Author Archives: samebutdifferentblogger

About samebutdifferentblogger

Hello. I'm a Counsellor and Psychotherapist with twenty-five years experience of counselling clients from a variety of settings. I've worked as a Counsellor in a GP surgery, as part of a team counselling clients in a local government setting as well as mor recently having my own private practice and seeing clients on a longer-term basis. I've also worked as an Associate Lecturer in Psychology. I have now decided to focus on blogging about the experiences and issues that clients have brought to me over the years. I hope that you find my blogs interesting - please do comment if you would like to do so. I realise that comments might not always be positive, but it's all a learning curve for me!

Has The Yardstick For Dating Sites Changed?

A friend talked about this with me, saying how so many single women friends of hers are on dating sites but how the parameters seem ‘skewed’ (at least, that was my understanding of our conversation).

Although in a happy partnership herself, she said that there seem to be a lot of single women on their own; actually, there are a lot of single men on their own too and maybe you are one of them, reading this blog and hoping for something fresh on the subject!

What my friend was asking was, why do women settle for something less than they really want? Well, I think that’s easy to fathom – loneliness, fed-up with not having a ‘plus one’, having to sort out everything in the home themselves, no-one to share life’s pleasures with…..the list is endless and it’s the same list that applies to men.

But her point was that on dating sites, the women she knows put into the criteria that they want someone of their own age or older. However, men of the same age apparently put that they want a female partner who’s a lot younger than them. Why is that? I guess it’s a sort of societal pressure – somehow, we’re not really comfortable with what we now know are called ‘cougar’ relationships, where an older woman dates a much younger man. Goodness knows why we have to label people in this way – does it matter?

I hope that some of the men who read my blogs might respond to this, saying what they think about it and if it’s true of them – if they use online dating sites, do they prefer younger women and, if so, why? (No judgments here – just interest).

This pattern is something that we see in the celebrity world and maybe copy to some extent – a lot of older rock stars, celebrities and male actors are seen with much younger women. That’s why so many people laughed, and still do, about Mrs Merton’s (Caroline Ahern) 1995 interview with Debbie McGee, wife of magician Paul Daniels, when she asked Debbie “So what first attracted you to the millionaire Paul Daniels?”.

But it’s more than just wealth – older men often seem wiser and more experienced in many areas of life so women of all ages are attracted to them, even if they’re not extremely wealthy. Older men can have more choice, it seems, than older women. No, it’s not fair but I think that a younger woman is a chance for a man to re-live his youth, and maybe do it better the second time around.

But what about the older women, I hear you say! Hmmm – well, it’s difficult and I’ve heard many negative experiences of dating sites, a lot of which lead women to question their own body image and communication skills. It’s very stressful and causes a lot of anxiety but I’m not suggesting that anyone gives up on the idea of finding a partner. There’s also something about the fact that, as women, we are often socialised to look after people, whether that’s children, elderly parents or indeed an older partner, so maybe there’s a bit of that in there too. 

Also, there are people out there who prioritise having views and interests in common with their partners over them having young, taut bodies. Okay, they’re harder to find on dating sites but that’s possibly because their relationships tend to last longer, but they definitely exist.

As you can tell, I don’t have an answer because we can’t change the mind of a society that mostly agrees that women appeal less as they grow older whereas men have the opportunity to become what is now called ‘a silver fox’. Things will change, but probably not in our lifetime.

So, are men in your age group overlooking a great opportunity? Almost certainly, yes. Are you missing out on a great opportunity because of this? Not so much – if men of your age aren’t interested in you, it’s very unlikely that they have hidden depths!

It may sound as if I’m critical of older men, but to some extent I think that they’re products of a society and environment that encourages this sort of thinking. It takes some imagination and character to break away from it.

If you’re a woman over 55 years old who’s reading this and is tired of this experience, I hope that you can still think of yourself as an interesting, attractive person who has a lot to offer. Whether you settle for less than you really want, is up to you

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 LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.                          #loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

Have You Experienced ‘Breadcrumbing’?

I have to be honest and say that until recently I hadn’t heard of the term ‘breadcrumbing’ but then I read about it in a psychotherapy magazine and realised that it’s probably more prevalent than I realised. There’s a lot of it around……..

Maybe you already knew about it but for those of you who, like me, it’s a new term, it’s defined as someone who leads you on by dropping little morsels of interest like an occasional message, social media interaction or a phone call, but then they don’t follow through on any of it. It doesn’t only happen in romantic situations though – it can be from your family, at work or when you’re out socially.

Basically though, it’s about expectations, disappointment and empty promises and can happen in lots of different situations; if it’s in a romantic sense, it’s along the lines of stringing someone along but not actually committing, in friendships where you’ve connected on social media but then find  you’ve been ghosted, in families where there’s love, but it’s often conditional and is taken away sometimes and at work where opportunities are dangled but stay just out of reach.

