The Seven Deadly Sins: Part one - Envy

According to tradition, The Seven Deadly Sinsare: envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath.

This series of blogs looks into how these ‘sins’ can play into relationships. 

Envy: The intense desire to have something that someone else possesses. 

It is human nature to compare yourself to others, but when it comes to relationships, this is a mistake best avoided. We have all heard the saying ‘nothing is quite as it seems’ and this couldn’t be more accurate when it comes it love. It’s easy to view a relationship from the outside and envy what those two people have in comparison to what you have; ‘they always look so happy’, ‘they’re perfect for each other’, ‘they never seem to argue’ but the reality is more often than not quite different. In the age of social media where people are encouraged to post picture perfect lifestyles, taking things with a pinch of salt can sometimes be the best approach. 

Let us first remember that when you see couples posting about themselves online, you are seeing only a small snapshot of their reality. It is highly unlikely that the people in question will post anything other than the best version of themselves and their relationships. Projecting the image of relationship bliss is far more inviting and enviable than posting the day to day reality of relationships.

So if you are tempted to compare your relationship to the Prince Harrys  and Meghan Markles of the world, take a moment to consider that maybe, just maybe, you are already living your own fairy-tale. 

Relationships of any kind are hard work. Be it friendships; if you want to remain on good terms and connected to a friend, you have to put the effort in to see them regularly so that the connection remains, or romantic relationships; you need to take time to be with your partner, to build memories together and to really talk to each other about whatever is happening in your life at that time. 

Envy can impact your relationship in many ways. From an internal perspective, comparing your partner to someone else’s can be the start of a downward spiral. Statements such as ‘why can’t you be more like X, he’s always happy to spend all his free time with his wife and kids’, or ‘X loves going out every weekend with her partner, why can’t you be more like her’ can have a detrimental impact on your relationship as a whole. This is because, after all, it’s never nice to feel like the qualities you offer your partner are being compared to those of someone else. 

When envy begins to creep in, in this way, it can be helpful to remember what attracted you to your partner in the first place. You are with that person for a reason, so there must be some qualities that drew you to them in the first instance. Psychologist Dr Georgina Barnett and colleagues at Seventy Thirty explored The Psychology of Attraction in a recent podcast which highlighted an introduction into some of the different approaches to what we find attractive and why. The matching hypothesis for example, explains that we tend to be attracted to someone of equal attractiveness. There are many different theories about what we find attractive and why, some of which Noam Shpancer Ph.D .explores in his article Laws of Attraction: How Do We Select a Life Partner? These range from factors such as exposure and familiarity, to personality and character, and on and so forth. Whatever the reason that drew you to your partner, keep that at the forefront of your mind. 

When it comes to envy, the phrase ‘The grass is always greener’ is often a prevalent thought. You envy what someone else has and automatically assume your life would be far better if you had the same; if you’re single, you long for the security and comfort of a long-term relationship, and if you are in a relationship you long for the freedom and far reaching social life of your single friends. 

Suzie Pileggi Pawelski and James Pawelski in their article Why Does the Grass Often Seem Greener Elsewhere? Found that “We may overwhelmingly focus on what is wrong in our situation and forget about what is going right. Despite plenty of positive things in our environment, our attention naturally fixates on problems.”. This applies to envy in that it is an emotion which, more often than not, comes to the forefront when we are feeling in a negative mindset. If you are having a good day, feeling happy, loved and in good health it is quite easy to naturally relish all the things you love about your partner and see the positive traits they have; thoughtfulness, understanding etc. However, the opposite can be said if you are having a bad day and are in a negative mindset. Suddenly those usually endearing qualities turn into ‘reasons’ to feel envious and look elsewhere or at least feel like you ‘should’ be looking for bigger and better things.  

Remember, happiness isn’t a guarantee which comes with life. You have to want it, be passionate about it and work hard to achieve it. Once achieved, whether that be with the partner you’ve always hoped for or the job you dreamt you’d get, the next stage is to work hard to maintain it. Envy can become an issue when something else in your relationship is lacking. It is during these times that we tend to focus on the negatives which make it so much easier to justify our feelings of envy and this is where the hard work begins.

Joshua Becker wrote A Helpful Guide to Overcoming Envy and found that ‘One of the biggest reasons we envy the life of another is because we have begun to take our blessings for granted.’It can be helpful to remember the things you enjoy about a certain situation in order to stop feelings of envy coming into play. For example, if you are working in a field that you initially found appealing, which would be a given if you decided to take a job in that field, remember why you said yes. Consider all the skills you have learnt in that role, the colleagues you enjoy spending time with and the reasons why you have stayed in that position for as long as you have. The same applies to romantic relationships. Remember why you said yes to the first date with your partner, when you fell in love with them, the memories you have shared so far and the plans you have for your future together. 

