It is incredible how the tiniest body movement of one of the smallest parts of the human body can have one of the biggest impacts on our mood and thoughts. I am talking here about winking. Winking can be done by anyone, anywhere and can make us feel excited and flushed, embarrassed or nauseated.
It is just one flick of an eyelid but it carries so much meaning. From the right person, it can be a secret signal that suggests romance and chemistry. From another person, it can be a little symbol of friendship and trust. Or from the wrong person, it can be offensive and unwelcome.
But if the wink is not unwelcome and is not from a friend, it is a fun, flirty and harmless way of interacting with someone you know or someone you don’t. It can be an invitation to get to know someone better; a simple gesture that hints at attraction with committing or scaring anyone off. Or it can just be two strangers in the rush hour traffic making each other smile.
As I was watching a reality tv show the other day, I was reminded of something quite powerful. It was a show about relationships where ultimately one man chooses from a group of women who he wants to marry. It is completely bizarre and incredibly unreal situation as far as relationships go, but makes for an entertaining show.
Well, as we all know, reality tv shows are more often than not, filled with beautiful people. The people always seem happier or more attractive or more successful or more popular than us. We often look at these women and think that if we were somehow more like them, then our lives would be better or we would be less lonely, or whatever.
But what fascinated me about this particular show was that, despite their beauty and success, the women were incredibly insecure.
This was a good reminder to me that no matter how beautiful or successful or wonderful we are, and no matter how beautiful or successful or wonderful the world around us perceives us to be, we are not immune to feeling insecure. We are human beings, after all. And it was also a reminder that no matter how incredible someone may seem to me, they, too are prone to a little insecurity from time to time.
My point is that if you are feeling insecure, remember – first and foremost – that you are not alone, but also that it is completely natural and unavoidable part of being a human. Go easy on yourself.
Bizarre: very strange
Immune: protected from/resistant to something (usually disease)
First and foremost: first and most importantly
Unavoidable: something you cannot get away from/cannot escape
I seldom miss those giddy, crazy teenage romances. Back in my teens, if there was a boy in the picture, it was all-consuming. It was either euphoric or devastating and never anything in between. It required so much emotional and mental energy and the only reason one could keep going was because of those hormones.
I know it seems strange that I am glad to be out of that phase of my life because, I mean, come on, wouldn’t we all like to be a little younger? But honestly, there are some good things about getting older. That phase was exhausting. There is something so comforting about a long-term, committed partnership with someone you care about – even without all the drama and excitement. Of course relationships we have later in life are also exciting and can be dramatic, but nothing close to the level of intensity of our hormone-propelled youth.
I suspect that as you get older, and as your energy levels drop a little, you calm down on the romance side of things because, let’s face it, we wouldn’t cope. I think if I was as energetic about love and romance now as I was 10 or 20 years ago, I would be dead by now.
Of course, at the time, it’s great, so I am not saying we shouldn’t experience it. I’m just saying, it’s like finally breathing out. We’ve worked hard to get here and we shouldn’t be sad because it’s over.
Euphoric: extremely happy
Devastating: extremely shocking or upsetting
A lot of the pain you feel when your heart is broken comes from a sense of being alone. You look around you and all you can see are happy couples, people in love and lots of kissing. And you become painfully aware of the fact that no one is kissing you.
In this crazy time it can help a little bit to know two things: 1) as much as it really does not feel like it at the time, this will pass and 2) you are not alone.
When you see all the couples, what you don’t see is all the people who are also heartbroken. Or have been heartbroken. Or will be heartbroken. Whatever you are going through, you are not the first person to experience it and you will not be the last. You are also not the only one going through it right now. I know it doesn’t make it not hurt, but part of a heartbreak is that you feel disconnected from society; you don’t feel ‘normal’ and yet heartbreak is probably one of the most ‘normal’ and unifying human experiences.
Heartbreak makes you a better partner, friend and parent. You are more caring, understanding and empathic in future friendships and relationships if you have had your heart broken in your life And ultimately, with your children or future children. You also learn to appreciate love for what it is. And you appreciate your new partner so much more.
To go through something: to experience something difficult or painful
Unifying: something that joins or unites
If you ask most people what romance is, I am sure many of their explanations will involve words such as ‘sunset’, ‘champagne’, ‘roses’, ‘chocolate’, ‘candlelight’, ‘dinner’ and ‘beach’ and while these are romantic – generically at least – romance is also intensely personal. Many of us have been brought up with the traditional ideas of romance and consequently this kind of romance may appeal to us but do not let this blind you to all the other romantic tokens and actions out there.
