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Monthly Archives: November 2016

Helping your relationship heal if you’ve had an affair

If you’ve had an affair, there may be a question mark hanging over your entire relationship. If you and your partner have decided to work things out, the following tips can help you both to overcome the effects of the affair and start moving on together.

When you first admit to your partner that you’ve had an affair, it’s natural for them to feel lost and confused. Their safe connection with you has been threatened, and it can lead to a ‘fight or flight’ reaction. They may feel angry and behave aggressively or they may shut down and be unable to communicate with you at all.

Affairs leave people feeling emotionally vulnerable, so your partner may become insecure and clingy to protect the relationship. They may repeatedly ask for reassurance that you love them and are still committed to the relationship. Try not to get frustrated – give your partner time to react to the news without criticising them.

After the initial shock and rollercoaster of emotions have died down, you and your partner can both begin thinking about how and why things went wrong in the relationship and how you might move beyond the problem. Revealing an affair can cause your partner to become extremely aware of your behaviour in the relationship and they may start to analyse and judge your actions. They may become more suspicious of you, even when you are behaving normally. For example, if you are trying to be considerate and leave the room to answer your phone, your partner may worry that you are trying to talk to someone in secret.

How can I help us move on?

One of the best things you can do is try to understand your partner’s point of view. Encourage them to talk about their feelings, even if it hurts to hear. It is also important for you to communicate your own feelings.

You will both need to find ways to overcome the mistrust. For example, you may consider sharing the password to your Facebook account or giving your partner access to your phone. These things will only work if the decisions are made together, so make sure you discuss these ideas thoroughly and come up with a plan that works for both of you.

As well as talking things through together, several studies suggest that couple therapy can be an effective way of coming to terms with an affair and moving on together. In a recent study, couples who had successfully dealt with an affair recommended seeking support from people outside of the relationship, as well as talking and listening to each other.

Do Narcissists Make Their Partners Jealous On Purpose?

 Most anyone who has spent significant time dating a narcissistic person knows first hand that narcissists often provoke jealousy by talking about wanting to date other people, commenting on how attractive someone else is e.g. while out on a date, and discussing the short-comings of their current partner compared to others.

Considering that narcissistic people are typically thought to be insecure deep down, on firstblush it doesn’t make sense that they would do things which would threaten their romantic relationships. Researchers (Tortoriello et al. 2017) set out to find out why.

They note there are two sub-types of narcissism – grandiose and vulnerable. Grandiose narcissists appear confident and outgoing, seemingly devoid of social anxiety, and read immediately to others as “narcissistic”. Vulnerable narcissists, on the other hand, come across as shy, socially anxious and quiet. After a while, however, they tend to get haughty and stuck-up, making others feel worse possibly to shore up low self-esteem. All these maneuvers take a toll on relationships. Tortoriello and colleagues report that regardless, both grandiose and vulnerable narcissists regularly do things which undermine their relationships.

These examples are familiar: narcissistic people may act distant and uninterested even when they are in a committed relationship, they may form “platonic” relationships with attractive people and act like it shouldn’t bother their partners, they may talk about why they should dump whomever their seeing to be with someone else, highlighting their current partner’s shortcomings, and they often brazenly flirt, and brush it off. They often do things which make their partners insecure and jealous – and then blame them for over-reacting or having issues.

Seeking to work out what makes narcissists make others jealous, the authors use the “five motives for inducing romantic jealousy”, and test for them by surveying narcissists with a rating tool (the Motives for Inducing Romantic Jealousy Scale – MIRJS) after assaying for narcissistic traits.

In addition to the MIRJS, participants (237 undergraduate students) also completed various other measures from the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, the Pathological Narcissism Inventory,  the Mach-IV (as in “Machiavellianism”), and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale, in addition to completing the Romantic Jealousy-Induction Scale. This allowed them to measure correlations among various aspects of narcissism with motives to make romantic partners jealous.

Finding a Balance in Your Relationship

 In every relationship, there’s a balance of power – how you manage this will affect how you feel as a couple. The more equal and balanced your relationship is, the happier you are both likely to be.

What are relationship power dynamics?

