to the rescue when someone is in danger. Life is simple and slow, and you can handle whatever is around the corner because you know you're not alone. Sounds nice, doesn't it?

I think we're hungry for relationships that are lasting, full of trust and fun. Many of us grew up in homes where our dads worked too late at the office to get another promotion so they could buy the Rolex or Beemer. Moms had college degrees and families wanted the additional income so moms worked. Our parents may have lived under the same roof but that was about it.

Relationships crumbled and divorce rates skyrocketed.

Whether it's Friends, Seinfeld reruns or Dawson's Creek, we love to watch people who appear to be connected. And we desperately want that ourselves. We want and need good relationships, but quite frankly, they are painful and risky.

So, what do we do? Who can make me feel good? Who can I run to? Who can help me escape from a world of unconnectedness--if only for a little while?

If you're like many college students, you cuddle up with a keg or caress a bottle of J.D. The booze makes you feel good and relaxed. It's accessible and always there when you need it. It doesn't care what you look like. It makes you feel funny, attractive and accepted.

This relationship works for a while, but then you wake up. It's a one-night stand. It's not a relationship. People are hard to bond to but it's easy to bond with the bottle. And it eases the discomfort that sometimes happens when bonding with others.

It probably comes as no surprise to you that we go looking for love in all the wrong places. Author and psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud writes, "We all need love during the first few years of life. If we don't receive this love, we hunger for it the rest of our lives. This hunger for love is so powerful that when we don't find it in relationships with other people, we look for it in other places, such as in food, in work, in sexual activity, or in spending money. . . drinking too much, or working too much."

Shelly, a student at the University of Alabama, said, "I can spend every night in the bars hanging out with my friends when we are drunk, but when I see them the next day on campus, we don't have anything to say to each other." Shelly has relationships, but she describes them as superficial at best. Her real need to be connected to people is not being met.

Ben, on the other hand, goes out drinking with his friends and the alcohol loosens them up to talk about what really matters to them. Their friendships seem deeper. But Ben says, "I need to learn how to be real without the crutch of alcohol."

Dr. Cloud goes on to say, "People are usually addicted to a specific substance, such as alcohol, cocaine, speed, work, gambling, destructive relationship, religiosity, achievement, and materialism. These substances and activities never satisfy, however, because they don't deal with the real problem. We don't really need alcohol, street drugs, or sex. We can live very well without these things. However, we really do need relationship, and we cannot live very well without it."

When I ask students why they drink, most respond, "It's fun." On the surface, that's an acceptable answer. But beyond the fun, have you ever wondered why you drink in the first place? Maybe it's a temporary escape from stress, the uncertainty about the future, or pressure in social situations.

When you have good relationships, you don't need to find security in something else, whether it's alcohol, sex or food. When you have good relationships, you're less likely to try to fill the void with something else. When you have good relationships, some of the deepest needs are being met.

Dr. Cloud continues, "Bonding is one of the most basic and foundational ideas in life and the universe. It is a basic human need. God created us with a hunger for relationship--for relationship with him and with our fellow people. At our very core we are relational beings. Without a solid, bonded relationship, the human soul will become mired in psychological and emotional problems. The soul cannot prosper without being connected to others."

How do we learn to have bonded relationships? That's another article or book. Begin with being honest with yourself. Could it be that the reason you drink, or eat too much, or too little, or abuse sex, or drive yourself to perfection is because you really need relationships?

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 Working out what's best for you

We have lots of different relationships in our lives:

  • With friends
  • Family
  • Teachers
  • Doctors
  • Work mates
  • Girlfriend/boyfriend and so on.

Sometimes relationships work well and are easy going and other times they can be hard and you may wonder if they are worth it.

Most relationships have their difficult times, the trick is to stick at it through the hard times. You may feel like avoiding talking to that person or want to reassess the relationship.

Reassessing the Relationship

In reassessing the relationship with another person you may want to consider some of the following things:

Are you getting what you want from the relationship?

If being in that relationship is not making you or the other person satisfied then it might be worth reconsidering how much time you spend with them. It may be worth considering what you want from the relationship. You might want to check out "the starting out" fact sheet for more information.

Are you willing to compromise?

When you disagree, argue, or are fighting with someone you may find it hard to listen to their point of view. To maintain a relationship you may both need to :

  • Agree to disagree
  • Walk away & take time out
  • Give & take a little
  • Keep talking about what is important to you & listen to what is important to them
  • Respect yourself & the other person
  • Think about what is fair
  • Remember having different opinions & ideas is OK. Avoiding conflict is not necessarily healthy. Resolving disagreements in a respectful way can be a sign of a healthy relationship.

How significant is the person to you?

If the person means a lot to you like a friend, a parent or carer, it is probably worth putting effort into maintaining the relationship.

You may have relationships where you feel you have limited choices. These may be with a teacher, carer, employer, workmates or family member. It's not uncommon to be in a relationship with someone you do not like. This may be because:

  • You have a personality clash
  • They've done something you don't like 
  • You don't agree with their decisions or rules
  • They are abusive. You may want to check out the fact sheet on violence for more information about abuse.

It is not OK to be abusive. If you are experiencing violence you might want to talk to someone you trust like a friend, family member or counsellor see the Finding Help section for more information.

How often do you have to see them?

If you are fighting with a teacher, a parent or carer chances are you are going to have to see them regularly. This can make it difficult to change the relationship and you may have to compromise on some things for the time being.

Are you safe?

In some cases you may feel threatened in a relationship and fear for your safety. If you do not feel safe with someone avoid situations where you are alone with them. Make a safety plan for yourself, which includes:

  •  Letting people know where you are and who you are with
  • Tell friends, family and people you trust and ask them to help protect you by being around when they are there
  • Listen to your feelings. If you start to feel unsafe, leave as soon as you can
  • If you are out, take phone or transport money with you or arrange for someone to pick you up
  • Have someone with you or close by when breaking it off
  • Talk to someone about what you could do to legally protect yourself.

Your local police can advise you on steps you can take to protect yourself. See the fact sheet on Assessing your safety.

Resolving problems

If you feel that a relationship is worth maintaining, you may just need to be clear about what problems you are having and try to find solutions.

Before talking to the other person you may want to:

  • Write down a list of your concerns
  • Consider talking to someone not involved in the situation; they may provide a different perspective and help you sort out things for yourself.
  • Think about areas where you are willing to compromise.
  • Think of a time and space where you can talk about your relationship calmly.

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Explaining away our relationships

Does our craving for an explanation hurt romance?

(September 1998 main article)
by Janet L. Jacobsen

Did you know we have a compulsion to explain things, and it goes deeper than just a personality trait? It could be one of our primary relationship problems.

I heard a program recently on public radio in which a scientist was discussing how the brain works. I was driving when I heard this, so I couldn't take notes, but I think I remember the general gist correctly. (If you're wondering, "Why is she writing about this?!"_stay with us_you've already proved the point.)

Our brain comes in two distinct halves, referred to as the right and left brain. In some people naturally and in some people as treatment for various mental and physical illnesses, the two halves of the brain are separated. In addition, some information comes to each half via the opposite eye.

The two halves of the brain serve somewhat different functions, which overlap in a normal brain, but can be distinctly separate in some split-brain people.   It seems that there is a portion of the brain devoted to "explanation." (It has a cooler name, which I don't remember.)  Scientists, using the effect of giving information via just one eye to a split brained person, would introduce some element to half of the brain, to which the person responded. (As I recall, it was a sign saying, "Please bring a glass of water," and the person would go out of the room to get water.)

Since the explaining part of the brain was not linked to that eye, it didn't have the information on why the person did what they did. But when asked why they had done that, they nevertheless always gave an explanation. ("I was thirsty.")

The conclusion is that we have a natural compulsion to come up with an explanation for events, even when we don't know theexplanation.

Leaping to explanations

Wow. That explains a lot of things! Why did the ancients go to all that trouble of coming up with creation theories, and witches and demons, and constellations? Because they needed an explanation for where the world came from, and why there was disease, and what they were looking at at night, so they came up with explanations. Couldn't help themselves.

We're no better today. Radio talk shows drive me crazy, having people call in with their opinions about things on which they have very little or no information. "The majority agreed that the person that none of us know should go to jail for an act that none of us witnessed, which the police haven't yet investigated." We're willing to leap to conclusions without the benefit of data, just like our ancestors.

There's an area of study of human behavior called "attribution theory," which asks: to what do we attribute other people's behavior and how does that affect our behavior in turn?

I first heard of the theory in relation to a study that included cross-cultural attribution. An immigrant family appreciates the special attention a teacher has given their child and sends a gift to the teacher. The school system has a "no gifts" policy, and the teacher sends the gift back with the child. The immigrant families "attributed" the return to several possible causes, including that the gift wasn't good enough, that the teacher had been insulted by the gift, or that the teacher didn't care about the child after all. None of those things where true, but they were reasonable explanations in the minds of the families involved and therefore true for them.

I know why you did that

So what does this have to do with solving the problems of relationships?

Two issues.

Number one: We seem to feel compelled to explain the other sex. We don't feel any compulsion to explain our own sex, you understand _ everything about us being obvious to ourselves and therefore not in need of explanation. However, when an other sex person does something differently than we might have done ourselves, it calls for an explanation and therefore we tend to lump them all together and explain things as because, "That's the way they are."

Of course, it could be that in fact that is the way just this one of them is, but since we'd have to know all of them (or a large representative sample) to know scientifically that this one is a special case, the easier explanation is, "They're all like that."

(Maybe that's why, as we get older, most folks stereotype less. They've been around long enough to have known enough people to know that this one is not like the others.)

Anyway, that's problem number one. Instead of getting to know the individual members of the other sex and being open to the unique differences between them (and us), we explain them by stereotyping them. It's so much easier, and gives us what we want: an explanation now.

Problem two. In attempting to develop a relationship, we look for explanations for everything they say and everything they do. I think women do more of this than men, but men do it too. It would be all right if we reached tentative conclusions and then waited for more information before we took action, but no, we go right off as if our explanation is the only explanation.

When you look into problems in relationships, often the issue is not so much what a person said or did, but what the other person thought it meant_the explanation they gave it, the attribution. Unfortunately, we can be so attached to our own explanations that we believe them, even based on incomplete or no information, rather than the explanation of the other person.

"Why didn't you call?"

"I got busy and forgot."

"You men are all alike, breaking our hearts!"

Maybe he did just forget, no heart-break intended.

I read a newspaper story about a man who had killed his wife because she joined an aerobics class. He had concluded that this was just the beginning of her leaving him, so he killed her.

Seemed logical to him at the time, I'm sure.

Take your conclusions with a grain of salt

So how does knowing this help, you are wondering.

First, be aware that you are constantly, even involuntarily, creating explanations, whether or not you have any of the facts or any good reason to do so. Then, when confronted with an explanation other than your own, LISTEN. Pay attention! Be open to other possibilities.

Also, do not feel compelled to defend a conclusion that turned out to be incorrect. Given how our brains function, leaping to conclusions as they do, we should probably assume that none of our attributions are correct, and proceed accordingly. (Which brings to mind the saying, "Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see.")

Next, be aware that the other person is "explaining" you to themselves constantly, and are probably wrong, and that doesn't mean they have bad intentions; they just have functioning brains. I've heard people say, "Well, if that's what you think, I'm not going to discuss it." Not exactly the best way to get at the truth, is it?

The more feedback we give each other, the more information we share about our perceptions of a given situation, the better.

And when we ask for information, we can do it from an open mind, even though in there somewhere is our preconceived explanation.

Instead of saying, "You didn't call because you wanted to upset me, didn't you!"_try "I was really distressed that you didn't call. What happened?"

At which point he usually says, "I was supposed to call??"

In for a reality check-up

We also need to remember, as relationships progress, that we have been drawing, and operating on, our conclusions. Some folks, having come up with an explanation, never look back. Based on a first date that went well, they conclude that this is The One and they are headed for Happily Ever After and it's going to take a lot of bad behavior on the other person's part before they are convinced otherwise.

Remember that as a relationship develops, regular reality checks are a good thing. You may be attributing more charm to them than they deserve, pr you may be condemning them more than they deserve.

And by the way, we need to all remember that the explanations we give for our own behavior are probably wrong too. Staying open-minded and checking our explanations against the facts about ourselves is probably the most important lesson of all.

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  Friends Or Lovers? How To Tell the Difference in a Budding Romance
by Janet Jacobsen
Oct. 2003

It's a fact. Some couples make better friends than lovers. The trick is to learn to recognize the difference before your relationship heads in the wrong direc-tion, inevitably leading to painful conflict, broken hearts or - worst of all - an unhappy marriage.

"Everyone wants to find the love of their life and live happily ever after," says Paul A. Falzone, CEO of The Right One and Together Dating, the world's largest dating service. "Unfortunately, the excitement of a new relationship often obscures important signs that, while the two of you may have good reason to feel destined to be in each other's lives, the relationship will be more successful as a friendship than a romance."

According to Falzone, a close and enduring friendship is of far greater value than a conten-tious love affair. And although friendship is a key component to any happy marriage, many dating part-ners would be wise to recognize when it's best to just stay as friends, and look for romance elsewhere.
"A perfect example is Jerry and Elaine on Seinfeld," says Falzone. "Although they had dated briefly, they had the sense to let their relationship evolve into what it really was - just a great friendship."
Falzone suggests that couples consider the following when assessing whether they might make better friends than lovers:

Common Values
Sharing common values is the foundation of a successful marriage. Couples should consider whether their core beliefs are in sync before letting a relationship get too serious. For example, if one partner is a born-again Christian, while the other is skeptical of organized religion, inevitable conflict looms. Does one of you hold a definitive code of ethics, while the other leans toward moral relativism? Watch out!

Complementary Backgrounds
While it is possible for a dedicated couple to overcome almost any obstacle, significant differences in your personal backgrounds make long-term success an uphill battle. A couple in which both partners come from similar socio-economic backgrounds will probably enjoy much smoother sailing than a couple with very different backgrounds. Over the long haul, the invisible gulf that separates someone with a blue-collar background from someone with a privileged background can create significant conflict. What you have is a couple that sees the world very differently. That's something that can present a serious barrier to happiness.

Aspirations
This should be obvious, but when couples are overwhelmed with the intensity of new romance, the obvious is often over-looked. Is one of you ambitious and the other laid back? A woman whose goal is to hit the upper echelons of Fortune 500 management by the age of 40 probably will not succeed with a partner whose focus is to settle down and raise a family. Similarly, a man whose work involves long hours and lots of travel is a poor choice for a woman whose emphasis is family life.

Preferred Lifestyle
Lifestyle preferences can be a source of endless conflict. Consider: his idea of entertainment is going to professional sports events, while hers is attending the theatre and ballet; she wants to live in the city, but he yearns for a home in the suburbs; he's addicted to golf and skiing, while her idea of exercise is marathon shopping. Are these couples likely to find long-term happiness together?

Sexual Fireworks
This can be a real minefield. Most couples enjoy a special sort of passion in the early months of their relationship. But after a few months, one's inherent sex drive emerges. If one member of a couple is considerably more ardent than the other, long-term compatibility is seriously threatened. Ironically, the reverse may also be a warning sign: beware the rela-tionship in which sex is the outstanding element. Burning passion can obscure the fact that it takes more than a great sex life to make a great marriage.

Commitment
Inevitably, if one partner is more committed to the relationship than the other, someone is going to be hurt. Often, timing is everything. Almost everyone reaches that point in life when they're ready for a serious relationship. It's just that it takes some longer than others to get there. If one of you is more ready than the other to make a commitment, proceed with caution. Like Jerry and Elaine, you might find a great friendship is a better choice than an unsuccessful romance.

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Men and women: just friends?

Have you ever been in such kind of relationships? Have you got just a friend of the opposite sex? And even if you haven't had such experience…why?...Let's think about it: "Is it possible for men and women to be just friends without being romantic?"

There have been reviewed dozens of scientific studies and surveyed numbers of people about cross-gender friendships to discover whether these relationships can work or not. Also there have been studies listened in on countless discussions with men and women on the issue. Well…there are both sides of the argument.

For many people the idea of a man and a woman being friends is charming, but improbable. "It always leads to something else…" they argue, meaning that the relationship eventually becomes romantic. It is very difficult for a man and woman to have a platonic friendship…normally emotions get in the way and friendship can be ruined by one of the parties starting to get either possessive or jealous…Will your libido silence while spending pleasant time and having fun and sharing interests and activities, attitudes and values with just a friend of the opposite SEX?...Perhaps NO…After all, in contrast to the countless love stories we come across in the movies, books or reality, male-female friendship are rarely acclaimed or depicted as an ongoing, freestanding bond. How many stories can you think of that richly portray or endorse the lasting, devoted friendship of a man and a woman as an end in itself? Even the acclaimed film When Harry Met Sally, which got a lot of people talking about cross-gender friendships, ultimately proves to be another tale of romantic love. Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan's tumultuous and endearing friendship is only a stage in the development of the more celebrated attachment of falling in love…

And the other problem of course is the partners of the man and woman who are just friends…they may not feel happy with the situation especially if the man and woman who are just friends spend a lot of time together or go out together…What is your partner opinion on the issue?...???...Keep on reading together…probably it changes?...

On the other hand, there are those who are seemingly surprised by the question and argue that of course male-female friendships are possible: why wouldn't they be? These people's persuasiveness almost makes the romantic pull of such relationships seem unusual. They ignore it altogether. "One of my best friends is a woman," the male proponent of this perspective insists. "And it's never crossed my mind to consider her in a romantic way." Well, that takes care of that, I think. "My friendships with men are far less complex than my relationships with women," a female with this position might say. "We can play sports and just have fun."

In the informal survey of people who are "just friends" with someone of the opposite sex, it was heard a number of positive remarks. Over and over, men spoke about how a woman's friendship provided them with a kind of nurture not generally available in their relationships with men. They said things like, "I don't have to play the macho game with women. I can show my weaknesses to a woman friend and she'll still accept me." Women asked about their friendships with men commented their just a friend like "He is a good sounding board for getting the male perspective, the kind I can't get from my women friends."

Interestingly, women do not report the same level of intimacy as men do with their cross-gender friendships. Even women who count men among their close friends feel barriers between them. Women say things like, "I have fun with men who are just friends, and they can even be supportive and helpful about some things, but it's not the same. If I try to talk to my male friends the same way I talk to my female friends, I'm always disappointed." At first glance the payoff for men seems to be bigger than the payoff for women in cross-gender friendships. But that's not necessarily true. Women report great enjoyment from the diversity their friendships with men bring to their lives.

So does all this mean the answer to the question about men and woman being just friends is YES???

Few relationships issues are that plain and simple. The real answer is "it depends." So, you say, let's cut to the chase and get to the bottom line: What do these relationships depend upon? They depend upon how much each person in the relationship is willing to stretch and grow. These friendships, you see, require both men and women to call upon parts of themselves that are usually less accessible when relating to their typical same-sex friends. For a man, a woman who is just a friend allows him to express his more emotional side, to experience his vulnerability, to treat himself and his friend more tenderly than is permissible with male friends. What is typically missing for him in this cross-gender relationship, however, is the kind of rough camaraderie he can have with another man. For a woman, a man who is just a friend helps her express her independent, more reasoned and tougher side - the harder edge that's kept under wraps in relationships with women. The down side for her is the relative absence of emotional reciprocity and intensity she normally shares with a female friend.

