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When Attraction is Gone


Some of the saddest relationships are those of couples who have been together a while and most of the chemistry has gone. They are living quiet lives of desperation with one another, perhaps can't even bear to communicate with each other many times, yet having to live in the same house and keep up the pretence because they fear change, fear the consequences and fear starting over.

There is nothing fulfilling about a relationship devoid of attraction. That's simply going through the motions when life is so short. What's 'really important' is up to the couple, and if they have gone off each other and are perhaps looking outside for some 'fun', because the chemistry is gone, then that will inevitably become really important too!

If you are religious, you might think that thinking on God will remedy the problem. But I have known devout people who focus on their God or higher power in their relationships, yet still fall apart from one another. When attraction/chemistry goes, it simply fades and can never be manufactured.

Attraction is not just about physical looks. It also is governed by intellectual and communicative elements and, particularly, emotional alignment. Physicality, though important, is just one part. Most of the people I see and had to advise with are far from contented. They have merely put up with whatever resulted, living very unhappy lives, because they have all kinds of fears around changing their lives.

I would not wish to be with anyone I was not attracted to because the way we come together in the first place is based on attraction. We don't just go with any old person. We select our mates according to their appeal when we first meet them, whatever yardstick we are using. Why should that be any different later down the line?

If you find yourself attracting undesirable or materialistic people, it could be down to your thoughts. Perhaps those who are attracting certain kinds of people are focusing too much themselves on the material aspects of this world, because we usually get what we constantly fear or dwell on! Our thoughts dictate the quality of our lives so if we are constantly dwelling on negativity or the more superficial elements, that is all we are ever going to attract.

Personal Expectations: The Most Potent Force That Destroys Relationships


Problematic issues in a relationship are often not as clear cut as they seem because both genders view aspects of the relationship differently. Women appear to have more complaints about their spouses and the state of their marriages, compared to men (Brehm 1985). This could be because women's expectations of the union have risen over the years. They are now more critical and want much more, while men are tending to retreat and to give less. In recent years, women have initiated the break-up of more dating and marriages than men (72% of all divorces, involving couples over 50 years old in the UK, are being brought by women).

Although the underlying causes for break-ups are unknown, there are some common issues which cause the most conflict, affecting the partners in different ways. The main one isunrealistic expectations of partners or situations.

Expectations are transmitted directly by what we hear and indirectly by what we see. A new relationship in the same space brings expectations to life and will develop problems when those expectations are unreasonable. Our desire for security and perfection breeds the most unrealistic expectations which we then wait upon, in vain, to be fulfilled by our partners. Of course, they won't, and the first stirrings of dissatisfaction begin. Conflicts caused by unexpressed and unfulfilled expectations are very common and can lead to great disappointment and frustration.

It is a good habit to stop for a moment when you're disappointed, ask yourself what you expected and compare it to what you actually received. The difference in fulfilment and expectation will reveal the gap in perception between you and your date/partner, as well as the room for resentment. Noting the degree of discrepancy, which may be unconsciously affecting your relationship, will help you to adjust future expectations instead of continuing to hope for futile change.

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Two main signs of a relationship heading for a break-up


There are many reasons why relationships hit the buffers but two particular signs stand out, above all, very early on. They are important because they herald the growing distance between the couple and signal the total loss of attraction and alignment.

A. Cultivating Outside Friendships.
This includes telling family or friends about your problems but not addressing them with your partner. Talking to others at times of conflict is not a productive way to handle problems, and it can result in additional problems emerging. For instance, your partner may feel betrayed that you have revealed sensitive information to others that has caused him/her to be embarrassed or uncomfortable around them. Also, if you paint a negative picture of your partner or your relationship, others may get a distorted view, which may change their attitudes and behaviour toward you both. Worse still, others are likely to remember your conflicts long after you and your partner have gone past them, which can only damage friendships.

Instead, work on improving your communication skills. If you need help, seek out the assistance of an objective third party. In short, stop complaining and start asking. If you must talk to your friends for support, try to seek some balance and present the good side of your spouse as well as the negatives.

B. Drifting Apart.
At some point in time partners stop doing the things they used to do together and slowly move apart, through boredom or falling out of love, which is a natural consequence of individual evolution. They begin to seek different friends, develop new interests and grow in different directions, depending on their feeling of fulfilment. However, though new directions are inevitable, drifting apart is not. Couples can grow together by taking an interest in, and encouraging, each other; making sure they keep up with one another and maintain the attraction. The best way for that is by doing as many things together, while allowing some space for individual pursuits.

For example, in our family we used to play board games and quizzes, go for runs together and eat meals together in a close knit way. All that gradually stopped as the children grew up and did their own thing, especially after they left home. As I became more involved in my business and my writing, and my husband became more introspective, we drifted apart, finding little in common as our needs lost their congruence. This was inevitable, as we had also stopped talking to each other in any meaningful sense. In such a situation, it is not long before other friends and interests fill the widening gap. When we parted, I could not remember even one major thing we had shared for years, not even a bank account. Sad, really, for such a long marriage.

Separation can creep upon a couple unawares, especially when they become 'too busy' with work and other commitments to spend quality time together and to just care about each other's activities. If you cannot remember, right this minute, the last time you shared an activity together, one which you both enjoyed, there is danger looming.

A relationship is not just about two individuals sharing space together. It is about physical and emotional attachment. Once these two main emotional attachments are no longer there, communication goes too, along with affection and ultimately sex.

Should You Stay for the Sake of the Kids?


Many people in conflicting partnerships will say that they prefer to stay together for the children's sake' while living a lie to protect them. But this is a BAD idea. Though it might give some temporary benefit to the children, particularly a false sense of security, it is likely to affect them emotionally for life because of what they will experience in the process. It is also about honesty and respect.