This is especially important when it comes to marriage proposals. As women, we are taught that this is a pivotal, crucial moment in our lives and our expectations are that it should be perfect. However, many of the most romantic proposal stories I have heard sound very little like the perfect traditional ‘romantic’ proposal. Take for example my friend (who hates a lot of fussing and attention) who wandered into the living room one morning dressed in her pj’s, hair a mess, when her then boyfriend got down on one knee and proposed. She thought, ‘well if he can want to marry me when I look like this, he must really love me.’
Or what about the man whose girlfriend loved theatre who proposed to his girlfriend on set after her rehearsal one night, surrounded by her cast, crew and director. While neither of these might be to your taste, the point is that the man in question proposed in a way he knew his girlfriend would appreciate. He made the proposal about her and not about any traditional ideas of romance (unless of course that is what she wanted).
If you are thinking of proposing, focus on the two of you and meaningful things in your relationship. Then you are off to a good start!
Tokens: small gifts or gestures
Pivotal: a point in your left where things change dramatically
Crucial: extremely important
Time for a little reflection and honesty: are you in a relationship rut? This ‘rut’ can take many forms and be very difficult to identify but then all of a sudden, one day you find yourself thinking you’ve been here/done this one too many times now.
It could be that your routine is stale. You do the same thing every Friday night. You do the same thing every Sunday morning. You say the same things to each other when greeting each other at the end of the day. Some routine is essential. In a relationship it gives you stability. It gives you a sense of calm and a comfortable level of predictability.
But be careful that things don’t become too predictable. Too much predictability can translate into boredom and, let’s face it; long-standing relationships are at risk of becoming boring.
The good news is that once you have identified the problem, getting out of the boring routine rut is not too difficult. Think about things you did in the beginning of your relationship. Put the same amount of effort into planning activities as you did all those years ago. If your relationship is in a rut, even the tiniest change can add a spark back into your life.
Remember how exciting life was back then? Maybe we don’t want all that excitement back again – it can be rather exhausting, after all, but a little couldn’t hurt, could it?
Rut: to be in a rut is to be in a routine that has become boring, stale and predictable
Stale: not fresh
Spark: little electrical charge
I’m not going to suggest that you should do everything together with your partner. That is not something I believe in. I think there should be a balance between what you do together and what you do separately. After all, there is something incredibly attractive and intriguing about someone who also has their own life. First of all, they are not needy and clingy and secondly, they will add something new and interesting to your life.
This balance of separate vs. together activities is, I think, different for every couple. It all depends on what each of you needs from the relationship. It’s only when your needs in this area are very different that this sort of thing becomes a problem.
All my own thoughts aside, the latest psychological research seems to indicate that couples who do more together, tend to stay together longer. This contradicts the common assumption that familiarity breeds contempt and that time apart is a healthy part of any relationship.
My point here is surely couples who do everything together successfully, are successful in this respect because they have similar needs. And my question here, however is, do they stay together longer because they are happier or because their lives are so much more inextricably linked that separating becomes a real challenge?
Clingy: won’t let go – needs to be attached all the time (relating to behaviour)
Familiarity breeds contempt: expression meaning that if you are too familiar with something, you can start to not like it
Inextricably: cannot be separated from something
Sometimes during an argument my partner makes me just want to run screaming out of the room. And sometimes I feel like if I do that I might just continue running screaming down the road and never return. In that moment, it’s like I just don’t understand him. And then, a short while later, it’s as if I had simply experienced temporary insanity, everything returns to normal and I wonder why I was so upset and frustrated.
Then one day I learnt something that changed my outlook on these situations forever. The 20 minute rule. Apparently, it takes your body (so we are talking physically here, not emotionally) at least 20 minutes to return to a calm, balanced state after you have had an argument with someone. And it is so true. I can be one crazy person in that moment and a mere 20 minutes later I am once again a person that you may even describe as sane.
So that’s my rule now. If I have an argument with my partner, I don’t try and sort it out NOW. I give it 20 minutes. All of a sudden things are back in perspective and there is much less risk of me saying something regrettable that I can never take back. So simple and yet so live-changing.
Temporary: for a short time/not forever
Sane: not crazy
Is it ok for your partner to be friends with his or her ex? There are some things to think about here. First of all, how much do you know about the history of their relationship? Is there cause for your concern? Do you feel that there might be some unresolved issues? And very importantly: how long ago did it end?
