5 Ways To Improve Your Mother-Daughter Relationship

Make the most of the time you spend with your mother with our expert tips for improving how the two of you get along.

Maintaining a healthy relationship can be challenging — especially when it’s with someone with whom you share a hereditary laugh-snort, sensitive skin and an all-consuming couponing obsession.

No matter what the status of your current relationship with your mother, it’s important to sustain and strengthen your bond. We asked Sheila Herron, an Ottawa-based clinical social worker who works with individuals, couples and families, to share her insights on how to turn your mother-daughter relationship from prickly to pleasant.

1. Have fun together You may both be adults, but having fun with your mom is a great way to boost your bond. “Play is as important for adults as it is for children,” says Herron. “We are our true selves when we are able to be creative and feel authentic in mind and body, and this nurtures closeness with others,” she explains. “I think a lot of adults have stopped giving themselves permission to play and to create.”

Even if you and your mom have very different ideas of fun, figure out a way to find some common ground when it comes to mutual enjoyment. Share what you love with your mom, whether it’s gardening, cooking or going to the movies. Being open to sharing new experiences makes it much easier to put fun first when you spend time together, Herron advises.

2. Really listen to each other We all have moments where we act like we’re listening but are not really taking in what the other person is saying. Try giving your mom the gift of your undivided attention. “When receiving information, it is important to listen actively. This means not interrupting and listening to the end,” says Herron. “Make sure you understand what is being said. Ask questions if you’re not sure and avoid assumptions. Take some time to evaluate what you heard and think it through.” The better you listen to your mom — and to what she has to say — the easier it will be to feel connected to her.

3. Communicate effectively We all know how easy it can be to get into petty arguments with our mothers. Now is your chance to improve how you communicate to avoid falling out in the future. “Using ‘I’ statements is a way of taking responsibility for your own feelings,” says Herron. “For example, instead of saying ‘You are really making me mad,’ try the more possessive, ‘I feel angry right now because’ and be specific about the behaviour that is upsetting you,” she advises. It’s also important to avoid ordering or judging with words and phrases such as ‘You always,’ ‘You never,’ ‘The problem with you is’ or ‘What you should do is.’ Try the softer, more effective ‘I feel like’ or ‘This is how that behaviour makes me feel.’ “The goal is to increase the chances of being heard by the other, to avoid hurt feelings and to take you toward resolution,” explains Herron.

4. Define your boundaries Be fair and firm with your mother when it comes to topics that are sensitive or off limits. For example, if there are areas of your life that you would rather not discuss with her, tell her so. Be honest with your mom about what you need (or don’t need) from her in order to feel good about your relationship. “Sharing and honesty are present in all healthy relationships, but so are healthy boundaries,” says Herron. “This is a relationship worth protecting, so remembering love and respect in relating to one another is very important.” Rather than feeling as though your mom is meddling in your life, let her know when and where she can help: “In the happiest mother-daughter relationships, the daughter feels she can rely on her mother for help when she needs it,” says Herron.

5. Stay in touch through technology Not all of us live within easy visiting distance of our mothers, but don’t let the miles between you hinder your relationship. One of the best ways to keep the lines of communication open is with technology. “Communication is a universal challenge for mothers and daughters, but it only takes one of you and the relationship can be improved,” says Herron. “We have a wide variety of communication tools available today. E-mail, Facebook, texting, the phone and Skype all have their place to help change tactics toward healthier communication techniques.” However, Herron cautions against a technology-only relationship. Try to maintain a balance between keeping in touch via electronic devices on the fly and finding time for those meaningful face-to-face connections.

There is always room for improvement in any mother-daughter relationship, whether that means prioritizing fun in your time spent together, truly listening to one another, agreeing to disagree or taking advantage of modern communication tools to stay in touch. These few simple ideas will support and strengthen your relationship and help you maintain your mother-daughter bond.


