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Health and relationships
The quality of your relationship with your partner (and with friends, colleagues and family members) affects both your mental and physical wellbeing. Similarly, how good you feel emotionally and physically can affect how you get on with your partner - perhaps even more than you realise. |[profileDataBundle id=1]| Improving your relationship quality can have a positive effect on your health, affecting related behaviours like exercising and drinking that can, in turn, affect how you get on. Of course, relationships go through ups and downs. But when we are unhappy or frustrated it’s easy to ignore what we know is good for us. Risky behaviours can provide an escape but sometimes we can fall into habits that are bad for both our health and our relationship. The good news is that, by taking stock and taking a good look at our patterns of behaviour, we can start making a few changes and things can start feeling very different. Have a look at the following questions and then share your answers with your partner. This can help you to assess the bigger picture and start changing some of the behaviours that could be affecting your relationship. Overall, how well do you feel on a day-to-day basis? Where would you score your physical health on a scale of one to 10, with ten being best it can be? Do you smoke? If so, how much, and at what times of day? What are your triggers for smoking? How often do you drink? Do you drink to unwind, to be social, or to shut things out? How well do you eat? Do you and your partner eat together – are cooking and eating well important parts of your relationship? Are you over or underweight? How do you feel about your body? How well do you sleep? –What, if anything keeps you awake? Can you see any patterns? Do you exercise regularly? How do you feel after exercising? How often do you have sex? Do you enjoy sex with your partner? Are you currently working? How does your work affect how you feel? If you have a bad day at work, what impact does it have on your home life? How do you know you are overstressed? What are the signs? What makes you feel good physically? What makes you feel good emotionally?   What next? Have a look at your answers. How does the overall picture look? Does it look good or feel a bit overwhelming? Are there any patterns you’d like to change? If you have any habits or recurring behaviours that aren’t serving you, look at the underlying reasons. Take it slowly – recognising the need for change is a crucial first step. Don’t try to change everything at once. If you are a smoker, that’s a good place to start. Consider cutting down, or just keeping a log of when you smoke and how you feel before and after. Start to notice what need you are trying to fulfil by smoking, and whether it’s working for you. If you want to eat better, start by introducing some small changes to your diet. Get a new cookbook or look up some recipes online. Experimenting with new dishes can be fun. Set aside some time to plan and cook a healthy meal with your partner – this one positive shared experience could be the first step towards getting out of a mealtime rut. Poor sleep, drinking too much and work stress are all issues that can contribute to how you get on with your partner, often leading to arguments. It can feel overwhelming to address these issues at once – a good place to start might be taking some regular exercise. It doesn’t matter what, so long as it is something you can enjoy that fits in with your work and family demands. Exercise can also have a positive impact on other areas of your life, releasing natural chemicals that improve your mood and make you feel happier. Adopting a more active lifestyle can improve your mental health, giving you a positive reminder you that the choices you make affect how you feel. Leading a more active life can give you a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life, and help you sleep better. It can improve your self-esteem and confidence, helping you feel more valued, and more attractive. Exercise and physical activity can give you something positive to strive for and commit to. It can help you to stop dwelling on problems and, in time, you may even start to enjoy it!   A word of warning! If this exercise has brought up any issues you find difficult to talk about, you may find it helpful to use some of the communication exercises and articles elsewhere on the site. If you have identified that you or your partner are drinking too much, you may need to seek professional help – looking at the articles on addiction on the site can be a positive first step.
