Tag

relationships

Browsing

Rachel, a 46-year-old single mum of three, offers intimate insight into the highs and lows of dating after 20 years of marriage.

After divorcing her husband of 20 years, Rachel decided to adventure into the chaotic and thrilling world of dating, looking to meet someone to enjoy her time with. Sparing no details, she shares her experiences of finding a new partner, giving us the nitty-gritty of dating as a single mum.

Will I have time to go out and meet new people? How will I find someone that accepts me and my kids? Am I still attractive as a single parent? Can I dare show my body after having children? How will I know if it’s safe to bring a new partner into my children’s lives?

With three children to consider, Rachel felt swamped with concerns about how she would manage dating again.

According to 2021 statistics, a whopping one million families (14.2%) are single parent families, with single mothers comprising 79.3%. With a million single parents nationwide, there are a lot Aussies who may be thinking of braving the dating scene.

Rachel found that at this stage in her life, most of her friends were in long-term relationships, making it difficult to meet a huge pool of single people offline. She notes, “I couldn’t take any risks with my family and I didn’t know any single people – I couldn’t go out a lot, because of the kids.”

People are increasingly turning to online platforms to meet new people. While myths and stigma surround online dating, Rachel became curious and created a profile, hoping to gain her own experience of virtual connection.

She began exploring the free platforms, talking to people throughout the busyness of her days at work and with her children. To Rachel, the online dating world became “a minefield – a whole new area that I had to navigate.”

Being concrete in her search, she quickly moved onto paid platforms, hoping that people willing to financially invest in dating would be more serious.

On the free sites, she described meaningless, shallow conversations and people seeking quick thrills and gratification.

 

It was empowering to know that if they weren’t right for me, I had the confidence not to just clutch onto anybody. I had the power to decide whether I wanted to pursue anything.

As well as time, low self-esteem and confidence were influential in her decision to remain online. Rachel reflects on these feelings:

“Because I had such low self-esteem and confidence, it almost felt like a safe way of moving forward – you could hide behind the computer, you weren’t rocking up to a bar where somebody could see all of you. Part of me thought if I can be witty and funny, perhaps into the future they might see past my body.”

These concerns prompted her honesty, “I purposely chose a very real profile picture because I didn’t want to put myself in a position where I met up with someone and wasn’t good enough.”

Rachel recalls tumbling into a stage of over-purchasing high heels, body brushing and living on steamed fish as ways of coping with this newfound pressure.

She shares, “I was really enjoying the thrill of it, but as soon as I had to go and meet them, I began to over-analyse all of my imperfections. I was so insecure with my body image and baggage from my previous relationship. I felt I was ready to date, but I doubted I’d have anything exciting or interesting to say and I thought no one would find me attractive.”

After a spanning diversity of dates, from getting terribly sunburnt with a personal trainer at the beach to an intimate dinner with a much older man, Rachel felt her confidence build.

“It was empowering to know that if they weren’t right for me, I had the confidence not to clutch onto anybody. I had the power to decide whether I wanted to pursue anything.”

She reflects on her date with Johnathon, who she was initially very interested in:

“He was funny and really cheeky. I hadn’t put a height restriction on the dating app…when we finally met, he was so tiny! He was smaller than me. I tried to think openly and out of the box, I didn’t want to be shallow – just go with it.

We went to a Japanese restaurant and then later to a bar. I wasn’t attracted to him in the slightest, but I made myself kiss him, just to see if I could spark anything. I got in my car and felt totally deflated. All the way home he kept texting me saying that he wanted to see me again, but I knew I didn’t want to. He was very full on and I just had to tell him that he wasn’t right for me.”

Go with it, it might not be what you’re expecting, but who knows where you’re going to go. It’s like an adventure.

It wasn’t until she met her current partner, Dan, that Rachel found all the qualities she had been looking for. Many hours of cocktails and good conversation sparked the beginning of their relationship.

“I though fuck it, expectation is a bitch – why say, oh I only want a six-foot man with a gorgeous body? Go with it, it might not be what you’re expecting, but who knows where you’re going to go. It’s like an adventure.”

Finding out that Dan also had three kids at home meant navigating both of their children’s acceptance of a new partner.

Ultimately, there are genuine people out there who want the same thing as you.

Rachel explains that the process was gradual and expresses the importance of not placing any pressure on her children to meet her new partner until they felt ready. The same approach was used when being welcomed into Dan’s family home:

“When I met the kids, I was introduced as a friend and then gradually over time, when everyone felt comfortable with me being there, Dan told them I was his girlfriend.”

Whilst building a new relationship with children is complex, Rachel concludes that, “If you’re with the right person and they want a relationship then they are going to understand the intricacies of family life and accept that it takes as long as it takes to allow somebody to come into your home.”

Four years later, Rachel and Dan are in a thriving, vibrant relationship and have become a positive part of both their children’s lives. Despite the anxieties and doubts of stepping back into dating after a long marriage, Rachel looks back and laughs at her huge collection of high heels, dreadful sunburn, and diverse dating experiences, glad that she had the courage to dive back in and go for it.

“You’ve got to do something different to get something different and ultimately, there are genuine people out there who want the same thing as you.”

My twin sister is my soulmate. Whilst she braved the cold and adventured our snow-covered garden, I curled up under the warmth of blankets absorbed in a good book. Being so different and yet having our lives so intimately entwined has given me a unique sense of individuality.

My twin sister, Alanna, beat me into the world by 20 minutes – 20 minutes that to my Mum, felt like 20 years. Little did we know, we had just begun our vibrant and adventurous life together as twins. Whilst other children spent time learning how to build friendships, I was born with mine.

