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7 things you should know about your partner before you decide to settle down with them

7 things you should know about your partner before you decide to settle down with them

You should know if they have the same values.

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You should know if they have the same values.
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Pavel Melnyk / Shutterstock
  • We’ve all been guilty of getting swept up in the whirlwind of romance.
  • But there are several things you should know about your partner before you take the plunge and fully commit.
  • Clare Stott, a relationship psychologist from dating app Badoo, told us the seven most important ones.
  • Once you’ve ticked these all off, you’re good to go.

Navigating the dating world is difficult. So when you get the chance to commit to someone you genuinely like, you won’t want to let that go.

But how do you know if you’ve actually found the right person, or you’re just settling?

With so many dating apps, it can be easy to fall into the trap of the “paradox of choice,” where you reject someone amazing out of concern there’s someone else out there who’s even more perfect.

“The paradox of choice causes a lot of people to play the field early on,” relationship psychologist Claire Stott, who is a data analyst at dating app Badoo, told INSIDER. “But I think over a bit of time of dating, and experiencing a lot of different people, you really learn to realise what’s good and what’s not.”

If you need a bit of a helping hand, there are certain topics you should broach with your partner before you decide to stick with them long term. Settling down is a big commitment, and you don’t want to do it with someone who’s wrong for you, or who ends up breaking your heart. Or even worse, with someone who’s right for you, but the timing is off, so you both get hurt.


1. Firstly, ask them: what are they looking for?

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Your plans have to match.
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Flamingo Images / Shutterstock

“You don’t need to ask if they want to go out with you straight away,” said Stott. “But you can say ‘Are you in the market for looking for something?’ or ‘What are you looking for?’ And this gives you an indicator of whether they’re looking for something a bit more than something lighthearted.”

They might be honest and tell you they’re not looking for anything serious – and that’s fine. But they might also say they are willing to settle for the right person, which gives you the indication you’re not wasting your time. It’s either that or finding out later on that you were one of seven other people they were hanging out with.


2. Are they content with life?

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It’s important to know.
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Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

It sounds quite deep for the start of a relationship, when everything is supposed to be fun and carefree. But Stott said it’s a good idea to find out if someone is happy with where they are in their life.

“Because being fairly content is a sign you are at least mentally ready to meet someone and have a relationship with another person,” she said. “And a lot of that comes from, it sounds really cheesy, but loving yourself before you can love someone else. And if you’re meeting someone who’s really upset with their life… it can be a bit of a warning sign they aren’t quite ready to open up their life to a relationship.”

You don’t have to be quite so direct about it. You can ask questions like “Are you happy in your job?” or “Do you feel at home in the city you live in?”

“You can ask these questions which signal whether that person is in a good place and whether you think they might be ready for a relationship,” Stott said.


3. Do they have any major future plans?

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You don’t want them disappearing on you.
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Kerkez/iStock

4. What is their average Sunday like?

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You can tell a lot from this question.
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Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

The way you spend your Sundays can be quite telling. Some people waste away the hours nursing a hangover, whereas others are more “get up and go” types.

“It sounds quite random but you can really get an idea of the person they are,” said Stott, who recommends asking this question early on. “Quite often it’s that proactive versus hungover personality. And although it seems unimportant, it does say a lot about the person… You kind of get a flavour of what that person’s about.”


5. How do they handle stressful situations?

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It’s a good indicator of what to expect.
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VGstockstudio / Shutterstock

“The way someone deals with things that go wrong in their life can be a real indicator of how compatible you might be with them,” Stott said. “And there isn’t a right or wrong way they might be.”

For instance, some people retreat into themselves and need coaxing out by someone who is more in touch with their feelings. If two emotional hermits start dating, it might not be a totally healthy relationship that blossoms.

If you go through something stressful, see how the other person reacts. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but it can be a good gauge for how much help they will be during the tougher things life throws at you. If they are dismissive or don’t seem to care about your troubles, it could be a sign they’re afraid of intimacy, or can’t communicate very well.

“It is hard in the early days because usually everything is rosy and you’re both being your best selves,” said Stott. “But just keep it on the backburner to see if there are any indicators that they might not be compatible with you.”