So, okay, twist our arms for a NO or YES answer to this question and the answer will be YES. But we will quickly qualify it. Men and women can enjoy friendship together, but not at the same level they do with friends of the same sex.
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1-12-06
 
 

Ending a Friendship

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Question of the Week: I have recently had a sort of falling out with one of my best friends whom I have known forever. Lately we have not been getting along and I really don't agree with the way she is living her life or treating me. We have little in common anymore and not much to talk about, but so much history and memories lie behind us. Is there hope that our friendship can ever be repaired?  When is ending a friendship OK, and how do you do it without hurting the other person?
 
"Life is partly what we make it, and partly what is made by the friends whom we choose." -Tehyi Hsieh
 
A great friendship may be few and far between, but if you're lucky enough to cultivate one, you are truly blessed. However, just as nothing is guaranteed in life, a long-lasting friendship isn't either. With life's ups and downs and each individual's constant growing and changing, friendships often take a course unanticipated. The bottom line is that while ideally we would like to believe that our friendships will always remain as strong as they've been over the years, you will inevitably have to end a few friendships throughout your life. While ending a friendship may be difficult, it will be more difficult in the long run if your friendship becomes counter-productive. It is OK to end a friendship if it's not contributing anything positive to your life or if they're simply toxic to your well being.

Before deciding on whether you truly want to end a friendship, you should first ask yourself some questions:
  • Are we just going through a rough patch, like friendships sometimes do?
  • Is there a justifiable reason why your friend has started acting the way he or she has?
  • Are you willing or able to forgive your friend if the situation was one where you got hurt?
  • Does he or she even know how you feel? Does he or she deserve to know?
  • Am I compromising my integrity or safety by keeping the friendship?
  • Is the basis of our friendship contradictory to what I believe friendship to be?
By asking yourself these questions, you might decide that the friendship is simply not worth saving. Now you have a few options for severing the ties. How you choose to do it is dependant on the circumstances and what kind of friendship you had.
 
Talk
If you choose to talk to your friend about what is going on or why you don't think you should remain friends, the key is to be honest without being hurtful, accusatory or condescending. Be truthful but tactful. Let them know exactly why you feel the way you do and give them a chance to respond. You might discover that your friend is unaware of how you're feeling. But also be prepared that your friend might become defensive, making excuses and unwilling to be civil. The bottom line is to be considerate of their feelings, while, if appropriate, honoring what you had before.

Give It Time
If you've had a disagreement or squabble that you don't believe to be repairable, you might choose to give it time before completely cutting your friend out of your life. Sometimes you need a moment to cool down, especially if you plan on talking it out. This will help diffuse any kind of talk that might involve yelling, pointing fingers or hurtful words. Giving it time also allows for putting the situation into perspective. You may end up realizing that the situation was petty or a misunderstanding, and find a renewed faith in the importance of your friendship. You may also choose to not end it, but simply limit contact. There's nothing wrong with downgrading a friendship to a phone call every so often if you truly care and want to stay in touch with your friend. Just make sure they are on the same page.
 
Be Busy
If you're too hurt or fed up and don't think that telling your friend why you're severing ties will be beneficial or necessary, then you can choose to avoid him or her all together. If he or she calls you or stops by and asks you if you want to hang out, you can tell him or her that you have prior plans. If they continue to ask, you'll have to say that you are busy and just can't make any commitments. This may seem a bit harsh and insensitive, but your friend will probably get the hint. At this point, you might be asked for an explanation, and then you'll have to decide if you want to give one. If you're lucky, sometimes friendships just run their course because both of you feel the same way.

Sometimes it simply comes down to the fact that you've outgrown each other. Ending a friendship can be a little bit like breaking up with your boyfriend or girlfriend. It might be painful for awhile, you'll relive all of your memories and you might end up questioning whether or not the decision was the right one. But just remember that a friendship is meant to enhance your life, not complicate it. A healthy friendship involves trust, loyalty, support and a mutual interest in each other's well being. So as an old Nigerian proverb goes, "Hold a true friend with both your hands."
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1-12-06
  Why Do Friendships End?
by Allison Hunter

The only danger in Friendship is that it will end.—Henry David Thoreau

Several weeks ago, I received an email from a reader who asked, "Why do some friendships end, no matter how much you want them to last?" She referred to having seen the question in one of my articles, "Mystery of Friendship". I don't think easy answers exist as to how friendships start, why some turn into lifetime friendships, and why some end. Although I've tried answering the first two questions in other articles ("To Have A Friend" and "Be A Friend"), I still continue to get surprised by the friendships that endure and disillusioned by the ones that slip away. Even so, I'll try to offer some insights here about why friendships end.

My simple answer is that friendships end because the situations friends are in or even the friends themselves change. Other articles on why friendships end have similar answers. First, the situations friends face may change. The decision to relocate for a new school or job can't help but affect a friendship. Likewise, if a friend is in an accident, develops an illness, or loses someone close, these situations can't help but affect a friendship. Does a friendship need to end because of these changes? No, but it'll require adjustments that one or both friends might not be willing to make.

Second, the friends themselves may change. A significant reason that friendships often end when friends are apart for an extended period of time (for summer camp, college, etc) is that one or both of the friends change. I think it hurts less when both friends change, because then the breakup is more often mutual and so both friends get closure by both deciding to let go and move forward in their lives without each other. What tends to hurt most is when just one friend changes. One friend might change social circles, become involved in new social organizations, start to date, get a pet, or take on some other venture that consumes more time and passion. Again, a friendship can endure these changes, unless one or both of the friends for some reason decide not to invest the time and energy involved in the adjustment period. (For example, one friend might forget the importance of the friendship due to the high of having a new pet or might feel that the change is impossible to overcome when one gets married but the other is still single.) When this happens, breakups may not be mutual and so one or both friends feel betrayed and end up with bitter memories about what was once considered a precious friendship to them.

There are other reasons why friendships end. For example, as much as two people might want a friendship to survive, one or both of them might unintentionally neglect it. Friendship is often compared to a flower garden. Well, if flowers don't get exposed regularly enough to sunlight and don't get watered enough, flowers will wither and even die. The same applies to friendship. If week after week passes where plans are made to spend time together but are never honored, perhaps due to taking a friendship for granted, eventually even the closest of friendships may cease to have a reason to exist.

Conflicts can also cause the end of friendships. If the flower is a fledging plant, one blow might destroy it just as sometimes relatively young friendships aren't strong enough to endure much conflict. Even those amazing close friendships, where friends love us no matter what are faults are, need care when it comes to conflicts. Sure, if a flourishing flower gets stepped on, it might revive on its own. Moreover, it if gets a little extra special care, it'll probably bounce back as if it hadn't ever been injured. At the same time, if a flower gets repeatedly trampled on, it'll probably eventually break. Especially the friendships that have been around for a long time can endure storms, and even become stronger for them, but most friendships have breaking points.

Okay, we know that friendships can end for many reasons, but now what? Can we change their course and turn them into friendships that last?

Well, the solution depends on the reason for their potential end! For example, what if one friend is moving to new place? Various articles on adjusting to the moving process advise:

  • Communicate and be honest with each other about how the situation makes each other feel.
  • Spend extra time together before the departure date, perhaps to visit old haunts and friends.
  • Exchange addresses and make plans to keep in touch, at least through mail and maybe even through regular phone calls and visits.
  • Don't ignore natural sad feelings but, as soon as each is able, share excitement about the new adventures ahead for both individuals.
I never cease to marvel when I hear of childhood friends who have long since moved far away from one another and yet have stayed in touch. The in-person foundation has disappeared, but somehow the friendship has remained intact. Wow!

What if the change isn't as dramatic as a move to a town or state or country but is simply to a new job or school? Well, much of the same advice still applies because any kind of move requires time for a person to get used to and is often emotionally draining for days, weeks, or even months. Before the move happens, take time to communicate and be honest with each other about the upcoming move. Then allow time for the move to feel comfortable and to know how life will change because of the new adventure. If the friendship is important, work to adjust to the situation and eventually it'll seem as normal as everything else in life. Some of my closest friends started as coworkers but have now moved onto other jobs and so I know it can be done.

What if conflict is the problem? There are two ways to handle conflict. One is to simply let it go. Haven't we all seen children who one minute hate each other but the next minute act as if the fight never happened? If resolution isn't important to the survival of the friendship, why not simply forget the conflict?

On the other hand, if the conflict was due to more than just tiredness, stress at work, or some other situation not relevant to the friendship, it needs to be acknowledged and confronted. Sure, dealing with conflict is a chore, but isn't a little stress in the short term preferred to a lot of stress in the long term? In fact, it could mean the difference between a weak foundation that crumbles over time and a firm foundation that stands against even the worst storms.

Various articles on conflict recommend:

  • Take time to cool down but, as soon as each is able, do talk about the conflict.
  • Realize that each might have a different perspective.
  • Do not involve others, unless a mediator is needed.
  • Focus on the bigger picture of saving a friendship and building a stronger friendship from the conflict.
  • Apologize!

The sad fact too is that you might follow all the advice given above, and in the links below, but still lose a friendship that you desperately wanted to keep. The more a friendship means to you, the more time and emotions you should put into holding onto it. Even so, at some point you have to accept its end. When that happens, give yourself time to mourn the loss of the friendship. Then give this part of your life closure:

  • Write a note to your friend telling them how much friendship with him/her had meant to you
  • Learn what lessons you can from the friendship.
  • Move forward to what the rest of life has to offer you.

In the end, the mystery of friendship is that some friendships don't take much work to last for life while others take lots of work to last for a single month. While we can rarely predict at the outset which ones will last, most friendships do enrich us for however short or long they're a part of our lives.

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1-12-06
 How to End a Friendship
by Terry Miller Shannons, 08.23.05

 



Good friends are precious. They support you, listen to you, and stand by you no matter what. So why would you ever feel the need to say goodbye?

"Unfortunately, some friendships aren't meant to last a lifetime," says Carol Weston, author of Girltalk: All the Stuff Your Sister Never Told You. Sometimes friends just drift apart. Other times, a friend stops acting like a friend should. And no one deserves to be in a friendship that's painful or unhealthy.

How do you know when a friendship needs to end? And how do you "break up" with a friend?

With Friends Like These ...

Of course, no friendship is wonderful all the time. Just like any relationship, a friendship can have its ups and downs, and good friendships can take some work to thrive. How do you know if a friendship has crossed the line into toxic territory? Watch out if friends

  • are frequently sarcastic or mean toward you
  • spill your secrets or spread gossip about you
  • go after your crushes (or your significant other) again and again
  • act overly possessive of you and don't want you to spend time with other friends
  • only ever talks about themselves
  • never listen to you
  • endanger you with their risky behavior or pressure you into doing harmful things
  • blame you for what's not good in their lives
  • always insist they're right — which means you're always wrong
  • gripe constantly about everything and belittle your advice
Bottom line: a friend who habitually fails to support you, puts you down, and makes you feel insecure in your friendship is toxic for you. Is a friend like this worth keeping around?

Not Toxic, But Not Working Out

Of course, there are other challenges to friendships. There may be increased geographic distance after someone moves away. There might be emotional distance after one or both of you have moved on to different interests — or different social groups — so you no longer have as much in common. You may find the other person is no longer fun to be around, or maybe you just don't feel like investing as much energy into the relationship.

Lots of situations make it difficult to see where you stand with a friendship. But whatever the case, if a friendship is not adding to your life, you may have questions about its value for you.

The Decision

Do you want to continue this friendship? Only you can decide. Your friend could be going through a rough spot in his own life, and you may want to give him the benefit of the doubt while he's working through some issues. Or you may feel that despite some draining drama, you can make amends with your friend by talking things out. Ending a friendship is a big step, so if you decide to do it, you want to be sure that you will indeed be better off without this person in your life.

Breaking up with a friend requires a delicate touch — for your friend's benefit and for yours. "You don't want an ex-friend to become an enemy," says Weston, "so there's no point in dumping a friend in a vicious or public way."

However you end a friendship, and for whatever reason, it's between the two of you. Asking others to do it for you or to side with you is simply unkind and uncool.

Drifting Away or Direct Action

Some people take the gradual route by becoming less available and returning calls less frequently. The good side to gently drifting apart is you might be able to keep a more limited friendship and reduce the amount of drama involved in changing the status of the friendship.

The downside? The other person may become confused by your behavior and continue to pursue you. Also, some people feel like it's important to be honest and upfront with people about their feelings, rather than taking a more passive, less direct, approach.

If you feel that a more direct farewell is called for, ask to speak with your friend alone. Be calm and kind — think how you'd feel if the roles were reversed. Talk to her about how you have valued her friendship, your differences, and why you need your space. Use "I feel" statements ("I felt that you were always making fun of me, and friends need to be supportive of each other") instead of accusations.

Mention how much your friend has added to your life, and that you'll remember your friends and value the good times. The upfront goodbye can clear the air and make you feel good about being open. However, it takes courage to look someone in the eye and say you don't want to be friends any longer. But in the end, you can be proud of yourself for having handled this delicate task with honesty and grace.
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1-12-06
 
 Ready to Dump a Friend?  Five things to ask yourself first.

by Sara Eckel

If you're lucky, your friends stick around for years, even decades. Together, you laugh over bad blind dates, vent about infuriating in-laws and celebrate everything from promotions to a long-overdue breakup. But there are times when the benefits of a bond don't outweigh the drawbacks — say, when a connection is characterized by chronic neediness or general negativity. That's when the tough decision-making comes in. Here are five questions to ask yourself before you make the break:

1. Have I given myself a "cooling off" period?
One Lifetime Online community member reached the boiling point recently when she asked her best friend to baby-sit during a family emergency. Later, she learned that her friend had let the kids watch R-rated movies and even left them for a night with an irresponsible teenager. "Over the years, she has done and said some really stupid things," she explains. "I would always try to find the good in her, though my husband tried to tell me otherwise. But I can't overlook this."

When you're filled with righteous fury, it's often tempting to call your friend and tell her off. But Jan Yager, author of "Friendshifts: The Power of Friendship and How It Shapes Our Lives," says that when you're really angry, it's important to give yourself a day or two to cool down before you confront someone. And stay away from e-mailing. "E-mail has made it too easy to express thoughts and feelings that, once you hit Send, you may regret," says Yager.

2. Is my friend aware of the problem?
If your friend is driving you crazy, say, by continually flirting with your husband, the obvious first step is to tactfully let her know what's on your mind. "If she can go to that next level and say, 'Oh, my God — I had no idea I was upsetting you,' then you can clear away all the poison in the air," says Judith Sills, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of
"Excess Baggage: Getting Out of Your Own Way." On the other hand, if you have that tough conversation and your friend continues to bat her lashes, then you must face the fact that your friend is an inveterate flirt. The next question is, Can you handle that? If the answer is no, you may need to end the friendship. "The key," explains Dr. Sills, "is being able to recognize when your own response to someone else's behavior holds you back [from being happy]."

3. Have I changed?
The major challenge of any long-term friendship is the fact that, over time, people grow and change. Inevitably, these changes affect our friendships. For example, you might have unwittingly cast yourself as the bad girl in a friendship — the one who drinks stiff martinis, smokes cigars and stays out a little too late. Meanwhile, your friend clucks her tongue at your exploits while she serves you grilled vegetables on seven-grain bread.

If you decide you don't want to be the "bad" one anymore, you'll need her cooperation so that she'll stop treating you that way. You might say, "I really appreciate everything you've done for me over the years, and now I need you to stop." "We are all proceeding forward on a path, and we all have growth spurts," says Sills. "If you have one and your friend doesn't, that's OK — unless she continues to undercut your growth after you've pointed it out."

Two people can also change and grow apart without realizing it. Though ending a friendship should be a huge decision, half the time we don't even realize we're doing it, Sills points out. "A lot of people will just look up years later and say, 'I don't know what happened.'" But experts agree that your friendships have a much better chance of thriving when you make conscious decisions about them, whether that means staying close or making a break.

4. Are external events the cause of the disconnect?
The most common reason for letting a friendship lapse is a change in circumstances. "Usually we give up a friendship because our paths diverge and the energy involved to keep things going is too much," says Sills. For instance, it's tough for friends who no longer work together to gossip about their boss in the same way, just as a friend with a new baby probably won't have hours of phone time to spare.

If a friendship has been impacted by a milestone such as this, then you have to decide whether you want to devote the energy needed to redefine the relationship — and whether you still share things in common. If there's nothing to say to each other when you're no longer sitting in adjacent cubicles, then you shouldn't feel terrible for letting go.

5. What are the costs of keeping the friendship?
There are certain warning signs that suggest it's time to say goodbye to a friend. Do you feel deflated after you see her? Are you constantly complaining about what the friendship is taking from you? Is she someone who calls only when she needs you — but goes AWOL when you're in a bind? "Nothing works out perfectly," warns Sills. "Sometimes, relationships take more than they give back. You need to look at whether the balance is out of kilter, and how often. If you consistently can't get a friend on the phone when you need to, and the relationship is all about caretaking — of her — pay attention to that pattern."

If you do decide to break up with a friend, there's no need to close the door permanently. Although Sills doesn't advocate drifting away or pretending to be busy when your friend calls, you can simply explain that your life is going in a new direction and that you need some time to yourself. "Ideally, we leave a friendship for the right reasons — when it gets in the way of our personal, emotional and spiritual growth. But you don't need to let go of friends forever. You can just spend less time together for now, and leave open the possibility of future closeness once the other person has caught up."

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1-12-06
Till the end
Friends can dump you, just like a lover. And what's left is the vague fart waft of failure.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Carina Chocano

April 27, 2001 | Sayings about friendship fall into one of two categories. Either they are perfect for embroidering on cushions or they are poison-tipped arrows slung in the general direction of the couch.

Lately, I've been identifying with the archers.

"Friends may come and go," wrote Thomas Jones, "but enemies accumulate." Of course they do. They are usually made up of former friends -- the only people, aside from former lovers, who know and care enough about you to truly hate you.

Falling out of love is generally considered as natural and mysterious as falling in it. Getting dumped by a lover will win you bales of sympathy as well as several houseplants. But when a friendship ends -- especially when it ends formally and ceremoniously -- it's harder to emerge from the experience with your sympathetic mien intact. You will, for a while, seem vaguely suspicious. You will exude the vague fart waft of failure.

This is true not only in school, where the term "popularity" is used to define a state of social grace and general impunity to which everyone aspires, but later in life, when having the right friends can mean the difference between obtaining a Cabinet position and installing cabinets for a living. Dale Carnegie's opus, "How to Win Friends and Influence People," is not, after all, a book about friendship, it's a book about success. And at least in Carnegie's book, friends are gained on a steady diet of flattery, obsequiousness and manipulation.

Ironically, Carnegie's manual of manipulation is remarkably similar to popular notions -- far more romantic than any of our notions about love -- of what a friendship should be. In romantic comedies and popular novels alike, lovers are free to come, go and come back.
Friends are expected to remain steadily on the sidelines, cheering as protocol demands. "Friendship is more tragic than love," Oscar Wilde wrote. "It lasts longer." Yet, friendships, when challenged, are more brittle, less elastic, than love. They have a tendency to shatter when they fall into the chasm between ideals and the daily business of being somebody's friend. And though we prepare for losses in love, the end of a friendship always takes us by surprise.