We all value honesty to a large extent but honesty is tied up with respect for ourself, in particular, which then extends to respect for others. When we are dishonest to ourself or others we are not holding ourself in the high esteem we crave. Soon we will begin to feel worse as our self-esteem plummets and we become vulnerable unhappy victims of the new situation.

Furthermore, children learn from parents, especially from their actions, not their words. The only thing they are learning during that time of silent animosity, dishonesty and pretence, is how to be dishonest themselves, to live with constant pain without acknowledgement and to regard living like robots, without love and affirmation, as some kind of honourable act! Above all, they are learning how to live loveless lives of quiet desperation in order to keep up appearances.

Not only will that reinforce the feeling that they are some way responsible for their parent's situation, but as there is no end to it until they leave home, it will negatively affect their own perception of others and the quality of their relationships too. Better to have one loving parent who can affirm that child daily than to have two quietly warring, resentful, blaming factions thriving on dishonesty and setting the worst kind of example to their children.

Sometimes it might seem easier and less painful to hide the truth from our children to keep them feeling secure, but that action actually deprives the kids involved of learning to deal with the problems of life, of coping with routine crises and also exercising any choices they might have which could make the situation better for them. The main problem with lying to anyone, especially our children, is that such lies make us unhappy which make us worse parents in the process. They also keep the problems ongoing and unresolved, as the lies continually deny and repress what we seek. Most important, they keep us without love and affirmation and in a firm and unrelenting 'martyr' mode for years to come.

What does it mean when the person you love says 'You Deserve Someone Better'?


This is the strongest indication of insecurity and low self esteem in the person who says that. Whenever anyone thinks they do not deserve anything it could stem from five main reasons:

1. The way they have been treated in their own life by others. Perhaps they have not been valued, praised, affirmed or reinforced too much so far. Lacking such positive feedback, they are likely to believe they are not worthy of love and affection, that they are insignificant and undeserving. He could also be testing your feelings for him by challenging your perception in whether he is really good enough for you. That's one major way of getting affirmation - and also vindication - for his feelings. In this instance, their confidence in who they are, what they could be and their capacity to love would be pretty low.

2. Perhaps they feel that the person they fancy is difficult to please, might be expecting things from them they cannot deliver or makes them feel inadequate. In that case, they would feel that they could not really satisfy this person and would begin to retreat from the relationship by suggesting someone 'better'.

3. He really does not fancy you the way you like him and that's his way of politely trying to end the friendship, in order not to make you feel too badly.

4. Guilt, from the way the person has treated the partner, can sometimes bring this feeling to the surface.

5. There is some hidden issue the person cannot afford to confess, or he could be trying to protect another hidden relationship.

If it is the first two reasons, this is someone who would need a lot of work to build their confidence, a lot of kindness, love, affirmation and encouragement, as they will always feel inadequate against their partner. He/She would have little self belief, which means that no matter how great they are treated, they would not think they deserve it. This person clearly has no self-love and cannot really begin to love anyone else either, in the true sense of the word, until they get some! And no one can do that for them.

If you really like this person, then one way to help them would be to keep telling them how much you care about them, how much they are valued and wanted, keep reinforcing their great points and encouraging them wherever possible, be as kind and motivating as you can to build their self esteem, but it will be hard work!

If it is the last three reasons, there is nothing you can do about it because he clearly wouldn't love you anymore, or he is already committed to someone else. He would be giving you a strong hint that the relationship is finished and the only solution is to end it too.

Is it normal to be with someone for several years and then suddenly fall for someone else?


Q. For as long as the relationship has lasted, I never thought of loving anyone else. The thought would have been unthinkable. Of course we all have sexual fantasies, but my heart has always been with my current partner. But now my thoughts are gradually turning to someone else and I am not sure how to deal with that. Is that normal?

A. Everything we do in our lives that do not physically harm someone else is 'normal'. We cannot make life into what we want by forcing behaviour, otherwise the stress will come out in other harmful ways. We are growing, evolving human beings. We are not robots who fall in love one day, but are incapable of falling in love the next. In fact, just because we are married or love someone else, that does not shut down our bodies to have feelings for another. It is social control and personal responsibility which stop us acting on how we feel. Falling in love is dictated by attraction and attraction is governed by three primary elements: physical, emotional and intellectual. Perhaps one, two or all three of those are currently missing from your relationship why you would find someone else attractive. Perhaps exploring your current relationship to see if those aspects can be recovered might be helpful, and without mentioning anyone else. But such exploring will not necessarily save the marriage. If the attraction is gone, for whatever reason, it cannot be manufactured, and no amount of discussion will make it right, unless both parties want it to be so. That is to simply deny how you feel.

People in long relationships forget one crucial thing: that they are not the same person years later as the ones who got married.We are developing every step of the way, both physically and emotionally. The way we feel, our aspirations, our dreams are likely to be very different at 50 than they were at 25. It means that we will desire new experiences, new stimuli and new people, especially if our partners haven't really grown with us and have lost their appeal. Hanging on to something which is bringing little joy and for the sake of it merely causes far more stress than both people trying to seek new happiness.

Your feelings for your partner is normal too. You have lived together a while and it is natural to feel loving and close to them. But it sounds as though you are not in love with her, hence why you are drawn to someone else. The problem with such feelings is that once they begin to affect you they will never go away. If you do not resolve them, those feelings are likely to keep moving from one person to another until you begin an affair. They indicate a yearning to be desired and wanted which might be missing from your current relationship. Only you know your situation and what feels right for you, and only you have the answer to how you should act from now on.

