Hook-up or an awesome date?

July 21, 2015 by  
Filed under Life, Love, Relationships, Technology

Online datingWhat are your intentions?

Technology has changed the dating scene. 20 years ago, Match.com was launched into a limited internet society. To be exact, only 14% of adults were internet users. Many people were very skeptical about online dating sources.

Fast forward 20 years, and now there are apps that base connections merely on looks and sex appeal. In fact, many apps are strictly for finding casual sex partners. How does this affect the users’ mental, emotional, and physical health?

These apps are undermining the foundational monogamous relationship, and physically revealing who in your close proximity is a “sure thing”. This is quickly becoming a trip to the supermarket to suit your carnal cravings. Do you desire more than that?

There are other options than finding immediate hook-ups. Some apps signal when maybe you’ve missed a connection, or can help you find personalities that are in common with you. This type of technology can spark curiosity and interest in a variety of people, including those that may be potential mates.

Humans desire connection. Our animalistic instincts will often drive our sex habits, but the logical, mental, and emotional sides of our personalities will always desire connection. This leverage of physical presence in public spaces may deepen the relationship experience later. The spark is still alive in eye contact, and the desire to have that experience is alive and well.

The decision is yours. What are you looking for? Casual active sex lives with multiple partners is an option, but beware of the risks associated with it. A casual dating life with a variety of people is another great option to ward off loneliness. A casual dating life while seeking “the one” can be a very satisfying experience for many people. However, never underestimate the power of serendipity, and real physical connections. They do exist, they do happen, but you have to be open and look up from your phone to accept the opportunity.

 

PASS – It’s a Complex Kind of Grief

May 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Depression, Women

griefFirst trimester termination of pregnancy is an elective procedure for ending an unwanted, or unplanned pregnancy. In the USA alone approximately 1.4 million of these pro-choice procedures take place annually. Despite the fact that a woman or couple have made a conscious choice for abortion, there is increasing concern regarding post-abortion psychological outcomes. Grief and loss are experienced, and this is a complex type of grief.

PASS is Post Abortion Stress Syndrome, which is a long-term stress reaction to the act of terminating pregnancy. It is in the same group of psychological syndromes a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Research has documented that in women who repress the emotional component of a traumatic abortion, then PASS may occur. This condition has now become an emerging public health concern.

Living with grief, regret, and pain is at its core very traumatic. As is the case with most trauma, the distress of an ordeal is heartrending, and sufferers may attempt to deny, ignore or try to forget the pain they are enduring. These painful memories get left alone, only to resurface when the truth that a loss has been suffered can no longer be negated. It is at this time that PASS will reveal itself, together with a whole host of physical, and even imagined symptoms.

Millions of lives are being affected by an illness that has seen experts slow to respond to. This is more than likely due to the complexities of moral legal implications on the subject. At one time individuals were required to consult with a psychologist, or even psychiatrist prior to choosing to terminate a pregnancy, this scenario no longer applies since abortion has been made legal.

PASS sufferers may find themselves feeling guilty, and this is one of the most overriding emotions which becomes a symptom of the syndrome. A number of other symptoms may or may not appear – some immediately after the procedure – others at a later date. The burden of guilt can be inexorable, with so little consolation in the belief that one of the strongest instincts of nature has been transgressed. The instinct to procreate, and rear a child.

Anxiety may become a constant companion, and its attendant apprehension, tension, and physical responses. Symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, palpitations, stomach upsets, lack of concentration and libido, and sleep disturbances may be experienced. The problem is that women often feel conflicted between the decision they took and saw through, and their own moral standards. Avoidance and psychological “numbing” are coping mechanisms too, with depression, melancholy, even suicidal thoughts being experienced by many post-abortive women.

The problem is that certain circumstances have become recognised as being appropriate to mourn. In the case of an elective termination of pregnancy, society has sort of dictated that this is not a recognised right for the mother to mourn. It is a loss situation which complicates grief.

It is important to understand that abortion has the ability to disenfranchise grief in a situation where a death has occurred. There understandably may still be emotional bond to the fetal child, no matter how much of a crisis the pregnancy might have presented. Chronic, delayed and acute grief reactions are being observed in a significant amount of women who have undergone abortion, and women are psychologically at risk.