"There are no social norms we can rely on," says Lillian Rubin, a social scientist, psychotherapist and author whose 1985 book, "Just Friends: The Role of Friendship in Our Lives," explores the valued but fragile bond of friendship through hundreds of interviews. "Often people just drift apart, but if there's a serious conflict, people take a more active role in ending it. Friendships wax and wane. Sometimes you feel close, other times less close. But there's no social framework to sustain a friendship that gets into trouble. People start to build a case against the friendship. Nothing forces you to try to keep it together. In fact, nothing holds relationships together but two people's goodwill, and that is often not enough."

"True friendship is never serene," Madame de Sevigne wrote in 1671, and it still rings true.

In the first grade, my best friend was a cranky redhead who lived next door and once refused to walk to school with me after learning that I had vomited -- in the privacy of my own bathroom -- the night before. The following year, my best friend (also my next-door neighbor but in another town several states over) and I resolved disputes by hurling rocks at each other from either side of the fence. By the third grade (new country, new continent, growing sense of futility) my concept of friendship had been indelibly marked by notions of geography and terror. Best friends A) live adjacent and B) can turn on you any minute.

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1-12-06
 

Now It's Time to Say Goodbye: Ending Friendships

by Lain Ehmann

 For many women, friendships are among the most important things in their lives. Some assume that the longer the duration of the friendship, the better the friend. But that's not necessarily true.

Friendships come in all shapes and sizes, "and some don't have a very long shelf life," says Sandy Sheehy, author of Connecting: The Enduring Power of Female Friendship . But instead of letting go of these "spent" relationships, you can hold on too long, allowing unhealthy connections to continue.

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

It can be hard to admit it's time to say goodbye to a friend, even when her behavior warrants it, as Cindy Gallagher, of Maryland, learned first-hand. Her long-time friend, Helen, balked at any attempt Cindy made for independence, such as when Cindy's parents visited and she didn't tell Helen. And Helen fumed when Cindy's now-husband bought her engagement ring without consulting Helen first. Helen confronted Cindy, telling her she was getting "uppity."

"She had me in tears at first because I was so shocked and she was so angry," Cindy recalls.

The two tried to patch things up, but the clincher came when Helen badmouthed Cindy at her wedding reception.

"I realized this woman is just not a friend of mine, not a true friend," she says. "After that, I just made excuses not to see her…and she quickly got the message."

Signals to Look For

While betrayal or seemingly deliberate attempts to be hurtful are clear signs it's time to say goodbye, sometimes the signal of the end of a friendship isn't obvious.

You may sense a gradual distancing or feel unstimulated by the other person, or the relationship may just require more care and maintenance than you're prepared to give.

The Price of "Being Nice"

No matter the reason, ending a friendship can be very difficult for many women.

"The idea of having to end a friendship is something women kind of chicken out at," Sheehy says. It may be because of the desire to avoid conflict or the wish to be seen as "nice" and not hurt the other person.

"Women will do a lot of things that aren't in their own self-interest, that aren't good for them, to stay in relationships with people they care about," Sheehy adds.

But by allowing unhealthy or unfulfilling friendships to continue, you could be sacrificing your own well-being. If the relationship has stagnated, then you're spending your scarcest resource time on something that doesn't add to your life. And if the friendship is downright unhealthy, as Cindy's was, you may even risk your emotional health and happiness.

"A woman should not spend her valuable personal time in a relationship unless it enhances her life, helps her be the best person she can be, encourages her to follow her dreams, [and] supports her in her struggles," says Marilyn Sorensen, PhD, a Portland, Oregon-based clinical psychologist and author of Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem.

Ending It Gracefully

Ending a relationship tactfully is an art. It's difficult to get the space you need without hurting the other person's feelings, but it can be done.

The easiest approach is to simply let things cool. Don't phone as frequently, don't agree to get together, and don't give excuses, says Florence Isaacs, author of Toxic Friends/True Friends: How Your Friends Can Make or Break Your Health, Happiness, Family, and Career. Giving excuses allows the other person an opportunity to overcome your refusal (she'll answer your "Oh, I don't have a sitter that night" with "That's okay, my sister volunteered to watch the kids").

By being less active in the friendship, you gain emotional and physical distance. This is a good technique, says Sheehy, if you still want to be friends with the person but want to lessen the intensity of the relationship, or if you really don't have the time at the moment to maintain the friendship but would like to pick up again down the road.

The drawback of the indirect method, though, is that it isn't the most honest approach and may leave the other person confused about what's happening, says Dr. Sorensen. In some cases, the friend won't "get it" and will continue to pursue the relationship even as you're trying to back off.

Straight Shooting

If your message isn't getting through or if your friend's behavior has been so hurtful that you need to end things completely and quickly, take the direct route.

"Assertively talk to the person about your differences and why you would like to end the relationship," says Dr. Sorensen. "Assertiveness is usually the most desirable way to handle conflict because it is honest and lets both parties know where they stand."

If you choose the direct approach, speak in "I" statements. Focus on how you feel and what you want, rather than on the perceived wrongs of the other person, says Isaacs. By not accusing or blaming and by stating your position clearly and calmly, you'll run the best chance of ending things as positively as possible.

The decision to terminate any relationship should come only after you've concluded that the connection is unsalvageable and you're better off without that person in your life. Remind yourself that ending things is the best decision in the long run, and that doing so will make room in your life for more positive, nurturing people.

Dr. Sorensen puts it this way: "Having someone with whom to share your successes and failures, your hopes and dreams, is a priceless thing. It's a choice we have. Choose wisely."

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1-12-06
 
 How to End Any Relationship Instantly and Permanently

By Doug Kelley • September 2005  

"Lack of communication will kill any relationship." —Doug Kelley

  

There is a time in just about everyone's life when it becomes necessary to end a relationship that has become toxic or destructive. The relationship may be intimate in nature, such as with a spouse or significant other, or the relationship might be with a friend or family member. It is often very difficult to end the relationship quickly for a number of reasons, whether our own compassion gets in the way or the other person continues to contact us and we respond. One's own codependence is quite often the culprit when trying to end an abusive relationship.

The secret to ending any relationship instantly and permanently is this: "Lack of communication will kill any relationship." This principle can work both ways. In the positive sense, if you don't communicate with those you care about, your relationship will suffer and ultimately die. Conversely, if you want to end a relationship, you simply stop communicating with the person. The instant that you stop communicating, the relationship is over.

This is not "rocket science"; it's just that, from a logical standpoint, so many people have not realized how simple it can be to end a toxic, dysfunctional, or destructive relationship. If you have made the decision to end a bad relationship, then stop communicating with that person in any way, e.g., face-to-face conversation, phone calls, email, etc. This may mean changing your phone number to an unpublished number.  

WHAT IF I LIVE WITH THE PERSON?  

Obviously, if you are currently living with the person, there will be times in which you have to speak. However, "talking" doesn't necessarily mean "communicating." In this case, keep the communication limited to only what is necessary until such time that you can separate. But once you separate, communication of any kind must cease completely.

DOES IT REALLY WORK?

Certain fundamentalist religions—past and present—have known for hundreds of years that to kill a person's relationships, all they had to do was cut them off. For example, hundreds of years ago, the Catholic Church would "excommunicate" a person (cut off communication) and then label him or her a "heretic." This action effectively ended that person's relationships with any and all who professed the same religious beliefs (which was everyone). Of course, during the middle ages, the Catholic Church often went further and killed the person as well. Fortunately, times have changed and now the Catholic Church rarely, if ever, excommunicates anyone, let alone kills them outright.

In modern times, fundamentalist-extremist cult-religions such as Jehovah's Witnesses will "disfellowship" (excommunicate) any who do not comply with the organization's beliefs. This is a control and manipulation tactic that effectively cuts the person off from every friend and family member who is also of the same religion (usually the person's entire circle of friends). This means that the person's former friends and family members will literally turn their heads away and remain silent when encountering the disfellowshipped member. The person is completely and utterly ignored. This shunning and complete lack of communication often results in depression, existential crises, alcoholism, and, in some cases, suicide for the person cut off.*

While this practice of shunning certainly classifies the religion as a cult, it also serves to demonstrate how effective cutting off communication can be. Of course, cutting off communication should be only used for the right purpose, such as toxic, dysfunctional, or destructive relationships (a difference of religious beliefs is not the right purpose. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs without judgment).

YOUR NEXT STEP

In codependent relationships (that often involve substance abuse), the person desiring to end the relationship will often cave into the toxic person's attempts to perpetuate the relationship (such as them being nice and considerate when they were not before). Phone calls are accepted, emails returned, offers to get together, etc., which does nothing other than to re-establish the relationship.

Lack of communication will kill any relationship.

If you desire to end a bad relationship, then stop communicating with that person—immediately and completely. Do not try to explain yourself—for explanations rarely explain; do not take their phone calls, do not return their emails; do not respond to their Instant Messages; do not contact them to "tell them off"—release your need to vent, or vent to someone else. Simply stop communicating completely. The instant you stop communicating is the instant the relationship is over.

Now, give yourself permission to not talk to the person. Take your power back and do the right thing for all concerned, but especially for you.
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1-12-06
 
 

Dealing with Negative People

by Rhoberta Shaler, PhD


What would happen if a friend came to visit you and brought a large brown bag of dripping garbage along? Would you let the friend and the garbage into your house? Then, what would happen if you did let the friend and the garbage in and they picked up the bag and emptied it on your head? What would you do? What would you say?

Mahatma Gandhi put it this way: "I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet."

We often have conversations with others that are very similar to having someone's dripping garbage poured over us, don't we? Some people are chronic complainers, some incessant whiners, some are filled with anger, and some make a lifestyle of negativity. These are all forms of "dripping garbage."

There are many ways to let someone know your boundaries. If your boundaries exclude being "dumped on," be sure to tell your friends and relatives. Use language that speaks about yourself and refrains from using the word "you." This helps the other person to hear you. Here's an example:

"I have learned that my day goes a lot better when I take action to change the things I don't like rather than complaining about them. I find complaining pulls me down." (first round)

If the other person continues complaining as a lifestyle:

"I have decided to let people know what I need and want in my life. I want to fill my life with friends and activities that help me to feel and see life in positive ways. I am moving away from people who choose to see things negatively." (second round)

Third round is simple… act! Do what you said you were going to do… spend very little, if any, time with them. If you do spend time with them and they complain, tell them that it is time for you to go!

If you are wondering about how this fits in with your perceived need or your real desire to spend time with some people, I found in my life it worked beautifully and a new mutual respect was gained. It wasn't easy and it didn't happen overnight, but it happened. I was able to spend time with that person and the complaining and fault-finding was significantly reduced. Reduced to a level I could definitely live with.

For today, think about sending messages to your folks in your life who want to walk through your mind with their dirty feet.

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1-13-06 

Communication in relationships

Difficulty in communication between men and women is a well-known fact, bringing up the reasons for the battle of sexes. Basing on experience of professional consultants, we have found out a very interesting, though an easy answer: Why men and women can't do with each other in business and private life? The answer is - they are not able to communicate in proper way.

Couples break up their relationships (even long-term) easily just because they lack mutual understanding. Failure of keen and strong sexual desire means that love has died as well.
Many couples would hardly like to discover the main plausible reason of misunderstandings and quarrels.

Common, but sometimes hidden problems and a good piece of advice are presented here for you to improve communication with the opposite sex.

All changes are for the better
Whether one believes in it or not, but all that he/she needs to make the relationships healthier is just to learn how to communicate.  At first, one should find out what is the difference between sexes, and then try to learn so–called sore spots that we (purposely or non purposely) touch, hurting each other. Coping with these two points sometimes requires reconsidering the model of behavior in general for adult person.

Why should you change?
One is most likely to reject the idea of changing himself/herself, appealing to the following forcible arguments: Why should I behave another way? This is me, no matter whether you like me or not. Before thinking this idea over yet again, ask yourself a simple question: do you still want to know how to communicate? The methods, given below, will prove their effectiveness in practice only in case you accept them implicitly.

Find common interests:
If you don't share each other's interests or have nothing to talk about, you will be bored to death being together. Try to take a step forward to improvement of your relationships by changing the situation to uniting your interests. For example, one weekend you may do what your partner is interested in, and the next weekend you will do what is interesting for you. Don't forget to talk. It is a good way to expand the interest area through the interests, typical for your partner.

Don't transform dialogue into monologue
Men are used to soliloquize, especially while talking to women. Women – on the contrary – ask too many questions, change subjects of conversation frequently, tell long and intricate stories.  Making an attempt to carry on a dialogue with your partner, listen carefully, speak distinctly and steadily.  Don't speak too much about yourself, ask "free questions" that imply the answers "yes" or "no". Communication is an equal interchange of views, which further an opportunity to understand your interlocutor sooner and better.

Listen and watch carefully
Verbal contact is a very important aspect of communication. Women are better listeners than men; in the course of conversation they smile pleasantly and nod, even though they don't share the partner's opinion. Such a manner won't help to begin and develop a real contact between the interlocutors.  You'd better show your feelings and emotions, but at the same time be polite and reserved, even if you totally disagree with the interlocutor.  Being interrupted by the partner (what can be more irritating), ask him/her politely to let you finish expressing your point of view. If words don't work, attract the attention by touching mildly his/her arm.

Don't interrupt people
Catch the general idea of the partner's speech, do not correct his/her point of view. In order to cope with it try to do the following exercise: breathe in, outwind and then breathe out slowly, giving your interlocutor an opportunity to conclude the idea. Or even bite your tongue - sounds funny and strange? But it works!

Speak so that to be heard
Mind the sound of your voice, make it pleasant, reach and deep. Try to do the following exercises:
-breathe in and try to say a few words while breathing out,
-tighten the muscles of your belly and relax them when you begin to talk.

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1-13-06
 
 Birds Of A Feather Flock Together

 Don't spend major time with minor people.
 If there are people in your life that continually disappoint you, break
 promises, stomp on your dreams, are too judgmental, have different values and
 don't have your back covered during difficult times...that is not a friend.

 To have a friend, you have to be a friend.
 Sometimes in life as you grow, your friends will either grow with you or grow apart.

 Surround yourself with people who reflect your values, goals, interests and  lifestyle.

 When you think of your successes, be thankful to GOD from whom all blessings  flow, and to your family and friends that enrich your life.

 Over the years our phone book has changed because we change for the better.  At first you think you're going to be alone, but after a while new people  show up in your life that make your life so much sweeter and easier to
endure.

 Remember what your elders used to say,
 "Birds of a feather flock together."

 If you're an eagle, don't hang around chickens: Chickens Can't Fly!

"The art of losing isn't hard to master; so many things seem filled with the  intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster."
                                         ---Elizabeth Bishop
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1-13-06

Helping A Friend Who Is Hurting

 

by Tony Schirtzinger; ACSW, CICSW

What Helps?

Sometimes we want to be helpful to an adult friend who is feeling bad.

How can we offer personal help to a friend?

How can we guard against damaging our relationship with them in the process?

THREE GUIDING PRINCIPLES

1. Do you really WANT to help? 2. Are you willing to ONLY LISTEN unless they specifically ask for more? 3. Can you pay attention to their EMOTIONS instead of their problem?

DON'T THINK FOR THEM

Giving advice or offering explanations and interpretations without being asked is insulting. (It implies that you think your friend can't think for themselves.)

DON'T INVITE MORE EMOTION THAN YOU CAN HANDLE

Even if it is clearly asked for, don't invite emotional release unless you can stay with your friend while they experience their feelings. (Don't say "maybe you need a good cry" unless you are willing to sit through the tears!)

DON'T GET LOST IN THE PROBLEM

Your friend will be telling you about some problem that has lots of emotion attached to it. Pay attention to the emotion, not the problem.

If they are sad, show that you care about how bad it feels. If they are angry, help them to talk it out (without either agreeing or disagreeing). If they are scared, comfort them physically (if that's appropriate) or with your words. If they are feeling guilty, ask them to think about whether they might be angry instead.

REMEMBER WHY THEY CAME TO YOU

If they had wanted a preacher, a therapist, or a parent they could have gone to one. They came to you because they wanted a friend!

BEING A FRIEND

Two things can help when we feel bad, love and therapy. Therapists offer therapy, friends offer love. A true friend is someone who plays with us, enjoys us, and is there for us.

A MAP OF THE PITFALLS

Some people always seem to be feeling bad.

Think about each of your friendships, and ask yourself this question:
"Do we usually just have fun, without talking about some problem?"

If the answer is "no," your friend is not asking you to be a friend, they are asking you to be a counselor or an advisor of some sort.

The potential "pitfalls" in such a relationship are too numerous to mention.

Either back out of this friendship cautiously or insist that it change into something you can both count on to be enjoyable.

Be sure you aren't always trying to help.
"You look bad today, do you want to talk?" "What's wrong with you lately? Is everything OK?"

If you often say things like this to your friends,
you aren't offering friendship,
you are offering a "helping relationship"
(which you evidently need more than your friend!).

Prove your competence in some other way.

Let your friends be.

AGITATION

"Agitation" is a special rhythmic kind of wriggling.
We all do it sometimes.
We might tap a pencil against our desks, or move our legs up and down repeatedly.

PERSISTENT agitation is a sign of extreme emotion and confusion.

If the person you are trying to help agitates constantly ask them to stop it if they can so you can concentrate.

If they keep agitating even after you've asked them to stop a few times, stop talking about the problem (and invite them for a quiet walk or something). This person has so much going on "down deep" that they can't even talk with you well. And if all of that emotion and confusion did come up, it would definitely be way too much for you to handle in a friendship.

WHEN YOUR HELP DOESN'T HELP

When your love and caring isn't enough, don't be afraid to say so.

Remember that you can't really help unless you want to, and you can't possibly want to if you are being overused or if you are running out of time or energy.

Simply say: "I don't think I can help you anymore with this,"

If they ask you where they can turn now, tell them all you know about resources in your community.
If they don't ask, tell them anyway if their level of pain is compelling.

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1-15-06 

Do's and Don't's of Relationship

By Ernest Quansah,

Do's are what enhances relationships. Don'ts are what kill relationships. Our surrounding is made up of different people from different backgrounds. Our upbringing, past dating and relationship experiences, etc. all mold our thinking. Even the consequences from our own relationship choices may mold our thinking. As a result, you may develop positive or negatives characteristics from your past relationship experiences. Hence the experiences will become characteristics you will take into the next relationship. So in effect, whether your relationships is going to work or not is predetermined. It all depends on the characteristics you choose to take with you into your relationship. I say this for several reasons. One reason is all human being are capable of changing. As an adult you have a choice in what characteristic you wish to sustain. It is safe to say how you treat your relationship is a choice you make.

Assuming your last relationship was a bad experience; learn not to take that experience into your next relationship. There is a good reason for that. If you want to find that special someone, it is best to introduce positive characteristics into your dating practices. Here is why. The human heart does several things. One of the things it does is it acts as your guide. Your heart, believe it or not is your compass if you wish to be lead to your soulmate.

Some relationship experts refer to the heart as spirit, inner guide, conscience and so forth. The true mission of your conscience is to direct and teach truth. When you endeavor to doing things that are right you are in effect following your conscience dictates. Characteristics and habits of those who follow directions from their conscience to acquire meaningful relationships are such as: integrity, harmony, temperance, patience, thankfulness, honesty, joy, love, goodness, forgiveness, humility, respect, trust, understanding etc. I call these characteristics Do's of relationships. They are qualities that enhance love between man and woman. These qualities predetermine how you will treat your lover. Further more your characteristics also tell your love interest what kind of man or woman you are. Those who are authorities in relationships discovered the collapse of most relationships and marriages are attributed to selfishness. For example, the very moment you decide to enter a relationship just for what you want, you have pre-programmed the relationship to fail. Why? Because your intention is not about sharing your heart with another person but to get what you want. Try and have a relationship that is not me, me, me relationship. This way you will have a greater chance of succeeding. What I am sharing with you has been researched and proven to be one of the best ways to find your Mr. or Mrs. Right.

