Category Archives: Sexuality

Setting Boundaries In Relationships

This sounds easy doesn’t it? But actually, maintaining and reinforcing boundaries in relationships is a hard thing for a lot of people to manage. Part of it is about not being able to say “no” to other people and not wanting to disappoint them. This is even if it’s at the expense of your own energy and time. Sounds familiar? I’ve sometimes found putting down boundaries hard myself so I know it’s easy to get into that role of not respecting yourself enough.

Here are a few things to try:

  • First of all, you need to give yourself permission to set some boundaries, rather than falling in with what someone is asking of you. For instance, if you feel that you should say “yes” to a friend’s requests for help because that’s what being a good friend means, try to work out whether that’s always realistic and necessary. If you’re always the one doing the giving, try to say something like “I can’t fit that in this week, but I might be able to next month”.
  • It’s difficult to set good boundaries until you’re sure of where you stand – everyone has physical, mental, emotional and spiritual limits. Think about what you can accept and sometimes tolerate and what makes you feel uncomfortable and follow those through.
  • Tune into what you want – resentment usually comes about when we feel unappreciated or taken advantage of. Or, it might be that someone is always pushing their own views and values onto you. It’s alright to say “I don’t really agree with that” – there doesn’t need to be an argument about it; you’re entitled to an opinion and just because someone might be more articulate than you, doesn’t necessarily make them right!
  • How people grew up, along with their role within their family, often has a big effect on how you deal with boundaries. If you’re brought up to always focus on the needs of others, it can seem like the norm to always put others first. The main thing is that relationships are reciprocal and that’s a hard balance in some families. If you are in the habit of always putting others first, in the home or at work, there might be surprise or resentment if you stop doing that. People may want to know why you’ve changed and it’s up to you as to how you respond, but honouring your own needs is really important.
  • If someone has a similar communication style to your own, you probably don’t need a direct approach but with people who have a different cultural background or personality, you may need a more direct approach. However, bear in mind that one person’s healthy way of communicating might feel disrespectful to another. Whatever the situation though, it’s alright to have boundaries and make them clear.
  • There are bound to be times when you lapse, but making your own self-care is a priority here. By that I mean, recognising the importance of your own feelings and giving yourself permission to put yourself first sometimes.
  • Finally, establishing boundaries takes time – start with something small that isn’t too threatening and gradually build up to more challenging boundaries. In that way, it won’t feel too overwhelming.

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.

Feeling Anxious About Wearing A Mask?

Hello! This week I thought I’d write a blog about something that’s topical but seems to cause a lot of friction between people who have differing ideas about them – that’s right, I’m talking about masks (and I’m not thinking Halloween here!).

Whether you’ve returned to work in an environment that requires you to wear a mask, you’re in a shop, wearing a mask because of a medical condition, walking down the street or running in the park,  non-verbal communication has become more important than ever before. If you’re feeling lonely or anxious about what’s going on, lack of communication can make things so much worse.

When your expressions are concealed by a mask it’s easy for negative perceptions to be made. So how to communicate effectively and still manage to build up a rapport, whilst keeping yourself and others safe? Here are some ways to improve things:

  • You’ll need to use body language and gestures more than before and maybe you’ve already got into the habit of giving a little wave to people when you meet them for the first time.
  • Try to mirror the behaviour of the person you’re talking to (within reason! – surprisingly, this happens subconsciously to some extent anyway and it helps build rapport between people. Now it’s more important than ever so try practising this at home in front of a mirror so that imitating the body language of the person you’re speaking to comes naturally.
  • Avoid clear masks if you can – they may seem the ideal solution but they tend to fog up and some people find that they make them feel uneasy. However, they’re a good idea if you’re speaking to someone who is deaf.
  • Practice increasing the volume of your voice – no need to shout, but you’re probably aware that masks have a muffling effect so it’s necessary to speak up a bit (obvious but true!).
  • Pause more than usual – that gives people the chance to respond or jump in.
  • Try to make your voice more expressive by conveying emotions like sympathy and excitement – this will show in your eyes which, after all,  Shakespeare said that ‘eyes are the window to the soul’; a phrase which has endured through centuries.

We now know that masks are almost certainly here for the next few months so it will help if you can master the above tips and then, when we can finally show our full faces again, they’ll hopefully help you to communicate in a more positive in the future

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.

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.

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 ?

New mailCopy

“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.