5 Signs Your Innocent Friendship Has Turned Into a Full-Blown Emotional Affair

Emotional affairs often begin as non-sexual friendships.

What is an emotional affair? How did your innocent flirting with someone you claim to be just good friends with turn into emotional cheating and infidelity?

I cannot count how many couples have come into my office with their relationships in shambles — with one spouse saying that their partner had an affair, with the other denying an affair occurred often proclaiming that they are “just really good friends” and that they “never had sex”.

So…was it an emotional affair?

In a monogamous relationship, people share both emotional and sexual information that is exclusive to their partners. They expose their weaknesses, mistakes, and innermost feelings.

We build trust with the other person because we make ourselves vulnerable. These conversations are valued and treasured by us because we know this information is reserved for us and only we have access to these aspects of our partner.

Emotional affairs often begin as non-sexual friendships. We confide in our friends perhaps because we feel our partner lacks understanding or they are unavailable.

This is particularly common with couples where one or both partners is a busy executive. When we lack access to our mate and need an outlet to talk to, we turn to our friends. And there is the always available social media, where platonic relationships can easily take root as deep and emotional friendships.

One important point here is that a majority of the emotional affairs begin as harmless friendships without any intention or plan to develop the relationship beyond that of a platonic friendship.

Unfortunately, we all have limited time, energy, and emotional resources available — and when these finite commodities are expended on the “friendship” rather than your partner relationship, there is a disconnection where the partner has cheated, emotionally.

The emotional affair is one where a person falls in love with another person but the relationship is not sealed with a sexual act. Over time, if the emotional affair continues (perhaps you flirt without realizing), it often leads to a sexual affair.

Emotional affairs can be devastating and destructive to your current relationship and family. In fact, emotional affairs can cause as much (or more) damage as physical affairs, but be more devious since they are less obvious.

Why? Because it leads to secrecy, deception, and is established primarily to gain an emotional high or to run away from negative experiences within the actual marriage itself.

One of my clients recounts, “I was so much more shattered by my husband finding solace and love with her. I could have more easily forgiven a one night stand because she wouldn’t have meant anything to him but as an object for sex.”

When someone falls in love and seeks such intimacy with that other person, when the time spent with the partner is superficial because their heart longs to be with someone else, the underlying trust is shaken.

Casual flirting or a crush don’t even begin to cover the irreparable damage such kind of “affairs” cause.

So, are you having an emotional affair or are you just friends? Are you on the path to an affair, even though nothing has physically escalated…yet?

Here are 5 signs you’re having an emotional affair (and you need to stop).

1. You have conversations you’re not too comfortable with your spouse knowing about

Do you find yourself hiding your phone (or getting a separate one), making sure your email and phone passwords are secret? Maybe you’re thinking “I’m glad my partner isn’t (reading, watching, finding) this (call, text, picture).”

These are signals the “friendship” boundaries have already been crossed.

2. You find yourself daydreaming or making plans with this person

Examine your mindshare. Does this person occupy your thoughts unceasingly? Are they on your mind when you go to sleep, when you awake in the morning and during most of the day? Whenever you are alone, do you think about them and seek opportunities to speak with them?

In a way, you begin to idealize this person. You may become more discontent with your partner and share concerns and problems with your friend while becoming more distant with your spouse. At times, you may even have disappointment that your spouse doesn’t do things like your friend does.

You, then, begin to find faults in your spouse for habits, beliefs, or approaches to situations that were never an issue and have always been present in the relationship.

Your tolerance for your mate is then less and they begin to irritate you leading to the belief that this person understands much better you’re your spouse ever did or could.

If you find yourself feeling more connected to your friend rather than your own spouse, then clearly some changes need to be made.

3. You’ve lost interest in being intimate with your spouse

It is a fallacy you think that affairs begin in the bedroom. Affairs actually begin in the mind.

First, emotional involvement often leads to our seeing our friend as having few, if any, flaws. This leads to our partner’s flaws becoming considerably more obvious leading to our being critical of our spouse and their habits and mentally comparing them to our friend.

While looking your best for work or going out is not an issue, the action of doing so for a specific person is entirely different. The action of being visually attractive to another person begins in the mind.

Expending considerable emotional energy and thought into dressing up for a friend is a signal that the relationship has a deeper meaning than that of traditional friendship.

Once you dress the part do you let your imagination play out romantic fantasies about your friend? Daydreaming and planning a new life with our friend is often a next step in the progression of an emotional affair.

This mental scenario with our friend is beginning to evolve into a relationship that we feel would be far superior to that of our partner. Directing your energy into cultivating a fantasy is not far from the fantasy transforming into a reality.

4. You’re spending less time with your spouse

Are you spending less time with your mate since the relationship with your friend has become a more significant part of your life? Are you are sharing personal problems, feelings, and thoughts with your friend instead of your partner?

Do you create ways to talk with or be alone with your friend? Do you stage opportunities where it is probable you will run into your friend and then the opportunity to speak with them appears organic? Do you find excuses to talk with them?

Whenever you have something exciting in your life or anything good or bad happens, do you rush to this person to share?

Whether it is communication, your daily life stuff, affection, thoughts, time or focus, does your spouse get less of your mind share while your friend gets more?

While there is nothing wrong with having a good friend, the problem comes when you begin to share less with your mate.

If everything that you used to give to your partner has become considerably less or completely transferred to this new person these are warning signs that an emotional affair is in the works.

5. You keep secrets and lie

Are you keeping the friendship with the other person a secret? Do you minimize the amount of time you spend with your friend to others? Do you omit details about meetings, private lunches or phone calls?

Do you guard passwords, access to your phone and social media accounts from being seen by your partner? Do you delete evidence from your phone, lie about your whereabouts or deny having communication with your friend?

These are also hallmarks of an emotional affair.

Now that you’ve realized that you’re on the brink of an affair without meaning to, what should you do next?

It is important to remember that even when such affairs do not cross the line and reach the physical stage, the impact is equally damaging and could put your marriage in a danger zone.

The intimacy and chemistry that is the core of an emotional affair have a deeper emotional intensity because you happen to be emotionally invested in it.

An emotional affair is bad, it can slowly disconnect you from your partner and you won’t even realize it. If you have such kind of friendship with the opposite sex, cut the relationship ASAP. Otherwise, it will take you down the road of a physical affair very soon.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

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What Is Glamboozling? This Dating Trend Is Unbelievably Annoying

I kind of like saying the word, Glamboozle…

With all of the wacky dating trends that happen in the world, I feel like I’ll never run out of material for this blog!

