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Monthly Archives: January 2017

When and What Do I Tell My New Boyfriend About My ADD?

“How do I explain my ADD to my new boyfriend?” the transfer student asks.  “At my other school,” she continues, “all my friends had something so we never really had to explain.  And when I told my best friend that I had already told Michael about my issues, Lacy said that I never should have told him so soon.”

This conversation captures the tension of self-disclosure.  My student, who I shall call Becca, preferred that her dates and her friends be aware of her disabilities from the get-go, which helped reduce her worries about when to reveal.  Her best friend Lacy, I believe, was worried that Becca’s challenges would become an early “deal-breaker” in her new romantic relationship.  However, neither Becca or Lacy were sure about what exactly to reveal, about what information was appropriate yet true to Becca’s experiences.  As a psychologist and researcher, I had to tell her, unfortunately, that there seems to be no research to support recommendations about the best time or manner to divulge one’s disability during dating.

Disclosure of cognitive and learning disabilities such as ADHD often unleashes a peculiar problem; after the disclosure, it is not unusual for people to remark – as the boyfriend, Michael, actually did –  that they, too, are “a little ADD” or “sometimes dyslexic” themselves because, for example, every once in a while they cannot concentrate or reverse their letters while spelling (an incorrect understanding of dyslexia, by the way).

Similarly, friends, relatives, and potential romantic partners will sympathize with persons with psychiatricdiagnoses, nodding their heads that they, too, occasionally feel nervous or depressed.  But my student knows enough about ADHD to know that it comprises more than occasional problems with sustained attention, that she has weaknesses in executive function that her boyfriend does not, as well as poor working memory that often baffles her when trying to carry out basic tasks of daily life, and that her comorbid diagnoses require additional treatments.

I also want to note, though I did not say this to Becca, that declaring that someone – even oneself – “is a little ADD” instead of “diagnosed with ADD” is “a grossly misleading, meat-cleaver way of reducing a person to a highly variable facet of his or her personality” (Hinshaw & Ellison, 2016, p. xxiii).

The question of the timing of disability disclosure is actually an issue about whether to confront or to dodge the stigma of disability.  I would argue that being upfront about one’s strengths and limitations is the honest way and the one that might feel least stressful in the long term.  I acknowledge its difficulty, though, because most people with disabilities state that people without disabilities typically ascribe far more importance and limitations to their disability than they do (Smart, 2011).

The stigma is especially strong if the illness is related to psychosis, such as schizophrenia, disfigurement, such as oral cancer, excretion, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or potentially transmissible, such as HIV/AIDS.

I responded to Becca’s question of how to explain ADD to her new boyfriend by suggesting that she might talk with Michael about her own lived experiences with ADD.  Also, I offered that the discussion should not be a one-time explanation but rather many conversations and even humor, lasting anywhere from seconds to hours as she and Michael spent time with each other

In some ways, disability disclosure can be like recommended sex educationbetween parent and child; all parties should feel comfortable with an “open-door” policy as issues or questions arise, even those that might be embarrassing to ask or to answer.  The important point for daters with disabilities is that they do not need to be experts on their disability; they are, however, authorities on their personal experiences and that is what is important to convey.

5 Essential Steps to Save Your Relationship

Recall those early days of your relationship when your partner could not get enough of you. He or she would call constantly, stay on the phone for hours, talk with you all night. Now time has passed, and you no longer get butterflies in your tummy when you think of your sweetheart. The spark is gone. You still have romantic feelings for him or her. But you sense that he or she no longer cares about the relationship—or at least doesn’t care as much as you do. You no longer have the upper hand.

It is natural to feel anxious and sad when this happens. Your anguish may lead you to attempt to use various mind-manipulating tactics to get the upper hand in your relationship.

Playing games to gain or regain the power in a relationship is bound to lead to the demise of the relationship, however. There are many relationships where one person holds more power than his or her other but these types of relationships tend to be extremely unhealthy. Physically or verbally abusive relationships, relationships where one partner is cheating, relationships where one partner has a lot more assets than the other (assets that are not common property) are bound to fail or lead to heartbreak and unhappiness.

