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Article - Are you ready for a Relationship?

"I’m really happy just being me – life is great. I’ve lots to do, terrific friends and so on. It’s just that a committed relationship would be the icing on the cake – but I’m not desperate".

Of course not.

There’s no real stigma attached to being single any more. Personally I believe that everyone needs to be single for a clear period before going into a new relationship. It helps us to rediscover our individuality We can’t be happy with someone else unless we can be happy in ourselves first. No-one should expect a new relationship to solve their own emotional hang-ups. By the way, this doesn’t mean you don’t date meanwhile. As long as you’re not misleading anyone about your intentions, that’s fine. In fact, it can be part of the healing process – re-building self-esteem and helping you adjust to a break-up

Go into a new relationship too soon and you may give out signals that you’re too emotionally needy and scare the potential partner off. Or you might attract or be attracted to the wrong kind of person

Peter, a successful barrister in his thirties, often catapulted himself from one relationship straight into the next. It just seemed to ‘happen’ this way. There was always someone attractive waiting for him after the break up of the current relationship and he craved consolation - or so it seemed. At this point he was a magnet to the kind of women who wanted him to depend on them emotionally. This was OK in the early stages of intense feeling when he was really close. He always felt that this must be the woman he was looking for and said so. Then he would find that his need for emotional space and independence would get the upper hand and he would pull back. Result: tears all round. Most of us have been in this sort of situation at some stage. But is it inevitable? In the hands of fate? Or, can we get in the driving seat and be more in control of what’s happening?

On the other hand, stay in bachelor mode too long and you may find you’re rather set in your ways and have difficulties adapting to the demands of being close to someone else. Laura, a thirty eight year old TV director finished her last relationship when she was thirty five. The adrenaline generated by her stimulating job meant she was always in a whirl of activity: often up at 5am to be on location and sometimes still in the editing room at midnight. And there were always the deadlines. Her personal life took second place and although she had an understanding circle of good friends she kept putting off the idea of commitment. With her bio-clock ticking away she took stock. But there was something wrong with every man she met – not that there were many whom were available. In other words she had become too fussy and particular. Does this ring any bells?

By examining your particular strengths and weaknesses both in an out of relationships you can spot the danger signals long before they become damaging. So, if it’s a good moment for you, you might try the following workshop exercises to see where you stand at present.

Let’s go straight into listing three of the most positive aspects of being on your own. Date the list and print it out. Keep it even after you go into your next relationship. Prune it occasionally to encourage healthy growth. Remember that people in really happy relationships are those who value themselves as much as their partner. Carefully identify those things that you esteem about your life as an individual. You’ll probably include stuff like more freedom, time to see your friends, control over decision making, being more spontaneous, just to mention some possibilities. As you write these down think about which, if any, you lost out on in your last relationship, and why. What might you do about this next time so that you have a better balance?

 

Today’s date…………..

List three or more plus points for you of being single

1.

2.

3.

 

Now move on to list three or more of the downsides of being single

 

Today’s date……..

List three or more of the downsides of being single

1.

2.

3.

 

Any surprises? Are any of these downsides avoidable? Have you mentioned missing out on good sex? If you haven’t is it that you don’t miss it, or are you having casual sex and is this OK for you?. Have you included not having children, or do you feel that this is something which need not always coincide with a relationship? Maybe you have children already and wish you had someone to share their good and bad times with.

What about getting too set in your ways? Being independent is one thing, but being selfish is another. On our own we quickly lose our tolerance of other people’s shortcomings. This can make us very reluctant to get close to another person.

Just by being more aware of potential problems the easier it is to not be bugged by them and let them take control.

Now go for all the positive things you can think of about being in a good relationship.

 

 

Today’s date……..

List three or more pluses for you of being in a relationship

1.

2.

3.

 

 

I wonder what you’ve put for this one. Sharing happy and also difficult times. Laughing together. Being told you’re wonderful. I expect you’d want to put more than three points here.

Do the disadvantages of being in a relationship include missing out on some of the advantages of being single? Maybe your negotiating skills need honing? But this is the subject of future session.

Stop for a moment and see if your feelings about going into a relationship have changed while doing the workouts.

If you feel it all seems too much to contemplate, ask yourself another question: what about just dating? Seeing some new people just as friends and getting back into practice, so to speak? Providing you keep your boundaries clear between dating, sex and an intimate relationship, making it obvious that you aren’t ready to rush anything if you’re not, there is nothing wrong in seeing new people. This is quite different to going into a relationship. Too many people feel that if they go for a drink or dinner with someone new, that this is tantamount to saying they might want to spend the rest of their lives with them.

The point of doing these exercises is to check out what your own goals are in a relationship. Simply thinking about them, writing them down and maybe discussing them with a friend can empower you in such a way that fate has less influence on your life and you can make more real choices about outcomes.

To conclude on a positive note draw up a list things you need to work on in a relationship next time round. Perhaps you feel hemmed in and lacking emotional space when you allow someone to get close? Then you need to look at how to be more assertive about your needs while still respecting your partner’s. Ask for what you need more often rather than simply waiting for it to be offered and then feeling resentful when it isn’t forthcoming. Your partner’s needs should be respected - check them out as you would your own.

 

 

Today’s date……..

List three or more things you need to be more aware of in your next relationship

1.

2.

3.

 

 

Don’t make heavy weather of these exercises. Just keep the conclusions at the back of your mind and re-examine them from time to time. You will find that you are more in the driving seat next time round.

Good Luck

 

Mary

 

copyright Mary Balfour 2000