Relationships are about two people. Take into consideration your partners feelings as well as yours. When you decide to enter a relationship with positive characteristics you have pre-programmed your relationship to work. Consider the words that represent positive characteristics. Do you notice how they also represent real love? Real love is absolutely needed in relationships. It helps prevent you from emotionally injuring your partner. The best part of it is you will not create a person who becomes male or female basher in case the relationship turns out to be temporal.

Fact, if you follow your conscience or inner guide you will be directed away from sparking a dead end relationship. You will be directed to find your soulmate. Human beings were not created to be alone. Neither are we here to have failed relationships. In case you are asking your self, what if I go into a relationship with positive qualities and it does not work? The answer to that is simple. Remember relationships take two people. You may have good intentions before interring a relationship but your love interest may not. In the event that you missed the directions from your conscience, it is okay. Remember this saying? If at first you don't succeed try again. When you try something and it does not work, there is the likelihood that next time you will use a different approach. Changing you approach actually puts you in a better position to succeed next time around provided you do not become discourage by giving up. It is very critical you use methods that are proven to work. Finding that special someone or your soulmate is actually easier than you thought. I can assure you of that. There are fact base and proven methods you can use to find your soulmate. Never ever allow your self to be part of those who claim finding a perfect companion is hard. They are people who have given up and want you to become a quitter just like them. Create a mindset that attracts success. Negative thoughts and discouragement leads to failure. Positive thinking attracts success.

Negative characteristics are such as: vindictiveness, discord, contention, dishonesty, pride, hate, faultfinding, envy, gossip, disrespect, lies, unforgiving, impatience, discouragement, selfishness etc. These negatives characteristics are what I call Don'ts of relationships. They are relationship and marriage killers. They put strain on your relationship and love life. If you are serious about finding that special someone listen and follow your inner guide. Avoid taking negative characteristics into relationship. As a writer and relationship advisor, I try to help my readers by providing free advice on my Website. The site also contains the most powerful relationship secrets ever revealed in an e-book. Depending on researched and proven facts will help you find that special someone. Even bringing out the best in your dates contribute to helping you succeed. Improve your chances of success by adopting and introduce characteristics that will help enhance your relationship.

To get started, I suggest drawing a straight line on a piece of paper. Above the line you may list the positive words at the beginning of this article. Bellow the line list the negative words that represents negative characteristics. You may choose to include your own words if needed. Now transform the words into action in your mind. Pretend there are two people on either side of you. One is treating you in a matter that represents the words above the line. The second person is treating you in ways that represent the words bellow the line. Assess your feelings as to how you are being treated the two imaginary people. Eliminate the negative words from your mind. From then on try and follow your inner guide accompanied by the positive words that illustrates positive characteristics. Use it to enhance your relationship, love life or dating habits. Remember if you want relationship that works, if you want to find your soulmate, you must make choices that will lead you to what you are looking for. Your choice of thoughts and actions will achieve their appropriate results. Good luck.


Ernest Quansah is a writer and expert relationship advisor, specializing in helping singles and couples improve their relationships to achieve emotional and physical fulfillment.

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1-15-06
 

Learning From All Our Relationships

By Maragaret Paul, PhD.

Professional
Inner Bonding

All of our issues come up in our relationships - our fears of domination, rejection, abandonment, of being wrong, embarrassed, or humiliated. Relationships bring up our deepest fears of loss of self and loss of other, which triggers our deep learned protections - anger, judgment, withdrawal, resistance, and compliance.

While our dysfunctional patterns emerge most clearly in primary relationships with a partner, these patterns are certainly activated in friendships, work relationships, and relationships with our parents and children. Therefore, if you are not in a primary relationship with a partner, do not despair! You can still be learning from and evolving through all your relationships.

Craig, one of my clients, has not been in a committed relationship for about seven years. Yet most of the work we do together revolves around the problems he has in his work relationships and friendships. Craig is a person who hates to be controlled by others. As soon as he feels someone wanting something from him such as time, attention, or approval, he feels smothered and withdraws. He is highly sensitive to people coming to him from an inner emptiness and "pulling" on him to fill them up. However, his withdrawal doesn't work well for him. When a "puller" comes up against Craig's resistance, the other person tends to pull even more. Craig, who doesn't want to appear rude, ends up giving himself up and caretaking - giving the person what he or she wants. He then feels angry and finds himself not even wanting to be around that person any more. This same dynamic occurred in both of his marriages.

Craig is in the process of developing a powerful adult self who can speak his truth when feeling pulled on rather than withdrawing or complying. He is learning that it may be loving to himself to be open to learning with the other person and say something like, "I feel there is something you are wanting from me. What is it?" He is learning that it may be loving to himself to say, "When you pull on me for approval (or time or attention), it doesn't feel good. I would like to have a caring relationship with you, but I don't want to be responsible for your good feelings."

Every interaction we have with others is a reflection of our beliefs about ourselves, and we have the opportunity to learn from each difficult interaction. For example, if we believe we are inadequate, unlovable, not enough, or unimportant, we will tend to take personally others' cold or judgmental behavior toward us. We may feel rejected and alone, and respond with anger, resentment, hurt or withdrawal. Our painful feelings and reactive behavior can alert us to the fact that we need to explore our limiting beliefs about ourselves. If you know you are a caring and compassionate person, and your definition of your self-worth is based on who you are rather than on what you do, how you perform or how you look, then you will be much less likely to take other's cold or judgmental behavior personally. You might respond with understanding, compassion or with gently removing yourself from the situation, but you would not feel hurt by other's behavior, nor would you get angry, resentful or withdrawn.

All our relationships and our reactions to them provide fertile ground for our personal and spiritual growth. If you are willing to notice all painful interactions and feelings - even to people with whom you are not involved, such as the person who cut you off on the freeway or the clerk at the market who was rude - you can learn much about your false beliefs about yourself and about what you can and cannot control. Your feelings such as anger at the person who cut you off on the freeway or resentment toward the rude clerk are red flags that let you know it's time to look within and explore the beliefs that are causing your difficult feelings. When you recognize that your feelings are coming from your own beliefs rather than from the other's behavior, you are on the road to personal responsibility and the personal power that comes with that.


Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books,

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1-15-06
 

Safe Relationship Spaces

By Margaret Paul, Phd

Professional
Inner Bonding

In the depths of our souls we all yearn for love and connection with others. That yearning reflects a basic, even biological, human need. Infants, for example, thrive physically only when they feel deeply loved and cherished. As adults, we experience wrenching, soul-level loneliness when we don't have love and meaningful connection in our lives, yet all too frequently we don't have these things. Not with our parents or siblings, not with a mate, not even with a best friend.

We all intuitively know that the highest experience in life is the sharing of love. However, we often confuse the idea of sharing love with the idea of getting love. We try to get love when we feel empty inside and can share love only when we learn to first fill ourselves with love. We cannot share that which we do not have within. The wounded part of us seeks constantly to get love and avoid pain, resulting in an inability to share love. Until we each accept the full responsibility of becoming strong enough to love, we will not be able to share love. This means creating inner safety by learning how to love ourselves and take responsibility for our own feelings, so that we are not constantly trying to get love.

Most people have deep fears of rejection and abandonment, as well as of domination and engulfment. These fears stem from childhood experiences and from defining our worth externally through others' approval, rather than internally through spiritual eyes of truth. We will be unable to share our love to the fullest extent until we heal these fears of loss of other and of loss of self. We will be unable to create the safe relationship space in which to share love, and a safe world in which to live, until we learn how to create safety within.

Inner Bonding, which is a six step spiritual healing process, is a profound process for healing our fears, creating safety within, and for creating safe relationship spaces, spaces where each person feels free to be fully themselves, to speak their truth and grow into their full potential.

It is possible in all relationships to create loving connection. Family, friends, co-workers, employers and employees, who are willing to learn the skills necessary to heal the blocks to connection can all create safe relationship spaces.

A relationship space is the environment in which the relationship is occurring. It is the energy created by the two people involved. I think of this environment, this relationship space, as an actual entity that both people are responsible for creating. It can be a safe relationship space, which is open, warm, light, and inviting, or it can be an unsafe relationship space, which is hard, dark, unforgiving, and full of fear. The kind of environment in which our relationship takes place is crucial to its success--or failure.

At the heart of all relationship issues is our intent. We are always choosing our intent, but most people are unconscious of the fact that they are making a choice each moment. At any given moment there are only two possible intents to choose from:

  • The intent to avoid painful feelings and responsibility for them, through some form of controlling behavior.
  • The intent to learn about loving ourselves and others and take full responsibility for our own feelings and behavior.

Every relationship has a system. The system may be open and loving, or controlling and unloving. Relationship systems start surprisingly early, sometimes within the first minutes or days of meeting.

A safe relationship space exists when two or more people intend to learn and are willing to take full personal responsibility for their own feelings, while accepting that their energy and behavior affects others. When both individuals fully accept that they are a part of an energy system, i.e., they recognize that each person's energy affects the other, and they are willing to take responsibility both for their own controlling behavior and for their responses to the controlling behavior of others, they create a safe relationship space. Such a space is a circle of loving energy that results from each person's deep desire to learn what is most loving to themselves and others. To create a safe relationship space, all persons involved need to be deeply committed to learning about their own controlling behavior, rather than focusing on what another is doing. Rather than giving themselves up to avoid rejection or attempting to get others to give themselves up to feel safe, each person is devoted to their own and the other's highest good, supporting themselves and each other in becoming all they can be.

Many of us have spent a great deal of time in unsafe relationship spaces. In fact, some of us have never experienced a safe relationship space because many, if not most, of us have not learned to create a safe inner space by staying in a loving adult frame of mind when our fears are activated. When our fears of being rejected, abandoned, engulfed and controlled are triggered, most of us are triggered into a child state and immediately retreat into our learned controlling behaviors. We may move our focus into our minds to avoid our feelings; we may attack, blame, defend, demand, explain, deny, judge, criticize, shut down, withdraw, resist, give in and comply, placate, lie, become overly nice, and so on. Of course, the moment we act out in controlling ways, our behavior may trigger another's fears of being rejected or controlled, and that person may then react in controlling ways as well, creating a vicious circle and an unsafe relationship space.

If, when these fears are activated, we focus on who is at fault or who started it, we perpetuate an unsafe relationship space. Blaming another for our fears (and for our own reactive, unloving behavior) makes the relationship space more unsafe than ever. Then both people in the relationship end up feeling bad, each of us believing that our pain is the result of the other person's behavior. We feel victimized, helpless, stuck, and disconnected from our partner. We desperately want the other person to see what they are doing that (we think) is causing our pain. We think that if the other person only understands this, they will change--and we exhaust ourselves trying to figure out how to make them understand.

Over time, being in an unsafe relationship space creates distance between the people involved. When we have not created a safe space in which to speak our complete, heartfelt truth about ourselves, the joy between us gradually dies. And the more we hold back our innermost feelings and experiences, the shallower our connection becomes. Our intimacy crumbles.

In friendships, marriages, and work relationships, our joy, aliveness, and creativity get lost as we each give up parts of ourselves in an attempt to feel safe. In romantic relationships, passion dries up. Superficiality, boredom, fighting, and apathy take its place. We try valiantly to figure out what went wrong. But too often we ask, "What am I doing wrong?" or "What are you doing wrong?" rather than inquiring into the health of the relationship space itself. Only when we look at the relationship space will we see what we are each doing to create the unsafe space. The dual fears of losing the other through rejection and losing ourselves through being swallowed up by the other are the underlying cause of our unloving, reactive behavior. These fears are deeply rooted. They cannot be healed or overcome by getting someone else's love. On the contrary, we must heal these fears before we can share love--give and receive love--with each other.

The key to doing this is learning how to create a safe inner space where we can work with and overcome our fears of rejection and engulfment. This is a process, not an event. Practicing the six step process of Inner Bonding gradually creates inner safety as we learn to take personal responsibility for our own feelings and behavior. Inner Bonding guides us in defining ourselves internally through the eyes of our personal spiritual guidance, instead of externally through performance, looks, and others' approval. In addition, it provides us with a clear process for conflict resolution that can be used in any relationship difficulty. Instead of love eroding with time, love deepens daily, supporting each person in the sacred journey of the soul's evolution.

Any two people who are willing to learn to create their own inner sense of safety can also learn to create a safe relationship space where their intimacy and passion will flourish and their love will endure.


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1-15-06
 

Make Your

Relationship Last

 

It's easy to fall in love. It's easy to be in love when you are young and carefree. But it is not so easy to stay in love when you are confronted with all the challenges and stress that your are presented with daily just living in the fast-paced, multi-tasking world today.

This site will present an honest discussion on what it takes to fall in love and more importantly, what it takes to stay in love when the going gets tough. We will talk about the ABCs on of building healthy relationships and, so that you can be alerted to possible problem areas, we will cover the ABC's of unhealthy relationships as well. We will also talk a bit about your options if you opt not to stay in your current relationship.

So let's get started, shall we? We will begin by talking about LOVE itself, the essential ingredient common to both dating and relationships.

Love Truths: Myth or Reality?

Let's begin by taking a look at some of the more common concepts above "love" relationships and see if they are myths or based upon reality.

"All we need is love." Myth or not? Since love does seem to be able to overcome anything and everything, at least on television and at the movies, this seems like a reality. However, the truth is, making relationships work takes skill and hard work, regardless of the "love" factor. So there is perhaps a partial myth here.

Just like in fairy tales, once true love is found, people live happily ever after. Truth or myth? Granted couples can look into each other's eyes and have those warm fuzzy feelings. However, the truth is, all couples will have their ups and downs. "Happily ever after" seems to imply a perfect, problem-free relationship when in reality, those don't exist.

It has to be "love at first sight" in order to work long-term. Myth or truth? While this can be true for some, it certainly doesn't have to be for all couples in long-term relationships. Many people grow together over time. 

What is Love?

Love is a chemical state of mind that's part of our genes and influenced by our upbringing. We are wired for romance in part because we are supposed to be loving parents who care diligently for our helpless babies.

Romantic love both exhilarates and motivates us. It is also critical to the continuation of our species. Without the attachment of romantic love, we would live in an entirely different society that more closely resembled some (but not all) of those social circles in the animal world.

The chemicals that race around in our brain when we're in love serve several purposes, and the primary goal is the continuation of our species. Those chemicals are what make us want to form families and have children. Once we have children, those chemicals change to encourage us to stay together to raise those children. So in a sense, love really is a chemical addiction that occurs to keep us reproducing.

But let's get down to the nitty gritty. What is it that makes us fall in love with someone in the first place?

We all have a template for the ideal partner buried somewhere in our subconscious. It is this love map that decides which person in that crowded room catches our eye. But how is this template formed?

Appearance

Many researchers have speculated that we tend to go for members of the opposite sex who remind us of our parents. Some have even found that we tend to be attracted to those who remind us of ourselves.

In fact, cognitive psychologist David Perrett, at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, did an experiment in which he morphed a digitized photo of the subject's own face into a face of the opposite sex. Then, he had the subject select from a series of photos which one he or she found most attractive. According to Dr. Perrett, his subjects always preferred the morphed version of their own face (and they didn't recognize it as their own).

Personality

Like appearance, we tend to form preferences for those who remind us of our parents (or others close to us through childhood) because of their personality, sense of humor, likes and dislikes, etc.

Pheromones

The debated topic of human pheromones still carries some weight in the field of love research. The word "pheromone" comes from the Greek words pherein and hormone, meaning "excitement carrier".

In the animal world, pheromones are individual scent "prints" found in urine or sweat that dictate sexual behavior and attract the opposite sex. They help animals identify each other and choose a mate with an immune system different enough from their own to ensure healthy offspring. They have a special organ in their noses called the vomeronasal organ (VNO) that detects this odorless chemical.

The existence of human pheromones was discovered in 1986 by scientists at the Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia and its counterpart in France. They found these chemicals in human sweat. A human VNO has also been found in some, but not all, people. Even if the VNO isn't present in all of us -- and may not be working in those who do have it -- there is still evidence that smell is an important aspect of love (note the booming perfume industry). An experiment was conducted where a group of females smelled the unwashed tee shirts of a group of sweaty males, and each had to select the one to whom she was most "attracted." Just like in the animal world, the majority of the females chose a shirt from the male whose immune system was the most different from their own.

Staring Into Each Other's Eyes

Professor Arthur Aron, of the State University of New York at Stonybrook, has studied what happens when people fall in love and has found that simply staring into each other's eyes has tremendous impact.

In an experiment he conducted, Professor Aron put strangers of the opposite sex together for 90 minutes and had them discuss intimate details about themselves. He then had them stare into each other's eyes for four minutes without talking. The results? Many of the subjects felt a deep attraction for their partner after the experiment, and two even ended up getting married six months later.

  Types or Stages of Love

There are three distinct types or stages of "love":

  1. Lust, or erotic passion
  2. Attraction, or romantic passion
  3. Attachment, or commitment

When all three of these happen with the same person, you have a very strong bond. Sometimes, however, the one we lust after isn't the one we're actually in love with.

Lust

When we're teenagers, just after puberty, estrogen and testosterone become active in our bodies for the first time and create the desire to experience "love." These desires, a.k.a. lust, play a big role both during puberty and throughout our lives.

According to an article by Lisa Diamond, entitled "Love and Sexual Desire" (Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol 13 no. 3), lust and romantic love are two different things caused by different underlying substrates. Lust evolved for the purpose of sexual mating, while romantic love evolved because of the need for infant/child bonding. So even though we often experience lust for our romantic partner, sometimes we don't -- and that's okay. Or, maybe we do, but we also lust after someone else. According to Dr. Diamond, that's normal.

Sexologist John Money draws the line between love and lust in this way: "Love exists above the belt, lust below. Love is lyrical. Lust is lewd."

Pheromones, looks and our own learned predispositions for what we look for in a mate play an important role in whom we lust after, as well. Without lust, we might never find that special someone. But, while lust keeps us "looking around," it is our desire for romance that leads us to attraction.  

Attraction

While the initial feelings may (or may not) come from lust, what happens next -- if the relationship is to progress -- is attraction. When attraction, or romantic passion, comes into play, we often lose our ability to think rationally -- at least when it comes to the object of our attraction. The old saying "love is blind" is really accurate in this stage. We are often oblivious to any flaws our partner might have. We idealize them and can't get them off our minds. This overwhelming preoccupation and drive is part of our biology.

In this stage, couples spend many hours getting to know each other. If this attraction remains strong and is felt by both of them, then they usually enter the third stage: attachment.

Attachment

The attachment, or commitment, stage is love for the duration. You've passed fantasy love and are entering into real love. This stage of love has to be strong enough to withstand many problems and distractions. Studies by University of Minnesota researcher Ellen Berscheid and others have shown that the more we idealize the one we love, the stronger the relationship during the attachment stage.

Psychologists at the University of Texas in Austin have come to the same conclusion. They found that idealization appears to keep people together and keep them happier in marriage. "Usually, this is a matter of one person putting a good spin on the partner, seeing the partner as more responsive than he or she really is," says Ted Huston, the study's lead investigator. "People who do that tend to stay in relationships longer than those who can't or don't."

