Something that confuses a lot of people is friendships. In our lives we will have many friends. As I have said many times before, it's key to remember that friends are great but they will rarely last forever, even the ones that have lasted a long time. I don't mean that you will at some point have a falling out, just that you will grow apart. 

One thing to always remember is that as humans and individuals we will always prioritise our own families and that is a good thing. the second thing to remember is during the course of our lives we grow, change, our priorities change as does everything else. Some people like time at home or with their families, others need to be on the go constantly. I mean this list could go on forever. It comes down to the fact that things do change. We may not like it and I for one am not great with change but I guess that's life. We all grow at different rates and with friends it's not something you pay a lot of attention to. With our families we are more observant and work to grow together. When this doesn't happen, it too will lead to a parting of the ways. 

So with friendships it's bound to happen. I really don't hold any grudges when friends drift away because generally it's a positive thing. Either I am growing and out grow them or the other way around. It doesn't mean that we are any less friends, it just means our priorities are different at this point in our lives. In my world one of the things that has happened is there are no high maintenance people around. I can go for weeks, months or even years without catching up or talking to a friend and yet we just pick up where we left off. That makes for a great friendship. If I had a friend who wanted my attention all the time it just wouldn't work. This is mainly because my personality requires a lot of personal time. I need time at home. Life in my 'family' is busy enough without having to worry about others needing a lot of attention. Again in the end we need to do what is right for ourselves and our family first. It also makes it special when I do see someone because it means it's because we wanted to catch up and not because it was a routine or either of us felt pressure. 

One of the theories I have is that we each have a limited amount of energy or time. We have to then divide it up to ensure we are allocating it in an appropriate way. For each person both the amount of energy and where it is placed is different and can change from week to week. However for me the order of priority is straight forward. 

1)      Family
2)      Home
3)      Work
4)      Other

Now it may look like a small list but if you think about it, once you look at the energy and time consumed by work and take out sleep there is very little time left. You also have to be realistic. You can say you are at work for 8 or 10 hours but there is also the time getting ready for work and getting to work plus the time getting home from work to consider. Then consider if you need any quiet time to wind down from work. It starts to add up. When you do all of these calculations for other areas of your life and making sure you are giving as much as possible to your family it doesn't leave a lot extra. Don't underestimate the difference between how much time you think you should put into your family and how much they actually need. 

I know looking at all of this is difficult and quite often it's even more difficult for those people who don't handle down time well and are usually social butterflies but remember it's a very rewarding thing to learn how to spend time doing nothing. Some will disagree but I also have to wonder when meeting someone who struggles with alone time why they struggle. Often they don't like times that allow reflection. They want to avoid any chance of this however it is the only way to grow. 

Again life is full of change and unfortunately it's something that we have to live with. See change as an opportunity to refocus. Try not to have too many expectations and then you are more likely to be pleasantly surprised.  

What is Normal: Sexuality to Psychology

I have been thinking a lot about the word 'normal' lately and have been catching up on my feed reading where I have found a mountain of people struggling with situations caused by this word 'normal'. Whether it be in relation to sexuality and where you fit on the Kinsey scale or whether it be about being gay or whether it be about what is normal for a person of your age it is all very confusing. The dictionary describes normal as:-

1. conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.
2. serving to establish a standard.
3. Psychology.

a. approximately average in any psychological trait, as intelligence, personality, or emotional adjustment.

b. free from any mental disorder; sane.

Now, even the dictionary definition is ambiguous. I mean "conforming to the standard or common type". Now in my way of thinking that relies on statistics to come up with a common type and in my experience even though statistics can give an indication, they are flawed at best. To gain many statistics you need to produce data which is often from a form of survey. That survey is completed by people and people often don't tell the truth in a survey. For example many won't answer questions if they fee uncomfortable with revealing certain things about themselves. Now in other surveys like our countries periodical Census which allows the government to plot the future however doesn't actually have options to clearly spell out same sex couples. So determining normal seems to get more difficult.

Clinical psychologists may say that normal, is often perceived by social norms but even that is flawed because it is influenced by how we were raised, the groups we associated with and our personal belief structures. For example I don't see people who enjoy going out and getting drunk as "normal" however someone who has grown up around that or socialises with people who do that may see that as "normal". Culturally issues such as being gay may not be seen as normal because it is not common amongst peoples circles and the thousands of years of conditioning that people have received.

I have found that as individuals we each decide what we consider normal. In saying that I have found there is no such thing. Normal simply does not exist. I don't want to play semantics but to me what we are really saying when we use the word normal or say that some action is not normal is that it doesn't fit into our reality or it doesn't fit with what I want in my reality. At this point we can either accept the differences, compromise on behaviours or discard people and situations that don't meet our idea of normal (reality).

Consider this next time you use the word normal and although I know there are a million scenarios and justifications both legitimate and not, I think and feel the word is just too ambiguous and most of the time doesn't make a lot of sense.

Transparency Protects Relationships

Throughout most of our working lives we will hear and use the term ‘transparency’. We recognise transparency as a necessary tool to good working relationships within our networks. So then, why is it that we don’t think of our relationship with our partners with the same scope.

