Tag: friendship

The Power of Change in Relationships

Healthy Relationships are key to healthy living. No matter how independent we are, we simply cannot live in this world alone.  We thrive on interaction with our family members, peer groups and friends, especially the latter in our teenage years.

Upon reflection, I remember how important it was to have friends and the impact healthy friendships have had on my growth and development. Recently, I reminisced about athletic friends choosing me for their teams even though they knew I could not help them win.

How mature of them and forward thinking to look out for my emotional well-being, when the very system in place did not. But what about when they weren’t around. I was the last one selected. Never mind! I do hope picking teams has been scrapped for the sake of good self-esteem.

Anyhow, the point is relationships can reveal key information about who we are and our friends, too, not only when we are in the relationship but also after the relationship has passed.

I know, I know. Who said anything about passing? Don’t good friendships go on forever? Sometimes they do and other times, they do not.  In either case, one thing is for sure, people change.

And understanding this change is one of the basics of maintaining healthy friendships and another is knowing when the friendship has run its course, whether it is a love interest or simply a good friend.

So, what is a girl to do when her best friend changes right under her nose? Or a love interest, well, is no longer interested. Suddenly the activities that you shared are no longer exciting and the crowd that you have both worked hard to avoid have brought your friend or love interest into their inner circle.

I hear you. No one wants to feel left out, so it might be something to consider changing, too, for acceptance.  Not so fast; consider the tips below:

  • Recognise the past has passed. No point in hoping for a better past. It is gone. Let bygones be bygones! Grow from it!

  • Instil boundaries! When friendships are evolving, boundaries can come in quite handy. They can be the security you need to steady yourself.

  • Respect the boundaries of others. Give them their space, their new life. Take what you have learned and let the rest go!

  • Stay true to your values. Though we grow and evolve, we all have fundamental values deep within. Let them rise to the surface when they need to. They will never steer you wrong.

On my most recent long-haul flight, in one of the movies I watched, a teenage girl took up smoking because her friends were doing it. But her romance with smoking was short lived once she worked out that she didn’t value it and really didn’t enjoy it.

This revelation led her to realise that her friendships had become toxic. And that perhaps the friendships had run their course, and that it was time to make new friends.

On the other side of change, however, I know of two women who grew up together but took very different paths in life, yet they stayed in touch and continue to count each other as close friends. Congrats to them!

Undoubtedly, change continues to influence their relationship, as it does all relationships. It is just a matter of understanding its power and knowing how to manage it.

UIO’s Third Most Popular Podcast Featured with Top Tips

It’s the third week  of our campaign to share top tips from our most popular podcasts.  This week, we feature On Girls’ Rights with Lindsey Turnbull, a podcast that is all about exercising your rights to stay happy and healthy in the space you are in.  Though the teenage years can throw challenges at you, you have a right to meet those challenges in our own style.

Top tips include setting boundaries on and offline and honouring them. With boundaries, it is much easier to occupy a healthy space.  Following having clear and consistent boundaries is protecting your internet space. Not only does this mean, following positive accounts but it also means unfollowing negative ones.  Check out the vlog here!

And continue to watch this space for our new back to school mini-series out in mid-September.  The series features podcasts on how to stay safe at school during the COVID era, navigating the new norms and grief amongst other topics.  With a whole new world to before us, the podcasts offer loads of advice and tips on how to adjust and move forward. Take care!

 

 

Staying Connected With Friends During a Crisis

It has been nearly six months since the Coronavirus started making its way around the globe. Wherever we are in the world, we have either been forced to watch from a far as if watching a surreal movie or we’ve been caught up in that movie, disconnected from our friends and relatives unless we live with them.  To this end, we released our Friendships podcast over a month ago with some great tips on how to stay connected.  Had a great opportunity to do a vlog of sorts (still not quite polished yet) on that matter.  Check it out here.

And if you haven’t had a chance to listen to How To Nurture Friendships During a Crisis with Sue Atkins, listen on Apple podcasts or wherever else you listen to podcast.