The only advice I would give is that our instincts are the most powerful sources of direction in our lives. You should follow whatever feels right for you, especially through communication, because life has a way of sorting itself out, one way or another.

How does low self-esteem damage relationships?


Low self-esteem can damage relationships because it is not a positive feel-good thing. It can be very destructive and soul-destroying. Low self-esteem has fear and lack of confidence at the heart of it and affects three main areas of one's life: perception, aspiration and personal worth. In time, directly or indirectly, they begin to affect a partner and, ultimately, the relationship itself.

Personal Perception

When self-esteem is low, how we see the world is based around fear. Everything we do is dominated by the fear of doing it. There is nothing encouraging or uplifting for ourselves or others with such a viewpoint. It means that when we are communicating with spouses in a relationship that communication will not be a confident, trusting one, but a fearful, mistrustful and negative connection. We are likely to expect the worst from a partner, or to be dependent upon them to boost that esteem, and so the relationship becomes progressivly more one-sided because there will be far more taking than there is giving between the couple.

Low self-esteem blocks all positive pathways in perception so that we tend to see the negative in the other person first instead of the positives; we are more prone to fault-finding and criticism; we show less gratitude for what might be done for us. Worst of all, no one can ever really please us because we have no belief or faith in our own resources. We are always seeking outside what we lack within us and never really finding it. This leaves us feeling unhappy and resentful. Partners are likely to find it pretty hard going after a time when their honest efforts continually fail to please.

Personal Aspirations

Relationships become damaged through a mismatch in personal aspirations. If two people get together, one very confident and one low in esteem, over time the one lacking in esteem will kill the motivation and aspiration of the confident person. The one with low self-esteem will lack the ability to see things in the positive way of their partner. Low self-esteem kills aspiration. It affects what we want in our future, whether we think we are good enough to achieve it and our belief in bringing our dreams to life. At the core of low self-esteem is a personal feeling of inadequacy, of not being as good as others or as competent as they they are. That kind of negative attitude simply destroys hopes and dreams so that the other partner will always find it tough going trying to convince someone of low esteem that anything is possible. The person with low confidence will always see hazards, obstacles and barriers before they see any possibilities. Not having the self-belief to fulfil their dreams, nothing will convince them otherwise. However, the worst part is that the low self-belief pulls down the dreams of the other partner too which can lead to resentment and frustration for the couple.

Personal Worth

The worst thing about low self-eteem is that the person has very low feelings of self worth. They are likely to think they are crap. Worst still, they believe others are crap too, so they won't have a high opinion of their spouse, no matter what they do, and will always try to pull them down in some way. If not, low esteem people tend to go the opposite way and put their partners on a pedestal, as much better, more intelligent and higher than they are. There are no normal shades of grey for people with low confidence. They are either being hyper-critical of themselves and others or fawning over their partners and those they believe are much better than they are. Low esteem people feel constantly unworthy, not as adequate as others and not as significant in the scheme of life. That perception then affects everything they do, all of their interactions, which then influences how they are treated both by partners and others.

In a nutshell, it is very frustrating dealing with someone of low self-esteem in a relationship because they see things in a completely negative light than people with greater confidence. They have little self belief and very little trust in themselves or others. That makes for quite a frustrating friendship all round trying to cope with such predictable negativity and self defeat. Relationships then stand little chance of any success because of this focus on fear and inadequacy.

Should I let him go or not? Or am I overreacting?


Q. I read some flirty messages from his textmate on my boyfriend's mobile phone, and I was so hurt. I told him that I read the messages and he told me, "It was nothing! You are my girlfriend and I do love you! We were just textmates and that's all". It gives us quarrels until now... I told him to stop texting her, but he refuses because he thinks that it was nothing. Im getting tired, I dont know if he is loyal with me. I'm not happy with the relationship and I don't know if I'm overacting. What would you do?

A. You are not overreacting at all. it sounds as if you have been very pateint. Yes, you should get out of that friendship, and quickly. This gentleman has no love or respect for you, and he is certainly not being loyal. He is insensitive to your feelings, he does not really care as much for you as you do for him, and seems to be mainly pleasing himself. Furthermore, no one has a 'textmate' with saucy messages when one has a girl/boyfriend already. Otherwise, what is it really about? how does he define his love? Would he have been happy too with you having a guy as a 'textmate'?

When we commit, even if we are not married, we are maturely showing what we desire and suiting action to words. This guy sounds as though he wants the benefits of having your company without the commitment to go with it. However, the most important thing here is that, if he is already behaving that way now, he is not going to do any differently later on, so you will always be feeling anxious, undervalued and insecure. That's no way to live a relationship.

The final bottom line is not about changing HIM because he will always do what he wants to do. If he loves and respects you enough, he will appreciate your feelings and treat you the way he would wish to be treated. If he is not listening to what you're saying or doing anything different, despite your hurt, nothing else will happen. Other people NEVER change. The only person you can change is yourself, then others will behave differently too. Until you begin to do something different by getting out of that debilitating relationship, the only person who will continue to get more of the same is you. If you have no self-love, no one can love you either and you only get self love by treating yourself with respect. Staying in such a one-sided friendship won't enhance that self-love or your self esteem.

You both are clearly mismatched as a couple. He still wants to flirt around, still immature and low in esteem, while you are seeking some stability and commitment. You won't be happy together. However, you can find someone more suitable for you if you

Sure Signs of Unhappy Couples


The stereotype of a happy marriage is one of two people who like each other, understand each other well, and settle disputes easily without much rancour. Yet the law of diversity dictates that many stable marriages will not fit such a stereotype at all. Some are volatile (for example, fighting openly but making up passionately at the first opportunity), some won't argue at all but fume inside, making their body language speak louder than words, while others carefully avoid conflicts by sticking to their corner without budging. They don't even try to work things out. Instead, they agree to disagree (Gottman 1994).

