Keeping your individuality in a relationship

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We’re all different. Each and every one of us has multiple passions, hobbies, personality traits and habits that define us and make us who we are.

Yet sometimes when we enter into a relationship, we find that our defining characteristics start to fall to the wayside as we try to fall in-step with our new partner. We give up going to our Saturday morning spin classes to go and watch football, we lose touch with friends, sometimes we even change the way we speak!

We usually do this in the early stages of the relationship in order to bond with our new partner and learn more about their interests. However, as time goes by, many of us find that we’re still just going along with what our partner wants to do and we no longer have the time to enjoy our own passions.

When we move in with a partner, it can be even harder to maintain our sense of self as we leave our previous homes and ways of life to start afresh with our loved one.

In some extreme cases, we find ourselves changing our whole appearance and lifestyle to be more like our

How to make the most of your summer romance

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During the summer months we become more sociable (especially when the sun is shining), we go out more, go to barbeques and to the beach, and we meet new people. Sometimes we meet another person that we make a connection with and it turns into a relationship.

Some of these relationships just happen to begin in the summer, others are deliberate ‘summer romances’ – short flings that end when Autumn comes around.

No matter what type of relationship it is, you’ll want to make the most of your time together.

Here are some tips on how to make the most of the summer together:

  • First of all, keep in mind that it’s the quality of the time you spend together that’s important, not the quantity. You could spend every waking minute together, but it’s better to use the time you have to do something special. Plan ahead and arrange to go to places that hold significance to your other half – they will appreciate the gesture and will feel like you are showing interest in them.
  • Take plenty of photographs and collect small momentos such as shells from the beach, postcards, tickets from gigs you’ve gone to

How offshore work affects couple relationships

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Sometimes our jobs require us to work away from home for long periods of times.

Oil rig workers and members of the Royal Navy can spend weeks or months working off shore or abroad in order to provide for their families.

In the weeks or days leading up to the next offshore shift, the ‘left behind’ partner can feel increasingly worried about how these long periods of separation will affect the relationship.

‘My army boyfriend will be deployed abroad in August. I’m afraid he might not come back, that he might come back not wanting me, or I just might not be able to wait for him at all,‘ says one anonymous CoupleConnection user.

Both parties can experience bouts of loneliness during these times apart. However, keeping in touch can be made easier through the use of the internet. ‘My boyfriend got lonely in the beginning and he still does. It’s easier for me as being offshore is so artificial that it doesn’t seem like I’m away for long,’ says Kenny, an oil rig worker from Edinburgh. ‘We keep in touch with each other on a daily basis via online text messaging, and we Skype quite

Student Long Distance Relationship Tips

As mentioned in our Going to Uni: How it affects your relationship article, many students go abroad, or to the opposite end of the country in order to study and as a result, end up in long distance relationships.

Our parent company OnePlusOne, alongside The Student Room asked students to give their top tips for dealing with long distance relationships (LDRs). Here are the top ten:

  1. “Always stay in contact and meet up at least once a month.”  Jon, Birmingham
  2. “Get the Couple app – we use it and it’s really fun ‘cause you can send sketches, videos, pictures and the thumb kiss. It’s all private so only the two of you can see it so there is no fear of sending the wrong person a text or something.” Emma, Scunthorpe
  3. “Make sure that you can keep busy during the first few days after your OH has left. Have some fun things planned to help take your mind off things.” Natalie, Falmouth
  4. “If it’s working then give it your all but if you’ve broken up once, twice or maybe even three times it’s time to call it a day.” Sam, Leeds
  5. “If money is an issue, COMPROMISE! The person who did the travelling should be treated

Body confidence and self esteem in relationships

When you’re planning a beach holiday with your partner, nothing can strike more fear in your heart than the thought of having to walk around half naked in front of strangers.

Being exposed in front of a lot of people can easily bring up any body insecurities you have, and as a result you may be dieting frantically and going to the gym seven days a week so you can achieve a more ‘desirable’ beach body.

This type of mindset isn’t exclusive to women – men also experience feelings of dissatisfaction when it comes to their appearance.

When we start to feel self-conscious about our bodies in front of our partner it can be for a number of reasons. Examples may be:

  • Pregnancy: When a woman is pregnant, or has recently given birth, the experience of her changing body can make her feel uncomfortable in her own skin. These feelings are often linked with stress in couple relationships.
  • Ageing: As we age, our body goes through a transformation which can at times be difficult to come to terms with. If there is an age gap in a relationship, the older partner may feel even more self-aware about the ageing process because they are going through

The effects of miscarriage on relationships

A report written by OnePlusOne, featuring interviews with couples who had gone through one or more miscarriages  revealed how different couples deal with the loss of their unborn child.

