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
There 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
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.
There 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.
“Just gonna stand there and watch me burn. Well that’s all right because I like the way it hurts. Just gonna stand there and hear me cry. Well that’s all right because I love the way you lie. I love the way you lie.” – Love the Way You Lie, Rhianna and Eminem
The essence of the toxic love relationship is completely captured in this song. A relationship of power, obsession, and lust is poisonous to our souls. Hollywood romanticizes the drama of toxic relationships, Dr. Phil tries to birth the catharsis of the toxicity for good TV ratings, and every girl thinks she wants the mystery behind Christian Grey in 50 Shades. However there is a huge difference between passionate relationships and obsessive relationships.
The passionate relationship is filled with genuine love and care for each other. An empathic connection exists that values each partner as an authentic and unique being. This is essential to forming a healthy intimacy in a relationship.
However, even the healthiest relationship can often turn toxic based on life experiences that have affected one or both partner’s self-esteem. Habitual neurological responses may automatically be activated in life without a conscious awareness. Intense emotional experiences such as, rejection, inadequacy, or abandonment in childhood can change the structure of the brain and have enduring effects in adulthood. These triggers can cause the roles of the partners to be critically affected resulting in an off balance relationship. Placing blame, avoidance, depreciation, negligence, and contempt will surface and poison the once healthy relationship. Each partner longs for the stability, love and passion of the other partner, but painfully damaged feelings place the couple firmly in the front seat of the toxic relationship rollercoaster.
According to breakthecycle.org, some of the key indicators in a toxic relationship are verbal insults, manipulation, and isolation among others. Verbal insults are often disguised in a passive aggressive manner. Belittlement, humiliation, or degrading in public may be seen as humorous, but often come with the most sting. This type of interaction is very damaging to a partner’s self-esteem and security in the relationship. Guilt is often the vehicle for manipulation. Placing guilt or blame about unpleasant circumstances can cause turmoil among partners, and then leaving no room for a solution can coerce the partner into a direction or action that is out of character. Isolation from family and friends can establish a false sense of security and dependence. This is often phrased as “wanting couple time” or “just us time” can easily lead to isolation and guilt.
Healthy relationships are built on honesty, open communication, negotiation, shared financial responsibility, respect, trust, intimacy, integrity, and physical affection. There are many other factors that can help a relationship to grow and flourish. Foundationally, each partner should remember their role, and they are an equal part of a relationship. The word “partner” can be defined as one part of a whole. Therefore, it requires two committed partners to create a whole healthy relationship.
According to urbandictionary.com, a text war is “a phenomenon occurring between two people who are either in the beginning stages of a relationship, having no strings attached sex, or on the verge of breaking up. Involves endless texting in which the victor of the text war considers himself or herself to be in the position of power. This usually begins with “Wr r u?”, but can take many forms. The spoils of victory most likely take the form of the winner choosing the “when and where” of the next sexual encounter.”
We all know that Urban Dictionary is not the ultimate authority of the texting culture, but it’s an entertaining place to start. In reality, the text wars are all about the avoidance of expression and feelings. In today’s technological world, the art of conversation is quickly becoming lost. Texting becomes an emotional filter, allowing us a safe house to air our feelings. No matter how much care a person may put into their text, the text does not carry the same vocal emotional nuances as our natural speech. Our reactions can become very impulsive, thus placing you firmly in a digital war zone.
Gender differences in communication can also be amplified in text messaging. A simple “LOL” from a guy could be perceived as a “WTH” to a girl. DIS cn be a simpl misunderstanding, bt cn bcum a gr8 prob wen d two continue txtN ultimate creating an argument Ovr a perceived inflection of 3 letters.
Did you understand that text lingo? Here is the English translation:
This can be a simple misunderstanding, but can become a great problem when the two continue texting ultimately creating an argument over a perceived inflection of three letters.
Now can you imagine perceived emotions added to the mix simply because someone is avoiding face-to-face interaction. Here are a few tips to help you overcome your tendency to text instead of talk:
- Laugh out loud, for real. Laughing releases endorphins which is a feel good hormone. You will feel less anxious or stressed when you enjoy laughter. Don’t just text it, do it.
- Listen to a voice, or use your voice. Simple vocal tone can convey happiness, anger, boredom, surprise, and a myriad of other emotions, including sarcasm. Have you ever heard someone smiling at you? It’s a wonderful encounter.
- Play verbal ping pong, a.k.a., have a conversation. It is very easy. One person speaks, and the other responds continuing the pattern. It’s super easy, and very satisfying. You should give it a try, and before you know it you will be talking all the time.
If you’ve ever had this experience while chatting it up online, it can feel as real as the day is long. You sit there watching the blinking cursor…waiting…waiting…waiting patiently for the response. “Ah, he already knows me so well, and we’ve only been talking for ten minutes. This must be the one.” Have you seen this person? Why is it so easy to fall into this mode of thinking?