Then of course there is the issue of trust between you and your partner. Shouldn’t you be able to trust them? In which case it shouldn’t bother you that they are friends with their ex. However, I don’t necessarily think it is fair that you are in that position in the first place.
But can you tell your partner that he or she can’t be friends with their ex? It’s a difficult situation. You may come across as controlling and paranoid. I think the thing to be most concerned with here – assuming that trust is not the problem – is not so much why your partner is friends with their ex, but why their ex wants to be friends with your partner.
How would your partner feel if you were friends with your ex? If they seem unworried by it, then it is very likely that there is no suspicious intent on their part.
Unresolved: the problem hasn’t been fixed or in unsolved
Can you be friends with your ex? It all depends on the relationship – each case is different. How did you both view the relationship? And how do you both feel about the relationship ending?
If you are still in love with that person and really want them back, then trying to have a platonic relationship with that person is not going to work. The difficulty here is to avoid fooling yourself. We are so good at denial. We probably think that we do really just want to be friends. Be careful that this is really true before you set yourself up for more heartache.
And don’t try and convince yourself that you just need one more time with your ex to get closure. Forget that. Closure starts today. Closure starts the last time you had contact with your ex. Going back to them means you start all over again.
You need at least 8 weeks apart with absolutely NO contact. Yes, I said EIGHT weeks. Think of it as a detox. The relationship needs to get out of your system.
And don’t call him/her everyday ‘as friends’ until this 8-week detox is over. You are only opening wounds every time.
So, once the 8-week detox is over, it’s time to reassess. Do you need another 8 weeks? Tread carefully. Don’t undo all the healing you have already done – whether or not you feel that there has been any healing, you are definitely in a stronger position now than you were 8 weeks ago. Hang in there.
Set yourself up for: put yourself in a position for something (usually negative)
Closure: emotional/psychological sense that something has an end/something has a conclusion
Detox: getting rid of the toxins in your body by avoiding them for a period of time
Hang in there: phrase of encouragement for a friend – to tell someone to persist and not give up
When any relationship ends, there is usually a certain amount of heartache – at least for one of you. If it is you that has had your heart broken, there are ways to minimize the pain.
Try to learn something from the relationship. Write down five things you appreciated about this relationship that you would like to have in the next one, and five things you would not like to create next time. In this way, you will avoid the same mistakes (hopefully), grow as a person and move one step closer to finding the person that is perfect for you (not to be confused with the perfect person which doesn’t exist – in that case, you will be looking until the day you die. Single.).
Instead of stalking your ex or making up excuses to call or see him or her, keep yourself busy with new activities, old friends, and healthy distractions. Stalking and focusing on the past relationship only prevents you from moving forward. It does not serve to benefit you in any way. And besides, people will just think you’re nuts.
But don't get involved in a new relationship right away. There is no special time frame here, but if in doubt, wait longer. You will not be focused on the person. It isn't fair to either of you. Don’t medicate your sadness with a new person.
Stalk: secretly follow a person around to see where they go/what they do/who they are with
Distractions: things that take your focu/attention off something else
Nuts: (usually products of a tree – e.g. peanuts) in this context: crazy/mad/insane
If you have thought about it a lot and finally accepted that you need to break up with your partner. There are some do’s and don’ts that that you should keep in mind. After all, you are about to break someone’s heart; at least you can be considerate.
Don’t break up over email/text/Whatsapp or Facebook. Unless your ‘relationship’ has consisted of only one or 2 dates, please give that person and relationship the respect it deserves. Call or meet up for a talk. Yes, I know it’s easier to send an email, but would you like to receive a break up email? How would that make you feel? Remember: what goes around comes around.
Breaking up with someone over the phone or face to face allows that person to ask questions and see that your actions are final.
Be direct and honest. Don’t start arguments about who did or didn’t do something. There is enough pain already. Try not to make the break up dramatic. Yes, emotions are high and this point. Let the other person say what they need to say but remember that you are in the position of power here and you have control over how out of hand it may get.
Finally, bear in mind that you are not breaking up with this person because there is something wrong with them. They are just not right for you.
Do’s and don’ts: things that you should do and things that you shouldn’t do
What goes around comes around: what you do to others, will be done to you
Out of hand: out of control
Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Or do you have an ‘official’ day of love in your country? If you do celebrate either Valentine’s Day or any other official day of love, how do you celebrate? Does your celebration include flowers, chocolates, fancy dinners and bottles of wine? And why do you celebrate? And what about if you are single? Do you celebrate then? Or stay home and sulk?
