Is Your Partner Still Friendly With Their Ex?

Worried about your partner’s relationship with his ex?

This happens to a lot of people – their partner is still friendly with his/her ex. Some people are fine with this but others hate it and see it as a threat. What do you think about it?

It’s natural to assume something is going on if your partner is still friends with their ex (or exes) but try to bear in mind that a lot of people find it a perfectly healthy situation, especially as a lot of breakups are filled with drama so staying friendly can be seen as a bit of an achievement.

However, not all such friendships are healthy, especially if some feelings are unresolved and one person hopes there’s a chance that they’ll get back together.

In general (and this might not apply to you and your partner) it’s okay if:

  • Both of them have clear boundaries – for instance, they don’t keep texting one another every day or expect the other one to change plans for them.
  • They share a lot of mutual friends and there’s a good chance that everyone will meet up and some point.
  • Your partner and their ex actually started out as friends anyway – It’s often easier to go back to being friends then.
  • They have children together – being on friendly terms is better for everyone concerned, but particularly for the children.
  • They work together – it’s better if they’re on friendly terms when they’re working and it might be impossible for them to avoid one another in the working environment, besides which, it’s difficult for other colleagues if there’s an ongoing atmosphere.
  • If they broke up years ago and have redefined their relationship so that they can meet up as two people who get on well but have no desire to get back together.

But what if it’s not like that? For instance, it’s not okay if:

  • Your partner turns to their ex if he/she is having a hard time with you. It’s unhealthy and disloyal because turning to their ex can become a habit – one which you probably don’t want to encourage!
  • Their ex is having a hard time letting go or moving on. That’s not healthy for anyone involved.
  • Your partner and their ex don’t include you – in that case, trust your gut instinct and speak up about it. They may say that it’s alright and call you ‘jealous’ or ‘paranoid’, but if you feel that something’s going on behind your back, it’s putting a strain on your own relationship.
  • If their relationship was unhealthy anyway, staying in touch as friends can prove to be quite toxic for everyone concerned.
  • Their ex isn’t happy about the relationship you now have with him/her. Maybe they’ve said nasty things about you and shown a lack of respect, in which case it’s not healthy for your partner to remain in contact.

So, basically, it’s fine for people to be on friendly terms with their ex, but it’s easy to cross the line, so if something is making you feel uncomfortable, speak up and be honest about your feelings. Communication between you and your partner is the key to your relationship becoming stronger and more committed as time goes on.

Please do comment on my blog if you have found it 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.

When You Find Out Your Partner’s Been Unfaithful

Discovering that your partner has been unfaithful is one of the worst feelings you can experience – it’s hard to explain how your heart drops and you feel completely betrayed. There are all sorts of emotions as well as feelings of numbness, disorientation (you’re part of the world but you don’t actually feel as if that’s the case), anger and depression.

You’ll probably have lots of questions too such as ‘why wasn’t I enough?’ and ‘how can you do this to me?’. Although you might have had suspicions that this had happened, actually having it confirmed makes it real. It also makes a difference whether your partner told you him/herself, you found out from someone else or discovered the awful truth in another way.

If, after weeks or months of questioning yourself and your partner (and maybe the other person concerned) you decide to try to stay and make things work, remember that it’s all going to take time to work through what’s happened and you can only do that if both of you learn from the experience.

Here are some things that you can think about and do to get beyond what’s happened and hopefully save your relationship:

  • There aren’t any right or wrong feelings – all the rage, possibly guilt (‘should I have done more to stop this happening?’), agitation, pain, confusion and shock are absolutely normal. Even not feeling much at all – that could be the numbness of shock which will wear off, or the fact that you’ve been half-expecting it for some time.
  • Start a journal – write down all your thoughts and feelings regarding what’s happened.
  • Don’t make any major decisions about ending your relationship right now – this is a time you could used to reflect on what’s happened and how you might deal with it, either by yourself or as a couple.
  • Ask all the questions you want. Talk with your partner about the infidelity but you may have to accept that he or she doesn’t know why it happened. That may seem strange (and infuriating!) but is sometimes the case. However, the other thing is that they may not want to reveal this to you (again, infuriating!).
  • If you have children, they need to know that you’re going to be alright. It’s hard to keep what you’re going through a secret but if they’re old enough to suspect something’s wrong, they don’t need to be weighed down with the details. Whatever you decide, don’t make promises that you can’t keep.
  • Take it one day at a time. Ideally, both you and your partner should be tested for STDs before you have sex again although that may be a while. 
  • Think about what boundaries you need in order for you to stay in the relationship and make them clear to your partner. More importantly, make sure that you stick to them, if only for your own self-respect.
  • Take care of yourself – physical reactions such as sleeplessness, nausea, breathlessness, shaking and either wanting to eat a lot or not at all are normal. Even if you were half-expecting it, you’ve had a shock and your body is reacting to it. Try to make sure you eat well, even if you don’t feel like it, do some exercise, don’t drink too much alcohol and take some time for yourself if at all possible.
  • It’s okay to laugh. Watch some funny films or TV shows. Spend some time with people who make you smile. ‘Life goes on’ is a cliché, but it’s also true – however much your heart is breaking, you still need to function.
  • It’s also okay to cry – it’s natural, for men and women. If you can’t cry yet, you will be able to at some point, probably about something else that doesn’t seem related to what’s happened to you.
  • This is a really hard one – try not to get into the blame game, including blaming the third person involved. It won’t change what’s happened. Also, tempting though it is, think about whether to tell your family or your partner’s family – they might hold a grudge for a long time, even when you’ve worked through it, either alone or with your partner.
  • You may have post-traumatic stress. If you still feel constantly ‘jumpy’, as if you’re walking on eggshells and shout at quite small things after four or five months, it’s probably time to seek outside help.
  • Get practical – look at how you’re going to cope with money in the future, where you will live if you decide to end your relationship and try to budget to see a solicitor about your situation. Some solicitors now offer twenty minutes’ free advice – that’s a good place to start.
  • It all takes time to get beyond the pain of having an unfaithful partner. Don’t expect the feelings, which probably include confusion as well as the inevitable mistrust, to fade quickly. It’s a big loss, even if you stay together, and is part of a grieving process. It doesn’t necessarily mean that your relationship is over but it will be different, sometimes in a good way although that’s very hard to believe at the beginning of this process.
  • Seek counselling – this can help and support you, either as a couple or by yourself. Talking about it in a confidential environment can help you to come to terms with what’s happened. For example, was it a one-night stand or due to a life or work crisis? Did you cheating happen to make the end of the relationship happen? Understanding some of it can help a lot.

Please do comment on my blog if you have found it 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.

Dealing With Negative Thoughts

Are negative thoughts getting you down?

A lot of us spend time inside our own minds, thinking about what’s happened and what might happen, replaying events and generally focusing on those parts of our lives that we’re not happy with.  This has been particularly true for a lot of people this year when we’ve been at home more and perhaps spent a lot of time with family or partners, highlighting lots of irritations!

It doesn’t take long before a lot of these thoughts can become negative, draining your energy and making you feel anxious and stressed.

The good news is that with practice (nothing comes that easily!), you can change negative thinking patterns and that will make a big difference to your day-to-day happiness.

So, how do you go about this? Well, here are a few tips, but don’t forget, you need to keep going with them to see a difference:

  • Challenge any black and white thinking about yourself and other people. If you see everything either one way or the other, it doesn’t allow for the flexibility of anything in between. So, instead of thinking “I always get it wrong”, try thinking about the times when, in fact, you got things right!
  • Stop assuming that you are to blame for anything and everything that goes wrong. For instance, if your neighbour didn’t smile at you this morning – they might have had a bad night’s sleep or received a worrying letter; her lack of a smile might have nothing to do with you.
  • Choose to look at a brighter side of a situation. Yes, you can make a choice and looking at things more positively usually helps.
  • Stop catastrophising – assuming that the worst possible thing is going to happen.
  • Imagine if it was a friend who was speaking negatively about him or herself – what you say to them? If you’d reassure them, try doing that to yourself instead.
  • If you find that negative thoughts intrude at any time or day or night, try allowing yourself a certain amount of time (say, ten minutes) at the same time each day to focus on those thoughts and train yourself to keep to that ten minutes only, rather than allow the thoughts to intrude on the rest of the time.
  • If you find yourself judging another person or yourself, look for a positive quality to combat this instead.
  • Keep a journal, writing down the negative thoughts and at the end of each entry, write three things that are good about yourself and/or your life.
  • Focus on your strengths, writing down the skills you’ve acquired, the things that you’ve achieved and what you like about yourself.
  • Practice mindfulness, which has its roots in meditation. It is a way of detaching yourself from your thoughts and emotions and, instead, viewing them as an observer. You can find ways of meditating online as well as with downloaded apps to help you.

Keep practising the above until they become easier to carry out and you find that your negative thoughts are a lot easier to control.

Please do comment on my blog if you have found it 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.

Starting To Feel Old?

I have just seen a post on Facebook which quotes:

‘The older you get the more you realise that you have no desire for drama, conflict or any kind of intensity. You just want a cosy home, good food on the table and be surrounded by lovely people who make you happy.’

My first reaction was – yes, but is it really that simple? In our western culture it seems that even as we age a lot of us still want a lot more than that. It’s not enough to have a comfortable home, enough food and friends – a lot of us strive to look youthful and catch up on the things we feel we missed out on in our youth. In addition, there is a perception that ageing is depressing because we lose so much, hence the clamour for youth-enhacing potions, treatments and clothes. Image is very important now and many people strive for a more youthful look. Some of the connotations of age are clear in the language we use about older people, in particular women. For instance, the phrase”little old lady” is bandied around and although it’s often said fondly, it also picks up on the fact that because of bone degeneration most of us are smaller in old age than in our youth. By putting older females into the same category, it doesn’t allow for any individualism.