A version of this article was originally published on CanadianLiving.com Apr 28, 2017 http://www.canadianliving.com/life-and-relationships/family/article/5-ways-to-improve-your-mother-daughter-relationship

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Is literary speed dating the next big thing?

Being an avid reader doesn’t guarantee a perfect happily ever after, but a shared passion for paperbacks does make an excellent ice breaker…

Literary speed dating has bookish singles mingling among the bookshelves of local libraries, armed with a work by their favourite author that best represents their own personality. Who knew that handsome hipster with the mysterious smile was hiding an adorable Harry Potter addiction this whole time? Using the same basic format as traditional speed dating, pairs have a limited amount of time to introduce themselves and their books. Participants get to know one another by discussing why they picked the book they did, or what they like about the book they brought, which sparks immediate conversation and potential bookworm love connections.

This kind of niche dating service gives individuals a chance to reveal their true personalities in a natural, authentic way. The books you brought instantly give each of you something to talk about, as well as inspiration for thought-provoking questions. The literary theme puts the focus on the fiction rather than any dating-related anxiety-riddled get-to-know-you chatter that many singles experience, and the rest is really just up to old-fashioned chemistry. What better way to make a great first impression than sharing your passion for (insert totally underrated, life-changing author here) with a kindred spirit.

Flirting over fiction
Part socializing and part book club, some organizers even assign the participants character names from famous historical novels to up the cheekiness factor. Not that we want to perpetuate any negative stereotypes, but we love this added incentive to really bring out the playful aspect of potentially shy, bookish types.

Sometimes the only thing more challenging than finding that next great read is navigating the dating scene. This is why literary speed dating is a single bibliophile’s dream: a group like-minded individuals who all love books, everyone with “great expectations” for (at best) a happy ending, or at least an exciting story arc in their own epic love story. And hey, if you don’t end up finding true love among the stacks, worst case scenario you’ll walk away with some really great recommendations to add to your ‘must-read’ list. It’s a pressure’s off singles event, more like a gathering of friends you just hadn’t met yet and far removed from awkward blind dates and boring mixers with terrible music. “Read Dating” is your opportunity to finally meet that Brad Pitt lookalike who appreciates Kurt Vonnegut for the satirical genius he really was.

Between the covers
For avid readers looking for their Mr. Knightley, a partner who doesn’t like the same genre of books as they do isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. On the contrary, a couple divided on fiction versus non fiction will have further to grow and teach (and debate!) one another far into the future.

The appeal of these literary speed dating events is easy to understand. With other standard speed dating events, meet & greets or online sites, it’s easy to fake generic likeable traits (consider the classic “I love puppies, and the beach after a storm”), but it’s so much harder to fake a passion for the printed word. In other words, it takes a graphic novel reader to know one.

Literary speed dating events can be found in many libraries across Canada, some, such as Vancouver Public Library’s are so popular that they have “Read Dating” nights tailored to both LGBT and straight book lovers. We think Jane Austen’s Emma would approve.


(A version of this story was originally published on http://www.ellecanada.com/relationships/relationships-and-dating-is-literary-speed-dating-the-next-big-thing/a/56204)


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How Happy Is Your Marriage?

Everyone who takes that long walk down the aisle (or short jaunt to the Justice of the Peace) hopes that it will result in years upon years of wedded bliss. But the happily-ever-after fairytale ending doesn’t always come easily — it requires effort from both parties to achieve long-lasting happiness.

We all know the standard “never go to bed angry” rule, but what else does it take? We asked Sophie Keller, life coach and author of How Happy Is Your Marriage? 50 Great Tips to Make Your Relationship Last Forever (Harlequin, 2011) for her relationship advice, which includes many personal reflections and examples from her own life. “I took it all from my marriage,” she confirms. “I just wrote what I knew.”

Here are some highlights from Keller’s keys to achieving wedded bliss.

1. Invest your time
Make it a priority to incorporate small changes into your own behaviour. Think of married life as a scenic road trip with many exciting detours and side trips along the way, rather than a race to the finish line. For example, when it comes to saying sorry, Keller recommends taking responsibility if you’ve upset your partner. “Apologize immediately and sincerely so you can both move happily on,” she says.

