Fiancés, Flowers, & FIGHTS: Common Conflict Among Engaged Couples

Engaged

This post is based on an original research study and paper presented by Bailey M. Oliver at the International Organization of Social Sciences and Behavioral Research Conference in the fall of 2013.

So your partner went to Jared/Tiffany/whoever, got down on one knee, and asked you those four little words: “Will you marry me?”

Your relationship just took a HUGE step- you’re engaged! You are now a feyoncé and your time is likely consumed with bridal magazines, dress fittings, and an ever-expanding guest list. Your recent Google history probably includes searches like “how to loose 50 lbs in 2 months”, “where to buy coozies in bulk”, or “non-cliché Save the Date poses”.

Unfortunately, this blissful time is filled with as much tension as it is excitement. TRR is here to let you know the conflict you’re most likely to encounter during your engagement and what to do once a fight breaks out.

put a ring on it

Planning OUR wedding: Sharing the wedding planning duties.

“I want whatever you want baby… unless it’s carnations- I refuse to have those tacky things at my wedding”.

A recent study of both heterosexual and same-sex engaged couples revealed partners frequently argue over sharing equal wedding planning responsibilities. Couples mention they want joint cooperation where both partners have input and participation. Conflict surrounding this issue usually relates to participants claiming wedding planning is a ‘woman’s job’ where men assume they are free from contributing to planning details.

Fearing the Future: Changes to the Relationship

“It’s weird that she will be my wife. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited! But there’s a lot of new things we have to get used to.”

Couples were excited about their relationship progressing to the next stage, but they also feared the unknown or ‘newness’ of this change. This conflict usually occurs amongst important conversations about future decisions as newlyweds: moving in together, altering future ritual events such as holidays, and how their identity as a couple will eventually change once children enter the picture.

The In-law Conundrum: Negotiating Two Families

“There’s some things I don’t like about my future mother-in-law and I want to tell him about it, but I can’t really. It’s just so awkward because we don’t know how to handle it because it’s our families, ya know?”

It’s no surprise that bringing two different families together can be cause for conflict.  Many couples felt drama with their future in-laws was affecting their relationship. Partners fear being honest with their fiancé about issues with their parents will lead to negative outcomes for them as a couple. These arguments usually include in-laws dedicating too little or too much time and opinion towards wedding details or the couple’s future.

Here Comes the Bill: Discussing Finances

I can’t just blurt out ‘your side is supposed to pay for this and my parents are supposed to pay for that’ without offending him”

Many couples argue over financing the wedding itself. This conflict usually involves wedding budgets, honeymoon expenses, and allocating who is to pay for what. Couples also mention tension over future expectations for sharing and maintaining a budget as a married couple.

Better than the Rest: Planning the Wedding of the Year

“I want our wedding day to be special, I really want it to feel reverent. But there’s [also] this pressure that we have to live up to being fabulous”

This conflict explains couples’ desire to plan a wedding that both upholds traditional values, while at the same time creating an event that is unique and specific to the couple. Partners want to stick to certain western marriage ideals (think: reciting vows, wearing white, throwing the bouquet), but also want their big day to be different (or better!) than other weddings they have attended.

FIANCÉ FIGHT! – SO WHAT DO WE DO?

wedding fight for real gif

Laugh about it.

Many couples use humor to minimize or deal with conflict during the wedding planning process. Making jokes, using sarcasm, or engaging in laughter can  ‘lighten the mood’ after a serious conversation. In many cases, humor serves as a natural stress reliever and lowers tension. Caution: Make sure the topic is appropriate for the use of humor. Responding to sensitive subjects with sarcasm or jokes may actually create more tension.

Share wedding duties.

Realize this is as much their wedding as yours. And contrary to what you may believe: wedding planning is a COUPLE’s job, not a woman’s. At the start, each partner should make a list of their wants and needs for the wedding day. Be honest with your desires for the big day and be open and prepared for an opposing opinion on wedding colors.

Realize you are not a snowflake.

In the present research study, each couple identified that the conflict in their relationship was in part due to the “uniqueness” of their situation (think: being a military couple; being a same-sex couple; being a long-distance couple; having opposing religious views; living together, etc.)  However, the tensions experienced (as listed above) were mostly due to transitioning between relational stages and planning a wedding rather than the “uniqueness” of their relationship. Yes, we all are different and have unique circumstances; however, fighting or arguing with your partner during this stressful time is completely normal. Be cognizant of your true feelings, but also aware that these tensions are common to all in this stage and will likely pass.

Be RESPECTFULLY open and honest.

