Why Keeping Score Doesn’t Work In Relationships

Keeping score is detrimental to relationships, and it will often end up killing them completely. But why do people keep score in the first place?

Well, it is often because it is a learned behaviour. Our parents are often our very first role models for relationships, and how they functioned together can say a lot about how our future relationships play out. If your parents kept score, chances are you will as well. Keeping score in your relationships will not only end in heartache, but it is a completely exhausting and unnecessary practice. It is also modeled in a lot of other dysfunctional relationships that we can find ourselves in (friendships, professional relationships, and other family relationships).

It is true that you should be getting back what you put into a relationship, but the meaning behind this is oftentimes misunderstood. This does not mean that you should be spending as much money as your partner, or doing nice things in equal amounts. It means that you and your partner should be doing things for each other and working towards the common goal of happiness and fulfillment in relationship (not working against each other). When things are truly even in a relationship, there is no need to keep score.

Here are some things to keep in mind, and to help you to break the habit of keeping score in your relationship:

Love is not a competition. Being in love with someone and having a relationship is not a “you vs. them” situation. Relationships are a partnership, and keeping score makes it a competition. It is important to recognize that you are not playing for opposing teams, but for the same team. Working together is how we overcome the challenges and struggles in a relationship.

Keeping score builds resentments. If one partner feels that they are putting far more into it then they are getting back out, resentment will start to build. Resentments can start out small, but they will morph into a general dislike towards your partner. Functioning in a relationship where love and mutual happiness is no longer the main goal is nearly impossible.

People need to give and take different amounts at different times during a relationship.Relationships cannot always be perfectly balanced. One partner may need a bit extra emotional support from their partner at one point, and these positions will switch back and forth throughout the course of the relationship. The important thing is that overall you will be getting back as much as you put in, it may just be at a different time or in a different situation.

Scoring is different for everyone. What you hold in high value, may be something totally different for your partner. You and your partner may value different things, making it impossible to keep an accurate “score”. This will just cause more problems than it solves and it is not something that can be changed, as values are a part of your core being.

The best thing that you can do for your relationship is to stop taking inventory of what you are doing for each other, and take a good hard look at what you and your partner want for each other. If the end goal is not mutual happiness and fulfillment, it is certainly time to re-evaluate just how invested the two of you are in the relationship. Don’t keep score, instead, live each day working towards a happy and healthy relationship.

Making a Strong Support System

Having a support system when you are in recovery from addiction is so important. With a support system you are much more likely to be successful in recovery, and work towards other goals that you have set for yourself. Your support network can be made up of professionals, family members, friends, as well as mentors from places like AA or NA. A good support person is so much more than just helping you maintain a positive attitude. Listed below are some of the other qualities that a good support person should have:

 Stability. People in your support system should also be stable themselves. Your addiction may have had a serious effect on them as well, so it is important that they are seeking out the help that they need. It is also important that they are not currently abusing drugs, and are sure in their own recovery (if they are recovering from their own addiction). Part of stability is also helping you maintain a safe space to live and stay. This means that there should be no drugs and as few triggers as possible while you are working through your recovery.

 Understanding of recovery and relapse prevention. It is very difficult to be supportive of a process that they don’t understand, so it is important that the people in your support network are educated about addiction, recovery, and relapse prevention. The best person to educate them about your needs and triggers is you. It is critical that you explain what sorts of situations/things are triggering for your cravings and what they can do during difficult times in order to help get you through. It is also important that they understand their role in your relapse prevention. It is important that you communicate what you need from them and they need to be comfortable in the role that they are taking on so that they can remain an asset to you and a good support when you need it the most.

 Ability to be part of a team. Supporting someone through recovery takes much more than just one person. It is often times a team of people that are supporting and providing different types of support to the person in recovery. The people that you choose to be part of your support system need to be able to work together and be trusted to keep their personal issues out of the way. You may need everyone to come together at one time or another, which is why making sure they can get along and work together is so important. If two or more people in your chosen support system just don’t get along, you personally need to decide whether or not it is worth it having that as a part of your recovery. Needless disagreements and arguing can really take the focus off of you and your recovery, and put that attention on things that are really not worth it. 