Taking time to be thankful for what you have, instead of being frustrated by what you don’t, can do wonders for your relationship and state of mind. Incorporating Mindfulness into your day to day life can help with this as “becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better. When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted”. 

It is human nature to get frustrated and to want something else. There are some who would even say this is a helpful emotion to have as it can make you strive to achieve more or to change the things you are not happy with. For example, if a friend of yours has progressed up the career ladder and has achieved successes you feel you would like in life, instead of feeling envious, try to feel inspired. See them as someone to look up to, a yard stick of what you would like to achieve and the direction you would like your life to go in. You could even try talking to them about how they have come to the position they are in today and see if there is anything you can implement in your own life/relationship to help you reach your goal. 

Loveisrespect.org published a blog on What is a Healthy Relationship? and found that the following tips can help you and your partner create and maintain a healthy relationship: Speak Up, Respect Each Other, Compromise, Be Supportive and Respect Each Other’s Privacy. These points may seem simple, but are often over looked when we are in an envious mindset. Once you find the person you want to commit to, keep these tips in mind as ways to maintain your relationship thus avoiding envying others. 

So to conclude, whether you are in a relationship or single,take time to smell the roses, push doubt from your mind and instead of feeling envious about all the shoulda woulda couldas, consider where you are now, what you are grateful for and happy about in your life, and if there is something you don’t like about it, change it because you want to and not because the green-eyed monster we call envy tells you to. 

Don’t Give Up on Love

Finding love can be both exciting and also at times discouraging, you may meet someone accidentally, you may be introduced to them, you may think someone is the one and they don’t feel the same, essentially the path to finding love is different for us all. It is vital to remember that this is the case and therefore to not compare our relationship paths with others. All of us can find love, if that is what we are looking for, if we have an understanding of whether we are in the right place psychologically for it and put the right amount of effort in. Remaining open to finding a partner can be one of the key factors in success, as discussed in our podcast ‘First Dates in Relationships’. It is therefore important to not give up hope nor make finding a partner the sole purpose of your existence but to strike a balance.  

 With an increase in access to potential partners, whether it be online or matchmaking services, it can increase the chances of success but also the potential for doubt in a new relationship. With so many options we have somewhat become a throwaway society, when we hit a bump in the road, people are often quick to jump ship and simply move on to the next potential. However, love takes work and not putting the effort in to overcome initial hurdles will prevent you from finding meaningful long-term relationships. 

As the saying goes, ‘the grass isn’t always greener’, and you could find yourself wishing you’d tried that little bit harder with someone and wondering whether it could have gone anywhere. Although love does take effort it shouldn’t always feel like hard work, there needs to be a balance of putting energy into your relationship, without it sucking all of your own energy, leaving you exacerbated. It is important to remember that love won’t always be easy, that’s not to say it will be difficult to find but holding on to it long enough to establish true connections is key. This is highlighted by Michelle Birge  in her article ‘Love Takes Work, But Not Too Much Work’when she says that “all relationships take some work. But the right one doesn’t take that much work”.   

In order to give someone a chance, you need to be engaged, ask questions and to be curious about them. Putting in the time will allow you to see if connections will be formed and time will establish whether these connections are likely to last. If you jump at the first instance you disagree or fall out with someone, issues cannot be resolved or discussed and what could have been cleared up with a bit of communication, has resulted in the break up of a relationship. It can be frightening being vulnerable. Even having an honest conversation about what you want or need from someone to form a relationship can leave you feeling that way. However, you open yourself up to so much potential by being vulnerable, but if you’d given up on it, love would be that little bit further away. Emma Seppälädiscusses this issue in her blog ‘Why Being Vulnerable is the Key to Intimacy’whereby she states that “the quality that makes a relationship last is its degree of affection and true affection implies vulnerability”.

Another key factor to getting the love you want is to know what you want, understand what you expect and only accept the relationships that fulfil this.  When it comes to relationship advice, we are littered with articles telling us what we should accept, what we should expect and telling us how we should feel. Whether it be contradictory advice of taking control as a woman or to follow traditional dating practices, right down to whether we should abide by strict first date rules. The truth of the matter is that in order to feel comfortable and happy in a relationship you need to understand what behaviours you are willing to accept and what kind of relationship you want to have, whilst remaining open to being vulnerable and meeting someone. Only then will others around you understand your expectations and adhere to them. 

Setting boundaries and having self-worth does not mean you relinquish all abilities to be open and forthcoming to new relationships nor does it allow you to exhibit controlling behaviour over others. It simply means that you are allowing yourself to have the right kind of relationships. Here are a few tips that may help you remain open to finding love but also keep hold of the standards you are looking for.

