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How to Break Unhealthy Relationship Patterns and Find Love


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Are you always attracted to unavailable men or women, to commitment-phobes, people living on different continents or to those already attached to someone else? Do you struggle to find emotionally healthy people attractive and run in the opposite direction as soon as a decent prospect wants to get serious?

In short, are you tired of repeating the same mistakes in your romantic relationships and getting the same results? If so, there’s no time like the present to change.

Dating for me used to be like banging my head against a brick wall. Why did I keep falling for commitment-phobes or unavailable types? Why couldn’t I fancy the good guys who were into me? And where have all the eligible men gone anyway?

I spent many a Valentine’s Day single, staying home to avoid all the red hearts or arranging a night out with my female friends. I had a good life and was content in many ways but I wanted to be in love. I thought things would never change.

But they have. I’ll be spending this Valentine’s Day with my partner, to whom I’m engaged. More importantly, I feel settled, confident I’m with the man I want to spend the rest of my days with and certain that there’s enough love between us to cope with whatever comes our way.

For an indecisive, restless soul who always thought there was someone better out there and who couldn’t stop looking over her boyfriend’s shoulder for the next guy, my newfound peace is nothing short of a miracle.

So how did I change my unhealthy relationship patterns and find love?

I first had to understand where I was going wrong. For years, I blamed the men I met for being emotionally distant or scared of commitment. What was wrong with them? Eventually, I discovered there was something wrong with me.

I was drawn to unavailable types because I was emotionally unavailable myself. I fancied commitment-phobes because I was terrified of commitment. Dating someone who wasn’t willing or able to give me love made it easy for me. It meant I could avoid getting into a true, intimate relationship with a man, and therefore avoid getting hurt, which was what I was scared of the most.

After years of personal development work and lots of therapy, I understood that my first relationship with a man, my dad, had set me up for a lifetime of self-sabotage. When my father sat my eight-year-old self on his knee and told me he was moving out of our family home, my heart cracked. The experience hurt so much that I resolved never to repeat it. I would never open my heart again. I would never get that close to a man.

I took something else away from that painful experience – the idea that I wasn’t lovable, valuable or good enough. This is what we do as children. We assume everything is our fault. We assume there’s something wrong with us.

My decision to avoid pain at all costs and that core belief that I wasn’t enough formed the basis for my future relationships. Unavailable types were safe to date. Available men who were up for commitment were dangerous so I ran away from them. And I didn’t believe I deserved love so I accepted crumbs and allowed others to treat me badly.

To change those patterns, I had to change how I related to myself.

I had to connect with the painful feelings from my childhood that I’d run away from for years or numbed with excess food (I had an eating disorder for several decades). That meant learning to slow down, sit still and allow the hurt to surface. I thought the feelings would kill me if I let myself feel them. But they didn’t. I’m still here. By feeling the pain, I could begin to heal it.

I had to learn to love, accept and respect myself wholeheartedly, to believe that I was enough and that I deserved a healthy and loving relationship with a man who could love me back.

I had to learn to trust that I could cope if I loved deeply but then lost someone again, to realise that I was a resilient adult now, not a vulnerable child.

I had to truly understand the root of my unhealthy patterns and talk about them with others who had similar experiences.

And I had to dig deep and find the courage to change those patterns.

I helped myself by building up a support network around me and by setting healthy and loving boundaries for myself whenever I went on a date. So I would try to avoid alcohol, which clouded my faculties and got me into scrapes with unavailable types. I would try to keep first dates short so I wouldn’t be tempted to end up in a man’s arms before I even knew anything about him. And I would try to move forwards at a steady pace, always alert to my history of self-sabotage, always questioning whether this relationship was good for me or whether I was repeating the same mistakes.

I say try because I messed up so many times. I am a human being after all. But every time I did, my awareness grew. Gradually, I began to date more mindfully. I began to choose who I spent time with rather than letting myself be chosen. And I began to give myself love and care so that I didn’t crave another’s love so badly. Cravings had always got me into trouble.

Awareness was the key to my transformation and I believe it’s the key for all of us. Awareness opens the door to change. By identifying and owning our patterns and by understanding why we cause ourselves pain, accept less than we deserve and run away from happiness, we can recover and heal.

That is my wish for you this Valentine’s.

Is Monogamy a Monotony?


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Is a long marriage a drag? Is sex within that marriage inevitably going to become stale and insipid after a few decades? Will you get to know each other so well that nothing is ever surprising anymore? Ever a real turn on?

And more to the point did I ask myself these questions when I met the man I went on to marry when I was just eighteen years old? No, of course not. But now, years later and planning our silver wedding anniversary I find myself pondering on thirty years of monogamy (yep, I was faithful from the day we met) and what it’s meant and still means to me.

When we married I knew I only wanted him. He was the love of my life but damn, I was so young, we were so young to make the commitment of forever.

But divorce was always an option, wasn’t it?

No. I never looked at it like that, I’m not so sure about him, but he’s still here, at my side, so that says something.

