Isn’t It Time That We Stopped Labelling One Another?

Labelling yourself and others

We all do it – dish out labels without always thinking about it and that’s partly because it’s easier for us to comparmentalise certain behaviours. By labelling others, we’re really saying “I’m not like that”.

But people are contradictory and complicated – a mixture of feelings, actions and thoughts and labels don’t allow for this complexity; for instance, we might say “he’s so selfish” but although that person might be very selfish some of the time, at other times they will show kindness and selflessness – to believe that they are made up of that one trait is short-sighted.

In other words, labels are rarely helpful long-term as they blind us to the diversity of life and people. It’s as if, by labelling them, we can then make assumptions about their entire personalities but labels are subjective and your label isn’t any more right than someone else’s.

As a Counsellor and Psychotherapist, I can see how people can change but if we label them, it’s difficult for others to recognise this change. For instance, if they’re seen as ‘a commitment phobe’, they can be judged on that by their friends and jokes will be made about how they can’t commit to a relationship, whereas that person might have looked at why they’ve previously found commitment difficult and looked at ways to turn that around so that, going forward, they’re ready for a different sort of relationship.

Even labelling someone in a positive way isn’t always helpful. If you’re always seen as kind and helpful, never creating waves, it’s hard to then be assertive and say that you’re not happy about something both at work and home. There’s a lot of pressure to always live up to that label and sometimes it’s too much.

Labels can be self-fulfilling too; if you’re always told that you’re stupid and will never do anything with your life, you will end up believing this and not pushing yourself to do better educationally or socially.

Another reason that it’s unhelpful to label people is that you can cut yourself off from those with whom you might get on well, even call friends, but they have a label that you can’t or won’t identify with and you find that scary. If a group is labelled in a negative light, it will affect your view of everyone in that group.

Labels can make us feel superior too; if you label yourself and/or your partner as one thing that you think is good, anyone who doesn’t come under the same label isn’t seen as ‘good’ as you. If you’re home is immaculate, it’s easy to label someone who’s standards aren’t as high as ‘sloppy or lazy’ whereas they may have reasons for different standards which could include tiredness, not enough hours to clean thoroughly or just different priorities. ‘Different’ isn’t necessarily ‘worse’.

So, labels are too simple to be able to describe someone, but they do turn the person into an object, to be viewed with superiority. So, let’s be more flexible with our perceptions about others – it might open up other possibilities and bring new people and interests into our lives that we’ve never explored before.

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

Does Your Partner Often Behave Like A Child?

This blog is about anyone, male or female, who’s living with a partner who often behaves like a child. Does this ring a bell with you? Do you often find that you’re the only one who keeps things on track by showing some emotional maturity? Or that you’re carrying them through life sometimes? If so, read on……..

In this dynamic, you can coast along happily for a while, maybe weekssometimes, but then they get tired, fed-up, bored or simply find it hard to cope with some of the stresses that life throws at them. Small disagreements become huge issues and that leads to explosive episodes of misunderstanding and conflict. Often, this behaviour can be traced back to their childhood where they were either spoilt by one or both parents, not encouraged to take responsibility and, most of all, not made to be accountable for their actions.

Whatever the reason, it can be really exhausting to cope with and you may feel that your efforts are one-sided and all to keep life running as smoothly as possible. There’s often very little compromise and they can become very demanding – they want what they want, when they want (much like a three year old child who hasn’t learnt about other peoples’ needs).

Often, partners like this are very loveable and kind some of the time but that’s not always enough to make up for the episodes of anger and disappointment that they display at other times, which can seemingly come out of nowhere. They may be sorry later on, but won’t take steps to change, saying that it’s just the way they are.

If you find that your partner has no real emotional control, that they lash out verbally whenever something goes wrong, looks to others to make them happy or struggles with a vision for their life before descending into abject misery, how can you deal with it so that you’re not constantly on the alert for the next problem?

  • First of all, try not to take the upsets personally – it has little to do with you and a lot to do with their immaturity. Not taking it to heart is easier said than done, but you have to find a way to brush off the pettiness and sheer nastiness at times.
  • Remember that you cannot change them so you’ll need to adjust and treat their childish behaviour for what it is – childish behaviour. React as you would to a child and when you stop expecting them to respond like an adult, you can start to build in boundaries.
  • Creating these clear-cut lines (boundaries) will protect your own happiness and wellbeing and they need to be prioritised over your partner’s childish behaviour. Communicate these to your partner and be very clear. There’s no point in mincing words – tell them what will and won’t be acceptable, not as an ultimatum, but more of an invitation to your partner to learn how to interact with you.
  • Work out what the consequences will be if they don’t respect these boundaries. It doesn’t have to come to splitting up but whatever you decide (leaving for a few hours or days, refusing to interact with them if they shout and become irrational or going out for a long walk, turning off your phone – only you know which will work best for you). The main thing is to keep to these boundaries, whatever happens.
  • Speak up for yourself – just because they’re immature doesn’t mean that things can slide. If you’ve been hurt, sit them down when they’re calmer and have an adult conversation with them. They have to know that they’ve crossed a line.
  • Think about whether their behaviour triggers something in you from the past – maybe one of your parents or siblings also behaved like this. It’s then tempting to try to replay what’s happened in the past and try to get a happy ending. It’s understandable but frustrating and means that you’re stuck in an endless cycle of trying to make things better. You can’t – only they can do this.
  • Prioritise yourself – you’re not responsible for them, even though it often feels like that and they will tell you that that’s the case, blaming you for whatever is wrong in their lives at that time. But you don’t have to support them through whatever crisis they may have got themselves into, whether that’s at work or home. They have to try to sort things out themselves and often, childish people don’t want a solution (frustrating, I know!).
  • Lastly, remember that you’re not their parent and they’re not your child. You can’t always find solutions for them, so think of your own personal goals and try to focus on those when the going gets tough.

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

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