Monthly Archives: December 2016
We first learn about loving and caring relationships from our families. Family is defined as a domestic group of people with some degree of kinship – whether through blood, marriage, or adoption.
Ideally each child is nurtured, respected, and grows up to care for others and develop strong and healthy relationships. This does not mean that it is always easy to make and keep friends; it just means that we share the goal of having strong relationships.
“Family” includes your siblings and parents, as well as relatives who you may not interact with every day, such as your cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and stepparents.
These are probably the people you are closest to and with whom you spend the most time. Having healthy relationships with your family members is both important and difficult.
Families in the 21st century come in all shapes and sizes: traditional, single parent, blended (more than one family together in the same house), and gay and lesbian parents – just to name a few. No matter the “type” of family you have, there are going to be highs and lows – good times and bad.
Many times, however, families become blocked in their relationships by hurt, anger, mistrust, and confusion. These emotions are natural and normal, and few families do not have at least a few experiences with them. The worst time for most families, is during a divorce.
By making a few simple changes in the way we look at the world and deal with other people, it is possible to create happier, more stable relationships. Families need to be units of mutual caring and support; they can be sources of lifelong strength for all individuals.
It is never too late to begin the process of improving family relationships – even if they are already of good quality – by developing some simple skills.
Whereas in other situations you can step back and assess the relationship, it is often hard to do this with your family. Your family may be a constant presence in your life, so when an argument or issue arises, it may seem impossible to handle.
Remember that communication is key to resolving conflict. While it may seem that your siblings are constantly present to annoy you or boss you around, they are also there to communicate.
To begin a new relationship on the healthiest footing, there are three simple aspects to consider.
First, give some thought to prediction. What sort of relationship would predictably yield a positive outcome for you and the other person?
Some partners will be predictably poor choices, while others will be amazing choices. If the prediction is weak from the get-go, it’s wise to hold out for a better match.
Suppose you meet someone who tells you about her past relationships, and each one of them was a trainwreck that ended with hurt and resentment. Would you want to get involved with such a person, knowing that you’ll be next? If you’re in the mood for some drama, then go for it. Otherwise you may want to look for a more sensible partner who begins and ends relationships honestly and compassionately and who has a track record of choosing decent partners who’ve treated her well.
Some people won’t date anyone without a stable income since they know from experience where that leads. Some people won’t date anyone who eats fast food every day since the long-term health problems are predictable. Some people won’t date anyone with an overly clingy family since the boundary issues and privacy violations are predictable.
It’s wise to base your predictions on a person’s past behavior and circumstances, not on what they say they’ll do. Be careful about being overly influenced by someone’s words. Pay more attention to their long-term pattern of actions.
If you like to travel, and you meet someone who’s been traveling regularly, it’s predictable that you may travel together if you get involved. If you’re a long-term vegan, and you meet a fellow long-term vegan, it’s predictable that you’d reinforce your vegan lifestyle together. If you like to drink a lot, and you meet someone similar, it’s predictable that you could be alcoholics together.
Predictions aren’t always accurate of course, but do pay attention to them. We make predictions automatically, but we don’t always listen to them, much to our detriment.
Second, think about which desires you’d like to explore with a new partner.
To filter for your best matches, share your most important desires as early as possible. Don’t be afraid of turning people off. If someone isn’t compatible, then sharing your desires will indeed turn them off, and that’s a good thing. It shows respect for everyone’s time. Don’t jerk people around by encouraging them to invest in you if you’re unlikely to be a good match for them.
When you share your desires with someone who isn’t compatible, you’ll usually get a cold or indifferent response. But when you do this with someone who is compatible, you may find yourself talking for hours and not even noticing the time pass because you’re both so in tune with each other. Don’t deny yourself this delightful situation by wasting time hiding your desires or projecting false desires.
Invite the other person to share their desires with you. Do those desires align well with what you’d like to explore? If not, move on, so each of you can find more compatible matches. Otherwise you can talk about what you’d like to explore together, and if it’s possible to do so, dive into one of those explorations right away. There’s nothing quite so thrilling as finding a good match and running with it as you explore together.
Third, look for mutual empowerment.