As babies we shared everything: a small, bright bedroom decorated with exotic animals and a rocking horse, a pram, which we giggled in as we rode over bumpy ground, and a marvelous curiosity for everything we encountered.

As we began to talk and toddle around, I clumsily knocked into things whilst Alanna naturally found her feet. As we learnt to eat new foods, I was reserved, sticking to my favourite cheese sandwiches with Alanna across the table in full excitement, allowing new fruits to tingle on her tongue.

Whilst other children spent time learning how to build friendships, I was born with mine.

Slowly our small, bright bedroom became two larger and very different rooms. My walls were painted a blushing pink with butterflies flying in every direction. Across the hallway, Alanna played in a room of deep purple, surrounded by chestnut horses which galloped across the walls. Despite discovering our own quirks and curiosities, Alanna and I were joined at the hip, in love with spending time together.

Our Mum encouraged our individuality, running back and forth from my ballet classes and Alanna’s horse-riding lessons. We would venture into our own passions and after doing so, fall excitedly onto our old cream sofa to tell each other all about it. It was important to our parents that we learn to build our own identities – something which years on, has helped me to seek out my own life separate from Alanna.

When it comes to fraternal twins, it is vital that loved ones acknowledge and celebrate differences so that each person has a chance to build their own sense of self and not become attached to a joint, twin identity.

Being a fraternal twin is magic; our uniqueness is the very thing that makes us so close. Our difference in appearance is almost as stark as our difference in personality: my hair falls in soft, honey blonde curls that melt onto my shoulders; Alanna’s hair tumbles in rich, dark hues and is always cut short and neat.

Alanna and I were joined at the hip, in love with spending time together.

I was born with hazel eyes that appear green in the sunlight, Alanna with eyes as blue as the Cornish sea. Her skin is dusted with freckles – mine, a blank canvas.

Interestingly, when we visited our grandparents, they attempted to dress us in the same frolicking outfits, despite our intense differences. In school and around friends, we were often referred to as ‘the twins’ or ‘the Cranes’ which was much to our dislike, having always been treated as individuals by our parents. Spending our days, weeks, months and years together meant that naturally, we formed a likeness when it came to sense of humour, little phrases and mannerisms.

It was important to our parents that we learn to build our own identities. 

Alanna and I share the same memories, have the same friends and family and have experienced almost every rite of passage together. Being so intimately connected with someone is a unique and extraordinary experience. It is within this deeply personal relationship that I have found my own individuality, and Alanna hers.

As we entered our teenage years and began high school, our differences flourished. We remained close, sitting together at lunchtime with a shared group of close friends, but as the bell echoed throughout the campus, I headed to my favourite English class as she made her way to Biology.

It was at this time that we truly came to grasp our individual character, struggling through the uncertain years of adolescence. Body image became a prevalent point of conversation between us as we noticed our bodies changing in different ways to each other.

We had come to accept that after years of shared experiences and time together, our lives were venturing down two separate pathways.

There were many days that were dull; we felt disconnected and separate from one another, having become even more independent in our self-image and awareness. We had always sought after our own distinct identity, but we remained incredibly close. Our teenage years proved to be complex as we attempted to navigate a new kind of individuality.

At 17, after years of having our own space, we moved into a new home which meant sharing a room together for the first time since we were babies. This became a challenge – a shared space as we attempted to grow into our differences.

I began to explore the avenues of writing and thought ahead to a creative career in the world of publishing; Alanna set her gaze on nursing and midwifery.

I wanted to stay up into the late hours of the night writing and chatting whilst Alanna adored the comfort of her bed and wished to turn the lights out before midnight. More so than ever, we encountered our differences and unlike the many years of our childhood, longed for our own space.

It wasn’t until our final years of high school that we realised the value in our closeness and its ability to enhance our individuality. We had come to accept that after years of shared experiences and time together, our lives were venturing down two separate pathways. Before university began, we gathered our savings and jetted off to Europe for ten incredible weeks.

We combined our interests: my love of literature and history in the museums we visited, Alanna’s passion for the countryside as we strolled along the vast green of England – and of course, to both of our excitement, a colourful indulgence in new foods. We ventured across Europe’s diversity, onto the seductive streets of Paris and balmy terraces of Rome.

We had always sought after our own distinct identity, but we remained incredibly close.

Now, at different universities and studying for our wonderfully different lives, we appreciate our individuality which thanks to our parents, has been fostered from an early age. From shared rooms, prams and toys, being called ‘the twins’ and wild attempts to dress us the same, Alanna and I flourished into two unique people, framed by our experiences together.

Rising Woman founder Sheleana Aiyana discusses how a spiritual awakening led her on a journey to self-acceptance and how her relationships have evolved along the way.

A conscious couple starts with a conscious individual. This is something that Sheleana Aiyana, founder and visionary of Rising Womanfound out the hard way. After a painful divorce in her early 20s, she was awakened to the traumas in her childhood which contributed to the total breakdown of her relationship. Since then, Sheleana has been committed to her own emotional development so that she can be better serve herself and others. Sheleana is now happily re-married and practises consciousness to make sure it stays that way.

Growing up in and out of foster homes, and without a father-figure present in her life, Sheleana admits that for too long she had no idea what a healthy relationship even looked like, let alone how to be a part of one. This led to a string of interactions with “unsafe partners” before finally letting go of the pain she had long suppressed.

As part of her spiritual transformation, Sheleana initially sought the guidance of a mentor to help resolve her abandonment issues. She was taught how to use inner child, shadow, and ancestral work to reconnect with the damaged parts of herself. Armed with the proper psychological tools, Sheleana was soon able to find peace and reclaim control over her life.