Integrate this mantra over the course of several weeks or a month to seamlessly add it into your life together. Let your partner see you making these little efforts and improvements. If you lead by example you’ll see how quickly the little things add up to hugely positive impacts on your marriage.

2. Eliminate the negative

Focus on what your marriage has going for it, rather than what it may be lacking. Do you and your spouse laugh together often? Do you have a strong track record of overcoming difficult times? Has your union resulted in happy, healthy children? “Keep in mind what you have,” says Keller, “not what you don’t have.”

She also suggests eliminating certain phrases from your vocabulary, such as “I’m not good enough” or “Why would (they) want to stay with me.” Phrases like these only hold us back. Not sure where to start? Emphasize the positive, as Keller does in her own day-to-day vocabulary: “I never use the word ‘failure’; I always use the word ‘feedback.’ I don’t believe in failure. It’s all a process.”

3. Wise counsel
Although it is important to be emotionally close and to “share deeply” with your spouse, you should never allow yourself to fall into the role of therapist to your partner — and conversely, never force them into playing that role for you. As Keller writes, “If you become your partner’s shrink, the relationship can easily turn from one between lovers to a parent-child dynamic…hardly beneficial for your sex life!”

Lend your support by letting your spouse know that you love him unconditionally, but leave the in-depth psychoanalysis to a professional.

4. Work smarter, not harder
Just as our mothers and grandmothers did before us, many women still struggle with finding balance in their lives. “As women, our energy is always being spread thin. How do we have time for ourselves, time for work, time for our partners, time for our children? And the answer to that is to identify what is most important to us, and make that the priority.” The fundamentals apply just as well in 1950 as they do today, avows Keller: “When I talk about happiness, I’m talking about a state of being. Happiness comes from within, now, a hundred years ago, or 300 years ago. Whatever you emanate, you draw back to you.”

5. Communicate on the same level

Sometimes we fall into modes of communication that are counter-productive to actually being heard and understood. Keller advocates being constantly mindful of the way you speak to your partner, using the uncritical “You could” instead of the more critical “You should” when bringing up important issues or touchy subjects with your partner.

“If you say ‘You should,’ you are going into parent mode and forcing them to go into child mode. If you stay adult, they’ll stay adult.” Communicating on the same level gives you a much better chance of actually resolving the issue rather than escalating it. And savour the power that comes with being a better communicator: “The person with the most flexibility runs the relationship system. So remember that you’re in charge! You’re going to make the communication great.”

Pick up a copy of Sophie Keller’s How Happy Is Your Marriage? 50 Great Tips to Make Your Relationship Last Forever at Indigo.ca today.


(A version of this story was originally published on http://www.canadianliving.com/relationships/love_and_romance/5_secrets_to_making_your_marriage_last_forever.php)

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7 Secrets of Happy Couples

There are some couples who seem to have it all figured out. It doesn’t matter if they have been together one, ten or 35 years, some couples seem to have achieved a perfect balance of commitment and contentment. So what’s their secret to finding a “happy place” in their relationship?

We asked Monica Meyer, an Ottawa-based counsellor and therapist, what exactly makes happy couples tick. “The good news is that you are never too young or too old to change your attitude and foster the relationship skills necessary to become that happy couple,” she says.

Happy couple secret No. 1: They do unexpected things
Sure, you know each other so well you can recite each other’s tired dinner party anecdotes, but why not try surprising each other once in awhile, suggests Meyer.

Consider a thoughtful shake up to the usual routine, whether it’s snagging last-minute tickets to a show on a weeknight or simply turning off the computers, cellphones and TVs to just focus on each other.