Article | Health
5 min read
How mindfulness may help you
Mindfulness is becoming more and more popular as a way to let go of your stress and ‘find’ yourself in the midst of your daily (and probably very busy!) life. Studies have shown [1] that practicing mindfulness helps promote positive feelings like contentment, self-awareness, empathy and self-control. It can soothe the parts of your brain that produce stress hormones and feed the areas that lift your mood. If you haven’t tried practising mindfulness, it might seem like a strange and complicated thing that you have to go to a class to learn, but there are a number of exercises you can try on your own. Practising mindfulness can even be as simple as sitting still for a few moments and concentrating on your own breathing.  There are lots of mobile apps with guided processes for mindfulness. Apps are a helpful option because you can call on them when you need them most – if you’re the kind of person who never seems to have a free moment, convenience can be everything. Even if you only have time for five or ten minutes, it can still be very beneficial.  It’s worth doing a bit of research to find an app that you enjoy using. The practice of mindfulness becomes more powerful when it becomes a regular habit, so if you don’t like the sound of the person’s voice or what they are saying, you’re less likely to want to listen to the app. Pick one that you feel you can get into!   What the research tells us We all face stressful, difficult and challenging situations, and these can have an impact on every area of our lives. It’s not realistic to expect stressful moments to go away completely. At any given moment in your life, you might find yourself dealing with stress from study, work, friends and family, money problems, and prolonged existential dread about your future and who you want to be. That’s perfectly normal – it’s how you cope with these stresses that makes the real difference. Some people cope by focusing on a problem and finding solutions and strategies to improve the situation. Other people focus on finding ways to feel better about a situation by reinterpreting it, distancing themselves, or even denying or avoiding it. When the people around you have different coping mechanisms to your own, it can be frustrating. Mindfulness can help you with your reaction to stressful events. By mentally preparing your mind and the body, you’ll start to find you can handle conflict better, and that tough situations don’t get on top of you as much as they used to. Feeling more in control can create some space for you to be the best version of yourself, which has the added side effect of making others around you feel more comfortable in your presence. The evidence for this is right here [2]. Mindfulness is geared towards experiencing the present moment, and having a moment-to-moment awareness of the world around you. Being truly present can help you become a more effective problem-solver, a better listener, and a calmer and more focused person in general.  Mindfulness is also great for your mental health. In one study, it was shown to lead to significant improvements in: Stress Depression and anxiety Sleep quality Life satisfaction [3]  So, if you’re feeling stressed or anxious, if you’re having trouble sleeping, or if you just find that life gets on top of you more than you’d like it to, you might find it useful to give mindfulness a try. Search for some mindfulness apps through your browser or phone and have a look at some reviews. Some focus on topics such as health, sleep, or relationships, and many have free versions that allow you to try them out before you commit. Try a few to find the right one for you. Have you tried mindfulness? Did you find that it made a difference? Or are you a little sceptical? Are there any apps or tools that you’d recommend? We’d love to hear your thoughts – so please do leave us a comment, or share your story.  References [1] http://franticworld.com/what-can-mindfulness-do-for-you/ [2] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005789404800285 Carson, J. W., Carson, K. M., Gil, K. M., & Baucom, D. H. (2004). Mindfulness-based relationship enhancement. Behavior therapy, 35(3), 471-494. `` [3] http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/07/16/peds.2013-3164 Dykens, E. M., Fisher, M. H., Taylor, J. L., Lambert, W., & Miodrag, N. (2014). Reducing distress in mothers of children with autism and other disabilities: a randomized trial. Pediatrics, 134(2), e454-e463.
Article | mental health
4 min read
Dealing with stress
During times of changes, or important stages of your life, there is an increased risk of stress. You can’t make stress go away entirely, but you can learn to cope with it better stay healthy through times of change. Talk to someone These days, we are much better at talking about our feelings than in previous generations, but it can still be a difficult conversation to start. Remember that everyone has been through stress at some time in their lives – no matter how alone you feel, there is always someone who can relate to what you’re going through.  We all need a little help from time to time. Talk to a close friend or a trusted family member about what you’re dealing with and how it’s making you feel. You may find they are able to offer practical help but, more often, just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. If you have a good support network of friends or family, lean on them in times of stress. They can sometimes help you find a different perspective on things, so that you can see a path through to solving practical problems in a way that seemed impossible before Sometimes, of course, it isn’t possible to speak to people close to you. They may be involved in the issue, or you may just want to keep things private. In those instances, it can feel easier to seek support from an online community, where you can share your story or ask a question. Sometimes just getting the thoughts out of your head can help you start to see a new perspective on things. Sometimes, the best way forward is to seek professional help. Stress can be just as bad for your health as a physical illness, and deserves the same amount of attention as you would pay to any other injury. If you’re struggling with stress, your GP can offer some tips on where to get further help and may be able to refer you to a specialist.   Stay healthy Regular physical exercise can be a great boost for your mental health, making you more resilient and protecting your self-esteem. When your body is healthy, you are more likely to feel calmer, and you will find it easier to sleep at night and concentrate during the day, and generally feel better. Getting enough exercise can be as easy as taking a half-hour walk every day, so don’t worry if you don’t have the time or motivation to get to the gym. Avoid the temptation to mask your stress with alcohol or other recreational drugs. You will not make the underlying issues go away and you may end up feeling worse as the chemicals in your brain reset themselves after a binge. If you do drink, monitor your intake, or consider taking a break while you get things back on track. There are strong links between what we eat and how we feel. Cook yourself a healthy meal, with plenty of colourful fresh ingredients, and make sure you’re drinking plenty of water.