It sucks being all dressed up with nowhere to go. But do you know what sucks worse? Getting all dressed up with the intention of going somewhere, only to have your date cancel at the last minute. If this has ever happened to you, then I’m sorry to say you’ve been subject to a dating trend called glamboozling. Glamboozling means that you’ve blown out your hair, given yourself a mani, and even spent 30 minutes perfecting your winged eyeliner only for your date to send a text saying, “Sry. Can’t make it tonight.” And honestly, I can think of few things worse than wasting a great cat eye because of an unreliable date.

According to Plenty of Fish, a staggering 58% of singles have been glamboozled. As Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist, previously told Elite Daily, canceling plans on the day of should only be done if you have a really valid excuse — and if you don’t have one, then your date deserves more notice. “[You] should have a good reason to cancel a date last-minute, because otherwise, that’s just rude and inconsiderate,” she said. And not only does flaking on a date pose an inconvenience — it’s also a terrible waste of makeup.

Glamboozling is a new dating trend
Ashley Corbin-Teich/Image Source/Getty Images

Luckily, if you want to avoid being glamboozled, there are a few signs that indicate your date is likely to cancel. According to Julia Armet, Head of Matchmaking at Tawkify, if your date has already postponed your meet-up once, there’s a good chance they’ll do it again. “Avoidant types have trouble solidifying plans,” Armet previously told Elite Daily. “Interestingly, you’ll also see the same ‘postponement’ mentality in people who have commitment issues. That can emerge deeper into relationships. Odds would say for these types: they’ll flake on you.” So basically, you shouldn’t get dressed up in your best outfit if the person taking you out has asked for a rain check in the past.

Another sign your date is probably going to flake: They’re difficult to get a hold of the day of the date. If you haven’t heard from them at least an hour before your date, then you might want to wait before curling your eyelashes. And if you want to make sure you’re not stood up, Armet suggested texting or calling your date ahead of time to make sure they’re still on board.

Glamboozling is a new dating trend
visualspace/E+/Getty Images

Of course, the reason glamboozling stings so bad doesn’t just have to do with wasting a good hair day. As Dr. Alexandra Solomon, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, previously told Elite Daily, when a date cancels on you, it can ignite feelings of vulnerability, whether it’s your first date or your 100th date with someone. You might feel as though your date doesn’t value your time or prioritize your relationship, no matter how serious that relationship may be, and that’s not a great feeling.

My advice: If you’re glamboozled, find an opportunity to show off your outfit anyway. Rather than sulking, the best way to beat this dating trend is to call up a friend and make other plans. You can’t always prevent a date from being canceled last minute, but you can decide how you’re going to react.

 

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10 Things Deep Women Will Never Tolerate In A Relationship

Deep women are strong women.

They know their worth. Besides, they know exactly what they want and what to avoid in a relationship.

The bar is raised high, so if you are in love with a deep woman, here are the 10 things she would never tolerate in a relationship.

1. Disrespect is unforgivable

If at any point you make a deep woman feel like her time isn’t valuable for you, or she is not your top priority, you can kiss her and your relationship goodbye. These women know exactly what they’re made of, and they don’t need anyone who doesn’t appreciate them the way they should. They know they deserve better. Most importantly, they know how to get better.

2. Empty excuses never work with a deep woman

Just take responsibility when you’re wrong. A deep woman will never tolerate empty made-up excuses. It’s much better to admit it was your fault, and to apologize than to twist the story and think of fake pretexts. Deep women are intelligent, they know how to spot a fake excuse, so don’t bother.

3. Deep women hate being controlled

You can’t try to stop a deep woman from being herself. Neither you can control her. When you are in a relationship with her, it doesn’t mean she’s yours. She is not a trophy you put on the nightstand. If she wants to do something, she will, regardless of your actions against it. Moreover, if a deep woman feels like you’re taking her freedom away, you are probably going to be history in no time.

4. Lying and cheating disgust deep women

It’s simple – don’t lie. Deep women can easily recognize when someone is lying to them, especially if this someone is their partner. You need to be open and honest with a deep woman. Otherwise, you won’t even have a chance with her. As for cheating, it shouldn’t even cross your mind. Some girls might forgive you after finding out you’ve had an affair. But not this one. She knows she has better things coming her way. A cheater is not worth her time.

5. Don’t waste her time if you’re not sure how you feel about her

You either get in or get gone. If you get gone, then stay gone. A deep woman doesn’t need someone who isn’t sure of her. If you haven’t made your mind about your feelings for her, better don’t while away her time. She is not going to wait around for you to decide whether you love her or not.

6. Never hold a deep woman back from her dreams

Deep women are ambitious and visionary. They know what they’re capable of and they already have a plan to achieve everything they want in life. As a partner of a deep woman, your job is to support her and stand by her as she becomes the incredible woman she is destined to be. Holding her back from her dreams won’t do any good for you. If you can’t provide the support she needs, better leave her alone.

7. Don’t even think of manipulating a deep woman

It’s difficult enough to outsmart a deep woman. Manipulating her would definitely be a tough task. In case you somehow trick her into doing things or going places, she will quickly see through your intentions.  Your mind-games won’t last long, so better don’t even think of starting them.

8. Deep women don’t accept emotional abuse

These powerful women can spot a toxic person in just a few minutes. They will not stand for someone with emotional abusive behavior. The minute they sense such a destructive attitude, they will do anything to make sure they never see or speak to that person again.

9. Never neglect a deep woman

If you are in a relationship with a deep woman, she needs to feel like she is always your first choice. Maybe so far work came first in your life but now you better rearrange your priorities. She knows her time is priceless. If you dare to neglect her, she won’t bother waiting for your attention anymore.

10. Deep women don’t settle

A deep woman’s fire soul wouldn’t let her settle for no less than she deserves. She knows what she needs and what she can offer. Anything less than that just isn’t worth her time and attention. This may sound a bit selfish at first. However, it means that deep women are aware of how valuable and strong-willed they are, and this helps them get rid of any negative energy in their life. It’s not selfish, it’s genius.

Deep women are focused on their goals and they know how to get there.

It would take less than a split second for them to spot who is good for them, and who simply isn’t worth it.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

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How Each Zodiac Sign Sabotages Their Chances Of Finding Love, According To Astrology

Love like you’ve never been hurt.

Love can really feel like a losing game. There’s no way to truly predict the outcome of a relationship. It’s not even uncommon for people in relationships to be unaware of what they want or think they want, only to realize they don’t actually want it at all.

