Sunday, September 18, 2011

Five tips for getting over a break-up

Breaking up is hard to do: Pamela Allardice shares five ideas for getting through the dark times and finding a way forward.

1. Let it out

Disappointment and anger will fester if you keep them cooped up. Go for a run, chop wood, learn boxing, scream, or kick a cardboard box to pieces. These emotions can also be used to the good. Get busy and clean house, scrubbing, sweeping, polishing and tossing trash. Physical activity eases mental anguish and you'll find satisfaction in a job well done.

2. Allow yourself to grieve

Mourning is a natural reaction to loss, and the more intense the relationship was, the more you'll grieve. When we give our heart to another person, we trust them with the essence of who we are. When this connection is broken we feel as though we have not only lost the other person, but that we have lost a chunk of ourselves. Grieving presents in several forms: you may feel numb; you may brood and continually go over what went wrong; and you will undoubtedly feel just plain miserable. You can't go around this mountain of sad feelings — you have to go through them. Yes, it will hurt like hell. But it will make you strong.

3. Find closure

In order to make room for the next stage of your life, this relationship needs to become part of your past, not your present. A formal 'closing ceremony' may help. It doesn't have to be complicated. Set aside an hour where you can sit undisturbed. Have paper and a pen handy. Head one sheet of paper with "What I will miss about this relationship …". Head the second, "Things I won't miss …"; the third, "What I’ve learned about myself during this time …" and the last, "What I want from a future partner is …". Be honest. By opening up, you will gain a greater understanding of yourself and be able to accept the loss.

4. Find forgiveness

When you've been dumped, this is the toughest call of all. It's also necessary, because otherwise you'll find it hard to move past your hurt, and may unconsciously see yourself as a victim. Before you list your ex's faults and swear that you'll see him in hell first, understand that forgiveness doesn't mean that what he did to you was acceptable. It means you don't want to be angry with him any more; it's not worth it. Continuing to hate them will make you cynical and bitter. Deciding to forgive and let go means you take back control and focus on a positive future — yours.

5 Move on

Ultimately, the most important thing you will learn from breaking up is to have faith in yourself. By working through the pain, you will come to understand that you are resilient and courageous enough to cope with change and challenges. Tape these words from French philosopher Jean de la Fontaine to your mirror: "I bend but I do not break."

Relationship conflict does not change throughout marriage says study

How much do you fight with your spouse? Do you fight like cats and dogs or are your arguments limited to a few small tiffs? Either way, a new study has found that the current level of conflict probably won't change throughout the relationship and heavily impacts on overall happiness.

The US study found that this was good news for the 16 percent of couples who report little conflict or even the 60 percent who have only moderate levels of conflict.

However, the study was not so good for the 22 percent of couples who say they fight and argue with each other a lot.

Lead author of the study and assistant professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University, Claire Kamp Dush said the results showed there wasn't a lot of difference in conflict over time.

"There was a very slight decrease in the amount of conflict reported in the final years of the study, which was slightly larger for the high-conflict couples. Still, the differences over time were small," she said.

Data was collected by surveying almost 1000 married people under 55 years old for more than 20 years between 1980 and 2000.

Throughout the study marital conflict was measured by how often respondents said they disagreed with their spouse — never, rarely, sometimes, often or very often — and, based on these results, the couples were placed into high-, middle- and low-conflict marriages categories.

Dush said those in low-conflict marriages were more likely than others to say they shared decision-making with their spouses.

"That's interesting because you might think that making decisions jointly would create more opportunities for conflict, but that's not what we found," she said.

"It may be that if both spouses have a say in decision making, they are more satisfied with their relationship and are less likely to fight."

Those in the low-conflict group were also found to believe in traditional, life-long marriage.

"People who believe marriage should last forever may also believe that fighting is just not worth it. They may be more likely to just let disagreements go," Dush said.

The results of the study were then used to identify how overall conflict was related to overall marital happiness.

The marriages surveyed were set into classifications of volatile, validator, hostile and avoider.

About 54 percent of couples fell into the lower conflict validator category and had lower low levels of divorce, high and middle levels of happiness and no more than middle levels of conflict.

"The validator marriages are often seen as positive because couples are engaged with each other and are happy. We found that in these marriages, each partner shared in decision making and in housework," Dush said.

The other low-conflict couples, around six percent, were in the avoider marriages. These couples had more traditional marriages in which husbands were not involved in housework and the participants believed in life-long marriage.

"These couples believed in traditional gender roles and may have avoided conflict because of their beliefs in life-long marriage. These couples were also unlikely to divorce," Dush said.

On the other hand, about 20 percent of those surveyed were in volatile marriages — high conflict and high or middle levels of happiness. The remaining participants were in hostile marriages, which were the most likely to divorce.

Although couples in both validator and avoider marriages tended to have lower levels of conflict, Dush believes that validator marriages may be the healthiest for couples.

"Avoiding conflict could lead couples to avoid other types of engagement with their spouse," she said.

"A healthy marriage needs to have both spouses engaged and invested in the relationship."

What bothers men and women most about cheating?

When it comes to infidelity what aspect of cheating bothers men and women the most? A new study has revealed that while men focus on whether their partner had sex with someone else, woman focus on whether their partner was in love with someone else.

New research based on the US TV show Cheaters, which catches unfaithful spouses in the act, suggests that its findings could shed light on how our psychology evolved, Live Science reported.

While scientists have long suggested that men and woman tend to act differently to adultery, with men caring more about sexual infidelity and woman caring more about emotional infidelity, the explanation surrounding this is based on evolution.

Researcher Barry Kuhle, who is an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, says men want children that they know are their own, while women want a partner to care for them, not their rivals.

Until now past studies of gender reactions to jealousy have been measured on a memory or an imagination basis with participants asked about past experiences or how they would react is their partner was unfaithful.

Cheaters however, captures real-time reactions, and Kuhle believes this study of this kind being one of the only ways to observe actual jealous behaviour. On the show investigators uncover evidence of infidelity, and the producers record jealousy-fuelled interrogations of cheaters by victims.

Kuhle and his colleagues have analysed 51 episodes of Cheaters with 75 cases of victims interrogating cheaters — 45 female victims and 30 male victims. And their findings show that men usually asked more about sex and women asked more about emotion.

"The emotion of jealousy shows clear evidence of evolution's fingerprints," Kuhle said.

"Natural selection has designed men to be acutely sensitive to being cuckolded and women to losing their partner's time, attention and resources. Our skulls house a Stone Age mind in a modern-day world."

The study found that male victims asked questions about sex about 57 percent of the time, while female victims, only asked about sex 29 percent of the time. On the other hand, female victims asked about emotion with questions such as "Do you love her?" in 71 percent of cases, compared with just 43 percent for male victims.

"Actual jealous behaviour from men and women who have actually been cheated on conforms to evolutionary psychological expectations and dovetails perfectly with research done previously that asked people to anticipate how they would behave in these circumstances," Kuhle said.

When questioned about the realness of the Cheaters episodes, after concerns regarding this work were raised Kuhle argued it is unlikely that most of the show's 400 to 450 love triangles were staged. He said that "it would be unethical and impractical to design a true experiment in which researchers hired confederates to sleep with participants' partners and then observed the participants' upset at and interrogations of their partners."

Kuhle said it was important to keep in mind that not every couple would necessarily conform to these findings.

"Every man and every woman did not conform to this pattern," he said.