Taking into account all the perceptions, expectations and stages in a relationship, the personal evolution and sexual compatibility, there is obviously a lot of adjustment to do with our partners from the very first day and for every day afterwards. Come to think of it, we are talking about two complete strangers, with their own history and anxieties, who suddenly like each other, move in together and share an intimate and exclusive environment. It stands to reason that, to make a success of that fledgling partnership, they have to learn to live harmoniously - which is no easy feat at all.

Any relationship is a tug of war between two different people for power and control. The more confident or controlling one partner is, the more he/she seeks to make the decisions or dictate behaviour and many people become passive in controlling relationships because of their need to belong and feel secure. Often a sense of duty and a desire to seek approval from other parties keep them some partners rooted in their tracks, even when it is harmful to their existence. When one member of the relationship is more dominant, or doesn't permit self-expression for the other, the emotional growth of both individuals is likely to be stunted. At least one person will begin to experience frustration, disappointment, fear and anxiety. Eventually, anger becomes the predominant emotion, which could overwhelm the relationship, often leaving the couple with a sense of despair and confusion.

At this point, many partners tend to think about leaving the union because they cannot understand, or work with, these negative dynamics, neither can they tolerate their own ambivalent feelings. The impulse to run away from it all becomes paramount, but the reality is that no one can run away from himself. It is thus essential that each person is aware of exactly what works for them in a relationship. When each participant can face her inner feelings and behaviour patterns, when he can take responsibility for his actions and leave blame behind, the couple has the best opportunity to repair their relationship.

Perhaps the difference between happy and unhappy couples lies more in the coping mechanism they employ to deal with difficult issues than in the content of the relationship. It seems that, as a basic rule of thumb, truly happy couples have developed various ways of handling the inevitable conflicts, while unhappy couples have been unable to do that and tend to remain stuck in a quicksand of blame.

The hallmark of unhappy couples is criticism of their partner's behaviour, which evolves into attacking his or her personality. This eventually degenerates into expressing abusive contempt. Naturally the attacked partner becomes defensive. He/she might deny all blame, feel indignant, counter-attack or completely withdraw emotionally from the situation. Both the attacks (more often made by women) and the defensive refusal to deal with the issues (usually by men) are major parts of the problem.

Men, particularly those in unhappy relationships, do not listen to the verbal messages of their partners for fear of what they might hear, or because of arrogance towards them, neither do they pick up on the various non-verbal cues. The argument itself becomes the focus instead of the resolution. On the other hand, happy couples may argue, even shout at each other, but their main aim is to resolve the difficulty. To them, a resolution is more important than any argument. Unhappy couples merely exchange hostile accusations of blame incessantly, using their arguments to replace the resolution.

David Olson (University of Minnesota), who has studied over 15,000 married couples, said that 50 per cent of married people will never be happy, unless they get unusually good therapy. Only 25 per cent of couples are likely to have "really good marriages", though the remaining 25 per cent could achieve a good relationship through counselling or self-help. Other researchers agree that about 30 per cent of marriages are 'empty shells' - having little love, little talk and little joy. Olson believes the most important skills and attributes required in any relationship are: communication skills, conflict resolution skills, compatible personalities, agreement on values and beliefs and, of course, skills which enable enjoyable sex.

I have lost my friends because of my partner.....


Q. Me and my partner have been together 5 years and in that time I have lost all but a couple of my friends. If my friends come around my partner is rude and arrogant and usually ignores them and goes into the room and watches TV. If he is drinking he will talk to them but be cruel and immature. If we get invited places he walks in like he has a chip on his shoulder and acts like he can't wait to get out and is sometimes aggressive towards people. I dont know if it's too late but should I try and see my friends without him? Should I go to places without him? He just likes to have our life at home and thats it!

A.This is a very sad state of affairs which you would need to act upon if you wish anything different as he won't do anything about it. Your partner is a controller and the only way he can control you is by ignoring your friends and treating them discourteously so that they will stay away from you. That is the strongest form of emotional abuse. Controllers do not like their partners to have outside contacts, not even their relatives, as it lessens their power. They tend to be lacking in social skills, are rather boorish to others and do just what they please, without thinking of the effect on their partners or the other person. The only people they care about are themselves. Your partner also sounds very insecure and seems to fear the effect your friends would have on you. So by behaving badly to them, he immediately lessens their influence and keeps you to himself to make you dependent on him and to restrict your activities.

Sadly, the answer is entirely up to you, as your partner will never change. You have probably allowed him to do what he pleases for so long, you have lost out completely. He has got the results he wanted because you are now increasingly isolated, which is precisely what he planned. So you have to now decide if that is the type and quality of life you wish to lead. One of the top five factors for keeping us alive longest is our social interactions and the friends we have. In fact, it is No.2 on the list, a vital ingredient of the quality of our lives. If you ignore your friends, or gradually have no friends, it will begin to cause stress for you which you might not even be aware of. Not only that, it totally limits your life experience.

Once you make your decision on the kind of life you really want, then act upon it. If you decide your friends are important, then you must see them, with or without your partner. It is very important to get on with your life in your own way as a unique human being for your own personal development. If you have to change yourself and your basic needs to please another person, he would be the wrong person for you. Those who love you will accept who you are, as you are and, most important, the things and people you value and cherish. They will encourage you in your efforts, not try to limit your world and life.