Article | stress
3 min read
Coping with depression
One in five people will experience a form of depression at some point in their lives [1]. Depression is a prolonged illness, whose symptoms include low mood, a lack of energy, a loss of interest in things you might normally enjoy, feelings of low self-worth, and changes in sleep and appetite [2]. It can be caused by difficult circumstances in your life, but it can sometimes come on seemingly out of nowhere. Some of the symptoms you might notice include: Low mood. Depression is characterised by prolonged bouts of low mood which feel very difficult to break out of. Loss of interest and energy. You may lose interest in the things you usually like doing. This can get in the way of your work, study, and social life. Concentration. Depression can affect your concentration, even to the extent that you may struggle to stay involved in a conversation. Sleep and appetite. You may experience changes in your eating and sleeping patterns. As well as disrupting your regular routines, eating and sleeping poorly can further affect your mood. Low self-worth. You may become more critical of yourself and possibly start lashing out at others too [2]. If you’ve noticed the symptoms of depression and things don’t seem to be getting any better, you should seek help straightaway. Getting support from friends and family is a great start, but seeking professional support is often the best way to cope with depression. Often, the quickest route is through your GP, who can make a diagnosis and referral. There are many forms of mental health support, but most people with depression will undertake some form of talking therapy. This can help you explore the causes and find coping mechanisms to help you move forward. You may also be given exercises to take home. In addition to any treatment you may undertake, there are many things you can do to support your own recovery: Learn about depression. Read up on depression and its symptoms to help you understand more about what you are going through and what you can do about it. You are already learning about depression by reading this article. Set aside blame. Accept that the illness is happening, and try not to blame yourself or anyone else. Remember that depression is treatable and try to focus on your recovery. Notice the signs. Try to make yourself aware of your symptoms and the things that can set off an episode of depression. Get support if things seem to be getting worse. Ask for help with practical problems. When you are depressed, problems can be magnified and may seem insurmountable. People like to help, so give them specific tasks to help with some of the practical problems in your way. Do some exercise. Get some gentle exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the block or a 15-minute session from a trainer on YouTube. Exercising can have the added benefit of helping with sleep problems. Get out of the house. While it might seem easier to avoid social situations, it’s often best to try and turn up to things that you would usually enjoy. Even if you plan just to go out for half an hour, it can help break you out of a loop of inactivity and depression. Keep a mood journal. What usually makes you feel better – a morning walk? Cooking a healthy meal? Seeing friends? Keep a journal of what you’ve been finding helpful, and try to do more of it. Your journal can also help remind you that you have been making improvements, as it is often difficult to focus on the positives [3]. Going through depression is never going to be easy but, with the right support, even the most severe cases can be treated. As with any illness, you should seek professional help if you are worried. Recovery is likely to be gradual, but it is possible.     References [1] Bolton, J., Bisson, J., Guthrie, E., Wood., S. (2011) Depression: key facts. Retrieved from http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/healthadvice/problemsdisorders/depressionkeyfacts.aspx [2] NHS (2015). Low mood and depression - NHS Choices. Available at http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/low-mood-and-depression.aspx  [3] NICE (2009) Depression: The Treatment and Management of Depression in Adults (Update). NICE clinical guideline 90. Available at www.nice.org.uk/CG90
Article | depression
4 min read
“Boyfriend couldn't cope with my depression”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   My boyfriend dumped me out of the blue in December, he has since admitted that it is because he could not cope with my depression - over the past year my illness has got worse and I also self harm. Only a week before he left me I had confided in him how low I was feeling and that I felt I needed to get help.... how he thought breaking my heart would help I do not know!! I have since tried to take my life and have reached an all time low. I have moved back into my parents home (I am 26 and had been living with my ex-boyfriend for a year but we had been together for 8 years!!) and I am now getting professional help. My ex knows all this and we are in contact every day - he says he wants to stay in contact and help me get better, he even came to see me last week and he looked a mess so clearly this has not been easy on him. I am hoping as I get better we might be able to work things out - am I mad? If I ever mention us getting back together he says it is too much too soon and that he doesn't know what he wants... I just want him back. If anyone has been through anything similar your story or advice would be appreciated..... thanks
