How Do I Stop Being Jealous for No Reason?

I’ve been dating my boyfriend for seven months and we’re about to head off to college. He’s going two hours away from home and I’m going out of state. This relationship has been so incredible and I’m so excited to see where we go in the future. However, I have a really bad habit of getting jealous, even though he has given me no reason to be and has been nothing but reassuring, kind, and loyal to me. How do I allow him to make friends and stop being so clingy and smothering?

I feel for you: Dating someone who’s headed off to college sucks. You aren’t wrong to feel jealous. It’s normal to freak out and imagine he’s kissing some co-ed while you’re studying. It’s scary to send a boyfriend or girlfriend off to start a new phase of life. But extreme jealousy has a funny way of blowing up in your face, if not making all your worst fears come true. You’re smart to try and get ahead of this problem.

To help you deal with these inevitable feelings, first I think you have to accept a few lousy things about distance because they’re unavoidable. Here’s a random assortment of a few: 1. He’s not always going to text or call when you want. 2. He’s going to be busy when you’re not. 3. He’s going to make lots of new friends. 4. Some of them will be cute girls. 5. You’re going to see something on someone’s social media that bothers you. 6. Clueless friends are going to say insensitive things about how he’s definitely fooling around. 7. He’s going to want some space. 8. No matter what, you’re not going to be able to see or talk to him as much as you’d like. 9. Sometimes, his phone really is going to die. And all of the same things will be true for you as well when you’re settling into your new college routine.

I’m not trying to scare you. It’s just that there are dozens of ways in which this long-distance relationship is going to be hard—and if you start off hoping that it’s going to be smooth sailing, you’re bound to be disappointed and jealous when you discover it’s not so easy.

Then next year, be realistic and pick your moments. Think: quality phone calls and visits, not constant contact. Make a few reasonable plans in advance: In addition to regular check-ins, consider scheduling a standing phone call every Sunday night or a visit every other weekend. Sometimes, when things go wrong, you can help control your jealousy if you’ve got a plan on the books to look forward to. Remember that it’s healthy to talk about how much you miss him, but there are degrees: Be honest about your feelings, but don’t lay a guilt trip on him every time you say goodnight.

My big-picture advice: Take care of yourself first. The more you think about him than yourself, the more jealous you’ll be. Practice being alone a little bit before he goes. Don’t just think about missing him—think about all the new things you’ll do at your new school. Keep yourself busy with clubs, classes, meeting new people. If you’re happy and busy with your own life, you’ll be less likely to obsess over his and smother. Remember that obsessive jealousy is just never a good look, and there’s nothing more attractive than a woman who’s got her shit together.

My boyfriend and I have been dating for close to three years. He comes from a relatively strict Catholic family, and they are conservative pro-lifers. I, on the other hand, am very liberal and I do not hold back from making my feminist viewpoints known. My boyfriend however does not see the importance of feminism, and doesn’t find it necessary. He believes men and women already have completely equal rights. Every now and then I try to educate him a little, but he’s pretty firm in his beliefs and has “evidence” of his own to back up his viewpoints, so I usually let it go. Ultimately, his behavior never broaches sexist, and that’s the most important thing for me. I’ve been hearing about a 2018 Women’s March and I was unable to attend the first one, so attending the next one is incredibly important to me. I asked my boyfriend if he’d go with me, and he said he would, but then asked if I’d join him for the March for Life in January. As you can guess, this is not something I want to do at all. The two events stand for completely different things and even though I want to support him, I want to show no support for the pro-life movement. What do you think I should do?

This is a fascinating problem. If I’ve got this right, your boyfriend is a nice guy who treats you well. But he’s also willfully, extremely clueless: Every time anyone tells him about gender-based discrimination (the wage gap, sexual assault rates, domestic abuse stats, sexual harassment headlines, campus rape stories, etc.) he sticks his fingers in his ears and la-la-la’s or tosses out anecdotal counter-evidence because he is certain that everything is absolutely equal and fine and good. But it’s not.

My first thought is: As a woman, it’s going to be really hard to have a long relationship with a guy who denies the fundamental realities of your life. He doesn’t have to call himself a “feminist” and be woke on social media. But he does have to grapple with facts if he’s going to honestly engage with your life. I worry about what happens when he tells you that, no, you’re wrong about how you feel about your life, your experiences, and the forces that shape them.