Woman and Child Walking

We are each responsible for our own happiness

After spending four years as an apprentice in transpersonal group-work containers and depth psychology, Sheleana now co-facilitates women’s groups and relationship workshops to help get others on the right track. She is trained in imago couples’ facilitation, tantra, couples work, somatic healing, and is even certified as a full-spectrum birth doula.

Her philosophy is that all relationships must start with the self before they can be extended out to include another. It is only after building a strong foundation of self-acceptance that we can bring someone else into our lives. By piecing together the broken parts of ourselves, we come to realise that we were whole all along, and did not need to be completed by anyone else.

This means that we are each responsible for our own happiness in a relationship – and it does not always have to be romantic. Platonic and professional relationships function in very much the same way. This is called being in a “conscious relationship”.

Happy Couple

Sheleana explains, “Being conscious in a relationship is not a whole lot different than a conventional relationship other than the fact that we no longer see our partner as somebody who is designed to meet all of our needs.” They are there instead as a “partner in life and as an ally in healing … but also act as our spiritual teacher”.

By recognising a partner as an individual, and by supporting their individuality, it becomes possible to ease the burden of responsibility in a relationship. Sheleana suggests we are each responsible for our own emotional needs. Rather than depending solely on a partner to provide a particular feeling – be it happiness, or love, or a sense of worth – all of this you can (and should) provide for yourself.

But this doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t expect a partner to provide these feelings for us. Rather, it is our responsibility to ensure our own needs are met before giving to another. This helps liberate couples from the unrealistic expectations held in society that they must ‘complete’ one another.

Coffee with Friends

Sheleana uses an argument with her husband as an example of how to practice consciousness. When he “triggers something in me, that’s my opportunity to bring it in a vulnerable way and to invite him to do a healing process with me, or for me to take space to go and process that in myself.” Whereas in a conventional relationship, “If my husband triggers me then there’s something he did wrong and there’s something he needs to do in order to fix me so that I can feel better”.

A fundamental part of practicing relationship consciousness is to witness your own thoughts and behaviour and try to understand where it comes from. If your reactions are rooted in trauma, then it is important to recognise and reflect on them from another perspective so that they can be unlearnt. This is because unresolved trauma can lead to co-dependent relationships.

A co-dependent relationship is a type of dysfunctional relationship where one person doesn’t have self-sufficiency or autonomy. This often translates to one partner taking advantage of the other and is not good for either.

Family at the Beach

We’re not responsible for saving other people

The family systems we were exposed to as children taught us how to form and maintain bonds as adults. While some were able to develop healthy attachments to their caretakers, others might have learned co-dependency as a result of emotional or physical neglect. This can lead to attachment and abandonment issues in adult relationships.

Relationship consciousness actively works against co-dependency by dismantling the patterns of caretaking. Co-dependent people learn to put the wants and needs of others ahead of their own and sacrifice their own feelings in order to maintain these relationships. This is especially problematic in cases where the partner is abusive or suffering from an addiction. Independent people, however, know that it is not selfish to prioritise themselves before others.

Sheleana asserts, “We’re not responsible for saving other people.” Rather, “One of the most beautiful gifts we can give people when they are suffering … is to remind them of their own power” and capacity to heal on their own. To withhold this gift would be to withhold the catalyst for change.

Spiritual Woman

It is possible to provide support to others while maintaining strong boundaries with ourselves. Sheleana says, “This isn’t to say that we don’t want to support people if they’re struggling” but that we need to “put our care and our own primary needs at the forefront as well, otherwise we’re just self-abandoning.” While it may seem selfless, it is actually a destructive coping mechanism to fixate on someone else’s problems and disregard your own.

According to Sheleana, “That’s a great way to distract from our own emotions. If I’m so focused on saving someone, I don’t have to think about my own my own trauma or my own feelings of unworthiness”.

By identifying our own boundaries and setting them firmly with others, we choose not to self-abandon. It is important that we stand up for ourselves. For example, “If we have plans and then we just cancel them because somebody that we are romantically interested in is inviting us out on a date and we just ditch all of our friends,” then we are self-abandoning by prioritising someone else.

It is important to determine what red flags to look out for in a relationship. Setting hard lines make it easier to identify and leave toxic behaviour which might have been normalised in the past. But Sheleana stresses the difference between an unhappy relationship and an abusive one. She says, “In our culture we tend to leave a relationship too early because we’re looking for perfection.” While abuse should never be tolerated, continued bickering and arguments might just be a result of poor communication. Sometimes a couple must learn how to emotionally re-connect with each other before walking away.

Homework

Speaking of how she entered her current relationship, Sheleana says, “We wrote lists, we revealed our traumas to each other, we shared life stories, we qualified what kind of relationship we wanted to build, what we needed, what we were afraid of, and the things that we still need to work on within ourselves. We sat in front of each other and asked, ‘Are you ready to do this work?’ and we both agreed.” This intensive process allowed them to locate and establish other’s boundaries; they started to become ‘conscious’.

Today, more than a decade has passed since Sheleana began spiritual seeking and she uses her relationship experience and knowledge to help guide others. Her uplifting book, Becoming the Oneexplores her own journey to self-acceptance and reveals how to transform pain into power.

Watch the full interview below or on our YouTube channel.

Attachment styles are how you have learned to love and communicate with others from early childhood, and it could be affecting you more than you know.

Attachment styles in relationships can be the root cause of arguments, abandonment issues, toxic behaviour, a lack of intimacy and poor communication, to name only a handful. They can be the result of the demise of relationships or repetitive bad habits that seem impossible to break. All of this can result in a sense of hopelessness or confusion as to why these negative feelings or situations keep arising.

The basics of attachment theory are that an infant must form a secure bond with a responsive parent from a very early age. If the infant’s physical and emotional needs are met, they will create a ‘secure’ attachment to their caregiver. This sense of security is essential in early development as this will stay with the child into adult life. A secure attachment style provides the security to form healthy relationships, communicate and navigate the world with a sense of confidence.