 

 

Dating: No Need For Head Over Heels

I can’ t ever remember not having a romanticised view of dating. From fairy tales to music, storylines and lyrics are loaded with messages about the perfect partner. Over the years, finding Prince Charming, AKA Mr Right, has been the topic of loads of conversations and not just mine. Filmmakers, for example, widely use the topic for their romantic storylines:  My Best Friend’s Wedding, Pretty Woman, Titanic, Broke Back Mountain and Something New, a more niche film about interracial relationships. The list goes on with hints that there is someone (and I stress one) for everyone, and when you find that one, love will conquer all of the obstacles–jealousy, class division, homophobia and even racism and the likes of its close cousin colourism. Also, it will stamp out self-esteem problems.

Far be it for me to be pessimistic but here is the thing—the notion that there is only one perfect person out there for each of has to be wrong. First things first, there is no such thing as a perfect partner. Really!

Therefore, pursing an unrealistic goal as if this is the ultimate life goal can be self defeating. So then how do you approach dating?  For starters, it helps to understand that every relationship, every friendship is not a means to an end says founder of The Romance Academy, Rachel Gardener, our guest in UIO: On Sex and Sexuality. Dating is as much about learning loads about yourself as is about learning to relate to another person.

Oops, I didn’t get that memo back then but it is nice to have it now. In those days it was all about ticking boxes. Needed to be popular, somewhat smart but didn’t matter as much if he was the star athlete. Other people around me looked at economic status, even race and religion to name a few. And then there was something about happiness in the pile, as if another person held the key to it.

Somewhere along the way I discovered that finding a suitable partner is not about rushing in ‘heels over head’ in the name of finding the one and only person. The good news is that dating, though daunting at times, presents an opportunity to make friends, to build character, have fun and to grow by leaps and bounds.

What does that have to do with my life you might be thinking through tears as you read this, having been dumped by the love of your life or forbidden a love, if you will, due to sexuality, for example.

Evidence tells us that few school relationships lead to life partners. There are exceptions but hooking up with a one and only early in life is not the rule. Still, making friends of the same and opposite sex while young is so important to learning to get along with others, to relate, to tolerate other opinions and other ways of life without the filter of looking for a life partner.

In those friendships, whether there are romantic ties are not, as mentioned you can learn a lot about yourself and other people, too, such as the importance of having boundaries and respecting them, keeping confidences, becoming trustworthy and trusting another person, and finally learning to love others and more importantly learning to love yourself.

Now on the romance of it, teen dating need not necessarily lead to sex. I say this because so often the belief is that it will inevitably, hence the warnings of the physical downsides of indulging unsafely—early pregnancies, STDs and so on. However, without reference to the emotional consequences of pre-mature sex—how sex is tied to deep communications and therefore self-worth—it continues to be glammed up as long as it is safe.  The truth is that without maturity, commitment, understanding and love, it can do more harm than good, as well.

As for sexuality, there tends to be a belief that sex, if only via a strong attraction, affirms sexuality. Not necessarily: data shows that as people are growing up, we might have strong feelings for people of the same sex or the opposite sex but that doesn’t define our sexuality. People change. Some might argue all the more reason to explore.

My advice is to ‘wait awhile’ and get to know yourself, learn to relate to other people, have fun dating, growing and learning. While it’s not about diving in ‘head over heels,’ as the cliché goes, it is not about approaching dating ‘heels over head either’. Literally, we stand on our heels, not our heads. As for our heads, we use them wisely. Enjoy!

More on dating to come in our upcoming podcast, UIO: On Dating Inside Out. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

Celebrating Different Types of Friendship

As far back as I can remember I’ve had friends, whether they were the kids next door or cousins living in a nearby town. In any case, friends are a huge part of life, whether we are young or old or somewhere in between.

“I feel like true friendship (is not to dissimilar to marriage) where  through the ups and downs, a commitment is in place for the duration,'” says my BFF.

So, so, so true, isn’t it? Still, sadly some friendships don’t last, aren’t necessarily true friendships perhaps, at least not forever. They come and they go, depending on the situation. For my latest Huff Post blog, I reflect on situational friendships, what they are, the importance of acknowledging and celebrating them and then letting them go and allowing them to rest well in the history books of life, your life.

And in the meantime, celebrate those lasting friendships too, even if it is only now and again. After all, it is the effort that counts when it comes to sustaining a friendship, the conscious effort that is. Read more here.