celibacy, life, love, relationships, thoughts, women

Guest post: Relationships in College

Courtesy of Marina Salsbury

College is a time of great exploration and new life experiences for most young adults. It’s a time when you learn what’s really important to you and what you want to accomplish in life. Between cramming in the library and working on online college classes in your pajamas, you begin to set life goals and priorities and learn about who you are as a person, apart and independent from your family and parents. Young adulthood is also a time when many young people begin to experiment with relationships and may, for the first time in their lives, have dating choices to explore and experience.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term

One of the challenges many young people in college face is whether or not they really want to make a commitment to a long-term relationship while in college. For some people, this is a natural step in the progression of a relationship and it may feel like absolutely the right thing to do if they really feel they are in love and want to share a commitment for the long haul.

For others, college romances are opportunities to try on different ways of being in relationship. They may have several different boyfriends or girlfriends during this period and maybe all at the same time. For them, it’s a time to explore what dating is like and figure out what they want or do not want in a potential partner. They aren’t looking for a lifetime or even long-term commitment, but simply exploring relationships in general.

Many opinions differ on whether or not it’s healthy to make a commitment to a long-term relationship in college. Parents may feel the stability of a long-term relationship will make it easier to stay focused on studies and larger goals, including marriage, family, and career. Other parents believe their children are too young to make a serious commitment during college and should be focusing on their studies and thinking about serious romance after they’ve finished with college. Whether or not it’s healthy really depends on each person and his or her particular life goals.

Potential Problems

Some of the many problems that can appear in college-age relationships can occur in serious relationships at any age:

  • Abuse – Dating violence can be a serious issue and date rape occurs with unfortunate frequency. Abuse is not just physical, but can also be mental and emotional. Anyone threatened by partners, afraid of their temper, have had partners destroy property, manipulated, or physically assaulted must protect themselves and get out of the relationship. Contact campus police or a school counseling center for help in getting out of the relationship and to report any instances of assault or physical violence.
  • Depression –  Dating a depressed person can be damaging to the relationship and very emotionally draining for the healthy partner. By the same token, in a strong relationship a healthy partner is a huge asset in overcoming depression if you believe you may be dating someone who is depressed or having mental health issues, encourage him or her to seek help from the school counseling center.
  • Isolation – Healthy relationships also include other people. Even if it isn’t deliberate or abusive, involvement in a serious relationship can inadvertently exclude partners’ other friends and dominate their time. No matter how serious your romantic commitment, be careful that your relationship doesn’t disrupt the balance of your life.

For most people, college is a time to get to know oneself better and figure out what one wants and values in life. Dating is one part of learning about yourself and who you are. Some people find being in a long-term relationship during their college years seems like the most natural thing to do, while for others it’s a time to explore dating several different people and learn about relationships in general. Whatever you do and whomever you find yourself with, keep in mind balance should characterize any healthy relationship.

Thank you Marina!

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broken heart, celibacy, life, love, men, relationships, thoughts, women

The blind side

Recently, a friend of mine told me the incredible story of her cousin, who just got divorced. She got married only for one month when she decided to call it quits with her husband. The reason? She discovered he was gay and spent his night getting fist fucked in dark corners of the town.

My friend said her cousin was devastated. But she also wondered how come she didn’t notice that before getting married. She just said her cousin was not confident when she met her future ex-husband, because she was a little bit overweighted. Since this shock, she has lost a dramatic amount of weight. But she made the decision not to talk to her ex ever.

My friend didn’t recall how she met her future ex-husband. But I guess he probably told her the things she needed to hear at the time. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have stayed that long. For the rest, I also guess she made the most common mistake we all do during a relationship: not taking seriously the little weird details we spot in our significant other.  Usually, the light of our life can give us hints about who they really are. An example? “My ex had really weird habits and changed his mind all of the time about everything and everyone.  He was 40, but acted like a child. At the beginning of our relationship, I found this absolutely charming. But then, I realized I couldn’t never count on him. Everytime I needed his help to do something, he would criticize me and my project, and never gave me a hand”  G., 34, said. “He was always up to see gay films festivals in the town, and once told me it would be exciting to have sex with a man” T., 35, said.