Let’s say you end up getting the guy and the relationship you want. That doesn’t always mean it’s going to last. There could be a lot of unforeseen obstacles that result in a breakup. Past heartbreak, lack of trust, cheating, and red flags — all can lead to breakups.

We can’t always prevent breakups, but we can always learn from them. Unfortunately, each zodiac sign in astrology can sabotage their chances of finding lasting love.

Rather than asking yourself, “Will I ever find love?” don’t look at your past breakups as failures. Instead, look at them as experiences that are bringing you one step closer to learning what you want and deserve in a relationship.

Breakups make us aware of how we can become better partners in our next relationship. When we are aware of the characteristics we have that sabotage our love lives, we can start to improve upon them. Awareness is the key to having a better love life.

When you’re aware of your faults, don’t beat yourself up. Everyone makes stupid decisions when they’re blinded by love, so work towards not allowing your past mistakes to occur in your future partnerships.

If you’ve ever wondered if your zodiac sign plays a factor at the end of your relationship, it’s important to look at zodiac compatibility. Astrological compatibility is a good indicator of the likelihood your relationship will succeed.

ARIES (March 21 – April 19)

Aries want what they want — and they want it now. Compromise and patience are not their strong suits. In a relationship, these two factors are vital to its longevity. A relationship works around the needs and wants of two people, not just Aries. This “me first” mentality sabotages the whole relationship.

Aries needs to learn how to manage their anger. They cannot get upset with their partners over the smallest things. Erratic spells of anger can make the other partner feel unsafe because they are never certain how far Aries’ anger could escalate. This creates an unsafe environment.

TAURUS (April 20 – May 20)

Taurus can be very possessive in a relationship. They need to understand that they don’t own their partners. Their partner is a person, not an object. Both partners are individuals, even if they are in a committed relationship. Taurus’ possessive nature makes their partner feel trapped.

The jealousy that comes with the objectification of a partner never ends well. Too much jealousy is not a good thing in a relationship. Taurus’ partner will feel as though their partner doesn’t trust them.

GEMINI (May 21 – June 20)

Geminis can be really co-dependent. These social beautifies love to be in the company of others and enjoy being the center of attention. It’s great to spend quality time with your significant other, but you both should have your own lives. Gemini’s partner might feel smothered if they constantly want to hang out.

Geminis are extremely loyal, so if their partner isn’t the same, this will definitely cause a problem. They want to belive their partner is just as loyal as them. Any instances of disloyalty will cause Gemini to question their partner and the relationship, and they won’t be able to trust their partner after.

CANCER (June 21 – July 22)

Cancer’s manipulative characteristics ruin relationships for them. No one wants to feel as though their partner is pulling wool over their eyes. This will cause Cancer’s partner to question everything they say. The lack of trust that results from Cancer’s manipulation is the reason for the end of a relationship.

People want to feel that their partner has their best interest at heart. Cancer tends to have their own best interest at heart and often takes on the victim role. They don’t take responsibility for their wrongdoings.

LEO (July 23 – August 22)

Leos have very strong personalities. Their assertiveness can really be a turn-off because they don’t want to compromise. Leo’s confidence can turn into cockiness very fast, where they aren’t willing to hear their partner out or consider their opinions.

Leos like things to go their way. When they don’t, it doesn’t go well with them. They are stubborn people who don’t want to change their minds. Trying to get a Leo to try something that makes them uncomfortable is almost impossible.

VIRGO (August 23 – September 22)

Virgos are complete perfectionists. They want everything to go as planned. When it comes to relationships, things are hardly ever perfect. People make mistakes, so Virgo’s need for perfection can cause unnecessary conflicts. If they want their relationship to last they have to stop being so analytical.

Since Virgo is a perfectionist, they can be very critical of their partner. Being overly critical makes their partner feel self-conscious and not good enough. Virgo’s judgment is what makes it hard for them to have successful relationships.

LIBRA (September 23 – October 22)

Libra’s indecision can ruin relationships because they might not be sure how serious or chill they want the relationship to be. Mixed signals can be cute for a little bit, but they don’t sustain long-term relationships. Knowing where you stand defines the relationship’s tone, and Libra’s inability to make a choice can potentially cause them to lose great partners.

Libra’s struggle to open up also makes their partner feel distant. They never want to express their true emotions to maintain the harmony of the environment. Their obsessive need for balance can be the very cause of the demise of their relationship.

SCORPIO (October 23 – November 21)

Scorpios are very independent. They want to solve everything on their own. This can make their partner feel as if they don’t want them to truly be part of their lives. Scorpios struggle with making their partners feel unneeded. No one wants to be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t make them feel wanted.

Since Scorpio is also secretive, they don’t want to share their business or be vulnerable. Part of being in a relationship is being able to share your life with someone, and this zodiac sign struggles with making room for their partner.

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 – December 21)

Sagittarius overthink way too much, and overthinking kills relationships. Overthinking makes you come up with problems that don’t even exist or causes you to think the smallest problems are unsolvable. Sagittarius tend to stress themselves out over non-existent problems, which creates problems with their partner.

Sagittarius’ need to know everything doesn’t help a relationship either. People don’t want to feel forced into opening up, so Sagittarius has to learn how to allow people to open up on their own terms.

CAPRICORN (December 22 – January 19)

An important aspect of a relationship is forgiveness. You have to be willing to “forgive and forget” the wrongdoings of your partner. Unfortunately, Capricorns are not even close to being the most forgiving zodiac sign. When they get hurt by their partner, they don’t speak up to solve the problem. Instead, Capricorn acts as if nothing is wrong and continue to harbor resentment towards their partner.

When Capricorn bottles up all their emotions, this results in them not being able to be vulnerable with their partner, which makes them come off as distant. Emotional distance in a relationship is seldom good because your partner should be the first person you call when you’re at your highest and lowest moments. Capricorn’s partner will feel this emotional rift and start to feel inadequate.

AQUARIUS (January 20 – February 18)

Aquarius are not ones to express their feelings. They would much rather look at things from a logical perspective. Having a partner who can see things for what they truly are is great, but if they’re always thinking with their heads, they won’t be as sympathetic.

It’s hard for an Aquarius partner to relate to the emotional hardships their partner is dealing with because they’ll approach everything with logic. Sometimes when your partner tells you something, they just want to know that you hear and understand them. A solution isn’t always needed.

Aquarians aren’t much of commitment people either. They would much rather enjoy the freedom that comes from their independence, than feel trapped in a relationship. Aquarius can be perceived as detached in romantic relationships because they put their needs first.

