The Problem With Seeking ‘Fair Shares’ In A Relationship

Photo by Hà Nguyễn

One of the most common arguments in any relationship is always centred around the notion of FAIR SHARES: Some people come to the partnership believing that, as long as they do their ‘half’, their ‘bit’ or their ‘fair share’ all will be well. However, our perception of a genuine ‘half’ can be someone else’s idea of 10 per cent – a discrepancy which causes the most disagreement in thr home. There is no such thing as a successful long-term relationship where each partner gives only a personal interpretation of their half. The inevitable truth is that, after a while, the differing perceptions of sharing will result in cries of “Selfish!” or “Unfair!”

What is genuinely fair is usually decided between both parties in advance of living together, or soon after moving in with each other. True halves have to be negotiated to become the couple’s reality. Better to come to the union expecting to give 100 percent and find that much less is taken from you, than prepare to give 50 per cent, only to have it regarded as insufficient! If you know that your partner is contributing more than their perceived ‘fair share’, it’s easier for you to do the same, too. But often, not every contribution can be measured.

Many people, particularly older ones who have been married for a while, tend to take their partners for granted. They also believe there is nothing new for them to learn about life or love. But if we have not been taught how to communicate and resolve problems, it is always useful to learn. Most parents are not able to teach their children the skills for handling difficult times or getting on with others satisfactorily, yet those skills are essential for keeping romance from dying in relationships, especially on days when the children are upset, money is tight as the debts pile up, and the job is boring or demoralising. In these times of difficulty, fair shares become blurred, as they do not always conform to expectations.

For example, one partner can ask the other to help with housework, and if they do not like to do it that task will be done in a grudging way, resentfully, without too much enjoyment. However, a fairer approach could be identifying the strengths on both sides and everyone choosing according to their skills. For example, my ex and I agreed that he would attend to structural things in the home, and look after the garden (I didn’t like gardening!) and I preferred to care for inside the home, while we share the children’s care, as required, and appropriate. It worked very well for over 25 years!

Developing and reviewing our coping skills so that we treat partners fairly, is important for keeping the relationship alive over a long time. Some of the key skills required in these situations include: building self-esteem, understanding and supporting your partner, regular communication, creating ground rules to avoid conflict, a willingness to compromise and keeping the love fire burning. Taking action in your own self-education, while including your partner in the process, will allow you both to benefit from a successful relationship, one where ‘fair shares’ is not just a personal perception, but an actual reality.


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Have You Ever Avoided Meeting Others For Fear Of Rejection?

Photo by Danie Franco

A reader asked this recently, and my answer was short, and unequivocal: No, I haven’t, because we only fear rejection for the following reasons:

  1. When we put others above us so that whatever they do determines our reaction, and how we live our lives.
  2. When we see people as clones of each other, instead of individuals. If one person doesn’t like us we then attribute that behaviour to everyone else and believe that no one else is ever going to like us again!
  3. When we are low in self-esteem and confidence, believing that we are not worthy, not as good as anyone else, and not capable of being loved once we are rejected.
  4. When we do not love ourselves and expect other people to love us instead to compensate for the self-love we lack. Naturally, when they reject us we feel even worse because it confirms why we are not worthy of being loved.
  5. When we believe there is only one person who’ll be our ‘true love’, so when they reject us, we believe we are finished, and no one else will want us.

Falling in and out of love is a natural part of life. However, just as we can easily fall in love, we can fall out, too, but many people want the good bit without the bad part, which is not possible because that’s how Nature gives us balance. Furthermore, every experience in life, whether good or bad, teaches us something useful and prepares us to handle the next stage of our lives. If you live in fear of rejection, instead of letting life take its course, you might never be rejected, but you would never experience the joy of love either, because love and happiness ALWAYS come before hurt and rejection. When you live in fear of anything instead of taking life in your stride, fear is all you have because you are not focusing on something positive, but on negative things that only destroy your happiness. They don’t build anything.

Accept rejection as a natural part of your existence simply because each of us is entitled to our likes and dislikes, you included. Enjoy the moment and give thanks for it. If you meet someone who rejects you, accept it, and move on to someone better, because that one person does not represent everyone on earth who may like you, too. It doesn’t mean the there is anything wrong with you. It simply means they do not feel you are compatible together. Moreover, that rejection could be the best thing that ever happened to you, because you never know what you could have been saved from in the longer term with them!


I’m Heartbroken, How Do I Remind Myself That I’m Worthy?