Please do something soon before you find yourself completely at your partner's mercy because that is when physical abuse begins: when people lack support and friendship and become completely dependent on their partner for interaction. That is no way to live. It would merely deprive you of essential stimulus and keep you living in fear. Start by getting a couple of key friends on your side who could give you emotional support. Start seeing them at least once a week for coffee, drinks or whatever, to get you away from your partner. Gradually you will build your courage to do whatever you think is right for your long term relationship or your future.

You sound as though you could do with greater confidence and perhaps the link below can help. Good luck in whatever you have to do.

My neighbor caught her husband talking to his mistress on the phone. What should she do?


Q. Early this morning my neighbor, who is almost a sister to me, came to me devastated and crying. Last night, she caught her husband on the phone to his mistress. My neighbor was unaware of all this so she has been deeply hurt and inconsolable. They have a business and it is not going so well. The wife is a very industrious woman who takes care of almost everything to the point of having no more time for herself. She now wants to separate from her husband. I told her to relax and give time for herself to think things over before making a decision. I also am not sure of what advice to give and I believe your thoughts will be of great help. Thanks!

A. It must have been pretty devastating for your neighbour, especially when it is unexpected, as all the trust goes out the window immediately. However, you did the right thing asking her to think a little bit before she does anything dramatic. There are several reasons for this.

First, when someone strays it is likely that there is something wrong in the home or relationship; perhaps issues that are not being addressed; things people feel afraid to talk about; a sex life that is unsatisfactory or non existent, or just a simple but crucial need for attention, affection and love. It is very easy for one partner to get wrapped up in the home, the business or themself and ignore the other person, a kind of unintentional neglect. So blame for any straying can never be placed just at the door of a cheater unless he/she is a serial player. There would be a definite trigger why the person behaves like that.

Second, communicating with one's partner is the most important thing, no matter how bad things are. Seeing the other person's point of view, while having your own views heard and acknowledged, are very important. By just having knee-jerk reactions, the communication is lost and nothing much is achieved except hurt, pain, blame and a lost partnership. For example, if the business isn't going so well, that can spell doom for a relationship because money worries are constantly associated with the household. It then makes someone else more attractive who is sympathetic and can relieve the stress!

Third, if the parties do care about each other they will care about sorting out the issues and restoring that trust. Sometimes people have extra-marital affairs just to get attention because they feel neglected. Issues need sorting in order to have greater understanding of mutual needs, not just blaming between the couple.

Finally, taking some time out first to think after the initial shock also allows the other party to reflect on the seriousness of what he has done, the pain and the hurt caused and also creates a better atmosphere for discussion or taking any appropriate decisions. For example, moving into a spare room for a couple of weeks to get a perspective is far more advisable than just throwing out the spouse. It also allows for a period of calm and reflection by both sides. She appears independent and would be able to cope on her own if they split, but she has to be sure that is what she wants.

This won't be an easy time, especially as partners tend to focus on the third party instead of themselves, but if they are truly honest and look into their lives, what might be missing in the relationship, and are prepared to forgive without too much blame they could work it out and come away much richer for it. But it won't be an easy time just now when scapegoats are much easier to find than finding solutions.

Is it moral to go through your partner's things?


Q. One of my very good friend was suspecting that her partner is up to something no good. When he had a shower, she looked into his mobile. She then discovered that he was exchanging saucy picture text messages with some girl. Firstly do you think its right to touch your partner's mobile/his things. Secondly would you forgive him/her?

A. No, not at any time. Just because two people come together in a relationship does not make them clones of each other or make them into a two-headed person. They are still individuals deserving of privacy and respect, above all.

Wherever someone feels the need to search their partner's things, you will find much distrust, discourtesy, jealousy and insecurity. Yet one cannot be too insecure in a relationship otherwise they gradually become intrusive, interfering, possessive and dictatorial. No one person can ever fulfil everything a partner needs. So the more space couples are given in their relationships to thrive and develop, the better that relatioonship would be. It allows for breathing room and the person to know that they are not being 'spied upon'.

Many women make the mistake of believing that once they marry someone or settle down with them, they can change that person from how they were. But that is pie in the sky hope because marriage or a relationship is not about being a different person, being in a prison or doing things differently. The only new thing required in that relationship are commitment and respect from both partenrs. If there is full commitment there will be appropriate behaviour between the parties. And if there is respect, there will also be trust, love and appreciation.

Moreover, would we like someone searching our things behind our back? Once we deny someone else their privacy and respect in a relationship, we are heading for trouble because nothing can survive under possessiveness and insecurity. If you suspect your partner is not being honest, the best thing is communication and discussion, in case something is missing from the partnership. One should always forgive, especially where there has been no direct affair involved.

More important, a relationship is a two way process. If someone is looking outward, 9 times out of 10, something is missing from the home for that person which is not being addressed. Only facing up to some home truths will change the situation

Should I End it or Not?


There is not much information on this for a more direct reply but, assuming it is a relationship, the first thing to remember is that relationships are supposed to make us happy; to enhance us and add greater joy to our lives. If you are not feeling happy, if you are getting more stress than you would have on your own, you should certainly end it. But every situation is an individual one, so without much detail, it is difficult to advise you appropriately.

The most important thing is to follow your instincts. It is never wrong. If you feel that the relationship isn't really going anywhere, you feel disappointed or resentful, then hanging on for dear life could be robbing you of happiness with someone else. Don't keep a relationship going through fear because whatever you fear will only become a self-fulfilling prophesy. the more you fear the more you will lose, anyway. Better to continue because you want to, and it feels good, than through fear of the consequences. When you do something because you really want to, life is much more enjoyable and enriching.