Of course there have been other men over the years whose physique and personalities have harnessed my attention. And I’m pretty sure they had a twinkle in their eye for me, but I’ve never dreamed of doing anything about it. I clicked on my not interested vibe to deter them because I was happy with my guy—more than happy, he made me feel safe and secure and loved in every aspect of life.

Every aspect I hear you ask? Even in the bedroom after all that time, only him…ever?

Like well-choreographed dancers we perfected our routine over the years. I don’t think either of us really thought about only ever having sex with each other (though of course there are no crystal balls predicting the future here) but that’s the way it’s turned out. I know we said those commitment vows, forsake all others, in front of God, family and friends, and meant what we said, but the reality is… so damn real.

Several years ago, after completing a creative writing course at Cardiff University, I had a career change and became a published author of erotic romance. He loves this new side to my life much more than I expected him to. He doesn’t read much of my work, he’s more of a thriller/war/history type of bloke, but that doesn’t mean he won’t help with a bit of research when it comes to my latest novel.

We’ve always been close, in tune, (though as with any marriage our closeness has ebbed and flowed like a gentle tide depending on what else has been going on in our lives) but my new career definitely brought us together with a new intensity. In my twenties I wouldn’t have had the confidence to discuss BDSM with him in any detail (or with any knowledge), now those cards are on the table. I find myself saying and doing what I want without the inhibitions of my younger years. It swings both ways and with me being more open, so is he.

I like to think we’re still in pretty good shape (he does triathlons and I horse ride most days) and still desire each other physically. But what I couldn’t have predicted is that now, in our forties, it’s our minds that are the biggest turn on and my writing has definitely enhanced that. It doesn’t have to be mega kinky stuff that thrills us, or unpredictability, it’s unity, history and a future. It’s the confidence in knowing that whatever is said, whatever happens, will be received respectfully and with understanding. Did I mention we laugh, a lot.

My sex record would have been very different if I’d met him ten years later. I’d likely have a bedpost full of notches and a string of wild stories. As it happens, there’s just one notch, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my fair share of wild stories. A few weeks ago we went past a London restaurant and he said ‘I took you there on our fourth date’. I remembered it, the food had been lovely, what I’d forgotten was what he said next, ‘you told me in the middle of the main course that you weren’t wearing knickers’. I laughed as the memory flooded back. That’s our history together and we keep on making memories.

I believe marriage is like a beautiful high-walled garden—old bricks, tumbling ivy, some manicured sections around a gentle fountain and a lawn with a bench, an ancient oak tree for shelter—and only the couple have the key to enter this garden. Within those walls what happens is secret and sacred. It’s a place for celebration and love, comfort and support. It’s also a safe environment to be vulnerable, to grow and nurture one another’s sexuality whether it’s your wedding night, or the eve of your silver, golden, ruby or diamond anniversary. Contented couples have one thing in common, and that’s the ability to never stop learning about what makes their spouse happy, whatever adventure they’re undertaking, in or out of the bedroom.

Emma Freud: “I’m Not Interested in Spending My 50s Pretending I’m in My 40s” | InStyle.com


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My amazing mum was 90 last month. She’s been an actress for 70 years—and on her big day she performed two theater shows before hosting dinner for 30 people. She swims every morning, goes tap dancing every week, and has nearly mastered the names, if not the sexes, of her 18 grandchildren.

When someone recently asked her how she is still sparkling at her mighty age, she suggested it might be connected to her lunchtime diet, always the same: a packet of potato crisps and a glass of red wine. She’s sharp, funny, and beautifully eccentric.But each time we talked this year about her 90th birthday, she asked me not to mention her actual age. “I don’t want people knowing how old I am—they’ll write me off,” she said, in a 90-year-old way.

So, in that incredibly patronizing tone that only a 55-year-old can use when addressing her nonagenarian mother, I had a massive talk to her (to her, not with her—she’s my mum, remember).It went something like this: “Mum, if you’ve arrived at 90 with your health and your faculties intact—not to mention your insistence on sunbathing in a bikini and your refusal to wear clothes to bed—surely that is something to celebrate rather than hide. You fought for female liberation in the ’60s—you can’t now be part of the conspiracy that women are valid only when they are young. We’ve moved on from that. If people are standing up and openly saying ‘I’m LGBTQI’ or ‘I have mental-health issues,’ then surely we should say ‘I’m old’ with pride?”

Read the full story here: Emma Freud: "I’m Not Interested in Spending My 50s Pretending I’m in My 40s" | InStyle.com

Women are happier being single than men because relationships are hard work | Independent


2 Minute Read

Women are happier being single than men are, because being in a relationship is harder work for women, new research suggests. According to a study by data analysts Mintel, 61 per cent of single women are happy being single, versus 49 per cent of single men. The survey also found that 75 per cent of single women have not actively looked for a relationship in the last year, compared to 65 per cent of single men.

Read the full story here: Women are happier being single than men because relationships are hard work | Independent

 

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