Sounds familiar? If you’ve often experienced the roller coaster of hoping for something but that’s followed by doubting yourself (“is it because of me?” or “did I do something wrong?”), then you may well have been the victim of breadcrumbing.

You may have found that the breadcrumber shows you attention and interest when they want something from you, but then they go back to their old self-absorbed ways after getting what they want. If you’ve often waited for someone to call or text, to follow through on what they’ve hinted, but it never happens, then you’ve almost certainly been the victim of breadcrumbing.

So, how can you best deal with this, which is essentially about narcissism and manipulation? Here are a few things to look at:

  • Be honest with yourself – by this I mean that although we may have convinced ourselves that someone likes us really, that they want us to thrive and be happy, ask yourself whether you really think they’re being honest (this applies in your personal life or at work). If the answer is ‘no’, it may be time to walk away. If it’s in the context of family, that’s not easy, but at the very least you can distance yourself, even if you can’t cut ties completely.
  • This is a good time to start ignoring the game they’re playing – because it is a game really. If the person is really interested in you, whether at work or home, they’ll start making an effort with you as opposed to stringing you along.
  • If you think it would be a better approach, you might try telling them how you feel – make a time to meet with them, explain how you feel, whether it’s about your feelings for them or for the job that you’re doing, and explain the effect that their behaviour is having on you.
  • Remember that the breacrumber holds the attention and power and that it’s an unequal dynamic which isn’t helping you at all.
  • Make sure that you don’t lose respect for yourself – remember that what they’re doing is not fair or acceptable, and by having confidence in yourself, you’re no longer participating in their game.
  • Start focusing on other aspects of your life, and make sure that you direct your focus elsewhere whether that’s with new friends, new interests or studying so that you can move on to another, better job.

I hope that you’ve found this interesting – let me know if you have any thoughts on it.

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 LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

Is One Of You Having An Emotional Affair?

It often begins innocently enough as a friendship but when you or your partner start investing a lot of emotional time and energy into a bond outside of your relationship, it can ultimately threaten the intimacy you have with your partner.

Okay, so there hasn’t been actual sexual intimacy, but emotional affairs can still do a lot of damage and are a form of cheating (you may disagree – comments welcome!). If there’s deception and you’re hiding it from your partner, something’s definitely not right. If you’re seeking/finding emotional support outside your relationship, the next step is feeling closer to that person than to your partner (and vice-versa).

One difference between a close platonic friendship and an actual emotional affair is that the intimacy and emotional investment is downplayed or kept secret from your partner.

Some warning signs that you’re having an emotional affair are:

  • Thinking that your friend understands you better than your partner.
  • Giving the friend personal gifts
  • Keeping the friendship secret or downplaying your interest in the other person.
  • Texting them a lot when you’re not with them.
  • Sharing thoughts and problems with your friend rather than your partner.
  • Preoccupation or daydreaming about your friend.
  • Withdrawing from your partner.

If you recognise this in your own life and want to stop things before any real damage is done to you and your partner, try to assess why you’re not feeling as close to your partner, start being more supportive of one another and make an effort to talk about what’s going on in your lives; make sure that you have some regular quality time together, even if you have small children and start finding ways of dealing with conflict in ways that are healthy.

By making your partner the focus of your life, rather than a ‘special friendship’, there’s a chance to put a spark back into your relationship before it’s too late.

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 LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

‘Something’s Gotta Give’

romantic comedy – 2003

Something’s Gotta Give is a 2003 American romantic comedy starring Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton as a successful 60-something and 50-something, who find love for each other in later life, despite being complete opposites.
The reason that I chose the title for this week’s blog is that although the film is essentially a romcom, (at the beginning of the film, Harry – Nicholson – is a wealthy New York businessman who has a habit of dating women under the age of 30 years although things eventually change – however, if you haven’t seen the film, I don’t want to spoil it for you!), a crucial part of the plot is that Harry has a heart attack and is rushed to hospital. However, he discovers the episode is actually triggered by stress over caring about a woman whose love he can’t have. This realisation forces him to reconsider his identity as a carefree bachelor.

But unrequited love isn’t the essence of this blog, more that stress can induce extreme symptoms, even leading sufferers to think that they’re having a heart attack. It can be hugely frightening and, like Harry, people do end up in hospital if things become overwhelming.