But my answer to your question is actually quite simple:

Go to the Women’s March or any upcoming event you’d like, whether that’s with your boyfriend, your girl friends, or yourself. Do not cut a deal and agree to go to the March for Life, because you should not be strong-armed into supporting a cause you disagree with as part of some kind of 50/50 deal, regardless of the cause. Sure, if you’re interested in the March for Life, check it out. But if you fundamentally disagree with something, stand by your principles, and explain that you’d rather not lend your support to a movement you oppose.

All I’ll add to that is that I hope you spend some time thinking about what it means to be with a man with such strict conservative beliefs who refuses to see the discrimination all around him. I’ve known couples who got along fine before the big issues came up—but fought like hell when life got more serious and those fundamental disagreements started to have a bigger impact on everyday life. This is just one March, but if this relationship lasts, you’ll want a traveling partner you can trust on the long road ahead.

This weekend I got very drunk with a friend of mine. We ended up making out. I’m not sure what happened because I had blacked out. I feel bad since it was my friend’s first kiss. We’re both gay, I’m a lesbian and she’s bi. I tried telling her that I’m not interested in anything serious, especially with a friend. I just went through a rough breakup with someone I had lots of friends in common with. Ever since that weekend, I’ve noticed her looking at me a lot more and differently, like she’s in love with me. She talks to me that way too. How do I explain that I don’t have feelings for her and I’m not going to kiss her again, without hurting our friendship? 

Look, you can’t help it if you’re an amazing catch (and, sounds like, an amazing kisser). Sometimes, people are just going to fall for you. Since this was your friend’s first kiss, it’s no wonder she’s crushing especially hard on you.

You’re on the right track and this is going to be fine: You’ve just got to figure out how to let this woman down easy. That begins with watching your behavior. It’s all fine and good to say, “I just want to be friends,” but if you start making out with her the next time you get drunk, she’s not going to believe you. And there’s a whole world of grey area in between. The best way to send a clear message is to stop sending mixed messages. Create some distance. Play it cool.

Most of all, if you don’t want to hook up with her, be clear about that. It sounds like you’ve almost said the right thing. You told her you’re not interested in “anything serious” with a friend. But that’s not the truth, is it? You don’t want to casually hook up again, do you? If you don’t want anything romantic or sexual with her—serious, casual, otherwise—tell her that. “I like you as a friend—but just as a friend. It was a mistake to hook up with you and I can’t do that again.” Don’t leave any wiggle room. Don’t make excuses or over-explain it. (If you blame it on your break-up, she might just think you need some more time before you make out again.) It might sound ten-percent more harsh to be clear, but it’s necessary. In love, as in home security, you’ve got to shut that door tight or someone will keep trying to pry it open.

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By: Logan Hill for Cosmpolitan

Goal Setting in Relationships

Setting goals with your partner can be a double-edged sword. On one end, when you achieve them you feel joy and exhilaration for having realized a dream or aspiration. On the other hand, when you fail to meet them, you may face disappointment as you are forced to reevaluate your ambitions. When it comes to your relationship, setting achievable goals with a tone of collaboration can help enrich each other’s lives and support the bond between you and your partner.

The Anatomy of Relationships

No relationship is the same, and just like people change over time, so does a relationship. According to Donald Peterson, contributing author of “Goal Concepts in Personality and Social Psychology,” there are five general stages that can be distinguished in the development of close relationships: acquaintance, buildup, continuation, deterioration and ending. Obviously not all relationships go through all stages, but the changes in goals from one stage to another are critical in determining the course a relationship will follow.

Stephen John Read and Lynn Carol Miller, also contributing authors of “Goal Concepts in Personality and Social Psychology,” recount how individuals may base their projections of what a relationship might be like with someone in part on how each other’s life goals will mesh with one other. The idea that “opposites attract” has been debunked by research showing how “most married couples tend to be more alike than different in regards to life goals, interests, values and personality dispositions, as well as education, economic status, and other sociological variables.” In other words, when evaluating a prospective partner, people look at how they can accomplish goals in common, for example having intellectually stimulating conversations, having children, etc.

 

Goal-Setting Strategies

Relationship goals can cover the gamut, including areas such as problem solving, emotional support, financial goals, creating a family, etc. One way to set goals in your relationship is by having a weekly meeting with your significant other to go over the upcoming week and set a ‘to-do’ list of items for each other. Then, review those same items from the past week and move forward anything still needing to be completed. As part of this process, share three positive things big or small that your partner did that you liked in the past week, and one negative thing you would like them to consider working on. In time, you will have created a habit of openly talking about where things are with your relationship, and where you want them to be.