Playing a key role in this stage are oxytocin, vasopressin and endorphins, which are released when having sex.

Let's find out more about the chemistry of love. 

The Chemistry of Love

There are a lot of chemicals racing around your brain and body when you're in love. Researchers are gradually learning more and more about the roles they play both when we are falling in love and when we're in long-term relationships. Of course, estrogen and testosterone play a role in the sex drive area. Without them, we might never venture into the "real love" arena.

That initial giddiness that comes when we're first falling in love includes a racing heart, flushed skin and sweaty palms. Researchers say this is due to the dopamine, norepinephrine and phenylethylamine we're releasing. Dopamine is thought to be the "pleasure chemical," producing a feeling of bliss. Norepinephrine is similar to adrenaline and produces the racing heart and excitement.

According to Helen Fisher, anthropologist and well-known love researcher from Rutgers University, together these two chemicals produce elation, intense energy, sleeplessness, craving, loss of appetite and focused attention. She also says, "The human body releases the cocktail of love rapture only when certain conditions are met and ... men more readily produce it than women, because of their more visual nature."

Researchers are using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to watch people's brains when they look at a photograph of their object of affection. According to Helen Fisher, a well-known love researcher and an anthropologist at Rutgers University, what they see in those scans during that "crazed, can't-think-of-anything-but stage of romance" -- the attraction stage -- is the biological drive to focus on one person.

The scans showed increased blood flow in areas of the brain with high concentrations of receptors for dopamine -- associated with states of euphoria, craving and addiction. High levels of dopamine are also associated with norepinephrine, which heightens attention, short-term memory, hyperactivity, sleeplessness and goal-oriented behavior. In other words, couples in this stage of love focus intently on the relationship and often on little else.

Another possible explanation for the intense focus and idealizing view that occurs in the attraction stage comes from researchers at University College London. They discovered that people in love have lower levels of serotonin and also that neural circuits associated with the way we assess others are suppressed. These lower serotonin levels are the same as those found in people with obsessive-compulsive disorders, possibly explaining why those in love "obsess" about their partner.

Chemical Bonding
 

Love Junkies

There are those who may be addicted to that love "high." They need that amphetamine-like rush of dopamine, norepinephrine and phenylethylamine. Because the body builds up a tolerance to these chemicals, it begins to take more and more to give love junkies that high. They go through relationship after relationship to get their fix.

In romantic love, when two people have sex, oxytocin is released, which helps bond the relationship. According to researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, the hormone oxytocin has been shown to be "associated with the ability to maintain healthy interpersonal relationships and healthy psychological boundaries with other people." When it is released during orgasm, it begins creating an emotional bond -- the more sex, the greater the bond. Oxytocin is also associated with mother/infant bonding, uterine contractions during labor in childbirth and the "let down" reflex necessary for breastfeeding.

Vasopressin, an antidiuretic hormone, is another chemical that has been associated with the formation of long-term, monogamous relationships. Dr. Fisher believes that oxytocin and vasopressin interfere with the dopamine and norepinephrine pathways, which might explain why passionate love fades as attachment grows.

Endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, also play a key role in long-term relationships. They produce a general sense of well-being, including feeling soothed, peaceful and secure. Like dopamine and norepinephrine, endorphins are released during sex; they are also released during physical contact, exercise and other activities. According to Michel Odent of London's Primal Health Research Center, endorphins induce a "drug-like dependency."  

The Long Haul?
 

What about when that euphoric feeling is gone? According to Ted Huston at the University of Texas, the speed at which courtship progresses often determines the ultimate success of the relationship. What they found was that the longer the courtship, the stronger the long-term relationship.

The feelings of passionate love, however, do lose their strength over time. Studies have shown that passionate love fades quickly and is nearly gone after two or three years. The chemicals responsible for "that lovin' feeling" (adrenaline, dopamine, norepinephrine, phenylethylamine, etc.) dwindle. Suddenly your lover has faults.

Why has he or she changed, you may wonder. Actually, your partner probably hasn't changed at all; it's just that you're now able to see him or her rationally, rather than through the blinding hormones of infatuation and passionate love. At this stage, the relationship is either strong enough to endure, or the relationship ends.

If the relationship can advance, then other chemicals kick in. Endorphins, for example, are still providing a sense of well-being and security. Additionally, oxytocin is still released when you're having sex, producing feelings of satisfaction and attachment. Vasopressin also continues to play a role in attachment.

 Sexuality and Sensuality

There is no clear borderline between sexual and nonsexual enjoyment of touching someone else's body. For example, holding hands may or may not have a sexual connotation, depending on culture, situation and other factors. There are, however, actions that are clearly sexual by almost anyone's definition but which have been argued by an accused as not having sexual relations since the most common form of heterosexual sexual intercourse had not occurred. The distinction between sexual and nonsexual behavior can be relevant due to social rules.

Some criteria that may be applied are:

  • the body parts involved
  • physical signs of sexual arousal
  • subjective feeling

While enjoying touching the body of someone else implies enjoying one's own body also, the latter may also happen without another person; enjoying one's own body also may or may not be of a sexual nature. If it is, it is called autoeroticism.

The whole of one's sexual activities (including erotic and wet dreams and waking sexual fantasies and daydreams) is called one's sex life. 

Desire and Fantasy

Sexual desire or libido is the desire for sexual behavior. Most people focus their sexual desire on someone that they have a sexual relationship with, or would desire to have a sexual relationship with.

Many people enjoy fantasizing about, or reading or viewing depictions of, sexual fantasies of activities that they do not wish to engage in in their own lives, or that they would be unable to engage in in their own lives. 

Factors Determining Sexual Attraction for Women

A strong aspect to sexual attraction is proportion. Some studies suggest that the source of the physical attraction of a human male to a human female is dependent upon a proportion between the width of the hips to the width of the waist, sometimes referred to as the Golden ratio (approximately 1.618).

It is not unusual for a plastic surgeon to correct smaller errors of proportion, such as making a nose that is too big smaller (via rhinoplasty), or making breasts that are too small larger via breast implants.

One idea of physical beauty regarding the breasts of women is that the best shape approaches the shape of a three dimensional parabola (which is called a Paraboloid of revolution) as opposed to a hyperbola, or a sphere. Conversely, the shape of the buttocks of an attractive person (male or female) tends to resemble the shape of a cardioid, which is the inverse transform of a parabola.

The appearance of health also plays a part in physical attraction. Often, women with long hair appear more beautiful as the ability to grow long healthy looking hair is an indication of continuous health of the individual growing it. Another indication of health of an individual is the ability to grow long, strong, fingernails. Therefore, artificial nails and manicures have become widely popular in late 20th century with women.

Weight seems at first sight to be a physical factor in attractiveness of both genders (typically women), but there is some debate that this is actually a function of social desirability. In some cultures, both historically and in the present day, a fat woman is or was seen as sexually attractive. However, this cannot be solely because fat deposits provide the energy needed for developing a healthy fetus, as in other cultures, women so thin as to stand a high risk of miscarriage are considered attractive. Rather, weight is a visible indicator of social status and wealth; in some societies, only the rich can afford to be fat, while in others, only the rich can afford liposuction and personal trainers. Therefore weight is at least partially an indicator of social status, which is itself sexually desirable to many. 

Factors Determining Sexual Attraction for Men

Sexual attraction for man by a woman is determined largely by the height of the man. For the woman, the man should be at least a few inches taller than her in order for her to be sexually attracted to him. It would be preferable if the man is at least a little above the average in height in the given population of males. This implies that women look for signs of social dominance and power as factors that determine male beauty. Women are attracted to men who display possession of resources and wealth, shows influence in social group, and display a promise or prospect of upward social mobility.

Males demonstrate attractiveness by, sometimes, demonstrating their levels of the hormone testosterone by growing larger and well-defined muscles through exercise.

At various times in history and throughout various cultures and sub-cultures the growth, maintenance and display of facial or body hair produced as a by-product of testosterone activity within male bodies has been considered a primary characteristic of sexual attractiveness, and of a display of masculinity in general. Cultural development seems to oscillate through multi-generational cycles from one pole to another: extreme hair growth, especially of facial hair accompanied by elaborate grooming rituals is often followed within a couple of generations by a widespread antipathy to body hair and the widespread adoption of depilatory practices.

The causal mechanism for this oscillation has not been established but differences in the simultaneous characterization of body hair attractiveness within a culture between different social classes may indicate that the dynamic force driving the diffusion of differing male body hair social practices is in fact mate selection by females. Sociological and genetic studies in developed nations have indicated that in general females tend to mate with males of a slightly higher socioeconomic status. Therefore there are several loci of female attraction to male body hair "chasing" each other through society in a roughly vertical direction. Thus particular male attitudes to their body and facial hair within a social stratum are generated largely by the attitudes extant within women of a slightly lower socio-economic status.

Personality and Sexual Attractiveness

Provided that all of the above listed aspects are reasonably normal, there is no requirement for great physical beauty for a person to be sexually attractive, and personality and good manners can come to the fore. In many cases, people with good personality can be strikingly sexually attractive, even if they are superficially sexually unattractive in appearance. The personality characteristics of a dominant male may override any other logical or superficial flaws. 

Sexual Relationships

Opinions and norms vary about whether an emotional bond of a certain intensity and durability should be a prerequisite for sex (see also below).

Like other primates, humans use sexuality for reproduction and for maintenance of social bonds. It is generally acknowledged that children are capable of feeling sexual pleasure, even if they are not yet able to engage in sexual intercourse with each other, and/or are not yet biologically able to reproduce. Yet, child sexuality has historically been severely limited in western societies; in the late 19th century, the hysteria surrounding so-called "self-abuse" (masturbation) among children reached its peak and fueled the adoption of circumcision (including female circumcision) in some cultures.

Many sexual activities can be engaged in by same sex or opposite sex partners. However some, most notably vaginal sexual intercourse, can only be engaged in by partners of opposite sexes. As with other behaviors, our high intelligence and complex societies have produced in us the most complicated sexual behaviors of any animal. Most people experiment with a range of sexual activities during their lives, though they tend to engage in only a few of these regularly.

While most people enjoy some sexual activities, some people avoid sexual activities altogether for religious or other reasons (i.e. chastity, sexual abstinence, asexuality). Other people foster sexual relationships primarily with themselves and are referred to as autosexual. Historically, most societies and religions have viewed sex as appropriate only within marriage. There is still a widespread belief that sex acts are devalued when engaged in outside of a long-term, monogamous romantic relationship, but extra-marital sexual activity and casual sex became increasingly accepted in modern society during the sexual revolution.

Norms and Rules

Sexual behavior, like other kinds of social activity, is generally governed by rules which are culturally specific and vary widely

Nearly all cultures consider it a serious crime to force someone to engage in sexual behavior or to engage in sexual behavior with someone who does not consent. This is called sexual assault, and in the case of sexual intercourse it is called rape, the most serious kind of sexual assault. Details on this distinction may vary. Also, precisely what constitutes effective consent to have sex varies from culture to culture and is frequently debated. Laws regulating what constitutes consent, including the minimum age at which a person can consent to have sex, are frequently the subject of debate.

Prostitutes, engage in various sexual activities as a business transaction; this is legal but often associated with other forms of illegal activity.

Various forms of same-gender sexual activity are prohibited under law in many areas at different times in history. In 2003, the Lawrence v Texas United States Supreme Court decision overturned all such laws in the US 

Classification of Sex Moves

Touching may include: Holding hands, hugging, sitting or lying against each other, caressing (gently stroking body parts or hair with hand), cuddling, back rub and message, kissing
Hugging: gently enclosing the arms around the trunk of each other

Physical intimacy involves: Physical closeness, touching (especially tenderly), touching intimate parts, outercourse, sexual penetration

The list is logically in order of increasing degree, with each form implying the previous one, but of course, it is not necessarily in order of increasing enjoyment.

While the best-known sexual behavior is vaginal intercourse, the wide range of human sexual activities includes, but is not limited to: anal sex, BDSM, foreplay, masturbation, all forms of oral sex, outer-course, petting, seduction, frotteurism, tribadism, fisting and sexual fetishism.

Birth Control and STDs

All sexual behaviors that involve the contact of semen with the vagina or vulva may result in pregnancy. To prevent pregnancy, many people employ a variety of birth control measures.

All sexual behaviors that involve contact with another person or the bodily fluids of another person entail some risk of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which is why safe sex techniques are recommended. These techniques are generally less necessary for those in committed monogamous relationships with partners who have been demonstrated to be free of STDs. 

ABC's of Healthy, Happy Relationships

For Healthy, Happy Relationships, here are some basic guidelines for reference. They are in alphabetical order only, not order of importance.

Acceptance - Don't try to change someone. This is a must. If a person really wants to change, that person will need to be motivated and take action. Period. Also regarding acceptance, accept limitations. He is not Superman; you are not Wonder woman. No one is perfect; so do not expect perfection. Accept the little flaws that come with each person. You accept theirs; they accept yours.

That's life!

Bonding - Bonding with another person generally does take time. Communicate - talk, listen, share the good and the bad, ask questions, compliment instead of nag or insult. In short be a friend; make a friend. That is healthy. If this bonding is lacking, it may mean professional help is needed (like a counselor or therapist) or it may be time to move on to healthier relationships.

Communications - Be open to the other person. Check judgmental attitudes at the door. And give chances. Be fair, flexible and friendly. If and when things get out of hand and it is your fault, apologize and ask forgiveness and move on. Similarly, be acceptable to apologies and grant forgiveness, too. Life is too short to stay focused on the negative too long. No need to deny it; face it, deal with it and move on past it to improve and strengthen your relationships.

Dependable - Be a friend; i.e. be dependable. Things happen from time to time and cancellations are a part of life. But on the whole, if you say you'll do something, do it. Take responsibility for your own actions.

Expectations - Movies, romance novels and television shows often portray life, especially human relationships, very differently than it is in the real world - this is no secret. How many people really always look like movie stars, have zero health ailments, endless income without hardly ever going to work, fabulous cars and homes, friends and family who totally adore them and come to their beckon call, no long-term problems because they all end so quickly, etc.? And who can battle serious issues like one person having an affair with someone else, and wrap the whole storyline up in two hours? Get real. Expect a little less than the media portray and learn more about humans by joining the real world scenario.

Flexible - Keep a little mystery in the relationship. Juggle your schedule and invite the other person to a surprise picnic or walk at a local public park area.

Goals - People usually have some goals together over time. Develop some together. Toss what no longer works, what you outgrew or what may no longer seem important or is finished. And then inherit or create new goals. Working toward a common cause like saving for an annual vacation or a new garden area can help people grow together.

Health - Take care of your own health and encourage others, too. Even in this day and age of cable television with movies and the Internet available 24 / 7, it's still amazing the number of people out there who can't "Just say no" to unhealthy behaviors like smoking and drug abuse. Don't be afraid to share your healthy views and encourage healthy choices and living.

Intimacy - Closeness with a person takes time to develop. And there's more to intimacy than physical contact. Intimacy can mean a hug during a tough time, a smile of encouragement in the face of adversity and compassion when you least feel like giving. Don't abuse or take advantage or the other person. And don't let yourself be abused or taken advantage of. Intimacy takes commitment and sharing.

Just say no - You don't always have to be voiceless or agree with someone in a relationship. Be able to say, "No" and be an individual, too.

Keep in Touch - Don't let life separate you too long. With technology today, you can stay in touch with cell phones and email. No need to overdo it and be obsessive and controlling, but do stay in touch off and on throughout the day with quick "Hellos" and "How are things going?"

Lemonade - Make lemonade out of those relationship lemons. And "yes" there will be some, since life is not perfect! For example, when your partner is late and you miss a movie date or restaurant reservation, don't make it a night of terror and destroy what's left when you finally do get together. Do something else instead, like relax at home with a video and scented candles, and order subs (and lemonade!)

Make the Honeymoon Last - Remember how your felt when you first got together? Do those little things that you did at the beginning and make the honeymoon last. Bring home fresh flowers, shut off the television, turn on some music and dance with your mate, compliment your mate, make dates to go to places you used to frequent (the old neighborhood pizza parlor, a local drive in, a hotel you went to on your honeymoon, etc.)


Nuts and Bolts - Don't focus so much on the "nuts and bolts" of who said what, when, how often and why they were wrong…. In other words, sometimes during an argument, try losing your memory of who did what, when and how many times in the past. Instead, humble yourself, apologize for having messed up and hug your mate!

Open - Open windows when doors close. If you feel you've been pushed to the limit and don't want to try one more time, close the door on that angle of the issue. Take a walk, get some ice cream and cool off (literally). Then return relaxed and refreshed, and open a window to air differences.

Parental Issues - Even the best of relationships deal with someone's past parental issues from time to time. Counseling can help, yes, but something out of the blue can still trigger a parental issue that someone struggles to deal with regardless of age, it seems. In these cases, just realizing and stating that it's normal, may never get resolved and is okay to move on, can work wonders - for both parties.

Quality - With hectic schedules, quality time is important. So even if you can only meet to watch a 30-minute comedy together every evening, make and keep that date. You'll probably be especially glad you did when times get tough and have the wonderful memories to help get you by.
Respect - Respect not only each other, but each other's property, friendships, time, job and …everything. Remember you are sharing life together and need to be courteous to one another and all the affects you.

Sharing - Likewise share and don't be stingy. "You reap what you sow," and "You can't take it with you" when you die, as the sayings go.

Trust - Healthy relationships involve people who trust one another. One person doesn't get involved in unhealthy risks with a third party or lie to the other. There is an open, positive exchange of trust. So if this is lacking, seek help from a professional counselor, if necessary, and see what's wrong.

Understanding - Happy, healthy couples try to understand each other even if it means joining a self-help group, reading library books about something foreign or unknown, or taking time to research and delve into an issue. In other words, take time to gain knowledge and wisdom before jumping the gun on something you may not really understand.

Violence - Violence is not welcome. Period. Don't accept it. Don't dish it out. Anger Management is not just a movie term today. There really is help out there if you or your mate needs it.
Warning Signs - Healthy people are generally alert to warning signs of trouble and head them. Denial isn't part of their life.

X-Ray - Happy people in healthy relationships generally don't look at each other as they look at x-rays. They don't see close-ups of each flaw and character make up. They learn to look beyond the bare essentials and see the whole person.

Youthful Attitude - A youthful attitude can go far in relationships. Old outlooks can spawn resentment, skepticism and other negative connotations. A little dose of daily humor (reading comics, watching or listening to comedy, etc.) and keeping in touch with youth (church activities, neighborhood / social nonprofit functions and events, etc.) can help maintain a fresh, youthful outlook.

Zombie - Don't go through life like you're a zombie! It's not up to your mate to fulfill your life. You need to take charge yourself!  
 

ABC's of Unhealthy, Sad Relationships

Unhealthy, Sad Relationships have some general notable characteristics in common. Here are some basic guidelines for reference. They are in alphabetical order only, not order of importance.

Avoidance - Many people in unhealthy relationships simply avoid facing reality. There are many reasons for this. For instance, deep down inside, the people involved may be trying to make themselves appear superior. Or perhaps they don't want to face the fact that their mates really aren't who they say they are. For example, Person A might cover up and make excuses for his mate, Person B, who is always late coming home from work and almost always misses family functions. Person A could be trying to avoid reality and make up excuses to cover up an affair that Person B is involved in so that it doesn't destroy their "perfect image" in everyone's eyes. Or Person A could be avoiding the fact that Person B is a workaholic.