-       Communication is key, a concept that is outlined in the blog ‘Don’t lose a fantastic relationship to poor communication – understanding the differences between how men and women communicate’written by Dr Georgina Barnett. You need to express clearly and concisely as and when you feel a potential partner has treated you in a manner you find unacceptable. Here you can keep things light hearted, so as to get your point across but ensure any negative feelings are not amplified.

-       Internally process your own behaviour and ensure you are justified in your feelings. Sometimes we may over dramatize situations to validate how we are feeling, yet if we are mindful about what it is that has affected us then we are able to communicate this clearly to others. Conversely, we also need to ensure that our internal monologue does not turn into negative self-talk. “Negative self-talk is any inner dialogue you have with yourself that may be limiting your ability to believe in yourself and your own abilities, and reach your potential.” This was outlined by Elizabeth Scott, MSin her article ‘The Toxic Effects of Negative Self-Talk’.Whether we move to blaming or negative self-talk behaviours, both need to be addressed and we need to ensure we are taking an objective view or at least a realistic subjective one. 

-       Explain your thought process or your reasons as to why you feel the way you do e.g. I do not like the tone you used as it makes me feel belittled. This allows your potential partner an insight into your thought processes and will help them understand what you need from them. After all we are not mind readers and our true meanings can be altered through incorrect perceptions. 

Further to these tips, we have all heard the common phrase that in order to find love you must first love yourself and that having this self-worth is a pre-cursor to a wonderful relationship with a potential partner. However recent research has shown that yes, it is important to love yourself but that it is more important to have self-security. Self-security is defined as the open and non-judgmental acceptance of one's own weaknesses as discussed in the article ‘Accepting our weaknesses and enjoying better relationships: An initial examination of self-security’(Huang & Berenbaum, 2017). It is this honesty and acceptance with yourself that allows you to be open in relationships and also to be open to finding a relationship. Fully understanding yourself, having self-security, setting boundaries and taking an active role in finding a relationship is what will propel you towards a successful relationship.  

 This was supported by the research which found that self-security predicted relationship quality and that participants’ greater self-security significantly predicted experiencing less conflict and emotional distress in their relationships. We live the life that we accept, and this is the same for relationships. We have the type of relationship we accept and in order to ensure we are having successful, fulfilling ones you need to be with those who treat you the way you want to be treated. Mutual respect, understanding and clear communication will allow both you and a potential partner to learn and teach each other exactly what it is you want from your relationship and in turn prevent you from turning away from love.   

In conclusion, it is important to remember to live your life as a whole but to remain open to exploring a potential relationship and giving it the chance both you and the other person deserve. If things don’t work out, after you’ve been engaged with this person, then continue to be open to finding love. Just because you look for love for today and don’t find it, doesn’t mean it won’t turn up tomorrow.  Go at love with a realistic view, no it won’t be easy, but it will sure be worth it when you find someone you want to make the effort for. As the saying goes; If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.   

References

Huang, A. B., & Berenbaum, H. (2017). Accepting our weaknesses and enjoying better relationships: An initial examination of self-security. Personality and Individual Differences, 106, 64-70.

Are you an ostrich? - How avoidance can cause a break down in relationships.

There is a myth that when an ostrich feels threatened or stressed it will bury its head in the sand. Whilst research has disproven this myth as ostriches in fact flop over when they are stressed, it still provides an interesting theory of coping with arising problems. In a relationship there are obstacles that will occur as you progress down the line. These can be anything from changes in circumstances, conflicts in emotions or something as serious as infidelity. However, the way in which we deal with these obstacles can vary. So, what do we mean by are you an ostrich? 

The ostrich myth is a maladaptive way of coping with stressors, closing your mind and avoiding problems without solving them and is a form of avoidant coping.  Avoidant coping is higher in those who possess an avoidant personality or have developed an avoidant attachment type. An avoidant personality can stem from traumatic childhood experiences or events later in someone’s life whereby individuals form a way of coping by avoiding the fundamental issue caused by these experiences. (Finnegan, Hodges & Perry, 1996).

An avoidant attachment type is an evolutionary aspect that has stemmed from a very young age which becomes a template of how we behave in our future relationships. Psychologist Mary Ainsworth, theorised and looked into the different attachment types within children using the strange situation experiment and was the first to classify the term ‘insecure avoidant’ and which is more evident when a caregiver rejects their child’s needs and is insensitive. This is what the child learns from a very young age and shapes how they may view relationships growing up. Research by Hazan & Shaver(1987) showed that avoidant lovers were characterized by fear of intimacy, emotional highs and lows, and jealousy. 