Happy couple secret No. 2: They aren’t attached at the hip
Happy couples have both mutual and separate interests and do not force themselves to do “couple-y” things. If his-and-hers ballroom dancing lessons cause anxiety and result in a fight, book that evening Zumba class with your friends instead, and encourage your partner to do something with his buddies.
Taking time for individual activities is a commitment to your future together. Instead of forcing together time, you’re giving your relationship space and time for yourselves to look forward to seeing one another.

Happy couple secret No. 3: They communicate
The happiest couples have open dialogue on a daily basis. “Couples need to speak words of affirmation and support, physically touch each other and book time for intimacy,” says Meyer.
Sharing your feelings, and then truly listening when your partner shares his own, will bring you closer together. Lips and ears are great for talking, but they’re not bad for kissing either, so make time for stealing smooches to strengthen your physical and emotional bond.

Happy couple secret No. 4: They are realistic
If everything you know about relationships is based on TV programs, movies or bestselling fiction, think again.
“All relationships face hardships, and it’s a mistake to think that perhaps you simply chose the wrong person and need to keep trying to find the right one,” says Meyer. Truly happy couples focus on loving their spouse for the reality of who they actually are.

Happy couple secret No. 5: They practise random acts of kindness
It’s easy to assume that your partner knows you love them — “I’m still here, aren’t I?” — but happy couples realize that it is impossible to give your partner too much support or to care too much.
Try to take more time to tell your partner how proud you are of them when they get through another rough day at the office. Meyer recommends practising random acts of kindness. For example, take a moment to send a text or email to let your partner know that you’re thinking about them, and not just because you want to remind them to pick up cat litter on the way home.

Happy couple secret No. 6: They agree to disagree
Some issues are just not so easily resolved. Instead of torturing themselves and arguing to the point where someone ends up hurt or bitter, happy couples often just acknowledge the impasse and move on.
“Accept that there are going to be hard times,” Meyer advises. Believe it or not, even the most well-suited pair will have something that they just don’t see eye to eye on, and maybe never will.

Happy couple secret No. 7: They don’t belittle each other
Happy couples know that being overly critical only leads to resentment or feelings of worthlessness. Meyer emphasizes that to maintain happiness couples must try to keep criticism to a minimum, or abolish it altogether. Try complimenting instead of criticizing, with a focus on the positive.


Small changes have big effects on our relationships, so enjoy honing your happiness skills and the immediate rewards — including the satisfaction of being one of “those” happy couples!


(A version of this story was originally published on http://www.canadianliving.com/relationships/love_and_romance/7_relationship_secrets_of_happy_couples_2.php)

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Social Media-Proof Your Relationship

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are all about building relationships – and sometimes even rekindling them. But when it comes to couples, there are a few things to keep in mind about how you behave online that will help you avoid arguing or raising suspicion with your partner.

For insight and tips on how couples can emphasize social media’s positive impacts and minimize the negative ones, we spoke with Monica Hamburg, a social media consultant, humorist and podcaster based in Vancouver, and Melanie Baker, an online community manager in Waterloo, Ontario.

1. Communicate openly about your online activity
With more than half of all Canadians connected via Facebook, it’s important for people to share what they do on social media platforms with their partners.

“I’m a huge proponent of communication, transparency and honesty – both online and off. I can’t think of anyone you should be more upfront with than someone with whom you’re intimately involved,” says Hamburg.

If you aren’t comfortable sharing what’s on your Facebook page with your partner, you might need to rethink what you post and how you interact with others online.

2. Be sensitive to your partner’s approach
“Be considerate,” advises Baker. “How private is your partner? How avidly do they themselves participate in social media? If something hilarious happens that could be embarrassing to your partner, you are not automatically entitled to post it unless your partner is OK with it,” she warns.

If he or she declines, the joke stays between you, and the same consideration is a must for posting photos and video of your partner. “One way couples grow is by building shared experiences and memories,” says Hamburg, “but it’s not an intimate couple experience if the entire Internet is brought into it.”

3. Reconnect with your partner by going offline
One of the biggest challenges, especially in long-term relationships, is making sure time spent together is quality time. This means time where you really connect and listen to each other, not merely sit in the same room while staring at different screens.

