52 Emails To Transform Your Marriage | HuffPost

I really like the premise of this book. I have often recommended couples email each other as it seems the only way they have been able to productively communicate in the past.  This book explains why and gives lots of assistance to get started!!

Rory


Source: 52 Emails To Transform Your Marriage Can Help You And Your Partner Reconnect | HuffPost

My book guides you step by step through emails that you and your partner can exchange, every day or once a week or just once ever, that are designed to help you learn about each other on a deeper level.  As you all know, over time, couples start to struggle with a feeling that I call monotogamy, and that leads to feelings of disconnectionloneliness, boredom, resentment, and even anger and sadness.  Couples start to use small talk or logistical household management talk as their primary modes of communication.  (And that’s not counting sarcasm and sniping.) Especially for the classic couple The Wife Who Wants More And Her Annoyingly Satisfied Husband, or its gender inverse, this can be horribly frustrating.

52 Emails aims to bring some of the best parts of couples counseling into a less intimidating form.  You get to connect with your partner, talking about topics you may not have discussed since your early relationship, if ever.  And you don’t have to spend your time or money on a couples counselor, or convince a recalcitrant partner to attend therapy.

Writing can be much less awkward than face-t0-face conversations, and it has much less potential to escalate.  People can take the time they need to express themselves in a well thought out way, without fear of mockery or interruption.  Whenever I give my couples clients writing assignments, they invariably end up going deeper and learning more about their partners than they expected to.

This book covers a range of topics, including sex, parenting, memories of each other, money, expectations for the future, infidelity, trust, and communication. I even go into the pursuer-distancer dynamic in one of the chapters.  You can do all the emails (one a week would take you a year) or just the ones that relate to your individual situation as a couple. I designed the book to be flexible and easy to read, for anyone who is motivated to introspect and grow closer with their partner.  And it is an interesting read, I think, especially because I have example emails for each topic, between members of a fictional couple (the emails are derived from a conglomeration of different types of clients I have seen over the years).

I am so excited to share this book with you guys, my supportive Dr. Psych Mom community.  I would love to hear your experiences with it when you try it with your partners.  Let me know if you order it!  And till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, And Just When Your Husband Thought He Could Watch The Game In Peace, You Bring Out The Email Idea.

This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Learn about Dr. Rodman’s private practice, including therapy, coaching, and consultation, here. This blog is not intended as diagnosis, assessment, or treatment, and should not replace consultation with your medical provider.

 

Psychology Blogger: Dr. Psych Mom

This is a great site with lots of questions answered quite well by the blooger. She has a couple books I am ordering presently, ; ).

Rory

http://www.drpsychmom.com/category/psychology/

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Good Couples Therapy Looks Like This… –

I like this article for its simplicity and guidance.

Rory

Source: Good Couples Therapy Looks Like This… –

By Daniel Dashnaw

What Does Good Couples Therapy Look Like?

It’s 2019.

Happy New Year!

So you’ve both decided to start couples therapy. Good for you.

Are you ready? Maybe it’s overdue. And you’re probably asking yourself “what will this be like for us?”

It’s a fair question.  The best couples therapy is research-driven and science-based. There’s a lot of really bad couples therapy out there. And few distressed spouses enter couples therapy without fearing failure. 

I wrote this post to help you both understand some of the most fundamental “Best Practices” of effective couples therapy.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Protects You From Going Off the Rails.

Good couples therapy isn’t squishy.

good couples therapyWhat happens if you go at each other in couples therapy just like you do when you’re at home?

Some “All-Purpose” Therapists will utterly lack the courage to call you out on it.

I tell my couples from the get-go that they ‘re safer on my sofa than they are at home.

A good couples therapist always has a skilled handle on the throttle of emotion. Because emotional regulation is perhaps the most fundamental concern in early couples therapy.

If your couples therapist can’t hold it together you won’t either. It is also the most essential skill for couples to acquire.

Because if I can’t offer safety to both spouses, I can’t be a good couples therapist. Period.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Doesn’t Tolerate Contempt or Disrespect Between the Two of You. 

This is obviously related to protecting you. “All-Purpose” Therapists are often inclined to be passive and hang back.

A skilled couples therapist will not do that. Once the assessment is over, and couples therapy is well underway, they will jump in and interrupt. Good couples therapy isn’t deferential or polite in the face of vicious, contemptuous attacks.

And they won’t surprise you..they’ll tell you that they’re going to do this well in advance. Couples therapy is not always a polite conversation. We try our best to never be rude, but sometimes we will interrupt you for your own good.

  • A Good Couples Therapist will Help You to See Your “Demon Dance”

The more…the more. “The more she says this …the more I say that.” Good couples therapy promotes curiosity about how you set each other off.  If you’re in the hands of a good couples therapist, you’ll see blaming, shaming, criticizing, and finger pointing in a new light. The fancy term for this is “circular causality.”

A circular interpretation of marital problems looks like this:  Mary influences John, and John in his response, influences Mary. The cycle is ongoing. It could be either a vicious or virtuous cycle. A good couples therapist will help you unpack your cycle. In fact, identifying your repetitive toxic cycle is one of the essential tasks of science-based couples therapy.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Won’t Just Say “Stop Doing That.”

good couples therapyI may be dating myself here, but do you remember the old “Bob Newhart Show” from the mid-70’s?

His client would discuss some self-defeating chronic behavior and Bob’s only therapeutic intervention was to shout…

“well...STOP DOING IT!”

Some therapists aren’t much better than Bob.

The most beautiful word in couples therapy is the word…instead.

What would you like to feel…do…or… be instead?

A good couples therapist will focus on skill-building. They will also work to help you choose, construct, and install new habits.

It’s not just about insight into why you’re triggered in a toxic way, it’s about being on purpose as a partner, and learning a new skill instead of the senselessly reactive way you’ve been behaving up to now.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Teaches you to Fish.

good couples therapyYour therapist’s primary job is to help you find your own, improved way of interacting. They’re not a problem-solver. They’re a skill-builder.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Focuses on the “Take Away.”

A good couples therapist will offer you insight that will instigate growth. And growth will help you to not only understand why you react the way you do, but it will also give you more options about what to do instead. Couples therapy that works is behavior-based as well as insight-based.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Notices Everything.

Good couples therapy will notice and celebrate any hallmarks of change. They wisely choose what to attend to in each session. They notice deficits, but they don’t focus on them exclusively.

Their language is not “problem-saturated.” They notice what’s improving and they are not shy about calling attention to it. They are cheerleaders for change. But they credit the couple.

They don’t foster dependence on their insight. They tell couples that they can notice the good as well. As a result, couples start to feel “the win.”  They build positive momentum and appreciate their partner’s changed stance in real time.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Holds Tightly onto the Steering Wheel.

If you think your couples therapy isn’t going anywhere, maybe it’s not. The problem may be you. You may have entered couples therapy with a “mixed agenda.” That’s not your fault. It’s the job of a good couples therapist to assess your marriage beforehand with skill and frankness.

Good couples therapy stays in the lane. it’s not all over the road. It knows where it is going. Their GPS is always focused on providing an opportunity for Greater Partner Skill. The destination is clear. They always know exactly where they’re going.

good couples therapy

  •  A Good Couples Therapist is Compassionately Curious About Your Early Life Experience.

How did you become the partner and parent you are today?

One place. Your family of origin.

A good couples therapist will help you gain actionable insight into how your nervous system was shaped by your early life experience.

  • A Good Couples Therapist is a Hope Monger.

A good couples therapist will relentlessly point out how you are changing, growing, and improving. They will celebrate who you are becoming. They always have their eyes on the prize and invite you to both do so as well.

  • A Good Couples Therapist Likes You…and You Like Them Right Back.

As if all the above wasn’t hard enough, a good couples therapist will like you and be likable. This is a “Therapeutic Alliance” that required trust and goodwill. If you’d don’t honestly feel that your couples therapist is rooting for you, you won’t be able to trust enough in the therapeutic relationship to work as hard as you’re capable of working.

What does good couples therapy look like? It looks like the two of you at your best.

Are You Ready for Good Couples Therapy?

Call us for more information 844-926-8753 to reach me, Daniel Dashnaw, use option 2.

About the Author Daniel Dashnaw

Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, three seasons in Cummington (at the foothills of the Berkshires…) and in Miami during joint retreats with his wife, Dr. Kathy McMahon. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.

Related Posts

Clearing: The Single Greatest Connection Exercise For Couples

This is one of those great articles about letting go of stuff, otherwise know as “clearing”. I like the simple process described below. helps couples clear the residue of resentment.

Rory

Source: Clearing: The Single Greatest Connection Exercise For Couples

Have you ever heard of clearing exercises?

They are the single greatest ways for couples to reconnect, work through arguments, and tap into a sense of clarity and ease in their relationship.

Throughout the course of a relationship, many unspoken things can accumulate and begin to turn into emotional and energetic clutter that starts to muddy the connection in the relationship. Clearing is a process that brings forth the heavy residue and clears it out in a simple, efficient, and durable way.

I have witnessed years of tension melt out of a couple in a matter of minutes via clearing exercises.

So much of the miscommunication that occurs in partnership is a result of people not truly hearing their partner. Especially during arguments, it is very common for people to not listen to their partner but merely wait for their turn to verbalize the rehearsed thoughts that they have tumbling around in their mind. In it’s essence, clearing is an exercise about slowing down and engaging in deep listening.

So, how can you get this magic into your arsenal? Let’s get into it.

How To Do A Clearing Exercise

young beautiful couple, being in love, clearing, clearing exercise

The structure is simple…

You and your partner sit opposite each other, while making eye contact, and you take turns finishing specific sentence stems, while the receiving partner simply listens.

The basic format of clearing is the following:

1. ‘Something I want you to know is…’

2. ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is…’

3. ‘Something I like about you is…’

There are certain alterations you can make depending on the situation, but this is the core format for a reason.

The first section (‘Something I want you to know is…’) is a general clearing. You allow yourself to reveal your thoughts to your partner, no matter how scary they may seem in your head.

The second section (‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is…’) is about owning your projections. It’s one thing to reactively shout at your partner “You’re so stubborn!”… and a whole other thing entirely to calmly clear with them by saying, “Something that I see in you that I see in myself is stubbornness.” By owning the projection fully and seeing it as a thing that you and your partner both have a capacity for, it reduces a lot of the energetic charge around it (when done authentically).

The final section (‘Something I like about you is…’) is about connecting and reestablishing rapport. Don’t spend too much time in this section unless you and your partner are really in the middle of a nasty fight. Clearing isn’t about racing towards pleasantries or engaging in spiritual bypassing… it’s about saying what is true. Even if that truth sometimes hurts a little bit.

So how this would go structurally is that partner ‘A’ would have their turn to go through steps 1, 2, and 3 fully, while partner B received. I would also recommend that Partner B says thank you after each completed statement from partner A (‘thank you’ signifying having heard them, not necessarily agreeing with their statements).

So, putting it all together, it would look something like this.

Partner A: ‘Something I want you know is that I’m still hurting about the time that you flirted with that person in front of me, and there’s a part of me that feels unsafe with you.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Partner A: ‘Something I want you know is that my sex drive has been lower lately because of the work stress that I’m currently going through… and I frequently judge myself harshly and make myself wrong for it.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Continue on for 3-10 minutes, or until you feel complete. Then you move on to…

Partner A: ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is a tendency to be dismissive of people based on their differences.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Partner A: ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is a fierce streak of stubbornness.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Continue on for 3-10 minutes, or until you feel complete. Then you move on to…

Partner A: ‘Something I like about you is your willingness to do clearing exercises with me, and that you’re always willing to lean into the tough stuff in our relationship.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Partner A: ‘Something I like about you is how you wiggle yourself over to me in the mornings when you first wake up.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Continue on for 3-10 minutes, or until you feel complete. Then, both of you take 1-3 deep breaths each (ideally in sync with each other), and then partner B takes over and partner A listens.

A clearing process can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, and the emotional freedom that results from it can be astounding.

7 Different Sentence Stems For Different Clearing Scenarios

While the core structure is sound, there may be times where you want something a bit more targeted to what you’re going through.

The structure in terms of timing/listening/one-at-a-time-ness should always remain a constant… but the words are allowed to change based on the scenario. Here are some examples of other types of clearings you may want to engage in.

Clearing Stems When Diffusing Fights

‘Something I’m angry about you with is…’

‘Something I’m afraid to tell you is…’

‘Something I’m upset with you about is…’

Choose your favourite/the most appropriate stem, and use it as step #2 between the usual steps #1 and 3 in the basic formula.

Clearing Stems When Wanting To Boost Connection And Rapport

‘Something I’m excited about with you is…’

‘Something I admire in you is…’

‘Something I appreciate about you is…’

‘Something I’m looking forward to in our relationship is…’

Choose your favourite/the most appropriate stem, and use it as step #2 between the usual steps #1 and 3 in the basic formula.

How Often Should You Do Clearings With Your Partner?

While clearing sessions are potent and valuable… the point of an intimate relationship isn’t to be constantly processing each other. If you feel the benefits from your first clearing session and feel a yearning to do this on a daily basis, it’s generally better if you resist it. I find that clearing sessions have more value when you do them intermittently.

I would recommend doing them on a semi-regular basis (2-5 times per month) and also doing them on an as-needed basis (i.e. when an argument comes up and you want to slow down and really dig into the truth of what is happening between the two of you).

Remember…

Partner A:

1. ‘Something I want you to know is…’

2. ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is…’

3. ‘Something I like about you is…’

Partner B:

1. ‘Something I want you to know is…’

2. ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is…’

3. ‘Something I like about you is…’

Sit, make eye contact, listen, thank them, breathe deeply… and your relationship will benefit faster than you ever thought possible.

Common side effects include increased feelings of well-being and relationship harmony, and boosted libido and desire to maul your partner.

What now? Send this article to your partner. Put your first clearing session in your calendar. Sit down across from each other, and do it.

Dedicated to your success,

Jordan

Ps. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll likely also love reading:

6 Connection Exercises For Couples To Build Intimacy

50 Powerful Romantic Gestures That Will Make Your Partner Melt

10 Questions To Ask To Go Deep In Your Relationship

The Cycle of Anger in Relationships

I really like this article!!

Rory

__________________________________

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/finding-new-home/201901/the-cycle-anger-in-relationships

by: Arash EmamzadehF

A new study examines a model of how anger is perpetuated in relationships.

Posted Jan 15, 2019SHARE

new study by Liu et al., published in the December 2018 issue of the Journal of Research in Personality, examines such a model of cyclical anger in romantic partners. In this post, I describe the authors’ model, and summarize the findings of their empirical investigation. I end with suggestions to break the vicious cycle of angry feelings and damaging behavior in relationships.1

The Cycle of Anger in Relationships

According to the authors’ dyadic model of anger in relationships, being mistreated by one’s romantic partner evokes anger, and that anger can motivate reciprocation of the mistreatment, eventually resulting in a cycle of destructive behavior and rage.

Let us examine this model in more detail.

Adapted from Liu et al., 2018 (Arash Emamzadeh)

Source: Adapted from Liu et al., 2018 (Arash Emamzadeh)

As indicated by Path A (Figure 1, top left section), feelings of anger sometimes trigger destructive behaviors — critical, cold, and selfish behaviors. These behaviors differ from respectful and constructive criticism, which focuses on the issue and does not attack the individual. In contrast, destructive behaviors are experienced as disrespectful, hostile, demanding, invalidating, rejecting, or blaming.

To see how destructive behaviors might initiate the cycle of anger in romantic relationships, let us imagine the following scenario: Partner A and B have financial problems. One day, A comes home from work to find B drinking a very expensive alcoholic beverage. Furious, instead of giving B a chance to explain, A resorts to destructive behaviors (e.g., name-calling). See Figure 1, middle section, top rectangle.