Ask the community | depression
“My insecurity is killing our relationship”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Hello, I just didn't really want to talk about this with any of my friends and I am looking for an unbiased opinion. My boyfriend and I have been properly together for almost 7 months now and we've had our ups and downs. For this period of time we've been through so much together... through his mum being diagnosed with cancer in the very beginning of our relationship, through my personal problems involving my mum and my past, my emotional instability at some point and others. he's been by my side and I've also been there for him in every way I can. He's almost left a couple of times, but he just couldn't because he loved me too much. The truth is that we argue often, but for silly things and we always find a way to fix it. Sometimes, I feel so broken in comparison to him and other people I know. I've had a pretty emotional and rocky childhood because of my parents' separation and loads of issues concerning that, and also heartbreaks, falling out with friends,etc. At the age of 20 now I find myself so scared of loving someone, but at the same time so willing to love. I just wish I could love and let go of that fear that people always leave and that feeling that I'm never going to be good enough, because I can see how it ruins my relationships with people, not just my boyfriend, but my family and friends. I am a really nice person with a good heart, real fun and people just love to be around me. But then when they get close to me I can feel that I become this baggage for them. I am too emotional. It's so hard to fit everything I need to say to describe myself and my life at this one post. So, let's just get to the point. I am so scared of loosing my boyfriend. A few days ago he told me he didn't feel the same about me. But he explained that it's not that he loves me any less, but he gave an example: at night when we go to bed, before he'd just want to have sex with me, but now if he is too tired he'd go to sleep. I told him that's absolutely normal. After a few months of being together, especially when we've lived together for like more than half of that time, it's completely normal not to have sex every day. He also told me we spend way too much time together and he needs some time on his own to do his own things and he wanted to sleep at his room in his student halls for one night and I took this pretty badly , but still went through with it because of him. The next day when he came back to mine I was upset. I didn't like spending the night away from him. But he was so sweet. He said he missed me that night and he didn't want to spend any more nights away from me, but he just needed to do this to see how he feels. During the summer, he went back home, but he was with me every weekend and we had a lot of sex for those two days. And after he came back here for uni, we kept on having a lot of sex in the beginning and then the amount of sex we have gradually decreased. Is that okay? Does it mean that he doesn't want me anymore? Am I right to think it's normal or should I be worried about it? That's one thing that worries me. We are so good together, I can feel it. We dream of being together forever and love each other unconditionally. But we often end up arguing for really silly things such as my ridiculous jealousy (he hasn't given me any reasons to be jealous, but I am insanely jealous and insecure and I don't know how to deal with it. I apologize for being so jealous, but I think it's worse for me than for him. It just kills me inside. I'd appreciate some advice on how to deal with this as well.) or even things more stupid than that. I am actually ashamed of sharing them with you. Thank you for reading this! I am looking forward to some fresh piece of advice! Xxxxx
Ask the community | insecurity, jealousy
“I hate my partner but we have a child”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________  He's not a bad person. But sometimes I just feel like I hate him. Everything he says, his presence in a room just makes me want to run away. He's a good father, we have a wonderful daughter and I guess that is why I have stayed for so long. We have been together for 6 and half years and I'd say I've known things weren't right for about 5 years. Our daughter is three. I love my daughter so much and want the best for her but I just don't know if I can carry on for much longer. But how can I do that to my daughter? And it's not just taking her away from her father, we have a nice house and a good relationship with his family who help out a lot. Practically our relationship works. The logistics are good, if we split up then we would probably end up with shared custody of our daughter and I want her to have a stable upbringing and not to be carted between two homes. I want to love him... but I feel like I don't even like him. I keep thinking back to when we got together and I just think of events where I should have ended it with him. I have actually tried to end it with him more times than I can remember. Even before we had a child. But he always talks me round. Every time. I just can't leave. I don't think I have the will power. He will cry, or overwhelm me with complements, or give me a sob story and tell me what a good person I