So on the one hand, it is a day about love. It is about celebrating the love and/or the lover that you have in your life. But on the other hand, there are many people around the world who reject the idea of Valentine’s Day; calling it a commercial scam or a day manufactured so that florists can make lots of money. Single people may even feel inadequate or annoyed at a day that celebrates something they don’t feel a part of.
Whichever way you look at it, I don’t think it’s such a bad thing to celebrate a day that is all about such a good thing. And also to celebrate alongside so many other people; it gives us a sense of solidarity and of being part of the same thing: humanity. You also don’t need to spend a lot of money or any money at all. If you are single, then get together with some other single friends and celebrate friendship kind of love.
My point? We don’t need to be cynical. There is enough in life to be cynical about. Love shouldn’t be one of them.
Fancy: extra special
Sulk: feel sorry for yourself
Reject: say no to
Scam: a rip-off/cheat/trick/con
Florist: a person that sells flowers
Inadequate: not enough
Solidarity: unity/a feeling of having shared aims
Do you keep score in relationships? Do you remember who paid for dinner last time and make a point of ensuring that the other person pays when it is their turn? Do you find yourself saying things like, ‘I always buy you gifts but you never buy me any.’
It could be that you need to stop focusing on your relationship as if it were some quid pro quo. Doing this is dangerous because your perspective becomes skewed. You stop seeing what your partner is doing for you and see only what you are doing for your partner. The trouble with this is that you then assess your partner’s behaviour based on your own understanding of reciprocation. It could be that your partner’s way of showing they love you is by letting you choose the TV channel or by washing your car. Maybe doing a chore that you normally do is the equivalent of a romantic dinner. They may not see the traditional ways of showing affection as important.
In other words, just because you don’t get flowers, doesn’t mean your partner is unromantic. You may need to look beyond that. And stop keeping score. You may be playing by different rules anyway so scoring is irrelevant.
However, don’t be completely blind. If your partner really is taking advantage of you, that is unacceptable. And that is time for change.
Keep score: keep a count of who does what
Quid pro quo: do something in exchange for something else
Skewed: not straight
Reciprocation: to give mutually (you give me something and I give you something)
Chore: small job around the house/small job that needs to be done in your personal life
Beyond: further than
The moment that you realise that someone is not for you, what do you do? Do you break up with them instantly or do you hang on, waiting to see if your instinct was right?
Or maybe you stay in the relationship because you have no one else and you don’t want to be alone. If you break up with them instantly, there is always the danger that you may have made a mistake. Or is there? Should we trust our gut or should we think more before we act?
I am not sure if there is a right way to handle this situation but I do know for sure that I would hate to know that anyone stayed with me just because they didn’t want to cause me pain by breaking up with me – or because they didn’t want to be alone themselves. In these cases, I think it is very unfair to stay with someone – depriving them of the emotional freedom to find someone else or start their healing process so that they can move on.
On the other hand, I would want to know that you really have thought it through and that you aren’t making a mistake.
Perhaps the best way to handle it is somewhere in the middle. As soon as you feel you are not right for someone, think about it a bit and then move on. Don’t delay the inevitable. But don’t make impulsive decisions. A relationship and the other person involved deserve more respect than that.
Trust your gut: trust your instinct (gut means stomach)
Deprive someone of something: not allow someone to have something they need/something that is good for them
Inevitable: something that is going to happen no matter what you do
Impulsive: act without thinking
I think that even if you are in a relationship – committed or not – you should not be shy or ashamed to flirt with strangers.
If you pass a nice man or woman in a shopping centre or stop next to someone at the traffic lights or if you go to a dinner party and find someone there interesting and engage in a whole evening of flirting (assuming your partner is not there as well – that’s just uncomfortable), I think it is ok.
In fact, it might even be beneficial to your relationship. Feeling desired makes you feel sexy. And that sexiness is what you are bringing home to your partner.
Of course there needs to be a boundary and there is a fine line between flirting and emotional cheating. It really depends on your intention. If you flirt with a stranger because it makes you feel good about yourself, then why not flirt? If you flirt with them in the hopes of beginning a little fling; don’t. Or do, but end your other relationship first. No one likes a cheater and if that is what you are planning, then your heart in clearly not in your current relationship anyway. Or you need therapy.
So if it is harmless flirting, I say go ahead – as long as it doesn’t upset your partner beyond a little beneficial jealousy. You will probably make the other person feel good about themselves too. It’s win-win.