“Sometimes it’s best to remove temptation and physically disconnect altogether,” says Hamburg. “There are times where I insist that we take a walk without our iPhones, and while I’m on vacation I have been known to implement a personal social media ban.”

Aim for at least 15 to 20 minutes of tech-free time every night to help you reconnect as a couple.
4. Try not to keep tabs on him through Facebook or other social media
It’s so easy to track our friends and spouses online with features such as geo-tagging, Instagram locator and Facebook “places” location tagging. Some partners may find it reassuring to know that their mate has safely arrived at Point B from Point A.

However, “balance is key,” confirms Hamburg. “My partner was just on a very long solo driving trip, and after a while I became a bit concerned when I hadn’t received a text,” she says. “I checked his Facebook status where he had just posted about the meal he was having at his destination. I was instantly relieved. So checking occasionally is fine, but if you’re refreshing your browser every five minutes, maybe step away from the computer for a while.”

5. Don’t treat your spouse like just another online friend
Is a text goodnight equal to a tweet? Is a message posted to your Facebook wall as meaningful as an email? To each his own, say the experts.

“Social media is great for sharing interesting things that you’ve been up to, if you took a trip to another country or ate somewhere cool for dinner,” says Baker. “But your partner should not be expected to keep up or follow the same way your online friends do.”

Hamburg agrees: “Technology has its drawbacks, and one is the tendency to default to quick-form communication when sometimes a more personal touch is warranted,” she says. “Will your spouse see a difference between a text or a tweet? Some people don’t like talking on the phone, but if they know it makes their partner happy to occasionally get a call rather than an email, they’ll make the effort,” she notes. “It’s about communicating your needs and recognizing theirs.”

6. Don’t flirt with others online
When one partner receives online correspondence from an ex or takes part in virtual flirting, it can lead to feelings of jealousy, mistrust and a temptation to “snoop” on the part of his or her spouse.

“Don’t do anything with exes or anyone else online that you wouldn’t do while your partner was standing beside you,” advises Baker. “If you wouldn’t say or do something in person, saying or doing it online probably isn’t a good idea, either. Remember you can’t uncross those boundaries with your partner once you’ve breached them.”

“It’s understandable that you might get a jolt from online flirting,” says Hamburg, “but just be clear on the difference between fantasy and reality.”

BOTTOM LINE: Boost your social-media savvy and your relationship by sharing and including your spouse in your online activities, being considerate, resisting the urge to stalk or snoop, and remembering to take technology time-outs!


(A version of this story was originally published on http://www.canadianliving.com/relationships/love_and_romance/how_to_social_media_proof_your_relationship.php)


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Real Couples on ‘Keeping It Fresh’…

Rather than fixating on how you got to a place where a “Storage Wars” marathon counts as a hot date, focus instead on reintroducing some of the fun activities you both enjoy. We asked five Canadian couples to share some of the ways they keep their relationships interesting.

First, share your feelings with your partner to make sure you’re both on board with shaking things up, and be honest about the things you miss doing together, whether that’s taking spontaneous road trips or singing your heart out at weeknight karaoke. If your spouse agrees that more effort could be made in the creativity department, get his input and ideas for activities he may want to try.

1. Keep it simple
Start by introducing an uncomplicated change. For instance, rather than eating your regular Friday night takeout at the kitchen table or in front of the TV, go for a picnic in the park or even just in front of the fireplace at home. Take what’s already comfortable and tweak it.

“My girlfriend and I are saving for a house, so extravagant dinners are out of the question – but we can have a romantic picnic dinner for two either out or at home any time of the year.” – Michael, 29, Abbotsford, B.C.

2. Just dance
If you’ve always been a self-conscious rug-cutter, but find yourself on the dance floor more and more often due to a growing list of wedding invitations, why not sign up for a free trial couples dance class. Learning a new skill together can be rewarding, plus you’ll be able to regularly show off your newly acquired techniques.