If you feel your partner is pulling away, the way to go is not attempting to gain or regain the power in your relationship. Power doesn’t give you what you want. What you really want is to be loved, not to have the upper hand. You want your love to be reciprocated. You want praise, admiration, respect and love. Your negative feelings about your relationship stem from a perceived lack of those features.

How do you get all that back? How do you act in ways that can make you win back your partner’s love? Here are five things you can do to help repair your broken relationship.

1. Make up for your past sins. If you cheated on your partner, you do not have the upper hand, nor should you try to gain power on those grounds. If you cheated on your partner, you need to act genuinely apologetic and accept that your partner may not trust your or love you the way he or she used to trust you and love you. The only thing you can do in this situation (assuming you have cut the connection with the other person and have sincerely expressed your regrets to your partner) is to show how much you love your partner every single day. Assuming you don’t commit other acts of infidelities and that you are still with your partner, he or she will likely eventually return to normal and start loving and trusting you.

2. Let go a little. If you feel you lost power in your relationship, it may be because you have been too eager to spend time with your significant other or to push the relationship forward. You can’t rush things, and hopefully, your relationship is not the only passion in your life. Spend more time on your other interests (for instance, sports, hobbies, school, work). Give your partner the space he or she needs.

3. Stop playing games. Many relationship experts on the web will tell you to play power games to win back the love in your relationship, or to reignite the spark. Don’t! If you purposely ignore your partner or intentionally act cold and distant, you are playing a game. While this sort of behavior may lead to increased attention from your partner for a short while, it will not have a long-lasting effect on your relationship. If you frequently act rude or mean, ignore your your partner or act cold and distant, your partner will eventually lose interest in you,

4. Respect your partner’s wishes. It goes without saying that not all wishes should be granted. For example, your partner may wish to do a threesome, while you absolutely do not want to do that. In cases like these, you should not grant your partner’s wishes. But not granting your partner’s wishes does not imply disrespecting him or her for having the particular desires he or she has. Respect is the single most important factor in a relationship. If you lose respect for your significant other, or they lose respect for you, your relationship is doomed. To show respect for your partner, stop focusing on the negative in your relationship and comment on the positive aspects. Be generous with compliments and caring behavior. To regain respect (if you think you lost it), learn to set boundaries.

5. Set boundaries. Make fully clear to your partner what kinds of behavior you will or will not put up with. Don’t do this in the midst of a fight or while drinking alcoholic beverages. If, however, your partner acts in a way you won’t put up with or makes a hurtful remark, and you are not fighting or drinking, point out that the comment or action was hurtful and that you don’t want him or her to repeat it. Keep the volume of your voice low and use a kind tone. If your partner is a “bad drunk,” that is, if he or she becomes aggressive or hurtful when drinking, then your partner has a serious problem, which needs to be corrected. You can help correct it. But don’t bring up your concerns while your significant other is drinking and being rude. Wait until he or she is sober and calm. Then express your concern as calmly as possible.

Tips to Date With Someone From Another Culture

Keeping lines of communication open can help strengthen your relationship, particularly if you and your partner come from different cultural backgrounds.

Historically, falling for someone from another culture might have been big trouble, but a lot has changed over the last few decades and people are generally much more accepting of young people’s choices of partner these days.

Research shows that dating across different cultures – which includes different races, ethnicities, or different faiths – has become much more common among young people and carries less stigma than it used to. Some studies have shown that couples from different cultures might be more likely to experience conflict in their relationships.

Talking about these difficulties, however, not only alleviates the conflict but can actually help your relationship to develop and grow stronger. In other words, having differences can be a really positive thing, as long as you celebrate them. Making an effort to understand and appreciate each other’s backgrounds can be an enriching experience that also helps you maintain your relationship quality.