One participant in the study said that after two miscarriages, she and her partner experienced a lot of severe relationship difficulties.

‘When you go on the down side after a miscarriage, you just don’t want to know. Everybody is to blame and the person you are with gets it the worst.  I’d often go and sleep on my own, and make the excuse that our son was waking up at night. I think the only factor that kept us together at times was the fact that we had a son. We were both quite committed to him.’ (Female, married, 51)

Others feel like communication breaks down between the two of them, which can leave them feeling helpless at times: ‘You know there’s only so much asking you can do and if she’s not ready to talk then that’s it.’ (Male, cohabiting, aged 36)

However, it is more commonly reported that miscarriages can help a couple become closer.

Some participants in the OnePlusOne study described miscarriage as an experience in which they could both share and support

Advice for young people in abusive relationships

A notable minority of young people experience some form of aggression from their partner in their early relationships.

While the numbers vary from study to study, somewhere between 10%-48% of teens report experiencing physical aggression in their dating relationships (pushing, slapping, hitting, hitting the partner down), and one-quarter to one-half of report psychological aggression (making fun of their partner, screaming in their face, calling them names, saying negative things about their appearance).

Some 31% of girls and 16% of boys also experience sexual violence in their early relationships.

In some cases, the abuse can be less easy to spot. See our article on Controlling Partners for more information.

Why do people stay in abusive relationships?

Young people often stay in violent relationships for a number of reasons:

  • they may feel guilty
  • they may feel like it was their own fault
  • they may justify the behaviour as ‘caring’
  • they may begin to see the behaviour as normal
  • or it may be that having a boy/girlfriend brings status.

Some people may think that if their partner is violent, it’s just a one-off occurrence. However, evidence shows that a violent partner is likely to be violent in the future if they do not seek help or support.

How can people in abusive relationships get help?

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Being in your first same sex relationship

Being in your very first relationship is an exciting time. But when you’re gay, lesbian or bisexual, your first relationship can be difficult.

Same-sex couples face unique difficulties when entering their first relationship that heterosexual couples don’t. Some can suffer prejudice from friends and family, some choose to keep their relationships a secret. Others may have a strong support network but no gay, lesbian or bi peers they can turn to for specific advice.

Here men and women recall their first same-sex relationships:

Were you ‘out’ when you were in your first same sex relationship?

It was in 1981, I was out, but only just. I think it was probably less than 6 months after I told my parents,’ Chris, Bury

‘I was 23 and not out when I had my first same sex relationship. It was all very much a secret and was fun for the first month. But in the end it became a strain on the relationship. Having to make excuses about where I was going for the weekend, who I was with etc.  We could only meet at his place and even when we went out as a couple it would be to places I kind of knew my family and

Tips for couples having a second child

Couples tend to get a lot of attention when they make the transition to parenthood. But when couples decide they want to have more children and extend the family, they don’t get the same level of support.

Evidence does suggest that couples who plan to have a second child have a strong ability to keep their relationship strong and are therefore more likely to stay together. However, that doesn’t mean that couples who are planning baby number don’t need any help.

Read on for tips on how to cope with a growing family

Making the decision together

The happiest couples with children tend to be those who make a joint decision to become parents. If both parents share the same intentions and both are actively involved in the decision making process, then they tend to handle the experience of a growing family much better.

If you want to have more children try sitting down together and planning what you want. Consider the following:

  • how many children do you imagine having?
  • how far apart would you ideally like the children to be born?
  • what sort of role do you imagine playing in the upbringing of future children? Will the balance of care giving change?

You may also want to discuss

The future of online dating

A new report from the Imperial College Business School and online dating service eHarmony, has predicted that, by 2040, almost 70% of relationships will be formed by people who met online.

We’re taking a look at the wider research that’s been done on this topic, to bring you some evidence-based tips on how to navigate the world of online dating as it takes a bigger role in the way we meet people.

In many ways, online dating can make things much easier, streamlining the process and removing some of the challenges associated with meeting people offline.

Flirting with someone face to face can be quite stressful, especially if you feel self-conscious or nervous about meeting new people. If that sounds like you, it might feel like a big risk to put yourself in front of someone you find attractive and try to make it clear that you’re interested.

Meeting people in an online environment takes a bit of that pressure off. Using a dating website takes a lot of the ambiguity out of your intentions, and might help you put yourself out there in a way that feels less vulnerable than approaching people out in the world [1].