At this juncture, what might fuel the cycle of anger is B’s accurate perception of A’s behavior. Is there a high likelihood that B will correctly perceive the destructiveness in A’s behavior? Yes. According to previous research, romantic partners are good at identifying each other’s conflict-related response styles. So B can easily tell whether A is being hostile or providing constructive criticism.

The cycle of anger usually continues down Path C (Figure 1, right side) because Person A’s antagonistic behavior, once correctly perceived by Person B, elicits B’s anger. It is natural that B should feel angry, because when people sense that others are being rejecting (instead of responsive and supportive), they feel indignant.

Note that this path we have been following — from A to B to C — could be initiated by the other partner too (Figure 1, starting from the bottom right corner and moving left). Just as Partner A’s anger can result in A behaving destructively, Partner B’s anger might also motivate B to behave in a destructive manner.

Therefore, the cycle can be set in motion from different points. But the results might be the same: perpetuating the cycle of destructive behavior and anger, and intensifying negative emotions and abusive actions — perhaps to a point where neither partner recalls the initial source of anger which set this destructive cycle of rage in motion.

Josethestoryteller/Pixabay/Arash Emamzadeh (modifications)

Source: Josethestoryteller/Pixabay/Arash Emamzadeh (modifications)

An Empirical Test of the Cycle of Anger

The present research tested this cycle of anger empirically. The sample consisted of 96 heterosexual couples who were undergraduates at a U.S. university (average age of 23 years; 79 percent Caucasian; 82 percent dating, 14 percent married).

Participants completed intake measures and daily questionnaires for a week. The daily questionnaires measured participants’ experiences of anger, destructive behaviors (e.g., being selfish, insulting, cold) toward their romantic partners, and perceptions of their partners’ destructive behaviors. Also assessed was the personality trait of agreeableness (related to being trusting, cooperative, and friendly).

Analysis of the data was performed using multi-level modeling. All three hypotheses of the researchers were supported: Partner A’s daily anger toward Partner B predicted A’s destructive behaviors toward B; A’s destructive behaviors toward B predicted B’s perceptions of destructive behaviors; and B’s perception of A’s destructive actions predicted B’s anger.

Relationship commitment did not influence the results. Trait agreeableness did affect the results, but only when the level of anger expressed was low.

Agreeableness was associated with a reduced tendency to engage in antagonistic behavior, treating partners with less antagonism, and lastly, participants feeling less angry when their misbehaving partners were highly agreeable.

How Do You Break the Cycle of Anger?

You can disrupt the self-perpetuating cycle of destruction and anger between you and your romantic partner by weakening the links under influence. How?

For one, if you reappraise your partner’s behavior more positively, you might weaken the link between your perception of the behavior and the resultant feelings of anger inside you.

For example, when you find your romantic partner drinking an expensive beverage, you could reframe the drinking as an exception to the many ways your partner has been contributing and helping you cut costs. In this mindset, you can still discuss the drink, but you will be much less likely to resort to insults, threats, and other harmful behavior. Why? Because you will be less angry. Compare this mindset with thinking, “You are drinking that out of spite!”

Additionally, it is helpful to activate friendly thoughts — thoughts related to support, kindness, and compromise, not rejection or retaliation. That is what people high in agreeableness do instinctively.2

And when you are ready to express your anger, do so in a more constructive manner. Even when you do not feel enraged, you may be unintentionally angering your partner by using profanities or using words like never, always, worst, etc. In contrast, by expressing your anger more constructively and focusing on your own feelings, you are less likely to provoke your partner and fuel or initiate the vicious cycle.1 

In conclusion, the cycle of anger may be broken at several points. This requires at least one of the two partners to act mindfully and refuse to participate in the cycle of destructive behavior.

When neither partner is mindful, the cycle of anger might be perpetuated, harming both romantic partners and their relationship — sometimes irreversibly. So, if you struggle with controlling your anger, consider learninganger-management techniques, and if your anger is out of control, consider seeing a therapist.

Facebook Image Credit: MilanMarkovic78/Shutterstock

3 Important Ways Your Couples Therapist Relationship is Unique

I like this article.  ; )

Rory

Source: 3 Important Ways Your Couples Therapist Relationship is Unique

The couples therapist relationship is complex because your couples therapist has a unique and important role.

Choose carefully.

The therapeutic alliance is the most important factor in couples therapy. The research confirming this point is solid.

Permit me to repeat myself…that’s why you should choose your couples therapist very carefully.

The ancient Chinese strategist Sun Tzu once said, “every battle is won before it is ever fought.” He also said, “victory usually goes to the army which has better-trained officers and men.” There is a direct connection between training, therapeutic skill and the capacity to form a solid therapeutic alliance.

The outcome of your couples therapy may rely on who you choose to be your couples therapist.

Your battle with marital unhappiness may be won or lost… before it is even fought.

Why Your Couples Therapist Relationship is Unique

Nearly 60 years ago, Dr. Ralph Greenson was a psychiatrist to many troubled but prominent Hollywood stars. He was also the clinical professor of medicine at thetherapist-relationship University of California in Los Angeles. A brilliant academic and scholar, in 1965 he opined that therapeutic relationships were different than ordinary everyday relationships in 3 specific ways:

The Relationship Has a Specific Purpose. The only reason you are even meeting with your couples therapist is that you are agreeing to work together for a clear and stated purpose.

It may be a State of the Union assessment, perhaps leading to Discernment Counseling, or a Couples Therapy Intensive but you have a clear, specific, purpose in mind.

The Relationship is Imaginative and Explorative. Dr. Greenson used the term “fictive.”  We explore what is ardently desired, and what is actually possible. I think one of the most beautiful words in couples therapy is the word “instead.” We talk about what “instead” might look like in your marriage.

The relationship with your couples therapist explores alternative and aspirational versions of yourselves in a possible new relationship with each other.

If you’ve chosen well, your couples therapist can fully inhabit this expansive role. During a Couples Therapy Intensive, you are engaged in generative conversations which are both imaginative, but authentic and heartfelt at the same time.

The Relationship is Real.  Good couples therapy involves 3 people being authentic and real with each other. The therapist uses their “self” as a tool, offering genuine responses and reflections. The skill required of your couples therapist is to fully participate… and yet carefully observe at the same time.

What Makes for a Solid Couples Therapist Relationship?

In a word…attunement. Each spouse must feel supported and feel that I deeply “get them.”

They should see me… seeing them.

I notice their emotional states. I respond. When it’s going well, they feel known. Heard. Seen.

Researchers Bruce, Manber, Shapiro & Constantino, (2010). described it simply but beautifully; they said when a strong therapeutic bond has been firmly established, clients “feel felt.” therapist-relationship

When it happens, a solid therapist relationship may surprise clients.

Some, (men in particular), neither expect or comprehend this experience of attunement.

They were expecting to be ganged up on, and identified as the “designated problem.”

However, if I can hold their experience in the container of my own experience, space for something new can now emerge.

Fears can recede. A feeling of safety can abide. But first I must attend to accurately understanding their experience, and convey that understanding without judgment. They must notice their own feeling states in my responses.

What Does the Research Say about Your Couples Therapist Relationship Alliance?

Bruce Wampold is an Emeritus Professor of Counseling Psychology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Dr. Wampold carefully reviewed all of the known the research examining the quality of the therapeutic alliance.

“There is no other variable that has been assessed early in therapy that predicts final outcome better than the alliance”  Bruce Wampold

Research Findings on the Importance of a Solid Therapist Relationship Alliance

  • The average difference in therapist relationship alliance skills completely accounts for the difference in outcomes between one therapist and another.
  • The client-therapist relationship is at the center of outcomes, no matter who rates the therapist relationship. But is always highest when rated by the clients.
  • Early progress in couples therapy is related to a more favorable outcome, but the quality of the therapeutic relationship is a larger factor in predicting a favorable outcome than the actual early gains themselves.
  • Amazingly, sometimes the therapeutic alliance trumps medication. One study on the therapist relationship discovered that if a psychiatrist with an excellent therapeutic relationship gives the client a placebo, the client feels better than when a psychiatrist with a poorer client-therapist relationship gives the client a real anti-depressant.
  • The earlier the client-therapist relationship is established, the better the clinical outcome.

therapist-relationshipTwo Pillars of a Good Couples Therapist Relationship: Attunement and Empathy

The therapist models empathy for each spouse so they can re-discover what it might feel like to have empathy for each other once more.

This is a core concept in Emotionally-Focused Couples Therapy.

Because we ask so much of our clients in preparation for a Couples Therapy Intensive, therapeutic attunement and empathy may begin before the first actual meeting.

That is why careful and complete assessment is such a fundamental part of science-based couples therapy.

I may know more about my couple as they are driving up the driveway to start our intensive than some of the most important people in their emotional worlds.

I only know because they want me to know. They took pains to tell me their story in their Big Big Book.

It’s an honor, a privilege, and a great responsibility to be chosen to help a couple mend and heal their intimate bond.

When I greet them I know that our meeting will have a purpose. We will explore the realm of “instead.” And we will be real.

 

About the Author Daniel Dashnaw

Daniel is a Marriage and Family Therapist. He currently sees couples at Couples Therapy Inc. in Boston, Massachusetts, three seasons in Cummington (at the foothills of the Berkshires…) and in Miami during joint retreats with his wife, Dr. Kathy McMahon. He uses EFT, Gottman Method, Solution-focused and the Developmental Model in his approaches.

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Walking on Eggshells: 8 Reasons You’re Doing It | Depression Alliance

Source: Walking on Eggshells: 8 Reasons You’re Doing It | Depression Alliance

 

What Does Walking on Eggshells Mean?

Have you ever lived or worked with someone whose moods and outbursts can be unpredictable? The littlest thing can seem to set them off. They go on an emotional tangent completely out of proportion or context to what is really going on. You are always wary of what you say and do just in case they overreact and become emotional, verbally, or physically abusive.

Do you recognize that feeling, that dread or hesitation to interact with someone? If you have, you are “walking on eggshells”.

The relationship anxiety you feel is high. You are wary of potentially tipping the balance of a seemingly innocent situation. It can switch to conflict or something toxic in an instant. Things can, and do, change at the drop of a hat. The fragility of someone else’s moods scares you. You may feel like you are on unstable ground, as if you walk on eggshells. You go out of your way to keep the peace, even to your own detriment.

Signs of an Emotionally Unstable Relationship

If you find you are walking on eggshells in any kind of relationship, that’s a red flag! It indicates that it is an unstable or an abusive relationship. Being upset is normal – from time to time. But, repeated behaviors can say something more serious is going on. Check whether you experience any of the below signs regularly. If you do, you may be in an emotionally unstable or toxic relationship:

  • Mood Checks: You check the other person’s mood before you speak. or do anything. Always. You do this just in case they react in anger or lash out.
  • Tension: You are always tense and on edge around the other person. You find it difficult to relax and be yourself. Emotions are running high all the time, and the other person has difficulty controlling their emotions.
  • Use of Humiliation and Sarcasm: You may feel put down and humiliated. This can be from the way the other person speaks to you or treats you. There may be suggestions that you are a lesser person, or not of an equal standing.
  • Non-Verbal Cues: You may be acutely aware of non-verbal cues that the other person is angry. There may be glaring looks, hand gestures, silence, evasiveness, or objects thrown around or handled aggressively.
  • Impulsivity: Impulsive behavior may be so frequent it has become the norm. There may be sudden life-altering decisions made that have no say or input into.
  • Extended Arguments: Disagreements and arguments that should be quickly resolved, aren’t. They will not let go, the dispute lasts for hours, days, or weeks. They just go on, and on, and on.
  • Excessive Self-Monitoring: You monitor and adapt your own actions constantly. This is in an attempt to prevent setting the other person off again. You find you second-guess yourself in every situation and scenario trying to anticipate how they may react.
  • Withdrawal from Others: In worst case scenarios with long-term emotional and physical abuse people withdraw into themselves. They may isolate themselves from friends and family. This is because they fear upsetting the other person. Or, because they begin to believe any negativity said to them about themselves.

Stop Walking on Eggshells! How to Deal with an Unstable Relationship

Walking on egg shells in any kind of relationship is not healthy. In both short and long-term situations, it can affect people’s physical and mental wellbeing. Any situation where you are on constant guard and dealing with stress and anger is not good for anyone.

Suggestions for how to deal with an unstable relationship include:

  • Self-Care: It may be the other person something going on that is causing their behavior. This is not your problem to fix. Support them with changes they want to make if you choose to do so, yes. If you are walking on eggshells for an extended period you need to focus on yourself first, and foremost. Show yourself some love and compassion. As the saying goes, first you save yourself.
  • Seek Support:  Professional support for yourself and the other person may help. There can be mental health conditions that cause this type of behavior. They may be clinically depressed or have a borderline personality disorder (BPD). People with BPD or any similar conditions need professional guidance first to accept and understand the change needed. It can also happen with someone experiencing combat-related PTSD. If you feel you are in danger from a partner, seek help from friends you trust or a shelter.
  • Read Up On It: Check out books on related topics. Especially if you are in a relationship with someone diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder (BPD). Authors Paul Mason and Randi Kreger have a book that focuses on how to stop walking on eggshells and take your life back. This book focuses specifically on helping everyone involved. People with BPD or who display BPD traits, or other mental health conditions are in all walks of life. Other conditions include narcissistic personality disorder, emotional dysregulation disorder, and destructive disorder. They may include those you love — your parents, young children, adult children, or your partner. When younger you may have felt like your dad, or your mother never saw you as well-behaved children.  Your interpersonal relationships throughout life will benefit from knowing and understanding any conditions that affect personality.
  • Set Boundaries: Putting in some boundaries for yourself and the other person can help. Find ways to detach in situations where you know it is not your fault. Learn how to use different communication skills. Reflective listening will help you to kindly, and gently, show someone that what they are saying feels offensive. Or that it is not okay. Know your limits.

Feeling like you are walking on eggshells all the time is not a good place to be. Find ways to validate your self so your self-esteem does not suffer. Seek support and help from others. If you are in a long-term relationship with a family member or partner, seek solutions. Find ways that they are willing to accept to make positive improvements. This will help everyone’s health and well-being.

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Attachment in adults – Wikipedia

Source: Attachment in adults – Wikipedia

Attachment in adults

In psychology, the theory of attachment can be applied to adult relationships including friendships, emotional affairs, adult romantic or platonic relationships and in some cases relationships with inanimate objects (“transitional objects“).[1] Attachment theory, initially studied in the 1960s and 1970s primarily in the context of children and parents, was extended to adult relationships in the late 1980s.

Four main styles of attachment have been identified in adults:

  • secure
  • anxious-preoccupied
  • dismissive-avoidant
  • fearful-avoidant

Investigators have explored the organization and the stability of mental working models that underlie these attachment styles. They have also explored how attachment impacts relationship outcomes and how attachment functions in relationship dynamics.

Extending attachment theory

Mary Ainsworth and John Bowlby founded modern attachment theory on studies of children and their caregivers. Children and caregivers remained the primary focus of attachment theory for many years. Then, in the late 1980s, Cindy Hazan and Phillip Shaver applied attachment theory to adult relationships.[2][3][4] Hazan and Shaver noticed that interactions between adults shared similarities to interactions between children and caregivers. For example, romantic or platonic partners desire to be close to one another. Adults feel comforted when their attachments are present and anxious or lonely when they are absent. Romantic relationships, for example, serve as a secure base that help people face the surprises, opportunities, and challenges life presents. Similarities such as these led Hazan and Shaver to extend attachment theory to adult relationships.