Most of us have felt stressed and stretched every which way, especially during the pandemic, and the thought of adding yet one more thing to our schedules can send us into overdrive. Often, we know things have got to change but are not sure how to go about it, so here are a few ideas to help you on the way:

  • One important step is to recognise that perfectionism is a form of self-sabotage rather than an asset. On some level, perfectionists believe that if they’re not perfect, they’ve failed and this in itself is very stressful. Doing your best is a lot healthier in the long run.
  • If you hold onto ‘mistakes’, noticing what you’ve done wrong rather than what you’ve got right can make anyone anxious so try to focus on the positive changes that you’ve made and remember that no-one gets thing right all of the time.
  • In the same way, whilst accepting your own mistakes, try to give other people a break too. Don’t hold onto grudges and try to see the best in people, rather than focusing on what they’re doing wrong.
  • Try to start each day calmly (easier said than done, I know!) – have a quiet cup of tea before anyone else gets up, or try to have five minutes of meditation – even reading something that’s inspirational can help start your day in a calm way.
  • Delegate (and delegate, delegate…..) – ask your partner to share more of the household stuff, your flatmate to do more of the cleaning if you feel bogged down or ask your colleagues to step up rather than take on even more responsibility yourself.
  • Try to find hope in whatever situation you’re in – it’s harder to see the good in things if you’re feeling overwhelmed so try to find one thing a day to be optimistic about. Hope can help to make things seem so different.
  • Acknowledge how you’re feeling; remaining in denial isn’t healthy and by talking to a friend you can usually get an emotional lift. In the same way, journaling how you’re feeling can help enormously – the written word is very powerful.

So, as the film’s message highlights, something will have to give unless we deal with stress as it happens – hopefully, the above tips will help.

As a nod to the photo at the end of this blog, Something’s Got to Give was also an unfinished American feature film shot in 1962, starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin. It was Monroe’s last work, but from the beginning its production was disrupted by her personal troubles, and after her death on August 4, 1962, the film was abandoned.

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 LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy

Marilyn Monroe

Do You Have Rules In Your Relationship?

Sounds a bit rigid, doesn’t it? But maybe we all have unspoken rules in our relationships and, actually, some of them might be very useful…..

Following on from my last blog about possibly ‘future-proofing’ your relationship, made me wonder about whether couples have rules that they sub-consciously keep to.

For instance, if you have a rule for what happens when you disagree, one good rule is to take time out; sticking to the point and not swearing are other ‘rules’ that work for a lot of couples. Basically, it’s about keeping the problem contained to what’s going on right now. although seemingly small arguments about whose turn it was to clean the bathroom can mask much deeper issues like one of you feeling a lot of disappointment and sadness.  Which brings me to another ‘rule’…

The next thing is the oft-repeated one about communication – you may be a talker but maybe your partner is definitely the opposite. It can be really testing but try to keep listening to each other, rather than filling in the blanks or mind-reading. After that, identifying what’s wrong and trying to find a reasonable solution together, can help you overcome a lot of problems.

There’s some evidence to show that life events such as bereavement, job loss and illness can have a huge impact on your relationship. It’s easy to think that as a couple you’ll pull together, but that’s not always the case. People deal with traumas differently – that’s part of being human – but if you can try to reframe situations so that you feel that you’re a team, you’ve made a good start in getting through them together. So maybe another ‘rule’ is trying to pull together when something big happens.

It’s easy to grow apart, even if you started off very much together, so another ‘rule’ to look at is whether one of you has actually changed more than the other. This isn’t always easy to face, but it doesn’t have to break you up. Think about how you can still be happy and make your relationship work, even if you’ve both changed a lot since first meeting – making sure that you still connect as a couple on important issues is crucial.

A sometimes forgotten rule is that of appreciation; most people thrive when thanked for the little things that they do – criticism can chip away at your partner and your relationship. Remember to show your appreciation when your partner does something to please you – as well as little touches like getting you a cup of tea when you’re tired, there’s also things like thanking them (and vice-versa) for working long hours to provide for your home and children if you have them. These things don’t just happen – they take some effort.

Money problems can be the ruin of a lot of relationships and there’s no wrong or right attitude towards finances but if you have different ways of saving and spending, it can be a real source of friction. The biggest thing though is not having enough money to get through the week and, since Covid, a lot more couples are finding the pinch. Arguing about it won’t help but constructive ways of looking for solutions might well be the answer and if you work together to deal with it, hopefully you’ll find that it brings you closer.

Boredom can put a real dampener on a relationship, so one rule might be to periodically try to create a bit more excitement within your relationship by getting out of a rut, joining a club together or taking up an interest that involves both of you and any children that you might have together. Every relationship changes over time but that doesn’t mean that it has to be monotonous – now’s the time to be part of the solution if you’re feeling bored.

Co-parenting children can be a real hassle if you have different parenting styles but these often relate back to our own childhoods and what we assume is the norm. A ‘rule’ here could be some house rules that you agree on as a family and all try to stick to. Children pick up on conflict between their parents and often use it to get what they want from one parent or another so having some basic rules that you both keep to makes sense. Also, you’ll still be a couple when your children have left home so trying to find time for each other now is an investment in your future together.

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 LinkedIn, Instagram (samebutdifferent) and read my FB posts at Same But Different.

#loss #depression #mentalhealth #anger #melancholy