“We took dance lessons before our wedding, and although he took some convincing at first, it was my husband who ended up wanting to continue. There’s a definite feeling of accomplishment when we master a really hard step sequence.” – Sarah, 33, Regina

3. Chart a course
If you both love a challenge, consider signing up to run a race together. Give yourselves enough time to train and devise a plan of action to make it across the finish line as a couple. It will hone your teamwork skills and give you a chance to see another side of one another.

“We did the Ottawa City Chase race when we first started dating and it was a great way to get to know one another’s skills under pressure. I guess that can be a double-edged sword, but it worked out for us – we got married this past summer.” – Andy, 30, Ottawa

4. Discomfort zone
Instead of attending an event that’s familiar to the both of you – such as a hockey game where you’re both equally invested in the outcome – consider checking out something new. Whether that’s a curling bonspiel or Canadian Football League game, a concert featuring native throat singers or African drummers, or even just a foreign film showing in your town’s indie theatre, it’s up to you! Any slightly unfamiliar activity is an excellent opportunity for bonding and creates far more opportunities for deep discussions than a mindless big-budget blockbuster movie would provide.

“We were invited to watch curling with friends, and neither of us knew anything about the sport. It was fun to get the hang of the pace of the game and learn the terminology together, and we especially enjoyed the Brier Patch beer garden afterward – curlers can really party!” – Erin, 34, Oakville, Ont.

5. Daily deals
Subscribe to websites like Groupon or LivingSocial to receive inspiration right in your inbox any day of the week. Not only do these websites provide unique ideas, but the activities on offer are generally available at a deep discount because of the group-buying aspect. On any given day you might find a sale on tandem skydiving lessons or zipline adventures, or 2-for-1 passes to an amusement park, zoo or museum.

“I actually have an app on my phone so I can check the deals on Groupon anytime. What I like about them is that I can buy them in the moment, but then I have a long period of time to use them, so when we feel like doing something out of the ordinary I already have that idea in my back pocket.” – Martin, 36, Gatineau, Que.

Whether you take your usual routine and give it a slight twist, jump into a totally new activity, or get the Internet deals working in your favour, the important thing is that you’re working together as a couple to curb the complacency.



(A version of this story was originally published on http://www.canadianliving.com/relationships/love_and_romance/how_to_keep_your_relationship_exciting_2.php)

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Avoid These 3 Most Common Arguments In Your Relationship

Do you find that you and your significant other have the same argument over and over again? Despite the best intentions, most couples have common arguments that come up time and again.

Ottawa-based relationship therapists Bob and Marlene Neufeld see this regularly in their practice. We asked the Neufelds to share some of the most common argument triggers they encounter in their practice — and some practical ways to resolve the conflict.

Argument trigger No. 1: Technology Quality time is always at a premium for couples who put in long hours at work, have community commitments and for whom being at home does not necessarily mean being off the clock. The good — and bad — news is that our computers and cellphones make us accessible anywhere. “Quality time is a big deal for couples,” the Neufelds confirm. “These days, if one partner sends a text and doesn’t receive a response in a minute, it raises questions right away. ‘Where are you?’ ‘Who are you with?’ With all of this technology at our fingertips, trust issues are being acted out constantly.” And when you factor in how easy it is to keep in touch with exes via social networks, to reach out to strangers on dating sites and to access each other 24 hours a day, technology can certainly become a bone of contention.

The solution: “We advise couples that if you want to send an email or text that might be about a touchy subject, give yourself time to walk away, then come back and give it a reread. People tend to blurt things out [electronically] without thinking and they bring things up that they might not say in person.” Additionally, things can be misinterpreted in an email or text message. Remember that the person on the receiving end has no body-language or tone-of-voice cues to help them interpret your message. So if there is a chance your message might be misread, think twice about sending it.

Argument trigger No. 2: Keeping score In their practice, the Neufelds often encounter disconnected couples who are caught in “blame cycles.” “We ask them: Do you want to be right, or do you want to be in a relationship?” says Bob. “This behaviour just pushes the other person away.”