On the flip side, the emotional distance

All I want for Christmas is to know you love me

Relationship research shows that buying gifts for a loved one can make you happier and, for the recipient, it really is the thought that counts.

Shopping for gifts at this time of year can be a stressful experience. There’s the crowds, the expense, and an extra special stress reserved for the desire to find the perfect gift for a loved one.

Choosing the perfect gift can feel like an ideal way to show your partner how much you love them, so it makes sense that you’d put a lot of pressure on yourself to get it right – particularly if you find it difficult to express your love in other ways [1].

Well, research has shown that spending money on other people can make us happier than spending money on ourselves [2].

So how do you choose the perfect gift?

While it might seem important to get your partner something they can keep forever, you might want to think about going for an experience instead. Depending on what your partner likes doing, consider buying them a few laps round the track in a sports car, or tickets to a new musical.

An experience like this can help you both feel closer to each other, and give

One faith both faiths or no faith

Interfaith parenting

For many parents, faith can play a very important part in how you choose to raise your children.

If you and your partner have different religious beliefs, you may have different ideas and values about parenting. There are going to be some big decisions to make and, as with any big decision, it’s really useful to be able to plan ahead so you can make a compromise together.

Choosing a faith

In an interfaith family – broadly speaking – you have three options about how you fit religion into your family: one faith, both faiths, or no faith.

You can choose to raise your child within the values of one set of religious beliefs and values, or, as many parents do, you can opt for a combination of the two. If you don’t want to make this decision for your child, you may also opt to set religion aside, so your child can form their own belief system [1].

Of the various research projects done in this area, some results suggest that a mix of both faiths is best, while others say it doesn’t matter too much as long as you are consistent and present a united front [2]. So, as long as you

Disabled dating Sex and intimacy

There are countless types of disability and physical impairment in the world. And just as no two people are the same, no two people go through the same experience of living with a disability.

However, there are many issues that people with a disability share – one such issue is a lack of intimacy in a couple relationship.

The impact of disability on intimacy

Physical and mental health disorders, long term disability and illness can lead to decreased sexual activity and satisfaction for people of all ages and genders.

According to findings from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles, even small mobility issues such as finding it difficult to walk up a flight of stairs can have an impact on a person’s sex life.

What’s considered sexy?

Some people think that sexuality and disability are separate and that people with a disability or impairment cannot feel desire or be desirable to others.

If a disability is incredibly limiting and a person is unable to do things for themselves, such as dress, bathe, eat, or go to the toilet, people assume they can’t – or shouldn’t – be having sex.

This assumption is not only felt amongst able-bodied people, but within the disabled community as well.

In

Are you and your partner due a date night

More than a third of couples admit that they can’t remember the last time they went on a date together.

A new survey from OnePoll has asked 1,000 people in relationships how often they have a dedicated date night together, and 39% of couples say they have left it so long that they can no longer remember the last time.

Spending dedicated time together allows you to catch up, and remember what you love about each other. It’s an opportunity to talk about the things that matter with someone who cares, away from the banalities and distractions of everyday life.

So, for the one in 10 of us who say they never manage to organise anything, and the one in five who say they only manage it twice a year, let’s take a look at why it matters and what we can do about it.

Why should we have a date night?

Those who regularly make time for date nights say that they feel happier – in fact, 78% of couples believe they are less likely to split up if they make time for each other. Date nights facilitate some of the most important aspects of your relationship, including:

  • Communication. There’s a reason we talk about

Healthy relationships for healthy bodies

New research suggests that having a caring partner could be good for your physical health as well as your happiness, and may even help you live longer.

It’s been known since the late 1980s that social isolation is bad for your health [1]. People with stronger personal relationships have been shown to live longer than those who are isolated most of the time.

This theory has been tested a number of times over the years, with nearly 150 studies and over 300,000 participants helping to show that positive relationships may be just as important for physical health as exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.

 

But there’s still a lot we don’t know about this, including which aspects of good relationships are best for us. A more recent study from 2015 looked into the idea of ‘partner responsiveness’, a key ingredient in the way romantic relationships affect our physical health [2].

Partner responsiveness refers to how well our partners seem to understand us, how well they respect our points of view and feelings, and how much they care for us.

The study looked at participants’ cortisol levels. Among other functions, cortisol is the hormone that regulates our immune system, and scientists believe that those with better

Breaking down relationship barriers for LGBTQ youth

Online meeting places and support groups are breaking down the barriers for young LGBTQ people forming early relationships.

Early romantic relationships are an important learning phase for everyone. They help us figure out how we relate to others, understanding our needs and desires, and recognising what does and doesn’t work. These early relationships play a big part in how we navigate future relationships [1].