Finally, if you need some extra help in your decision, sit down and make two lists. One list will contain all the GOOD points of the relationship: especially the emotional and physical BENEFITS you get from it now. The other will contain all the BAD points or disadvantages - the things you don't like or which make you unhappy. Whichever is the longest list will tell you your answer.

Why Problem Relationships Rarely Recover


Very few unions recover when they have reached a destructive stage. They simply worsen because people have long elephant memories and find it hard to forgive, or to pretend about their feelings. Instead, they become more entrenched, fearful and accusatory.

People whose confidence has been damaged never fully recover because they lack validation from others who matter, particularly the reinforcement of their abilities, looks, sexual prowess and, above all, personal worth – a validation that is often not forthcoming because of their negative state. It is a fact that the lower the confidence and esteem of the persons involved, whether male or female, the more bitter and resentful they remain for years after the break, especially if one partner is already getting on with his/her life and seems happy. Those rejected tend to believe no one else will want them as their self-esteem takes a dive.

As to well meaning suggestions of trying to rekindle love, or to get it back when it has gone, that's a fool's paradise. True passion depends on the chemistry and appeal of the individuals involved. Once attraction has waned, it cannot be manufactured. A deeper love might replace passion, but that is the time a partner unknowingly becomes more like a relative than a lover. Additionally, at traumatic times, many negative factors interfere with our emotions which prevent us from being satisfied with what we have always had. Individual evolution also ensures we are always seeking to try something new, something befitting our current state. The number of people who left their partners, then returned with every intention of making up and 'rekindling' that old love, then left again for good, is enough to fill a huge stadium. There is an interesting reason for this dilemma.

Having affairs or external liaisons does not preclude forgiving and forgetting, or rekindling the home relationship. Starting afresh is always possible, especially if it was a brief fling outside, mainly for diversion or to boost one's esteem. However, for most affairs that last longer, something entirely unexpected happens. The feelings experienced in that new relationship demonstrate significantly what is missing from the home. It then becomes difficult for partners to return to what they had without their expectations being changed in the process. Partners left behind feeling hurt are also unlikely to change their behaviour to accommodate their partners' positive feelings or to be any more loving. In fact, they are likely to be more resentful, mistrustful and unforgiving. This will invariably affect the behaviour of the offending party.

Tense and Accusatory
If the couple manages to stay together, especially if there is no real effort to put the past behind them, one of four situations will ensue. First, one party will continue with illicit affairs to find the kind of love still missing from the home, or, second, both parties will have new lovers. Third, the atmosphere will be so tense and accusatory that the weaker party will grudgingly, and resentfully, accept the status quo or, fourth, the couple will eventually part. So, any rekindling or reconciliation is often a pipe dream because it is human nature to react when we feel wronged. There is also natural emotional evolution, and the 'possession' factor, which are responsible for most break-ups in relationships.

We have to remember that people in troubled relationships gradually lose their anchor, their sense of security, their self-belief, familiar routine, close friends and, in many cases, their home and environment. It is at this time when support from people who are independent, and who genuinely have their interest at heart, is most needed – if only because the underfunded advisory services are stretched to their limits. For example, it took us eight weeks to get an appointment with Relate, the marriage guidance counselors, and we slagged-off each other silly while we anxiously waited. Not surprisingly, the situation worsened. By the time our turn came, he didn't want to know.

Friends or relatives are also the worst ones to consult at this time. They tend to take sides and exacerbate the issues. A different kind of individual with positive energy is thus needed to lift the affected person out of their negative mire because a sense of being rejected and devalued simply drags them down and keeps them feeling bad about themselves. That can have a disastrous effect on future relationships.

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How do I get closure at the end of my relationship with a single mom?


Q. Hi, Ms Cyprah, how do I end a relationship with a very nice single mom? I don't know if it is the kid or if she is just too nice, but I am not happy. The longer I put it off the harder it is now. So what do I say that won't leave her a wreck? I feel like a jerk cause I have not talked to her in a while and I know women need closure with this stuff. So what do I say?

A. As you said, you have not talked to her in a while, which is a pity, as she would have been wondering what she has done to you, which makes the situation needlessly negative. She has probably sensed your detachment anyway and perhaps has been sad about the loss of contact. However, not just women, everyone needs closure, even you, to move on to the next stage of their life, otherwise it is difficult to proceed with something new. Depending on how you are feeling, and your level of courage, choose whether to see her or ring her. But, now that you've made your decision, please do it quickly.

Whatever you do, begin with a sincere apology for not speaking to her for a while and enquire how she has been getting on and then LISTEN. What she says will give you the cue for what you say next. Explain that you wanted some space to think about where you were both going, then very honestly and calmly say something like: "I have thought about us a lot and I think you are a lovely person. Thanks for coming into my life and enriching it with your presence because I have enjoyed your company very much. However, I honestly don't think I am ready for a permanent relationship yet and would prefer to leave things as they are. Naturally, you might feel disappointed with that, which I fully understand and appreciate, but I believe it is better to be honest than to deceive you in any way. How do you feel about it?"

In this way, you give her a chance to express her feelings, while sticking to your statement, politely but firmly. You do not owe her any explanations because people fall in and out of love all the time. That's life. But you do owe her due respect for her feelings. You might find too that she also feels the same, which makes it even easier for you to tell her your decision. If you sense she is hurt by your confession, please DON'T tell her you can be friends. That is a big mistake, and merely prolongs the pain - a coward's way out which is often meaningless. The worst thing among so-called 'friends' is to see the one they still love going after someone else! It merely reinforces their feeling of rejection. When people still like us, time away from one another is best to get over it. However, you can use your discretion if she feels like you do.