PISCES (February 19 – March 20)

Pieces tend to come off as overly emotional. As you can imagine, that’s a turn-off for a lot of people. No one wants a significant other who cries because their ice cream cone fell or who can’t take constructive criticism.

In a relationship, it’s inevitable that your partner will do stuff that upsets you, and the only way to fix that is to say something about it. But when you’re dating a Pisces, it’s so much more difficult to be transparent about your dislikes because you’re worried about your feelings.

Pisces being overly sensitive makes their partner feel as though they have to walk around on eggshells. No one wants to have to tip-toe around tough topics with their significant other out of fear of them overreacting. This will definitely cause an emotional rift in the relationship if not resolved.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy my new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

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I’m a ‘sugar baby’ who gets paid $500 per date – here’s what it’s really like to date sugar daddies and get cash, gifts, and 5-star hotel stays

  • A freelance writer in her early 30s is sharing her experience as a “sugar baby.”
  • The writer, who has been granted anonymity to protect her identity, said sugar daddies pay her upwards of $500 for a date with her.
  • She also receives gifts like shoes and clothing, trips across the US, and access to five-star hotels and fancy restaurants.
  • Read on for a firsthand look at what it’s like to be a sugar baby, from the way she vets potential sugar daddies to how she spots a scammer online.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Six months ago, I decided to become a sugar baby.

My reasoning was simple. I’d grown frustrated with dating men in my city — maybe I’d just had one too many Tinder dates end in mediocre conversation. My day job offers me control over my schedule, since I don’t work a traditional 9-to-5. I wanted to supplement my income and have some fun doing it, so I decided to try finding a sugar daddy.

For the uninitiated, “sugaring” is a form of dating in which one partner financially supports the other, often in the form of cash or gifts. As a woman in a major city with an appreciation for societal deviance, I figured the lifestyle might suit me well.

Whether it was exhaustion of millennial swiping, or maybe the thrill of experiencing life outside my usual means, I found myself creating a profile on the primary website for sugaring connections — SeekingArrangement.

In the half-year since then, I’ve met some highly interesting people — not to mention I’ve received thousands of dollars in cash, trips across the country, access to five-star hotels and restaurants, and expensive gifts like shoes and clothing I never could have ordinarily afforded.

Read on for a firsthand look at what it’s really like to be a sugar baby.

Before I found my first sugar daddy, I needed an idea of why I was sugaring

Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Like with regular dating, if you dive into the sugaring lifestyle without an idea of what you want, you’re likely to be disappointed.

Do you want a cash allowance, and do you have a set amount in mind? Is it certain bills you want covered? Do you want gifts, shopping, and travel? Having a clear idea of what kind of “sugar,” or exchange, you want for the relationship is key.

How about the actual dating part — do you like dating older men? Because sugar daddies tend to be older than the women they date. How much time do you want to spend with your sugar daddy? And does your current lifestyle give you the freedom to do so?

In my short time as a sugar baby so far, men have paid me $500 per date and bought me designer clothes, $400 dinners, and stays at 5-star hotels I could never afford on my own

Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock

In the six months since I became a sugar baby, I’ve started relationships with men who pay me $500 per date and have purchased me shoes and outfits from designers I could never afford on my own. I dined at restaurants where the bill was $400, and we’d still leave hungry. I spent weekends tucked away in five-star hotels, lazily ordering room service with cringeworthy markups.

While I enjoy expensive dinners and staying in fancy hotels, ultimately I was searching for a friendly relationship that provides a cash allowance. Some men don’t wish to provide an allowance, and I avoid meeting and dating those men, often called “experience daddies.”

It’s worth noting you should never become a sugar baby just for the money

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

If you’re considering sugar dating solely for the money, it will be much more stressful, since it’ll become a second job.

Sugar dating amplifies the faults of regular, or “vanilla,” dating. You may receive messages from, go on first dates with, and be ghosted by far more men than in vanilla dating. And it’s a bad idea to depend on sugar as a primary source of income, because there’s never really any guarantee of stability.

Additionally, financial desperation makes you vulnerable to malicious men who have no intentions to provide sugar, or it might influence you to date men you otherwise wouldn’t consider having a relationship with.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

Buy my new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

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Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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If Your Partner Is Really In Love, They’ll Never Do These 15 Small Things

When you’re happily in love, it’s so easy to miss signs that your partner isn’t exactly on the same page. While things like name calling and cheating are obvious red flags, it’s the little things you should pay attention to. Because according to experts, the small things can clue you in to how in love your partner really is.

“The reason why it’s so important to watch out for these seemingly small things is for the sake of kindness,” Julia McCurley, Professional Matchmaker and founder of Something More, tells Bustle. “Kindness, along with emotional stability, is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage.”

Small gestures of kindness are what make people feel cared for, understood, validated, and loved in a relationship. “Maybe you are OK with taking an Uber to the airport,” McCurley says. “But if it’s important for your partner to have you drive them, then you’re spending $100 of your time to make them feel like a million bucks.”

Although kind gestures are great and can make you feel loved, you don’t want to overlook the small signs of disrespect either. So if you’re curious about how your partner truly feels about you, here are some small things they likely won’t do if they love you, according to experts.

1. Say No To Driving You To The Airport

Ashley Batz/Bustle

In a true partnership, McCurley says both people should consider their partner a top priority. That means your partner should always be there to support you and try to meet your needs. If your partner really loves you, they won’t flat out refuse favors, like taking you to the airport, without a legitimately good excuse. If something is important to you, then your partner should find it important too, she says. “No questions asked.”

2. Tell You When They Think Someone Else Is Attractive, Even If You Feel Uncomfortable

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

There’s nothing wrong with finding other people attractive and talking about celebrity crushes once and a while. But if your partner actively comments on how attractive your friend, their friend or the server is when it makes you uncomfortable, they’re likely not thinking about your feelings. “When we’re in love, we tend to have tunnel vision for the person we’re with,” Amica Graber, a relationship expert with TruthFinder, tells us. “If the eyes are wandering, it’s a bad sign.”

3. Pick Petty Fights With You Regularly

Ashley Batz/Bustle

One petty fight may not make a huge impact on your relationship. But over time, “frequent fighting can take a serious toll on your relationship,” Graber says. These little fights over why someone didn’t do this or why someone always does that can really add up. If your partner constantly finds ways to argue with you over the smallest things, there may be a deeper reason behind it.

4. Forget The Details

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

When we’re in love, Graber says it’s a lot easier to remember the details about someone like the color of their eyes, the names of their siblings, or their favorite pizza toppings. “But if someone can’t remember any of the little details about you, they may not be 100 percent invested,” she says.