6. Do they have the same values as you?

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Know your deal breakers.
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CC0 Public Domain

People all have their certain deal breakers. For example, some will not tolerate drug use. Others are intent on not having children. Although it’s hard to get into the big topics at the start of the relationship, you should find out if they have any values that are the total opposite of your own.

“There’s no use screwing yourself over in the long run basically,” said Stott. “People don’t broach it in the right way, [or] they think maybe I’ll change, and they don’t. Then it just becomes an issue later. There are some certain deal breakers that should be brought up early.”


7. What are their friends and family like?

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It’s good to get another opinion.
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santypan / Shutterstock

People aren’t always a mirror image of their friends and family, but in general, you can tell a lot about a person from who they choose to hang out with, and where they came from.

“If you meet someone’s friends and you think they’re the worst people you’ve ever met, it might be a bit of a red flag of what you’re missing of the person,” Stott said. “Is there a side to them I haven’t quite seen yet?”

The same goes for them meeting your friends. While you’re wearing the rose-tinted glasses during the honeymoon period, it can be tempting to dismiss things that would bother you further down the line. Your friends won’t be so easily fooled.

The 12 most popular pieces of breakup advice from experts

The 12 most popular pieces of breakup advice from experts

Everybody needs some relationship advice now and then.

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Everybody needs some relationship advice now and then.
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Halfbottle / Shutterstock

When you go through a breakup, it can feel like everything has come crashing down around you. You might seek out advice from friends, but it doesn’t always do the trick.

The only way to heal from a breakup is giving yourself time. But if you’re struggling to see how things will get better, there are some books from relationship experts that can help you through.

Blinkist gave us 12 of the most-highlighted excerpts from some of the top books about relationships.

Maybe you’re wondering what to do differently next time, or you keep blaming yourself for the breakup. Whatever it is, there’s probably a piece of advice from the list that can help.

Read more: The 10 best pieces of sex and relationship advice from experts


‘Getting Past Your Breakup’ by Susan J. Elliott

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Shutterstock

“Think about where you’d like your own life to go. How was your previous relationship holding you back? In what ways would you like to exercise your newly acquired freedom?”


‘How To Fix A Broken Heart’ by Guy Winch

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Svetlana Klementyeva / Shutterstock

“Others’ lack of understanding is bad for us. It makes us internalize their insensitivity. And means we start judging and shaming ourselves for feeling the way we do.”


‘He’s Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys’ by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo

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ThiagoSantos / Shutterstock

“At the end of the day, men like to get what they want. So, if he’s really into you, you’ll know it, because he’ll actively make an effort to pursue you in order to win you over.”


‘Games People Play’ by Eric Berne

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Shutterstock

“People play games with each other every day: complex, often unconscious interactions that hide the true motives and goals of the players. Fuelled by their fear of intimacy, players can remain stuck in games all their lives. But by learning about the many games and their hidden dynamics, we can break free of their bonds and create honest, meaningful human connections.”


‘The All-Or-Nothing Marriage’ by Eli J. Finkel

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Voyagerix / Shutterstock

“Real compatibility requires work on the part of both partners, and it comes down to supporting each other’s goals and having a willingness to sacrifice and make compromises.”


‘The 7 Principles for Making Marriage Work’ by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver

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kittirat roekburi / Shutterstock

“Romance endures when you signal that your spouse is valued during the monotony of daily life.”


‘How to be Alone’ by Sara Maitland

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kittirat roekburi / Shutterstock

“When you’re alone, you can focus on a deeper understanding of who you are and what matters to you. Only by spending time alone, free of outside influences, can you discover these important parts of yourself.”


‘A General Theory of Love’ by Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, Richard Lannon

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Eka Shoniya/Flickr

“If the people (usually parents) who influenced the development of our limbic prototypes were, during our childhood, themselves not emotionally developed, nor aware of their own emotional shortcomings, we’ll inherit their emotional problems.”


‘Daring Greatly’ by Brene Brown

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Shutterstock/Marjan Apostolovic

“Talking about our feelings of shame and naming them often diminishes their power. In fact, verbalizing our shame actually makes us resilient to it.”