Relationships between adults differ in many ways from relationships between children and caregivers.[5] The claim is not that these two kinds of relationships are identical. The claim is that the core principles of attachment theory apply to both kinds of relationships.

Investigators tend to describe the core principles of attachment theory in light of their own theoretical interests. Their descriptions seem quite different on a superficial level. For example, Fraley and Shaver[6] describe the “central propositions” of attachment in adults as follows:

  • The emotional and behavioral dynamics of infant–caregiver relationships and adult relationships are governed by the same biological system.
  • The kinds of individual differences observed in infant–caregiver relationships are similar to the ones observed in various close adult relationships.
  • Individual differences in adult attachment behavior are reflections of the expectations and beliefs people have formed about themselves and their close relationships on the basis of their attachment histories; these “working models” are relatively stable and, as such, may be reflections of early caregiving experiences.
  • Romantic love, as commonly conceived, involves the interplay of attachment, caregiving and intimacy.

Compare this with the five “core propositions” of attachment theory listed by Rholes and Simpson:[7]

  • Although the basic impetus for the formation of attachment relationships is provided by biological factors, the bonds that children form with their caregivers are shaped by interpersonal experience.
  • Experiences in earlier relationships create internal working models and attachment styles that systematically affect attachment relationships.
  • The attachment orientations of adult caregivers influence the attachment bond their children have with them.
  • Working models and attachment orientations are relatively stable over time, but they are not impervious to change.
  • Some forms of psychological maladjustment and clinical disorders are attributable in part to the effects of insecure working models and attachment styles.

While these two lists clearly reflect the theoretical interests of the investigators who created them, a closer look reveals a number of shared themes. The shared themes claim that:

  • People are biologically driven to form attachments with others, but the process of forming attachments is influenced by learning experiences.
  • Individuals form different kinds of attachments depending on the expectations and beliefs they have about their relationships. These expectations and beliefs constitute internal “working models” used to guide relationship behaviors.
  • Internal “working models” are relatively stable even though they can be influenced by experience.
  • Individual differences in attachment can contribute positively or negatively to mental health and to the quality of relationships with others.

No doubt these themes could be described in a variety of ways (and other themes added to the list). Regardless of how one describes the core principles of attachment theory, the key insight is that the same principles of attachment apply to close relationships throughout the lifespan. The principles of attachment between children and caregivers are fundamentally the same as the principles of attachment between adults.

Styles

Adults are described as having 4 attachment styles: Secure, Anxious-preoccupied, Dismissive-avoidant, and Fearful-avoidant.

The secure attachment style in adults corresponds to the secure attachment style in children. The anxious–preoccupied attachment style in adults corresponds to the anxious-ambivalent attachment style in children. However, the dismissive-avoidant attachment style and the fearful-avoidant attachment style, which are distinct in adults, correspond to a single avoidant attachment style in children. The descriptions of adult attachment styles offered below are based on the relationship questionnaire devised by Bartholomew and Horowitz[8] and on a review of studies by Pietromonaco and Barrett.[9]

There are several attachment-based treatment approaches that can be used with adults.[10] In addition, there is an approach to treating couples based on attachment theory.[11]

Secure

ie: positive view of self and positive view of others [12]

Securely attached people tend to agree with the following statements: “It is relatively easy for me to become emotionally close to others. I am comfortable depending on others and having others depend on me. I don’t worry about being alone or others not accepting me.” This style of attachment usually results from a history of warm and responsive interactions with their attachments. Securely attached people tend to have positive views of themselves and their attachments. They also tend to have positive views of their relationships. Often they report greater satisfaction and adjustment in their relationships than people with other attachment styles. Securely attached people feel comfortable both with intimacy and with independence.

Secure attachment and adaptive functioning are promoted by a caregiver who is emotionally available and appropriately responsive to his or her child’s attachment behavior, as well as capable of regulating both his or her positive and negative emotions.[13]

Insecure

Anxious-preoccupiedEdit

ie: negative view of self and positive view of others [14]

People with anxious-preoccupied attachment type tend to agree with the following statements: “I want to be completely emotionally intimate with others, but I often find that others are reluctant to get as close as I would like”, and “I am uncomfortable being without close relationships, but I sometimes worry that others don’t value me as much as I value them.” People with this style of attachment seek high levels of intimacy, approval, and responsiveness from their attachment figure. They sometimes value intimacy to such an extent that they become overly dependent on the attachment figure. Compared with securely attached people, people who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment tend to have less positive views about themselves. They may feel a sense of anxiousness that only recedes when in contact with the attachment figure. They often doubt their worth as a person and blame themselves for the attachment figure’s lack of responsiveness. People who are anxious or preoccupied with attachment may exhibit high levels of emotional expressiveness, emotional dysregulation, worry, and impulsiveness in their relationships.

Dismissive-avoidant

ie: positive view of self and negative view of others [15]

People with a dismissive style of avoidant attachment tend to agree with these statements: “I am comfortable without close emotional relationships”, “It is important to me to feel independent and self-sufficient”, and “I prefer not to depend on others or have others depend on me.” People with this attachment style desire a high level of independence. The desire for independence often appears as an attempt to avoid attachment altogether. They view themselves as self-sufficient and invulnerable to feelings associated with being closely attached to others. They often deny needing close relationships. Some may even view close relationships as relatively unimportant. Not surprisingly, they seek less intimacy with attachments, whom they often view less positively than they view themselves. Investigators commonly note the defensive character of this attachment style. People with a dismissive-avoidant attachment style tend to suppress and hide their feelings, and they tend to deal with rejection by distancing themselves from the sources of rejection (e.g. their attachments or relationships).

Fearful-avoidant

ie: unstable fluctuating/confused view of self and view of others [16]

People with losses or other trauma, such as sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence may often develop this type of attachment[17] and tend to agree with the following statements: “I am somewhat uncomfortable getting close to others. I want emotionally close relationships, but I find it difficult to completely trust others, or to depend on them. I sometimes worry that I will be hurt if I allow myself to become too close to other people.” They tend to feel uncomfortable with emotional closeness, and the mixed feelings are combined with sometimes unconscious, negative views about themselves and their attachments. They commonly view themselves as unworthy of responsiveness from their attachments, and they don’t trust the intentions of their attachments. Similar to the dismissive-avoidant attachment style, people with a fearful-avoidant attachment style seek less intimacy from attachments and frequently suppress and deny their feelings. Because of this, they are much less comfortable expressing affection.

Working models

Bowlby observed that children learn from their interactions with caregivers. Over the course of many interactions, children form expectations about the accessibility and helpfulness of their caregivers. These expectations reflect children’s thoughts about themselves and about their caregivers:

Confidence that an attachment figure is, apart from being accessible, likely to be responsive can be seen to turn on at least two variables: (a) whether or not the attachment figure is judged to be the sort of person who in general responds to calls for support and protection; (b) whether or not the self is judged to be the sort of person towards whom anyone, and the attachment figure in particular, is likely to respond in a helpful way. Logically, these variables are independent. In practice they are apt to be confounded. As a result, the model of the attachment figure and the model of the self are likely to develop so as to be complementary and mutually confirming. (Bowlby, 1973, p. 238)[18]

Children’s thoughts about their caregivers, together with thoughts about how deserving they are themselves of good care from their caregivers, form working models of attachment. Working models help guide behavior by allowing children to anticipate and plan for caregiver responses. Bowlby theorized that once formed, working models remain relatively stable. Children usually interpret experiences in the light of their working models, rather than change their working models to fit new experiences. However, when experiences cannot be interpreted in the light of their working models children may then modify their working models.

When Hazen and Shaver extended attachment theory to romantic relationships in adults, they also included the idea of working models. Research into adult working models has focused on two issues. First, how are the thoughts that form working models organized in the mind? Second, how stable are working models across time? These questions are briefly discussed below.

Organization of working models

Bartholomew and Horowitz have proposed that working models consist of two parts.[8] One part deals with thoughts about the self. The other part deals with thoughts about others. They further propose that a person’s thoughts about self are generally positive or generally negative. The same applies to a person’s thoughts about others. In order to test these proposals, Bartholomew and Horowitz have looked at the relationship between attachment styles, self-esteem, and sociability. The diagram below shows the relationships they observed:

 

Security-based strategy of affect regulation
Self-esteem
(thoughts about self)
PositiveNegative
Sociability
(thoughts about others)
PositiveSecureAnxious-preoccupied
NegativeDismissive-avoidantFearful-avoidant

The secure and dismissive attachment styles are associated with higher self-esteem compared with the anxious and fearful attachment styles. This corresponds to the distinction between positive and negative thoughts about the self in working models. The secure and anxious attachment styles are associated with higher sociability than the dismissive or fearful attachment styles. This corresponds to the distinction between positive and negative thoughts about others in working models. These results suggested working models indeed contain two distinct domains—thoughts about self and thoughts about others—and that each domain can be characterized as generally positive or generally negative.

Baldwin and colleagues have applied the theory of relational schemas to working models of attachment. Relational schemas contain information about the way the attachment figure regularly interact with each other.[19][20] For each pattern of interaction that regularly occurs between partners, a relational schema is formed that contains:

  • information about the self
  • information about the attachment
  • information about the way the interaction usually unfolds.

For example, if a person regularly asks his or her partner for a hug or kiss, and the partner regularly responds with a hug or kiss, the person forms a relational schema representing the predictable interaction. The schema contains information about the self (e.g., “I need lots of physical affection”). It also contains information about the partner (e.g., “My partner is an affectionate person”). And it contains information about the way the interaction usually unfolds, which can be summarized by an if–then statement (e.g., “If I ask my partner for a hug or kiss, then my partner will respond with a hug or kiss and comfort me”). Relational schemas help guide behavior in relationships by allowing people to anticipate and plan for partner responses.

Baldwin and colleagues have proposed that working models of attachment are composed of relational schemas. The fact that relational schemas contain information about the self and information about others is consistent with previous conceptions of working models. The unique contribution of relational schemas to working models is the information about the way interactions with attachments usually unfold. Relational schemas add the if–then statements about interactions to working models. To demonstrate that working models are organized as relational schemas, Baldwin and colleagues created a set of written scenarios that described interactions dealing with trust, dependency and closeness.[21] For example, the scenarios for closeness included:

  • You want to spend more time with your attachment.
  • You reach out to hug or kiss your partner.
  • You tell your attachment how deeply you feel for him or her.

Following each scenario, people were presented with two options about how their attachments might respond. One option was “he/she accepts you.” The other option was “he/she rejects you.” People were asked to rate the likelihood of each response on a seven-point scale. Ratings of likely attachment responses corresponded to people’s attachment styles. People with secure attachment styles were more likely to expect accepting responses from their attachments. Their relational schema for the third closeness scenario would be, “If I tell my partner how deeply I feel for him or her, then my partner will accept me.” People with other attachment styles were less likely to expect accepting responses from their attachments. Their relational schema for the third closeness scenario would be, “If I tell my partner how deeply I feel for him or her, then my attachment will reject me.” Differences in attachment styles reflected differences in relational schemas. Relational schemas may therefore be used to understand the organization of working models of attachment, as has been demonstrated in subsequent studies.[22][23][24]

The relational schemas involved in working models are likely organized into a hierarchy. According to Baldwin:

A person may have a general working model of relationships, for instance, to the effect that others tend to be only partially and unpredictably responsive to one’s needs. At a more specific level, this expectation will take different forms when considering different role relationships, such as customer or romantic partner. Within romantic relationships, expectations might then vary significantly depending on the specific attachment, or the specific situation, or the specific needs being expressed. (Baldwin, 1992, p. 429).[19]

The highest level of the hierarchy contains very general relational schemas that apply to all relationships. The next level of the hierarchy contains relational schemas that apply to particular kinds of relationships. The lowest level of the hierarchy contains relationship schemas that apply to specific relationships.

In fact, several theorists have proposed a hierarchical organization of working models.[25][26][27][28][29] Pietromonaco and Barrett note:

From this perspective, people do not hold a single set of working models of the self and others; rather, they hold a family of models that include, at higher levels, abstract rules or assumptions about attachment relationships and, at lower levels, information about specific relationships and events within relationships. These ideas also imply that working models are not a single entity but are multifaceted representations in which information at one level need not be consistent with information at another level. (Pietromonaco & Barrett, 2000, page 159)[30]

Every hierarchy for working models includes both general working models (higher in the hierarchy) and relationship-specific working models (lower in the hierarchy). Studies have supported the existence of both general working models and relationship-specific working models. People can report a general attachment style when asked to do so, and the majority of their relationships are consistent with their general attachment style.[23] A general attachment style indicates a general working model that applies to many relationships. Yet, people also report different styles of attachments to their friends, parents and lovers.[31][32] Relationship-specific attachment styles indicate relationship-specific working models. Evidence that general working models and relationship-specific working models are organized into a hierarchy comes from a study by Overall, Fletcher and Friesen.[33]

In summary, the mental working models that underlie attachment styles appear to contain information about self and information about others organized into relational schemas. The relational schemas are themselves organized into a three-tier hierarchy. The highest level of the hierarchy contains relational schemas for a general working model that applies to all relationships. The middle level of the hierarchy contains relational schemas for working models that apply to different types of relationships (e.g., friends, parents, lovers). The lowest level of the hierarchy contains relational schemas for working models of specific relationships.

Stability of working modelsEdit

Investigators study the stability of working models by looking at the stability of attachment styles. Attachment styles reflect the thoughts and expectations that constitute working models. Changes in attachment styles therefore indicate changes in working models.

Around 70–80% of people experience no significant changes in attachment styles over time.[22][34][35][36][37] The fact that attachment styles do not change for a majority of people indicates working models are relatively stable. Yet, around 20–30% of people do experience changes in attachment styles. These changes can occur over periods of weeks or months. The number of people who experience changes in attachment styles, and the short periods over which the changes occur, suggest working models are not rigid personality traits.

Why attachment styles change is not well understood. Waters, Weinfield and Hamilton propose that negative life experiences often cause changes in attachment styles.[38] Their proposal is supported by evidence that people who experience negative life events also tend to experience changes in attachment styles.[34][39][40] Davila, Karney and Bradbury have identified four sets of factors that might cause changes in attachment styles: (a) situational events and circumstances, (b) changes in relational schemas, (c) personality variables, and (d) combinations of personality variables and situational events.[41] They conducted a study to see which set of factors best explained changes in attachment styles. The study found that all four sets of factors cause changes in attachment styles. Changes in attachment styles are complex and depend on multiple factors.

Relationship outcomesEdit

Adult relationships vary in their outcomes. The participants of some relationships express more satisfaction than the participants of other relationships. The participants of some relationships stay together longer than the partners of other relationships. Does attachment influence the satisfaction and duration of relationships?

SatisfactionEdit

Several studies have linked attachment styles to relationship satisfaction. People who have secure attachment styles usually express greater satisfaction with their relationships than people who have other attachment styles.[42][43][44][45][46][47][48][49][50]

Although the link between attachment styles and marital satisfaction has been firmly established, the mechanisms by which attachment styles influence marital satisfaction remain poorly understood. One mechanism may be communication. Secure attachment styles may lead to more constructive communication and more intimate self-disclosures, which in turn increase relationship satisfaction.[43][51] Other mechanisms by which attachment styles may influence relationship satisfaction include emotional expressiveness,[52][53] strategies for coping with conflict,[47] and perceived support from partners.[48][54] Further studies are needed to better understand how attachment styles influence relationship satisfaction.

DurationEdit

Some studies suggest people with secure attachment styles have longer-lasting relationships.[55][56] This may be partly due to commitment. People with secure attachment styles tend to express more commitment to their relationships. People with secure attachment styles also tend to be more satisfied with their relationships, which may encourage them to stay in their relationships longer. However, secure attachment styles are by no means a guarantee of long-lasting relationships.