The kicker is, only 60% of parents provide infants with a genuinely secure attachment style. A lack of secure attachment can lead to difficulty showing vulnerability, asking for help, receiving affection, or trusting a partner.

So, if you’re struggling to open up to your spouse or frustrated with your best friend for asking for help, don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s just your insecure inner child.

So, what is your attachment style?

a couple sit cross legged next to one another one the road

There are four major attachment styles. Learning which one is yours may be the key to a healthier you and healthier relationships. People who identify and work with their attachment styles often have an easier time correcting negative behaviours. Your style is either:

1. Secure

As already mentioned, secure attachment styles generally have an easier time trusting and communicating their emotions. Therefore, giving and recieing affection usually isn’t an issue for secure types. As a secure type, chances are the lines of communication are pretty open for you in your relationships, and arguments do not easily arise.

2. Dismissive-avoidant

Perhaps you hate the feeling of relying on others, and when others are dependent on you, you think of them as ‘needy.’ Maybe over dinner your spouse has tried to peacefully resolve an unfinished argument from the week before. Instead of listening, you angrily accuse them of not letting go and shut down the conversation by leaving the table. It could be that you prioritise your career over your friendships, and as a result, you find yourself increasingly alone in life. These are self-preserving behaviours that can become toxic.

3. Anxious-preoccupied

Anxious attachment styles are often plagued with fears of abandonment. For example, you may wonder why your partner is being distant and moody, be convinced they are dissatisfied and worry that they are planning to leave you for something or someone better. These negative thoughts can quickly erupt into an argument. Maybe you are jealous and read your spouse’s text messages when they are asleep and later feel ashamed of your behaviour,

4. Fearful-avoidant

This attachment style is a combination of an anxious and avoidant attachment. For example, you might crave love and affection but feel uncomfortable receiving it. This can sometimes result in high-risk behaviours such as substance abuse and difficulty maintaining relationships.

Maybe you struggle to become close to people and can only maintain relationships under the influence of alcohol. You might self-sabotage by distancing yourself from others and look for affection in places you know you will not find it.

Doing an attachment style quiz might help you develop a sense of which feels more like yourself.

a couple sit next to one another on a couch

Attachment styles in relationships

At some point, you’ve encountered the term ‘law of attraction.’ The idea is that our positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative people into our world. Well, your attachment style may have more to do with this than you think.

If you fall into an anxious-avoidant or fearful-avoidant attachment style, maybe someone secure and dependable feels a little dull. Subconsciously, you can crave the unpredictability and chaos that you are used to receiving. Your caregivers might have been angry, dismissive of you, or made you feel like a burden, and yet, you loved them. Because this is what your internal blueprint of love is, it’s what you seek out in another partner.

For example, suppose you are an anxious person who craves love and fears abandonment. In that case, you may spend months or years waiting on an avoidant person to be committed in your relationship with no change. As a result, avoidant and anxious people frequently end up together. On the other hand, two highly avoidant people might spend time apart throwing themselves into their respective jobs and lack communication.

If unaware of your attachment style, it can be easy to enter relationships and friendships on autopilot and often not identify why the same problems are constantly encountered. It’s possible to repeat the same emotional habits throughout your life subconsciously. For example, anxiety, fear of abandonment, or a general lack of care can contribute to turmoil in friendships and marriages.

a couple sit next to one another outside. One is texting while the other tries to read over their shoulder

You can correct your attachment style

If this is all sounding a little depressing, don’t worry; attachment styles can be corrected. The best way to do this is by mindfully identifying how issues in relationships may be rooted in both party’s attachment styles. This gets to the heart of the problem and increases compassion and awareness for each person’s emotional needs.

The first step is to educate yourself and take an attachment style quiz, then read literature, self-reflect, and speak to a psychologist.

Other helpful tools are;

 1 . Meditation

Practices that increase mindfulness are invaluable in high-stress situations. Set aside time each day to do a mindfulness exercise or some breathwork. In the midst of difficult conversations, using these techniques helps regulate emotions to reflect on the issue properly.

2 . Journaling

Journaling is a great way to reflect on the past, your childhood, and things responsible for your stress, anxiety, or fears.

3. Practice self-care

Practicing self-care and learning to nurture yourself is crucial. Provide yourself with the love and care that may have been absent as a child, and you will be more equipped to provide this for others in your life.

4. Therapy

Lastly and most importantly, health care professionals recommend that you address your attachment style through therapy. Some psychologists specialize in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or trauma therapies. But, again, being open with a healthcare provider or doctor is the best way to find what you need.

Be gentle with yourself and the people that you care for. Often, unresolved trauma or neglect can be the root of obstacles in any relationship. Addressing this and healing can take time, patience and be hard work. Pushing through this to the other side will lead to more harmonious relationships and greater inner happiness.

a women sits on a therapists couch talking while the therapists hands are seen taking notes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Codependency can cause you to lose touch with yourself, your life and your entire identity.

Of course it isn’t bad to care about your partner. If you love someone, it’s natural to feel the need to look after them. However, there is a difference between caring for your partner and being codependent. Codependency can cause you to lose touch with yourself, your life and your entire identity

It’s true; relationships are about compromise. We give and we take. We care and are cared for in return. But how much is too much?

A couple with anchor tattoos

What is codependency?

In simple terms, codependency involves caring for another to the point where it becomes unhealthy. In a codependent relationship, an individual sacrifices their own needs in order to meet the needs of their partner. One party takes on the role of the ‘giver’ and the other, the ‘taker’. The ‘giver’ often loses their own identity while trying to heal or ‘fix’ their partner’s illness, addiction or dysfunctional personality. Eventually, the two begin to rely on one another for relief of insecurity and loneliness, rather than love.