Whilst having an avoidant personality disorder or possessing an avoidant attachment type is positively correlated with using avoidant coping, anyone can shut down and avoid confronting arising issues. Emotional stimulation (whether it be good or bad) can make someone draw into themselves and ‘bury their head in the sand.’ This can be because of a lack of confidence and fear of rejection, demonstrating that avoidant coping and ‘being an ostrich’ can impact relationships. 

The first stance on being an ostrich in your relationship can be an overwhelming sense of change, either in your personal circumstances or in your relationship. The sense of change can impact how well you feel the relationship is going. Instead of facing these problems head on, as and when they happen you avoid them, pretend that they don’t exist or try and hide them from your significant other for as long as possible until you can’t any more. Acting in this avoidant way creates problems for your relationship and can create a break down in intimacy. Not communicating these problems or tackling these obstacles through fear of losing your partner or expecting the issues to go away will just create more pressure.

Individuals who behave in this way are not necessarily avoiding physical confrontation. We avoid the way it makes us feel and look in the eyes of others. No one wants to be blamed or seen as the ‘bad guy’ who breaks up with their partner and be the cause of another person’s pain, so people deem it easier to avoid communicating these feelings and start to suffer internally. Before long, these internal feelings build up and often to lead to a break down in intimacy, closing the other person out and emotionally detaching yourself and in some cases infidelity. 

It’s not to say that lifting your head from the sand will definitely save the relationship, but it increases the chances of it being successful in the long run or ending in a respectful and mature manner with no animosity or wrong doing on the other person.  The truth is, some relationships are meant to end and some are meant to be forever. Keeping things bottled up and avoiding communicating will create un-happiness and frustration, so don’t be afraid to bite the bullet express your concerns or change of circumstances. If the relationship is meant to be, you will be able to work through and past it and if it is not then you can both close the book on this love story with dignity, loyalty and the comfort that you did all you could to try and make it work. 

On the flip side; if you are aware of a fundamental issue going on in your relationship and you still avoid confronting your partner this can exacerbate the issue. For example, when communication breaks down and your partner doesn’t necessarily treat you in the way in which you should be treated but you continue to act as if everything is normal avoiding that there is an underlying problem, keeping this in can build resentment. People act in this avoidant way as they lack confidence to approach their partner to find out what is going on in fear of the answer and getting rejected. Research has shown that we often stay in relationships, even if we are unhappy and turn a blind eye to problems in fear of becoming lonely but this in turn can stop you from finding true happiness (Spielmann et al, 2013).

There are many other reasons as to why we turn a blind eye to a relationship that is going bad; emotional affection, being habitual to bad treatment, dependence and the hope of change to name a few. 

Emotional affection clouds your judgement in relationships as we have an emotional attachment to our partner. It can be hard to detach yourself from that person and see what is really going on, so it’s easier to subconsciously avoid this, turn a blind eye and carry on as normal.  

Being habitual to bad treatment, is that you have turned a blind eye and buried your head in the sand for so long that this bad treatment becomes an everyday reality. You continue to avoid confronting the disrespect and bad treatment as nothing about his/her behaviour surprises you anymore, it is barely noticeable to you, only to others who might point out the severity of the toxicity of your relationship. 

Dependency on your partner is one of the biggest reasons for remaining in a relationship. Dependency can come in many forms, whether it be emotionally, financially or even family orientated. You have built a life together and if everything else is going well other than the relationship, its easy to avoid the anomaly in your life. If you have children together you may be dependent on your partner in many ways to be able to provide them with the best possible upbringing, whilst jeopardising your own happiness. 

The biggest reason of all to tie all the reasons together is that we bury our heads in the sand, as we hope that there will be a change. You tell yourself that this is only temporary, it’s just a phase, it will eventually pass, and you will get back to how you used to be before any of this happened. The reality is that is both parties or even one individual is behaving in an avoidant way until you communicate and confront what is going on it is going to continue lingering there.  

In order to move forward and to stop avoiding the issues, both partners need to lift their head from the sand so to speak. This is done by communicating and communication is key, if something is niggling away, then confront your partner about it. If you’re having second thoughts about the relationship explain to your partner why, they may have no idea that something they are doing is pushing you away. Don’t live in fear of confrontation, rejection or being alone, burying your head can make you feel safe for the time being but is not feasible for the long run. Don’t be an ostrich, as a happy healthy relationship has both partners with there heads rising above, looking over the horizon and tackling these problems as soon as they become visible. 

 

 

References: 

Finnegan, R. A., Hodges, E. V., & Perry, D. G. (1996). Preoccupied and avoidant coping during middle childhood. Child Development67(4), 1318-1328.