Burnout - Although many can carry out romance throughout their entire relationships, the actual honeymoon period does have to end, in reality. And those who can keep the "love" fires burning, not 24 / 7 but off and on regularly during their relationship, have better chances of healthier relationships than those who suffer burnout and don't know where to turn or who turn to unhealthy solutions. In short, every relationship has its highs and lows.

During the low times, like maybe when one person begins to feel disillusioned with marriage, or maybe trapped, tired, helpless, depressed or let down, if this person reaches out to unhealthy alternatives, like getting a fake substitution - maybe seeking another mate in secret, getting "high," or some other negative behavior, once-healthy relationships can suffer. Instead, the couple needs to face issues together; add some new goals to the relationship, do some fun things together more, talk more, etc.

Compatibility Issues - Opposites attract; or do they? Sure it's great to have some "spice" in your life. But relationships are about getting your needs met - at least on some level. And constant negativity can certainly hinder intimacy. So those who have a difficult time focusing on what attracted them to their mates in the first place can suffer unhealthy, sad relationships, constantly in conflict over issues with which they can't agree.

Devotional Void - A lack of commitment or ardent love can make for unhappy relationships. Being friends or roommates is one thing. Being committed, loving soul mates is another. Being "in love" 24/7 doesn't necessarily have to be a requirement, but being in a "loving" committed relationship can make the difference.

Enthusiasm Dwindles - If you don't add in some spice once in awhile, you can get the same old, same old. Couples caught up in routines can lose that spark of enthusiasm; i.e. zest of life in their relationships if they forget to be spontaneous once in awhile or forget to flavor their relationship with fun, adventure, romance.

Forgiveness Void - No one is perfect. Mistakes are a part of life. Those unwilling or unable to forgive, can pretty much count on having more unhealthy relationships over time. Relationships based or growing on anger, spite, disgust, resentment or other negative feelings associated with lack of forgiveness are like wilted flowers. They need tending to or they'll die.

Guise - Simulated relationships or those under the guise of having a solid, happy relationship are not destined for success, on the whole. Or rather false is as false does, as Forest Gump might say. Pretending wears thin and doesn't last long.

Harm - Harmful thoughts, words and actions can sure lead to unhealthy relationships. An occasional outbreak during a stressful moment might be considered normal like swearing; i.e. if someone hasn't been raped, battered (or other sever trauma has occurred) by the other party. However, harmful, violent actions such as those and repeated verbal negativity is abusive and not healthy in relationships - or life.

Indulgence - Instant gratification or indulgence of unhealthy behaviors is a sign of trouble. Grabbing chocolate to satisfy a craving is one thing. Grabbing illicit drugs or another mate in secrecy is another. Yielding to unhealthy temptations and desires is a pathway to unhealthy relationships.

Just say yes - Not being able to draw boundaries or sustain limits is another possible path to sad relationships. For example, if one person in the relationship has a difficult time saying "No" and setting limits, his or her mate could always come in second, third or forth - - rarely first in the other person's eyes and agenda. And while it's fine to take a back seat once in awhile, people make time for priorities and in healthy relationships, both parties feel and share the value of being number one with one another.

Kick the Dog - Kicking the dog, not in a literal sense (although that would be negative, too!) is characteristic of unhealthy relationships. For example, if a person comes home angry and passes this anger on to the dog by kicking it, that is not a healthy release of anger. The unhealthier people are, the unhealthier they generally deal with stress. Help is available.

Lemons - Unhealthy relationships often have at least one party who can't seem to make lemonade out of life's lemons. Maybe he or she has the wrong recipe. Or maybe the person is a bad cook. But assistance is needed in this department!

Management Mania - Remember the "Odd Couple?" A super manager personality can ruin an otherwise healthy relationship. Likewise a super sloth can wreak one, too. A little give and take is called for.

"Neverland" - Ever heard something this in an argument, "You never….?" Well trips to Neverland are for Peter Pan. Skip the "always" and "nevers" in arguments and avoid unhealthy relationship issues. It's rare that someone does or does not do something 100 percent of the time. Memories just seem to fail during opportunistic, stressful episodes sometimes (not always, though!)

Ominous - Bad or ominous feelings, an omen…a feeling deep inside that tells you something is wrong -
this often accompanies unhealthy relationships.

Pressure - When one party pressures (or forces) the other to have sex, this is characteristic of an unhealthy relationship.

Questions - Part of communicating is asking and answering questions. If this process causes problems, i.e. even the simplest of questions arouses anger, suspicions, fighting, etc., this is a trait often found with unhealthy relationships. The party who has difficulty answering questions may be hiding something, dealing with control issues or dealing with substance abuse (or other).

Responds Inappropriately - Some characteristics of unhealthy relationships include playing head games, trying to humiliate, using threats, insults or jealousy. These inappropriate responses suggest unhealthy environment between the couple.

Silence - Silence isn't always golden, as the saying goes. If one person shuns or ignores the other, outside of a solitary or very brief occurrence, this can reflect an unhealthy relationship.

Treatment - If healthcare treatments are being ignored or stopped without the help of a professional; for example, in the case of stopping anti-depressant medication after a severe (negative) episode (like suicide), this can signal an unhealthy relationship. People need to take care of themselves and not leave everything up to their mates in relationships.

Untidy / Unkempt - When one or both partners disregards physical appearance for the duration (long-term, not just for a weekend), this signals an unhealthy relationship. One or both could be abusing substances, for example, or suffering depression.

Verbal Abuse /Violate - When one or both partners use verbal abuse and / or violate or cause harm to the other's person or personal property, things or friends, this can be a red flag for an unhealthy relationship. People should respect each other and each other's property, things and friends. And verbal abuse is not appropriate.

Weapons - Threatening a partner with a weapon, even if it's a household (or other) item used as a weapon is a sign of an unhealthy relationship.

Xerox - A trait of an unhappy relationship can be when a person is copying another, failing to be himself or herself. Some personality disorders are also characterized by this trait that reportedly shows up in a number of unhealthy relationships. And help is available.

Youthful Outlook / Emotions - An energetic, youthful attitude toward life is one thing. Youthful expectations; i.e. outlook, and emotions can be characteristic of unhealthy partners. Growing couples need maturity as they grow together and face adult issues. Childish displays of anger, hostility, selfishness, etc., don't have much place in healthy, growing partnerships.

Zero - Growing relationships need a foundation. Zero to grow on is difficult to multiply. Got to start somewhere!  

Lowdown on Long Lasting Love

Now it's time to take a look at the lowdown on how to develop long lasting love. Here are some pointers on how to deal with some of the top issues that when mishandled, can separate the men from the boys, as they say, or rather the successful couples from the less-successful ones.

Conflict Management 

The key here is to realize that most couples do not solve every issue. In fact, reports show that couples don't solve most of their problems. So if you think your girlfriends or buddies are winning more frequent battles than you, forget about it. It's not happening.

Next realize that statistics still reflect about a 50 percent survival rate for married couples long-term. (i.e. the other half divorce). And for those who do make it, it's not so much about whether or not they "love" each other more than the divorced people did. It's generally more about that fact that they developed better communication skills and learned to understand each other better. And developed and learning - these are action verbs.

As you develop and learn your own job skills for advancement, so can you and should you do the same for relationship advancement. There is no shame in reaching out and improving in this area.

Tips for developing better communication skills and learning to understand your mate better (i.e. improve conflict management) are as follows:

·         Take turns speaking and listening to each other. As a speaker, speak only for yourself and keep your comments brief. The stop and invite the listener to sum up what you said (to make sure he or she understood).

·         Then allow the other person to take over and follow the same format.

·         Share back and forth in this same manner, jotting down conflict management notes as needed for following up later and establishing new boundaries in your relationship. 

Tips for Handling Conflict Resolutions

1. Start with the person presenting his or her complaint in a general format, without blame. For example, instead of saying, "You keep leaving dirty dishes out on the counter all night," say "I don't like it when dirty dishes are left out on the counter. During my college days, that attracted cockroaches."

2. Encourage each other to come to an agreement in a calm, friendly manner. Negotiate. Give and take. Maybe the dishes from late night snacks don't have to be washed with soap and hot water, but can simply be rinsed off instead and stacked in the sink's dishpan or strainer, for instance.

3. If negativity starts, stop it ASAP. In the above example, maybe the mate wants all sinks clear and free for emptying coffee cups and other snack and breakfast dishes. So this person starts swearing, calling the other person a lazy idiot or something…STOP.

4. Calm things back down. Use hand signals like coaches do in sports, if necessary. Men can often relate to this. Do a "time out" mode. And take a breather or break for a few minutes.

5. Then go back to where things were fine, just before step "3." Inject some humor and try to resolve the conflict again. Maybe joke about how you pay much more for your residence now and don't have cockroach problems. And that OK, one sink can be left clear, the other will hold a strainer of rinsed-off items. Any dirty ones can be placed / stacked on one side of the strainer; rinsed items on the other. Done deal!
 

Money Management

Some counselors say that money handling is the number one priority issue of conflict among couples. Problems arise with how money is viewed, how it should be save, spent and even earned. So here are some general guidelines to money management to help iron out some financial issues for couples.

1. Decide to set aside some time for discussing your financial matters in peace and quiet. Doing this quarterly (or monthly, if time and patience allow) is a good idea. Then you can make sure your budget is on track and allow a glance ahead at possible items coming up that may have been missed (like renewal of driver's licenses) and look back to see how you are doing.

2. Gather all of your budgeting materials in one place; notebook paper, 3-prong folder with pockets for storing bills as they arrive in the mail, stamps, calculator, envelopes, check book, savings book, pencil, pen. When it's time to work on your finances, bring everything out at once (maybe store in a special drawer or box for handy pick-up-and-go.)

3. On a sheet of notebook paper (or a sheet from a budget planning guidebook or software print out), list each monthly expense; rent / house payment, each utility, charities / tithing, grocery money, misc. funds (to allow for medicines, snacks, CD rental, etc.), car payments, insurance, credit card payments, etc.

For guidelines, there are several things you can do; check with your local bank for budget planning help, ask a librarian for help finding budget books, check your computer's software (Microsoft Word has some business / budgeting sheets that could be altered to fit your family planning needs, for instance), visit local office supply stores to see which types of budget planner notebooks and guide they may have available, surf online or use the following one enclosed and revise it to suit your needs. Hint: visit www.digital-women.com/daily-planner for lots of planner pages to choose from (for men and women!)

4. Fill in the blanks on your budget planner page. List how much each monthly payment is in #3 above. Then total the list to see how much income you need to cover all your expenses.

5. Note your incomes in a separate column off to the side. Does your income exceed your expense total? If so, great. Simply have fun choosing what you'd like to both do with your extra income, with long-term and short-term goals that are compatible with both of you. If not, if income does not exceed expenses, and this is the area where discourse usually strikes, it's time to whittle down your expenses and / or earn extra income.

Here are tips on whittling down income and being more budget-conscious with your available funds:

·         Use coupons, even cyber-ones like from www.valpak.com

·         Check with your insurance about higher deductibles and any special rate savings programs they may have (like good driving discounts).

·         Visit second hand stores for used books and clothing.

·         Donate time and volunteer work instead of tithing money

·         Buy no-name foods, toiletry and household items (shampoos, deodorants, light bulbs, etc.) instead of brand names.

·         Cook at home more as entertainment and invite your neighbors and friends over. And skip eating out so much, renting CD / DVDs and going to movies.

·         Track and monitor your spending. Jot purchases in a notebook and keep handy with your checkbook for quick reference. Review and see how you do weekly. Improve!

·         Plan ahead. For example, save a little each month for Christmas so that in December, you'll already have what you need for gifts already saved up. Likewise for annual insurance billings (like for the house) or for any other annual billings.

·         See if you can trade services with others. For example, if you have a computer and can toss up a decent web page maybe you can create web pages for small business in the area in exchange for gift cards to use in their stores.

·         Sell some of your stuff - try online auctions, garage sales, cheap classifieds, bulletin boards around town…

·         Resist the urge to "immediately" fulfill a want. Instead, keep a list going of "wants." If an item has been on there for a year, for example, then begin shopping for it. Look for bargains, try to trade for it, negotiate for a better deal. Waiting generally means you'll really want it more (or not, and cross it off your list) and will actually USE it when you get it and not just toss it in a pile with other unopened or hardly used things that you just HAD to have.

·         Check out library books like:
The Cheapskate Monthly Money Makeover, by Mary Hunt;
St. Martin
's Press; Reissue edition (March 1, 1995).
Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two-Income Economy, by Jonni McCoy; Bethany House Publishers; 3rd edition (
October 1, 2001
).
The Complete Cheapskate: How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out, and Break Free from Money Worries Forever, by Mary E. Hunt, Mary Hunt; St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (August 1, 2003).
 

Relationship Self-Help Exercise

Self-help to help your relationship improve. Here are some exercises to take by yourself and share with your mate. Take them slow and steady, at your own pace. Have fun with them. (There are no grades!)

Instructions: Jot your replies down on paper if you like or in a private "couple's" journal fur future reference. Add to them, modify them, edit them as you'd like. The key is to have fun, learn more about yourself, your mate and your relationship together, and grow.

Exercise A: List your three best traits. Then list your mate's top three traits you admire.

Exercise B: List the top three areas in your life that you would like to work on improving. These can be any range of things from improving income to education to giving more, losing more weight, being less shy, etc. Then list the top three areas in your mate's life that you'd like to see improved.

Fill in the blanks, and then have your mate reply to the same questions. Take turns reading your replies and learning more about each other:

Regarding my appearance, I think I am _____________________
A funny thing that happened to me was _____________________
One place I would love to visit is ____________________________
If money was no object, I would buy _________________________
A person who meant a lot to me while I was growing up is ___________because ______________________________________
A major lesson I learned in life is _____________________________
If I could have any job in the world, it would be __________________
A hero of mine is (can be fictional) ____________________________
If a dream could come true, I'd like ___________________________

One way I'd like to give back would be ________________________

On a personal note, here is where I would like to be:

1 year from now:___________________
3 years from now: __________________
5 years from now: ___________________

As a couple, here is where I'd like us to be:

1 year from now:___________________
3 years from now: __________________
5 years from now: ___________________

One things about you that makes me smile is ____________________

I'll always remember this about you ___________________________

Exercise C: List what you feel is good about your relationship.


Exercise D: List what you feel could use work / improvement in your relationship.

Exercise E: How could you help improve your relationship? And how do you think your partner could help improve the relationship?

Reply:

1. What is the best memory that comes to mind about your mate?

2. What do you see in the future for your relationship: Location? Jobs? House? Pets? Children? Travel?

3. What fun things would you like to try and do with your mate more (Ballroom dancing? Gourmet cooking? Snow skiing? Other?) When will you schedule one of these new things?



In summary, since the latest reports show that just about anyone and everyone can learn the important social skills needed for relationship building, use these exercises, tips and resources to focus on building your own healthy relationship. Be alert to possible problem areas, and take action to improve your life.

However, if you feel that you are not being met halfway in your efforts and that there is just no way you are going to make your marriage succeed, you may proceed on to the next section...


The Last Resort: Divorce
 -
Types of Divorce
 -
State Variations
 -
Means to Divorce
 -
Lawyers, Judges and Fees

Overview of the Process
 -
Separation
 -
Filing a Petition
 -
Notifying the Spouse
 -
Temporary Hearing
 -
The Agreement
 -
The Trial

Division of Property
 -
Child Custody
 -
Support Payments: Child Support
 -
Support Payments: Alimony

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

1-15-06
 

Bringing Out The Best in Your Relationship

Author: Kali Munro, M.Ed., Psychotherapist

Note: Ideally, these guidelines work best when both partners follow them; however, a change in one partner's way of responding often encourages a change in the other partner.

Relationships bring out the best and the worst in us. Here are some ways to bring out the best in yours:

1. Focus on yourself. Do things to increase your self-awareness, like how you behave in relationships. It can help to stay aware of patterns, reactions, feelings, beliefs, and triggers (from your childhood and previous relationships) that arise in your relationship. It is often true that how you feel may have little to do with your partner, and is more about you and your past experiences.

2. Take responsibility for your own feelings, thoughts, needs and behaviour.

Use "I" statements ("I feel..." vs. "You make me feel...") Check out assumptions, interpretations, and fears. State your feelings and thoughts clearly and without blame. Make requests. Ask for what you need. She/he may not know what you need. Know that you may not get exactly what you need. Find ways to meet your own needs.

3. Take care of yourself. Treat yourself as you would a good friend.

4. Be present with yourself. This is important not only for your own well-being, but also for your relationship. Being present with yourself can be achieved in different ways, such as meditation, yoga, relaxation, rest, exercise, body awareness, dance, being in nature, and prayer. Anything that helps you to be in the moment will help you to do that with your partner, as well. Many people find that being in the moment while they are with their partner is a lot harder than when they are alone or with other people. Some couples work on this together. You can:

Lie down with your partner in a spoon position (one person's front side hugs the other person's back side) and then breathe in unison for five to ten minutes. Generally it is better if the larger partner follows the breath of the smaller partner. If your mind wanders, bring your focus back to breathing together. Variations of this are standing up and breathing in unison while hugging, and sitting down facing each other, holding eye contact while breathing in unison. This can also be helpful to do when you feel upset or angry with each other.

Sit facing each other. At first, look down or close your eyes. Become aware of your breath. Follow the natural rhythm of your breath, and let your mind be clear of thoughts and worries. When you have done this for a while, open your eyes and look at your partner. S/he may not have opened her/his eyes yet. If not, look at your partner from this meditative place and see what you notice, while you continue to follow your breath.

When your partner opens her/his eyes, hold eye contact, while continuing to follow your breath. If you lose your connection with your breath, take a moment by looking down or closing your eyes to reconnect, and then hold eye contact again. Just notice what you are aware of as you do this.

5. Nurture all of your relationships. Try not to isolate yourself in your primary relationship.

6. Explore your own creativity, needs, independence, leisure activities, hobbies, career. Anything that makes you feel better about yourself, or makes you feel whole and feeds your soul is important and will have a positive effect on your relationship.

7. Take another look. When your partner does something that bothers you, ask yourself, what does this mean to me? Why am I bothered by this? Is there anything from my past that is effecting how I am feeling or seeing this right now? Have I in any way contributed to this issue, perhaps without being aware of it? Is there anything about this issue that might reflect something I don't want to look at within me?

If you are feeling critical or judgmental about your partner's behaviour, step back for a moment and see if you can come up with alternative explanations for that behaviour—ones that are less critical.

If you need to say something, this is a helpful formula to use: When you...(describe behaviour in neutral terms), I feel...(describe feelings without blaming), and I would like to ask that you...(make your request about a concrete behavioural change).

8. Give understanding. Just as you deserve understanding and support, your partner does, too, and it does help to feel understood. Try to see the situation from her/his perspective, especially when you are in conflict.

9. Acknowledge your partner's feelings. You don't have to agree with someone to acknowledge and understand how they feel.

10. Give your partner lots of appreciation. Let your partner know how much you love her/him and why.

11. Accept your partner the way she/he is. This doesn't mean that you don't ask her/him for behavioural changes, or that you accept, for example, being yelled at. It just means that you accept your partner as a person, and believe in her/his good intentions. Contrary to popular belief, really accepting someone brings out the best in them.

12. Don't make sweeping generalizations. No matter how tempting, try not to make sweeping generalizations like "You never...," "You are always...," "You are such a...." Besides the fact that they are not true (no one does the same thing all the time, in every situation), they are hurtful statements that leave people feeling bad about themselves, and can feed into a lack of motivation for change. "If I never do anything right, why bother?"