What causes codependency?

More often than not, codependency stems from childhood. It appears in those who grew up in unstable households, where they were exposed to abuse, emotional neglect, family issues, and lack of communication. A dysfunctional upbringing can cause people to develop an insecure attachment style, which can lead to further difficulty in relationships. A person with an insecure attachment style is more likely to become jealous, clingy and constantly seek reassurance from a partner.

Individuals with low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, or trust issues, may enter a codependent relationship in order to feel wanted or needed. If an individual feels they are being relied upon, they are less likely to worry about being abandoned.

But I care about my partner. Why is that bad?

Of course, it isn’t bad to care about your partner. If you love someone, it’s natural for you to feel the need to protect and look after them. However, there’s a difference between caring for your partner and being codependent. Codependency can cause you to lose touch with yourself, your life and your entire identity. A Codependent’s life revolves around their partner’s needs and emotions, leaving them with little time for themselves. This leads to isolation and loss of connection to friends and family. If your partner struggles with addiction or mental illness, your codependency may be enabling them and preventing them from seeking help. This may have negative, and potentially deadly consequences.

Codependency warning signs

  • You justify your partner’s bad behaviour.
  • You want to ‘fix’ them.
  • You can’t enjoy yourself when they’re not around.
  • You feel like your world would crumble without them.
  • You can’t perform daily tasks, like driving or going to work, without constantly thinking about them.
  • You have no boundaries.
  • You constantly seek their approval.
  • Your self-worth depends on them needing you.

Healing a codependent relationship

If you’ve lived in a codependent relationship for a long time, it can become difficult to notice or accept it, let alone change it. Though it is possible to overcome codependency on your own, many couples require professional treatment or counselling. If both parties are willing to make a change, they can work towards a healthier relationship.

As codependency is complicated, it’s important to find a therapist with experience in dealing with them. A professional can help you to:

  • Identify codependent behaviour and take steps to address it.
  • Work through unsolved childhood trauma.
  • Work on increasing self-esteem and self-worth.
  • Help with anxiety and fear of abandonment.
  • Challenge negative thought patterns.
  • Help you develop an identity beyond your relationship with your partner.

Remember, in a healthy relationship, it’s important to:

  • Take breaks

In a healthy relationship, people are able to function away from their partner. Spend time with your friends and family, go to the beach, out to dinner, to a movie or a solo outing… maybe that shopping spree you’ve been dreaming of!

  • Set yourself boundaries
    • If your partner is constantly texting you, decide that you’ll no longer answer while at work or after a certain time.
    • Don’t cancel plans to spend time with them. If you planned a day out with friends, don’t cancel it just to be with them.
    • Don’t be afraid to say no if you don’t feel like spending time with them. If you’re sick, busy, or tired after a long day at work, tell them.
    • Organise a ‘date night’ with them, or plan time you always spend together. That way, you have time to yourself, while still having a scheduled time to spend time with them.

When you have become used to giving and giving, spending time on yourself can feel selfish and wrong. However, self-care is vital in relieving stress and anxiety, strengthening coping skills, and increasing resilience. Whether it’s putting on a face mask, taking a warm bath, or going on a peaceful walk in the woods, self-care can help revitalise your mind and body, leading to a calmer and healthier you.

  • Embrace positive communication.

Be open with your partner and express your feelings. If they do something to upset you, tell them. If they aren’t respecting your boundaries, talk to them. The more open you are with them, the easier it will be for them to open up in return.

  • Trust that your emotions are valid.

In a codependent relationship, it’s common to ignore or hide your emotions in fear of causing an argument. However, in a healthy relationship, both parties should feel comfortable sharing how they feel, without fearing the outcome. Regardless of whether you deem an emotion as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, you are entitled to feel it.

Professional treatment

If you and your partner both decide to make a change, a therapist who specialises in relationships may be able to help you. A professional can assist you in establishing healthy boundaries, work on self-esteem and self-worth issues, and help you to recognise unhealthy thought patterns. Since codependency often stems from childhood, a therapist may also work through any traumas or unresolved feelings that may be related to your need for codependency. Overall, the goal of treatment is to allow an individual to regain their sense of emotions and identify which, in turn, leads to a healthier relationship.

Remember: it’s not your job to ‘fix’ your partner.

We all want to support the ones we love. But remember, you are not your partner’s therapist. It is important to love them without hurting yourself in the process.

 

 

It took all of 30 seconds to go from, “You can’t play with me,” to the older sister belting her younger brother on his back with her Barbie doll. There were many tears, a Timeout, and a forced apology, as well as a ban on all play dates for the rest of the week.

Sibling conflict and rivalry is all too familiar to many families. With arguments ending in violent outbursts, crying and an effort to separate the sparring kids, parents often wonder if their children will ever get along. While the cliches in popular culture frequently portray negative relationships between siblings, being aware of the long-term effects of this kind of behaviour is important for parents.

Recent paediatrics studies published in the United States National Library of Medicine reveals being bullied by a sibling can be just as damaging to a child’s mental and emotional health as being bullied by another child in the playground or at school. The home is meant to be a safe space for each individual member of a family. When bullying occurs there, children will feel helpless, anxious and extremely unhappy, which can manifest into more serious issues of depression and other mental illnesses as they grow older.

It is important to note that there is a difference between bullying and rivalry – bullying is more infrequent than rivalry. Sibling bullying has an element of aggression verbally and physically that rivalry does not. Violent words, manner of speech, as well as physical actions and intent are all signs of bullying. Rivalry lacks this ongoing element of aggression and nastiness and, according to Sherri Gordon of Verywell Family,

“This bullying…stays with the victim for years to come.”Sad young girl

Sibling relationships are shaped by a multitude of forces. While family dynamics and composition play a role, as do extramarital factors, every child is unique. Research indicates that siblings can be as different to one another as two completely unrelated children.

