Saturday, 22 November 2014

Matters Of The Heart Q & A: T2 Article dated 23rd Nov'2014

Being in love can be joyous, fun and fulfilling. It can also cause confusion, pain and a sense of vulnerability. Some of our young readers have written in about this confusion. Here are some suggestions that can come in handy for all.

Reader 1: 

I had a crush on a friend of mine who was a senior in school. Eventually that crush turned into love ( at least, I believe it was love). However, when he came to know that I liked him, he went his way. Last year I came across a guy via a social networking site and in a month, I began to date him. But after a few months, I broke up with him and now when I look back, I realise that I had never loved him, though at that time he was the ' love of my life'. Of late, I have developed a strong liking for a boy in my neighbourhood, who is a year senior to me. We haven't interacted much but I like him a lot and think of him all the time. I can't concentrate on my studies, and friends think that I'm in love with him, which I strongly deny. I just want to know, can this be love? Also, how to get rid of this feeling? Because it's very depressing... 

Dear.... About you being attracted to a boy from your neighbourhood, whether it is love or not is a debatable question. What we call ' love' and our definition of love changes as we grow older and gain experience.
We believe love is that which one continues to share after the initial attraction has waned.
When friends tell you that " you are in love", it means that you like that person and are attracted to him. As you've already experienced this earlier, perhaps you need to stay with this feeling a little longer to see if there is something more to it.
A longstanding loving relationship depends on compatibility, mutual respect and cooperation, where attraction plays only a part.
You say that it is " very depressing". Ask yourself what about feeling attracted is depressing you? There's no quick solution to get rid of this. Instead of being in denial of the fact that you like this person, accept that you do. Also, know that it is normal to feel this way. Accepting your feelings does not mean you have to act on them or get into a relationship. Once you accept your feelings, you can rationalise with yourself and act in your best interest.
For example, if you want to move a particular object, the first thing to do is to acknowledge that the object exists. Only then can you move it. Similarly, if you want to get rid of this attraction, you need to accept that you have certain feelings for this person. And then if you want, talk yourself out if it. This process may take some time. A good way to reduce the time it takes is to concentrate and engage in other activities.
Focus on your studies. That will determine a large part of your future. Hope this helps.
Take care.

Reader 2: 
I am 15 years old and I am in a relationship for the past few days. We love each other a lot. But somehow I am not sure about this relationship.
I want to know whether this relationship will last forever? Am I doing anything wrong by being in a relationship at this age? Please help me.

There is no way to know if a relationship will last forever.
" Forever" is an extremely long time, especially since you are so young. We all, irrespective of our age, want to know about our future. But the future is not always predictable. There are many factors that are constantly influencing our lives and that is what makes it surprising, interesting and exciting.
The best we all can do is to put our best foot forward, be aware, be cautious, assess the situation realistically and accept that there is always the possibility of making a wrong choice. As long as we can learn from our mistakes, it's okay.
There is no right or wrong about being in a relationship. It depends on how you deal with what happens. But some of the questions to ask yourself could be:  Is the relationship empowering you?  Is there mutual respect?  Is it helping you to stay more focused on your other goals, or is it a distraction? You are at an age where your studies play a crucial role in determining your future. If you can keep your focus on your studies and not let anything interfere with it, then we believe it is fine.

Reader 3: 
I am a 20- year- old girl who got out of an abusive relationship a few months back. I was looking for love but I ended up being terribly hurt. I am trying very hard to concentrate on my job and studies but in vain. I feel lonely and tend to shout at my parents to vent my frustration.
Every time I see, read or hear anything romantic, I cry. I have tried to find a match for me on some dating websites but was afraid to go and meet those guys, fearing rejection. I used to be a very fun and lively person, but now I think I have lost myself. I want to find my way back into love, but I just don't know how and with whom. I don't want to marry now but be with that someone special till the time is right. I want to get my life back. Please help.

We are sorry that you had to go through a difficult relationship.
It takes time to get over a relationship, whether it was good or bad. You say that you were a fun and lively person. Use this time to rediscover that fun side of you.
Having come out of a bad relationship, it may not be wise to get into another relationship so soon, specially when you are feeling frustrated and lonely. To find your way back into love, you need to first reconnect with yourself. Instead of focusing on who your partner will be, prioritise yourself, focus on your life — be it studies, work, friends, family — and try to excel or improve your opportunities there. Initially it may seem tough to do but as you keep trying, it will become easier. You can explore various aspects of yourself by taking up a hobby.
Bring the fun back in your life by constantly choosing it. You may not " feel" like having fun, but make an effort nevertheless. Try to feel independent and complete within yourself.
Eventually these things will help you build your self- confidence and and help you understand better whether the partners you choose are good for you.
You can also go for personal counselling sessions to deal with your past traumas and to focus on and enjoy your present.

