Bottling Up Emotions

On 9 March 2021 the comedian Jennifer Saunders spoke about her long marriage to Adrian Edmondson saying “”We are masters of keep it in, get over it, move on”. (see link below).

As a counsellor and psychotherapist, this is not something I’d usually recommend although it certainly seems to work for Jennifer. However, she does go onto say that she often talks to her co-star, Dawn French, who, I quote, “helps me sort out my feelings about things and people’.

But, for a lot of people, talking about their feelings within relationships (whether that’s with a partner, family member or friend) is necessary so that resentments don’t build up and so that they can interact in a healthy way.

So, how to go about creating this emotional intimacy?

First of all, think about what or who has disappointed you, how it’s impacted on you and how you feel. It’s alright to say that you’re not sure about how you feel, that you’re confused and have mixed emotions.

If you’re struggling with talking about deep topics, ask yourself why this is. Maybe it taps into fears of being abandoned or rejected but if one person consistently avoids deeper subjects, anger can escalate or, the other extreme, one person shuts down their underlying emotions to try to keep the peace.

But, it’s the deep emotions that often keep a meaningful connection and it also stops ongoing negative patterns where communication is concerned.

So, how to start the conversation? Well, first of all, don’t say “we need to talk” which can make the other person feel like a five-year old, but instead say “I need to talk”. That shows that you know what you’re going to say is subjective. Following on from that, speak ‘adult to adult’ rather than parent to child. If you feel that you’re getting into a parental role with the other person, who will feel as if they’re being ‘told off’, make a conscious effort to get back to a place where you’re communicating as equals.

Remember, the person you’re interacting doesn’t exist to satisfy your every emotional need. Although your feelings are important, the other person has a right to feel differently and have their own feelings. Sometimes, ultimately you may have to agree to differ, even if that’s very frustrating.

Be patient with each other – differences often mean that you’re both experiencing things differently.

Lastly, don’t underestimate non-verbal communication. A light touch on the arm or a kiss on the cheek shows the other person that ultimately you’re thinking of them in a kind and loving way.

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#anger #relationships #self-esteem #sexuality #social anxiety

Communication is vital for a lot of couples

Thinking Of Moving Out To The Country?

One thing that’s happened during the Covid pandemic is that people have re-valuated where they live and wondered if moving out of town to a village might be an option for them. Having a garden during restrictions has proved a life-saver for a lot of people and with remote working being more of an option now, there’s often no need to live in town.

Living out in the countryside sounds lovely – doesn’t it? A village location, fields, birds, maybe even a stream running through at the end of the garden. What could be better?

Well, it CAN be, and is, ideal for lots of people but it’s not for everybody. Although the Office for National Statistics showed that life expectancy at birth was improved for people living in rural areas, emotionally it can be hard for those not used to it or people who want to ‘spread their wings’.

If you’re undecided about whether to leave the town or city, try to think about the pitfalls as well as the advantages, before being swept up with the idyll of living in a small rural community. If you’re thinking of re-locating to, say, the East of England, you’ll find large swathes of land with ‘big skies’ which are great in the summer months, but can be depressing in the winter unless you were born in those areas (and even then, they can make some people feel quite low and sad).

So, if you still want to ‘live the dream’ try to take into account some of the following:

  • For every glorious day in the summer there’s a stretch of winter when you might not see many people and the drive into a nearby town is a big effort.
  • If you have a young family and no relatives around, you will probably find childcare quite difficult. Make sure you work out what professional childcare is available before you move.
  • Try to join a local playgroup/toddler group where you’ll meet other young parents as well as local organisations and committees where you’ll hopefully meet like-minded people.
  • Be as pro-active as time allows you to be– if you put your heart and soul into events, you’ll get to know people quickly and they’ll love the fact that you’re putting something into their community. Despite this, make sure you don’t try to ‘take over’ by ‘improving’ the way things have been done so far – people will inevitably resent it.
  • If you’re moving to the country upon retirement, try to get involved in village fetes, swimming clubs and anything appealing where lots of different age-groups mingle.
  • Recognise that things change more slowly in the countryside and that there may not be a multi-cultural community yet. Usually (although not always), things tend to be more traditional than in towns and cities.
  • Realise that you’re going to be pretty dependent upon your car – in most rural areas, there are very few buses and certainly not on Sundays or during the evenings. Your car will almost certainly become more important to you than previously.
  • Recognise that if you have any conflict with someone locally, especially in your village, almost inevitably people will know about it. You are far less anonymous in a country setting.
  • By the same token, you will find that what you think of as charming and people showing an interest, can also have a downside where you might it difficult to have much privacy.
  • Try to make an effort to get into the nearest town or city on a regular basis if only to have a look around and do a bit of shopping – it can actually be refreshing to do this and it enables you to keep some interest in your previous lifestyle.