am. And then for about half an hour I feel like I want to be with him and that things will be ok. Pretty pathetic right? But then the arguments... well they're vicious. We throw insults about each others family at each other and he says stuff to me which has made me feel so worthless which I don't even want to repeat. And it's always my fault. I always start the fight. Apparently. I 'attack' him. But I'm always the one who ends up sobbing and sometimes after a fight I will just go to bed even in the middle of the day and be unable to get up again. He just won't stop. I want him to leave me alone and even hiding under the covers as a thirty year old woman and humming with my fingers in my ears won't block out the things he is saying to me. He will normally come to me once I'm completely worn out and do the whole 'you're a good person' spiel. I feel trapped. I have been suicidal. I am incredibly bitter and just feel resentful to him almost all the time. You will probably think I am a terrible mother but I'm not. We are both good parents and the really bad stuff we keep away from our daughter. She is a happy confident little girl. From the day that I got pregnant all I have cared about is making sure she is happy and healthy. I don't want to ruin that. I don't want to take her away from her lovely home and her father who she adores. I know suicide is ridiculous and that would completely ruin her life and I would never do anything but I am just really depressed and I don't know if there is any way to improve my relationship. I want to love him but it all just feels so fake when I try to act like I do... Help
Ask the community | arguments, despair
“Affair with a close friend and neighbour”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   I've been married for more than 8 years and I can say I am happily married. We are both in our mid 30's and my husband is supportive. He completely adores me! I also love him very much. I love being with him. Actually, we have that kind of relationship everybody "envies" and considers very balanced. About 3 months ago I started to have an affair with my neighbour. We both have children who are friends and we have always spent a lot of time together. It all started off innocently enough and over the years we flirted and started to become emotionally attached. We discussed and shared lot of things in past. He is intelligent person and good friend of my husband. Most of time my husband use to travel for his work. Approx 3 months back i visited his home for some work. His wife and kids were away from home. After having some normal discussion he touched me i dont know what happened to me. In moment of heat, i allowed him. Since then it happened few times more. Now i feel very unsecure. He keep asking after every few days. I deny but he says he loves me and need me. He says he wont get same feeling with his wife. He is also married and has no intention to leave his wife. I don't intend to leave my husband and my kid, but this situation is getting a little out of control for me. At least in what concerns my stability or sanity. Sometimes I just don't know exactly what I should do or what I really want. Go on with this relationship or end it? I'm getting very confused and the problem is that if I was not married to my husband, I would like to be married to this man - we also have a lot in common and that's what strikes me - how many times in your life are you supposed to meet your "soul mate"? I thought I had met mine 8 years ago when I met my husband (and I still do)? What should I do?
Ask the community | someone else, crush
“I'm in love with my brother-in-law”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Before anyone answers, please know I'm not looking to be judged. In a nutshell, I want to be over this. The problem is, I have been sincerely in love with my husband's brother for years. Every year it gets stronger. My husband and I started dating when we were 17 and his brother was only in 6 grade. We got married at 19- about 8 years ago. Around 6 years ago, I developed a personal relationship with my brother in law that was totally healthy and since then have always had a soft spot. I really can't remember when it started, at least 4 years ago, I began to fall in love with him. I know it's wrong. I don't need to be told that. It's gotten to the point that when I'm around him I get depressed. I tried telling myself it's sick because he is basically my little brother but that doesn't work. I won't go on about what it is I love about him as to not justify my feelings. I tried severing any ties or chance of seeing- hearing about him but their family is close and it isn't really possible with out it seeming suspicious. My six year old son is extremely close to him and talks about him constantly. I can't get away from it. I go to bed thinking about him and wake up thinking about him. My marriage is a good one. We got married too young and are very different people. Regardless, my husband and I love each other very much and are best friends. We have moved passed the gushy part on our relationship but are mature adults. I'm a black and white person and feel like there is no situation that would ever make being with my brother in law OK. But I can honestly say I have never loved anyone the way I love him, and it's love that has grown over years. How do I get over him? I know these feelings are not healthy for me my family or my husband's.