A study by Cambridge University conducted on a group of children over five years investigated the nature of sibling rivalry. It discovered siblings have an overall positive impact on each other, even if their relationship isn’t completely happy.

According to the study, mild rivalry between siblings can be beneficial to both children and will not often have long term impacts. It is when this behaviour is sustained and occurs over a lengthy period of both siblings’ childhoods that issues can arise. These negative impacts can result in long term problems such as:

  • Difficulty with relationship-building later in life (romantic and non-romantic)
  • Behavioural problems
  • Difficulty in social situations
  • Extreme competitiveness
  • Difficulty accepting criticism and being a “sore loser”

A healthy amount of rivalry can boost a number of positive elements in the younger sibling’s early development. Older children expose their younger brothers or sisters to emotionally rich language particularly when engaged in an argument or competition with the younger sibling. The Cambridge study found, that by the age of six, younger siblings could converse with their older siblings about emotions on equal footing rather than at the level of other six-year-old children.

Two children playing together

It is in the space of sibling relationships that children learn the most about conflict resolution and prevention, as well as testing their social skills both before and during their primary school years.

Michele Fry of Greatschools.org states, “It’s where children learn to cooperate and compromise – skills they carry into adulthood.” With a sibling, the boundaries and limits of social interaction which are modelled by parents can be tested and experimented. Fry explains, unlike with a school-yard friend, a sibling won’t leave their brother or sister if they get called a name or teased by their sibling. In this way, siblings continually learn from each other about how to interact with their peers.

What is important to note is that this testing of social interaction between siblings needs to be monitored by their parent – what can be seen initially as pushing the boundaries can quickly escalate into abuse if the behaviour continues. In this situation the parent should intervene to reinforce positive behaviours and mediate conflict if the children can’t do so between themselves.

 

The role of the parents

Parents have one of the biggest influences over the relationship between their children. Dr Sylvia Rimm, psychologist and director of the Family Achievement Clinic, outlines what is important for parents to know about rivalry between their children.

  1. Labelling

Referring to your children as the “sporty” child, or the “creative” or the “academic” child can cause significant problems for both children. While this may initially seem like a good way to encourage and guide children into areas they may show a natural propensity for, it can have adverse effects.

Dr Rimm states, labels reinforce differences between siblings and can encourage competitiveness for certain titles, commenting;

“When children are labelled best in a domain, they often do their best to prevent another sibling from encroaching on their domain.”

Michele Fry also highlights the negative impact on self-development that labels can cause. Children who are labelled early will often live up to these labels and be disinclined to venture into other areas. It limits their capacity for developing an identity separate to the one they have had reinforced constantly by their parents and siblings because of the label they were given at an early age.

  1. Gender, age and family dynamics

Gender, age and family dynamics are also important to consider as parents when assessing the level of sibling rivalry and encouraging positive sibling relationships. Rivalry is generally harmless and something that most siblings grow out of by the time they have reached their late teen years. Dr Rimm outlines the following instances where rivalry can escalate or cause prolonged problems for both siblings:

  • Two close-aged children of the same gender e.g. two sisters 18 months apart
  • The younger sibling following directly after a very talented oldest child
  • The “baby” of the family

Two young sisters in grass

It’s also important to remember that siblings spend more time together than they do with their peers. Growing up, living in the same household, going through shared family experiences, all contribute to siblings knowing one another in a way that peers do not. While this can be positive for relationship building into the future, it can also have a negative impact for rivalry and bullying. A sibling will know their brother or sister’s weak spots and sensitivities more than schoolyard friends might.

Professor of Applied Family Studies, Laurie Kramer, states,

“Children can take advantage of vulnerabilities and make the other one feel bad with a word.”

This kind of emotional rivalry or bullying is harder for parents to monitor but can be extremely damaging long term on self-esteem and development particularly if it occurs frequently during teenage years.

 

What are the long-term impacts?

According to Mike Bundrant, psychotherapist and co-founder of the Neuro-Linguistic Program, sibling rivalry and aggression can have the same long term as bullying by a peer. In the teenage and young adult years, it can result in a deterioration of self-esteem and sense of personal identity. This usually arises in cases where sibling rivalry takes the form of frequent humiliation or a desire to embarrass one sibling in a public setting.

Sibling rivalry can continue into adulthood and be a feature of a family relationship that never goes away. As adults, there can be competition surrounding financial and employment success, marital and familial situation, and on the successes of the sibling’s own children.

Siblings are usually the closest and most long-lasting family relationship in anyone’s life. Siblings will grow old together in a way that a parent child relationship doesn’t usually provide. If this relationship can be nurtured from a young age, siblings may have a better chance of maintaining a supportive and healthy relationship into adulthood as they create their own lives away from the family home.

Family gathering

Educational consultant and parenting coach, Chrissy Khachane, suggests the following tips for creating positive sibling relationships:

  1. Support cooperative play.
  2. Teach each child to respect the differences between one another.
  3. Talk through poor behaviour with each child to promote understanding in difficult situations.
  4. Teach your children to resolve conflict.
  5. Reinforce boundaries with private conversations.
  6. Give each child individual attention away from his/her sibling.
  7. Modelling healthy relationships by validating each child’s feelings from time to time.
  8. Teach them the difference between tattling and seeking help.
  9. Give each child their own physical space.
  10. Teach your children to recognise and label their own emotions.
  11. Family rituals and traditions are a great way to foster healthy sibling relationships.