‘Flow’ by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

“To live an optimal life, try not to be influenced by external rewards or the opinions of others. You can attain enjoyment in life by focusing your attention on every moment, being mindful of your environment and immersing yourself in your interests. Finally, you should never avoid facing difficult challenges, as they can lead to personal growth and achievement.”


‘How to Think More About Sex’ by Alain de Botton

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Flamingo Images / Shutterstock

“We too should try to see our subject-the person we’ve chosen as a partner-afresh every day. Once we start doing that, we’ll remind ourselves of why we fell for that person in the first place.”

13 biological factors that make you attracted to someone

13 biological factors that make you attracted to someone

Sometimes you like who you like simply because of who they are.

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Sometimes you like who you like simply because of who they are.
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oneinchpunch / Shutterstock

Attraction is an unintelligible thing. Sometimes there’s no telling what brings you close to one person over another, or what it was that made you realise you can’t stop thinking about them.

There are those who are conventionally good looking, but it’s actually very subjective whether you fancy someone or not. It can come down to a mixture of biological, psychological, and experience-based factors, and no two people are going to agree on what’s attractive and what isn’t.

Here are some of the most common reasons people are biologically drawn to each other.


1. Smell

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Bogdan Sonjachnyj / Shutterstock

A study this year found women with certain scents are more attractive to men. It turns out they were most appealing when they had high oestrogen and low progesterone levels. This balance of hormones indicates high female fertility, the researchers explained, so it makes sense that men would find women more attractive while they are at this stage.


2. Diet

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Estrada Anton/Shutterstock

What you eat could also have an impact on how attractive you are. A small study from 2017 found that women were more attracted to sweaty men who ate diets high in produce than men who had more refined carbs like pasta and bread. Essentially, the researchers concluded, when we eat healthy, we might smell healthy too.


3. Fertility

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NeonShot / Shutterstock

Being fertile doesn’t just make you smell attractive, but it can affect how you look too. One study from a few years ago found that men would rate women’s faces and voices as more attractive when their progesterone levels were low and oestrogen levels were high.


4. Hormones

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kittipong053 / Shutterstock

Some research has suggested our hormonal balance might impact who we fancy. For instance, men with high levels of testosterone may be more attracted to women with more feminine faces, meaning big eyes, high eyebrows, and a smaller jaw. But higher levels of testosterone may not make men seem any better looking.

While testosterone and oestrogen are characterised as male and female respectively, they both play a role in men and women. Testosterone, for instance, increases libido in pretty much everyone.


5. More hormones

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4 PM production / Shutterstock

Love is connected with several hormones that make us feel warm and fuzzy. Dopamine is the reward hormone that is released when we do something that makes you feel good, such as spending time with loved ones and having sex. Norepinephrine is also released during attraction, and the combination makes you feel giddy.

Attraction is also associated with higher levels of serotonin, the happy hormone. And physical contact – hugging as well as sexual contact – has been shown to increase oxytocin, the love hormone. So it makes sense that spending more time with someone, enjoying their company, and touching them more would make you feel more attracted to them.


6. Kindness

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Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock

If someone is kind, it can make them seem more attractive, and can also make them more likeable. A study showed that putting positive character traits against someone’s photo meant people rated them as better looking.

Altruistic behaviour is also attractive, possibly because it was one of the qualities our ancestors favoured in a mate.

“The expansion of the human brain would have greatly increased the cost of raising children, so it would have been important for our ancestors to choose mates both willing and able to be good, long-term parents,” Tim Phillips, a psychiatrist at the University of Nottingham, told the Independent. “Displays of altruism could well have provided accurate clues to this, and so led to a link between human altruism and sexual selection.”


7. Voice

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SpeedKingz / Shutterstock

One study found that women prefer men with low voices, especially just before they start ovulating. There could be something inherently biological in this, as deeper voices have been linked to producing healthier children, and in the wild, lower pitch is associated with being bigger.

According to another study, people who reported being more sexually experienced and sexually active were rated to have more attractive voices by strangers.