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#resilience #self-esteem #resources #loneliness #relationships

Ghosting – What IS It About?

The dictionary says that ghosting is ‘the practice of ending a personal relationship with someone by suddenly, and without explanation, withdrawing from all communication’ and that pretty well sums it up.

It seems that it’s a common dating problem but that doesn’t make it any easier if you’re trying to understand why someone’s ghosted you. Since dating apps became popular, it’s been a lot easier to drop in and out of someone’s life without any explanation.

What typically happens is that you’re in a relationship which you’re thinking might be long-term because you like them, they seem to find you attractive and fun plus things seem to be going well, when, out of the blue, they just disappear!

From texting and talking every day, going out at weekends and discussing a possible holiday together, there’s suddenly…..nothing. Most people are left feeling hurt and more than a little confused. Basically, what it means is that for whatever reason, the other person isn’t happy about something but they don’t want to have to explain it to you (or even themselves!). But another way of looking at it is that no message is a message in itself.

It’s pretty selfish because they get out of it without having to experience any upset themselves. Whereas, for the person who’s been ghosted, it’s a rejection that has no real explanation. It also shows a lack of respect if they don’t even care enough to give you any reasons.

Even if you do happen to bump into them at a later date, it’s unlikely that you’ll get a straight answer to the question “why?”. That could be because they’re not great at communicating what they feel, they felt that they were ‘too busy’ (although who wants to date someone who’s too busy to even text?) or that they just don’t feel the need to explain.

People who are reluctant to get close to someone, maybe due to trust or dependency issues, often use indirect ways, such as ghosting, to end a relationship. Also, there are those who believe some relationships are either meant to be or not (in other words, they believe in fate), are they’re more likely to think that ghosting is an acceptable way of ending things.

Ghosting isn’t confined to romantic relationships – it can happen with friends or work  colleagues. Walking away with no explanation means that there’s no drama or justifications involved for the ghoster.

One thing I want to mention though is that they are the problem, not you. It may not feel like that immediately, but further down the line, hopefully you’ll realise that that’s the case. There will be a more compatible partner out there for you even though it may not seem like it straight away.

But when you’re still feeling hurt and maybe mystified, how can you deal with it?

Reflect on what’s happened and send one text, if you want to, asking if they’re alright – that gives them the chance to tell you what’s been going on for them. If they don’t reply, it’s time to find ways to move forward without them.

First of all, try to avoid reminders of your ex (or friend) so don’t sift through old photos on your phone or look at texts you both sent in the past. Most of all, don’t go over social media postings – it won’t help, whether or not there are new posts.

Focus on yourself, taking care to fit in some exercise every day and catch up on things that you may have put on hold. Most of all, be kind to yourself and don’t get into behaviour patterns that are self-destructive – they won’t help and you’ll end up feeling worse. Instead, use this time to deal with any anxiety, using a meditation app. or watching a YouTube video.

Although you need to grieve for the relationship, try not to dwell on it because the underlying causes won’t be to do with you, but will be about the other person who doesn’t know how to communicate effectively.

As with any relationship that’s comes to an end, it will take time, but have faith that you’ll eventually move on from it.

If you’ve been the one who’s been ghosted, I hope that this has helped. If you’ve been the ‘ghoster’, maybe it’s given you something to think about….! Also, in the future, if you find it difficult to figure out where you stand with someone, it might be a good idea to stop standing and start walking!

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

Why Am I Always The One Getting Hurt In Relationships?

Does it feel as if you’re always the one getting hurt in relationships so that you’re on the verge of saying “no more; I’ve had enough”?

If so, you’ve probably spent a lot of time during lockdown wondering why this keeps happening and how you can stop it. Everything seems fine in the early stages and love blossoms easily – you seem to have so much in common and laugh at the same things. Suddenly, everything seems that little bit better, whether that’s when you’re stuck in a queue to pay for something, when it’s raining and grey outside or when someone irritates you at work.

But then, it seemed to change and you start pondering when that started and why did it happen.

First of all, it might not be down to you but instead about the person/people you choose.

When we’re vulnerable, it’s makes us fall harder for someone, possibly ignoring the early warning signs in a relationship that are telling us to avoid getting involved too quickly. Also, there’s the person who’s texting us every day to see how we are, what they can do for us – we can find that boring. It’s too easy – there sometimes needs to be a bit of a thrill building up to getting together. So, we choose someone with a bit of an ‘edge’, someone who seems a bit more exciting, someone that makes our hearts leap a bit.

That’s all great, but if it moves too fast, it doesn’t give us time to get to know the other person properly before committing ourselves. Also, even if you’re only in your twenties, a lot of people have what we call “baggage” – by the time people get to their fifties, it’s very unusual to meet people who haven’t got this “baggage”. However, sometimes this can be a good thing, even if it might make life more complicated. For instance, if the person has had a previous long-term relationship, most of them will have also learnt something about themselves and relationships (we hope so anyway!).