Ask the community | someone else, crush
“I have a boyfriend, but I'm falling for someone else”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Hey there,  I've been with my boyfriend for a little over 4 years - we met abroad, then, after year or so, we moved back to my country and he found a job and some friends here. Our relationship, on the other hand, started going downhill; We have common interests - except that he's social and likes to go out, while I am and do not... but he's very practical, down to earth and career and money are important to him, while I'm a typical dreamer: I couldn't care less about career and money, I want to do what makes me happy - in my free time as well as professionally - and I don't want to be faced with financial and bureaucratic issues very single day... I'm not saying that one approach is better or worse, that the other, I'm just saying, that we're different and we want different things. We argue a lot and while I'm overly patient and careful with what I say, my boyfriend get very aggressive and overwhelming. Aggressive as in pushing his opinion into my face, not letting me talk, not listening to my point and not taking them into account...then, a few hours later, when he calms down, he acts like nothing's happened...Other time we're okay, he acts like he still loves me and wants me, he makes plans with me, yet we don't do 'romantic stuff' and don't talk about our thoughts and feelings much... And, now that you have an idea of my ongoing relationship... I've met this guy on a long weekend with friends about a year ago and we 'zinged'. We're very similar, he's also calm, introverted, but very caring. We make each other feel special and good about ourselves. We message each other, we talk sometimes, but we don't push it. I know he likes me, and I know he knows that I like him, but we don't say it...because I have a boyfriend and I don't want to hurt him and while he knows the problems we have, the other guy respect it.  But I can't stop thinking about him. At first I thought it was a crush or something I felt because my boyfriend and I had problems, but still, I think about him and when I see him, it's like...i'm just happy. I think I'm (falling) in love with him. Yet, my boyfriend and I have been together for so long and we've been through so much...he's a kind of troubled person and I've been trying to help him and he's also been supporting me through a lot, even bad decisions. It feels kinda unfair even to just have feelings for someone else and thinking about being with someone else... What the hell should I do?
Ask the community | someone else
“I'm happy in love, but have feelings for another woman”
This post was published by a Click user. Please feel free to respond in the comments below. We sometimes edit posts to ensure Click is a safe, respectful place to share stories and questions. _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________   Ok so I am a guy and have a bit of a situation where I need some advice. I have been with my girlfriend for almost 5 years now. I love her and consider myself the luckiest I have ever been to have her. She is the most loyal and committed woman I have ever been with. Ever since the first few months of our relationship, we would stay at each others' houses every night and rarely spent nights apart. So we essentially lived with each other this entire time and have had very minimal problems or conflicts. We now have our own apartment and are still getting along as living partners great. That is the beautiful thing about our relationship is that we are so compatible and cooperative that we can spend every day with each other with little-to-no problems. Of course, there are small things that we get angry about (i.e. "how come I'm always the one doing blah blah?", "all you do is play video games", etc) but they are always temporary and they do not affect the structural integrity of our relationship. We have our ups and downs, and have even separated at one point because things were not working correctly. We eventually reunited and agreed to improve on (and we have improved on) the areas where we were lacking in our relationship. Today, we are strong, together and have big commitments in our future. BUT... here is my predicament. I have a friend that I met through work (we no longer work together currently) and have gotten to be very close friends. She confides in me about things she says she does not tell anyone else, even her family. We share several common interests, passions and get along very well. She has many desirable qualities as a woman and as a person in general. She is essentially the polar-opposite of my girlfriend in many regards. She's also drop dead gorgeous. She has also fought through some very adverse and tragic phases of her life on her own will and has made it to become a strong, independent, self-sufficient, and loving person. She still has her flaws, and actually comes to me for help and guidance. She has had a difficult past with relationships and has always seemingly ended up with guys who don't give her the love, care, commitment, dedication, etc. that she deserves. She has also stated that she is not ready for another relationship as she is still not over her ex-husband. Also, she doesn't get along with other women and doesn't have many female friends (which makes things more difficult) So recently, she has been just "hooking up", "seeing" and spending time with guys. All of which seem to just want to get in her pants. She's aware of what some guys are capable of, yet her actions still contradict what she really wants, which is to be single and emotionally heal from her previous relationship. We text each other very often and spend time with each other a lot (sometimes alone and sometimes with my girlfriend and other friends). I've always been physically attracted to her, but in the past few months other feelings have started to develop. I feel a connection with her. It feels wrong and I don't know how it even developed. I love my girlfriend and would never break my loyalty to her. However, I