Another way to set goals with your significant other is by applying some of the guidelines set forth in “Goal Setting: How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Goals.” Authors Susan B. Wilson and Michael S. Dobson recommend writing them down in specific measurable terms, so that you can visualize and achieve them with realistic deadlines. As part of defining these goals, make sure to keep them manageable and actionable, as well as include a regular review of their progress. Reward desired behavior, reinforce successes however big or small and provide feedback when correction is needed. When correcting, do so in private and be specific, focusing on the error and not the person to avoid grudges and keep a healthy outlook. Develop objectives for both the short and long term.

 

From Extrinsic to Intrinsic Motivation

In a study published in the “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,” researchers examined the connection between relationship satisfaction and self-regulation. “Individuals experiencing higher levels of satisfaction in their relationship exhibit higher levels of perceived control, goal focus, perceived partner support, and positive affect during goal pursuit.” This results in higher rates of daily progress on personal goals. In other words, as your relationship satisfaction increases, so does your motivation to effectively self-regulate your actions and progress toward achieving your goals.

According to Peterson, goals between partners tend to converge to the extent that transformations occur mutually. For example, “a person who initially stopped smoking to please a partner may genuinely come to find smoking abhorrent.” Changes in personal dispositions of this kind are independent of the relationship, and when they occur they can reduce the demands for accommodation by shifting the motivation from an extrinsic to an intrinsic place. Keep in mind that any union is limited by the biological needs and personal goals of the individuals in the relationship, so revisiting them on a regular basis can keep interests and values aligned in the long term.

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From: Live Strong by Raquel Villareal

15 Signs You’re In an Unhappy — or Loveless — Marriage

 

Making the decision to leave a marriage is scary: There’s often a deep fear of being alone, not to mention the possibility of an unknown future. So many stick with mediocrity, settling for low-level pain and dissatisfaction instead.

But that’s not your best bet: “Staying in a seriously unhappy marriage can have long-term effects on our mental and emotional health,” says Carrie Cole, a couples therapist and Master Certified Gottman Therapist by the Gottman Institute. Research shows that people in bad marriages usually have low self-esteem, struggle with anxiety and depression, and have a higher rate of illness than those who don’t. People feel sad and grieve when they decide to let go — but people who divorce do recover emotionally, and Cole says most find new relationships. In fact, “one statistic reported that 85 percent of those who divorce remarry within five years,” she says.

If any these signs hit home for you, it’s time to take a hard look at whether this is a marriage you want to stay in.

1. YOU AREN’T HAVING SEX ANYMORE

One warning sign would be that your relationship is totally sexless, says sex and relationship therapist Megan Fleming, Ph.D. — or if you’re having sex less than 10 times a year. After all, she says, it’s intimacy that separates a romantic relationship from all other sorts of relationships you might have. “When that’s going out the window, it’s a really big red flag.” Jane Greer, relationship therapist and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship, says that a lack of visible physical affection — like kissing or hugging — is also indicative of a real problem.

2. YOU HAVE NOTHING TO SAY TO EACH OTHER

When something comes up in life, whether that’s a work event or any accomplishment and your partner isn’t the first person you’re sharing it with — or one of the firsts, Fleming says that it may be that “you prefer to get your needs mets outside the relationship.” To that end, Greer points out that not having any meaningful conversations aside from “rudimentary conversations about chores and things that need to get done” is a warning sign that your relationship is not in a good place.

3. YOU’RE WITH EACH OTHER…BUT NOT REALLY WITH EACH OTHER

“You can be in the same room, one of you on the computer, one of you [watching TV],” Fleming says, but “if you find that you’re never actively engaging together — you’re together, alone, doing your own thing — that’s an indication there’s disconnection, or a lack of connection.”

4. YOU’RE ACTIVELY IGNORING YOUR GUT

Our instincts can often tell us first when a relationship just isn’t working — but we don’t always trust that voice, says couples therapist Susan Pease Gadoua, co-author of The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels“We often ignore our gut instincts because that voice is very quiet and calm, unlike the internal voice in our heads that thrives on high drama.” We’re trained to trust logic in many areas of life, so when a niggling feeling (“Am I really still in love with this person?”) presents itself, it’s hard to pay attention to it because there aren’t any hard facts or rational reasoning. Drill down on that initial instinct and ask yourself more specific questions. If you find your responses are things like, “I don’t feel safe to express myself, I don’t feel respected and haven’t felt happy in a long time,” that’s a sign that things have gone awry — and you shouldn’t ignore it. “The truth doesn’t go away simply because we don’t want it to be there; that voice stays in the background and weighs on you,” says Gadoua. “Getting quiet within is key to being able to hear instincts. And like a muscle, the more you trust your gut, the easier it becomes to decipher that voice — which comes from your heart — from the voice in your head.”