People so often forget just how important it is to have a strong support system throughout the recovery process. The individuals that you choose to be part of this support system can make or break you during the very first stages of your recovery, and this is why it is imperative that you think long and hard about what you need and who you think would be able to provide that need to you. A good support person will always be there when you need them, and help keep you on track when you cannot do it yourself

The Power of Positivity

Positivity is something that does not always seem like a possibility in our day to day lives. However, positivity and an optimistic outlook can make a huge difference in how we carry ourselves and the directions that we choose to go in. Though at times it can be very difficult to maintain positivity, there are things that you can do to keep yourself upbeat and pushing forward.

Set attainable goals. We all have goals in life. They might be for your career, or perhaps for your personal life, or even in your relationships. It is important to make sure that these goals are realistic and attainable, while still challenging yourself. You can even break your larger goals down into smaller goals that will work towards the end point.

Let’s take an example that comes up often in recovery; maintaining sobriety. Maintaining sobriety is a very large goal, especially for someone who has just entered into recovery. However, this is completely attainable when broken down into smaller goals. Attending programs, continuing therapy, developing a relapse prevention plan, and having a stable support system are just a few of the many small goals that can be built up to the main goal of maintaining sobriety. As you can see, the main goal becomes much more realistic and manageable when broken down into smaller steps.

Reward yourself. It is important to celebrate the victories that you have. Rewarding yourself for your hard work and accomplishments, even the small ones, can do wonders for your positivity. The rewards don’t have to be large and extravagant things. It can be as simple as having a quiet evening off, or perhaps a sweet treat, whatever you would consider a reward after some hard work.

Going back to the example of maintaining sobriety, after spending time following through with your programs, continuing your therapy, and maintaining contact with your stable support system, how can you reward yourself? Perhaps a nice dinner with those who are closest to you, or a nice night in with a bath and a movie. You can choose the things that give you a sense of satisfaction that are not detrimental to your sobriety.

Have hope. Hope is a driving force in making positive change in our lives. Hope often keeps us going when we feel like we do not have much else going for us. It can build us up and help us to work harder towards what we want for ourselves, and it can keep us on track with our goals.

Maintaining your sobriety requires a certain amount of hope, more specifically hope for the future. It is quite easy to find yourself in a pit of despair when things doing seem to be progressing as you had thought that they would. It is times like this when hope is your greatest tool. Hope will help you push through. Hope will help you keep moving forward and give you a more positive outlook.

Have a positive support system. We can draw a great amount of strength from those that we surround ourselves with. A positive support system is so important in maintaining a positive outlook. When we have people supporting us through our hard times and encouraging our successes, we are much more likely to flourish and take on new challenges.

A support system is vital to a successful recovery. Without support, it can be very difficult for you to stay on track and keep your goals in mind. It is important that the people you surround yourself with during the recovery process are understanding of your needs and are capable of being supportive of your goals and choices. It is also important that you trust these people to not expose you to things that will trigger a relapse. Your support system may be made up of both professionals and friends/family members.

Positivity can be a life changing choice. By choosing positivity, you are taking control of your future and your direction in life. This is a key in the recovery process that should not be overlooked. By motivating yourself, transforming your mindset, and awakening your potential, you can be successful in your recovery.

Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that is characterized by a loss of touch with reality, trouble maintaining daily schedules/motivation/personal hygiene, as well as trouble understanding information they are given to make decisions with. Schizophrenia is a very serious illness that is still not completely understood. We still aren’t 100% certain what causes it, whether it is a combination of genes and environment, or possibly just a chemical imbalance. What we do know for sure is just how devastating it can be when left untreated. Joblessness, homelessness, and even addiction are common among those who have untreated schizophrenia. It is so important that it is caught early and managed as it does not take very long for someone to lose control.