Photo by Marah Bashir

Broken hearts are mainly caused by unfulfilment of expectations coupled with low self-esteem. Often we think so low of ourselves, we put our whole life in the hands of one person to get ‘happiness’ and when that happiness is withdrawn, the pain of losing it is too much to bear. We meet someone, we like them a lot, we come to trust them and believe in them, then start to weave our dreams and life around them, too. When they fail to conform to those expectations, we are often hugely disappointed and devastated.

It is natural to feel some loss when a relationship breaks up. But any break that causes us to feel really badly about ourselves, and lasts for too long, is self-inflicted. If we really love and value ourselves, everything in life – whether happiness or heartache – becomes part of our natural routine, nothing extraordinary, because life has two natural sides: good and bad, up and down, birth and death. We can’t have one without the other. Most of all nothing lasts forever. Everything is temporary. Accepting that fact is an important part of loving someone.

To mend a broken heart and restore your self-esteem has five stages:

First, take time out for you, while you slowly detach yourself from your lover. Often the hurt is prolonged because you still keep yourself in their orbit. Do NOT continue to be ‘friends’ until the hurt stops and you feel better. Make a complete detachment otherwise you will be constantly reminded of the situation, especially at the early vulnerable stage when the pain is worst.

Second, accept responsibility for your part in the break-up. Nothing is ever one-sided and only blaming the other person merely prolongs the pain. By acknowledging and addressing your part in the process, the grievance will be lessened even quicker because you won’t just be simply judging your mate on his/her actions, you will be addressing the quality of the relationship between you. The moment you put bitterness, resentment and anger above forgiveness or compassion is the minute your prolong your pain and agony, because all you will be thinking about are negative things that will make you feel even more inadequate and crappy.

Photo by Belinda Fewings

Speeding up the Healing Process
Third, reinforce your self-love because you will feel unwanted and undesirable at this time, hence why you feel less ‘worthy’. It is easy to believe that no one will want you anymore, that you are no longer attractive and you will not find another relationship like that. But to love and be loved, you have to love yourself first. You cannot give away love if you have none for yourself. Nurturing your self-love is crucial to mending a broken heart quickly because you will chalk it up to experience. It also takes the focus off partners and puts it squarely on yourself. That tends to speed up the healing process and re-affirm your esteem and worthiness.

Fourth, accept the situation as a natural part of the pleasure/pain cycle of life, important for teaching us lessons we need later on to live our life satisfactorily and to build our resilience. Life consists of both pain and love, manifested through death and rebirth, being two sides of the same coin. The love is there to nourish and sustain us while the pain helps us to develop our experiences and to face our challenges with resilience and new knowledge. It is best to learn the lessons they give and move on without grieving too long, knowing that there is likely to be someone even better and more deserving of you in the future.

Fifth, remind yourself daily of your natural appeal and value and do not judge the rest of your existence by this ONE occasion. Moving on is most important. Just because someone is not keen on you does not mean your value is any less in everyone else’s eyes. Your life is a journey, made up of numerous experiences, not based on one particular event.

There is ALWAYS a good reason behind why someone isn’t right for you. It’s just that you cannot see it at the time. Use rejection as a lesson in finding the right partner and move on to a more fulfilling experience. If you really love yourself, you won’t really care about another person’s actions. You will be thankful for the moment, looking ahead positively, without living in regrets or in the past – and feeling much better for it, too.


PREMIUM: What Key Elements Make Two People Incompatible In A Relationship? 

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Question. I think I’ve found Mr. Right. He treats me well and calls me princess …We think alike, we complete each others sentences and say exactly the same thing at the same time. He is very romantic and protective of me. He is my knight. The one I was searching for. He has already asked me to marry him and I said “YES”. I feel we were meant to be. What do you think?

A. It must be a great feeling to be in love, especially when it makes you feel really excited at the thought of seeing that person and sharing things together. Well done! But you have to be aware of signs of incompatibility, no matter how in-love you feel because they are always there at the beginning. It is just that love blinds us to them, often until it is too late.

People tend to be most incompatible in six areas of a relationship. Listed in order of their propensity to damage the union, and these are:

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Do You Believe in Love at First Sight?

Image by autumnsgoddess0 

Yes, it certainly has worked for me. 

I set eyes on my ex husband at an event and knew that the attraction was mutual immediately I saw him with his friend and spoke to him. We lasted 25 years and were still in love by the finish, except that we had diverged so much in our values and expectations, we could not sustain the relationship on love alone because too much resentment and anger had crept in.

On another occasion, I knew I had fallen in love instantly with someone when our eyes met across a room, seeing him for the first time. It was amazing because it was so unexpected with him not being the type I would have expected to even be friendly with. That was before my marriage but circumstances just weren’t right at the time to follow through. Thirty years later he proposed, but I was a different person by then and wanted something new with my life.