5. Air Your Issues Out In Public

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

You may do something that frustrates your partner, but that is no excuse for them to be putting you down in front of other people. “If you’re having a dispute about something, a loving partner will discuss it with you privately, and not in front of your friends,” Graber says. That means no passive aggressive social media posts either.

6. Criticize Your Lifestyle Choices

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“Encouraging a healthy lifestyle is part of loving someone,” life coach Rebekah Storm, tells us. After all, when you love someone you’ll obviously want them to live a long and healthy life. But that doesn’t mean anyone should be criticizing what someone eats, drinks, or does to stay healthy. A partner who loves you will never make you feel bad for the choices you make in your life. According to Storm, shaming in any way is a sign of someone trying to feel superior, which can mean they feel insecure.

7. Compare You To Other People

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

A partner who truly loves you won’t compare you to anyone else. Even seemingly positive comparison like, “You’re way better than my ex,” can be problematic. “Someone who loves you will not be thinking about ways you measure up against other people,” Storm says. You exist independently of anyone they know or have known in the past, and creating a comparison may show your partner’s mind is partially elsewhere.

8. Lie To Avoid Hurting Your Feelings

Ashley Batz/Bustle

“A partner who loves you will respect you enough to be honest, even when it might hurt a little,” Storm says. When you ask your partner for their honest opinion, you should be able to trust that they’re telling the truth and not just what you want to hear. Even though the truth is not always easy to tell, trust is important in a loving relationship.

9. Keep You A Secret

Ashley Batz/Bustle

“In my experience, partners who have never truly loved me have actively hidden me from their social media,” relationship expert and writer, Gina Daniel, tells us. “If someone loves you enough to want to be with you, they should at least let people know you are involved, even if it’s just at your request.” It isn’t “needy” or unreasonable for you to want to feel like your partner is proud to be with you. Even if your partner likes to keep it fairly private online, Daniel says they should still respect your desire to be seen with you, and you both can compromise to figure out what form that will take.

10. Be Too Busy If You Really Need Them

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“If your partner loves you, they’re going to be there for you no matter what,” Bethany Ricciardi, relationship expert with TooTimid, tells us. Someone who truly cares about you and wants you to be part of their life will never be too “busy” to be there for you. “Don’t think just because they missed a call while at work that they don’t love you,” Ricciardi says. “You have to be respectful to their time and boundaries too.” They don’t need to drop whatever they’re doing to be with you at any given time. But if you feel like you can truly count on them during your time of need, you have a keeper.

11. Discourage You

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

“They might be realistic with you, and give an honest opinion about how they feel when it comes to what you’re doing, but they’ll never try and break your confidence,” Ricciardi says. A person who loves you may challenge you in order to help you grow, but they’ll always be your biggest cheerleader.

12. Say Things That Put You Down

Ashley Batz/Bustle

When you’re super close to someone, it’s easy to make a critique “out of love.” But as Ricciardi says, a partner who’s truly in love will appreciate you for who you are. They wouldn’t want you to change yourself because that’s who they fell in love with.

13. Make You Feel Alone

Ashley Batz/Bustle

“Surprisingly enough, many individuals feel like they’re in a relationship by themselves,” Ricciardi says. “If your partner cares about you, they’re going to make sure you’re drowning in their love.” They’ll make the effort to check in with you on a regular basis and you’ll never be left wondering when they’re finally going to see you. In short, they’ll be putting in the effort.

14. Monopolize Your Time

Ashley Batz/Bustle

If you’re in a healthy relationship, there’s room in your life for the other important people you love like your family and friends. “If your partner loves you, they won’t try and keep you to themselves,” Ricciardi says. “They’ll want to be happy in and outside of the relationship.” They might miss you when you’re spending time apart, but they’ll never try to make you feel bad about spending time with other people.

15. Make You Feel Like An Inconvenience

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

If someone loves you, they won’t you feel like you’re “just another chore getting checked off the list,” Ricciardi says. When you’re with them, they’ll be present. They won’t be scrolling through their phone or thinking about other things. They’ll be with you, 100 percent because they genuinely enjoy spending time with you.

When it comes to your relationship, the small things are extremely important to pay attention to. It’s the everyday stuff that makes up your relationship. If you can say that your partner doesn’t do any of these things, you can be sure they really do love you.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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7 Signs Your Relationship Won’t Last After The First 3 Months Of Dating

It’s so easy to get swept up in the rush of lovey-dovey feelings you get from dating someone new. But according to experts, it’s pretty important to stay grounded during the first three months of dating. Because as amazing as those new love feels are, those first 90 days can determine whether or not your new relationship is the real thing or has an expiration date.

“The three month-mark in a relationship is usually when you either take the relationship to the next level and become more serious, or you decide that love isn’t going to grow and you break ties,” dating coach, Anna Morgenstern, tells Bustle.

Although every relationship differs, three months is considered to be the average length of the first stage of a relationship. According to psychotherapist and relationship coach, Toni Coleman, LCSW, you should be ideally making that transition from “casually dating” to “exclusive” around that time. But again, this varies depending on how much time you actually spend together and how much distance is between you two.

According to Coleman, many believe that “losing interest” is the reason behind why some couples can’t seem to make it past three months. But that’s not entirely the case. “It’s not so much losing interest in one another as it is making a decision that this relationship is not one they want to invest more in and deepen,” she says. “They simply don’t feel that the friendship, connection, attraction and interest are strong enough.”

So will your new relationship make it past those crucial first 90 days? According to experts, if your partner hasn’t done these things in that time frame, it may not.

1. Your Partner Can’t Be Consistent With Their Communication

A person who wants a serious relationship with you will be consistent with communication early on.

Shutterstock

At the beginning of a relationship, texting, calling, and messaging typically happen very often. There’s a lot of back and forth flirtation, and you pretty much expect it. But if your partner is no longer predictable or consistent with their communication, Emily Pfannenstiel, licensed professional counselor who specializes in therapy for women, tells Bustle, that’s not a great sign.

“As your relationship progresses, your communication should be too,” Pfannenstiel says. “They should be excited and wanting to talk to you! Playing coy is one thing, but if you feel like they go MIA on you every couple days, that’s not good.” According to her, it may take some time to get used to each other’s communication styles. For instance, one partner might not like texting all day, while the other does. But in the early stages, it’s especially important to check in and show some investment in the new relationship. If you’re unsure of your partner’s level of interest, Pfannenstiel suggests matching the level of communication they give you. If they’re barely communicating, you may need to have a discussion about it.