also understand that you simply can't change what your heart feels. I've tried to remedy this problem with an attempt to channel or reroute my feelings in an appropriate manner, in the form of being a good and loyal FRIEND. When she needs me, I'm there. If she needs advice, I'll give it. If she needs a smile, I'll try to make her laugh. That kind of thing. Purely platonic friendship. My strategy has held firm but as not solved my problem. I don't want to have feelings for this woman! Keep in mind I have never told her that I do have feelings for her. So just last night, we had a get-together/kickback at her place and my girlfriend and I went. Mind you, alcohol was involved. We were all having a great time. There were two guys that came, one of which she knew (and apparently liked). There came a point during the night where everyone (minus my girlfriend and I) became visibly drunk, including my friend. I know she is quite the belligerent drinker and doesn't think quite clearly when she drinks so I kept a close but subtle eye on her. She began making out with this guy (who I believe she has only know for a month or so). There was this feeling in my stomach and fire that started to burn in my mind when I saw it. Jealously? Maybe. The way I analyzed it in my own mind was that I was having a conflict within my own mind. One side of me has feelings for this girl and the other side of me knows her past and has a duty as a friend to protect her from situations where she will get hurt again. For the lack of a better phrase, this sucked ass for more than one reason. Not only did I feel guilty that I was jealous of what I was seeing because my girlfriend was there, but because I had no right to feel guilty! I care for this girl in more ways than one, but I want it to only be ONE way...the PLATONIC way. I don't want to jeopardize this relationship with my girlfriend that I've built for so long. I'm all out of ideas of how to remedy this situation. Do I tell the truth to her about how I feel and lay my cards out on the table? Would that solve anything? Do I continue trying to be a good friend? Will my feelings eventually dissipate or get even stronger? I really need some help here. Thanks.
Ask the community | someone else
How addiction can impact relationships
A substance use problem often leads to changes in a person’s behaviour that can be damaging to a relationship. They may be emotional and unpredictable. They may feel ashamed or fear the consequences of their addiction being discovered. They will sometimes lie to conceal the true extent of it. Secrecy and deceit can cause a breakdown of trust in the relationship. The partner of the addicted person may feel suspicious of the reasons for their partner’s behaviour. They might also feel confused, scared, or angry at the change in their partner and the unpredictable situation. When I discovered their addiction, the worst thing about it was that I’d been lied to. A partner with a substance use problem may have highs and lows - one moment happy and positive, and the next anxious, irritable, or depressed. They may be preoccupied and pay less attention to their partner. This unpredictable behaviour and mood can often cause arguments. If discussing the problem always leads to an argument, both partners may give up trying to talk, and communication can break down entirely. Then a distance grows between them. There may also be a loss of interest in sex or intimacy. If I try to explain why I started drinking, it turns into a row. It’s easier not to talk to each other at all. However, problematic substance use is not always hidden. Sometimes, someone knows that their partner has a problem but feels they are walking on eggshells as they try to keep the peace. They might also fear that, if they rock the boat, they will drive their partner further into their addiction. Sometimes, people will take on more responsibility in the home, with childcare and finances, to compensate for their partner becoming unreliable. They feel they have to take control of everything and that they have become a ‘parent’ to their partner. Children in the family can also suffer. The parent with the addiction may become withdrawn and lose interest in family activities. Their partner may be distracted because of juggling extra responsibilities. Children are often aware of arguments and tension in the home and feel scared and confused. And, if they get used to seeing addictive behaviour, they may learn and develop similar behaviour themselves.   What to do when dealing with a substance use problem Facing up to a substance use problem can feel hard, as it often makes the problem seem more real. But, in a relationship where one person has a problem, both partners may be in denial. If they both feel powerless to make changes, it can feel easier to pretend nothing is happening. The partner may feel ashamed to talk to family and friends about the problem. They may blame themselves or be embarrassed that outsiders will see their partner or relationship in a negative way. They may have been told by their partner not to tell anyone. There are then two people feeling very scared, resentful, and lonely in their own relationship.   Talking to an unbiased person outside of your relationship can be a real relief and a step toward change If you are experiencing problems in your relationship that are the result of addiction, it may be worth seeking professional help. Online relationship advice such as our listening room, support, information, and counselling can be very valuable in many cases. If you are experiencing domestic violence or any form of abuse in your relationship or family, seek support from a specialist agency. If the problem is long-term, involves cutting or physical harm, or has been triggered by traumatic life events, you may need to seek face-to-face counselling via a specialist agency or your GP. You may find it useful to look at article ‘How do we move on from addiction as a couple?’ NEW: Relationship Realities - listen to real stories by real people who are affected by alcohol and drug use problems.