Nor are secure attachment styles the only attachment styles associated with stable relationships. People with anxious–preoccupied attachment styles often find themselves in long-lasting, but unhappy, relationships.[57][58] Anxious–preoccupied attachment styles often involve anxiety about being abandoned and doubts about one’s worth as a relationship. These kinds of feelings and thoughts may lead people to stay in unhappy relationships.

Relationship dynamicsEdit

Attachment plays a role in the way actors interact with one another. A few examples include the role of attachment in affect regulation, support, intimacy, and jealousy. These examples are briefly discussed below. Attachment also plays a role in many interactions not discussed in this article, such as conflict, communication and sexuality.[59][60][61]

Affect regulationEdit

Bowlby, in studies with children, observed that certain kinds of events trigger anxiety, and that people try to relieve their anxiety by seeking closeness and comfort from caregivers.[62] Three main sets of conditions trigger anxiety in children:

  • Conditions of the child (fatigue, hunger, illness, pain, cold, etc.)
  • Conditions involving the caregiver (caregiver absent, caregiver departing, caregiver discouraging of proximity, caregiver giving attention to another child, etc.)
  • Conditions of the environment (alarming events, criticism or rejection by others)

The anxiety triggered by these conditions motivates the individuals to engage in behaviors that bring them physically closer to caregivers. A similar dynamic occurs in adults in relationships where others care about them. Conditions involving personal well-being, conditions involving a relationship partner, and conditions involving the environment can trigger anxiety in adults. Adults try to alleviate their anxiety by seeking physical and psychological closeness to their partners.

Mikulincer, Shaver and Pereg have developed a model for this dynamic.[63] According to the model, when people experience anxiety, they try to reduce their anxiety by seeking closeness with relationship partners. However, the partners may accept or reject requests for greater closeness. This leads people to adopt different strategies for reducing anxiety. People engage in three main strategies to reduce anxiety.

The first strategy is called the security-based strategy. The diagram below shows the sequence of events in the security-based strategy.

Security-based strategy of affect regulation.

A person perceives something that provokes anxiety. The person tries to reduce the anxiety by seeking physical or psychological closeness to her or his attachment. The attachment responds positively to the request for closeness, which reaffirms a sense of security and reduces anxiety. The person returns to her or his everyday activities.

The second strategy is called the hyperactivation, or anxiety attachment, strategy. The diagram below shows the sequence of events in the hyperactivation strategy.

Hyperactivation strategy of affect regulation.

The events begin the same way. Something provokes anxiety in a person, who then tries to reduce anxiety by seeking physical or psychological closeness to their attachment. The attachment rebuffs the request for greater closeness. The lack of responsiveness increases feelings of insecurity and anxiety. The person then gets locked into a cycle with the attachment: the person tries to get closer, the attachment rejects the request for greater closeness, which leads the person to try even harder to get closer, followed by another rejection from the attachment, and so on. The cycle ends only when the situation shifts to a security-based strategy (because the attachment finally responds positively) or when the person switches to an attachment avoidant strategy (because the person gives up on getting a positive response from the attachment).

The third strategy is called the attachment avoidance strategy. The following diagram shows the sequence of events in the attachment avoidance strategy.

Attachment avoidance strategy of affect regulation.

The events begin the same way as the security-based strategy. A person perceives something that triggers anxiety, and the person tries to reduce anxiety by seeking physical or psychological closeness to her or his attachment. But the attachment is either unavailable or rebuffs the request for closeness. The lack of responsiveness fuels insecurity and heightens anxiety. The person gives up on getting a positive response from the attachment, suppresses her or his anxiety, and distances herself or himself from the attachment.

Mikulincer, Shaver, and Pereg contend these strategies of regulating attachment anxiety have very different consequences.[63] The security-based strategy leads to more positive thoughts, such as more positive explanations of why others behave in a particular way and more positive memories about people and events. More positive thoughts can encourage more creative responses to difficult problems or distressing situations. The hyperactivation and attachment avoidance strategies lead to more negative thoughts and less creativity in handling problems and stressful situations. It is notable that the security-based strategy is contingent on a positive response from their attachment. From this perspective, it would benefit people to have attachments who are willing and able to respond positively to the person’s request for closeness, so that they can use security-based strategies for dealing with their anxiety.

SupportEdit

People feel less anxious when close to their attachments because their attachments can provide support during difficult situations. Support includes the comfort, assistance, and information people receive from their attachments.

Attachment influences both the perception of support from others and the tendency to seek support from others. People who have attachments who respond consistently and positively to requests for closeness allow individuals to have secure attachments, and in return they seek more support, in a generally relaxed way, while people whose attachments are inconsistent in reacting positively or regularly reject requests for support find they need to use other attachment styles.[64][65][66][67] People with secure attachment styles may trust their attachments to provide support because their attachments have reliably offered support in the past. They may be more likely to ask for support when it’s needed. People with insecure attachment styles often do not have a history of supportive responses from their attachments. They may rely less on their attachments and be less likely to ask for support when it’s needed, though there may be other factors involved, as well.

Changes in the way people perceive attachment tend to occur with changes in the way people perceive support. One study looked at college students’ perceptions of attachment to their mothers, fathers, same-sex friends, and opposite-sex friends[68] and found that when students reported changes in attachment for a particular relationship, they usually reported changes in support for that relationship as well. Changes in attachment for one relationship did not affect the perception of support in other relationships. The link between changes in attachment and changes in support was relationship-specific.

IntimacyEdit

Attachment theory has always recognized the importance of intimacy. Bowlby writes:

Attachment theory regards the propensity to make intimate emotional bonds to particular individuals as a basic component of human nature, already present in germinal form in the neonate and continuing through adult life into old age. (Bowlby, 1988, pp. 120–121)[69]

The desire for intimacy has biological roots and, in the great majority of people, persists from birth until death. The desire for intimacy also has important implications for attachment. Relationships that frequently satisfy the desire for intimacy lead to more secure attachments. Relationships that rarely satisfy the desire for intimacy lead to less secure attachments.

Collins and Feeney have examined the relationship between attachment and intimacy in detail.[70] They define intimacy as a special set of interactions in which a person discloses something important about himself or herself, and their attachment responds to the disclosure in a way that makes the person feel validated, understood, and cared for. These interactions usually involve verbal self-disclosure. However, intimate interactions can also involve non-verbal forms of self-expression such as touching, hugging, kissing, and sexual behavior. From this perspective, intimacy requires the following:

  • willingness to disclose one’s true thoughts, feelings, wishes, and fears
  • willingness to rely on an attachment for care and emotional support
  • willingness to engage in physical intimacy in the case of romantic or potential romantic partners

Collins and Feeney review a number of studies showing how each attachment style relates to the willingness to self-disclose, the willingness to rely on partners, and the willingness to engage in physical intimacy. The secure attachment style is generally related to more self-disclosure, more reliance on partners, and more physical intimacy than other attachment styles. However, the amount of intimacy in a relationship can vary due to personality variables and situational circumstances, and so each attachment style may function to adapt an individual to the particular context of intimacy in which they live.

Mashek and Sherman report some findings on the desire for less closeness with partners.[71] Sometimes too much intimacy can be suffocating. People in this situation desire less closeness with their partners. On one hand, the relationship between attachment styles and desire for less closeness is predictable. People who have fearful-avoidant and anxious-preoccupied attachment styles typically want greater closeness with their partners. People who have dismissive–avoidant attachment styles typically want less closeness with their partners. On the other hand, the relatively large numbers of people who admit to wanting less closeness with their partners (up to 57% in some studies) far outnumbers the people who have dismissive-avoidant attachment styles. This suggests people who have secure, anxious–preoccupied, or fearful-avoidant attachment styles sometimes seek less closeness with their partners. The desire for less closeness is not determined by attachment styles alone.

JealousyEdit

Jealousy refers to the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that occur when a person believes a valued relationship is threatened by a rival. A jealous person experiences anxiety about maintaining support, intimacy, and other valued qualities of her or his relationship. Given that attachment relates to anxiety regulation, support, and intimacy, as discussed above, it is not surprising that attachment also relates to jealousy.

Bowlby observed that attachment behaviors in children can be triggered by the presence of a rival:

In most young children the mere sight of mother holding another baby in her arms is enough to elicit strong attachment behaviour. The older child insists on remaining close to his mother, or on climbing on to her lap. Often he behaves as though he were a baby. It is possible that this well-known behaviour is only a special case of a child reacting to mother’s lack of attention and lack of responsiveness to him. The fact, however, that an older child often reacts in this way even when his mother makes a point of being attentive and responsive suggests that more is involved; and the pioneer experiments of Levy (1937) also indicate that the mere presence of a baby on mother’s lap is sufficient to make an older child much more clinging. (Bowlby, 1969/1982, page 260)[62]

When children see a rival contending for a caregiver’s attention, the children try to get close to the caregiver and capture the caregiver’s attention. Attempts to get close to the caregiver and capture the caregiver’s attention indicate the attachment system has been activated. But the presence of a rival also provokes jealousy in children. The jealousy provoked by a sibling rival has been described in detail.[72] Recent studies have shown that a rival can provoke jealousy at very young ages. The presence of a rival can provoke jealousy in infants as young as six months old.[73][74][75] Attachment and jealousy can both be triggered in children by the presence of a rival.

Attachment and jealousy can be triggered by the same perceptual cues in adults, too.[76] The absence of the attachment can trigger both a need for close proximity and jealousy when people believe the attachment is spending time with a rival. The presence of a rival can also trigger greater need for attachment and jealousy.

Differences in attachment styles influence both the frequency and the pattern of jealous expressions. People who have anxious–preoccupied or fearful-avoidant attachment styles experience jealousy more often and view rivals as more threatening than people who have secure attachment styles.[76][77][78][79] People with different attachment styles also express jealousy in different ways. One study found that:

Securely attached participants felt anger more intensely than other emotions and were relatively more likely than other participants to express it, especially toward their attachment. And although anxious participants felt anger relatively intensely, and were as likely as others to express it through irritability, they were relatively unlikely to actually confront their attachment. This might be attributable to feelings of inferiority and fear, which were especially characteristic of the anxiously attached and which might be expected to inhibit direct expressions of anger. Avoidants felt sadness relatively more intensely than did secures in both studies. Further, avoidants were relatively more likely than others to work to maintain their self-esteem and, perhaps as a consequence, relatively unlikely to be brought closer to their attachment. (Sharpsteen & Kirkpatrick, 1997, page 637)[76]

A subsequent study has confirmed that people with different attachment styles experience and express jealousy in qualitatively different ways.[78] Attachment thus plays an important role in jealous interactions by influencing the frequency and the manner in which attachments express jealousy.

After loveEdit

After dissolution of important romantic relationships people usually go through separation anxiety and grieving. Grief is a process which leads to the acceptance of loss and usually allows the person to move on. During this process people use different strategies to cope. Securely attached individuals tend to look for support, the most effective coping strategy. Avoidantly attached individuals tend to devalue the relationships and to withdraw. Anxiously attached individuals are more likely to use emotionally focused coping strategies and pay more attention to the experienced distress (Pistole, 1996). After the end of the relationships, securely attached individuals tend to have less negative overall emotional experience than insecurely attached individuals (Pistole, 1995).

Same-sex relationshipsEdit

Ridge & Feeney (1998) have studied a group of gays and lesbians in Australian universities. Results showed that the frequency of attachment styles in the gay and lesbian population was the same as in the heterosexual; at the same time attachment styles have predicted relationship variables in a similar way as in the heterosexual population. However, gay and lesbian adult attachment styles were not related to childhood experiences with parents. Contradicting this last result, Robinson (1999) has found that in the lesbian population there was a link between attachment styles and early parenting. However, unlike in heterosexual females, attachment style was related to participants’ relationship with their fathers.

See alsoEdit

Clearing: The Single Greatest Connection Exercise For Couples

This is a great article about a very important practice that helps prevent build up of toxic emotions.

Rory

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Have you ever heard of clearing exercises? They are the single greatest ways for couples to reconnect, work through arguments, and tap into a sense of clarity and ease in their relationship.

Source: Clearing: The Single Greatest Connection Exercise For Couples

Throughout the course of a relationship, many unspoken things can accumulate and begin to turn into emotional and energetic clutter that starts to muddy the connection in the relationship. Clearing is a process that brings forth the heavy residue and clears it out in a simple, efficient, and durable way.

I have witnessed years of tension melt out of a couple in a matter of minutes via clearing exercises.

So much of the miscommunication that occurs in partnership is a result of people not truly hearing their partner. Especially during arguments, it is very common for people to not listen to their partner but merely wait for their turn to verbalize the rehearsed thoughts that they have tumbling around in their mind. In it’s essence, clearing is an exercise about slowing down and engaging in deep listening.

So, how can you get this magic into your arsenal? Let’s get into it.

How To Do A Clearing Exercise

young beautiful couple, being in love, clearing, clearing exercise

The structure is simple…

You and your partner sit opposite each other, while making eye contact, and you take turns finishing specific sentence stems, while the receiving partner simply listens.

The basic format of clearing is the following:

1. ‘Something I want you to know is…’

2. ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is…’

3. ‘Something I like about you is…’

There are certain alterations you can make depending on the situation, but this is the core format for a reason.

The first section (‘Something I want you to know is…’) is a general clearing. You allow yourself to reveal your thoughts to your partner, no matter how scary they may seem in your head.

The second section (‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is…’) is about owning your projections. It’s one thing to reactively shout at your partner “You’re so stubborn!”… and a whole other thing entirely to calmly clear with them by saying, “Something that I see in you that I see in myself is stubbornness.” By owning the projection fully and seeing it as a thing that you and your partner both have a capacity for, it reduces a lot of the energetic charge around it (when done authentically).

The final section (‘Something I like about you is…’) is about connecting and reestablishing rapport. Don’t spend too much time in this section unless you and your partner are really in the middle of a nasty fight. Clearing isn’t about racing towards pleasantries or engaging in spiritual bypassing… it’s about saying what is true. Even if that truth sometimes hurts a little bit.

So how this would go structurally is that partner ‘A’ would have their turn to go through steps 1, 2, and 3 fully, while partner B received. I would also recommend that Partner B says thank you after each completed statement from partner A (‘thank you’ signifying having heard them, not necessarily agreeing with their statements).

So, putting it all together, it would look something like this.

Partner A: ‘Something I want you know is that I’m still hurting about the time that you flirted with that person in front of me, and there’s a part of me that feels unsafe with you.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Partner A: ‘Something I want you know is that my sex drive has been lower lately because of the work stress that I’m currently going through… and I frequently judge myself harshly and make myself wrong for it.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Continue on for 3-10 minutes, or until you feel complete. Then you move on to…

Partner A: ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is a tendency to be dismissive of people based on their differences.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Partner A: ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is a fierce streak of stubbornness.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Continue on for 3-10 minutes, or until you feel complete. Then you move on to…

Partner A: ‘Something I like about you is your willingness to do clearing exercises with me, and that you’re always willing to lean into the tough stuff in our relationship.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Partner A: ‘Something I like about you is how you wiggle yourself over to me in the mornings when you first wake up.’

Partner B: ‘Thank you.’

Continue on for 3-10 minutes, or until you feel complete. Then, both of you take 1-3 deep breaths each (ideally in sync with each other), and then partner B takes over and partner A listens.

A clearing process can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, and the emotional freedom that results from it can be astounding.

7 Different Sentence Stems For Different Clearing Scenarios

While the core structure is sound, there may be times where you want something a bit more targeted to what you’re going through.