The main thing to remember is that you have a right to how you feel, and should not apologise for that. But you also carry the responsibility to acknowledge her feelings in the matter, to listen to her side and to treat her with value and respect. People are only upset when they are not heard or they believe they have been treated unfairly. Good luck.

I hope you find this helpful.

The 10 Hidden Forces in a Relationship That Contribute to its Break-Up


The breakdown of relationships has historically been attributed to common observable, and even predictable, factors like money problems, physical and emotional abuse, extra-marital affairs, the effects of alcoholism, sexual incompatibility and a lack of communication and compromise between the parties, to name a few.  

Acres of pages have been devoted to their long-term effects, but I believe these aspects are more likely to be smokescreens or symptoms of other hidden forces which dictate emotional outcomes over time  – the real hidden causes of failure in relationships. This being an invisible process, many couples are not even aware they are being influenced by these factors until the difficulties become overwhelming and the partnership is torn apart. 

In my opinion, every relationship is subjected to ten key controlling factors which always impinge on the individuals involved, often without their knowledge and definitely without their consent. No matter how hard a couple tries to make their relationship work, the acute differences they bring to the union ensure that at least one of these forces is likely to be working against them covertly every step of the way. 

The ten crucial factors are:

1.  The accepted norms and unwritten rules existing in their society which govern relationships at that particular time. These will include not only what is legally allowed but the social protocol in vogue. For example, a few years back, marriage vows carried the words 'to honour and obey'. Now very few vows contain them which shows the increasing independence of women.

2.  The demographic, cultural and social background of the couple and the type of parenting they had. Background does affect a relationship. A marriage across cultural lines between two people who were reared differently in both discipline and expressive affection will have a greater likelihood of not lasting the course than one where the parties are broadly similar in these respects. 

3.  The confidence and self-esteem of the individuals involved. This is one of the biggest hidden force in a relationship because it affects the behaviour of the parties, their aspirations and their willingness to make decisions and take risks. There is nothing more frustrating than having a fearful partner paired with a confident one who just wants to fly but is being kept back by insecurity and gloomy predictions.

4.  The perception of both partners. Everyone sees the world differently and perception of each party relating to behaviour in the relationship is often at odds with each other. Very few people see eye to eye on important marital issues.

5.  The expectation of each party in the relationship. This is the biggest killer of relationships: frustrated expectations that are not fulfilled gradually turn into resentment and anger.


No Marriages at All?

6.  The emotional evolution of the partners. We all change as we age so that we are never the same person five or 10 years down the line. It means that our aspirations and expectations will change too. Yet few people accept this natural change and most are not even aware of it.

7.  The form and type of attraction between the couple. If the attraction is purely based on physical factors it is unlikely to last as long as one that also has emotional and intellectual aspects involved.

8.  The application of equity in the union: the desire to belong, to compete or to control. Where one person is perceived as less equal in the partnership that will affect the gradual state of the union. Most people will put up with elements of a marriage they do not like simply to feel wanted and to belong, but where there is clear inequity, it is likely to lead to resentment and even to abuse of one person by another.

9.  The sexual compatibility of the couple. This is a very important aspect which often makes or breaks the relationship, regardless of the importance partners put on it, or their desire to ignore it or play down any mismatch.

10.  The personal capacity to deal with common problems. Some people can take things in their stride without much fuss, whereas others find it difficult to cope with any crisis. That tends to impact negatively on the relationship, especially if there are two insecure people in the relationship.

All these are lethal in one way or another because they tend to have a profound influence on other key elements such as the couple’s territory, commitment to each other, personal development and mutual affirmation. Most importantly, they affect the selection of a partner at the courtship stage. It’s the negative impact of these elements that ultimately causes the most damage, leaving the partnership vulnerable to misunderstanding and hurt. This leads to the three Big Ds: Disrespect, DisillusionDissolution. 

According to the most recent census, the duration of marriages is getting shorter by a rate of six months per decade. For example, in 1970 partners averaged 10.5 years together but in 2002 this average was reduced to just below nine years. If we take this logically forward, by 2170 couples will be together barely one year before parting. Should this trend continue, along with the increase in the choice of single life, in about 200 years time no one will be getting married at all!  Does this sound incredible and far-fetched? 

Possibly, but not entirely improbable in our rapidly changing times.

Technology's true impact on relationships


A survey conducted for famous divorce lawyers, Mishcon de Reya in the UK found that almost half of those (46 per cent) questioned about their relationship habits claimed that the advent of emails, texting and Internet chat rooms has led to a massive rise in the number of people being unfaithful to their partners.

Nearly a third (29 per cent) admitted using emails, text messaging and Internet chat rooms to flirt with potential partners or nurture an affair. Of those, almost a quarter (22 per cent) confessed to doing so every day while 62 per cent admitted to doing so once a week. The law firm says adultery has grown alarmingly' in recent years.

A partner of Mishcon de Reya's Family Practice, says the surge in availability of instant telecommunication is reflected in an equally dramatic increase in numbers wanting a divorce on the grounds of adultery. "The number of hotmail addresses in the UK is rising and they too are being used as a conduit for affairs on the worldwide web and away from the prying eyes of partners," she said.

This development is almost predictable, really. Not tied to one place or phone anymore, and with greater freedom to live according to individual choice, it is open season on adult affairs. But are we perhaps expecting too much of enlightened 21st century folk when we expect total loyalty in long relationships? The point I am making is that we cannot have such dramatic change happening around us while we stand serene and unchanged in the middle of it, quivering like unconcerned ostriches while we cling to old customs. We are bound to be affected in some way by new inventions and new freedoms.