2. Your Partner Isn’t Their Genuine Self Around You

By the three-month mark, both you and your partner should feel totally comfortable being yourselves around each other. According to Samantha Daniels, dating expert and founder of Samantha’s Table Matchmaking, it’s a time when you stop worrying about scaring your partner off with talks about the future or bringing up issues that need to be discussed.

“You should feel no boundaries when it comes to texting when you feel like it, introducing them to your family, and being mad if they hurt your feelings and saying so,” she says. “The three month mark is when the dating games should be stopping and you can both be your genuine, honest, real true selves.” For some people, it may take a little longer to open up and be truly comfortable. So you may have to be a little patient, depending on how your partner is. But it shouldn’t take any longer than six months for them to be themselves around you.

3. They Don’t Invite You To Hang Out With Their Friends

If someone sees a future with you, they will want you to meet their friends.

Ivanko80/Shutterstock

If your partner starts making more plans with friends and isn’t making the effort to include you, Morgenstern says, that’s an early sign your relationship may not last. When this happens, the tendency is to cling onto the relationship for fear of losing it. You may text them more or request to spend more time together. But as she says, “that is the absolutely worst thing to do.”

Instead, let them be. Maybe they need space to figure out their feelings in order to move forward. “Plan a trip with friends for the weekend and have an amazing time reconnecting with your inner circle. Coming from a place of self love and inner confidence will save your relationship,” Morgenstern says. “And if your partner does break it off, you’ll be setting yourself up to walk away from the relationship as a whole person, not a broken shell of yourself.”

4. Your Partner Doesn’t Find Small Ways To Keep Moving The Relationship Forward

In order to create a well-balanced and healthy dynamic early on, you shouldn’t be initiating everything as your relationship goes on. If your partner’s interest in the relationship isn’t strong enough to take it to the next level, they may take less of an initiative, be less affectionate, and show less physical closeness. In short, there’s going to be distance and you’re going to feel it.

“Couples should want to see each other, especially in the beginning,” Daniels says. “So if you feel that your partner is straying away or they’re coming up with invalid reasons to cancel plans, then this may be a sign they are losing interest.” If this is an issue, you should discuss this with your partner. You can even offer up a plan where you come up with something to do one weekend, and they come up with something to do the next. But if nothing changes and you’re still the only one moving the relationship forward, they may not be as invested as you are.

5. Your Partner Can’t Be A Shoulder To Lean On

If your partner can't be there for you when you're having a bad day, your relationship won't make it after three months.

Shutterstock

If your partner can’t listen to you and be your shoulder to lean on in those first three months, Daniels says your relationship may not make it long-term. You shouldn’t necessarily dump all your deepest and darkest fears on them right away. But if you’re going through something at work or with your family, they should be there to talk and listen to you.

“This kind of thing is what takes your relationship to the next level,” she says. “It establishes a level of trust and strength for both of you to feel comfort when seeking comfort.” If your partner can’t be that for you, that’s not a great sign. The same goes for them choosing to lean on you during tough times. If you’re not the first person they go to when they hear bad news, they need to vent, or they need someone to lean on, they may not see the relationship as something really serious.

6. They Don’t Make Solid Future Plans With You

A partner who sees a future with you will hint at it through the words they use. Even if they aren’t thinking marriage at this point, they may talk about a future trip that they want to take with you or plans for your birthday in a few months. It’s equally important to pay attention to the follow-through. It’s one thing to say that you should go away together for the weekend, and it’s another to actually book everything and hash out the logistics. If your relationship is one that is destined to get stronger, Coleman says you will make solid plans for the future together. For instance, you may not meet their family within those first three months, but you can make plans for it. But if your partner can’t even commit to making dinner plans for next week, that’s not the best sign.

7. They Don’t Make Your Relationship A Priority

If your partner isn't prioritizing the relationship early on, your relationship isn't going to last.

Shutterstock

“There is much more that goes into maintaining a long term partnership; it’s not just be all about lust and pheromones,” Susan McCord, dating coach and talk show host, tells Bustle. “Relationships take work and need to be nurtured.” As you go further along in your relationship, your partner should be putting a good amount of effort into the relationship. The “busy” excuse won’t cut it. If someone wants to be with you, they’ll make time. You will be a priority.

It’s tough to realize that the person you’re dating isn’t putting in enough effort to be in a committed relationship with you. But as Coleman says, “You can’t keep someone interested if they’re not.” Besides, why waste your time and effort trying to make a relationship happen if it’s not meant to?

On the other hand, it’s so easy to get hung up on timelines, especially when you first start dating. There’s no shame in wanting commitment and exclusivity once you’re realized your feelings. But just remember, every relationship is different. For some, life circumstances will only allow them to have two or three dates over the course of three months. For others, getting engaged after three months just feels right. If your relationship is making you feel anxious because you haven’t done this, this, and that, by your third month together, don’t panic just yet. If you and your partner can openly communicate about where things are at and where it’s going, you’re on the right track.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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3 Ways You’re Driving Your Husband To Cheat On You, According To A Former Escort

You might be pushing him towards infidelity.

If you’re worried about your husband cheating on you, whether it’s “micro cheating” or a full-blown affair, then you may not realize that there are behaviors you may be doing that are driving him away — even if he’s cheating on you.

When you’re so busy looking for signs of cheating in your spouse and asking difficult questions like, “Is he cheating on me?” you’re missing out on behavior you could be doing that is distancing and hurting your relationship even worse.

As a former high-end escort, I met many cheating husbands and found myself in unique situations with these men. And surprisingly, some of the more common reasons that men cheated actually began long before they started cheating to begin with.

If you’re worried that you’re married to a cheater, you may be missing some huge red flags in your own behavior that are actually leaving your relationship open to an affair because of your fear.

Here are 3 things women do when they’re afraid their husband is cheating that actually push him away from them:

1. You expect more from him when it comes to communicating (with less room for messing up)

You may often feel jealous or out of control because your man doesn’t communicate with you the way you think he should.

Men can seem dismissive, distracted, and unresponsive, and women may take that to mean you’re being dismissed, you’re unimportant, and you aren’t being heard. None of those feelings build trust and intimacy.

It’s not hard to go from that point to, “He must be hiding something from me,” which makes you insecure in your relationship and concerned that he’s cheating.

This in turn may lead you to lashing out or accusing him of something when you’re angry or upset.

Most men have tunnel vision when on the computer, watching television, or reading … and they are multi-taskers. It’s not because they’re lazy or self-centered; it’s the way their brains are “wired.” This might lead to them seeming dismissive when you talk.