Are we actually deluded by our own fantasies? Do we sometimes look at a potential partner and not see them for who they are but who we’d like them to be? Might it be that we feel that if we love them and show them understanding, they’ll reveal that underneath they really are that person in whom we put our faith and trust? We’ll be the ones to help them understand themselves and it will all come right in the end. It’s a hard one to admit, even to ourselves.

Along the same lines is the question, why do we keep going for people who aren’t in a place to give us what we want or need? Again, is it because we feel that if we love them enough, they’ll stop doing those little things that cause us concern? That might be finding them out in a lie (what else have they kept from us?) or realising that they’ve racked up debts in the past that they’ve kept quiet about (“I was ashamed and that’s why I didn’t tell you”/”I thought I’d be able to sort it out”/ “I thought it was my business, no-one else’s”). Most of us want to be that person who changes the ‘bad boy/girl’ for the better but a lot of people don’t want to change, or don’t know how to, even though they might say otherwise at the beginning of a relationship.

So, here are a few ways to avoid things going wrong:

  • Try not to spend every waking moment together – it can take away some of the magic, however desirable it seems at the time.
  • Don’t drop everything and everyone else – still make time for friendships, family, hobbies and time alone otherwise it’s easy to lose your sense of self which ultimately makes you less interesting.
  • Try not to be too dependent on one another for every little thing – eventually this can become a need rather than a free choice.
  • Take your time and really get to know one another before you become really involved.

Hopefully, remembering all of the above, your next relationship will be the one to last so that you no longer get hurt and you can enjoy all the great things about being in love and having someone love you back.

You can read my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

Is It Okay To Look Through Your Partner’s Phone?

How tempting is it to take a look at your partner’s phone?! I’d say a lot of us might take a peek if we thought we’d get away with it but some/a lot of you might disagree? What about their right to privacy? Well, as with so many things, it depends…….

Of course it’s a violation of their privacy but that line can become blurred when you have an intimate relationship with someone. Most people (not all, I know) tell a few little white lies to avoid conflict.

Some of it can be curiosity because when you see them looking at their phone you wonder, naturally, who they’re texting and if the answer isn’t particularly forthcoming, it can be irritating at best and send out alarm bells. But if you’re just a curious person and your partner knows that, they might be fine with you having a look and then you can laugh about it together.

But sometimes the desire to look at their phone is a sign of deeper issues in the relationship and if you’re looking for something amiss, you’ll probably find it, if only because texts can be misleading in their purpose and intentions.

However, if your partner has already cheated on you, it makes sense to have an agreement of complete transparency from then on if you’re going to continue together. This has to be mutually agreed but is one way of repairing the harm done. I have to add right here that if someone’s determined to cheat, they can always get another phone to text their lover but we won’t go down that road right now!

Checking their phone can be tied to issues around communication or intimacy because if problems are left in the air rather than being discussed, suspicions can mount. Sometimes it can be easier to check their phone rather than telling them how vulnerable you feel and why you feel the need to look at their phone. But although it can seem justified, it often creates more problems than it resolves.

Even if your partner hasn’t given you any reason to doubt them, you might feel insecure anyway, particularly if you’ve dated or lived with someone who cheated in the past. The betrayal will usually have stayed with you for a long time afterwards. Subconsciously, you may feel that a new partner will betray you or that they’re not really committed to you. This may not be the case at all, particularly if there’s no real evidence to suggest this.  If you don’t trust what they are telling you, in effect you’re doubting who they are and wondering whether the person they really are is reflected in the contents of their phone.

If you’re looking at their phone without their knowledge, it’s sustaining secrecy in your relationship. So, generally it’s not alright, particularly as you might find something that’s innocent but blow it up into something big. Or, instead, you might find something suggesting or even confirming that they were doing something you wouldn’t like (not necessarily having an affair but maybe doing business deals that you didn’t know about or buying things that you weren’t aware of). Of course, you’re going to be upset and it’s then become a self-fulfilling prophecy as well as being a bad way of finding out (is there ever a ‘good way’? Probably not!!).

In the end, there are no guarantees in any relationship, but going through someone’s phone shows that there’s a breakdown in communication. If you want to remedy that, ideally there needs to be an agreement that either you can both go through each other’s phones or that each of you needs some privacy even in your relationship, including keeping the contents of your phone to yourself.

When you feel threatened by your partner’s independence it’s not a healthy situation. If you have a relationship built on trust, it gives both of you room to connect with friends, family and colleagues.

Let me know what you think and whether you’ve found this blog interesting, useful or otherwise. You can see my blogs as soon as they are published (usually on Wednesdays) by pressing the ‘follow’ button and you can share them with your friends. You can also find me on Linked In, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#relationships #self-esteem #trust #boundaries