The structure in terms of timing/listening/one-at-a-time-ness should always remain a constant… but the words are allowed to change based on the scenario. Here are some examples of other types of clearings you may want to engage in.

Clearing Stems When Diffusing Fights

‘Something I’m angry about you with is…’

‘Something I’m afraid to tell you is…’

‘Something I’m upset with you about is…’

Choose your favourite/the most appropriate stem, and use it as step #2 between the usual steps #1 and 3 in the basic formula.

Clearing Stems When Wanting To Boost Connection And Rapport

‘Something I’m excited about with you is…’

‘Something I admire in you is…’

‘Something I appreciate about you is…’

‘Something I’m looking forward to in our relationship is…’

Choose your favourite/the most appropriate stem, and use it as step #2 between the usual steps #1 and 3 in the basic formula.

How Often Should You Do Clearings With Your Partner?

While clearing sessions are potent and valuable… the point of an intimate relationship isn’t to be constantly processing each other. If you feel the benefits from your first clearing session and feel a yearning to do this on a daily basis, it’s generally better if you resist it. I find that clearing sessions have more value when you do them intermittently.

I would recommend doing them on a semi-regular basis (2-5 times per month) and also doing them on an as-needed basis (i.e. when an argument comes up and you want to slow down and really dig into the truth of what is happening between the two of you).

Remember…

Partner A:

1. ‘Something I want you to know is…’

2. ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is…’

3. ‘Something I like about you is…’

Partner B:

1. ‘Something I want you to know is…’

2. ‘Something I see in you that I see in myself is…’

3. ‘Something I like about you is…’

Sit, make eye contact, listen, thank them, breathe deeply… and your relationship will benefit faster than you ever thought possible.

Common side effects include increased feelings of well-being and relationship harmony, and boosted libido and desire to maul your partner.

What now? Send this article to your partner. Put your first clearing session in your calendar. Sit down across from each other, and do it.

Dedicated to your success,

Jordan

Ps. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll likely also love reading:

6 Connection Exercises For Couples To Build Intimacy

50 Powerful Romantic Gestures That Will Make Your Partner Melt

10 Questions To Ask To Go Deep In Your Relationship

Three dates is all it takes to determine financial compatibility | The Star

Very good message!!

Rory

_____________________________________________

Source: Three dates is all it takes to determine financial compatibility | The Star

Who you love can seriously impact your finances. A partner who is supportive and committed to the same financial goals as you will help grow your wealth.

Though you might not be thinking about money at the beginning of a new relationship, you should be. As covered in my book, Modern Couple’s Money Guide, within the first three dates you can determine whether you and your love interest are financially compatible.

Though you might not be thinking about money at the beginning of a new relationship, you should be, writes Lesley-Anne Scorgie.
Though you might not be thinking about money at the beginning of a new relationship, you should be, writes Lesley-Anne Scorgie.  (iStock)

If you’re not, run for the hills or you could end up another divorce statistic. Money matters are the leading cause of separation and divorce in Canada. With that in mind, here’s how to tell if the person you’re dating is your financial equal in your first three dates.

Date one: Are your values similar?

At its core, financial compatibility is about what drive your goals. Remarkably, this has nothing to do with how much money either of you make, what you own or what you owe. Those things can change. Values don’t. This includes owning property, having a family, how hard you want to work and travel aspirations.

On your first date, explore each other’s values. Lob a few of these softball questions at each other: Do you want to own a home? Where do you like to travel? How important is family to you? Do you like your work? Do you prioritize experiences or things?

Date two: Proof is in the pudding

Pay close attention to what your date spends their money on when you arrive at your second outing. For example, your date might be a fashionista wearing designer brands or they might want to book your reservation at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that’s hip, but without the hefty prices. Still, your date might pick you up in an UberX versus an UberBlack.

Here’s a hint of a red flag: if your date appears to be out-spending their income level, they may have money coming from other sources or they could be funding their lifestyle with debt. In rare circumstances, they’re living off of their savings.

Date three: The coupon test

There’s no better way to force a financial conversation early in a relationship than to use a coupon or store credit.

When I went on my first date with my honey, I pulled out my coffee rewards card and cashed it in for free americanos for us. Though in the moment, he was slightly horrified, he quickly learned that I like to get good value when I shop. When we went out again, he used a Groupon. That’s when we fell madly in love with each other.

The bottom line in relationships is if you work towards shared financial goals, it doesn’t matter whether you start from rich, poor or modest means. Together, you can grow your money to support the life you’re designing.

Lesley-Anne Scorgie is a personal finance author and founder of MeVest.ca

Avoidant Attachment: Understanding Insecure Avoidant Attachment

https://www.psychalive.org/anxious-avoidant-attachment/

avoidant attachment

The way that parents interact with their infant during the first few months of its life largely determines the type of attachment it will form with them. The relationship between the primary caregiver and the baby can create a secure, anxious, disorganized or avoidant attachment style that will form a blueprint for relationships throughout the baby’s life. When parents are sensitively attuned to their baby, a secure attachment is likely to develop. Being securely attached to a parent or primary caregiver bestows numerous benefits on children that usually last a lifetime.  Securely attached children are better able to regulate their emotions, feel more confident in exploring their environment, and tend to be more empathic and caring than those who are insecurely attached.

In contrast, when parents are largely mis-attuned, distant, or intrusive, they cause their children considerable distress. Children adapt to this rejecting environment by building defensive attachment strategies in an attempt to feel safe, to modulate or tone down intense emotional states, and to relieve frustration and pain. They form one of three types of insecure attachment patterns to their parent, (an avoidant, ambivalent/anxious, or disorganized/fearful).  In this article, we describe avoidant attachment patterns, which have been identified as representing approximately 30% of the general population.

What is Avoidant Attachment? 

Parents of children with an avoidant attachment tend to be emotionally unavailable or unresponsive to them a good deal of the time. They disregard or ignore their children’s needs, and can be especially rejecting when their child is hurt or sick. These parents also discourage crying and encourage premature independence in their children.

In response, the avoidant attached child learns early in life to suppress the natural desire to seek out a parent for comfort when frightened, distressed, or in pain. Attachment researcher Jude Cassidy describes how these children cope: “During many frustrating and painful interactions with rejecting attachment figures, they have learned that acknowledging and displaying distress leads to rejection or punishment.” By not crying or outwardly expressing their feelings, they are often able to partially gratify at least one of their attachment needs, that of remaining physically close to a parent.

Children identified as having an avoidant attachment with a parent tend to disconnect from their bodily needs. Some of these children learn to rely heavily on self-soothing, self-nurturing behaviors. They develop a pseudo-independent orientation to life and maintain the illusion that they can take complete care of themselves. As a result, they have little desire or motivation to seek out other people for help or support.

What behaviors are associated with avoidant attachment in children?

Even as toddlers, many avoidant children have already become self-contained, precocious “little adults.” As noted, the main defensive attachment strategy employed by children with avoidant attachment is to never show outwardly a desire for closeness, warmth, affection, or love. However, on a physiological level, when their heart rates and galvanic skin responses are measured during experimental separation experiences, they show as strong a reaction and as much anxiety as other children. Avoidantly attached children tend to seek proximity, trying to be near their attachment figure, while not directly interacting or relating to them.

In one such experiment, the “Strange Situation” procedure, attachment theorist Mary Ainsworth, observed the responses of 1-year olds during separation and reunion experiences.  The avoidant infants “avoided or actively resisted having contact with their mother” when their mother returned to the room. According to Dan Siegel, when parents are distant or removed, even very young children “intuitively pick up the feeling that their parents have no intention of getting to know them, which leaves them with a deep sense of emptiness.”

How does an avoidant attachment develop in children?

Why do some parents, who consciously want the best for their child, find it difficult to remain attuned or to be emotionally close to their children? Attachment researchers have identified several reasons for parents’ difficulties in this area. In studying a number of emotionally distant mothers, the researchers found that the mothers’ lack of response to their infant was at least partly due to their lack of knowledge about “how to support others.”  Some of the mothers lacked empathy, whereas others had failed to develop a sense of closeness and commitment that appear to be crucial factors in “motivating caregiving behavior.” They also reported a childhood “history of negative attachment experiences with rejecting caregivers and role models,” which explained why they had “a more limited repertoire of caregiving strategies at their disposal.”

In other words, the mothers in this study were treating their infants much as they had been treated as children, and their babies were now forming an avoidant attachment to them. Interestingly, a recent meta-review of attachment research has provided other “evidence for the intergenerational transmission of attachment style;” it has also demonstrated important links between parents’ avoidant styles of caregiving and their children’s avoidant attachment, especially in older children and adolescents.

The Avoidant/Dismissive Attachment Style in Adults   

People who formed an avoidant attachment to their parent or parents while growing up have what is referred to as a dismissive attachment in adulthood. Because they learned as infants to disconnect from their bodily needs and minimize the importance of emotions, they often steer clear of emotional closeness in romantic relationships. Dismissively attached adults will often seek out relationships and enjoy spending time with their partner, but they may become uncomfortable when relationships get too close. They may perceive their partners as “wanting too much” or being clinging when their partner’s express a desire to be more emotionally close.

When faced with threats of separation or loss, many dismissive men and women are able to focus their attention on other issues and goals. Others tend to withdraw and attempt to cope with the threat on their own.  They deny their vulnerability and use repression to manage emotions that are aroused in situations that activate their attachment needs. When they do seek support from a partner during a crisis, they are likely to use indirect strategies such as hinting, complaining, and sulking.

According to attachment researchers, Fraley and Brumbaugh, many dismissing adults use “pre-emptive” strategies to deactivate the attachment system, for example, they may choose not to get involved in a close relationship for fear of rejection; they may avert their gaze from unpleasant sights, or they may “tune out” a conversation related to attachment issues. A second strategy is to suppress memories of negative attachment events, such as a breakup. In fact, adults categorized as dismissing report very few memories of their early relationship with parents. Others may describe their childhood as happy and their parents as loving, but are unable to give specific examples to support these positive evaluations.

People with this type of attachment style tend to be overly focused on themselves and their own creature comforts, and largely disregard the feelings and interests of other people. They also find it difficult to disclose their thoughts and feelings to their partner. Their typical response to an argument, conflict, and other stressful situation is to become distant and aloof.

Dismissive adults often have an overly positive view of themselves and a negative, cynical attitude toward other people. In many cases, this high self-esteem is defensive and protects a fragile self that is highly vulnerable to slights, rejections, and other narcissistic wounds. It exists usually as a compensation for low self-esteem and feelings of self-hatred. According to adult attachment experts Phil Shaver and Mario Mikulincer, avoidant partners often react angrily to perceived slights or other threats to their self-esteem, for example, whenever the other person fails to support or affirm their inflated self-image.

How are patterns of attachment supported by the critical inner voice?

The kinds of negative, distrustful, and hostile attitudes toward other people that are associated with a dismissing attachment style are compounded by destructive thoughts or critical inner voices. The overly positive and seemingly friendly views of self that are experienced by many avoidant individuals are also promoted by the inner voice and are often a cover-up for vicious, self-degrading thoughts.  Both kinds of voices, toward the self and others, are part of an internal working model, based on a person’s earliest attachments, which act as a guideline for how to relate to a romantic partner. The critical inner voice can be thought of as the language of these internal working models; the voice acts as a negative filter through which the people look at themselves, their partner and relationships in general.

Although many critical inner voices are only partly conscious, they have the power to shape the ways that people respond to each other in their closest, most intimate relationships. Individuals identified as having a dismissing attachment style have reported experiencing such thoughts as:

“You don’t need anyone.”

“Don’t get too involved. You’ll just be disappointed.”

“Men won’t commit to a relationship.”

“Women will try to trap you.”

 “Why does he/she demand so much from you?”

“You’ve got to put up with a lot to stay involved with a man/woman.”

“There are other, more important things in life than romance.”

“You’ve got to protect yourself.  You’re going to get hurt in this relationship.”

“You’re too good for him/her.”

How can we transform a dismissing/avoidant attachment into a secure one?

Fortunatelywe don’t have to remain trapped within the confines of the defensive attachment strategies we developed early in life.  There are many experiences throughout life that provide opportunities for personal growth and change. Although your patterns of attachment were formed in infancy and persist throughout your life, it is possible to develop an “Earned Secure Attachment”at any age.

One essential way to do this is by making sense of your story. According to Dr. Dan Siegel, attachment research demonstrates that “the best predictor of a child’s security of attachment is not what happened to his parents as children, but rather how his parents made sense of those childhood experiences.” The key to “making sense” of your life experiences is to write a coherent narrative, which helps you understand how your childhood experiences are still affecting you in your life today. In PsychAlive’s online course with Drs. Dan Siegel and Lisa Firestone, they walk you through the process of creating a coherent narrative to help you to build healthier, more secure attachments and strengthen your own personal sense of emotional resilience. When you create a coherent narrative, you actually rewire your brain to cultivate more security within yourself and your relationships.

In a previous article, I noted that being involved in a long-term relationship with someone who has a secure attachment style is one pathway toward change. The other way is through therapy; the therapeutic alliance or relationship offers a safe haven in which to explore our attachment history and gain a new perspective on ourselves, others and relationships in general.

To learn more about how to write a coherent narrative and develop an earned secure attachment, join Dr. Lisa Firestone and Dr. Daniel Siegel for the online course “Making Sense of Your Life: Understanding Your Past to Liberate Your Present and Empower Your Future.”

Are Your Past Relationships Haunting Your Current Marriage | Marriage.com

Source: Are Your Past Relationships Haunting Your Current Marriage | Marriage.com

Are Your Past Relationships Haunting Your Current Marriage?

Is it possible that the unfaithful partner from high school is impacting my ability to trust my spouse decades later? Do my relationships with my parents impact my choice of partner? Is my avoidance of intimacy related to that distant or critical ex-significant other? Or can the relationship which abruptly ended years ago contribute to my fear of my spouse abandoning me today?

The short answer is yes. When we experience painful relationships in the past and are unable to find internal peace or resolution, it is possible that the imprint will influence our relationships years later – and often in unconscious ways. This is especially true for anyone who has experienced relational trauma.

The projection of the past into the present

There are many ways to conceptualize this psychological and social phenomenon which involves the projection of the past into the present. It is as if the unresolved pain of the past is asking to be resolved by presenting in our current relationships where we can see it again. Unfortunately this also lends itself, in many cases, to the reenactment of unhealthy relationships patterns. Most of us have listened as a frustrated friend exclaimed “why do I keep dating the same type of men/women?” An unresolved past does have the power to repeat itself.

Do you react appropriately to emotionally reactive incidents?

Because projection often happens at an unconscious level, it will require self-awareness and a willingness to examine self to discover the answers to the posed questions above. A good starting place is to review your most emotionally reactive experiences in your relationship. Consider whether or not your reaction was appropriate in the context of the event. Ask a non-biased friend if they judge the size of your reaction to be balanced to the size of the incident. Get curious when you notice strong emotional reactions in relationship to your partner. Am I responding to the current situation or is it possible that I am responding to a situation from the past? Am I really responding to my partner or am I speaking to someone else from my past?

New healthy relationships can offer emotional repair

The past does have the power, if we allow it, to ruin our current marriages or prevent our relationships from continuing to evolve and grow. And, at the same time, our current relationships have the opportunity to provide us with corrective emotional experiences which contain the power to heal the unresolved parts of self. Consider the case of a woman who develops a sense of self-rejection after dating someone who constantly criticizes her body. This woman is likely to project these feelings of rejection into a later partner, expecting them to also reject her body. But if she is proven wrong by a partner who accepts and celebrates her figure, just as it is, she might experience an emotional repair.

There are many ways of coming to terms with the relational pain of the past which will ultimately allow us to be more present with our partner today. If you think that unresolved pain from your past might be negatively impacting your marriage, consider seeking help from a trained professional.