( A few details have been changed to protect identities) 

Dr Sangbarta Chattopadhyay and Dr Namita Bhuta are medical practitioners, psychotherapists and life coaches Share your problems with them at 
dr. sangbarta@ gmail. com

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Unhealthy stances of Love: T2 article dated 9th Nov'2014

Of late many readers have been writing to us about matters of the heart. To try and define love would be a fool's errand, and we don't claim to understand it fully. What we can do is explore the dynamics of " love" in relationships and what it tells about us when we fall in love.
Love, as we all know too well, is a complex, multi- layered emotion which is experienced differently by every individual. It is not always the same experience for two people in the same relationship.
In daily life, love is not only an emotion but also a constant dynamic between two people. When it is of the romantic kind, we are very often fooled by our unaware intentions and hidden desires. Where a healthy inner stance can help a relationship blossom, an unhealthy outlook can eventually spoil the relationship.
Here are a few common unhealthy ways of looking at love... 

Looking at love to fulfil our need for self- worth: 

When our sense of self- worth comes from being able to help others, we may be drawn to partners who are needy, demanding or " need to be fixed". We tend to take on the role of a helper or a rescuer. A relationship between partners is essentially of equals. When one partner gives more than the other, it tends to create an imbalance. The helper takes on the role of being the bigger or more mature person in the relationship.
This can eventually lead to them feeling burnt out, exhausted, uncared for and the partners may feel patronised and suffocated. The helper is often a very caring and giving person. The different variations of this inner stance is being a martyr, problem solver, the go- to person, an agony aunt or even of being a parent to the partner.

Looking at love to escape from the situation we are in: 

Here, we tend to use love as an escape from the current situation.
Many times in our country, women, more than men, see marriage as an escape from their circumstances.
This is common in both love and arranged marriages. Often it backfires as we are so hell- bent on getting away from the present condition that we are blind to assessing and noticing what we are getting into.
Case in point, Neha, who is all set to marry early next year. She always had a contempt for her father as he was " aloof and emotionally disengaging" which caused a lot of emotional trauma to her in the form of " rejection". In Neha's words, her relationship with her fiance has been topsy- turvy and emotionally intense but they loved each other.
She is now realising that her fiance is too emotionally volatile to provide her stability and she is now unsure and scared, after four years of being in that relationship. Neha was " in love" to escape her cold and unfulfilling relationship with her father. Not a healthy way to start a relationship in the first place. Yet, not everybody is as lucky as Neha to wake up to reality and get a chance to choose differently.

Looking at love to satiate our previously unfulfilled needs: 

These people can come across as two types. Type 1 keeps asking for more — more attention, more love, more support, more security. They do not acknowledge or appreciate what they already have in a relationship. Here the inner stance is that of a needy person. A needy person enters a relationship looking for a particular aspect of love which they feel they did not receive or have missed out on. They may be overtly demanding and clingy and may leave no space for the other person.
Type 2 will constantly feel there's something missing in the relationship they are in. No matter how " perfect" or how " right" the person is for them, they are always looking for something else in their partner. It is quite likely that the partner may never be able to fulfil what they are looking for.
Both these sets are looking for something that a partner can never give. They are so caught up and focused on feeling fulfilled in one particular way that many times they are closed to receiving what is available to them. This stance of neediness ultimately creates selfpity, self- loathing, a feeling of being a victim, or a feeling of meaninglessness and purposelessness.

Sometimes, a needy person can also be the one trying to escape.
Sometimes, a needy person finds a helper to form an unhealthy, intense but long- lasting relationship till one partner gives up.

The best way to look at love: 

A healthy initial stance to a relationship can help establish strong, long- term stability. For that, be okay and comfortable with yourself the way you are.
It would be ideal to be at peace with your past. If not, being aware of your needs and fears that may be coming from the past can save you many an argument. A healthy stance in a relationship is where there is an equal giving and receiving. Where there is appreciation of each other and a healthy respect for differences.
There is also an openness to explore things together as individuals. This stance is of balance and integrity: towards oneself and towards the partner.

Dr Sangbarta Chattopadhyay and Dr Namita Bhuta are medical practitioners, psychotherapists and life coaches Share your problems with them at dr. sangbarta@ gmail.