Parents walking with children

 

Generation Alpha, the moniker given to the children born after 2010, not only resets the generational alphabet, but reflects the hope and potentiality this group promises as the first cohort born entirely in the 21st century in an age of unrivalled advancement.

Parents of these children need to ensure they don’t fulfil the tendency to project their own personal and generational ideals into teaching. Instead, treat children as unique individuals with their own inherent values and context and find that communication with flourishes easier and allowing them to be more self-actualised people.

 Dr John Demartini, notable human behaviourist, believes this caring individualistic approach to parenting is crucial in the raising of Generation Alpha to ensure they prosper in a dynamic future.

Dr John Demartini, human behaviourist

Effective communication is imperative to all successful relationships; in parent and child relationships however, it is often the weakest link. People are most responsive to suggestions that have benefits valuable to them. Thus, reframing information in accordance to a child’s values produces more constructive and efficacious communication.

You wouldn’t expect a customer to buy an item if you listed all the reasons why you personally wanted it. A skilled salesman examines the customer’s personal values and generates benefits from their perspective. Children are infinitely more receptive to instruction and guidance if the conversation comes from a position they understand wherein their own values are emphasised.

Dr Demartini’s principal recommendation to parents of Generation Alpha revolves around value determination and projection. Parents are urged to consider and care enough about the child as a real person to understand that they have their own inherent set of values and independence rather than extrapolating their own contextual ideals.

The tendency parents have to project their values onto their children autocratically will naturally be met with resistance. The assumption that the child is cast in the same likeness and values the same thing as the parent is damaging. Children end up mislabelled and sometimes mistakenly medicated out of ignorance.

“Children are customers,” says Dr Demartini. “In customer relationships, you factor in their values and their needs and establish those needs before communicating. You care enough to communicate and educate them in accordance to these values and they will be receptive and be able to incorporate that into their life and expand without resistance.

“If you project your values on to somebody and not consider what they hold in esteem you are going to get resistance. Your children will be labelled difficult people when in fact they’re just not being communicated with effectively.”

As is when someone attempts to sell you something you don’t want, children become belligerent when they are approached in a way that does not coalesce with their own intentions or perceive their feelings as bypassed.

Try avoiding imperative projection phrases: should, ought to, supposed to, got to, must.

“These authoritarian terms are almost disrespectful”, says Dr Demartini.

Caring about your child means articulating things in a manner that is understanding of their world view. They will be much more receptive and expand their capacity to listen if an instruction is coming from a line of thought they can follow by someone who respects them, rather than a demand they don’t understand from an authoritarian who speaks down mindlessly.

Teach them to think of obstacles differently; things are not IN the way, they are ON the way. By manipulating the vision of a boulder in the pathway into a building block, goals seem more achievable and accomplishment even sweeter.

Parents, generally, tend to parent in the same manner they were parented. However, after decades of thorough studies on child rearing, a traditional blanket, one-size-fits-all strategy is no longer viable.

Entering a world where the internet is a necessity rather than a luxury, gadgetry is ever advancing and encroaching and speed is a highly determinate factor, these present-day toddlers will likely set the precedent for the rest of the century. As their speed of learning increases so will their expectations; demands will be expected to be fulfilled instantly due to technological advancement. Dr Demartini notes that these new contextual factors will require change in tactics for the parents of these children.

“Their immediate access to information is increasing, thus their demands of themselves and other people will go up accordingly,” says Dr Demartini.

“Their long-term visions to do things in the future will be technologically achievable and so it is important that they are raised in a way that extrapolates their true values.”

Essentially, this generation will have not only the dream to develop the world in new ways, but the technological capacity to achieve it. It is of paramount importance that they are raised with values of the future rather than the past and have confidence and respect for themselves and their support system.

Generation Alpha children will still want to empower all seven areas of their life. They will have a desire to grow their minds, find a career path that serves themselves and others, attempt to expand their wealth, develop some sort of romantic relationship and sustain intimacy with others, monitor their physical fitness and health, fight for social justice and feel spiritually empowered. The difference is that the world is veering away from tradition and steering into a more diverse, flexible state. This distinction means that children need to understand themselves and their own values so they can move with the flow of the future rather than be stunted by the learnings of bygone eras.

“My son has 20,000 followers on YouTube. He wants to be just like PewDiePie. There was no such thing when I was growing up and I don’t entirely understand it, but I have to respect the things he values and encourage him in this new pathway,” says Dr Demartini.

“I spoke to a young lady who had a 16-year-old son many years ago. She thought he was wasting his life messing around on computers and wanted help in encouraging him to do something productive. He now has a high-ranking position as a specialist at IBM (a computer hardware company). She grew up in an era where computers didn’t really exist so she couldn’t understand the value. Each generation is going to have a technology that the generation before is not familiar with and they’re going to tend to project the past onto the future instead of respecting the present.”

You cannot expect to behave the exact same way in different relationships with different people. You have to take into account the values and personality of the person you are with; bend and flex in accordance to them.

When you are in a relationship with somebody, you don’t want them to tell you how you have to be, you want to be loved for who are. Children are no different.

For more information on Dr Demartini visit his website.

 

It’s a universal truth: cheaters stink. They’re disloyal, dishonest and disrespectful. But… what if you’re one of them?

Cheating is the universal relationship crime. And it is so common that Cameron Diaz reckons everyone will be cheated on at some point.

But let’s get something straight here: cheating is not just physical.

While cheating is generally defined as having sex with someone other than your partner, emotional infidelity is potentially even more damaging to a relationship.

In fact, one study shows that women are more hurt by emotional infidelity than they are by infidelity that is sexual.

Emotional infidelity starts small.