What Everybody Ought to Know About Aspergers and Marriage

Young love.  It’s so beautiful, so wonderful, it takes your breath away.

Like any other romantic couple, two adults who are in love in an Asperger’s relationship are on cloud nine when they first meet.

Reality sinks in once the emotional high wears off, and if there are not some tools for navigating the journey, Aspie-NT couples may find themselves at-risk.

There are many successful Aspie-Aspie marriages and Aspie-NT marriages.  For the purposes of this article, I am going to cover the subject of Aspie-NT (one adult with Asperger’s and one adult who is Neurotypical).

For every successful Aspie-NT committed relationship, there are many others who are struggling, teetering, and on the brink of failing.

Solutions for Aspeger’s Committed Relationships

I am borrowing the ideas for this article from Solutions for Adults with Asperger Syndrome (2005), and specifically to psychologist Dr. Juanita P. Lovett’s chapter on How Marriage is Affected by AS (Aspergers Syndrome).

Building Understanding Between AS and NT Worlds

Here are some autism spectrum facts about individuals with Aspergers that it’s important for NT partners to understand:

  • An individual with AS has challenges understanding or predicting the consequences of his/her behavior on others.  Therefore, the Aspergers partner may see the NT partner as irrational or illogical.
  • NT women especially tend to want their partners to understand them and their feelings.  However, they need to realize that this is something they may not be able to get from their AS partner.  Some change may be possible, but the NT partner may need to adjust his/her expectation, and find other places for support without being unrealistic about what they expect from their AS partner.
  • AS men in particular may find conflict almost intolerable.  They may hear a difference of opinion, or an attempt to explain a different perspecitve about a situation, as conflict or a criticism of who they are.
  • AS individuals, because they have a hard time separating boundaries at times, may hear criticism of a family member (e.g. their father, mother, or a sibling) as a criticism of them, and they likely will not be willing to tolerate it.
  • The most basic elements of speaking and hearing are the most important issues that AS-NT couples may have.  AS adults often may have a very difficult time hearing negative emotions expressed by their partner.  They may refuse to communicate, but then end up lashing out in a very hurtful way later on.
Steps to Help Make An AS-NT Relationship Work

Step 1: The diagnosis of AS must be made and accepted by the AS partner.

One of the best things that can happen is for the couple to seek help from a therapist or marriage coach who understands the unique differences between Asperger’s Syndrome individuals and NT individuals.  If the therapist does not understand the unique differences, all that will happen is the couple going back and forth, arguing for their own view of the situation.  And the AS person will have a hard time understanding his/her impact on the NT individual.

Step 2: Both partners need to have an in-depth undersanding of AS and how marital relationships are affected.

There are a couple of resources I want to share with you, so that you and/or your partner can gain better understanding for each other’s world.

First, I highly recommend joining WrongPlanet, the free online community started by a young college student, Alex Plank.  (I think he’s graduated by now).  There are multiple topic areas, including in depth discussions for adults with Aspergers, dating, and social skills, but one thread I particularly appreciate is what’s called the AS-NT Open Hotline.  In that thread, NT’s and Aspie’s can both post questions they have about different points of view from the AS side of things, and from the NT side of things.

Second, in doing some research for this article, I found a site called Aspires: Climbing the Mountain Together.

Here’s a quote from the site:

 ASPIRES is an on-line resource for spouses and family members of adults diagnosed or suspected to be on the autistic spectrum.  Our approach to one another and towards our “significant others” is directed towards solving problems in our relationship with a spectrum-sitting spouse.

ASPIRES is an e-mail subscription list for individuals with AS, and those who have a parent, spouse, or child with AS.  We share our family and relational experiences, resources and survival tips as well as offer encouragement and hope.  Through sharing, we hope to lighten one another’s burdens and find positive solutions to many of the troubling challenges that characterize our relationships and bridge the communication gap that exists in everyday life.

Step 3: Both partners must make a serious commitment to making the relationship work.

However, the individual with NT is going to have to understand that it will feel to them that they are the party making more accommodations.  Even if the individual with AS accepts and understands their diagnosis, the truth is that your brains are wired differently.  Interpreting non-verbal signals, the core of all communication, for example, is something that the AS individual will always have a lot of difficulty doing.

As an NT individual, you will need to shift from “what is wrong” about your partner and the relationship, to “what is right.”  You will need to build on the strengths, and value the differences, versus seeing your partner as insensitive and uncaring.

Final suggestions for Improving an AS-NT Marriage:

  • For the NT, shift your focus from what you are not getting from your AS partner to see and value the strengths he or she brings to the relationship.
  • For the AS person, reconsider your perception of your partner and of yourself.  Consider that, because of the differences in the way your brain works, a lot of what your partner is telling you about your role in problems is probably right.
  • For both NT’s and AS’s, try to listen to one another in a non-defensive way.  Ask for clarification of things you don’t understand in a simple, respectful, and low key way.
  • Become students of each other’s culture. Pretend that you are learning a new language from a new country.  If you are an AS, remember that, in many ways, your partner is from another planet, the NT planet.  And if you are an NT, remember that your AS partner is from the AS planet.  Celebrate the diversity and the differences.

I realize that I have only scratched the surface here.  I welcome your comments, experiences, critiques, and suggestions.  But I hope that you will find some beginning tips and tools to help you celebrate and thrive in your marriage.

Conflict and the Thinker/Feeler Struggle in Relationships

The thinking/feeling dichotomy was first connected to individual differences in psychological types (personalities) by Carl Jung. It is used in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator’s personality typology and addresses natural differences in how individuals make decisions and experience emotions.

It is also the cause of a great deal of tension and conflict for couples that naturally differ on this dichotomy.

The terms used for descriptive purposes here can be misleading. For instance, someone with a feeling response orientation is not inherently more able to feel or less able to think than someone with a thinking response orientation; and someone with a thinking orientation is not inherently more able to think or less able to feel than someone with a feeling orientation (Reinhold, 2007).

These terms are used to address fundamental differences in the perceptual and experiential processes automatically triggered when thinking- and feeling-response-oriented individuals are sorting out and expressing what they are thinking and feeling. (Please note that this interpretation differs significantly from those of Carl Jung and the authors of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.)

Although human beings are aware that people differ in how they come to conclusions and experience and express emotions, few understand that these differences in self-expression are driven by innately different perceptual and experiential frames of reference. Of particular note is a fundamental difference in the experience of emotions when conflicts arise—a difference of such magnitude that role-reversal comprehension is not possible. These differences are a constant in interactions between thinking and feeling individuals, easily confirmed by observation of one’s personal and professional relationships.

Those with thinking response orientation:
  • Process thoughts and experience emotions with an objective, fact-based frame of reference.
  • Base decisions on objective criteria of cause and effect.
  • Automatically seek a logical explanation for what is happening when conflicts arise.
  • Have a self-grounded sense of logical consistency in thought, action, and emotion.
  • Interpret anything expressed or done that does not make logical sense as automatically invalid.

Those with feeling response orientation:

  • Are wired to facilitate harmony in human relationships.
  • Have a natural sensitivity to issues of fairness and inclusion.
  • Are tuned in to the tone of communication. If it is not said nicely, it is not nice.
  • Are susceptible to feeling guilty or bad out of proportion to objective reality when conflicts arise.
  • Have a susceptibility to feeling hurt and rejected when responded to in an emotionally neutral or blunt manner.

Thinking/Feeling Couples

The usual cause of difficulty for couples that differ on this dichotomy comes from a fundamental difference in how they experience and express emotions. The moment harmony is disrupted, most feeling-response-oriented individuals feel bad, as if they have done something wrong. Knowing they have not, in fact, done something wrong does not usually help. They feel bad anyway.

When these feelings are triggered, they may immediately apologize, hoping to restore harmony and neutralize the guilt they are experiencing, or they may get upset with their partner for doing something that caused them to feel that way. Neither of these responses makes much sense to a thinking-response-oriented individual.

Why would a person feel guilty and bad simply because someone disagreed with them; much less suggest that the other is at fault for causing them to feel that way? From the thinking-oriented perspective these responses do not make logical sense and are therefore invalid.

Choice is not an option here. Very much like the degree to which someone is left-handed, right-handed, or ambidextrous, the manner in which feeling- and thinking-oriented individuals experience and express thoughts and feelings is natural and normal—just different.

The Challenge in Communication

In essence, two naturally disparate perceptual frames of reference for making sense out of the same reality have been activated. The feeling partner seeks validation for how they are feeling about the situation, while the thinking partner seeks validation for why they think their partner’s feelings do not make logical sense. Neither can provide a response that meets the other’s criterion for being heard.

Without intention or awareness, the explanations that each provide for justifying their own natural and normal responses de facto invalidate the natural and normal responses of their partner. Issues of little import can trigger emotionally charged exchanges that leave both parties psychologically battered, blaming each other for the damage done, while the issues themselves remain unresolved. The conflict resolution challenge is significantly magnified when the couple also differs on the extroversion-introversion dichotomy.

Conflict Resolution Approach

I have been using a natural differences questionnaire based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator with all couples and families since 2000. Information on natural differences has proven to be consistently accurate.

In fact, the accuracy of the information above is such that most thinking-response-oriented partners have been able to accept its validity. Feeling-response-oriented partners have usually been more ambivalent. Although the information provides concrete validation regarding their emotional sensitivity and reactivity, it does not provide them with much relief from the feelings that get triggered when conflicts arise.

If they accept the premise that natural and normal differences in response orientations are at play, they have to acknowledge that their partner

  1. cannot experientially relate to how they are feeling when conflicts arise and, therefore,
  2. is not at fault for the feelings their comments can trigger.

The inequity inherent to this difference in experiencing emotion is such that some feeling-response-oriented partners have great difficulty accepting it. Fortunately, once most thinking-oriented partners have a logical explanation for their partner’s feel-based responses, they have been able to soften their responses in general and become more considerate and accommodating when conflicts arise. This change has helped many feeling partners contain the resentment they automatically experience during conflict.

The intensity of the explosive exchanges that some thinking/feeling couples are dealing with is such that adherence to a timeout rule is an absolute necessity if they hope to replace their destructive conflict resolution process with a healthier one. It is understandable why some feeling-response-oriented partners have a hard time adhering to this time out rule. After all, extroverted/feeling-oriented individuals have a particularly difficult time letting go before their partner has acknowledged the validity of how they are feeling.

The fact remains that once an issue has become emotionally charged and abusive, the possibility of a meaningful resolution no longer exists. Partners with strong extroversion, intuition, and feeling-response orientations may have a particularly difficult time accommodating this timeout rule.

The level of psychic distress (disruption of self) that some experience is so extreme that efforts by their partner to withdraw may trigger desperate, even violent behaviors to prevent their partner’s exit before a resettling response has been provided. However, a way must be found to contain these emotions if they hope to replace their destructive process with a healthier one.

Consequently, depending on the perceived volatility of the conflicted exchange, the person calling for a timeout may:

  1. Agree to a future time to reconvene and try again, before their next counseling appointment.
  2. Wait until their next counseling session to address the issue.
  3. Contact the counselor to see if an earlier date can be scheduled to meet.

The timeout is almost always called for by the thinking partner and resented by the feeling partner.

Tip for thinkers: Seek to understand and accommodate your partner’s areas of sensitivity rather than attempt to help them understand why they should not feel that way.

Tip for feelers: Use logic-based constructs when explaining why they are upset. Example: “Even though you do not understand why I get upset when you say that, the fact remains that every time you say that I get upset. Given the predictability of my response, why do you keep saying that?”

Once most couples realize that natural differences are at play, and that neither is intentionally responding the way they do in order to get his or her own way, they are able to accommodate and compromise in areas that had not been possible before.

Reference:
Reinold, Ross. (21 March, 2007). E-mail correspondence.

 

Coercive control: How can you tell whether your partner is emotionally abusive?

Source: Coercive control: How can you tell whether your partner is emotionally abusive?

There is a growing awareness around the signs of coercive control – the emotional and psychological abuse of a partner, through threats and restrictions, as well as physical violence. This raised profile is thanks, in part, to last year’s storyline in The Archers – involving Helen Titchener and her emotionally abusive husband Rob.

The BBC Radio 4 soap was following a new law on coercive control, which was introduced at the end of 2015,  after a Home Office consultation – and can carry a jail term of up to five years.

The law – which has been praised by women’s charities – can help victims achieve justice and will hopefully instigate cultural change around this lesser-known side of domestic abuse. Although it was only used five times between December 2015 and March 2016, there are now signs that emotionally abusive behaviour is being recognised and taken seriously. This week, it emerged that a police officer who banned girlfriends from talking to men, wearing red nail polish or accepting Tesco deliveries if he was not at home has been kicked off the force.

PC Wayne Hodge, 38,  monitored two girlfriends’ movements and became jealous if he saw them around other men. He also used police systems to check-up on them, while on duty. A disciplinary panel found he had breached standards of honesty and integrity, authority respect and courtesy, and discreditable conduct, saying  they were satisfied “he was behaving in a controlling and coercive manner.”

It  raises a number of questions for people in unhappy relationships, who might start to wonder whether their partner’s behaviour falls under emotional abuse. That’s why we asked Polly Neate, former chief executive of national domestic violence charity Women’s Aid, to explain what constitutes coercive control – and where the line falls in any relationship.

1) It’s more than just one argument

Emotional abuse happens over a sustained period of time, where the perpetrator repeatedly controls their victim.

“From our point of view, when we are talking about domestic violence it’s not the case that one argument crosses the line and it becomes an abusive relationship,” explains Polly Neate. “It’s a pattern in the relationship, where one partner is controlling and there’s an ongoing sense of fear.”

2) An abuser wants to scare their victim

“With domestic violence, (usually male) partners behave in a way that’s designed to intimidate, frighten or coerce their victim’s behaviour,” says Neate.

When a victim is frightened of their partner and treads on eggshells out of fear of their reaction, that’s a problem.

[It’s abuse] if you feel frightened of your partner and you’re worrying about the consequences of what externally might be relatively minor things. If he gets angry at the slightest thing. If you have to do every thing his way. If you’re worried and feel like your behaviour will ‘set him off’.”

3) The small things count

Neate gives me one example, where a man told his partner that she had to wrap cheese in a particular way before putting it in the fridge. If she did it wrong, he would scream and shout at her.

 “We all have funny little things like that. But the point is she was frightened of his response,” she explains. “He didn’t hit her, but she knew he would see it as a symbol that she didn’t love him and she was trying to wind him up. It seems like a minor thing to you – but it has a big impact to them.”

4) A one-way street

In a healthy relationship, equality is present. If one person has particular needs, they accept that their partner will also have their own needs.

But an abuser will not think about their partner, and generally puts themselves first. “It doesn’t go the other way,” says Neate. “There’s no consideration that you’re upset.

“Perpetrators of domestic violence do it because they feel entitled to behave that way. They think their partner is there to meet to their needs and they’re entitled to take whatever they want.”

5) Nothing ever happened

Gas lighting’ is when someone exhibits abusive behaviour and then pretends it didn’t happen – or even switches blame on to the victim. It’s also common among psychological abusers.

“It can be very confusing,” says Neate. “It can cause serious problems when a woman starts to doubt herself. That’s very difficult to get your head around as a survivor. It takes a woman a long time to recognise that the nice behaviour and abusive behaviour are both a conscious decision on the behalf of the perpetrator.”

 6)  Unhappiness doesn’t matter

In a healthy relationship, if one person tells their partner just how unhappy they are with their behaviour, they may be upset, annoyed or both. But they will eventually get over it. Neate explains that an abuser will not react that way.