With the removal of the stigma surrounding what was clandestine procedure prior to the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling in 1973, it was believed that abortion-related mental health risks would be marginal. This is not the case. It is no longer a benign psychological procedure, and therefore it is important for women considering abortion to seek psychological support. It is also vital for women to learn that grieving is normal when abortion takes place, and that sympathetic counselling is available.

Ways to Show Love

February 10, 2015 by  
Filed under Love, Relationships

Elegant coupleValentine’s Day gives us a good opportunity to think about how you show love to those around you and how to make them feel really special. It can be difficult in our hectic lives to find space in the daily routine for a moment of reflection on how important our loved ones are to us. So this February spare a few minutes to come up with some creative ways to demonstrate your love for the ones you care about and show them you are not taking them for granted. There are many fundamental ways in which we can demonstrate our love; through respect, tolerance, appreciation and care in all we do for the important people in our lives. But there is also plenty of fun to be had from the little things which bring a smile to someone’s face and brighten their day. Here are 10 ideas for ways to make this Valentine’s Day special for the ones you love.

  1. Compliments
    Tell your partner how great they look, what a lovely smile they have or what a good job they are doing at raising the family. Then take time to thank them for their efforts too.
  2. Hugs and kisses
    You cannot beat a kiss and a cuddle to brighten anyone’s day!
  3. Give a smile
    Being warm and remembering the fun in your relationship will keep it fresh and enjoyable for you both.
  4. Fun gifts
    It does not have to be big or expensive, but choose something that shows you have thought about it and which will make your loved one smile.
  5. Give some time
    Give up a session at the gym or a day at the shopping mall to spend with your partner and use the time to do something special together.
  6. Romantic reading
    Reading to each other is a great way to share some intimate time and may be the starting point for suggestion number 7!
  7. Make time for passion
    By the end of the day we are often tired and our attention may be on issues from the day. Try to break out of work or parenting roles and make some time to express your desire and passion for each other.
  8. The romantic gesture
    It could be as simple as breakfast in bed or as grand as a mystery getaway together but do not forget to put a little romance in your relationship.
  9. Write a love letter
    In the days of instant communication it can be liberating to take some time and consider your words carefully then set them out to your lover in a letter.
  10. Make plans for your future together
    Nothing says “I’m committed to you” more than discussing openly and honestly the aspirations and hopes you have for your future together.

This February, take some time to show how you feel, build some romance into your daily lives and express your appreciation for the special people in your life. By doing this you are nurturing your relationship for the future and showing the people you care about that they are valued and loved. Who could want for more on Valentine’s Day?

Love is forever. Who needs a prenup?

November 2, 2014 by  
Filed under Love, Marriage, Relationships

Prenuptial AgreementLove is forever. For many couples, love really is forever. The two meet, fall in love, get married, and build a life together. Unfortunately, every relationship does not follow that same pattern. Prenuptial agreements are out there for a reason. As necessary as a prenuptial agreement would seem to a completely logical mind, love can turn us into illogical self- paradoxes. Marriage is commitment, but also a contractual agreement when the lovable warm fuzzies are removed.

So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s going to be really hard; we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, everyday. You and me… everyday. ― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

Let’s explore this concept a bit further; commitment vs. contract. Marriage when viewed as a commitment or promise to love and care for your spouse until death do you part is what most couples imagine when planning their nuptials. It’s a promise that you will always love your spouse. This means you will love them when they are amazing, and when they are gross with morning breath.

Marriage is viewed as a legal contract by the government. In many religious texts, marriage is also referred to as a covenant. A covenant and contract are both legal binding agreements between two parties. A prenuptial agreement discussion can be very difficult with your partner because it seems insensitive. Relax; it’s just the rest of your life we are talking about.

In many states, the government already has a prenuptial agreement in place. The prenup functions much like a will. If a person dies without a will, the state will intercede and disburse the person’s property and possessions without any concern of the deceased wished. A divorce settlement could possibly happen the same way without a prenuptial agreement. Not many people would agree to gamble with their family’s financial future. Entering into a marriage without a prenup could potentially be not-so-happily ever after.