The solution: How can couples learn to let things go? By learning to compromise. The Neufelds advise that “couples need to consider their own belief systems, and if one or the other feels that they are being controlled or that their needs are never going to be met, they need to communicate those feelings to their partner.” So pay attention to your feelings, and speak up when you feel yourself entering another round of the blame game.

Argument trigger No. 3: Money This is a perennial on any list of relationship hot topics, and the Neufelds agree that it’s a big one. “Money means different things to different people, depending on their upbringing.” Let’s say a couple decides that they will both start bringing their lunches to work so that they can save money for that big trip or new house or down payment on a car. “If one partner continues to buy their lunches while the other sticks to the plan, what might seem harmless to the spender might feel like sabotage (conscious or unconscious) to the saver.”

The solution: Unfortunately, we can’t return to our childhoods and rewire our attitudes about money. The Neufelds believe that the solution lies in creating agreements. “Talk about [money], express your feelings around it, avoid secrets and make clear agreements which you both intend to keep.”

Discuss and decide what unique arrangement will work for your own relationship. For example, if one of you makes more money than the other, it might make sense for that person to contribute a larger percentage toward your common goal. The details of the agreement will vary, but the skills you’ll build in learning to make clear, solid agreements will serve your relationship well in the long run.



(A version of this story was originally published on http://www.canadianliving.com/relationships/love_and_romance/how_to_avoid_4_common_triggers_to_arguments_in_relationships_2.php)

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Beat Relationship Jealousy

Jealous feelings are actually a really important signal that something’s out of whack in your relationships. If you couldn’t feel jealousy, you would never learn how to trust your own instincts.

Here are just a few examples of how to make jealousy a positive force in any relationship:

1. A friend has something you wish you did: A great job, perfect skin, a nice car, a super hot boyfriend… in a healthy friendship, a little competition is fine. In an unhealthy friendship, the level of competition is so high that at any given moment one of you is happy and one of you is miserable. Your jealous feelings are telling you that this situation is unhealthy. Solution: Start making time for friends whose company is a treat. Try hanging out with people who you can relax and actually enjoy spending time with.

2. Your sibling has an exciting job saving the world. She is well paid and gets to travel extensively. Your parents seem to relish reminding you that she has never called home for a bailout on rent or bills. Your jealous feelings are telling you that you’re not financially secure or fulfilled by your own career decisions. Solution: Evaluate where you are in your life versus where you would like to be. Consider whether seeing a career counselor, a debt counselor, or a life coach could help you gain some control over the path you are on. Once you gain some confidence, your relationship with your sibling will definitely improve.

3. Your boyfriend is close with his female colleague. He seems to really get a kick out of her knack for practical jokes and skills on the office softball team. You are jealous because your ex-boyfriend cheated on you with a girl who was ‘just a friend’ and the experience has left you expecting the same from your new guy. Solution: Communicate! Tell your boyfriend how his relationship with his colleague is making you feel. Remind him that you have been burned in the past. Once he understands your perspective, he will tone down the hilarious tales and remind you of all the ways that he is not your ex.

Your Turn: Have you ever had a jealousy wake-up call and made a positive change? Tell us about it!



(A version of this story appeared originally on http://www.29secrets.com/relationships/why-jealousy-good-thing#sthash.xcu8dQzl.dpuf)

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What His Stuff Says About Him

Superficial though it may be, in the early stages of dating a girl needs to gather all the info she can about a new man. His taste IS his identity – therefore knowing if he reads fiction or SciFi (or anything at all beyond the TSN Twitterfeed), if he is obsessed with acid jazz and Adam Sandler movies, are all important details; These ingredients create the chemistry that determines whether the two of you are a good fit.