13. Have complaint sessions. Sometimes couples build up resentments that need airing. It can help to have a "complaint session." One person starts by saying all the things that are bothering her/him, while their partner listens and encourages them to continue by saying, "what else?"

Sometimes by delving deeper, the one who is complaining realizes that there's more to the complaints than what s/he originally thought. The one complaining may start out angry but often will soften, and become more aware of what is really bothering her/him, and what s/he needs. The listener's job is to listen, without comment, and to try not to take it personally. What you are hearing is an indication of how frustrated or angry your partner is right now. Keep in mind that it's not all about you, even if most of the anger is being directed at you. You can switch roles when the first person is done, or at a later time.

14. Take time out. When a conflict is not going anywhere, it can help to take some time away from your partner. Couples usually make up rules about time out, such as don't leave the house, and having a set amount of time for the time out, like 30 minutes, before checking back in with each other about whether or not they can continue the discussion. In cars, time out can just mean that no one talks for a set amount of time. Either partner can call time out, and it should mean immediate silence for an agreed-upon time.

It is always better to have the amount of time set prior to an argument, or you will argue about that! Some couples don't set a specific amount of time, but remain silent for a while, and when they have calmed down enough to feel compassion, they check in with each other about their mutual readiness to continue the conversation or to let it go for now.

15. Listen carefully. If your partner is trying to tell you something and you don't understand, listen carefully, ask clarifying questions, check out what you think they are saying, and keep trying to understand. Many arguments arise from our not really listening to each other, or assuming that we know what the other person is saying without checking it out first. It is always best to check that you understood the other person correctly.

Of course, you won't be able to follow these guidelines one hundred percent of the time, and that's okay; no one can. But if you want your relationship to be based on respect, compassion, and clear communication, it's a good idea to try to follow these guidelines or others that work for you, as much as possible.

 


About the author: Kali Munro, M.Ed., is a psychotherapist in private practice in Toronto, Canada. She has twenty years experience specializing in a variety of issues including sexual abuse, relationships, sexuality, eating disorders, and body image.

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1-15-06 

Love Vs. Infatuation

By Michelle Drew, M. Ed.

Mental Health Professional - Retired
Soft Shoulder Advice

Michelle holds an M.Ed. in Counseling Psychology and has spent nearly 30 years counseling adolescents, families, couples, and individuals. Through her website Soft Shoulder Advice she has taken her unique gifts to the web to reach an even broader audience.

Finally, you have met, HIM/HER. You know what I mean, THE ONE. All your life, or so it seems, you have been waiting for the person who made your heart pound, made the stars bright, and taken over all reasonable thought processes with ideas of making love on every beach from here to Tahiti.

You have a weird expression on your face, food suddenly seems like a mere inconvenience and sleep is just something you used to do. Your friends tease you about being in love. Your mother WARNS you about being in love.

Of course, you're not stupid. You've been around (more than Mom knows about), and you have spent time in meditation/therapy having explored your own needs in the world. You want a soul mate but this guy/gal is just so sexy that it's hard to imagine introducing him/her to your parents at all.

So, things are going well and you are looking toward the NEXT STEP, becoming an item. Going public. Everyone knows and invites you as a couple. People you know speculate about the future of YOUR RELATIONSHIP. But the future means forever when it comes to commitment, so how do you know if this is really a good thing?

Are people whispering about how happy they are for you, or are they wondering if you should be committed yourself (like in a secure mental health facility)? And how about yourself? Do you feel comfortable with your newest love interest or do you just want to feel comfortable with someone? Is this the person that you want to spend your life with or are you just afraid to march into the future alone?

These very large questions deserve great considerations. The passions of new love are so entwined in our own emotional makeup, that it seems impossible to find objective considerations when proceeding along love's thorny paths. So, for the purposes of this discussion, let us define love and infatuation so each can be thought about in a more organized manner.

Love as a dynamic process. For me, that means that there is a relationship that flexes, changes and grows as people mature, experience happens upon them, priorities and dreams are built and goals are met. Love brings out the best in people as individuals. The relationship between them becomes the way they define their lives. As jobs, careers, and family concerns change, people are able to work as a team to be understanding and flexible so the relationship (their lives) will flourish.

Dynamic process of love equals a sharing of emotion, trust, and growth of relationship. Growth is increasing ability of a couple to live symbiotically, enjoy each others company, trust each other with more secrets, depend on each other in more crises over the years, in raising children and taking care of aging relatives. It's about growing old together, and long-term investments like real estate and children.

So what about infatuation? That's when you think of someone all the time, you go out of your way to be around him/her, and you begin to center your priorities around him/her as well. There is history with this person: Maybe a short history, but maybe quite a while. You both enjoy being together. You both daydream about each other and get all crawly in your underwear. But is it LOVE? I mean, you hate to be wrong about this kind of thing, especially if you have in mind perhaps reproducing together (or maybe if you forget to think about it JUST ONCE).

Infatuation as we are defining it here, is a static process characterized by an unrealistic expectation of blissful passion without positive growth and development. Characterized by a lack of trust, lack of loyalty, lack of commitment, lack of reciprocity, an infatuation is not necessarily foreplay for a love scenario. People, however, have many reasons for making commitments.

Most people are infatuated with their love partners to a certain degree. People who are in love think of their partners periodically when they are apart (some more than others). Men seem to be better, in general, in compartmentalizing their lives, thereby putting thoughts of loved ones aside until the mind is free to dwell on life. And yes, there are many exceptions and many ranges within the genders.

So how do you know? The question, actually is simple, the answer, however, is not easy to own or accept. And here it is: Does this relationship bring out the best in both of you?

This is the part where you get to assess and evaluate yourself and your partner, and your relationship HONESTLY.

Though difficult, evaluating how things are going at regular intervals can help to give some direction (and re-direct misdirection) to people who are self-guided toward happiness and success. For those who are on a negative course, people who are unhappy, confused and perhaps self-sabotaging, regular evaluation can point out some hard truths about oneself, and/or about the person you want to take the next step with.

While you try to evaluate whether or not it is THE REAL THING, here are some things to consider:

Are you happy? That would be a yes or no. When you wake up, are you glad to be alive? Are you grateful for the blessings that you receive daily, like being alive and loved? Are you loved and treated as a person of value? Does HIS/HER MOTHER know about you?

Is your life on a positive track? Do you have hope for the future? Do you have dreams and work toward them all the time? Is your life better because your boy/girlfriend is in it? Really?

Are you in this relationship alone? Having someone on your arm makes life less complicated. You get a built in escort and date. Most people seem to think and feel better as part of a pair. There is a sense of social relief as well meaning family and friends stop trying to fix you up. Are you thinking and planning as a pair? Do you automatically consider both of your plans for the weekend, or merely anticipate maybe meeting up sometime? Have you postponed or given up your hopes and dreams for the relationship or have you restructured your dreams together?

The answers, and the courage to face the facts is the key to making the determination. In infatuation, your gaze, your thoughts and maybe your world revolves around someone. You have blinders on. It seems that all the world pales in comparison to this person's looks, talents, intelligence, creativity, etc. What you might not see by keeping the blinders on, what can be serious flaws in any relationship, are the destructive traits and behaviors that degrade self esteem and cause some pretty negative effects on one's choices and decisions.

Many have had the experience of looking back at some early romance, in middle or high school perhaps, when we were "in love" with a special teacher, or camp counselor. It can be easier to see in retrospect, what you weren't ready to see at the time. Your thoughts of romance were simply an innocent fantasy: An infatuation that felt like love at the time.

Aside from your age, what was it about you that made you make that mistake. Innocence? Loneliness?: A longing to grow up, maybe. But those were things going on in your head. In fact, these feelings had little to do with the actual object of your infatuation (crush). It could be that some of those same feelings and needs exist for you today. Beware of your own vulnerability, and your own desire to "get rescued" from that solitary life of the unpaired.

In time, the faults that you refuse to see will begin to come to the foreground. You may be infatuated with a rich and powerful person, but as you come to know that person on a more intimate basis, the qualities that intrigued you will begin to fade into the background.

In the case of love, your focus is on your special someone, and that someone exists in the real world. Give and take, compromise and cooperation are characteristics of love relationships. Working toward common goals, sharing dreams and values define the dynamics of a good love relationship. People know each other on a separate and private level than the world at large.

Infatuation can even be thought of as love with only 2 dimensions. With love, that third dimension is REALITY. So, it is actually your ability to tell what is real in a relationship, versus what is imagined. You love being part of a couple, but is this the person you want to be in a couple with?

Look at the reality of who this person is, not who she/he wants to be. Do you always interact over dinner and drinks? Meet under different circumstances. Become part of each other's lives. If that is not happening, why not? Are you spending and enjoying time together? What happens when you're apart? Are you sure?

Trying to differentiate your love interest from your lust interest is requires a level head and the courage to face the unpleasant. It also requires maturity and the ability to take a step back and survey the big picture. The result is more control and confidence as you stride your way in love's direction.

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1-16-06 

Maintaining Your Individuality In Love
by Paul Mauchline

What is the distinction between mature love and a common misconception of what love is: the symbiotic relationship? Mature love is stable, a union of two people who respect themselves and each other. Symbiotic love is needy and dependent. Symbiotic relationships demand that one person has power over another. This results in the loss of the integrity of both partners. Mature love means that both individuals in the partnership have room to be themselves, even while being together. In the symbiotic relationship, one partner is driven by need and fear that the other partner will leave. In mature love, each partner is free and whole, choosing, rather than being driven, to give love to the other partner.

Mature love requires giving your love with no strings attached, with no expectations. Many of us have learned from society that to give means "to give up" or "to give away" -- in essence, creating a deficit in ourselves. Further, we learn to give only as much as we expect to receive in return, lest we end up feeling cheated by giving more. Giving, as it exists in mature love, is quite different from these types of messages we have received. Rather than being seen as a sacrifice or an investment in future returns, giving in mature love comes from a desire to give and an ability to do so. In the words of Erich Fromm, author of The Art of Loving published in 1956, "Giving is the highest expression of potency... more joyous than receiving, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving lies the expression of my aliveness."

In a symbiotic relationship, one partner gives up a significant part of himself or herself in order to maintain a peaceful relationship. This individual, ruled by a fear of being alone, will sacrifice parts of his or her identity for the sake of keeping the relationship intact. Short-term conflict is avoided, and the status quo is maintained. In the long run, though, there is a price to be paid: the loss of one's individuality. If one partner idolizes the other and is willing to sacrifice himself more completely, then the other partner has more power and control over the relationship. When the balance of power is unequal, the relationship becomes unsatisfying for both partners; almost inevitably, it ends. There are a lot of people willing to give up an awful lot to avoid being alone. They are willing to give up who they are, what they are, and what they want and need. They are willing to sacrifice their individuality for the love of another.

Any person who is willing to make such a sacrifice lacks self-love, and thus is incapable of maintaining a mature, loving relationship. Self-love is where love for others has to start. Giving up your individuality will eventually come back to haunt you; you will end up feeling anger, resentment, and/or regret. The outcome of one partner resenting the other is the deterioration of the relationship. People need relationships, but they also need to be fulfilled within themselves. When you give up your dreams for the sake of your partner's, you do so at the cost of your own individuality and personal growth.

When you enter into a relationship, it does not mean that your personal life stops. Your life does not totally change because you are with another person. You have to maintain your own individuality. You have to have your own personal goals. You need to maintain the friendships, hobbies and interests that you had before you met your partner. If you give these up for the sake of your relationship, you are giving up your life. When your partner first met you, they were attracted to you as an individual. It's important that you keep your individuality-- that's what attracted your partner in the first place. Maintaining your individuality will enable you and your partner to build a mature loving relationship.

Many relationships fail today because one partner has given up too much of themselves for the other. You have to love yourself first, before you can love another. If you enter a relationship and give up all the things that define you as an individual, you are not giving yourself the love that you need. Sooner or later, if you lose your identity, if you stop giving to yourself, you will be unable to give to your relationship.

It's important not to confuse identity and individuality with flexibility in your relationship. Individuality is about the things that make you who you are. Flexibility is about compromise. Compromise will always be necessary in any relationship that you have. In order to compromise, you have to be committed to honest communication of your feelings and needs at all times. In building a life together, problems will arise.

Problem solving through honest communication is the key to building a mature, loving relationship. Neither you nor your partner should give up anything that makes you the unique person that you are. It's up to you and your partner to find the balance that you both need to succeed in a rising loving relationship.

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1-16-06
 
 
Multiple Loves

Provided by Psychology Today

Top experts weigh in on everyday questions: Can we be in love with more than one person at the same time?

Robert J. Sternberg, Ph.D.,

Yale University; President, American Psychological Association

Yes. I have argued that relationships are built upon stories of love, such as a fantasy story (prince and princess), business story (business partners), travel story (travelers through life) and collector story (collector and collectee), among many others. I think it would be difficult to be in love with two people at the same time with the same story. But it is quite possible to love two people via different stories. Given societal norms, such multiple loves are likely to create conflict. Stories are hierarchically arranged, from more to less preferred. It is thus likely that the person with whom you are in love, who is higher in the hierarchy, or possibly to whom you are already committed, will supplant the other person.

Drew Pinsky, M.D.,

MTV "Loveline" co-host, Chief of Service, Department of Medicine, Las Encinas Hospital, Pasadena, California

People are quite capable of being in love with more than one person. Yet the clinical reality is that a healthy individual who is emotionally, spiritually and sexually available for love will find complete satisfaction in a dyadic relationship. Unfortunately, the kind of empathic attunement that's possible in a dyad is unusual these days. More commonly, individuals dissociate parts of themselves from their primary relationship. People suffering from fractured emotional lives-narcissists and borderlines, for example-would say they are capable of being in love with more than one person. The more interesting questions then become: What is revealed about individuals who are in love with more than one person? And how have such choices contributed to family dysfunction?

Mary Hotvedt, C.M.F.T., Ph.D.,

President, American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy

In the passive sense of love-the feelings we experience in ourselves-many people would say they have been in love with two people simultaneously. Often this happens to a person's own surprise and results in painful internal conflict. In the active sense of love-caring for the other-loving two becomes far more difficult. Cultures that permit polygamy have very clear rules about balancing the treatment of spouses. In our monogamous culture, few people who love two people in this way are open about it. Secrecy itself brings about imbalance and confusion-it compromises honesty. Even if a person who loves two is honest, few would opt to be one of two.

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1-16-06
 
Rekindling old flames

Provided by Psychology Today

Lost loves. First loves. We all have them but, given the opportunity, what to do when the possibility of reunion comes up? A psychiatrist offers her story, as well as what to look for.

It is my belief that most men and women carry around, throughout their lives, the image of someone they loved in the past but with whom they did not ultimately join their lives. Someone they continue to wonder about through the years, sometimes almost obsessively--particularly when things are not going well in their lives--and sometimes not at all. Still, that figure haunts them and makes them wonder how different their lives may have developed with that other companion. At times they pine and long physically for the presence of this first and sometimes only real love.

As a practicing psychiatrist, I know that many of us dutifully accept the idea that most marital problems stem from unresolved conflicts in family relationships that developed long before our current partner had any influence on our well-being. But we also continue to hold an emotional, perhaps primitive, and certainly powerful belief in the fusion of two souls in love.

I became interested in the universality of the "road-not-traveled" relationship when, after a silence of 30 years, I remet and married my first love and one-time fiance, Warren Bennis, the well-known organizational management expert who founded the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California. I began to wonder why some people reactivate an old love affair when life gives them an opportunity, while most do not. I started collecting other people's stories while I continued to live out and understand my own.

Most of what I have learned about the reuniting of sweethearts--whether after a separation of one year or 30--seems to be equally crucial for sustaining intimacy in long-term marriages as well. Above all, I have found, reconnecting with an old love is not just another date. No matter what age the principals, it is a psychological recapitulation that can trigger grief, anger, resentment, fear, guilt, shame--and joy.

Such a reunion inevitably involves a review of life from the time of the original love relationship to the present. It may lead to powerful insights into your own emotional history--a reexposure to something that has been both deeply appealing but also possibly disturbing. Both the pleasure of union with an idealized love and the remembered pain of its ending are released into consciousness once more.

Anticipation of the reunion is enormously exciting. It encourages an amazing leap across time, back to a feeling of being intensely alive. It is an attempt to recapture the self at a period when everything in life lay ahead and activates a whole chain of "what-might-have-been" thought.

The success of romantic reunions depends on the resolution of past problems. But it also hinges on the current availability of the pair. Yet even if they are committed to others, some form of reunion can still be of value. What follows is a discourse on my own experience with love regained, interspersed with what I call "The Rules of Reunion"--practical advice garnered from both personal and professional conversations about this remarkably universal phenomenon.

There was a pile of mail on my desk, and in the 10-minute break between patients I riffled through it. I stopped breathing when I read the name on a wafer-thin blue envelope.

"Any chance you can have dinner with me on Oct. 13? Yours, Warren." I stared at the familiar handwriting of a man unforgettably extraordinary, the one who had made me feel that love for him was what he valued beyond anything, who had inscribed in the wedding ring he'd bought for me "Memento Amori" (remember to love). In retrospect, an admonition? Memory shot back 30 years. I stood in my surgical greens in the emergency room at Boston City Hospital reading his telegram ending our relationship three days before the wedding. I tore up the hundred words he proffered as explanation. He had become hard and stony with me lately. I had had a premonition that something eerily bad would happen but tried not to personalize. I attributed it to generalized prenuptial angst.

Twelve months later he got married, closing off the possibility of any reconciliation and making it clear that it wasn't marriage itself but marriage to me that had been the problem. With that rejection I knew that what felt like devotion could be temporary and contingent. What you relied upon could be gone in a flash. I was wounded in some permanent way.

After that, I kept a lot more of my thoughts to myself. I kept my guard up, you couldn't let down for a moment, couldn't speak openly, had to continually censor yourself, gauge the impact of your words before you said them. And you certainly shouldn't move in with the man you hoped to marry.

We'd met four years earlier, at the home of an academic in Boston's Back Bay. I was a third-year medical student. Eight years my senior, Warren was already a professor of management at MIT Before long, I saw very little of my apartment. When I finished at the hospital, I usually drove straight to Warren's. If I met him someplace, I'd follow him home in my little green MG. At the stoplights, I'd ease up and give his bumper a love tap. We spent four years together.

We had believed we would be saved from disappointing lives. Unlike our parents, we would be adored by our children because we would be their champions. We thought sex was very important and spent limitless time encouraging each other. We loved Japanese movies of the time. After a film Warren would race up and grab me with a samurai leap and a hiss. I would fold up with laughter. We danced around his apartment. We rushed out to buy the latest albums. And we decided to live together at a time when it wasn't done.

Why did he want to see me now? I detached from the present and became a consultant to myself to cut free of my own feelings. He was in his mid-60s and always a self-observer. He could be doing a life review and revisiting the women important to him, pulling themes of relationships together, looking at the whole canvas. He could be wanting to make amends. And, oh yes, he could be wanting to start an affair. But it seemed too risky to find out. I couldn't risk rejection again.

I knew from mutual friends who'd sketched in the rough outlines of his life that, after being divorced from his first wife for a long time, he'd suddenly married a woman they didn't like.

Though so many years had passed, Warren still meant so much to me. Those critical years when we were together were passionate and stimulating. They had become my template for life.