Falling in love is really down to our beliefs. If we believe that anyone can engage us in an instant, because we are expressive enough to allow it to happen, it will always happen for us. If we are the cynical type who question every potential relationship and are worried about its outcome, it won’t get a chance to flourish because we will kill it with our negative expectations.

People who don’t believe in falling in love at first sight are seldom likely to experience it for that very reason: they cannot have something positive materialising out of their negative beliefs, and fear of its consequences will keep such an experience from happening. Even if it got up and smacked them in the face, they are likely to attribute it to something else.

Yet love at first sight is magical when it works because, with its element of surprise, it carries with it the potential for something truly exciting and enjoyable.

So, do YOU believe in love at first sight?

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Today’s Thought: How To Gain Respect

Respect is not something we can demand. Respect is given freely once it is earned. Hence you cannot have respect if you give none to others. But respect starts with the self.

We cannot earn the respect of others if we have no respect for ourselves. We cannot expect others to love what we reject if we have no love for ourselves, and we cannot expect value from others if we give ourselves no value. Self-love is the key to personal value, feelings of worth, inclusion, significance and ultimately respect. If you love yourself, you will learn to recognise when people respect and value you, rather than just tolerating you. But you have to value yourself first before that can happen. the feeling that a person respects and cares for you; and you really matter to them.

One way to ensure respect for your values and person is to start appreciating others more. Reduce the judgement and criticism and increase the kindness and support. Be a FRIEND to others and they will want to be friends to you, too, and to respect and affirm you.

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Today’s Thought: Frustrating Languages of Love!

In a relationship, we are inclined to believe that we have the same mutual way of expressing ourselves so that we can be easily understood. But language is determined by intention, and our personality, sex, culture, race, beliefs, etc. They all determine what we say. It means that no matter how simple words might sound, we can never take what someone else says at face value without clarification because our expectations of the reaction to those words could be entirely different!


Problem Point: I Want a Relationship. She Wants to Be ‘Just Friends’. What Next?

Photo by Taylor Smith

If you meet someone, fancy them to bits, desire a relationship and the other person is mainly interested in being ‘just friends’, get out of there fast! It might seem like a great idea, playing to the other person’s demands to be ‘friends’ with the hope of being something more to them later on, or just accepting whatever they say to be near them. But there are a lot of things wrong with this situation, of which the following are crucial.

1. People who desire ‘friendship’ above intimacy, when there is clearly some attraction between the couple, tend to have hidden agendas. They are either commitment-phobes who cannot bear to commit intimately to anyone, but still want that person’s company, or, by being ‘friends’ they prevent the other person from finding someone else, deliberately to keep the attention on them, yet have nothing intimate to offer the party. Or they simply wish to control the relationship on their terms, regardless of how the other person feels. 

This is not a good situation at all because it means one person hands over their power to another who will be the decider of how long that ‘friendship’ lasts, and the rules they wish to play by, especially when any relationship between two people is usually decided by both. In fact, in these ‘friendship only’ cases, it is likely that the other party doesn’t fancy that person at all, but lacks the courage to say so, or just wish to keep the attention they’re getting.

2. You cannot have real friendship between a couple when the expectations are diverse. It means that only one person – the party controlling the relationship – will be getting what he/she wants. Worse still, the other party will be constantly yearning to move the friendship on, constantly hoping for something else and cannot do anything about it, perhaps wanting to hug them, embrace them and love them, but have to keep their distance. That can be sheer torture and causes a lot of negative feelings and unnecessary anxiety. In short, one person will always have to be hiding their true feelings and treading on eggshells to keep the ‘friendship’ going. 

That is not a healthy way to live. The longer this goes on, the more anxious and inadequate one party will feel, as they are denied attention and affection, and the more stress there is likely to be between the couple, especially if any pressure is being put on the other person to change the relationship to a more intimate one.

3. You cannot mix sex and real friendship. Genuine friendship is a platonic state where we like that person without intimacy because we are attracted to them in a supportive rather than a sexual way. The best friendship between couples who share attraction usually comes when the sexual attraction has worn off, or has been addressed, and the two people now understand each other more, can value each other because of what they have experienced together and view each other from a position of mutual strength and respect. Once there is sexual attraction, that will dominate the friendship until it is sorted. Hence one cannot have a one-sided friendship where someone is really attracted to the other person intimately, yet they just want to be ‘friends’. No kind of real friendship can result from that mismatch. One person is simply being used for the other person’s benefit.