Although each and every case is different, there are some symptoms that are common between cases. Common symptoms include:

  • Hallucinations: Hallucinations are anything that no one else can see, hear, smell, or touch that the person with schizophrenia is experiencing. These hallucinations vary from person to person, but the more common type of hallucination is voices. These voices will talk about the person, or warn them about danger, or tell them to do things to themselves/others (that are often times harmful). It can be quite some time before the hallucinations are noticed as the person having them will respond internally to them. Until they either talk about the hallucinations or outwardly respond to them, they are undetectable.
  • Delusions: Delusions are beliefs that are untrue about people/places/events. These delusions can vary greatly, but more common delusions are that someone is hurting them (i.e. through poisoning, controlling their mind/body, plotting against them in some way, etc.) or that they are someone they are not (i.e. someone famous/well-known).
  • Disorganized appearance: Those who are suffering from schizophrenia have a hard time taking care of themselves because they either forget or are focusing more on the things that are going on in their heads. They may have poor personal hygiene, live in less than healthy conditions, or they may even appear to be homeless. They can become very sickly looking if they are refusing to eat because they think they are being poisoned, and they can also look very tired/stressed if they are losing sleep due to their hallucinations/delusions.
  • Catatonic/Movement disorders: If a person is repeating movements and/or making unnecessary movements, they are dealing with a movement disorder. Someone with schizophrenia may also not move or respond to others around them (catatonic behaviour).
  • Unusual/Dysfunctional thoughts and disorganized speech/behaviour: The person cannot get their thoughts to make sense or get them organised before they start to speak. This may present as a very confusing loop of explanation of incomplete thoughts and ideas. They may also make up words/places/people in an attempt to make the connections fit in their heads. This can make it very difficult to tell reality from their hallucinations and delusions.
  • Emotional flatness/apathy: This is a particularly troubling symptom as it can present very much like depression. A flat affect (i.e. no change in expression or tone of voice) is also common with those who are struggling with schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is something that can be very difficult to treat. It largely depends on the severity of the case, as well as their support system. Schizophrenia is treated with a combination of medications and therapy, but the most important thing is that they are consistent with their medication and housing. This helps to keep them on track and in check with the symptoms. If your loved one is struggling with schizophrenia, the best thing you can do is be supportive of their recovery and their hard work. It is also important to remember that they will have good and bad days, but it is important to know the difference between a bad day and crisis. That is why it is also important to educate yourself about the illness and ask the questions that you need to. It is also important that you seek help of your own. Being the caregiver of someone who is chronically mentally ill can put a huge strain on your emotionally and mentally. Having a safe place (i.e. a support group or therapist) is great for keeping yourself in check and helping you be the best support that you can be for your loved one.

Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder is a very serious mental illness that is characterized by a lack of stability in moods, behaviours, and relationships. The name of this disorder was given because it was thought to “border” many different types of mental illness, which has now been found to be quite inaccurate. Though each case is different, there are commonly occurring symptoms that are used to diagnose. (Please keep in mind that a trained professional should be making a diagnosis, as they are equipped to do so.) These symptoms include:

  • Impulsive behaviours: These behaviours are often harmful to themselves and/or others. These behaviours may include promiscuity/unsafe sex, drug abuse, or self-harming behaviours (i.e. Cutting). Spending sprees and binge eating are also known to occur. It is important to note that not all of those who suffer from borderline personality disorder engage in all of these behaviours. It is also important to note that their self-harming behaviours are not usually intended to cause death, but are in an attempt to express their pain, have some control over their bodies, or to punish themselves for their choices/behaviours.
  • Low self-worth: Low self-worth can manifest itself in many different ways. They may speak very critically of themselves (i.e. They are ugly, or unintelligent, or worthless, etc.), or have distorted beliefs of what others think of them (i.e. No one likes them, no one loves them, no one likes spending time with them, etc.). Their low self-worth may also cause them to very rapidly change plans for their future, showing in an unexpected change in career, goals, and romantic partners.
  • Aggressive behaviours: Controlling anger is something that those suffering with borderline personality disorder struggle with. They will often times yell and scream when they are angry, and they may also lash out physically at those around them. Their anger can be incredibly frightening and dangerous.
  • Intense emotions and mood swings: The emotions and moods of a person struggling with borderline personality disorder fluctuate quite quickly and intensely. It is not uncommon for someone to be experiencing a very happy period to only hit a very intense angry and upset period a few hours later. The way that they treat those around them changes along with how they are feeling as well. They can be very loving and caring, switching very quickly to hateful and angry when they are feeling upset.
  • Intense fear of being abandoned: Those suffering from borderline personality disorder constantly worry about those around them leaving them completely. This intense fear manifests itself in “clingy” behaviours towards those around them (i.e. Repeatedly asking them not to leave, attempting to guilt trip people into being around, other manipulative behaviours) when their relationship feels threatened or close to breaking.
  • Tumultuous relationships: Relationships that a person with borderline personality disorder are involved in are incredibly chaotic. Relationships can go from being incredibly close and loving to incredibly distant and hateful in a very short amount of time. Romantic relationships can be especially so, and are often short lived as their partners have a hard time dealing with the mood swings and impulsive behaviours.

Borderline personality disorder is not a death sentence. If your loved one is struggling with borderline personality disorder, it is very important that you help to support them through treatment and encourage them to continue to work through it. Treatment for a personality disorder is often times a combination of therapy as well as medication, which can be very difficult for your loved one to handle, especially on their own. It is important that they stay hopeful and focused on the future. It is also a good idea to educate yourself on their illness. Know what the signs and symptoms are, especially when they are in crisis. Understand that you will need to recognize their signs and symptoms for crisis, not just the ones that are listed in a website or book. It is also essential that you yourself seek treatment. Their illness does affect you, whether you see it or not. Having your own safe place to discuss your feelings and emotions is the best way to be an effective part of their support system.

Concurrent Disorders

Addiction and mental health problems are often seen as two completely separate entities. However, in quite a significant amount of cases, co-occurring addiction and mental health problems can be seen in clients. Does this happen with all mental health problems or addictions? What does this mean for the client’s symptoms? How does it affect treatment? All of these are important questions we will answer. But first we need take a look at the basic concept of concurrent disorders.

CD-webConcurrent disorder is an umbrella term that is used to describe a diagnosed mental health problem co-occurring with an addiction. Diagnosis is difficult, as addiction and mental health symptoms may not be occurring at the same time or in the same intensity as the addiction, and vice versa. This can make treatment very difficult and determining which came first (the addiction or the mental health problem) nearly impossible. This is why it is very important to consider the addiction and the mental health problem two separate entities that interact with each other.

There are two groups of mental health problems that are most commonly co-occurring with addiction; anxiety disorders and mood disorders. Anxiety disorders (i.e. generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and social anxiety disorder) more commonly co-occur with an alcohol addiction. Mood disorders (i.e. depression, bipolar disorder, etc.) more commonly co-occur with an addiction other than alcohol (i.e. cocaine, heroin, etc.). The addictions do vary from client to client, but the fact of the matter is that a significant number of those diagnosed with mental health problems will also struggle with an addiction or substance abuse problem at some point in their lives. It is important to keep in mind that your loved one is not their mental health problem or addiction, they are still your loved one. Those struggling with concurrent disorders still require love and support, especially through the recovery process. It is important to remain steadfast in your hope for them, while maintaining healthy and appropriate boundaries.

There is a noticeable connection between mental health problems and addiction. Substances are often used to cope with mental health problems when left undiagnosed or unmedicated. An addiction can also mask or mimic the symptoms of a mental health problem, making it significantly harder to diagnose without proper client history. Mental health problems can also be exacerbated by an addiction. Those who choose to self-medicate on top of their prescribed medication run the risk of making their psychiatric medication less effective. They also run the risk of going off of their prescribed medications and having a relapse of mental health symptoms. These interactions between addiction and mental health problems is incredibly problematic. Symptoms can vary greatly for mental health problems when someone is abusing substances. It is also possible for relapse with substance abuse if mental health problems are not being properly treated. It can lead to a vicious cycle of relapse and recovery until the right balance is found.