As humans, we naturally seek connection with others. On the internet, or through apps such as Whisper, WhatsApp, or Snapchat, we can create these connections with others in a protected environment. Take note that I used the word “create” not “develop”. In relationships that we develop, we are working cooperatively together to become familiar with the other person, easily layering each experience to understand the person. The process of creating a relationship is one-sided. The user is creating an image in their mind of this person, based simply on words or pictures, with no vocal inflection or emotion. Just think about how many different ways by using various vocal tones how you could say, “Hello, how are you today?” Friendly, impersonal, excited, seductive, professional, and so many other methods have come to my mind. When we “create” that cyber relationship, we use our own needs, wants, and desires. That’s why it is so easy to become infatuation with someone online. You don’t really know who they are, because they are exactly what you want them to be. Of course, the relationship can progress, and it can go in a positive or negative direction depending on how you continue to communicate. However, in that first level of connection, it’s all about fantasy.
One of the many reasons why it’s so easy to connect to another person online is that it is a protected environment. You are completely in control, and you only share what you want to share. Therefore, it’s very easy to avoid direct answers, or avoid certain feelings. It is also easy to disappear if you don’t like the direction of the conversation. You are hidden, safe, and concealed in perfect avoidance. Don’t forget, that person on the other side of the screen is a person, too. Their intentions may or may not be transparent, so safety is always a necessity.
In established relationships, when technology is used in the right way it can strengthen the relationship. Those unexpected text messages or suggestive photo can light a spark in the oldest relationship. Technology can be used to fall in love, stay in love, and live in love when handled with care. Keep your mind and intentions in the right place for you and your love light will shine through all of your communication.
Sexual addiction or hypersexuality, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), affects millions of Americans, and wreaking havoc on their seemingly normal everyday lives. This psychiatric disorder can be characterized by compulsive, persuasive, progressive and destructive sexual behavior. Keep in mind that sex offenders are not all sex addicts and sex addicts are not all sex offenders. Somewhat recently, the kind of people who suffer from this type of sexual compulsion has changed demographics from middle aged to younger men and women who are seeking treatment. This disorder does not favor either gender, and is typically developed due to some type of stress, anxiety, or depression. A vast majority of the diagnosed have experienced some type of childhood trauma or abuse.
It is important to separate fact from fiction when dealing with any addiction. A common assumption about this disorder is that the person obsessively seeks the sexual act for pleasure. For many sufferers, it is not necessarily the sexual act for gratification that they are seeking. The pursuit of casual sex combined with sexual fantasy can be just as gratifying. Sex addicts frequently use pornography, numerous masturbation sessions, romantic intensity, or seeking sexually explicit content in various forms of media.
There are common red flags to look for when identify when someone needs help with a sex addiction. They may have a constant need of sexual material by watching pornographic videos, viewing photographs, or reading sexual related books or articles. The person’s preoccupation with sex will infiltrate their daily or hourly thoughts. It will consume their lives to a point that their relationships will suffer, which may cause them to lead a double life. This may result in cheating in a committed relationship with a physical or virtual casual partner. Mood swings before and after sex can also be an indicator. Changes in libido or even avoidance can also signal this disorder. Sex addicts may also spend a tremendous amount of money on a variety of entertainment in the sex industry to satisfy their desires. This may also lead the sufferer to participate in very risky sexual behavior through unprotected sex.
Sex addiction treatment programs are often in-patient facilities that will include individual and group therapy. While sex is an important part of human life, the main goal of the treatment will be to help the addict develop a positive, healthy sex life. These therapies can help a sufferer come to terms with their addiction, and repair broken relationships, as well as, have the tools to build successful future relationships.
You see the signs, but you can’t read. You’re running at a different speed. Your heart beats in double time. Another kiss and you’ll be mine… Might as well face it, you’re addicted to love. – Robert Palmer
Addiction can develop with any element, including love. While skeptics may say that you can’t be addicted to love, per se, rather it is the physical, mental, and emotional responses that the addicted become obsessed with. To the person that is experiencing love addiction, it IS love, real love. It is always breathtaking, mind-obsessing, earth shattering, can’t live without it…..love.
Love addiction is not required to be a romantic or sexual relationship. It can take the form of a platonic, or sometimes, idol-like relationship. Friends, mentor, children, parents, lover, or leader are all candidates as the object of affection in an addictive love relationship. At the core, the addict feels like a whole person when engaged in these relationships. Without the love, they find themselves lost and unable to function.
Much like dependency with an illicit substance, the love helps them to feel normal or escape from neurological stressors or emotional pain. Love addicts may exhibit despairing expectations and infinite fears. Often formed in childhood, they fear rejection, agony and unfamiliar experiences. Physiologically, changes occur within the body that can contribute to the addiction. Addicts may become dependent on the feelings of euphoria as the brain releases phenylethylamine causing the love emotions of arousal and excitement. Sustaining a successful healthy relationship is practically impossible for the love addict because they are always looking for the next great love.
Much like other forms of addiction, treatment is available for the people who suffer from love addiction. The first step is admission that there is a problem, and seeking help. The addict will encounter the various stages of grief during the healing process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Once at the acceptance stage, the addict can begin the learning process about healthy relationships. However, the first healthy relationship that should be established is a loving, caring, authentic love of self. The root cause of the love addiction is the lack of a sense of self, and, as mentioned previously, the need for completion in others. The healthy self-love is essential for healing.