8. Being similar

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Chan

Research points to us being attracted to people who are similar to us – both physically and in personality. For example, research from St Andrews showed we are attracted to the features that our parents had when we were born, such as eye colour. This could be because we see them as our first caregiver, and associate positive feelings with their features.

Research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spouses tend to be more genetically similar than two individuals chosen at random. And an article published in Psychological Science found that if someone looks similar to ourselves, we are more likely to trust them.


9. Being different

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Pormezz / Shutterstock

But sometimes, opposites do attract. For instance, if you’ve lived a sheltered life, you might gravitate towards people who have had extremely different experiences to you.

There may be some biological basis to opposites attracting, too. When it comes to reproduction, a bit of variety works in your favour. For instance, the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) is a part of the immune system that helps cells recognise foreign molecules. When the MHC is vastly different from your mate’s, this decreases the danger of mating with someone you’re related to, and increases the genetic variability of any offspring you have – meaning they’re more likely to be healthier with a better immune system.


10. Maturity

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Vladyslav Lehir / Shutterstock

As people mature, they tend to learn more about themselves. This can work in your favour when looking for a partner, because you’re more likely to know what you want and what’s important to you.

“If you’re looking at people when they’re younger and dating, they might be attracted to the entire external package and not so concerned with the internal package, meaning somebody’s values or their ideas, or the way they treat other people,” counselor Michele Kerulis told Elite Daily. “When you start maturing, I think people look more at the overall picture and not just the way somebody looks or that initial sexual attraction.”


11. Taste

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Aleksandra Kovac / Shutterstock

People transfer about 80 million bacteria when they kiss each other, and yet they keep doing it. Not only does kissing stimulate the release of oxytocin, but the taste of another person also helps with biological attraction.

“Humans don’t have strong olfactory skills and kissing allows you to smell and taste a person and see if you have different immune responses as we tend to feel more attracted to someone with a different immune response,” Sarah Johns, an expert in human reproduction and evolutionary psychology at the University of Kent, told The Independent.

“The major histocompatibility complex is detectable in body odour, so by kissing and tasting someone it gives the opportunity to assess how similar or different that individual is to you biochemically.”


12. Health

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Versta / Shutterstock

When it comes to heterosexual relationships, several studies have pointed to health being a deciding factor in what people find attractive. It’s not necessarily about body shape and size – although low BMI is sometimes a reason, based on distorted social norms.

“In men, attractiveness was predicted positively by masculinity, symmetry, averageness, and negatively by adiposity” – being overweight or obsese – reports one study. “In women, attractiveness was predicted positively by femininity and negatively by adiposity.”

Generally, if someone looks healthy – they sleep enough, exercise, and eat well – this will probably show on the outside. And not just in the way they look, but in the way they behave, too.


13. Facial traits

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Matryoha/Shutterstock

There are certain facial characteristics that are proven to be attractive much of the time. Sometimes it’s facial symmetry, but other times it’s a crooked smile or unique beauty spot that makes someone stand out. Averageness and simple faces are often considered most attractive, possibly because standard faces represent a more diverse set of genes.

On the other hand, familiar faces tend to be most attractive, because people may be influenced more by their personal experiences in life than anything else.

Attraction is an incredibly complicated thing, and science probably won’t be able to determine all the reasons you find someone attractive, or vice versa. Often, what’s most important is your compatibility, and you’re unlikely to be able to quantify that. But there are a few questions you can ask yourself before settling down.

7 physical and psychological changes that happen when you fall in love

7 physical and psychological changes that happen when you fall in love

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Phase4Studios/Shutterstock
  • Love leads to biological changes that have been observed in scientific research.
  • Being in love can reduce stress, relieve pain, and make you happier.
  • Here are seven ways your body and brain change when you fall in love.

Have you ever looked at your partner lovingly and felt your heart flutter, palms sweat, or mood instantly get better?

That’s because falling in love actually changes what happens in your body – for the better. When in love, neurochemicals like dopamine and oxytocin flood our brains in areas associated with pleasure and rewards, producing physical and psychological responses like less perceived pain, an addictive dependence, and a stronger desire for sex with your partner.