 

Spielmann, S. S., MacDonald, G., Maxwell, J. A., Joel, S., Peragine, D., Muise, A., & Impett, E. A. (2013). Settling for less out of fear of being single. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 105(6), 1049-1073.

The Significant Other Alliance (The Power in Partnership)

We, as a sophisticated social species have a strong desire for belonging to a bigger group than just ourselves, as it allows us to feel stronger, more powerful and interconnected than we would feel just as an individual. We are designed to be intertwined with others, usually through common ground or the communicating of our personal experiences. When we are in a relationship we are defined as a partnership, thus we belong to something bigger than just ourselves. The significant other alliance encapsulates all the ideals of belonging to a group as we engage in frequent social interactions, as well as the sharing our personal experiences too. 

Most of the relationships we have involve some degree of intimacy, whether it be psychological, physical or emotional. However, the significant other relationship is formed when we become connected on all the levels of intimacy and most notably through proximal physical and emotional contact with one another. Whilst the love hormone oxytocin fuels romance and the powerful connection you feel toward your partner during physical intimate moments, it also results in the increased release of dopamine. Dopamine can be released when thinking and being around our significant other and provides us with a sense of contentment, allowing us to feel at our most powerful.

Power in relationships can be a double-edged sword. The best alliances are the ones where two people are not competing against one another but are rather interdependent on one another. Competing against your significant other creates friction and can restrict you both from connecting on other levels of intimacy. Constantly ‘one-upping’ your significant other and trying to be better than them will break down the strength you have together as a partnership, as you are grinding down one another’s ego and the ability to believe in yourself as well as each other. However, if you are to support your partner and the same is reciprocated, your connection will be further deepened. Being interdependent, does not stretch to mean dependent and relying on your significant other constantly, but rather elaborating on the give-and-take relationship allowing you both to communicate freely, no matter how difficult. 

Whilst communication plays a vital role in a relationship and can be a difficult hurdle to jump, trust and commitment are also vital attributes to the significant other alliance. In fact, trust, commitment and communication act as a trio for creating powerful alliances between two people. Trust is built upon authenticates and accessing the vulnerabilities of one another. Commitment is of course the main ongoing and non-linear attribute to any partnership. Trust and commitment go hand in hand as when one increases so does the other. Furthermore, when we communicate our vulnerabilities and doubts in one’s trust and commitment to our significant other, it allows us to strengthen our partnership, as together you can assess the boundaries and decide what is beneficial and detrimental both individually and as a couple. 

Your significant other is the person with whom you share a considerable amount with, from your time to your favourite food. They are the person you turn to in periods of uncertainty and you rely on them to tell you things are going to be okay and that ‘we’ will get through this, even when it is just an individual problem. When we join forces we are much stronger, we strike the balance between being supportive and being intuitive. We are aware of our partner and how things will make them feel and how we can sometimes be the influence on their decisions, but we ultimately help our partners to feel more powerful when we are in support of them.

 

References 

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/pascal-vrticka/human-social-development_b_3921942.html

https://www.medicaldaily.com/oxytocin-love-hormone-fuels-romance-how-your-brain-works-when-youre-love-269067

https://www.vlerick.com/en/research-and-faculty/knowledge-items/knowledge/the-power-of-partnership-why-do-some-strategic-alliances-succeed-while-others-fail

The Impact of Family on Your Progressing Relationship

Finding a companion you really care for and adore is truly one of life’s many joys. The time you spend together is cherished and can sustain your desire to see them until your next meeting, as well as the fluttering presence of butterfly like sensations when a phone call or when a text message from your companion appears. Hence demonstrating that your new-found love is seriously exciting and engaging. NBC news’ Nicole Spector presented a wonderful article explaining why falling in love gives you butterflies- Nicole’s article explores the physiological phenomenon of feeling butterflies in our stomachs. It is our body’s response to our mental state in that moment in time, whether we realise what our minds are thinking or not. However, there are a number of reasons as to why we feel those sensations; as such the activation of feeling nervous or excitement that stimulates the gut and our real and unconscious desires of sexual passion with the person we are thinking about.

Over the course of a few weeks or even months perhaps, we will have our intense passionate moments fulfilling needs like sex, intimacy and closeness, but with meaningful, passionate sex it almost always leads to the developing of meaningful emotions. The developing of our emotions and connecting on another level allows undiscovered feelings to emerge, and the love between you both to most definitely blossom. Clinical Psychologist, Robert Firestone, Ph.D discusses the negative responses we may all feel as a reaction to feeling and being loved. He mentions that there can be a paradoxical reaction of which being or feeling loved can make us exhibit negative feelings as such Robert Firestone, Ph.D says, “Although the experience of being chosen and especially valued is exciting and can bring happiness and fulfilment, at the same time it can be frightening and the fear often translates into anger and hostility.”