Make sure when you approach him with an issue, you have his undivided attention. A quick, “Hey honey, can I talk to you for a sec?” is typically all it takes.

When you call him, ask if it’s a good time to talk. Don’t assume that he can get into a whole conversation just because he answered.

If he’s busy — especially at work — he may have to interrupt you, which never feels good to either of you … even when it’s for a legitimate reason.

Many men only answer because they see that it’s you and think the call might be urgent. Others may only pick up because they’re afraid of the flack they’ll get if they don’t.

Give him the space to let you know if he talk at that moment.

If you think about it, these are things you’d do with any of your friends, clients, coworkers, your boss, or anyone you were showing consideration to. A simple check of, “Can you talk for a minute?” might save you both a lot of heartache down the line and not leave you open to worries that he’s cheating on you.

2. You take out your insecurities and jealousness on him

Jealousy can also cause double standards in communications. Men shared with me that women were open to talking about everything under the sun, but when it came to sexual needs, they often felt shamed and shut down when they tried to bring up their desires.

For instance, if your man asks you to dress up for him, perhaps put your hair up and dress like a high-powered executive, or even that you wear some sexy yoga gear while you walk around the house, you may be concerned that he’s dressing as someone that he “actually” wants to sleep with or is having an affair/fantasies of cheating with, but this often isn’t the case.

If he’s comfortable enough to ask you to do special sexy things with him, then you’re doing something

By going along with the fantasy (only if you’re OK with what he wants) you have his attention, trust, and sexual energy. Jealousy will only ruin this bond.

3. You’re not actually listening when he speaks to you

Women like to think that they’re the great communicators in relationships, but good communication starts with good listening. Many men I met with as an escort didn’t feel that the women in their lives were good listeners at all.

As a woman, you may tend to personalize ( or make up stories about) what men share instead of just listening.

You may think think if he wants you to participate in a certain activity, then it must mean you aren’t good enough as you are.

If you can take that “it’s all about me” mindset and put it aside, you can learn about your man in every way — not just sexually.

One way to open the lines to deeper communication right away is to admit when you feel jealous without blaming him for how you feel.

Try something like, “When you talk about me dressing up like a businesswoman, I couldn’t help but think you wanted me to dress like someone you’re attracted to at work. As silly as it might sound to you, I felt so jealous!”

Don’t worry about being right or wrong or look for comfort from him. Instead, state your feelings without accusation or looking for him to fix or justify what he said.

You can then start to focus on enjoying that he shared something he finds arousing with . Whether you agree to his fantasy or not, he’ll feel connected to you because you allowed him to be open without judging him.

Don’t let miscommunications and worries about cheating drive a wedge between the two of you.

Although super simple, these potent methods can help you find your peace, keep your power, and bring your man that much closer.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

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If You’re Losing Hope About Finding Love, This Advice Is A Must-Read

As someone who spent the vast majority of her life single, I know how fun it can be. That being said, I also know firsthand what losing hope about finding love can feel like. Spoiler: It’s not great.

For those of you who haven’t been there, let me paint you a picture. You’ve been single for what feels like forever. The last person you met was really great and you even saw a future with them. The two of you continued to see each other for weeks, months, or maybe even years until you mustered up the courage to tell them how you felt. At that point, they offered up some excuse about why they’re not looking for anything serious. This wouldn’t be quite so tragic if this was the first time this ever happened. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here. In fact, different versions of this same story have happened to you so often that you’ve resigned to the idea that maybe you were just destined to be single forever. And that thought can be catastrophically painful. I mean, what’s the next step after you’ve given up on love entirely?

Well, in a recent Reddit AskWomen thread, ladies who have been there share their best advice for getting your groove back when you’re starting to lose faith in love.

Happy woman hiker doing selfie at the top of Reinebringen hike above Reine village in the Lofoten archipelago, travel to Norway

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Treat your body like the temple that it is.

Start working out, eating healthy, getting 8 hours of sleep most nights, bathing daily, brushing your teeth twice a day, start reading a book at least a little every day and join a club for something you’re interested in. Work on you, put your best foot forward. Stop looking for a man and just gobble up the best life has to offer. Men will find you. Don’t settle for the first one unless he fits. Find someone with aspirations, a good kind sense of humor, intelligence, a clear criminal background and a similar take on life as you.

/u/PhyliA_Dobe

(This advice holds true for relationships with people of all genders, as does every other piece of advice in this story!)

Try changing your perspective for what a partner should be.

My dad told me recently, “You don’t look for a soul mate, you look for a teammate”. It completely changed the way I looked at dating.

/u/Latias

Don’t put so much pressure on marriage.

Stop worrying about it. You don’t need to get married, just concentrate on you!

/u/WeeRower

Enjoy life.

Enjoy the f*ck out of your life. For all you know, you get one go on this planet and i for one would feel like i wasn’t doing that justice by being sad about not having a man.

Sure it sucks sometimes. But he’s more likely to come a long if you’re enjoying all that life has to offer. He’s more likely to be compatible with you too.

/u/LokisLocksmith

Outdoor portrait of beautiful happy mixed race biracial African American girl teenager female young woman smiling with perfect teeth wearing a blue hoodie

Shutterstock

Live in the now.

When I was going through that, I just put it in the back of my mind and did what I could to help myself be happy in the moment. I spent a lot of time with my closest friends and worked on developing those relationships.

/u/NinjaShira

Consider your alternative.

I mean I get down about it from time to time, but I do tell myself it’s better than being in a miserable relationship. That is a lot more stressful.

/u/innerjoy2

Become the best possible version of yourself.

Enjoy your own company. Make yourself the most interesting person you know and like doing things by yourself. Because you never know, even if you find a partner, if they will be around for the rest of your life so might as well make the only person you’re guaranteed to have (yourself) fun and awesome.

/u/Alexander_dgreat

Find a hobby.

Hobbies. Hobbies. Hobbies. Then finding social outlets for those hobbies. And everything else just happens on its own.

/u/anzuj

At the end of the day, all you can do is be grateful for the life you have and the people you are surrounded by. Make the most of what you’ve got.

 

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

My new book, Angel with a Broken Wing is now for sale on Amazon!

 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Listen to the Phicklephilly podcast LIVE on Spotify!

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Love is like Cocaine: The Remarkable, Terrifying Neuroscience of Romance – Part 4

Yes, you really are addicted to love.