While we might obstinately maintain an aloof detachment from it all and cling to what makes us feel secure, the biggest impact is being felt by our children, who not only set the pace for change in many respects, but also have to pick up the pieces from their parents' broken relationships. Being directly in the firing line of any fallout, young children cannot pretend that all the changes around them are not happening, especially when they will be on the receiving end of any consequences and won't necessarily understand or appreciate the reasons for them.

In fact, our children offer the most accurate reflection of where our society is heading. If we want to see a glimpse of our future, we only have to look at current youth behaviour and attitude. With the absence of universal codes of conduct and firmer boundaries such as those in the past, coupled with a more liberal form of child-rearing, youngsters tend to be more informed and confident in dealing with others, on one hand, but noticeably more emotionally detached, less loyal and caring in their approach and even more fearful and insecure, on the other. Too much of adult life is exposed to them too early in their formative lives and, lacking the comprehension and maturity to deal with it, it increases their fears and anxieties even more. This partly accounts for the increase in age of the youngsters preferring to remain at home, 34 years old for men, compared to 24 years old a couple of decades ago. They want to hang on to that feeling of protection and enjoy financial security without too much responsibility, for as long as possible.

The world is a more exciting but transient place, one in cultural and social transition due to the revolution in technology. However, we are not moving as fast in adapting to those changes. We are trying to use old mindsets to cope with dramatic change and are finding the speed at which our lives are being altered really quite bewildering and scary.

Lisa Nowak, Dying For Love


One of the worst love triangle and its consequences caught my eye by the sheer incomprehension of it. It was the cosmonaut who set out to kill her love rival without batting an eyelid and, according to one news comment, "went from being gloried to sordid in the space of a short drive."

This lady, Lisa Nowak, an Airforce Captain, was the lead communicator for the next space mission. She is clever, good looking and very successful. The type we expect to be solidly sensible and law abiding; to be at peace with herself and her needs. Yet, in a moment of madness, she would kill another human being for a man. NASA's answer to her strange and unexpected action was to say they would review their psychological screening process again. But no amount of checking and double checking will deal with the one most basic need in all of us, one of the four crucial pivots which give us our purpose for living: the need to be valued appreciated, wanted and desired by someone we too value. It is an essential need because it carries the fear of rejection at its core. And once we are rejected, we feel unwanted, excluded and insignificant, depriving us - in one fell swoop - of the other three attributes we crave. Life just seems to lack meaning after that. And it can happen to anyone anywhere after that.

Testing Our Resolve

Yet, it is precisely at those sad moments when we need to keep our nerve because everything that happens is designed to test our resolve, to strengthen our weak points, to make us more resilient and to give us that crucial experience for dealing with the next crisis and the next relationship in our life. Imagine if we were completely pampered every day, having everything done for us without even having to think, then suddenly we lost everything and had to start from scratch in a desert miles from anyone. Where would we begin to find the knowledge and resources we need to survive? We might survive, yes, but our lack of experience and weak fibre would not help at all in those first few terrible moments of adjustment.

Or, if we never run in our life and was suddenly being chased by someone wanting to harm us. Any attempt to outrun them might result in a heart attack through lack of practice. So relationships are just that - key points in our life which can either last a long time or be transitory. They give us the essential practice we need in building our emotional maturity and capability. It is our expectations that decide their outcome because we burden them with the need to have permanence and then miss the message they give us when their work is done.

One thing I can guarantee is that this lady lacked self-love. She felt that her happiness would come from another person - the man she loved, so she did not nurture her own resources to be independent and self-loving. Naturally when the rejection came she couldn't deal with it. But NO ONE can make us happy. They can only enhance the happiness we already feel inside of us or temporarily rob us of some of it through hurt. But when we don't love ourself, we really don't love others either, because we become too dependent on their attention, affection and presence in a selfish way. One-sided, in fact. Soon the relationship becomes fraught with jealousy and insecurity, ultimately getting restricted and claustrophobic.

Under those circumstances, love is the last thing that would be in that relationship because it would have given way to control and fear. If we have to worry about the constant movement of our partners, where they are going, what they are doing, whether they still love us or not, there is no trust. And where there is no trust, there is only insecurity, fear of what that person might do and the consequences for us and a rapidly reducing enjoyment. We then need to get a life.

Living With Ourselves 24/7
When we truly love ourselves we bear in mind that we were born alone in this world and, apart from our Maker, we die alone. No one accompanies us. No one is there with us throughout our existence except ourselves so we are the most important in the scheme of things. We have to learn to live with ourselves 24/7. If we dislike ourselves and depend on others to like us to compensate for that, we will never be happy in any relationship. It is too much of a burden for someone else to carry. Once we truly appreciate the wonderful beings we are, we then realise that every person we meet takes us from one point in our life to another. That's ALL they do.

Our parents begin the cycle, then the baton is passed to our lovers and friends, then on to our children and finally back to us in our late years. The longer we live, the fewer people will be there for us at the end. So everyone else simply adds to our store of experience, whether good or bad, while increasing our strength and value. When lovers take their farewell, we should wish them well with confidence, knowing that the next exciting part of our journey with our next guide is just about to begin. After the QUICK grieving and adjustment period, it is time to do justice to every day of that precious life again to complete our purpose and fulfill our potential.

How are you feeling about yourself, your lover or your partner today? If you are at all anxious in any way about where he might be or what she might be doing or how he might be treating you, it is time to take the focus off him/her and begin the process of self-love which will make you even more lovable and loving. Nothing else improves your attractiveness more than simple self-love. It makes you shine in the most desirable way.