Ultimately, a prenuptial agreement gives you and your partner security much like a business agreement. For example, your fiancé may have given you his great great grandmother’s platinum art deco Harry Winston blue diamond engagement ring. This ring is worth a small fortune, but priceless to his family’s history. Yes, it may have been given to you, but is it right to gamble with the future of his family’s generational heritage in the event your marriage goes south? This can be debatable; however, it can certainly pose a very good reason to have a prenup.

Prenuptial agreements are essential for many couples, but can also be a personal preference. When a couple is ready to commit to each other for a lifetime of happiness, they should also be comfortable and confident enough in their relationship to discuss a lifetime of security. Decide what is best for both of you by discussing freely and openly, and then maintain that same level of communication for the duration of your relationship.

Sex with the Ex

October 14, 2014 by  
Filed under Marriage

Sex with the exImagine that you are driving a car, and you glance in your rearview mirror. The other cars, the buildings, and the streetlamps are behind you because you are moving forward. Now imagine your ex standing in the panoramic view of that rearview mirror. Because you are moving forward, the ex is in your past for a reason.

There may be times of loneliness or moments of fantasy that may have your thoughts going back to your ex. Hollywood is especially good at glamourizing the “sex with the ex” experience. Even in true stories, Hollywood always exaggerates the truth for sake of drama. Engaging in this kind of relationship can be incredibly stressful and confusing for you, your ex, and other family members. Unless there has been significant positive change, and the negative feelings have been resolved this situation should be avoided.

When uncoupling occurs, there is a period of separation and individualization that occurs. The length of the relationship is directly proportionate to individualization period. Basically meaning, it may take a while for you to “find yourself” again. When you are in this stage, the confusion of a sexual relationship with the ex will simply confuse and complicate this time of change, and may establish a negative relationship cycle. If your previous relationship resulted in no children, then there is no reason to maintain a relationship with your ex.

If children are involved in this process, it is important to maintain contact with the ex. However, establish firm boundaries, and handle the encounters much like a business partnership. Keep all conversations kid-focused, and aim for consistency. The children need both parents in their lives, and it is up to each parent to invest in that relationship with their child. It is important to set aside any negative feelings toward your ex, and do what is best for your children. It is okay to have negative feelings, but don’t allow those feelings to guide your behavior.

Use this opportunity to refresh and renew your life with new relationships and activities. There may be places that you have longed to visit, hobbies to try, or volunteering experiences that you have never had the chance to try in your previous relationship. Now is the time to try new things and meet new people to create new relationships.

You don’t develop courage by being happy in your relationships every day. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity. – Epicurus

Does Real Love Exist in Cyberspace?

September 22, 2014 by  
Filed under Love, Relationships

Love Online

Can you really fall in love and maintain a relationship online? This is a hugely debated topic with many opposing opinions. The popularity of internet dating sites has become the norm for so many people seeking a relationship, and it is not only a techie thing. eHarmony, Match, ChristianMingle, OurTime, and okCupid among many others have become the mainstay of modern dating. There have been a plethora of successful relationship which was born from these sites, and there have been just as many that were not sustainable.

Often through social media, we may develop friendships/relationships with people that we have never been in their physical presence. Emotional attachment will develop, but are you a friend or a fan? According to Dictionary.com, a fan is an enthusiastic devotee, follower, or admirer of a sport, pastime, or celebrity. It is in these moments that your mind can run away with you, and create a fantasy of a relationship. Compare the fan definition to that of a friend which is a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. It is easy to see that being a fan, and being a friend can easily be misinterpreted. The most distinct difference between the two is the personal emotional connection. A friend is someone that you have shared distinctly personal moments or exchanges with. Yes, these exchanges can occur in cyberspace. It is very similar to the personal exchanges that can occur in a handwritten letter, simply a modern version. When you are only a fan you are lacking that intimate connection. You may “like” every post, “poke”, or even “tag” but the personal exchanges are not present.

Catfishing has been a huge topic of discussion for many online love seekers, and has even developed into a reality show. The phenomenon of “catfishing” is when internet predators fake online identities and entire social communities which are occasionally created out of malicious boredom. They may prey on easy targets of users who easily succumb to fandom online. This type of encounter (or scam) can wreak emotional havoc on person looking for a love connection online.