It’s quite possible that the media’s portrayal of ageing has influeced society’s views regarding an ageing population. News items, television, advertising and films often feature stereotypes that emphasise the ‘burdens’ of growing old. Negative language reinforces attitudes to growing older and then by extension to population-ageing. If people repeatedly hear that older people are useless and non-contributing members of society, they may well start to perceive themselves in that way. In addition, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Traditionally, the care of elder members of a family was the responsibility of other younger family members within an extended family environment. However, this is often no longer the case in the UK and increasingly, care is provided by the state or by using the older person’s savings.

According to  research (Cox, Abramson, Devine and Hollon. 2012), the elderly are at risk regarding depression simply because there is a lot of prejudice about ageing. People who held more ageist attitudes when younger, turn these prejudices inward when they become elderly themselves. However, other research carried out by University College London found that on the whole, ageing can be a very positive experience for a lot of us. The interesting facts about this study by Edlira Gjonca were:

  • On the whole, wealth doesn’t affect peoples’ experiences and perceptions of growing older.
  • The future status of their health is a very important concern for most people.
  • Wealthier people are likely to say that old age begins later and middle-age ends later, independent of their gender or age.
  • Most people would like to be younger than their actual age (do we know anyone who thinks otherwise?!).

I think most of us would add to those facts by saying that one of the most important things about ageing is to feel that you’re still needed but most of all, you’re loved – either by family, friends or animals. If we feel loved, we’re blessed and no amount of money can replicate that, whatever our age.

If you feel fearful about ageing or are feeling particularly lonely and isolated taking positive steps to make the most of your life right now, even if it’s particularly restrictive due to Covid-19, may help. Accessing online courses or planning for some treats in the months to come will distract you if the thought of getting older is  getting you down. Counselling might  also help as you can talk about your concerns with someone who’s trained to listen without judgement and work out some coping strategies.

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.

What do you want to do ?

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“I Feel So Lonely…”

Living through the last few months has highlighted how we live and work as well as throwing up a lot of financial challenges. One thing that has hit a lot of us more than usual is a feeling of loneliness, even more acute than it might have been before Covid-19. Some people choose to be alone and can live very happily without a lot of contact with other people.                                                                                                                                            But loneliness can hit most of us sometimes, whether you’re young and feeling cut-off from your friends, in your middle years and lonely in your relationship, or an older person who’s lost their partner.                                                                                                          Even if you have lots of friends or come from a big family, it’s still possible to feel real loneliness.                                                                                                                                              It can have many different causes and affects all of us in different ways. Certain lifestyles and the stresses of life today can make people socially isolated and more vulnerable to loneliness. It can also have a big impact on your mental health, contributing to anxiety, stress and depression.                                                                                                                     Not feeling part of the world in which you live is part of a vicious circle where you then stop trying to maintain friendships and then feel excluded.                                                         Certain situations might also make you feel lonelier – if you have a relationship break-up or someone close to you dies, you can feel lonely within yourself for a long time. When you’re part of an ethnic group with few community networks or you’re a single parent finding it hard to go out, you can feel lonelier than ever before.                                     People try different ways to avoid this inner loneliness including spending a lot of time socialising and thereby not having time to ponder on it too much, or they develop a dependency on drugs or alcohol to escape these feelings.                                                        So, how can you combat these feeling of loneliness? For some people it’s about making more social contact with other people, either friends or family. If you’re feeling ‘low’ this can take a lot of effort but if you don’t do so then you’re likely to end up more lonely and isolated than ever.

Take small steps at first:

  • go for a short walk in the fresh air and try to say ‘hello’ if you see anyone from your road or who looks familiar to you.
  • text someone in your family, just to see how they are.
  • Now that restrictions are lifting (at the time of writing) if you’re in a group of people, try to make a few comments, even though it seems easier to keep quiet and let everyone else talk.
  • try having a short talk with the cashier when you pay for goods in the shop. Even a little social contact helps a bit!
  • if you have children, maybe you could make conversation with one or two other parents once school re-starts.

Another way of making connections with people is through shared interests, values or experiences. If something interests you, whether that’s walking, watching films or going camping, there will be other people who feel the same. There is usually information about local clubs or groups in the library or you can look online and these groups will hopefully re-start again soon.                                                                                                           If, despite doing your best, you don’t manage to achieve the social contact you’d like, it may be worth learning how to feel more comfortable in your own company. This can be rewarding if you focus on the pleasure it gives you. Having time to reflect and think can be positive.                                                                                                                                          Trying yoga or pilates can help to achieve a peace that frenetic socialising can’t.  Getting a dog or cat is another way to alleviate loneliness, especially as they’re usually pleased to see you when you arrive home! Writing a blog helps to look at how you’re feeling and seeing your thoughts on paper can help you to look at how you might be able to improve things.                                                                                                                                                       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.