Cuddling, hugging, and kissing the one you love can instantly reduce stress and increase feelings of calm, trust, and security thanks to oxytocin, while your mood improves as a result of your reward center flooding with dopamine.

Here are seven ways your body and brain change when you fall in love.


Being in love can lower your blood pressure.

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Married couples have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
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didesign021/Shutterstock

Elevated blood pressure, or hypertension, is a dangerous condition that puts your body atincreased riskfor heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. Medication and lifestyle changes like getting exercise and eating healthier cancontrol or reduce hypertension, but research has also suggested that being in love can serve as a a natural way to reduce blood-pressure levels.

A 2007 study published by the US Department of Health Serviceslooked at the relationship between marriage, physical health, and longevity, and found that married couples have lower blood pressure and a reduced risk for cardiovascular disease.

In a an analysis of cardiovascular disease risk, the American College of Cardiology looked at 3.5 million participants who were single, divorced, or widowed. They found that married couples under 50 years old tended to have a 12% lower risk of vascular disease. Married people between the ages of 51 and 60 had a 7% lower risk for disease than their unmarried counterparts.


You may feel more or less stressed than usual, depending on the stage of your relationship.

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WAYHOME studio/Shutterstock

Falling for someone may be stressful in the beginning – there’s uncertainty about whether they feel the same way, the possibility of rejection, and anxiety about when to say those three big words.

The initial stages of falling in love increase levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, in new couples, according to a smallstudy published in 2004. However, when the participants were tested 12 to 24 months later, their cortisol levels had returned to normal.

Though love can be stressful for some – especially in the early stages – it can potentially lower stress in the long run. A study published in 2005 inNeuroendocrinology Lettersexamined the neurobiology of those in love and found an association between people’s stress response systems, known as the HPA axis activation, and the development of social attachment. The results suggest that forming a bond with your partner could help bring about physiological changes that reduce levels of anxiety.


You feel more attached and safe.

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Hugging and kissing makes you feels calm and secure.
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Olesya Kuprina/Shutterstock

One reason why you feel less stressed may be because being in love makes you feel safe and develop trust towards your loved one.

Oxytocin, a hormone released through physical contact likehugging,kissing, and sex, deepens feelings of attachment towards your partner and produces sensations of contentment, calmness, and security, according to aHarvard Medical School report.

Oxytocin also plays a role insocial bonding, maternal instinct and reproduction, andsexual pleasure. The “love hormone” substantially increases social attachment and trust among partners, according to a study published inNature.


You get “butterflies” in your stomach.

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Your brain activates the vagus nerve, which is connected from the brain to your gut.
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Motortion Films/Shutterstock

Have you ever felt your heartbeat speed up, palms sweat, or stomach churn (in a good way) at the sight or thought of someone you love?

When in love, cortisol levels increase and the body goes into fight-or-flight mode.

“Your limbic or emotional brain activates the vagus nerve that goes from the brain to your gut,”Dr. Daniel Amen, psychiatrist and neuroscientist, toldNBC News. “When you get nervous, or when you get excited (as I explain to my patients, it’s the same feeling, but it depends on your interpretation of it) this nerve is stimulated that activates the gut.”


You become happier.

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Dopamine is released, activating the brain’s pleasure center.
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GaudiLab/Shutterstock

Being in love releasesdopamine, a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s reward and pleasure center, which makes couples feel happy around each other.

In 2005, astudy published inThe Journal of Comparative Neurologyscanned 2,500 brain images of 17 individuals who self-identified as being in love. Researchers found that participants who looked at a photo of a person they romantically loved showed brain activity in two areas highly associated with dopamine: the caudate nucleus and ventral tegmental area.


You feel less pain.

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Love alters your mood and impacts your experience of pain.
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didesign021/Shutterstock

Being in love has been shown to have pain-reducing qualities, although most doctors wouldn’t recommend relying solely on love after, say, a serious surgery or injury.