Social media, instant message, Skype, and texting can certainly sustain a relationship when physical togetherness isn’t possible. For example, as young adults are heading back to college, they may depend on the internet to stay connected and emotionally attached to their significant other. Seeing the other person’s face, hearing their voice, and making a visual memory of emotions over Skype or FaceTime can certainly help a long distance relationship when physical presence is not possible.

Helen Keller had a beautiful quote about love, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen of even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” That quote is a heartfelt summary of real love in cyberspace. It must be felt with the heart, the personal heart. Not lust, not fantasy, not fandom, but love, real love is the emotion that cannot be replaced by emoticons. It is a physiological response to an emotion that we feel with every ounce of ourselves. Yes, real love does exist in cyberspace, but only you can know the difference.

A Relationship Without Technology

September 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Love, Relationships, Technology

Listen to your partner

“You just slip out the back, Jack. Make a new plan, Stan. You don’t need to be coy, Roy. Just get yourself free. Hop on the bus, Gus. You don’t need to discuss much. Sending a text could be best. Just drop off the key, Lee, and get yourself free.” – Paul Simon, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

Did you read those lyrics? Sending a text seems like it’s a good option when you are considering slipping on the back, Jack. Paul Simon may have been searching for the easy way out when things just got too complicated with his lover. In reality, all of these options simply come down to avoidance.

The art of communication has been consumed by the ease of technology, even in relationships. Technology is eroding our ability to live comfortably off line. The convenience of texting has hampered our ability to artfully express our emotions through conversations, whispers, or body language. We are protected in a text message, and tethered to technology. In addition, we become more available to people who we are not physically with, and maintaining more eye contact with our phone than the person sitting across the table.

There is an element of reduced intimacy in our relationships. People will frequently frown upon break-ups or sharing important news via text message. However, the frequency of sending a text is increasing because of the convenience. The text message can be the one and done. “I want to end our relationship.” Then you block the person from your phone, and the mess is wiped clean……except for the emotions. Be human, and never settle for that kind of communication.

A sacredness of time and place should be established for certain activities. If you are with the love of your life, then be with the love of your life. Be present, and don’t make them compete with a piece of technology in your hand. Listen, and take the time to hear the inflections in their voice which is always missing in text messages. Refresh, restore, and commit to the relationship that may be struggling. Then you won’t need to consider 51 ways to leave your lover.

Life Beyond the Closet Door

August 25, 2014 by  
Filed under Life, Love, Relationships

From the time I was a kid, I have never been able to understand attacks upon the gay community. There are so many qualities that make up a human being… by the time I get through with all the things that I really admire about people, what they do with their private parts is probably so low on the list that it is irrelevant.     ~Paul Newman

homosexualThere really are so many different qualities that make up a person. Values, gifts, talents are just scratching the surface. A beautiful soul, intelligent mind, and a warm heart describe so many of you that may be reading this post. When a person “comes out”, it is simply another phase in discovering more about yourself. We, as humans, are very complex, and we will continue to grow, develop, and learn about ourselves throughout our lifespan.

In the late 1970’s, Vivian Cass developed “The Cass Model of Gay and Lesbian Identity Development” in which there are six stages: identity confusion, identity comparison, identity tolerance, identity acceptance, identity pride, and identity synthesis. As a person begins to understand their sexual identity these six stages will be easily identifiable through their emotions and actions.

Accept, deny, or reject the identity is in the beginning of this theory. Naturally, this can easily progress into social isolation while comparing self to others. Eventually, it will become imperative to seek out others with the same identity, and feel a sense of belonging and connectedness. There will be many moments of questioning and seeking, but the light at the end of the tunnel is the epiphany that there is more to a person than just their sexual identity.

There are many resources available for someone coming out in today’s society. The Trevor Project  is a great resource for discovering your identity, and provides a structured guide to help process all aspects of the process. Counselors are available in schools, colleges, or even through employee assistance programs. PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is another longstanding resource, and can connect you with meeting groups in your community. Never feel alone when seeking support and connectedness. Through the miracles of social media and the internet, our society can connect easier than ever before.