 A more famous example of this is the actual first lady of France. I recently read an article about one of her ex’s, a famous lawyer whose family is known for defending the Jews and condemning former nazis. The article just said he was still living with his parents, rode a bicycle, and was still a child in his heart. It quoted him saying that he was never as happy when he was surrounded with his sister and his family around a simple lunch in their home. In other words, there was simply no place for a woman in his life. I guess the first lady of France didn’t pay attention to these little important details. She may have convinced herself their couple was great when they got out together among their community of friends, artists and lawyers.

Sometimes, we simply refuse to see the truth as it is, and tell ourselves lies. For example, we can excuse his past mistakes because we think we all make mistakes. But people don’t change that much. “When I met him, he told me he was divorcing. He also told me he had a daughter, but she was a love child. He also told me he wasn’t sleeping with his ex for two years and had several lovers before finally breaking it up for good with her. I just thought it was his past, and that it wouldn’t affect our relationship. But I didn’t realize he was still seeing his wife, and wasn’t really divorcing” R., 36, said. Ok, if he tells you when he was very young, he did a very bad thing like burning all his GI Joe to see what it looked like once melted, this is forgivable.

Another hint is how he talks about women and especially his ex’s. If he says they were all wacko, maybe you should worry. But if he’s still talk a lot about one of his ex’s, it should also worry you.

All in all, we often don’t want to see the truth right away in our relationship. But sooner of later, it will come back with a vengeance and leaves us with a broken heart.

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Help yourself

After a break up, especially if the split was difficult, it’s important to told to people how you feel and how hurt you were with the relationship. But here, your friends may be not qualified to do so.

Have you noticed how easy we speak about everything in our life, especially the bad moments, to total strangers? This is not crazy at all. It’s difficult to find someone who will simply listen to you and your problems without judging you. And even friends who don’t judge you may not qualify for this.

A dear friend of mine  doesn’t want to hear me complaining all of the time about my ex. So, she’s taking her distance with me now. But I’m not mad at her. She’s living the exact same situation that I go through with my ex, and my experience reminds her constantly of the mistakes she makes too. She’s still my friends. She’s still there when I have good news or other bad news than my ex. But this is the topic I can’t speak with her.

As for the other friends that I have, I just fear their judgement. Few of them know I dated my ex. And this will be a shock to them if I told them the truth. I’m afraid they won’t understand what I did.

Talking to total strangers can be really relieving because you don’t feel judge and you know you probably never cross their paths again. This is important, because if you turn to a friend who doesn’t keep her/his mouth shut about your story, you may lose a friend.

A friend of mine got also the painful experience of watching her good friend taking her ex’s side after the break up. Worse, her good friend is now dating her ex. She feels absolutely betrayed and I understand her.

When your friend knows your ex, and still sees him, it may be delicate to told her how your feel and what kind of jerk he was with you. Your friend can be tempted to tell him everything you said to her. This happened to a friend of mine. It’s now World War III with her ex because of that.

Then, some people you know can turn a surprising confident. “I ran into his ex at a gym class. She was nice but a bit sad, and so was I. Both of us were devastated about our breakup with him, which happened in six months of interval.  We knew about each other, so I proposed to her to talk about how she felt, and surprisingly, our exchanges were extremely relieving for both of us. We could talk for hours about how bad he treated us. It helped us realize what an asshole he was. She fell in love with our gym teacher afterward. And I found love again. We remain friends. And we can’t stop laughing when we think about how we got together, because we didn’t expect this at all” I., 35, said.

A therapist can help you also to feel better after a break up. The key is to speak, and not let your feelings hidden. This is not the time.

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Impossible change

Can we change the one we love? Yes and no. We can influence the way our significant other treats us by telling him how we feel about his actions. For example, if he says something humiliating for you, you can always (and you have to) tell him that you feel humiliated. If he’s not a socio-psychopath, he will change his behavior after apologizing to you.

The same goes if you’re disappointed by what he does (for example, forgetting your birthday). Just tell him you’re disappointed.

This is the kind of change you can hope for your significant other.

For the rest, trying to tame a hard partying guy or someone who works a lot is a lost battle. Sooner or later, he will feel imprisoned and is likely to leave you or to cheat on you.