Just as you wouldn’t want someone draining your energy, you wouldn’t want to be a drain on someone else either. One of the simplest ways to prevent that is with daily exercise. It’s a mood booster and is one of the best depression cures ever discovered. If that isn’t enough, then clean up your diet, and do some serious detoxing, so you’ll have extra energy to give and so you won’t be vamping off other people.
When you make yourself strong as an individual, you’ll add strength to your relationships, and you’ll be worthy of strong partners who can make you stronger in return. You’ll also be less likely to succumb to a draining relationship because you won’t tolerate such imbalance and unfairness in your life.
It’s wonderful to have a partner’s love. It’s also wonderful to have a partner that helps you grow, which is love in action.
Ultimately people leave relationships for fairly basic reasons. The circumstances may appear complex, but there are really just three primary reasons that people opt out:
- They predict that life will be better if they leave.
- They want to stop the relationship from interfering with more important desires.
- The relationship is weakening them, and they want to stop the energy drain and grow stronger.
You may recognize within these ideas the three core principles of growth:
- Truth – recognizing and accepting the truth that the relationship is stagnant or declining
- Love – feeling drawn to explore and fulfill greater desires
- Power – needing to grow stronger and to feel empowered
Perhaps the simplest way of stating this is that people leave when they perceive that leaving is the intelligent choice.
Remaining in a relationship with a prediction of stagnation or decline is unintelligent.
Remaining in a relationship that prevents you from exploring and fulfilling your desires is unintelligent.
Remaining in a relationship that drains and disempowers you is unintelligent.
Any one of these reasons is enough to make leaving the intelligent choice. Two or three needn’t be present. But generally speaking, if one reason is present, the others are likely to be present to some degree as well. A relationship with negative prediction and/or the quashing of one’s desires is sure to be disempowering, for instance.
All of these, of course, are judgment calls. They all require the assignment of meaning. Different people will make different assessments with respect to these ideas, but if you understand these core reasons to stay or go, you can apply them to better effect in your own relationship journey.
Relationship cheating is a very common occurrence. If you haven’t experienced it yet, there’s a good chance you eventually will. In this article we’ll explore how often cheating occurs, how to define cheating, signs of cheating, and how to deal with it.
Although I personally prefer non-monogamy, I opted to write this article using a monogamous perspective since that seems to be the more popular relationship paradigm. Given the frequency of cheating in monogamous relationships, it would appear that true monogamy isn’t as common as people would have each other believe.
Frequency of Cheating
I found it difficult to track down good cheating statistics. This seems to be partly because people have a hard time being completely honest, even when surveyed in ways that safeguard their anonymity. There’s still some shame and guilt associated with admitting the truth, even in private. So instead of sharing a bunch of detailed stats that might be wrong, I’ll simply share the big picture elements.
Slightly more than half of all married people will cheat on their spouses at some point in their lives. Men apparently cheat more often than women, but the gap isn’t huge.
Most of the time cheating does occur, the other spouse doesn’t know about it, with women being in the dark slightly more often than men.
That’s if you’re married. If you’re in a committed relationship but aren’t married, then I’d imagine that the odds of cheating are even higher. Partly I say that because cheating is more common when you’re younger and becomes less likely as you age.
The big game-changer here is the Internet, which makes even 10-year old stats seem very dated now. Recents surveys suggest that most people have flirted online at one point or another, that when people spend time in chat rooms they’re usually motivated by romantic or sexual interest, and that about a third of adults have had real sex as a result of a connection that began online.
In the USA alone, tens of millions of people cheat on their primary relationship partners. Cheating is very, very common. Most of the time when people cheat, they hide it from their partners, and they usually succeed in doing so, not because they’re so great at keeping secrets but mainly because their partners fail to recognize and acknowledge the telltale signs.
Suffice it to say that cheating is rampant.
Statistically speaking, if you get involved in committed relationships or marriage, the odds are better than 50-50 that you’re eventually going to cheat at some point in your life. And you’ll probably hide it from your primary partner, and you’ll probably get away with it.
Of course you can decline to join this group if you so desire. However, there’s still a good chance you’ll end up in a relationship with someone else who’s a member, and you probably won’t know. Or you’ll know, but you’ll retreat into denial about it.
What exactly constitutes cheating? Not everyone defines cheating the same way. Society may condition us to think of cheating a certain way, but deep down we may not feel the same.
Have a heart to heart talk with your partner, and define what you would consider cheating. Your answers don’t have to be the same.