Once upon a time a quick glance into your date’s manly Roots satchel while he’s in the washroom would reveal few items a girl can quickly piece together his real personality beyond whatever first date show he’s putting on. But these days it’s tougher then ever to determine a guy’s real personality; thanks to e-book readers, iPods, and movie downloading, he probably won’t have that paperback, electro-pop dance compilation CD, or hot new rom-com DVD rental on display for you to judge.

We have it MUCH harder than our historical single sisters when it comes to picking up those subtle clues about a guy’s taste. Luckily, there are a few more ways he is unintentionally signaling his true personality:

Does he mention that he makes a habit of trying new restaurants and sharing his underground discoveries? Do you know that he is a regular contributor to a foodie blog? This guy’s adventurous attitude and openness will translate to all other aspects of his life. This extrovert won’t be afraid to go outside is comfort zone, and will encourage you to try new experiences.

Does he live in an old brownstone with original hardwood floors, elegant crown mouldings, an impractical claw-foot tub and hand-me-down wood furniture? This guy has classic, traditional style, and as a result is probably even-tempered, emotional and loyal. Or maybe your new guy lives in a sleek new loft, furnished in minimalist style and sophisticated light fixtures? This guy is stable, detail-oriented, and drama-free.

Does he have colourful Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko prints on his walls, or does he have a framed Scarface poster and the black & white New York City skyline from Ikea? Practical, reliable types tend to prefer conventional art rather than abstract or modern paintings. Some guys focus on the talent of the artist or the dollar value of the art versus how the painting makes them feel. If you both have the same artistic style, it’s a great instant bond.

Do you miss the good old days of judging a boy by his (book)(CD)(movie) cover?

Have you ever dated someone longer than you should have because you both shared such unique taste in any of the above?



(A version of this story was originally published on http://www.29secrets.com/relationships/what-his-stuff-says-about-him#sthash.r4Vt3sMi.dpuf)

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Work Crush: Harmless or Hurtful?

We spend the majority of our lives at work. So, unless you’re one of those lucky ducks who leaps out of bed every morning and races to your dream job, chances are it’s the allies you make in the office that make your day bearable.

Having a buddy who’s always up for a latte break/gossip sesh will go a long way to saving your sanity, especially if your workplace is high-stress (and whose isn’t?). But what if your breaktime bestie happens to be of the opposite sex?

Work spouses always have a spare piece of gum, a funny YouTube video to make you laugh when you want to cry, they’ll talk you out of hitting ‘send’ on that career-limiting email, and you bond quickly because you’ve experienced the same demoralizing levels of corporate hell. The downside is that your special relationship could be misinterpreted as more than “just friends” by your bosses, your nosy, cat-loving cubicle neighbour, or worse: your lover.

If we have learned anything from 10 total seasons (US + UK) of The Office, it’s that maintaining a non-sexual relationship between a girl and a guy in the workplace is really difficult.

Ask yourself the following questions to figure out whether you and your work spouse are the next Jim/Pam/Tim/Dawn:

– If your boyfriend/girlfriend knew about your work spouse, would they mind?

– Has hearing about your work spouse ever sparked disagreements in your relationship with your BF/GF?

– Are you attracted to your work spouse, or have they ever professed attraction to you?

– Who do you contact first when you get incredible (bad or good) news at work, your BF/GF or your co-worker?

How to keep it platonic:

Communication. Go out of your way to make sure that your BF/GF is not feeling put out by the perception that you and your work spouse are anything but friends. Be especially sensitive to their body language when you bring up something your work spouse has said during the day, or by activities like lunchtime walks or meals you’ve had with your work spouse.

Boundaries. There is a very distinct line between confidante and too-close confidante, so beware how many personal deets you share with your work spouse. Think of the old ‘someone else’s shoes’ adage: if the roles were reversed, would you be comfortable with your BF/GF carrying on the same way?

Your turn: Have you ever had, or been, a work spouse? How did it turn out?


(A version of this originally appeared on http://www.29secrets.com/relationships/work-crush-harmless-or-hurtful#sthash.LpoKDPVY.dpuf)

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