Thoughts and fantasies can quickly progress to flirting and sly hints with the other person. From there, most people assume you make the decision to cheat or not to cheat. And if you choose not to, then you’re innocent, and if you give into your fantasies, then you’re guilty.

But I’m going to go against the grain here and say that thinking – and I mean actively thinking – about cheating is just as bad as physically cheating.

As soon as you allow yourself to actively think about someone other than your partner in that way, you have taken the first step down the road of adultery.

Don’t get me wrong, we all have those involuntary thoughts that pop into our minds when we see an attractive-looking person. But there is a big difference between that and actively deciding to dwell on those thoughts.

Our thoughts are powerful, and what we think eventually affects how we feel. And how we feel has a lot of power over what we say and do in life. As soon as you allow yourself to actively think about someone other than your partner in that way, you have taken the first step down the road of adultery.

A bit harsh, you say! Maybe. But isn’t it true? Don’t you feel angry when you catch your bf checking out another girl’s backside? Isn’t that anger real? Isn’t it reasonable?

If it’s not a form of infidelity, then you shouldn’t be angry. But if it is, then your anger makes sense. Right?

Let me put it to you this way: would you rather your partner fell in love with someone else and didn’t sleep with them OR slept with them but didn’t fall in love with them?

Both are pretty awful, but potentially equally devastating to a relationship.

Let’s hear your thoughts! Emotional infidelity – is it just as bad as physically cheating?

Online dating is a contemporary hook-up option for singles, which many now consider as an alternative to traditional methods, and perhaps a new fandangle approach they have yet to try.

There is literally a whole entire universe that comprises single status people (national industry reports suggesting 4.5 million annually) covertly co-existing beneath the radars of those not looking for love, and it seems to be thriving.

The year 1995 marked the official launch of the World Wide Web, followed shortly after by the registration of familiar dating sites such as eHarmony and RSVP. Social media and mobile phone technology evolved dating site capabilities further. Now there are even sites that match daters to the best dating site.

With over 680,000 single mothers with dependents in Australia, the online dating service industry is a lucrative business.

Choice offers useful, comprehensive and current comparative data on popular sites and their suitability against criteria of personal demographic, cost and privacy.

They also provide advice on how to stay physically safe and financially protect against scammers preying on lonely hearts.

Dating and romance scams account for over 30 per cent of total financial losses reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (A.C.C.C.) as arising from scams activity.

The A.C.C.C. reports less than two per cent of online dating sites provided specific information about the costs of their service before becoming a member. They are also aware of instances of online operators that have created and operated their own profiles.

Following a voluntary 18 year dating hiatus to focus on raising her two daughters, 44 year old single mother, Angela, was ready to find her Prince CharmingChar.

Meeting in a public place for first dates felt awkward, surreal and unnatural, “like the world had gone backwards,” Angela says.

“My first date was with a guy that shall be known as the green Kermit. Initially there were a lot of texts followed by a bar, a dinner, and then on the third date a ‘come home with me’ and demands of sex. Let it be known, it is quite the online expectation by the third date!

“Kermit immediately ceased contact following my refusal and, although this bruised my ego, I realised I had dodged bullet. Then much wiser, I asked for complete honesty at the onset, with “Red wine over White Linen Shirt Man” kindly complying by saying he didn’t feel anything after our first date.”

Angela recognises that her online dating journey pulled her out of her comfort zone to overcome her social anxieties.

However, she has grown tired of excusing the poor behaviour of those preying on her emotional vulnerabilities.

Regardless of her negative experiences, Angela acknowledges, “There are definitely people having positive experiences, and those with already active social lives investing in this alternative phenomenon with a different lens.”

“It can be a tool for people to connect, if they feel isolated or alone and provide opportunities for human connection they may otherwise not have had,” says Angela wisely.

“Your experience really will depend on what you are looking for,” explains recently separated 44 year old mother of three, Rebecca.

Rebecca, married at 18, is far more interested in finding herself than a companion, and so “plays” the Tinder game with her new-found freedom and the energy her recent single status has afforded.

“There was no instruction manual to start online dating, but you soon learn,” says Rebecca who spends about an hour a day flicking through profiles.

“When you are my age, where do you go to meet a decent guy? Yachting? Golf? Only the youngies go to the pub and they always hunt in packs,”

Rebecca muses.

Rebecca’s first experience was with Frenchy who, after eight weeks, still comes over Mondays during his lunch break in an Uber.

He coached Rebecca, telling her of a few items to prepare for his arrival and not to worry about the “small talk”.

“I have needed to learn a new language. The guys all talk in acronyms and sometimes I need to guess what they mean!” excites Rebecca.

Rebecca has also trialled the geo-mapping option offered by Tinder, her online dating service of choice. This option notifies her if someone who is also registered with Tinder is in close proximity to her.

“Online dating is liberating because if someone doesn’t fit my schedule I move on.

“It’s good for me now because I am busy with other things and don’t have time for a relationship,” reflects Rebecca, who is enjoying a whole new world with new experiences.

Rebecca elects not to pay for any additional services or match making data to improve her hook-up outcomes. Without spending a cent, all she need do is “swipe right” if she “likes”.

Fifty-something–year-old Samantha is disgusted by one of her closest friends, who also uses Tinder and other sites to meet men.

“I don’t want any part of it and have told her to stop sending me photos of her Tinder date’s genitals, alongside face shots. That’s just ugly,” she says.

“I feel quite offended and even prudish (which I never thought I would say), violated by some of the things she has shown me.”

Online dating does benefit everyone overall, according to Relationships Australia’s recent research, especially those who are lonely or isolated.

Online dating is the second most preferred way to meet a new partner. The single status online universe has lost its stigma and is out in the open. While true love may not necessarily prevail, online hook-ups are happening all the time, everywhere you look, even if don’t want to see.