Article | addiction, substance abuse
4 min read
Keeping your individuality
We’re all different. We all have our own personality traits, habits, hobbies and passions that define us and make us who we are. Yet sometimes when we enter relationship, we find that our defining characteristics start to blur as we fall in step with our new partner. We give up going to our Saturday morning spin classes to go and watch football. We lose touch with friends. Sometimes, we even change the way we speak! We usually do this to bond with our new partner and learn more about their interests in the early stages of the relationship. However, as time goes by, many of us find that we’re still just going along with what our partner wants to do and no longer make the time for our old interests. When we move in with a partner, it can be even harder to maintain a sense of self. In extreme cases, people can find themselves changing their whole appearance and lifestyle to fit in with a partner. But, on top of losing your identity while you’re in the relationship, you put yourself at risk of being even more devastated if the relationship ends. You may feel like you’ve not only lost a partner, but a whole way of life. This can leave you feeling lost and confused over your own identity. Of course, you do have to make some compromises and small changes to make a relationship work, but you don’t have to give up everything that makes you happy. It’s possible to hold onto your individuality and have a strong relationship.   Set aside some ‘me time’ You and your partner don’t need to spend every moment together. It’s the quality of time you spend together that counts, not the quantity. Sit down and discuss a mutually convenient time when you can both be alone to pursue personal interests. Keep in mind that plans may have to change to fit around work and family commitments, so you and your partner must both be open to changing the schedule now and then.   Learn to say ‘no’ You don’t have to say ‘yes’ to everything your partner wants. This doesn’t mean you have to say ‘no’ to everything – it’s great to try new things – it just means you should look for a balance as you plan your activities.   Keep friends and family close Growing up, your friends and family were the people who helped shape you to become the person you are today. Keep in touch with the people who matter to you, and you’ll stand a better chance of keeping in touch with yourself.
Article | identity, self
3 min read
Overcoming jealousy and insecure feelings
Lots of people in relationships feel jealous from time to time, but it’s important not to let it get out of control. It's also important to recognise that your own insecurities might be playing a part. Here's our best quick-fire tips to help you manage jealousy and work towards a healthier, happier relationship. Recognise your good points Make a list of all the things you like and respect about yourself. In moments of insecurity, this can help to remind you why your partner loves you. Of course, the love from your partner and your own sense of self worth should go beyond a list of character qualities, but it's a good start.  Improve your self-esteem independently of your partner Try to spend time doing something you enjoy that makes you feel good about yourself. Consider taking up a new exercise or joining a class.  Think about how your situation appears to an outsider You may be able to rationalise jealousy in your own head, but think about what other people might think if they were to see your outbursts. Seeing yourself from someone else’s point of view can help you stay calm and in control. Take responsibility for your jealousy If your jealousy comes from your own insecurities rather than your partner’s actions, try to recognise and accept that this is the cause. In time, it could help you overcome the negative emotions. Change your attitude Healthy couples have separate interests. Try not to get jealous if your partner decides to spend an evening with friends. Make your own plans and look forward to having more to talk about when you’re next together. Create balance If your social life revolves around your partner, you might feel left out when they want to do their own thing. Take some pressure off your relationship by developing your own interests, catching up with old friends, and carving out some independence. Learn from past behaviour If jealousy has caused issues in your previous relationships, try learn from experience to make positive changes in your current relationship. Don’t make the same mistakes twice. Share your feelings This one might sound a little bit fluffy, but it's essential. Try to make your partner an ally in battling your jealous feelings. Be open when you’re feeling jealous and ask for your partner’s support. Explain that you know the feelings may not be rational, but that a little reassurance from them can help you let go and move on.
Article | insecurity, jealousy
3 min read

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