Addicted to Grief

The emotional responses to a thorny breakup can resemble the responses to the death of a loved one. You feel weighed down by the memories, the longing, the wistful tears, the chest pain and the aching throughout the whole body. Or you are so outraged that you are lucky not to have a semi-automatic weapon. Or you are ready to go on a secret mission aimed at reversing the terrible outcome. It’s no coincidence that breakups can resemble the death of a loved one. When a loved one dies, you grieve. But death is not the only trigger of grief. Grief can occur after any kind of loss: the loss of a job, a limb, a breast, a home, a relationship.

According to the Kübler-Ross model of grief, also known as “The Five Stages of Grief,” first introduced by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her 1969 book,”On Death and Dying,” grief involves five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. After the loss of a loved one, you may first deny that the person is gone, simply refuse to believe it. Once the truth dawns on you, you may feel outraged and attempt to convince the beloved to come back or beg God or the universe’s spirits to reverse their decision. Once you realize things are not going to change, sadness sets in. Over time you may finally accept what happened. These stages need not occur in this order, and each stage may occur several times. The different emotions can also overlap. You may be angry and in a bargaining mode at the same time, or deny what happened and still feel sad. Philosopher Shelley Tremain captured the complexity of grief well when she wrote on her Facebook site, “Today  would have been my father’s eighty-first birthday. Some days, I think time is on my side, that it’s getting easier to live with losing him. Then, it happens. Sometimes, it’s a figure of speech he was fond of, at other times, I am shaving him, or I look in the mirror and see the features of my face that are his, or we are sitting together holding hands. Just sitting there.”

Sometimes it is nearly impossible to let go of grief. When you continue to grieve a loss for a very long time, your condition is called “complicated (or pathological) grief.” The love story of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert is a heartbreakingly beautiful illustration of complicated grief. Alexandrina Victoria was eighteen when she became Queen of England. Her Uncle, King William IV, had no surviving legitimate children. So Victoria became his heir when he died in 1837. When Prince Albert, her first cousin, visited London in 1839, Victoria immediately fell in love with him. Initially Albert had doubts about the relationship, but he eventually fell in love with her too. The couple got married in February 1840. During the next eighteen years Queen Victoria gave birth to nine children. She loved Albert deeply. Albert was not only a dutiful husband and the father of Victoria’s children, he was also Victoria’s political and diplomatic advisor. For twenty-one years they lived happily together. But the bliss came crashing to a halt when Prince Albert died of typhoid at Windsor on December 14, 1861.

Albert’s death completely destroyed Victoria emotionally. She was overwhelmed by grief and refused to show her face in public for the next three years. People began to question her competence, and many attempted to assassinate her. Victoria finally appeared in public but she refused to wear anything but black and mourned her Prince Albert until her own death in 1901. Victoria’s forty-year-long state of mourning earned her the nickname “The Widow of Windsor.” She never again became the happy and cheerful woman she had been when Albert was alive. In preparation for her own death she asked for two items to be in her coffin: one of Albert’s dressing gowns and a lock of his hair.

Complicated grief is so severe that psychiatrists now consider it for inclusion in the psychiatric manual for diagnosing mental disorders. If you have complicated grief, you have been grieving for six months or more. You furthermore satisfy at least five of the following criteria:

  1. You have obsessive thoughts about aspects of the lost relationship or the person you were with.
  2. You spend a significant amount of time every day or almost every day, thinking about your lost relationship or the person you were with.
  3. You have intense emotional pain, sorrow, pangs, or yearnings related to the lost relationship.
  4. You avoid reminders of the loss, because you know that reminders will cause you pain or make you feel uncomfortable.
  5. You have problems accepting the loss of the relationship.
  6. You have frequent dreams that relate to your lost relationship.
  7. You frequently suffer from deep sadness, depression, or anxiety because of the loss.
  8. You are angry or feel a deep sense of injustice in relation to the lost relationship.
  9. You have difficulties trusting others since the relationship ended.
  10. The loss of the relationship makes it difficult for you to find pleasure in social and routine activities.
  11. Your symptoms make it difficult for you to function optimally on your job, as a parent or in a new relationship.

Complicated grief is emotionally and chemically similar to post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, some psychiatrists argue that there is no need to include complicated grief as a separate psychological condition. They are variations on the very same disorder, they say. Posttraumatic stress disorder can occur as the result of any traumatic event. The most common traumatic events discussed in the literature on posttraumatic stress are events of war, terrorist attacks, brutal physical and sexual assaults, and traffic accidents. It is not commonly noted that unexpected breakups and other traumatic relationship events can also lead to posttraumatic stress.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a condition in which you keep reliving the traumatic event— for example, the breakup—avoiding situations that are similar to the one that led to the trauma. You furthermore have difficulties sleeping, you feel angry, you have difficulties focusing, and you suffer from anxiety. To be a clinical case of posttraumatic stress disorder, the symptoms must last more than a month and lead to difficulties functioning socially, on the job, or in other areas of life. Posttraumatic stress disorder is more likely to occur if the adrenaline surge at the time of the event was very intense.

A study published in the May 2008 issue of Neuroimage suggests that complicated grief sometimes occurs because a normal grieving process turns into an addiction. Led by neuroscientist Mary-Frances O’Connor, the team looked at images of the brains of people who satisfied the criteria for complicated grief and people who weren’t grieving and found significantly more activity in the nucleus accumbens of the people with complicated grief. Activity in the nucleus accumbens is associated with addiction.

It may seem strange that you could actually become addicted to emotional pain and a longing for a person who is no longer with you. The researchers suggest that your yearning and sadness may give you some type of pleasure or satisfaction.

Perhaps the turmoil of emotions does really provide some kind of gratification. Perhaps this emotional overflow is addictive. But it is also possible that the increased activity in the nucleus accumbens signifies increased dopamine levels of the sort found in certain anxiety disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The classical case of this disorder is one in which the afflicted is obsessed with thoughts of disease and germs and compulsively washes his or her hands after being near other people or anything that could possibly carry microbes. This disorder is associated with low levels of the mood-enhancing chemical serotonin and fluctuating levels of the motivator chemical dopamine. The low levels of serotonin cause anxiety that involves obsessive, jazzy thinking and the dopamine “reward” motivates the afflicted person to behave in compulsive ways.

As people ruminate obsessively over the events leading up to the loss in complicated grief, the condition may turn out to be similar in this respect to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Low levels of serotonin may trigger obsessive thinking, crippling anxiety, and a visceral yearning for the absent person or the irretrievable relationship. The dopamine response elicited by this kind of obsessive thinking and longing may motivate the grief-stricken person to engage in begging and bargaining and it could also ignite anger fits and a ferocious denial of the loss of the relationship.

 

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