When you look at our professional relationships we prefer transparency because we want to be able to trust, that for example our bank is looking after you. If they are not transparent you begin to not trust them. In terms of politics we get angry when those we elect don’t let us know what is going on or give a straight answer to a question.

“People prefer transparency in a relationship and a lack of transparency outside of that relationship. As transparency increases, trust increases, and the converse is also true.” Why because transparency within a relationship builds trust whereas outside of a relationship it is more like the relationship is no longer between two people but the whole world.

We may say that we are transparent in our relationships but when I think of it I know I am not completely transparent at times and I have to take responsibility for that. Sometimes I make out I am ok when I’m not. Don’t pretend to be ok when you are not. Don’t hold information back because you think it’s not important because it really is. Don’t be selfish with your feelings, share them. Don’t pretend to own your own life but share it with those you love as you would hope they would with you.

I saw this recently in an article and thought it was worthy of quoting.

“Transparency and the lack of it in relationships, is a condition with consequences whose insidious tentacles extend much further than pure and simple lying. Transparency means saying what is really inside of you. Transparency means not equivocating about what is important to you. It is not pushing your opinions or likes and dislikes on others, but it is being honest about them when they become part of what is happening in the relationship.
Being transparent implies being vulnerable, because the transparency…the visibility of your inner now out in the open, for your partner to see, to palpate, to react to, to comment about, and possibly, to reject. Clearly, this latter reason, coupled with the fear most people have of being vulnerable, causes many to avoid the issue of transparency. If I allow him or her to see the real me, or so one reasons, he/she will not want to be with me, or will think I am too this or too that. And yet, if you do not allow the other to see the real you, how will they ever really get to know you? And therefore, if they fall in love with you, what or who are they falling in love with??? A chimera, evanescent by nature, since it is not real. Is it not better to risk possible rejection by being transparent, and thus eventually be loved for one’s real self by someone who appreciates it, than to be loved for what one is not?” Source

How can we expect transparency in our professional world or anywhere else for that matter if we don’t have it in what is meant to e the most important relationship in our lives, that relationship with our partner. I think this is something to contemplate.



Lies & Cheating


Reader Question 

I received a question from a reader in Strasbourg recently, in J’s question he said “I have been in a relationship for 6 months and am confused about cheating. My boyfriend and I disagree on what it is. Iy just seems to me that it's all too much...............Relationships shouldn't be like this, shouldn't we respect each other enough to be loyal.................... what do you think”. Obviously that is only an excerpt but I’ll do my best to answer it.

I see life as hard enough without complicating things with dishonesty in relationships which are meant to be the most honest part of your life. If you can’t agree with your partner on this very basic of relationship rules then you really shouldn’t be in it. You said it right when you used the word respect. I would think that respecting each others feelings and beliefs wouldn't be that big of a sacrifice when you are in a relationship. In fact it shouldn't even be a thought.

Every relationship is different and it may be necessary to discuss the rules and boundaries of the relationship with your partner. It is important that your partner knows what you consider unacceptable in your relationship. Then it’s up to your partner to decided whether what you require in this relationship suits what he is looking for. If not he can leave. Generally for me I would consider any dishonesty a deal breaker. But in particular in the area of cheating or similar I think it comes back to a discussion with your partner and that way there can be no question as to what you think and what the boundaries are for the relationship to continue.

I personally consider cheating a number of things. I consider it any of the obvious physical contact including kissing. I consider it any online contact/chat that involves even flirtation that has any sexual aspect or innuendo. There is more, but these are a couple of the things we in our relationship think is important. But I think the more important part is it’s about dishonesty because dishonesty is the cause of mistrust.

People make a lot of excuses around dishonesty, but the reality is that irrelevant of what someone thinks, if you truly love someone you will not be dishonest in any way. I can’t fathom why someone would even consider dishonesty. If you are not sure, than talk to your partner. Why even place doubt in your partners mind and the reality is that when you are in a relationship, you pick up on a lot more than your partner realises and visa versa. It’s a side effect of being with someone. The subtle things are potentially big things. J, maybe you should explain this to your boyfriend because if you both can’t agree on the standards for your relationship and care enough to respect those things that make each of you uncomfortable then maybe you need to consider the future of the relationship.

Here is the bottom line......If your partner is being dishonest and you feel he will continue with behaviour you consider is dishonest then get out. You really don’t want to get 5 years down the track and then discover he’s back to his old ways. This will just make it harder. These are hard decisions but we all have to make them at some point. I have encountered dishonesty in the past and for me now it’s the most important factor and I will end a relationship over it. Luckily right now I have a partner who I feel is totally honest and has integrity.

If you look at the relationship breakdown’s on FB, you start to see trends as to the causes. Dishonesty seems to be the number one reason. Why risk it. I had a partner once who said if I don’t tell you it’s not lying. That’s a very childish attitude and as you can see that relationship didn’t last. Turns out he was doing things that I had made clear I couldn’t accept in our relationship. What it really showed is not only was he a liar, but he really didn’t have respect or love for the relationship or me.  It was a dealbreaker!

J, I hope you can communicate what you need to your partner. You may find that he really is ok with what you need, but if you don’t communicate it, he won’t know. Hope all goes well.