4. Most important, while the couple are concentrating on being ‘friends’, one of them is missing the opportunity to find their true date or mate. They could have been using that time to be available to someone else who genuinely fancies them, instead of hanging around a person who doesn’t. Not only that, they will feel very crappy and excluded when the so called ‘friend’ then fancies someone else and they are supposed to accept it readily without a murmur. That is usually the worst part of the deal: seeing the ‘friend’ going after others while the other party has to simply watch, grin and bear it, and say nothing.

Be clear about your friendships so that the boundaries do not blur. Be friends with someone you fancy, by all means, but only when you have found a partner, too, and they can see that friendship means just that – a platonic association – to both of you. You’ll then be befriending that person on your terms, too, instead of just being a puppet to theirs.

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Today’s Thought: How Much Do You Know Yourself?

Knowing yourself is crucial to the quality of your life, as it prevents ambiguity in your choices, and disappointments in your expectations. For example, when it comes to choosing a date, some people may say they want ‘an independent-thinking, self-directed partner, who is successful in his own career’. In reality, they want someone who will take care of them or be the parent they never had. After all, when we love someone, we do not tie that love to the size of their wallet, or expect financial contribution as a condition of our love, precisely because material things can disappear in an instant, as unexpected natural disasters have starkly demonstrated.

We often deceive ourselves, as well as others, in painting that false personal image but, while we can deceive ourselves forever, we can only deceive some of the people some of the time. All too soon, we get found out, and most likely when we least expect it. Just be yourself, warts and all. Being yourself is usually the most attractive part of you! You simply emphasise that uniqueness.

The person for you will be the one who accepts you fully. The minute someone new starts to tell you how you should dress, for example, it is a short step from dictating your life in other ways, making you over into their ideal, not accepting you as you are. If you know who you are, you will wish to be that person, not a caricature of someone else’s dream.


Premium: How Do I Get a Date to Call Me Back?

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Photo by Hannah Wei

Well….er…you don’t! You tell him to ‘take a hike’ instead, and wave him on briskly.

If you give your number to someone, or you call them at least once and they are not quick to return that call, they are simply not interested, or their ego requires you to do the running to make them feel good, and more of a priority than you are. They are probably just enjoying the attention. Either way, it is not in your interest.

The point I am trying to make here is that no self-respecting person should aim to ‘get’ a guy to return their call. He either WANTS to return that call or he can get lost. That’s the attitude one should develop when one is seeking a genuine relationship with another. It MUST be entirely mutual, otherwise it is doomed from the beginning.

There are five main reasons why someone would not return a person’s calls.

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Premium: The Single Biggest Killer of Relationships

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Image by Gerd Altmann

So you see the someone you fancy across the room at an event. You edge nervously towards him/her, wanting to make that crucial impression. You finally make the connection, and feel really happy. You punch the air with joy. A few weeks .. or even years .. later, everything stops in its tracks and you can’t understand it. End of beautiful romance, or marriage.

And what killed it, you wonder?

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I’ve Had Five Breakups That Have Shaken My Confidence. I’m Only 25 Years Old. What Next?

Photo by Mark Pan4ratte

Without knowing details of the background situation, any reply can only be in generalised terms which should hopefully be of some value.

If you are 25 with five break ups behind you, when most people would have maybe two or none, you need to be asking yourself certain questions, because the PATTERN of behaviour in this case would be important.

For example,

  • Who is doing the breaking up, you or the dates?
  • What are you (or they) expecting that you’re not getting?
  • Why are your relationships so short-lived?
  • Are you rushing into relationships without really taking time out in between them to examine why each one fell by the wayside?

There is always a reason for a breakup, and unless you identify it, address it, and learn from it, you will be none the wiser for it. Moreover, you will be destined to repeat the same pattern of approach over and over and over. Once you start asking yourself certain straight and honest questions, and answer them truthfully, a pattern of behaviour will emerge for your relationships. If you are the one, for example, who is usually wanting the break, or your partners want the break, it is saying a lot about the non-fulfilment of expectations between you.

Or it could be that you love the thrill of dating, the initial rush of adrenaline in the attention you are getting, then begin to get bored later on when things settle down into a predictable routine, or the date hasn’t lived up to your expectations. Some people like the idea of falling in love, or a potential new romance developing, without the responsibility, or stickability, to allow it to progress for any length of time.

Again, people often go into relationships with a perceived perfect ideal partner, or friendship, expecting too much from the other person. They become disillusioned soon afterwards, and then break it off to continue seeking that elusive perfection, while repeating the same mistakes in the next relationship, and so on, because they are inclined to believe that the fault lies in the people they meet, and not themselves. They avoid examining themselves, and why things did not go plan, and then take he same futile expectations on the next step of their journey with someone else.

Sadly, this just leads to the same results in a never ending journey of hurt and, pain, and reduced trust and confidence.

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