5. YOU’RE PREOCCUPIED WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S NEEDS AND PROBLEMS

Many women stay in relationships longer than they should because they tend to put the needs of others before their own. And since women often naturally take on the role of caretakers, they can lose parts of their own identity — and a sense of their own needs — in the process. “In order to face her relationship unhappiness, a woman needs to stop distracting herself by putting other people’s needs ahead of her own,” says Gadoua. “Doing this can be a way of avoiding her own painful truth.” So if you find yourself getting unnecessarily involved in a fight between your mother and sister, or you’re always rushing around trying to make other people’s lives easier, it might be time to take a hard look at your own relationship.

6. THE DISTANCE BETWEEN YOU KEEPS GROWING — AND YOU’RE WAITING TO GET HELP

One way to distinguish between a run-of-the-mill marital rut (where you’ve, say, fallen into boring routines and don’t have much sex anymore) and a loveless marriage is to ask yourself how long the situation has been this way, and whether it’s been steadily worsening. “Most couples go through rough times, but if the difficulties last more than two years, with no sign of relief, I’d recommend seeking professional help,” says Gadoua. And sooner is always better to avoid passing the point of no return. “It would be ideal if we could tune into our longings and needs well before we get to the point that the love we once had is dead,” says Cole, who notes that the average couple waits six years from the time they recognize relationship problems until the time they try therapy. By then, it’s often too late — the problems in the marriage can corrode it to the point where it may be unsalvageable. So play it safe and consider scheduling a therapy session if you’re struggling.

7. YOU FANTASIZE ABOUT A LIFE WITHOUT YOUR SPOUSE

If you often imagine a happy (happy is the key word here) future without your partner, that’s a major sign that things aren’t right. This is a part of the emotional detachment process, during which you may try to convince yourself that you don’t care anymore so that the eventual separation feels less painful, says relationship therapist Jamie Turndorf, Ph.D., author of Kiss Your Fights Goodbye“Detaching psychologically by fantasizing about having an affair or making plans for the future that don’t include your partner can all be signs that you’ve fallen out of love,” says Turndorf. “It’s as if the mind has pulled its own plug so our hearts won’t suffer as much when the relationship ends.” If you notice this mental pattern, take it a step further to see if the fantasy holds weight. Gadoua suggests checking out real apartment listings online, and paying attention to how you feel. “It’ll give you another layer of reality, which can then help you know what the right next step is,” she says. As you click through, check in with your emotions. If excitement or relief is your prominent emotion (rather than fear or apprehension), it may be a sign to acknowledge that there are serious problems in your marriage. “But before actually taking steps to leave, see if there are things you can — or want — to do to work on the relationship,” says Gadoua. That way, if you ultimately decide to leave, “you can do so with some peace of mind,” she says. “It’s never easy to end a relationship, but having lingering regret that you could have done more can make the decision harder.”

8. YOU’VE STOPPED FIGHTING

If you’ve given up fighting, but feel further away than ever, it’s a sign that you’ve reached a crossroads. “If there’s a fight and the couple doesn’t talk about what happened, or becomes gridlocked in their position and refuses to listen to their partner’s perspective, that’s not good,” says Cole. However, you might still be able to turn it around. “Unresolved conflict can fool us into thinking that our love is lost, when it’s actually only buried beneath the ashes of smoldering resentment and anger,” says Turndorf. In other words, the love could still be there, but you just can’t access it. To get back in touch with those feelings, turn toward your partner emotionally —which creates closeness and connection—rather than ignoring them or responding negatively, which creates distance and disengagement. “Fights can lead to greater intimacy if the couple processes the fight and repairs the relationship,” says Cole. It’s up to you to decide whether you’ve got it in you to turn toward your husband and give it one last go, or whether you’ve maxed out your ability to keep fighting for your relationship.