What you see is what you get in a relationship. You can’t expect him to become another person, the person you wish he would be. If you’re not happy with how he acts, then maybe, he’s not the right guy for you.  If you know he’s a player, chances are he will never ever change because of you.

C., 33, hopes desperately to get married to her man. But he recently told her that he doesn’t want to, and wants to travel the world with his mates, without her. They have two children together, but apparently, he wasn’t keen to be a father. Each time, it was a surprise for him. So, after she gave birth to her second child, he told her he didn’t want to spend the next ten years like the ten past one. In other words, he didn’t want her to impose him what to do anymore.

Trying to change your man won’t work over time. Because there will always be a time when he realized he has gone too far with you. Remember, when you tear too much on a rubber band, it comes back in its initial position really quickly.

This is why it’s important to know what you want from your significant other. I’m often surprised to hear my single friends listing what they don’t want in a relationship. But no one actually made a list of what she wants. This is a big difference.

It’s best to share the same centers of interest and the same philosophy of life. Otherwise, you can end up fighting all of the time and feeling frustrated because you don’t get what you want. If you like to travel a lot and he’s a couch potato, afraid of planes, you might get into a lot of arguments. The same goes if you’re into opera, art exhibitions, … while he’s only interested in football, which isn’t your cup of tea at all.

Not only, it will lead to tensions and frustrations, but also, your friends, who usually share the same interests than you, will have a hard time dealing with your significant other. One of my friends constantly complains about his sister’s new boyfriend, who only talks about the stock exchange and wines. Another of my friends also complains about her sister’s boyfriend, who’s only passion is Formula One, and talks about it all of the time. “It’s boring” she says.

I’m not saying that we should all find our perfect copycat. But at least, it’s important to share some common points.

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Happy birthday…

Birthdays.On the day of your birthday, you wish people you love wish you a happy one. Thousand of people can wish you a happy birthday, yet, if someone you care about forgot about it, your day can be ruined.

This is especially true if the person who forgot your birthday is the one you love. This hurts, isn’t it? This can happen once if your significant other has something else in mind. But if this is the third or fourth time in a row, there may be a problem.

What do you do then if he forgets your birthday? It’s not pleasant at all to remind him about this special day. In your mind, you seriously think that he should mark this day more than anything else. So, it puts you in a bad position to remind him about this day. You feel like a horrible person.

In the first months of a relationship, this can be a test for your significant other. If he doesn’t know when is your birthday, forgets about it and doesn’t do anything for you on that day, this says it all about how much he cares about you. The same applies to Valentine’s Day. This may be harsh, but it’s best to recognize the early signs of a ill-fated relationship before it’s too late.  Ending the relationship here will prevent you to have other birthdays ruined because he forgot about it again.

And here, a simple happy birthday isn’t enough. The gift he chooses is important too. If it isn’t a romantic gift, this isn’t a good sign either. And by romantic gift, I mean something special: not a present a friend could give you.

Remember this: if a relationship doesn’t make you happy, it’s not worth fighting for it.

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Guest post: What to do when love ends at work?

Courtesy of Allie Gamble. 

 

Love is great, but when a relationship ends it can send you for a loop. If it happens to be a workplace relationship, you have a whole new set of issues to consider when the love ends. On a professional level, start by being aware of any policies your employer may have about co-workers dating. Legally, employers can’t forbid workplace dating. However, other factors make it an awkward situation when things don’t work out.

Give Yourself Time to Deal with it

Every breakup goes along with a process to get over it. Take some time off right after the breakup if possible. Anybody with a psychology degree will affirm that you need time to regain your composure and gather your thoughts before being forced into close quarters. Take time to deal with it and adjust. Regardless of the reasons for end of the relationship, the breakup process is basically the same. Avoid talking about the breakup at work, as this may force co-workers or friends to take sides and create an awkward workplace environment.

Think about the reasons for the end of the relationship and accept them. Dwelling isn’t healthy, especially if you still have to see your ex every day. Don’t second-guess the breakup. Keep your space as much as possible. This may mean adjusting the times you take breaks and who you go to lunch to limit your personal contact, at least for a while following the breakup.