Dinner with him? Back then I'd planned to make dinner for him every night for the rest of our lives. Now I was afraid that one dinner would just start me up all over again.

Three days later, I left a message that I'd meet him for dinner at his hotel during his impending visit to Washington. When he opened the door to his suite, we stared at each other, mutually surprised at what we saw: two white-haired people! My robust, youthful, pipe-smoking lover was replaced by another man--manicured, slender, significantly older. He guided me smoothly into the sitting room and conducted our meeting like a TV interviewer.

As I began searching anxiously for my old familiar friend, he talked about his life, the 20 books he'd written (he placed two right in my hands), the conferences he chaired. He was here in D.C. to preside over a forum for Business Week. My life suddenly felt skinny.

I found myself responding unenthusiastically and reluctantly to his polite questions about my life and children. I heard myself reporting mechanically--and endlessly--about a recent barge trip I'd taken in France. This wasn't the way I wanted it to go. Where was the mystery, the unfolding? I feared we'd never speak in any way that would draw us close.

I heard him say that he had many happy years after our time together but that he'd never recovered such passion again. The words were stiff, awkward, spoken without emotion. They were not an invitation. We ordered BLTs and, after a few bites, I looked at my watch and saw that it was time to go. Quietly he walked me down to get a taxi. In the silence he simply smiled and, through the otherwise packaged persona, let out a sigh. That was the first glimpse of my old lover.

OVER THE NEXT SEVERAL DAYS, BETWEEN patients, I thought about him, and dropped him a note: "Id like to stay in touch and not lose this friendship of our youth now that we have made this effort. In the old Forest Street language, I might have proposed 'the wine has been opened and must be drunk.' In the context of our present lives, the metaphor must be modified. I simply doubt that we will get another running start. I remain, your Amazed Grace."

He did not respond. That didn't fit. He'd been a university president. They answered their mail. Months later in a conversation with mutual friends, I learned that Warren had some surgery and was laid up for a while. It gave me the courage to try writing again. At worst he would be flattered. Just a few lines: "Was our getting together meant to be a one time thing?"

Five days later a letter arrived by Federal Express. "Strange, so strange. I thought/felt that you were pushing me away when we met in October, that you couldn't wait to leave. I was mesmerized--again--and wanted you but thought, well, the slow flat barge you described was emblematic of the life you were resigned to lead. Or that I seemed to have settled for." He had not received my earlier letter. And barely two weeks before, "for too many reasons to recount now, my wife and I separated. In truth, I didn't want to continue life on a flat barge. I don't want to make too much of a cute metaphor but I want to see you and hold you." From that point on the Federal Express man was Cupid to me.

THE RULES OF REUNIONS

#1. A reverse "Lost Horizons" effect occurs. There's a recapturing of the past that is felt as a reexperience of youth. Some people describe a sexual reexplosion in which the partner is a sort of a physical composite of their youthful and present selves, thereby enhancing the experience.

Old songs come to mind, old jokes, playfulness, a carefree regression into childlike behaviors. Couples may recapture the high-energy part of a shared life. Each party may take a new look at old talents left unexplored. The rebirth that takes place in the reunion can stimulate new learning--even a new career.

Each partner may have reached the fruition or completed form of the wonderful outlines suggested but barely developed many years ago. Once potential qualities such as generosity, responsibility, competency, honesty, confidence, and the ability to be nurturing may now be clearly established. Perhaps your old lover looks even better to you now than before.

ON VALENTINE's DAY 1991, WARREN wrote "what I meant to write" earlier: "That my fantasy was for us to chuck all ties and run away together. That I have never loved anyone but you."

The words brought an early spring to Washington. Nothing was tedious or hard for me. My violin playing started to improve. I had infinite patience with difficult patients. I would wake with some sappy old song from the Fifties in my head. I knew my expectations were getting way ahead of me. From my long clinical experience, I knew all too well about the half-life of passion and the unrealistic overvaluation of love objects. But I consciously suspended some reality checks and allowed the neurotransmitters of love to flow as long as they could. After 50, you learn to seize such treasures. I was in sufficient contact with the pains of the world in my everyday life.

#2. There are stages of reunion. Periods of moving very close alternate with periods of needing some emotional distance from an old love. The intense closeness following the "miracle" of finding each other again will normally require breaks during which a move apart must occur. This is a predictable and necessary part of the process. Your old sweetheart may wait longer than you want between communications or might cancel a date because the reconnecting may be too much too soon. Don't personalize the need for periods of separation along the way as being a rejection of you. Let your old love know it doesn't mean you are rejecting him or her either.

What's more, past loss, whatever the cause, is often not worked through emotionally. Unanticipated anger or sadness from the loss of the old romance may suddenly interrupt a pleasurable moment, leading to self-doubt and "Am I crazy?" thoughts. Along with the pleasure of being loved by the former rejecter, reunions activate resentment. The rejecter may become fearful of retaliation for the damage done. It can be a tumultuous time of unexpected swings between joy and anger.

If you need to slow down the reuniting process because of overwhelming feelings that things are moving too rapidly, write letters as a substitute for visits. This is a form of communication that is thoughtful and not impulsive--a reflective process, and it is positive. If you know yourself to be very impulsive, write your thoughts in your own private diary first and wait for a few days before you communicate.

IN THE OLD DAYS, THERE was a rhythm to our relationship that I believed would save us from boredom and impatience at the inevitable accumulation of small, selfish acts. We were both wholly committed to our work. Warren was going for tenure at MIT. I spent an infinity of hours at the hospital. All the time apart would surely keep us longing for each other indefinitely. Back from our individual adventures we were then eager for marathon conversations. These invariably began with true interest and genuine warmth at his kitchen table. And ended in the bedroom.

Remembering our old pattern of declaring our intimacy a triumph and then immediately pulling away into separate spheres made my frustration between letters that much more tolerable. Besides, I knew what I couldn't accept 30 years ago; you can't force life.

Warren eventually wrote me again, but he was not passionate. He spoke of his need to get reacquainted. "How do I tell you jokes and share the banalities of my existence, the everydayness? Isn't that a big part of intimacy?" He wanted to know who we were now. He wanted to know about the everydayness of my life. If we were going to be passionate about each other again, what about compatibility? Could we actually live together? And what had happened to us in all those years in between?

We wrote long letters recapturing the past and filling in the blanks. But we put off actually meeting. Four months later, one of Warren's frequent speaking engagements brought him to Washington, and we agreed to get together.

There was the merest embrace, followed by talk of things we liked to do. When he murmured something about the hopelessness of a bicoastal relationship, I ran through my repertoire of entertaining observations about life. For a while we sat and stared at each other in silence. When at last we spoke, it was of the bad things that had gone on in our lives since.

He had faced difficult surgery. I had married a brilliant man, deeply intense (as close a clone to Warren as I could get, only much more adventurous and, unfortunately, much more crazy). There followed a long, dark slide into psychosis and death. I talked about the terrible effect it had on me, dwarfing the pain of Warren's rejection. I learned, perhaps, things that I might not have learned otherwise--how to exist in current time and space, how to recognize, value, and welcome any opportunity for positive experience. To stabilize myself and my children, I had married again, but there was an emotional void.

Warren spoke of his distress at the failure of his two marriages. They had supported his needs and his career. But ultimately they were "strangers," and the relationships were "never enough."

After that, we spoke by phone several times a week, but our conversations were more selfconscious and clumsy than our letters. Knowing that Warren planned to have some routine surgery and that I had an upcoming trip to London, I asked him to call me there. Thousands of miles apart, we grew close; we took chances and spoke more openly of our growing attachment.

A West Coast visit was approaching. I was going to spend a few days with relatives. Then with Warren. Now, we could no longer rely on the past to hold us together. We had to find out if the people we had become jibed with what we truly wanted. Had we developed into what our younger selves would have wished for each other to become?

#3. The original problems will always be reactivated. The conflicts that caused the original breakup are absolutely integral to the basic personality and character structure of each partner. In the intervening years there must have been a learning from life, a basic individual growth process in which one has dealt with this core issue, before the reunion can succeed. This is the case whatever the problems that led to the breakup in the first place. Problems that may come between lovers include self-absorption and inability to give appropriate attention to the other person's growth and well-being; excessive ambition; fears about competency; guilt and suspicion about sexual enjoyment; unmanageable competition with the loved one for worldly achievement or other goals; projected inferiority ("anyone who loves me can't be worth much"); personal rejection because of overvaluation of wealth.

It takes years to do this work on the self. It can't be a last-minute homework assignment.

Having learned from other relationships is a major requirement of successful reunions. Unsuccessful marriages in the intervening years can teach a person a lot about the fragility of keeping love alive. Over the years, many formerly emotionally isolated men and women who have had real worldly success may be able now to tolerate more intimacy. Achievers have had enough recognition from the world; performers grow more concerned about coming back to an empty dressing room. They have objectively achieved the success they always wanted and recognized it doesn't solve all problems.

The passage of time has to bring the courage to look the original problem in the eye. Be assured that the outcome will be essentially the same today as it was years ago unless a different way of behaving has been built from having struggled hard with these issues in the years between. One indisputable sign of the accomplishment of real change is to find your old love being grateful, rather than jealous, of the intervening relationships that have given you wisdom.

WARREN WAS ALWAYS A VERY AMBITIOUS man. His sights were set on the big time and I can't count the hours we spent discussing the strategies of his getting ahead in the academic community.

I grew increasingly serious about my own career in medicine. I became the first female surgical resident accepted into Harvard's residency program. In our final year together, I was pursuing a full-fledged career in surgery--although I later switched to psychiatry. I was something of an outlaw, a strong and passionate woman beyond the usual social prescriptions of the day. Then, as now, I felt free to make up my life as I went along. Warren, as a man, was more bound by rigid social expectations. He wanted a wife devoted to helping him.

When it came down to converting our romance into a life partnership, Warren turned away from the emotional side that had given him so much pleasure. I was not available to Warren on a daily basis to back him up in the social arena of Cambridge academic competition. A wife with her own career was not seen as an advantage at that time. If a man and woman were to both be successful, the man's success had to come first.

Though we never discussed it at the time, I was happy to have a life outside the relationship. I felt that the more roles we brought to our relationship, the richer our life together would be. The very things I thought made relationships work were the things Warren enjoyed but felt were not sufficient. He couldn't allow himself to express this directly.

#4. A review of the original breakup must take place. Reviewing the reasons for the breakup of the old relationship may be painful or at least difficult. But it must take place between the sweethearts. If you can't do this, don't start anything with an idea of getting back together.

In reviewing the relationship history, avoid being accusatory. Using blame or being judgmental may well be what started the trouble years ago. The best approach is to make liberal use of the "I" position: "I felt rejected and unwanted because I did not value myself" (not "you destroyed my life").

Romantic sweethearts rarely if ever split by mutual rational agreement. Cold words may have been the outward form of ending, depending on the cultural background of the parties, but they are an obvious disguise for tumultuous passions at the time. They must now be openly acknowledged.

Amends must be made. The original rejecter must articulate sorrow for inflicting pain without accepting total responsibility for the breakup. Usually, blame has been placed, unfairly, on one partner, the designated "rejecter" who stopped the relationship from going forward at that critical time in the past. There is thus a split of the lovers into "good" and "bad" Such a distinction is essentially false and diminishes the true complexity of relationships. As long as such a distinction continues, healing of the relationship is impossible and a real partnership is unattainable.

The partner who broke off the relationship may, in fact, have been experiencing emotional rejection from the other party at the time. Though being told "I love you," the partner may have felt otherwise in his or her gut, and the only way of showing any hurt at all may have been to stop the relationship entirely. Now, the rejectee must own up to having abdicated responsibility back then by appearing the victim and not admitting the strong negative feelings that were in the relationship. Thus, layers of self-deception may be peeled away in the process of making amends.

THE CLOSENESS AND intimacy I cherished in our relationship, it turned out, Warren feared as a sign of dependency--his. Privately, he was facing a growing crisis, one his analyst helped frame as a choice between saving himself or saving me. Having to reveal this in person, he felt, might actually keep him from breaking off the relationship--a sign of the passions beneath.

So he sent a telegram instead. That stunningly impersonal document crushed me so hard it set off a full-blown panic attack. For Warren it officially launched a three-decade-long flight from intimacy. He achieved everything he ever dreamed. Still, he felt isolated.

The enormous amount of success he has achieved over the years has changed him. it has allowed him to be more creative. It has made him more sure of his instincts. He shows his feelings of love. He is no longer afraid that intimacy means dependency. Nor does he fear dependency.

#5. There must be consensus about the reasons for the original breakup. A shared idea of why the relationship failed back then must gradually emerge. This is essential for a reconciliation that can endure. One person can't just convince the other of his or her point of view. In answering the inevitable "If you're so smart why didn't you marry him/her back then?" both sweethearts must agree that it couldn't have been forced at the time.

Old lovers must not only develop a shared view of why the relationship failed, they must also come to agreement as to why they couldn't make it work at the time. A joint recognition must occur that each was stumped by specific personal problems and behaviors. Each partner must reach a deep understanding of what was truly irreconcilable about past behavior. Only a fool expects different results from the same repetitive behavior.

Because this is a deep process of self-understanding, it takes months, not days, for each partner to accept the validity of the reasons it failed in the past. Out of this shared view comes a perception that neither was the exclusive victim. As both persons air and relinquish their long-held private versions, a new joint construction of their emotional realities comes into being. This shared vision is a strong foundation for the future. It takes time, but forgiveness also occurs.

IN THE COURSE OF VISITS TO THE WEST Coast, Warren and I often went out to dinner with his friends. "This is the woman I should have married 30 years ago," he would introduce me. And we would launch into our story. Through these public tellings and retellings in a setting of social approval, we developed the objectivity to assume the responsibility for our failed love. Just as important, it helped us construct a shared view of the reasons for failure.

In telling my story, I ultimately recognized a scenario of neglect. I grew to understand that I had frozen Warren out. While he included me in the social side of his academic life, I kept him totally separate from my medical life. Focused on my own needs, I was sure that being a stimulating partner, rather than a nurturing one, would keep us going. I couldn't even imagine that someone so richly endowed as Warren needed anything. But he was not being taken care of emotionally. Our marathon talks were gratifying, but they were periodic. Then I'd spin off into my world again.

There were, in retrospect, things we could have done to protect our long investment in the relationship. We who believed so strongly in therapy could have taken ourselves to a therapist--together. Then, too, Warren could have taken the adult-style responsibility for telling me that he needed care.

Having learned the art of existing in the present, and having the confidence that comes with achievement, I was able to let go of the past. I could accept what happened years ago and move forward. Many people in my place may have had such hurt feelings that they would have needed to punish their ex-lover--even though doing so would spoil their new shot at happiness.

#6. There are specific characteristics of people who rekindle an old love. I have come to understand that not everyone is suited for rekindling an old flame. Love is an expansive and optimistic feeling. People who choose to reactivate old love appear to be optimistic and action-oriented throughout their lives. They are, by definition, risk-takers. Romantic and poetic qualities seem to be long-established traits among those who pursue reunions. At the very least, they must no longer be afraid of the adventurous path of love.

#7. Commonly, important issues arise among family. Intense reactions are often not limited to the two principals involved. Children also experience significant reactions, and you can count on these regardless of how old they are or whether or not prenuptial agreements guarantee their inheritances. It may come as a surprise but the "child" of 40 can be as deeply upset as a teenager.

As in any recoupling, there are the routine fears of loss of love and loss of financial inheritance. But the reactivation of a love that predates the other parent brings up a specific set of additional problems.

It ignites an anxiety that can roughly be summarized as, "If you had married him/her back then, then I wouldn't have existed." It is experienced as a deep threat to the self, and it must be addressed. This can best be done once you yourself have arrived at an acceptance that the sweetheart relationship was "not meant to be" in the past. The discussion should include the positives of the marriage and family you did make. Children never hear this too often.

There will be devaluation of a parent for having made a "big mistake" in life. The loss of faith in a parent's judgment can destabilize the parent-child relationship and lead to a kind of role reversal-if the parent agrees with it. Better that it should lead to a healthy discussion of recurring human fallibility and of growth throughout the life cycle.

#8. Friends pose another set of issues. Among dear friends who know your life story, you can expect to feel embarrassed in telling them that you and your old flame are back together again. "Are you doing that cockeyed thing again?"

On the other hand, wise friends can also function as monitors this time. They can help prevent the repetition of sudden endings and encourage the sweethearts to defend what they are doing and be more reality-oriented. Talking candidly to friends as you go along helps you to think more clearly and can keep you from slipping into a dream world.

#9. Don't repeat The Great Gatsby. It did not have a happy ending. Gatsby, remember, did not get the girl. He forced Daisy, the love of his life, to tell Tom, her husband and the father of her only child, that he meant nothing to her and that she had loved only Gatsby, never anyone else.

Resist the lure of invalidating the sweetheart's other important relationships that have occurred during the intervening years. It is not wise (or necessary) to undercut the significance of ex-spouses!

The emotional intensity of separated lovers finally getting what they have long wanted may ignite a childlike wish to undo the loved one's past. Like Gatsby, a long-lost lover might force statements and actions to gain emotional primacy over all others. Such demands are not only childish, they can be disastrous! You can never make up for years of being apart. There were valid reasons for the failure to unite years ago. Mature people understand that they do not have a monopoly on a partner's attachments.

#10. Sweetheart reunions need a warning label. They are poison for "women who love too much" and their male counterparts! A sweetheart reunion can restart a once-uncontrollable obsession successfully put aside by dint of tremendous effort, perhaps even years of therapy. Reunions are not for people who can't get unstuck once they love someone. (Check your track record to see whether this is true of you.) They can reactivate a pattern of making another person, rather than yourself, the focus of your life.

#11. Good things can happen to old flames even if they don't reignite. Even when reunion with an old love is a disappointment, there can still be positive developmental results. While many people carry around the image of a past failed love, for some it fuels a perpetual flame of fantasy that becomes more alluring than the real-life relationship they are in. They make comparisons that disadvantage their everyday relationship and indefinitely postpone making the best of it.

Sometimes the best way to let go of a past unsuccessful love is to go back and have an actual reunion. This process can be a way of dosing the circle or writing the last chapter, and thus freeing oneself from a lifelong fantasy. The result can be greatly enhanced enjoyment of present life. Even an unsuccessful reunion can promote wisdom and a sense of completion in one's own life.

By setting up a meeting with an old love you may find out how much you have grown and changed over the years. First of all you can get a look at what your past romantic love is like in the light of today's reality. You may get some real shocks. Physical changes may turn you off. Or when you sit down and talk you may find that what once looked like creativity and imagination can now be recognized as childishness, emotional instability, or actual craziness. Some traits look different with time, others are the worse for wear.

As you get to know one another in the present, big differences in judgment can become clear. What was fondly remembered as insightfulness or analytic skiff may now appear to be negativism and bitterness. What flourished as moderate competitiveness may be transmuted by time and outlook into an all-out war between the sexes. Your old sweetheart may feel that contract and negotiation are the only bases of connection between the sexes.

In such cases reunions make it obvious that a life together could not have worked. And in the process, you have learned something about yourself.

THIRTY YEARS AGO, THERE WAS NO closure with Warren. The resolution for me was having the opportunity to have it happen again. Our capacity to enjoy our new relationship is what gives it a happy ending. Today Warren and I are married and living in California.

By: Grace Gabe
Originally published by Psychology Today:Sep/Oct 93
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