“A perpetrator is unwilling ever to listen to why you’re unhappy and will often minimise what has happened. If they’re not willing to do any work towards your relationship that would be really concerning, as would being too scared to talk about it in the first place.

“All of us in relationships mess up sometimes and don’t behave appropriately. If you’re frightened and worried and feel like you have to give up on the things that are important to you in order to make your partner OK, and to avoid his bad behaviour, that’s where the line is.”

7) Controlling in many ways

Neate explains that control is a significant factor in psychological abuse, and a perpetrator can exact it in a number of ways, such as not letting their partner go out or visit friends and family.

It can also be financial, with a perpetrator controlling their victim’s money, or it can be a case of the abuser not wanting to ever socialise. Control can also extend to the online realm – with tracking software used on smartphones or email and social media accounts hacked.

8) Personal attacks

There doesn’t have to be any physical violence for someone to be guilty of domestic abuse. It’s not just about bruises. Often it can simply involve words, where a perpetrator might make comments designed to emotionally manipulate his victim.

Neate says: “[It’s abuse] if he or she puts you down and tells you you’re stupid and unattractive, that no one else will love you. Even if it seems to be done in a kind way, it’s still emotional abuse.”

‘I was terrified of my husband’

One woman shares her experience of being emotionally abused by her husband soon after they married and had a child together:

“I married an abusive man. We fell in love, bought a house together, got married and had a baby – all very quickly. It was very romantic to begin with – or at least, it seemed that way.

His friends warned me of his bad temper. However, I never witnessed it, and he was never aggressive towards me until we had been together a year. Then he became verbally abusive, shouting at me in my face.

After our daughter was born, he became almost entirely intolerant of me. He did not want me to breastfeed, he refused to let me join in activities with other friends, and any baby equipment was always dismissed as a waste of money. Anything I did buy was either chosen by him, or had to be very cheap.

He gradually reduced my self-esteem by making extra work for me, refusing to help and watching me struggle, criticising me and my care of our child. If I resisted his behaviour, he would become consumed with rage and he would throw things. Once, he threw a candle in a glass pot and it smashed all over the kitchen. As time went on, the attacks became more unpredictable. I would try and leave the house, sometimes late at night, taking the baby from her cot – at which point he would threaten to burn the house down.

He began monitoring my every move. I became very scared of him and the way he was presenting so perfectly to others. To others, he was charming and normal and a ‘hero’ for working so hard for us and being such a good father.

Things continued to get worse and I temporarily separated from him – although I later felt guilty and went back to him. He was threatening suicide and saying he could not live without me. I was always making excuses for him – that he worked very hard for us, and that the baby had put a strain on our relationship. I attempted to get another job but he would dissuade me, telling me the best place was for me to be at home. 

Increasingly my family were not allowed to come to our house and visit us and I made the excuse that he was stressed from his job. Eventually, after yet another aggressive episode in our local town centre where he stood up close to me, threatening me for wanting to go into a different shop to him, I decided to leave him.”

 

 

The Rise of Dating-App Fatigue – The Atlantic

Services like Tinder and Hinge are no longer shiny new toys, and some users are starting to find them more frustrating than fun.

Source: The Rise of Dating-App Fatigue – The Atlantic

“Apocalypse” seems like a bit much. I thought that last fall when Vanity Fair titled Nancy Jo Sales’s article on dating apps “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse’” and I thought it again this month when Hinge, another dating app, advertised its relaunch with a site called “thedatingapocalypse.com,” borrowing the phrase from Sales’s article, which apparently caused the company shame and was partially responsible for their effort to become, as they put it, a “relationship app.”Despite the difficulties of modern dating, if there is an imminent apocalypse, I believe it will be spurred by something else. I don’t believe technology has distracted us from real human connection. I don’t believe hookup culture has infected our brains and turned us into soulless sex-hungry swipe monsters. And yet. It doesn’t do to pretend that dating in the app era hasn’t changed.

The gay dating app Grindr launched in 2009. Tinder arrived in 2012, and nipping at its heels came other imitators and twists on the format, like Hinge (connects you with friends of friends), Bumble (women have to message first), and others. Older online dating sites like OKCupid now have apps as well. In 2016, dating apps are old news, just an increasingly normal way to look for love and sex. The question is not if they work, because they obviously can, but how well do they work? Are they effective and enjoyable to use? Are people able to use them to get what they want? Of course, results can vary depending on what it is people want—to hook up or have casual sex, to date casually, or to date as a way of actively looking for a relationship.

“I have had lots of luck hooking up, so if that’s the criteria I would say it’s certainly served its purpose,” says Brian, a 44-year-old gay man who works in fashion retail in New York City. “I have not had luck with dating or finding relationships.”“I think the way I’ve used it has made it a pretty good experience for the most part,” says Will Owen, a 24-year-old gay man who works at a marketing agency in New York City. “I haven’t been looking for a serious relationship in my early 20s. It’s great to just talk to people and meet up with people.”

“I have a boyfriend right now whom I met on Tinder,” says Frannie Steinlage, a 34-year-old straight woman who is a health-care consultant in Denver. But “it really is sifting through a lot of crap to be able to find somebody.”

Sales’s article focused heavily on the negative effects of easy, on-demand sex that hookup culture prizes and dating apps readily provide. And while no one is denying the existence of fuckboys, I hear far more complaints from people who are trying to find relationships, or looking to casually date, who just find that it’s not working, or that it’s much harder than they expected.

“I think the whole selling point with dating apps is ‘Oh, it’s so easy to find someone,’ and now that I’ve tried it, I’ve realized that’s actually not the case at all,” says my friend Ashley Fetters, a 26-year-old straight woman who is an editor at GQ in New York City.

The easiest way to meet people turns out to be a really labor-intensive and uncertain way of getting relationships. While the possibilities seem exciting at first, the effort, attention, patience, and resilience it requires can leave people frustrated and exhausted.“It only has to work once, theoretically,” says Elizabeth Hyde, a 26-year-old bisexual law student in Indianapolis. Hyde has been using dating apps and sites on and off for six years. “But on the other hand, Tinder just doesn’t feel efficient. I’m pretty frustrated and annoyed with it because it feels like you have to put in a lot of swiping to get like one good date.”

I have a theory that this exhaustion is making dating apps worse at performing their function. When the apps were new, people were excited, and actively using them. Swiping “yes” on someone didn’t inspire the same excited queasiness that asking someone out in person does, but there was a fraction of that feeling when a match or a message popped up. Each person felt like a real possibility, rather than an abstraction.

The first Tinder date I ever went on, in 2014, became a six-month relationship. After that, my luck went downhill. In late 2014 and early 2015, I went on a handful of decent dates, some that led to more dates, some that didn’t—which is about what I feel it’s reasonable to expect from dating services. But in the past year or so, I’ve felt the gears slowly winding down, like a toy on the dregs of its batteries. I feel less motivated to message people, I get fewer messages from others than I used to, and the exchanges I do have tend to fizzle out before they become dates. The whole endeavor seems tired.

“I’m going to project a really bleak theory on you,” Fetters says. “What if everyone who was going to find a happy relationship on a dating app already did? Maybe everyone who’s on Tinder now are like the last people at the party trying to go home with someone.”Now that the shine of novelty has worn off these apps, they aren’t fun or exciting anymore. They’ve become a normalized part of dating. There’s a sense that if you’re single, and you don’t want to be, you need to do something to change that. If you just sit on your butt and wait to see if life delivers you love, then you have no right to complain.

“Other than trying to go to a ton of community events, or hanging out at bars—I’m not really big on bars—I don’t feel like there’s other stuff to necessarily do to meet people,” Hyde says. “So it’s almost like the only recourse other than just sort of sitting around waiting for luck to strike is dating apps.”

But then, if you get tired of the apps, or have a bad experience on them, it creates this ambivalence—should you stop doing this thing that makes you unhappy or keep trying in the hopes it might yield something someday? This tension may lead to people walking a middle path—lingering on the apps while not actively using them much. I can feel myself half-assing it sometimes, for just this reason.

Larry Lawal, a 27-year-old straight male software developer in Atlanta, says he used to meet up with women from the apps for dinner or drinks several times a month, but now, “I don’t know, something happened [since] the earlier days,” he says. “I kinda use it now just for entertainment when I’m bored or standing in lines. I go in with zero expectations. I noticed a huge shift in my intentions.”

Lawal remembers the exact moment it switched for him. At the end of 2014, he took a road trip with his friend from Birmingham, Alabama to St. Petersburg, Florida to go to a college bowl game. “On the way down there, I spent a lot of time on Tinder,” he says. “Every city or every stop the entire way, I would just swipe.” He had no intention of meeting up with these people, since he and his friend were literally just passing through. And he realized, he says, that “the idea of being one swipe away from a potential mate kind of lowers the meaning of potential interaction.”

Hinge, originally, was a swiping app very similar to Tinder except that it only offered you people who were connected to you through Facebook friends. But the company’s own research, combined with the Vanity Fair article convinced the CEO, Justin McLeod, that they needed to change. (According to Business Insider, the app was also “bleeding users” and had “plummeted to a 1.5 star rating,” which could have had something to do with it.)  In advance of their relaunch, they publicized some of their own damning statistics on thedatingapocalypse.com. “81 percent of Hinge users have never found a long-term relationship on any swiping app”; “54 percent of singles on Hinge report feeling lonely after swiping on swiping apps”; “Only 1 in 500 swipes on Hinge turn into phone numbers exchanged.”

McLeod has noticed the same waning of enthusiasm that I have. “We have people in for focus groups all the time, and we do surveys, and since probably like 2014, it seemed like there was this sort of declining satisfaction over time in these services,” he says. “And I think it’s really hit a low point.”

Whenever using a technology makes people unhappy, the question is always: Is it the technology’s fault, or is it ours? Is Twitter terrible, or is it just a platform terrible people have taken advantage of? Are dating apps exhausting because of some fundamental problem with the apps, or just because dating is always frustrating and disappointing?“The process of dating inherently sucks,” says Holly Wood, a PhD candidate at Harvard University who’s doing her dissertation on modern dating. “I literally am trying to call my dissertation ‘Why Dating Sucks,’ because I want to explain that. But I can’t, because they won’t let me.”

Moira Weigel is a historian and author of the recent book Labor of Love, in which she chronicles how dating has always been difficult, and always been in flux. But there is something “historically new” about our current era, she says. “Dating has always been work,” she says. “But what’s ironic is that more of the work now is not actually around the interaction that you have with a person, it’s around the selection process, and the process of self-presentation. That does feel different than before.”

Once you meet someone in person, the app is not really involved in how that interaction goes anymore. So if there is a fundamental problem with dating apps that burns people out and keeps them from connecting, it must be found somewhere in the selection process.

Hinge seems to have identified the problem as one of design. Without the soulless swiping, people could focus on quality instead of quantity, or so the story goes. On the new Hinge, which launched on October 11, your profile is a vertical scroll of photos interspersed with questions you’ve answered, like “What are you listening to?” and “What are your simple pleasures?” To get another person’s attention, you can “like” or comment on one of their photos or answers. Your home screen will show all the people who’ve interacted with your profile, and you can choose to connect with them or not. If you do, you then move to the sort of text-messaging interface that all dating-app users are duly familiar with.

Chelsea Beck  

When the company beta-tested this model, “we found that this leads first of all to more people connecting,” McLeod says. “But more importantly, when there was a connection, five times as many turned into two-way conversations, and we actually saw seven times the number of phone numbers exchanged relative to the number of connections. People are more selective with this model. It takes a little bit more brainpower to actually show interest in someone, rather than just flicking your thumb to the right.” (In the few days I’ve been using this app so far, men have mostly just “liked” my photos in order to indicate interest, which I’d argue is not any more effortful than swiping.)

The new Hinge will also cost money—$7 a month, though a three-month free trial is currently available. McLeod believes this will make it so that only people who are serious about finding someone will use the app. Whether many people will be willing to pay for it remains to be seen.“I really wouldn’t,” Hyde says, noting that Hinge will cost around the same as Netflix, “and Netflix brings me much more joy.”

“The thing with design is, at risk of belaboring the obvious, how all of these apps make money is by keeping people on the app,” Weigel says. “Yes, there’s better and worse design, but there is ultimately this conflict of interest between the user of the app and the designer of the app.”

For this story I’ve spoken with people who’ve used all manner of dating apps and sites, with varied designs. And the majority of them expressed some level of frustration with the experience, regardless of which particular products they used.

I don’t think whatever the problem is can be solved by design. Let’s move on.

It’s possible dating app users are suffering from the oft-discussed paradox of choice. This is the idea that having more choices, while it may seem good… is actually bad. In the face of too many options, people freeze  up. They can’t decide which of the 30 burgers on the menu they want to eat, and they can’t decide which slab of meat on Tinder they want to date. And when they do decide, they tend to be less satisfied with their choices, just thinking about all the sandwiches and girlfriends they could have had instead.

 The paralysis is real: According to a 2016 study of an unnamed dating app, 49 percent of people who message a match never receive a response. That’s in cases where someone messages at all. Sometimes, Hyde says, “You match with like 20 people and nobody ever says anything.”
“There’s an illusion of plentifulness,” as Fetters put it. “It makes it look like the world is full of more single, eager people than it probably is.”Just knowing that the apps exist, even if you don’t use them, creates the sense that there’s an ocean of easily-accessible singles that you can dip a ladle into whenever you want.

“It does raise this question of: ‘What was the app delivering all along?’” Weigel says. “And I think there’s a good argument to be made that the most important thing it delivers is not a relationship, but a certain sensation that there is possibility. And that’s almost more important.”

Whether someone has had luck with dating apps or not, there’s always the chance that they could. Perhaps the apps’ actual function is less important than what they signify as a totem: A pocket full of maybe that you can carry around to ward off despair. But the sense of infinite possibility online has real-world effects.

For example, Brian says that, while gay dating apps like Grindr have given gay men a safer and easier way to meet, it seems like gay bars have taken a hit as a result. “I remember when I first came out, the only way you could meet another gay man was to go to some kind of a gay organization or to go to a gay bar,” he says. “And gay bars back in the day used to be thriving, they were the place to be and meet people and have a good time. Now, when you go out to the gay bars, people hardly ever talk to each other. They’ll go out with their friends, and stick with their friends.”

The existence of the apps disincentivizes people from going for more high-stakes romantic opportunities. If, for example, you have feelings for a friend, but you’re not sure they feel the same, rather than take that risk, you might just look for someone on the apps instead. Heck, for that matter, you might not ask someone out in a bar, because the apps just feel easier. It’s so low-stakes. If doesn’t work out, well, it was only a stranger. You didn’t have to make a friendship awkward, or embarrass yourself by asking someone out in person.

 “I couldn’t tell you how many times this happens to me,” Fetters says. “I’ll have a great conversation with a guy at a party or a bar, and [we’ll get to a point where] now would be the natural moment for him to ask for my number, or for someone to be like ‘Hey, let’s get together.’ I know the contours of these things, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been like, ‘Um, okay, so I’ll see you around.’”
“Think about what it would feel like to meet someone in a bar and hit it off with them without the backdrop of ‘Oh, but I could also just go on Tinder,’” she continues. “It would feel like a lot more precious of an opportunity.”

Perhaps the problem is just that no one knows what they’re doing. Apps and online dating sites “don’t instruct people on how to date, they only offer a means of communicating,” Wood says. In the absence of clear norms, people just have to wing it. Often there’s no way to know exactly what someone is looking for, unless they say so explicitly.

“But right now, people feel like they can’t tell people that,” Wood says. “They feel they’ll be punished, for some reason. Men who want casual sex feel like they’ll be punished by women because [they think] women don’t want to date guys for casual sex. But for women who are long-term relationship-oriented, they can’t put that in their profile because they think that’s going to scare men away. People don’t feel like they can be authentic at all about what they want, because they’ll be criticized for it, or discriminated against. Which does not bode well for a process that requires radical authenticity.”