Of course, we all know the feeling of falling in love and opening up our hearts to let someone in can make us feel uncomfortable due to our vulnerabilities,expectations and to some extent, anxiety, in some circumstances. We must remember that we do not wish for this to ruin the magical and personalised experience of finding, being in and the feeling reciprocated love brings to us. Relationships have to follow a natural progression, which means we must pass through stages to become more comfortable in each other’s presence and understand one another more, throughout our time spent together.

The ‘I’ you once spoke of will become ‘we’ as you soon enter into the next step in your ever-flourishing romance. The mile stone will be to collate your lives — sharing friends, family and of course eventually a property, or a few. Now, before we rush ahead and think too far into the future, we all feel we must present new and exciting things (such as our beloved) to our family and our dearest of friends. Being introduced may seem, again like another anticipatory anxiety inducing stage in the relationship, but we must look at this in a different light such as, “my beloved is introducing me to their family”, “my beloved is showing me off to their family”, and reframing to focus on the positives and why your partner is doing this. They are doing this as they are proud to say, “I am happy with this person and I want you to meet them, so you can see why I feel the way I feel about this person.” We feel like we must present our new partners to our closes friends and families as they pose the most influence over us throughout our lifetime and across the phases in our life. In addition to this, Theresa E DiDonato Ph.D. says “Both men and women introduce their dating partners to parents when they are ready to gain their parent’s approval and want to signal to their partner that they are serious about the relationship (Fisher & Salmon, 2013)”. Thus, rest assured it is a positive sign if you are asked to meet the family. 

However then comes the question, when the right time is to introduce your partner to the family? Rachel Shatto for Elite Dailyevaluates all aspects and has created the perfect guide to meeting the parents. Rachel explains picking the right time is essential, wanting to make sure your relationship is new as not to let anyone think that you don’t want anyone to meet your partner, but yet not too fresh for anyone to think your relationship has just been fueled by lust. Furthermore, Rachel also mentions that to relieve the anxiety, or awkward situations it is better to stay by your partners side in the first instance or first few questions, to get a feel for their family, but not to let them answer all questions for you, as after all, you are your own distinctperson.

When it comes to meeting our partners’ loved ones, many things can happen. In the best instance, your family love your partner and agree the two of you make the perfect match, but what if first impressions fall short and you find yourself in the scenario where your loved ones do not see the amazing person you see. Are you blinded by your loves or blinded by your love?

Your family and friends will always be your biggest critics and yet they only want what is best for you. They are there in your times of greatness, and your times of need. Although their judgement can have a powerful influence on you, they have always supported you down every avenue you have ventured. Bearing this in mind, the initial thing to do is to ask your loved ones to explain their reasons as to why they think your partner is not a good fit for you. Perhaps you are seeing your partner through ‘rose-tinted spectacles’, or it is a little aspect they noticed which may grind your gears later down the line. Nevertheless, whilst you might feel hurt your loved ones have questioned your judgement, try not disregard their views as this can be detrimental to your relationship with them.  As Mieke Rivka Sidorsky, LCSW-C explains for Good Therapy“we can choose our partner, we cannot choose family”, thus with this in mind it can be difficult for a partner to build a rapport or any form of relationship with family and friends due to them being aware of your past and not wanting you to get hurt in any way. 

The next best thing to do is to communicate with your partner, asking them how they think it went, as it is important to hear your partner’s perspective. You may find your love was acting out of sorts to try and present a better version of themselves and if this is the case, then your solution is simple - just set another date to meet the family and be reassured they are still the person you fell in love with. Communication in any relationship is necessary, as it allows for the exploration of thoughts and feeling to be expressed and acknowledged. Communicating also allows for you both to connect on an emotional level as opposed to just a physical connection. Marcelina Hardy, MSEd, BCC discusses “Why Communication Is Crucial in a Relationship”, mentioning there are two ways to communicate between you and a partner, verbal and non-verbal, she mentions how these will explain in one way or another how one is really feeling. Marcelina also mentions communication allows for growth in a relationship.

Failing that, there is always compromise. It is all very cliché, but every relationship has its ebbs and flows and of course ups and downs. There will be times in which compromises are needed on both sides. Just being open and honest will mean it will be reciprocated, and what is more, respected in every instance. Whilst it may feel discouraging and difficult to approach a fault in someone, especially someone you’re connected to emotionally and physically, do not feel too disheartened, as together there will be many opportunities to discuss problems and set other dates to be with family and friends in the future. 