9. YOU HAVE ONE OR MORE OF THE BIG RELATIONSHIP DESTROYERS

According to Cole, there are four behaviors that are super-destructive to relationships. If one or more is present in your relationship, you could be on the fast track to loveless-ness (if you’re not there already). Every time you criticize your partner — by attacking, blaming, and putting the fault on them by flinging negative statements like “You’re always running late,” or “You never do anything right” — you corrode your connection. By being defensive and refusing to accept responsibility, or attacking in response to feedback from your partner, you chip away at the trust and goodwill in your marriage. If you have an attitude of contempt, and call your partner names or make stinging, sarcastic remarks, you imply that you’re superior and your partner is defective. And every time you stonewall one another, or emotionally shut down instead of openly addressing the issues, you create more distance and dishonesty, rather than openness, communication, and love. If any (or all) of these sounds familiar, schedule couples’ therapy to discuss why you do these things — and how you can fix them.

10. YOU DON’T FEEL HEARD (AND YOU MIGHT NOT BE LISTENING)

When you sit down to talk with your spouse about what’s working and what isn’t, do you hear crickets? Or feel like nothing changes, no matter how vocal you are about your feelings? That’s a problem, says Turndorf. “The most powerful tool we have for resolving our conflicts is listening and understanding one another,” she says. “When we invite our partners to share what we’ve done to let them down, and when we truly listen and understand their feelings, decades of hurt and anger can easily fade away.” So make a point of listening for the underlying emotions and messages in your partner’s words — everyday issues, like yelling about whose turn it is to take out the trash, could be stemming from something deeper. “In most situations where couples go from being best friends to loveless opponents, I uncover a pattern of poor communication, dashed expectations and unhealed resentments,” says Gadoua. “They think the fight really is about taking the garbage out, when in fact it’s more likely about one or both feeling unappreciated, overwhelmed or unacknowledged.” And once you finally hear what they’re trying to tell you (or vice versa) you can get to the bottom of the real issue.

11. YOU’RE ON THE VERGE OF HAVING AN EMOTIONAL AFFAIR

If you’re not happy with your husband, you might be falling into an emotional affair, making another male the priority in your life. And thanks to today’s technology, it’s easier than ever to get caught up. “Technology has allowed people who might never risk having any kind of affair to flirt online,” says Dr. Wendy M. O’Connor, a licensed marriage, family therapist, relationship coach, and author of Love Addiction: How to Overcome Toxic Relationships & Find Love. “This creates a situation of ‘temptation,’ and not everything that takes place online stays online. People are bolder when hiding behind a screen, and often click on send without thinking first.” If your relationship is already on the rocks, giving yourself to someone else — even if that’s only virtually — will only make things worse.

12. YOU’RE GOING TO YOUR FRIENDS INSTEAD OF YOUR PARTNER

When people have exciting news to share or even just need someone to talk to, they typically speed dial the person closest to them. If that used to be your spouse but is now someone else — whether that’s a girlfriend or another man — it’s a clear sign you’re not in the happy marriage you used to be. “Research shows that in healthy marriages, couples celebrate each other’s successes. If you’re turning to [someone else] first in good times and bad, then you’re replacing your husband emotionally and avoiding addressing what isn’t working with him,” says Dr. Paulette Sherman, psychologist, director of My Dating and Relationship School and author of Dating from the Inside Out. Try putting your husband into your #1 spot again. If you’re not getting the support you need — or you don’t even want it in the first place — it might be time to sit down and have a serious discussion about your relationship.

13. YOU DON’T LIKE SPENDING QUALITY TIME TOGETHER

After getting home from a long day of work, do you and your spouse immediately go your separate ways? And when you’re at parties, do you tend to drift apart and do your own thing? If you’d rather be alone than with your husband, it probably doesn’t seem like there’s much of a point in being in a relationship in the first place. Getting a little time apart is one thing, but the trouble really starts when you’d rather be apart.

14. DATE NIGHTS ARE A THING OF THE PAST

Can’t remember your last date night? If you’re not planning any important or special events together on top of not spending time together in general, that’s not good news for your relationship, says Greer. Make an effort to get a couple outings on the schedule — maybe a movie night or a dinner at your favorite spot — and see if you can rekindle the flame. Marriages take work, and putting in the effort on things that bond you as a couple is part of that.

15. YOU’RE NOT EACH OTHER’S PRIORITY ANYMORE

When you say your “I dos,” you’re making each other your top priority above anything and anyone else. When you lose that essential part of your marriage, you can lose the person that once meant the world to you. If you’re not making your husband a priority in your life anymore — or if he’s not making you his — it’s going to be really hard to stay a solid unit. Try going back to prioritizing your time together, each other’s feelings, and each other’s goals to get back into a healthy place before it’s too late.

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From RedBook Mag