Part of the reason that diagnosed concurrent disorders are so difficult to treat is that it requires a great deal of coordination within the professional support system for the client. The choice often needs to be made as to what should be treated first, or if treatments should be received at the same time. This can vary greatly from person to person as the severity of both the addiction and the mental health problems needs to be properly assessed and taken into account. What works best for most clients is what is referred to Options-for-the-treatment-of-addiction-imageas integrated treatment. Integrated treatment works on emotional, cognitive, social, and addiction problems all at once. While treatment for these problems can often be provided under one roof, it is important that the client is receiving the best treatment possible. This often involves coordinating agencies and professionals into a care team. The care team leader would be a professional the client trusts who will make plans based on the successes and areas of greatest struggle for their client. By coordinating all those involved in the care process, the client has a much higher chance of having success in treatment of both mental health problems and addiction.

Hope is a very important part of the recovery process. With a diagnosis of a mental health problem coupled with an addiction, it can seem like your loved one will only get worse. However, recovery is more than possible if they are willing to seek treatment and work with people who can help them learn new ways to cope with their struggles. With the research in new medications and methods of therapies, there is a lot of hope for those who are struggling with concurrent disorders. Family and friends can be a great asset in instilling hope. You can help your loved one rediscover the hope in their future. Providing them with support and a safe place to express themselves without judgement is instrumental in a transition from their former instability into the stability of recovery.

Internet Dating

wmp__1299247966_iStock_000010264931XSmallInternet dating has become increasingly popular for people of all ages. There seems to be a site for just about any type of relationship or partner you might be looking for, and it is not uncommon for some to be subscribed to more than one. The effectiveness of each site can vary widely from user to user, but more often than not there are several horror stories associated with internet dating. From people not being what they claim to be, or horrible matches in general, dating via the internet can be very hit or miss. The experience is really what you make it, and internet dating can be a great experience.

Internet dating has changed how many people view dating in general. Many sites try and take the guess work out of meeting people, matching you with people that are best suited for you based on their parameters. How well do these parameters work? It varies because it largely depends on people being completely honest with the answers to their questions. Deception is a big part of internet dating for some people. It may be the excitement of getting away with the lies, or perhaps they are just not confident enough in their own personality to attract others. Sorting out the lies from the truth can be a difficult task, but it is usually best to go with your gut if you get a bad feeling about someone.

Safety is so important when it comes to internet dating. You never know who you could run into on the internet, and you certainly don’t know how honest they are being with you. Here are just a few tips to keep you stock-footage-online-dating-computer-screen-conceptsafe.

Get to know them before you agree to meet. Too many times people rush into meeting someone they just met online. Ask the potential date questions past what their interests are. Asking them what they are passionate about and what their goals are can be a great way to give you an idea as to what type of partner they would be for you, and how their goals would mesh with yours.

Go with your gut feeling. Our instincts will very rarely lead us astray. If in your heart you do not think that this person is safe, a good match, or there is something “off” about them, go with your gut. Don’t put yourself in a situation that you do not trust.

Make your boundaries clear. This includes both physical and emotional boundaries. Not everyone is going to be comfortable or have the same boundaries as you. It is so important that you know that your date knows your limits and will not push things that you are firm on.

Meet somewhere public for a first date. This is just a suggestion, but it is the easiest way to keep yourself safe. Meeting someone for the first time can be extremely nerve racking but meeting in a neutral place around other people can put you both at ease. It will help keep you out of any unsavoury situations that could pop up.

Dating can be tricky. Finding someone that you connect with on all levels is not an easy feat. Internet dating has made connecting to new people much easier, but it is so important to protect yourself. Trust in your gut, and know that at the end of the day that each and every encounter is a chance to learn, grow, and prosper.