If you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, or any other status than cisgender hetero, you may find that there are additional obstacles to meeting potential partners and forming those first relationships [2].

One of the first barriers you might face is a lack of potential partners, with a smaller pool of people to choose from. You might also find it harder to be open about your sexuality, making potential partners that bit harder to find [3].

And, despite great efforts to drag public attitudes into the modern age, young LGBTQ people do still risk facing stigma and discrimination. If you don’t yet feel able to talk about your sexuality with your friends and family, you may find yourself without a strong support system [4]. Looking for support online can start to remedy this.

A good support system is really important.

Relationship status It is complicated

Relationship status? It’s complicated

When people list their relationship status as “it’s complicated”, you may wonder what could be so complicated about it. Surely you are simply ‘single’ or ‘in a relationship’, right? Well, new research has emerged suggesting that for young people in particular, it’s not necessarily so straightforward. Although monogamy – an exclusive relationship with one partner – is still considered the ‘norm’ in our society, more casual relationships are increasingly common for adolescents.

When someone says ‘I’m in a relationship’, there’s a good chance you’ll picture a man and a woman in a steady, sexually exclusive relationship. And you wouldn’t be alone with that assumption. A study by four authors published[1] in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships[2], confirmed that despite Western society becoming ever more permissive and accepting, monogamy is still considered to be the most desirable and ‘normal’ way to engage in a relationship.

So what’s the problem? Well, monogamy being placed as ‘the normal thing to do’ can mean that anyone choosing a non-traditional form of relationship, such as polyamory (multiple partners) or an open relationship (not sexually exclusive) may feel marginalised and excluded when it comes to sex and relationship advice and education. They may

Sexting laws could land young people with criminal records

Civil liberties campaigners have spoken out against laws that could see young people added to the sex offender register for taking explicit pictures of themselves.

The law, which is designed to guard against child sex abuse, may inadvertently be punishing the very people it aims to protect.

A disparity between the age of sexual consent and the age of adulthood creates an interesting anomaly in the laws around child sex abuse images.

According to the law, creating a sexual image of a person under the age of 18 is punishable as a sex offence. This means that young people aged 16 and 17, who are over the age of consent but not classed as adults by the law, could be criminalised for sending explicit pictures to each other, even if the images are taken consensually.

Effectively, there exists a two-year period during which a person is legally allowed to have sex, but can be charged with an offence for recording and sharing an image of that sex.

Writing on his blog, obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman, said:

“Whilst the age of consent is sixteen, what I call ‘the age of representation’ (the right to view or produce pornographic images) is eighteen. Thus, despite being able to have

Cuddles and cuppas the importance of small gestures in relationships

This week, a new app-in-development is making headlines, promising to turn any man into a knight in shining armour.

The app, called HeroBoyfriend, is the brainchild of Dan Groch, a 32-year-old Australian entrepreneur and it offers a seemingly simple service. After asking you a few questions about your relationship, the app will periodically remind you to surprise your partner with “unexpected gifts” and help you “always know the right things to say”. It also promises to keep you on top of special occasions and be “considerate and attentive”.

So far, the app seems to be aimed solely at heterosexual men and assumes that its users are the type of people who struggle to remember what day it is. It also plays into female stereotypes, suggesting that women all fantasise about the same  type of things (flowers! chocolates!).

But could HeroBoyfriend be on to something? Can small gestures such as unexpected gifts really make that much of a difference to your relationship? In fact, research would suggest the answer to that question is a big ‘yes’!

A major study conducted by The Open University and published in 2013[1] discovered that deceptively simple actions such as saying ‘thank you’ to your partner, touching base during the

Having a baby does not have to hurt your relationship

If you’re about to have a baby, you may have heard all manner of scare stories about how your relationship will suffer. It doesn’t always have to be that way. We’ve scoured the research and found some encouraging tips about how to look after your couple relationship as you make the transition to parenthood.

While it’s true that many couples face a decline in relationship satisfaction when they become parents, there are also couples whose relationships maintain strength, and even improve during parenthood [1]. If you feel like you’d rather be one of those couples, read on, but be warned – it’s going to get a little rough before it gets smooth.

Whatever happens, things will change. There’s no point pretending they won’t. If you want to be one of the couples who keep hold of the happiness that their love for each other brings, one of the first things you need to do is acknowledge the risks. You don’t have to be scared of them, but simply knowing what you face will help you avoid the pitfalls. [2]

Let’s be clear: babies are incredibly demanding. They rely on you for food, shelter, cuddles, getting from one soft surface to another and, very