Power dynamics refers to the way decisions are made and who makes them. In a balanced relationship, both partners have an equal say in things.

Finding a balance may take some work. After the initial romance of a new relationship, it’s natural for both partners to start trying to regain a sense of independence. This is a common step in most committed relationships. However, when one partner starts trying to get an unbalanced share of power, the relationship can become manipulative and, in extreme cases, this can turn to aggressio.

Equality is good for both of you

Equality is one of the most important characteristics of a good relationship. Both men and women say their relationships are happier and more open when both partners have an equal balance of power. In an unbalanced relationship, the partner who feels disempowered may have other negative psychological outcomes, including anger, frustration, and even depression.

If you notice an ongoing unbalance in the power dynamic of your own relationship, try to be aware of any signs of aggression creeping in and make sure you stay safe. You do not have to stay in a relationship where someone is trying to control you.

The basis of power

Historically, power in relationships was based around money – which usually favoured men. These days, most young couples have a more balanced financial setup, and this is linked to having more equality overall in the relationship. Seeking a balance in your own relationship is a good sign that you’re stepping out of the shadows of history.

Money isn’t the only factor in how people exert power in relationships. Power is also built around emotionalresources like communication skills and the ability to meet each other’s needs. Someone who is stronger emotionally may be better equipped to love, support, and commit to a romantic partner. Think of a person who is very insecure and afraid that their partner will leave them. In this situation the other person would hold more emotional power.

An age thing?

One thing worth being aware of is that among some friendship groups, things like looks or popularity might be important ‘relationship resources’, meaning some people will accept a less equal role in a relationship because it gives them access to a peer group that they admire and otherwise wouldn’t be able to spend time with.

Generally, teenagers and young people are more likely to be in equal relationships than older couples. Younger people are less likely to have to rely on each other financially, but there’s also been a general shift in attitudes towards equality, compared to previous generations. Younger couples tend to be more emotionally aware and mutually committed to their relationships.

Whatever your age, men and women both say that commitment, attention and good company are among the things that are most important in their relationships.

Supporting a Partner With an Eating Disorder

 If your partner has an eating disorder, you may be feeling lots of guilt, frustration and stress. You may also feel pressure to keep an eye on your other half’s eating habits and behaviours, and feel guilty and responsible if they have a relapse.

If you don’t have an eating disorder yourself, you may also feel isolated and confused about the situation and its effect on you and your relationship. However, there are some things you can do to help.

Eating Disorders Awareness Week runs from 27 February to 5 March. This is an international awareness event which challenges the myths surrounding eating disorders. You can find more information about the week and about eating disorders in general at the website of the UK eating disorder charity, Beat.

The term ‘eating disorder’ covers a range of conditions, including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. They can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or background, and can have a physical, psychological and social impact. However, it may help to know that you can play an important role in supporting your partner and possibly in helping their recovery.

Eating disorders can affect couples in a number of ways. Concerns about body image can lead to anxiety around sex, and reduced sexual desire. Your social lives may also be negatively affected, particularly when planning activities that involve food (like going to the supermarket, preparing a meal or choosing a restaurant to go to). Your partner may worry about who will be at social events, what food will be available, who will see them eating, and the body sizes of those present.

But there are ways you can help your partner deal with these difficulties. One study found that couples who educate themselves about eating disorders understand the experience better, and may be better able to support each other. Focusing on positive communication skills, such as listening, being open and being understanding, also helps. It is much better to use “I-statements”, than “you-statements”, as they will make your partner feel less judged. For example, try saying, “I’m worried about you” instead of “You are making me worried”.

Your partner may have received some support for their eating disorder (whether that’s therapy or less formal support), but partners and loved ones rarely report receiving help for themselves. Beat currently provides fortnightly online support for loved ones aged 18 or over, as well as a Youthline for those under 18. Beat also has a useful and comprehensive guide on supporting a partner with an eating disorder.

We encourage you to check out Beat.co.uk and find out more about Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Although there are significant challenges for couples dealing with an eating disorder, it may help to know that in recent research studies, people have reported that going through the experience and recovery process as a couple has ultimately brought them closer together