At the end of the day, there is always more than one perspective to every situation, so being openminded to others’ views will allow you to not be blindsided, and yet shows you respect your partner’s and your loved one’s opinions. After all, everyone may not see what you see, as they are not the one who is falling in love with them, you are. The important thing to remember is there is a reason you chose your partner to be “your person”. They are the one who can console your mind, your body and your soul

Seventy Thirty’s up to date, dating terms explained?

Today, there is a name for everything, so it’s only natural that new terms have been invented for everything to do with dating. These new terms include cuffing seasonghosting,hauntingand zombieing.  They reveal psychological processes that help us make sense of what’s happening in the dating world, so it’s worthwhile knowing what they mean. 

Let’s begin with a timely one – cuffing season. Cuffing season refers to the winter months, when people who are usually happily single start to seek a committed relationship. With the days getting shorter and the nights longer, the temperature dropping and the trees becoming bare, it’s the perfect time for cosy nights in with your loved one, building a relationship. It is the optimal time of year for past partners to creep up on you, too. If an ex-partner is single, they might try to come back you to spend these cosy nights in with you. Clinical psychologist Seth Meyersexplains that ‘our energy levels are lower during the colder weather and we are moodier’, so we have less motivation to organise interesting dates. This, coupled with poor winter weather, means we have fewer places to go and things to do. This makes us seek out an easier option, such as a past partner.   

This may help to explain why ghosting in relationships is on the rise. Ghosting refers to when an individual ‘disappears’ without a trace. One day, two people are communicating as normal, and the next, one of them just stops. Ghosting someone can be a way of avoiding your own emotional anguish. However, it can also be passive-aggressive and intentional; it’s a cowardly way to end a relationship. Researchhas shown that emotional rejection activates the same pathways in the brain as physical pain does (MacDonald & Leary, 2005). Being ghosted is painful and means the person who has been ghosted has no closure. They may have several questions for their partner – why did you do this? Don’t you love me any more? What went wrong? 

Some people are more likely to ghost than others. Researchhas shown that people with stronger ‘destiny’ beliefs (as opposed to growth beliefs) are more likely to ghost another person or intend to ghost (Freedman et al., 2018). Those who have ‘destiny’ beliefsbelieve that relationships succeed or fail because two people are either inherently compatible, or they’re not. If a problem were to arise, destiny theorists are more likely to conclude that the relationship was not meant to be rather than work to overcome these problems and find a solution; they are more likely to ghost someone than face the problem head-on. In contrast, people with growth beliefsthink that relationships thrive when people overcome challenges and obstacles; they think this helps the relationship to grow and develop. It’s important to remember that being ghosted says nothing about you, and everything about your ex. Move on to find your next potential match. 

While ghosting refers to current relationships ending abruptly, there are also terms to describe past partners creeping back into your life. This is done indirectly by haunting or directly by zombieing. 

Haunting refers to when – after a substantial amount of time and no communication – a past love begins to subtly resurface in your life. This is done, for example, by liking your posts on social media, which makes you think of them without them actively communicating with you. Why are they following me on social media? Why are they liking my posts? These ghosts from past relationships usually only stop haunting you when they have found someone else to fixate on. Unfortunately, there is noghostbusterthat we can call for you to get rid of them. So, keep an eye out and ensure you don’t engage with a haunting ex.

Zombieing differs from haunting in that it is an active way of an ex coming back into your life; it’s as if someone has just come back from the dead. They send a ‘Hey, how are you?’ message out of the blue and begin to communicate with you as if they only spoke to you yesterday. People tend to be zombied when the person who is zombieing is regretting their decision to end the relationship, or simply because they’re feeling bored and lonely. As it can bring back feelings of nostalgia,it can make you question why now, after all this time, when you are moving forward with your life, they have decided to come back into it. 

Haunting and zombieing can be psychologically draining, since getting over an ex is emotionally challenging. They’re both a form of control, and can prevent a vulnerable person from moving on with their life because they bring a sense of false hope that there’s a chance of getting back together. On the flip side, it may be genuine and your ex may be coming back into your life because they genuinely miss you. The key is to figure out why this is happening. Is your ex only thinking about his own emotions, or is he genuine? If they really want you back in their life, then you’d find out quite soon: they would apologise or try to win you back. If the same person ghosts, haunts or zombies you more than once, then it’s more than likely down to boredom. They’re trying to manipulate you and keep some control over you. It’s definitely time to move on. 

Let’s look at some more of the newer dating terms. 