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind. ~ Dr. Seuss

The Impact of Sexually Promiscuous Mothers

July 28, 2014 by  
Filed under Family, Mothers & Daughters, Parents

Impact of a promiscuous mother

Mothers are their daughters’ role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships. ~Victoria Secunda

Victoria Secunda is a journalist, lecturer, and researcher who performed extensive research into the development of young girls who were without a strong father figure. The societal myth is that daughters need their mother for nurturing growth, and boys need their father for proper development of masculinity. Secunda’s research completely debunked this myth.

As mothers proceed as a single parent, they may experience many different romantic relationships while searching for an emotional connection to a new partner. The young daughter is constantly watching with mental notes of how to navigate adulthood. The one person that she can trust is the role model for her life, her mother. With the absence of a father figure, the young teen will begin seeking relationships similarly to her mother. A relationship of acceptance and value is most sought after. The teen discovers through sexually promiscuous activity, she can gain attention of males and be wanted because of her sexually free nature. This type of development is absolutely critical to the teen’s self-esteem and ability to lead as an adult female.

When the mother is aware of the impact of the father figure absence and her own promiscuity can have on her daughter, it becomes imperative to take action. All is not lost. The mother must identify how she values herself, and then model the same for her daughter. Like mother, like daughter as the old proverb goes. This modeling must be genuine from the mother establishing strength and independence in single motherhood. A mom is often depicted in TV sitcoms as constantly nagging the teenager until the words just linger on deaf ears because the mother is not practicing what she is preaching to her daughter. Before the eyes start rolling around in your daughter’s head, remember actions speak louder than words. When you are consistent and intentional about your relationships in your own life, this will be a powerful demonstration to your daughter. Your daughter will follow suit and understand that the body is not a wonderland; rather it is your mind. (Sorry to trash your song, John Mayer.) Beyond helping your daughter understand that the absence of a father occurred from no fault of her own, and that she is not a victim of her circumstances. Rather, she is the creator of her future relationships.

Once that philosophy is firmly established within your household, it’s time to engage in new social relationships, and model the way for your daughter.

Truth of Money & Sex in Relationships

June 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Marriage, Money, Relationships

Young Man Carrying Woman On BackThere is a nasty rumor floating around out there in the advice columns, blogs, and forums. Money and sex are the top reasons that couples break up. It makes sense. Those are the two things that can make or break a relationship, right? Yes, topics of money and sex can add fuel to an already heated argument. The truth is that money and sex are not the core of relationship problems.   When you take emotions out of it, this is basic problem solving. When you determine the root cause of distress in a relationship then all of the other issues will begin moving toward resolution, too. If the problem persists, the root cause of the problem was not addressed.

Often in couples therapy, as the therapist guides the couple to drill deep into their relationship, miscommunication and not feeling valued in the relationship will surface. When a partner does not feel valued in a relationship it affects the person mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually. When that feeling persists, the affects begin to grow driving a deep wedge into a relationship. That wedge can then be disguised as a couples sexual problems. All of us have different methods that make us feel valued in a relationship. Some people may only feel valued when they are given a gift or someone performs a service for them. Spending quality time, a tender touch, or a verbal reminder of how much they are loved can be the value method for others. Everyone is different in their relationship needs. A person is ready to grow in a relationship when their core needs are met.

Money is the other big offender that couples tend to focus on. Money is not the core of your problems. Lack of communication about how you feel secure in your finances is the core of your problem. Money is often a topic that couples fail to discuss because it may seem insensitive or cold. If you want a strong relationship, then it needs to be discussed. The more you can align your financial views with your partner, the fewer issues will surface. As you talk about your future as a couple, don’t be afraid to bring up this topic. The secret to great communication is to talk! Don’t text important conversations, forget the emails, and never rely on ESP (or ESPN!) Face to face, side by side, and together is the best way to keep your relationship moving forward in a positive direction.

Author, Gary Chapman, has a great perspective on this topic. “People do not get married planning to divorce. Divorce is the result of a lack of preparation for marriage and the failure to learn the skills of working together as teammates in an intimate relationship.”   That quote is so true! “Failure to learn the skills”, is a profound phrase. Successful, fulfilling relationships require a lot of effort, and it is a skill that needs to be learned. As mentioned previously, get to the core of the relationship, and communicate your needs. In the early relationship stages, it is easy to stay in the excitement of a new relationship. To sustain that excitement, you must communicate and go deeper in your relationship….together.

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