A 2010study published in the journal PLoS ONEtook fMRI scans of participants in new romantic relationships. The researchers found that people who viewed images of romantic partners had increased activity in several reward-processing regions in the brain, suggesting that love (and distraction) may reduce the experience of pain.

“When people are in this passionate, all-consuming phase of love, there are significant alterations in their mood that are impacting their experience of pain,”Dr. Sean Mackey,senior author of the study, toldStanford Medicine News Center.


You can feel addicted.

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Neurochemicals in the brain give you a rush similar to addictive drugs.
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Viacheslav Boiko/Shutterstock

Like addictive drugs that light up our pleasure centers and keep people coming back for more, love can be addictive in its own way.

Scientists have observed overlapping neurochemical responses in the same areas of the brain among people experiencing drug addiction and love. A 2017 study published in the journal Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology reviewed research about the relationship between addiction and love. The authors suggested that love can be addictive because it’s a need that can be temporarily satisfied but can become very distracting if it’s not fulfilled for a long period of time. (Official medical classification guides do not include love as an addiction, however.)

Some of these feelings may have to do with sex – sexual activity, orgasms, and some drugs all release dopamine in an area of the brain called the nucleus accumbens. An orgasm’s rush of oxytocin and serotonin, along with muscular relaxation, can leave you craving more. That’s why it might feel like engaging in sexual activity can give you a rush.

7 positive lessons you learn when you leave a toxic, abusive relationship behind

7 positive lessons you learn when you leave a toxic, abusive relationship behind

Trauma doesn't stay with you forever.

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Trauma doesn’t stay with you forever.
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Rakicevic Nenad / Unsplash
  • Breaking up is hard. Breaking up with someone who has abused you is even harder.
  • You will feel confused and traumatised for some time.
  • It’s not all terrible though – distance will make you realise you’re stronger.
  • Trauma doesn’t stay with you forever, and there are actually several positives from what you went through – even if you’re still hurting.

A common misconception about moving on from an abusive relationship is that the trauma stays with you for life. Even if you end up in a great relationship, you may still be lost in your old one, unable to fully let go.

In reality, this is usually simply a sign you haven’t moved on yet. Breaking up with an abusive person is hard, and it can take people months, or even years, to fully recover. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Perpetua Neo, a doctor of psychology and expert who works with women who are healing from damaging, toxic relationships, said if you sort through your pain, work out what demons you have that resulted in you being attracted to a bad person in the first place, then the magic begins.

“The narcissist didn’t want you to gain anything from being with them, but actually you ended up taking everything and becoming stronger,” she told Business Insider. “One thing people I’ve worked with find is that they gain a fuller, more whole version of themselves after leaving the narcissistic ex.”

You will probably be in agony for a while, because your body has essentially been addicted to the intermittent love the abuser gave you. But in time, you will realise that you are so much stronger, resilient, and capable of finding someone who isn’t going to discard you for being you.

Here are seven lessons you can take away from the traumatic experience of loving a toxic person – and the strengths you gain from moving on:


1. Using empathy as a superpower

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Empathy is a great thing.
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Shutterstock

Empathy can be both a gift and your kryptonite. Neo said if you have too much empathy for others, it can mean you start to honour someone else’s story over your own. If you do this all the time, it can lead to an “empathy burnout,” meaning you give and give, but begin to lose any care for yourself.

“We forget that we need to nourish ourselves first and foremost before we can nourish somebody else,” Neo said. “So in this sense, after the break-up, people start to use empathy as a superpower, and think of empathy as this burden, like: ‘Why do I go for people who tell me their sob stories?’ Then after that you realise you don’t need to take on everybody else’s energy.”


2. Boundaries are healthy

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Boundaries are your ‘hell no’s in life.
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everst / Shutterstock

The more time that passes, the more you will realise how troubling the way you were treated was. Becoming very clear about your boundaries means you have a better idea of the kind of person you really are. You also know what you are willing to tolerate, and you will be better at realising who will and won’t respect you.

“Boundaries are the ‘hell nos’ in our life, and sometimes we don’t feel like we have permission to say ‘hell no,’” Neo said. “Once we are really clear about what our boundaries are, and we stop seeing them as bad things, we actually get very clear about what is unacceptable. From then I can trust myself to have as much fun as possible, because I’ve communicated my line already.”