The breakup process is different for everyone. Find comfort in your friends, use your support system, blow off steam, do some yoga or even eat some Ben and Jerry’s, if you feel so moved (but do remember, if you’re seeing him everyday, looking gorgeous might be the best revenge). Keep in mind that you’ll be seeing your new ex on a regular basis at work. Give yourself enough time to get over the initial upheaval before being around the other person again. Psychologically, you need time to process your feelings.

Discuss it with One Another

Find a time during non-working hours to talk the situation over. Even if the breakup wasn’t pretty, you still need to cover some basics with your ex. Be clear that you don’t want the breakup to interfere with your working relationship. Be clear about your feelings. Stay calm. Set and maintain boundaries. Needless to say, there’s no place for threats about getting the other person in trouble if they “don’t respect your space” Agree not to discuss the details of the breakup with co-workers, who did what to whom. The office rumor mill will only make things more awkward at work.

Know the Boundaries

Most workplace relationships end without major issues. According to a report published in the Journal of Management, there are two kinds of office romances that may be problematic: hierarchical romances in which one participant directly reports to the other, and relationships where one person advances because of their personal contact with another employee or supervisor. If you were in one of these kinds of relationships, your best bet is to deal with your company’s human resources department. Some employers make counseling available to employees under such circumstances. It’s best to take advantage of those services even if only to have something on record to show you dealt with the breakup in a positive, proactive way.

Keep it in Perspective

Not every breakup has to be dramatic. Sometimes, things just don’t work out and calling it off is responsible. You’re likely to go through several stages of grief after the end of a relationship, where you don’t want to think about the breakup, focusing on work and life. There may be a phase of blame and anger. Whatever you go though, seek out support from friends and be patient with yourself. The final stage is always acceptance.

It’s rarely easy to deal with the end of a romantic relationship. When you still have to work with the other person on a regular basis, a breakup can be an even greater challenge and take a higher toll in terms of stress. Take some time to handle the emotional impact of the breakup and put it in perspective. Keep your distance as much as possible initially and find a balance at work that doesn’t interfere with productivity or the workplace environment. In the long run it’ll be better for you, your job and your ex.

Thank you Allie!

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The road to happiness

I mentioned previously that it was important to follow our dreams.  Yet, sometimes, we can do everything we can to pursue our dream, but we fail at it. Four  years ago, we had a student in our newsroom who was really really bad. But he wanted to be a journalist, it was his dream. Yet, he lacked a lot of things, and my chief editor told him to reorientate himself, that his future wasn’t in the competitive and merciless world of the journalism. This is the first time she ever said that to a student, even if she can be really harsh with her journalists. The poor student did try in other publications, but he received the same advice over and over again. I’ve never seen his name at the foot of any published article. I guess maybe he decided to switch to something else.

Among my coworkers, they are also a lot of failed writers/ painters/ graphists. Yet, they have managed to find their place in our newsroom. I guess it’s a little reward on their broken dreams.

Of course, we should all pursue our dreams. But we also got to be realistic. Things don’t always turn the way we expect. If you try your best to reach your goal, and fail, at least, you could say you have tried, and you shouldn’t regret anything. It’s better than being afraid to fail and not even trying. Living with regrets makes us sad and  bitter.

A friend of mine dreamed of joining Pixar. But to join this company, you have to be among the happy few. In my country, you have to get the right diploma to get there. My friend knew it was difficult, and despite all his efforts, he didn’t get this diploma. After two failures, he decided to do something else. He said he thought he would fail over and over again at the exams.  Yet, he never stopped drawing. And now, he has managed to live over it. His career is just taking off.

Dreams need sometimes a little adjustment. For instance, I always wanted to be a journalist, but I never dreamed about being a financial journalist. This topic was the only one still open for new journalists in my country. Because nobody wants to do this. Yet, I’m perfectly happy with it now. And you cannot imagine how happy I am each time I meet someone in the world of finance who seems genuinely impressed by me. I wouldn’t have bet on that when I was studying journalism in College many years ago.

The road to happiness is difficult. I can assure you I had a lot of doubts before becoming who I am today. And during these times, it’s best to have support but also friends who will keep your feet on the ground in case of.

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