This is how “chill” becomes the default setting for dating. Chill, that laissez-faire stance of being open to “seeing where things go,” but not actually desiring that things go any certain way. “Chill asks us to remove the language of courtship and desire lest we appear invested somehow in other human beings,” as Alana Massey put it in her magnificent 2015 screed against the non-emotion. “It is a game of chicken where the first person to confess their frustration or confusion loses.”Weigel thinks this could be a result of some residual shame or embarrassment about being on the apps in the first place, about being willing to admit to others that you’re looking for something, even if you won’t say what it is. “I think it fosters this over-compensatory coldness,” she says.

So that’s exhausting. And then, of course, there’s the harassment. Most people I spoke with reported getting some kind of rude or harassing messages, some more severe than others.

“I get one message pretty often,” Lawal says. “I’m an African-American person, and there’s a stereotype that black guys are well-endowed. There are some matches that immediately after the ice is broken ask me [about that].”

“There’s a ton of men out there who treat you like you’re just basically a walking orifice,” Steinlage says. “Once you’re matched with somebody, the rules go out the window.”

The harassment is of course the fault of the people doing the harassing. But an environment with few rules or standard social scripts probably doesn’t help. The apps show people their options, connect them, and then the rest is up to them, for better or worse.

 “It’s not the app’s fault that once you go on a date you’re like ‘Ugh,’” says David Ashby, a 28-year-old straight man who works for a tech startup in New York City. “I think it’s just people. It turns out, humans are hard.”

Humans are hard. So dating is hard. And a common complaint about dating, app-facilitated or otherwise, is that people are just too busy to deal with it. Because it’s work, it takes time. Time that people either don’t have, or don’t want to waste on something that might not work out.

“I think a lot of it is the 24/7 work culture and the obsession with productivity [in the U.S.],” Weigel says. “There’s this way in which people are more fearful of wasting time than they used to be. I think it feels historically new. There’s this sense of time being scarce. I think it’s tied to this fantasy that apps promise of ‘Oh we’ll deliver this to you very efficiently. So you won’t have to waste time.’”

Dating sites and apps promise to save you time. An actual date still takes pretty much the same amount of time that it always has, so where the apps cut corners is in the lead-up.

A Tinder spokesperson told me in an email that while the app doesn’t lessen the time it takes to build a relationship, it has “made the first step super easy—we get you in front of someone with an efficiency and ease that you couldn’t before.”

But getting as many people in front of your eyeballs as fast as possible doesn’t end up saving time at all. “I have women saying that they spend 10 to 15 hours a week online dating, because that’s how much work goes into producing one date,” Wood says.

 So if there’s a fundamental problem with dating apps, one baked into their very nature, it is this: They facilitate our culture’s worst impulses for efficiency in the arena where we most need to resist those impulses.  Research has shown that people who you aren’t necessarily attracted to at first sight, can become attractive to you over time, as you get to know them better. Evaluating someone’s fitness as a partner within the span of a single date—or a single swipe—eliminates this possibility.

“I dated somebody for six months off Tinder, but I nearly swiped left because his profile picture was iffy,” Hyde says. “But for some reason I swiped right and then he was actually really good to talk to.”

And even if there is an initial attraction, there’s a necessary slowness to building intimacy. Efficient dating is, in many ways, at odds with effective dating.

“I don’t know if there is a real solution, unless we’re going to be paired off by the government,” Steinlage says.

“People all the time use this language of efficiency, and I’m always like, ‘Well efficient for what?’” Weigel says. Dating apps do not seem like an efficient way to produce relationships, at least no more so than traditional dating, and maybe less so, depending on who you ask. They are an efficient way to move through your options.

When you use a resource more efficiently, you ultimately use up more of it. This is a concept that the 19th century economist William Stanley Jevons came up with to talk about coal. The more efficiently coal could be used, the more demand there was for coal, and therefore people just used up more coal more quickly. This can happen with other resources as well—take food for example. As food has become cheaper and more convenient—more efficient to obtain—people have been eating more. On dating apps, the resource is people. You go through them just about as efficiently as possible, as fast as your little thumb can swipe, so you use up more romantic possibilities more quickly.“There’ve been many weeks in my past where I’ve gone out with somebody every night of the week,” Steinlage says. “I really wanted a relationship, and I wasn’t shy about that, but it’s exhausting. The idea of putting yourself out there again and again and again.”

This desire for efficiency plays out outside of the apps as well—if a first date is iffy, people may just not bother with a second—but the apps certainly facilitate it. And not just swiping apps. Reading through profile after profile on OKCupid or the new Hinge amounts to the same thing.

“The whole way these apps are structured, if you think about it,” Weigel says, makes it so “it sort of seems foolish to sink too much time into any one person you get in front of you if it doesn’t seem exactly right.” Because that would be a waste of time. So you end up spending a little effort on a lot of people, and I think this is where the burnout comes from. Because it adds up to feel like you’ve done a lot of work, but you’re still left with nothing.

“When you have however many people you’re actively talking to, it doesn’t even cross your mind that maybe I’m throwing something away a little soon,” Steinlage says. “There’s a whole new currency, and the currency is people. And if you lose one person one day, that’s fine—you have 500 others at your disposal.”

Dating hasn’t become an apocalypse, it’s just become another way modern life can make people feel overworked. When the actual apocalypse eventually comes, perhaps it will be easier to recognize love when it’s looking at us over the rat carcasses we’re roasting on a spit over a trash can fire, when many of our options have been killed off by plagues or zombie hordes, for then no time we’re given will feel like a waste. Until then, there’s always Tinder.

What is Attachment and Why is it Important? | TVO Parents

What is Attachment and Why is it Important? | TVO Parents.

Young children need to have a secure relationship with at least one parent or caregiver in order to develop socially, emotionally, and cognitively. In a nutshell, that is the premise of attachment theory.

This should not be confused with attachment parenting. Attachment parenting is a philosophy born out of attachment theory but it is a parenting style, involving baby wearing and co-sleeping.

Instead, attachment theory focuses on child development and how good early experiences with caregivers help children learn, meet developmental milestones, and become secure, independent people. All parents need to do is give love, attention, and protection.

“We know from the newest science that in fact the early experiences that babies have and the quality of those experiences actually has the potential to change the architecture of the brain,” says Chaya Kulkarni, the director of Infant Mental Health Promotion at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. “This is groundbreaking for this field because it really means that those first two years in a child’s life can influence and impact their long-term development. It literally does influence who they become as an adult.”

What does a secure attachment relationship give to a child?

  • The ability to regulate their emotions, behaviour, and attention
  • A sense of self
  • Curiosity and exploration
  • Cognitive development and language development
  • Social skills
  • The ability to parent in the future

So what does a secure attachment relationship look like? According to child psychologist and attachment expert Sonya Vellett, from the Calgary Urban Project Society, a healthy attachment relationship involves:

  • The parent understanding and accurately interpreting what the child is trying to communicate through cues like crying, babbling, gesturing, or behaviour.
  • The parent providing what the child needs, whether that be safety, security, or supporting the child’s exploration.
  • The parent watching over the child, helping when necessary, and providing comfort and empathy when the child is upset.
  • The caregiver taking over when needed and setting appropriate limits.
  • The caregiver coming back later and fixing “ruptures” in the relationship. For instance, if you were rushed making dinner and didn’t allow your child to help, you should go back later on and acknowledge that maybe you didn’t handle the situation well and you will let them help next time.

A lot of what is listed above sounds pretty intuitive and many parents just do those things naturally. But sometimes it doesn’t come easily for parents. Some babies don’t give clear cues so parents don’t know what they want or misinterpret what they want.

“Temperament can play a role in this as well,” says Kulkarni. “If a parent and a child have different temperaments and can’t find a common or comfortable meeting place, that can play a role. And so in those situations, intuition doesn’t always work because you’re doing what you think is intuitively right and that baby is still crying.”

Things like mental illness, postpartum depression, and addiction can also interfere with the establishment of a good attachment relationship. For an example of how important the parent-baby bond is, and what happens when that connection is broken, watch the Still Face Experiment. This experiment, conducted by Dr. Edward Tronic ofHarvard University, is a dramatic example of how things like parental depression can impact a child’s well-being.

“[The purpose] of the Still Face Experiment is to give us information about what happens to children when they have a caregiver who is suffering from significant depression and is unavailable and unresponsive,” says Vellett. “And to see how quickly that is upsetting for the child, often to the point where the child starts to lose postural control and lose the ability to regulate their internal state. Kids will start hiccupping; spitting up… the impact on them is dramatic.”

Postpartum depression affects up to 20 percent of new moms, and severe depression can cause a rupture in the attachment relationship. But, a father or grandparent can fill in and have a nurturing and responsive relationship with the child.

And if a bond isn’t established at the beginning, it isn’t too late. “I know some parents worry if I don’t get it right in the first year or the first three years, it’s all over,” says Nancy Cohen, Director of Research at the Hincks-Dellcrest Centre in Toronto. “In fact, that’s not the case. Children can benefit from their later experiences. But optimally it’s best for a child to have a good secure attachment relationship from the get-go.”

The following videos will give you more about attachment relationships and tips on bonding with baby

Read all of the tips from our partnership with Infant Mental Health Promotion at SickKids to educate parents about the importance of healthy brain development in the early years of a child’s life.

The secret to desire in a long-term relationship | Video on TED.com

Writer of the book, Mating in Captivity.
Very good talk,
 
    Rory
    *****

Esther Perel: The secret to desire in a long-term relationship | Video on TED.com

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Speakers Esther Perel: Sex therapist

Esther Perel

In her practice and writing, Esther Perel helps loving couples navigate between the comfort of happy relationships and the thrilling uncertainty of sexual attraction.

Why you should listen to her:

Psychotherapist Esther Perel is changing the conversation on what it means to be in loveand have a fulfilling sex life. For the first time in human history, couples aren’t having sex just to have kids; there’s room for sustained desire, for couples to cultivate long-term sexual relationships. But how? Perel, a licensed marriage and family therapist, travels the world to help people answer this question.

For her research Perel works across cultures and is herself fluent in nine languages. She coaches and consults organizations and families, holds a private psychotherapy practice in New York, and speaks regularly on erotic intelligence, trauma, conflict resolution and infidelity. She is the author of Mating in Captivity: Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic.

“Perel’s ideas are … instantly familiar because they resonate deeply. It’s all rather terrifying in its intuitiveness and its pure rightness.”

The Observer (UK)

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Quotes by Esther Perel

  • “The very ingredients that nurture love — mutuality, reciprocity, protection, worry, responsibility for the other — are sometimes the very ingredients that stifle desire.”

    Watch this talk »

  • “What is the relationship between love and desire? How do they relate, and how do they conflict? … Therein lies the mystery of eroticism.”

    Watch this talk »

  • “‘When I look at my partner radiant and confident,’ — [that’s] probably the biggest turn-on across the board.”

    Watch this talk »

Love and Mental Illness | GeekMom | Wired.com

Love and Mental Illness | GeekMom | Wired.com

Reaching the Skies by ThisWolfWalksAlone on deviantART. (CC-BY-3.0)

I haven’t publicly dwelled on my personal life of the past year, but to say it’s been eventful is an understatement. After 14 1/2 years of marriage, last spring my husband and I decided, together, amicably, to separate. Our divorce is now pending. Fast forward to the autumn, and I found love again. I found a Rory.

And here’s where I’ll out myself. In an attempt to meet interesting, geeky people, and other kids for my kids to play with, I joined the SCA. To those not in the know, SCA stands for The Society for Creative Anachronism. Sort of like medieval re-creation, but it feels closer to a living museum type activity. I had known one, count it, one person from the SCA before, when I lived in Colorado. (Hi Karl!) But even with that one data point, I knew I’d find some interesting people that I’d enjoy spending time with. I was right. So right, that now I have a slew of people who would go to the mat for me if anything big ever came up. (And I do seem to be testing that…)

I met Rory on my first day with the SCA. We got along really well, but he was dating someone else at the time, and so I thought nothing more of it. But they eventually broke up, and we quickly got closer. At that point, he filled me in on some important things about him. He is bipolar. He had once tried to commit suicide. And he told me a lot of other details about his background. At that point I wasn’t sure where this relationship was going, or where either one of us wanted it to go. But his openness about everything said a lot.

Very quickly after that we became inseparable. He shared his ups and downs, what it was like for him to have these moods, and enough other glimpses into his mind for me to see his actions in context.

I’ve had enough experience of my own with mental illness to be able to see his condition for what it is, and to not take things personally. I’ve struggled with anxiety all my life, sometimes debilitatingly so, and have had panic attacks upon occasion. I’ve also had at least two bouts with depression. But most of the time I function fairly normally.

But for the past couple of weeks, Rory had been extra low. In retrospect, this might have been a sign of things to come. But starting last weekend, his usually transitory thoughts of suicide settled in for a good long while. Finally, Tuesday afternoon we decided to take him to the hospital. He needed help, and I was exhausted from lack of sleep.

It was pretty obvious to the people who evaluated him that he needed to be admitted to the mental health facility. I was relieved, because he really needed a complete evaluation, official diagnosis, and a better medication regimen. So after many hours at the emergency room, we went to the mental health facility, and there he resides until they decide he can leave. For the first two days, I had no idea how he was, what he’d been spending his time doing, how they were helping him. Before I left him there, he said he was both excited and terrified. He’d been in there once before, after he tried to commit suicide. But this time was slightly different, because he hadn’t taken any action.

Thursday afternoon I finally heard from him. He wanted to make sure I was coming to visit that night, because he wanted his book, which he was finally allowed to have. Thursday night our visit was a good one, and we caught each other up on the preceding two days. He’s on all new meds, so we’ll see how well those do. I’m still not sure when he will be back with me, but it will likely be next week because of the med changes.

So now the mental illness of the man I love is front and center in my life. This is a new experience for me. If you’d like to follow along on our journey together, visit Rory’s blog, Terminally Intelligent. It started out being only a blog of his words, thoughts, experiences, and poetry, but I’ve written several posts on there now, and it may be evolving into how together as a team we navigate the difficult and continual ebb and flow of mental illness. I am hoping that our struggles and successes are helpful to some of you.

Separation and Divorce: Child Custody, Division of Property, & Common Law Marriage

 

Separation and Divorce: Child Custody, Access, and Parenting Plans  

 When parents separate, they need to arrange how they will share the parenting of their children. If they cannot agree, they may have to go to court. The court must decide based on what is best for the child. In family law, this is called the “best interests” of the child . . .

 

 

When you and your partner separate, you will have to divide your property. Property means anything you own, such as your homes, cars, personal and household items, pensions, bank accounts and any other investments. Property also includes debts. Property rights are totally different for people who are legally married and those who live common law. If you are living common law, you do not have the same property rights as women who are married . . .

 Common Law Marriage             Canadian Divorce Laws     

People living in a common law marriage are not considered married under Canadian law. However, when their relationship ends, many of their rights are the same as for people in a regular marriage. There are also many important differences.

To be considered a common law marriage, the couple must live together a certain period of time. The amount of time varies from province to province, as this is covered by provincial legislation, but is generally two to three years.For instance, in Ontario and New Brunswick, the period is three years. In British Columbia and Nova Scotia, the period is two years. To complicate matters further, Federal legislation often specifies a different period for a relationship to be considered a common law marriage for federal law purposes – normally only one year. Some provinces, such as Ontario, also consider a couple to be in a common law marriage if they have a child together and are living together, regardless of the length of time that they have lived together . . .