3. Gain a new perspective

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You might look at things differently.
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Shutterstock

In life, we are all subjected to ideas of how we are supposed to act. Some people will be more influenced by them than others. For example, films often clearly convey some of the power dynamics we are exposed to.

In “The Little Mermaid,” Ariel falls in love with a prince and, in order to be with him, she grows legs and gives up her voice. In “Star Wars,” Han Solo grabs Princess Leia inappropriately. In James Bond films, notorious for their misogyny, Bond forces himself on female characters such as Pussy Galore.

“What does that say to girls watching films like that?” Neo said. “When we keep watching this stuff about inappropriate behaviour, we stop understanding what acceptable behaviour is.”

Coming out of an abusive relationship can give you a new perspective about what you might have looked over in the past while you thought you’d met the love of your life. If you run into a person in the future who you think might hurt you, or acts in a way that makes you uncomfortable, you’ll find you’re more able to take a stand, Neo said.


4. Dealing with difficult people gets easier

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You’re stronger in many ways.
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Shutterstock

Realising your own boundaries in romantic relationships helps you out in other walks of life too. You’ll be able to say “here’s my line, do not cross it” to people in your family, friendship group, and even at work.

“Our voice is our sense of autonomy – if you can’t express what you want more of and what you want less of, or nothing of, then you’re not going to build a sense of solidity,” Neo said.

“Maybe your boss isn’t a narcissist, but they’re a bit selfish and caught up with their own world. And then if you’re an over-giver, you’re going to give more than your colleagues – so you’ll get burned out and exhausted by it.

“So once you are very clear about all this and you practise your boundaries, you will find you have a lot more energy.”


5. You become more resilient

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You’ll discover new strengths.
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Shutterstock

Being with a toxic, abusive person can make you feel like you are being mentally broken over and over again, Neo said, because they always move the goal posts and demand more and more from you. She said living that sort of life will show you just how resilient you really are, and bring forward the strengths you never knew you had.

“You know he tried to break you once and you’re not going to break again,” Neo said. “It’s this ability to bounce back from adversity or difficult events. When it comes to trauma sometimes people believe that it’s going to stay in your for the rest of your life, and nothing is going to shift. But you bounce back and recover and become a stronger version of yourself.”

A traumatic experience like an abusive relationship will change you, Neo said, and you will feel totally broken for quite a while. But once the fog starts to lift, and you see it for what it really was, you fix yourself so you’re indestructible.


6. The urge to help others increases

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You’re not alone.
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Vergani Fotografia / Shutterstock

Neo said once your energy stops being completely focused on your pain, you’ll begin to realise that you are not alone. You’re not the first person to be taken advantage of, and you won’t be the last, as these sorts of people seek out new victims time and time again.

When you understand this, you won’t be able to let it go. Neo said many of her clients have gone on to help at women’s shelters and written about their experiences on blogs.

Instead of being insular and sad, you will get a new lease of life, Neo said, and want to spread your message. You’ll realise just how important your story is to people who might be going through the same thing. You might even be able to prevent it from happening to someone else.

It’s incredibly difficult to notice the signs of a narcissist, or an abuser. This is because they are highly skilled masters of smoke and mirrors. Only when you have hindsight will you be able to see through the mask.

By having the gift of hindsight you can help others you think might be in trouble, even if that is just by being someone they can talk to.


7. You can identify the red flags

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You’re more discerning.
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There are a number of red flags that someone isn’t a good person to be around. It may be something obvious, such as rude behaviour, but a lot of the time the signs are pretty subtle.

Looking back and gaining perspective on a damaging relationship helps you identify the traits that drew you towards that person in the first place. Perhaps they were mysterious and captivating, and they ended up being a narcissist. Meeting someone else who makes you feel the same way your abuser did at the beginning is a code red.

“That’s your body’s way of telling you someone is bad for you,” Neo said. “As you become stronger and much wiser you become discerning, and that’s not a negative. Then you can own the fact you are discerning, that makes you pretty damn formidable.”

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