 

Back-up scenarios

Cushioningis the act of actively pursuing someone who is already taken, keeping them close to you. Imagine the person you like is in a steady relationship. You don’t flirt with them but you talk to them regularly, you have inside jokes and shared memories, and you tag them on social media. But you have an ulterior motive. You are preparing to be their ‘cushion’ if things don’t work out with the person they’re with. Or you might prepare someone to be your ‘cushion’ if your current relationship ends – this can be seen as infidelity.

It’s best to have firm boundaries in place when you’re communicating with someone who is in a relationship. If you’re in a relationship, respect the person you’re with by not overstepping your boundaries. This will avoid cushioning. Cushioning is about putting a lot of effort into someone, with the hope it might lead somewhere. The opposite is breadcrumbing(or ‘Hansel and Gretteling’, after the fairy tale with the dark twist). This means sending out flirtatious, but noncommittal, text ‘breadcrumbs’ to lure someone in without expending a lot of effort. There is no point getting your hopes up about a breadcrumber; they’re just bored. 

The final back-up scenario is  benching, which is very common – and frustrating. Benchinghappens when someone is unsure about being in a relationship and doesn’t want to commit to you, so they stop contacting you and start cancelling dates at the last minute, making excuses not to meet up. However, they don’t want to commit to replacing you and end up regretting their decision so they keep you on the bench, just like a substitute in football. If they can’t find anything better or they finally decide they want you, they’ll take you off the bench. Be wary of people who do this: as quickly as they can take you off the bench, they can also move on to someone else. 

 

Appearances

When we talk about appearances, we mean how you present yourself to other people. Are you showing them your true self, a Photoshopped version, or a different person altogether? At Seventy Thirtywe discuss with our clients the importance of good, accurate photos and information. This does them justice by representing them in the best light, but still portrays an accurate representation of themselves. This brings us on to the next term,kittenfishing. Kittenfishing means showing inaccurate photos of yourself: for example, Photoshopped photos, photos using filters, or photos taken years ago that don’t show how you look now. It can even mean changing your personality depending on how you think your partner wants you to be, and lying about things you are interested in. Kittenfishing is more prevalent now than in previous years, due to an increase in the number ofappsthat can make you look slimmer, alter your skin tone and change your appearance with the click of a button. 

Even more extreme than kittenfishing is catfishing. This term originated from a 2010 film, and it often begins due to a lack of self-confidence. Individuals use a fake identity and someone else’s pictures for their profile on dating sites and social media, and go the extra mile to make another person believe their fake identity is actually them. They may become so engrossed in their lies and false reality that they can’t admit what they’ve done. Catfishing is psychologically damaging: if you’re catfished, you’ll find it harder to trust other people. It’s important to remember to be yourself when dating. There is no point in lying, as lies will catch up with you eventually. 

 

Hot and cold

If someone isn’t fully invested in you but doesn’t want to be without you, they may blow hot and cold – they may treat you inconsistently, sometimes being lovely, and at other times being nasty. 

Love bombingis when a relationship starts out as a whirlwind romance, all hearts and grand gestures. It is highly manipulative and can be a way to gain control over another person. They will tell you they love you very early on, and that they’ve never felt this way about anyone. You may be flattered, and think you feel the same about them – but when you start to reciprocate, they will lose interest in you. They enjoy the chase but as soon as they manage to catch the person they are after, they start looking for the next chase. 

The final term is known as stashingor Jekyll and Hyde-ing. ‘Stashing refers to the act of dating someone seriously, only to have them hide you away from everyone they know’ (Salaky, 2017). They are affectionate when they see you, but they don’t tell their friends and family about you, and don’t share pictures of you on their social media; they ‘stash’ you away. Maybe they’re benching you, maybe they’re cushioning someone else, but they are definitely not committing to you, so it’s time to move on to someone who wants to tell the world about your relationship.

It’s important to remember that people who act in any of these ways are only thinking abouttheirfeelings, not about the psychological effects their behaviour might have on another person. It is okay to feel pain, sadness and confusion if you’re treated like this, but to be able to move forward and continue the journey to find everlasting love, you need to find happiness within yourself. It can’t be dictated by someone else. To hear more on this topic, listen to our podcast,‘Are you up to date with dating terms?’ 

 

References

MacDonald, G. & Leary, M.R. (2005) ‘Why does social exclusion hurt? The relationship between social and physical pain.’ Psychological Bulletin131(2), 202.

Freedman, G., Powell, D.N., Le, B. & Williams, K.D. (2018) ‘Ghosting and destiny: Implicit theories of relationships predict beliefs about ghosting.’ Journal of Social and Personal Relationships,     https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0265407517748791.

Salaky, K. (2017) ‘Everything you need to know about the newest trend wrecking your dating life – stashing.’ Retrieved from http://uk.businessinsider.com/what-is-stashing-dating-trend-2017-8