Finding Social Balance

In 2016, “social life” means something entirely different than it did in 1976 when my social life was the most important thing going ~ or so I thought at that age. Being very connected was important to me, and I tended my friendships with some care. Back then, the individuals whom I considered as friends were a bit more changeable than now, but the number hasn’t really fluctuated much over all those years. I was (and am) friendly to everyone, but intimate with only a few.

referralSocial media has simply expanded that circle. Today, I have 450+ friends on Facebook (all of whom but one I know in person), multiple followers on other social media platforms, but still only 3 or 4 truly intimate friendships. The rest of my social circle consists of people in varying degrees of closeness and interaction. Different from my youth, a few of those really close, intimate friends now reside primarily in my Facebook feed.

Long distance relationships in the past were hampered by the conditions under which they existed; snail mail, telephone calls, and occasional visits. In 1976 when I was corresponding with a friend living in Alaska, the wait between letters was weeks (hard to fathom, I know) and the friendship developed its own rhythm, defined by the medium. Not so today. My close friendships formed while in Kuwait continue through the various forms of social media even though most of those friends are now scattered across the globe. Immediate (“Posted 0 minutes ago”) news, live interactions, video feeds, IM, Hangouts, shares, and other instant communication feed and maintain the connection. While I miss the enjoyment of being in their physical presence, the friendships continue to ebb & flow in real time, as they did while we were together in the same geographical location. These are friendships which began as three-dimensional; the migration to digital friendship was an easy one.

Not so much for those friendships that begin in digital media. There are significant differences between in-person and online friendships, and when an individual does not make this distinction, problems may arise. The various forms of socialising that are possible on the Internet have given rise to an often false sense of being connected; fostering an intimacy that is arguably of a different quality than is possible in three-dimensions. Social media and instant, long distance communication are here to stay and as a consequence, for the sake of our mental and emotional health, we need to learn to integrate this relational reality into our social lives in a healthy and beneficial way.

This month’s bazaar Kuwait column is all about balance. (as a pdf: all-about-balance-october)

And for another perspective, Mary McGillivray & Mirel Gonzalez share the history of the development of their online friendship.

Not really cheating …or is it?

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Building connection through shared activities.

Couples often come for help because there has been infidelity, or the mutually acknowledged imminent risk of an affair. Also often, in completing a clinical interview and exploration of the history of the relationship, it becomes evident that ‘cheating’ was happening in significant ways before the physical affair.

The research data out of The Gottman Institute is long term, and unambiguous, encompassing multitudinous couples. Sometimes, something apparently innocuous grows to become A Thing which can threaten the health of an already existing intimate relationship. When individuals within a committed relationship begin to make emotional connections with a degree of intimacy that rivals their primary partnership, trouble brews

3 ways we may be cheating

It is a myth of epic proportions (and a completely unrealistic expectation) that one individual is capable of meeting all of another’s need for emotional connection and intimacy. Paradoxically, it also a reality of being human that we need to experience a degree of intimate connection with another individual that is mutually exclusive; to be known and accepted as is. This need is what makes the pain of betrayal so significant. When an individual, as part of a couple, discovers that this degree of intimacy has been extended to a third party, emotional and psychological security evaporates.

In what ways might you be unintentionally or inadvertently jeopardising the health & happiness of your relationship?

The Therapist’s Office

Currently, over on LinkedIn, one of the discussion groups is having a pretty rockin’ debate about the “proper” decor for a therapist’s office. The comments range all over the map, from “stark, bare, and business-like,” to “looks like my living room,” and everything in between.

This is actually an important point …and guess what? There’s been some research done. Since the primary element in effective therapy is the therapeutic relationship, it stands to reason that the next most important element would be the environment. So, here we have the research and I am chuffed to know my office fits right in with the findings. Dim lighting, comfort, and safety are the the hallmarks of more client self-disclosure, and overall participation in the therapy. So here’s my office… feel free to drop in talk to me.

Ambition

Source: Ambition

My friend Anna-Lou is an amazing bundle of everything Tigger would be if he were a grrrrrrl. Or maybe, Anna-Lou just channels the spirit of Tigger on the way to wherever she is going. We live very far apart and I read her posts and see her in my mind’s eye gracefully flitting, book(s) in hand, from one shiny thing to another, scattering a frothy mess of feather bits, sparkles, and paint splots. (Anna-Lou will snicker. I said “gracefully flitting” instead of what she really does.)

All this and ambition, too. How groovy.