If you have a partner whose religious beliefs are different to your own, you may find your differences are particularly pronounced, which could lead to more disagreements that are harder to resolve. This may be because we often develop our religious beliefs from a young age, but also because we feel them strongly and can struggle to articulate them.

On the other hand, you may also find it’s possible to ignore your religious differences for the most part. They may not affect your romantic relationships at all until you reach major life events like marriage – when you’re younger and still exploring relationships, religion doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge issue.

Generally speaking, it’s really helpful to be open and communicative about any cultural or religious differences you have with your partner, as this can help you both feel more satisfied with your relationship.

If you’re in a relationship with someone from a different culture or religion and you haven’t talked about it yet, have a think about how you might express an interest in your partner’s background and beliefs, and see where it takes you. Let us know how you get on in the comments below.

Tips to be More Independent in Your Relationship

It might seem like making a commitment has to mean letting go of some of your independence, but couples who retain a sense of personal independence may be quicker at resolving arguments and better able to invest in the relationship.

There’s something fun about merging your life with your significant other, particularly in the early stages, but it’s important to maintain the qualities that make you who you are as an individual – after all, that’s what your partner fell in love with in the first place.

Having an independent streak doesn’t mean you’re afraid of commitment – people with a strong sense of personal identity can actually be better communicators. They are less defensive, more honest, and more flexible. They find it easier to be open and to put things into perspective.

A strong sense of individuality, then, can mean you have stronger relationships. When you and your partner support and nurture each other’s need for independence, you can start to find a balance that means you’re also happier and more confident in the relationship.

If you’d like to reclaim a bit of independence as a way of strengthening your relationship, you might want to try the following.

1. Spend some time alone

Alone time gives you a chance to recharge and refresh. We all need a bit of solitude and it’s easy to forget this when we get into relationships. Spend some time reading, or catching up on emails, or just watching something your partner might not be into.

It’s also important to keep in touch with your friends, and do some of the things you did when you were single. If you’ve got a group of friends you used to hang out with, give them a call and arrange something. An evening away from your partner will broaden your experiences and give you more to talk about when you next see each other.

2. Keep your online lives separate

Social media plays a big part in how we present ourselves to the world, and how we interact with our friends and families. Being in a relationship can mean our online lives also intermingle with our real lives.

For some couples, declaring your love online can make you feel closer and more connected. For others, however, it can feel like a bit of a threat to privacy and independence, knowing that a partner can check up on what we’re up to and who we’re talking to.

Don’t go snooping, or trying to work out who they’ve been chatting to – maybe even disconnect your profiles, or mute your partner’s feed. Give each other some online space as well as real space.

3. Plan your own future

Life is full of big decisions. Your decisions around what to do with your life – like where to study, and where to work – may be influenced by a number of factors, including what you can afford. If you are in a long-term relationship, you may need consider whether or not to factor your partner into the decisions.

Coordinating our life plans with those of our partner can mean having to be flexible and make a few compromises, so think carefully about what’s most important to you and make sure your decisions suit you as an individual as well as you as couple.

These days, many people are choosing to wait until a bit later in life before settling into long-term relationships. This can provide an opportunity to figure out what you want as an individual before making decisions about what you want from your romantic relationship.

4. Try living apart together

One – possibly extreme – solution to the issue of combining a committed relationship with personal independence is the increasingly popular practice of living apart together. Couples are described as living apart together when they are in a monogamous relationship but have chosen to maintain separate homes.

For many younger adults, living apart together might be a necessity, based on working or studying arrangements, or finances, but it could also be an attractive option for couples who want to be together while enjoying their own independence.

Living apart together means you can have more control over your daily life, your home arrangements, and even your finances. If these are the kinds of things you tend to argue about, then living apart together might also reduce the risk of conflict in your relationship.

You don’t necessarily have to go as far as living apart together but, if you’re the kind of person who falls in deep, you might want to take a moment to remind yourself who you are outside of your relationship with your partner, and to support your partner in doing the same. It might just help you get along a little better with one another.