To assist with this healing, this affirmation can be recited to help and said as many times as the person feels compelled to: “I like me for who I am, simply because I am different. I see all the wonderful things that I can share with the people in my life, and people are naturally drawn to this goodness.”
It is no easy task to impart the news of an impending divorce to children, so, the first thing to do is be absolutely 100% certain that divorce is the only way go. Thereafter work on a game-plan as a cohesive parental team – mutually agreed expectations should be the name of the game. It is horribly painful for children to hear this kind of news, but if dealt with in truth, and as simply as possible, unnecessary pain can nearly always be avoided.
What is most important is that no adult or inappropriate information should be divulged or discussed. This kind of information needs to be kept between parents as it will overwhelm children, and make them feel like they should be taking sides. Nothing could be further from the truth. These children are being involved in a situation where they are helpless, and emotional comfort is key.
Keep focus on the children, and how divorce will impact their lives. Answer their questions truthfully regarding transitional changes, and note that it is definitely not cool to play the blame game. At no point should any spouse be blamed, there is very good reason for citing irreconcilable differences – because there is always two sides to a story. These stories need not concern the children when a marriage is ending.
A unified front from both parents helps children feel secure, and safe in the knowledge that no-one is really to blame. Things just happen, adults often grow apart, and this concept is easy to understand. Use neutral, productive language such as “we respect one another, and will never stop loving you, but we just don’t get along like a married couple should.” Make sure they understand that no-one, not either spouse, or anyone else is to blame.
Some experts suggest that children should only be told after the divorce agreement has been signed, and custody arrangements agreed upon. However, it is rare for a couple to continue living together once they have agreed to separate. Therefore it might not be deemed to be very transparent in particular if the children are older and can see what has been taking place. Do always make sure to tell children the news when both parents are together.
Timing is vital too. For example, it would not be fair to tell children before exam time or graduation. Although it also helps to speak to the school guidance counsellor as well as teacher, to determine when would be the best time. Intervention in the form of third party family counselling can help ease the pain, and ensure that emotional stability is maintained. Consistency, calm, and concrete information can alleviate a great deal of anxiety. Remember if a parent or parents are anxious this makes children anxious too.
While grieving for a relationship that did not work out is completely normal, it is important to be in control. The most important people in the relationship are without doubt the children. Parents need to practice restraint, and keep being the kind of parents they have always been. Accept that this responsibility towards the children is real, and always put their needs first.
Married And Faithful But Your Heart Is With Someone Else?
Emotional infidelity may also be referred to as an “underground or secret” love. It basically means when on party (or both) in a committed relationship such as a marriage or monogamous partnership is emotionally connected to someone else outside of the relationship. While fantasy and flirting are fun and can be the way adults play, when a crush snowballs into red flag issues, perhaps it is time to catch yourself in the act before any major harm has been done. One of the ways to do this is reconnect…hopefully even fall back in love with your partner or spouse.
We are regularly seeing articles in the news about happenings on Facebook that are ruining marriages, but Facebook (or any other social network) is not the problem, the problem is people. It is impossible for a social networking site to harm a marriage, but it is possible for careless people to harm a marriage. Inanimate software does not conspire with guilty people to wreak relationship havoc – although it might make things easier to get into these situations.
Relationships have however, been proven to be impacted by the online habits of people. They can happen in the blink of an eye, whereas emotional infidelity in an office (or other) setting, takes months or even longer to get off the ground. Everything takes place at lightning-fast speed on the World Wide Web, so the best thing to do at the start of a relationship is set some boundaries with regards to online encounters.
If it is too late for that and the damage has already been done, it is time to sit down and give pause for thought to some damage control. If this does not take place, stonewalling could be fatal. The only way to breakdown a stonewall is by communicating needs, looking at red flag areas, and the way emotional infidelity makes us feel.
We have to take into consideration the context of flirting online. These websites can re-connect one with an old flame in a matter of just a few clicks. Not only that, they allow people who may have just met once in passing also to connect. There is nothing wrong with connecting to people and giving your heart to someone online. But if you are engaging in this type of behavior while still married or in a serious relationship, this really can’t be called “right action”. There is definitely an element of betrayal, unless of course your partner is so secure and trusting that flirting online would not bother them in any way.
Basically technology has allowed people who might never risk having any kind of affair, to flirt online, and more. This does create a situation of “temptation”, and not everything that takes place online stays online. People are bolder when hiding behind a screen, and often click on send without thinking first. This might be a recipe for disaster, and it takes just a little common sense to realize that healthy ground rules should be acceptable for both partners.
Reconnecting by communicating, and talking about healthy interaction, as well as agreeing to guidelines for what feels wrong or right, makes a very good start. Where there is love there is always a way, and it is better to at least attempt to fix something that is broken than move onto something (or someone) brand new. Chances are if the situation is not rectified, then it might continue with someone new too.