There is a fine line between…: there is a very small space between one thing and another.
Fling: short, uncommitted relationship
What do you do if you are dating someone and you start to hear rumours? And I am talking here about rumours relating to your relationship. Say for example, someone saw your partner with another person last Friday and they looked intimate.
The first questions you need to ask yourself are: what is this person’s possible intention in spreading the story? Did they come straight to me first or did they tell other people first? Are they worried about my happiness or are they just spreading a rumour?
If your partner has already told you about this, then there is probably nothing to worry about. It’s the things that they keep secret from you that are concerning. So if you find out something suspicious from a third party and your partner hasn’t already told you about this, then it might be worth asking them about it. If they deny it or come across as guilty, then you will probably come to the obvious conclusion. Be careful here to not believe something just because you want to believe it. Try to be as objective as possible.
At the end of the day I believe that – unless someone is really out to hurt you – there is no smoke without a fire. Chat to your partner about your concerns before you do anything rash, but don’t just let it slide. No one likes to be last to know.
At the end of the day: ultimately/finally
There is no smoke without a fire: an expression meaning that there is usually truth in a rumour
Rash: sudden/impulsive (also a skin reaction)
Let it slide: ignore it/let it be
Many people in new relationships often wonder about the pace and development of their relationship. When should they have their first date? When should they have their first kiss? Should they call their partner ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’? Should they get engaged? When should they get engaged? How long do they wait before they get married/have children? The questions go on and on.
And some people try to offer some kind of time frame for all of the circumstances: you should only kiss on the third date; you should live together for a year before you get married; you should wait two years after getting married before you have your first child…
The fact is, no matter how much you try and quantify a relationship, human beings are not quantifiable. And no one person – and therefore relationship – is the same. Each person and each relationship needs to make their own decisions. What works for one relationship may not work for another. You may kiss on the first date or you may wait until the day you get married. It’s entirely up to the two people involved in the relationship. No one on the outside should judge as they do not have the full picture.
As difficult as it can be try not to be influenced by your family’s or friends’ expectations. If you do, things may be ok for a while but ultimately you will not be happy unless you listen to your own heart and that of your partner’s.
To go on: continue
Quantify: to give a number/quantity to something
It is up to you: it is your decision/choice
The full picture: the complete understanding
When your heart gets broken it can be very difficult to maintain any sense of self worth. Broken hearts are a strange thing. When you are in love, you often subconsciously base much of your self worth on the relationship and the fact that the other person thinks you are worthy.
Naturally this means that if that person breaks up with you, your sense of self worth disappears together with them.
For me this is the most difficult part of a break up: picking up the pieces of your self worth. Try to remember that you are the same person that your partner originally fell in love with. You are as worthy of love, affection and attention as you were before. You cannot base your entire sense of self worth on one person’s opinion: especially if that person is dealing with their own personal issues. It may just be that your ex feels that you have grown in different directions.
Look around you at all the other people in your life who do think you are fantastic: your family and friends. They loved you throughout your relationship and they still do. What makes their high opinion of you count any less?
You are valued, loved and worthy. If you don’t believe that, how can you expect a new partner to believe it? The sooner you remember that, the sooner a new partner will be attracted into your life.
Self worth: your opinion of yourself
Subconsciously: your thoughts that you are not aware of
When we talk about men and women, we often talk about Venus and Mars. The idea being that men and women are so different from each other that they are from completely different planets. And that somehow most men have certain characteristics and most women have others. I agree that in many respects this is true (although we do need to make allowance for some overlap). And it’s not something that we necessarily have a lot of control over. I mean, if we want the situation to be different, then we have a difficult battle ahead because then we are fighting against biology. Hormones in particular. They don’t just make women moody; they affect a range of behaviours in men and women.
But while this is, to a large extent, true, I also think that we mustn’t lose sight of what we have in common. If we start thinking we are really that different, then we start to disconnect from each other. At the end of the day, men and women are still the same species and some basic needs and desires are going to remain the same.
We both have a need to belong. We both have a need to feel wanted and loved. We both need affection. We both need some down time and days when we are just quiet for no reason.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking your partner is your polar opposite. There are differences, that is true – but just enough to keep it interesting.
Overlap: to have common characteristics
Hormones: chemicals in body that regulate different functions
Moody: moods/emotions are unstable and inconsistent
To a large extent: mostly/very much
Lose sight of: not follow/be unable to track something
At the end of the day: ultimately/finally/in the end
Polar opposite: complete opposite (on the opposite end of the spectrum)