Can’t stand your in-laws’ influence over the wedding? Hate the wedding band you hired? Want to push back the wedding date? If it is truly important to you, it is important to discuss with your partner. Be open and honest with your desires and emotions towards your big day, but approach the sensitive conversations with caution. If an argument breaks out, avoid kitchensinking (think: using a fight about centerpieces as an opportunity to bring up every past grievances you have with your partner- bringing up things unrelated to the current topic and throwing in ‘everything except the kitchen sink’). Allow time for both partners to speak their mind and avoid closed listening (think: not hearing what your partner says because you are too busy forming your next rebuttal).  You knew the word was coming: Communicate.

Come together.

Lastly, realize you are merging two different people into one dyad. It is important you start thinking like a couple and begin having the important conversations about your future. Use the wedding planning process as a chance to begin making decisions together. Maintain your individuality, but realize the decisions you make are likely to affect your partner as well.

-BMO-

me circle


Oliver, B. M. (2013). Fiancés, Flowers, Families & Fights: Engaged Couples and the Dialectical Tensions Most Perceived During the Wedding Planning Process. Paper presented to the International Organization of Social Sciences and Behavioral Research Conference. New Orleans, LA.

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“Let’s Talk about TEXTS Baby”: The Reality of Sexting

sextingme

It’s no secret that how young people maintain their relationships today looks vastly different than past generations. Love letters and even phone calls have been replaced by texting, camera phones, and real-time apps like Snapchat. Technology has changed how we maintain our relationships… but is this for the better?

Sexting is quickly becoming a common trend for the millennial generation. Teens and adults alike are picking up their phones and putting down their standards to test and explore different identities.

[Sexting:] any interactive exchange of sexual-oriented messages using a digital mobile communications device – sending and receiving sexually suggestive images, videos, or texts on cell phones.

But what does research tell us about this activity that is quickly becoming the norm? TRR is here to give you a reality check about your what your sexts say about your identity, communication, and relationships.

sexting barney

Sexting affects women and men differently.

Studies show both men and women are sexting, and relatively at the same frequency… however females feel more pressure to engage in sexting than their male counterparts. Women report feeling pressure to sext in order to appear desirable or gain approval from others. Unfortunately, women are also judged more harshly when it comes to sexting: both males and females believed women were more harmed by sexting and that women and not men were the prime ‘victims of sexting’. After engaging in sexting, women are more likely to adorn the label “slut” for sending sexts; or “prude” for refusing to sext.  For the most part, men mostly lack these consequences.

Your sexts say more about you than you think.

Previous researchers have linked our attachment style to future behaviors in our romantic relationships. In short, how we were raised when we were young affects how we view our selves and others when we are older. Sexting research says those who grew up with anxious attachment styles (think: having parents who were distracted or preoccupied with other things and did not show consistent parenting habits) may feel the need to engage in sexting in hopes to preserve a relationship or maintain the interest of their romantic partner. Snapping a nude or sending sexual content provides them with a ‘safety net’ to entice their partner back and reduce their anxiety.

Sexting can affect your mental well-being.

Researchers show sexting has social, psychological, and physical associations with mental, physical and public health. Fear is heavily associated with sexting. Adolescents express a fear that sexting will affect their reputation with friends, parents, teachers, or even future employers. Both men and women report lower levels of mental well-being and overall mental state leading up to and after sexting, and increased stress and anxiety levels. Additionally, this activity has been directly linked to the vulnerability of cyber bullying, an increasing problem linked to depression and even suicide.

Sexting could land you in jail.

Unfortunately, sexting is not always consensual. Some report receiving suggestive photos, videos, or texts without explicitly agreeing to be part of the activity. Others report engaging in sexting only after being coerced by others. Even worse, what happens when your relationship ends but the sexting evidence is there to stay? Many states have now enacted “Revenge Porn Laws”. This law punishes those who publicly share sexually explicit media without the consent of the individual(s) in the content. (think: forwarding that scandalous picture of your ex to others; screenshotting and showing your friends those X-rated text convos). If convicted of this crime, individuals could pay heavy fines, serve jail time, or even end up on the sex offenders registry.

SO WHY ARE SO MANY PEOPLE ENGAGING IN THIS ‘RISKY’ ACTIVITY?

sexting munoas

Celebs told us to do it.

We hate to admit it, but we follow what celebrities do. The Paris Hiltons and Kim Kardashians of the world have taught us that it is ok to make a living off of sexually explicit material. Pop star Instagram accounts alone could be labeled in the sexting category.  Research shows teens especially are sexting not to document their sexual acts, but to abide by the current promiscuous status of our contemporary culture.

Sexting is considered the norm.

Although research mostly looks at the dark side of this activity, sexting has been seen as a positive in young relationships where it serves as a step in the flirting process. For millennials, positive attitudes towards sexting include an overwhelming acceptance of this activity as normal and even expected between partners at a certain commitment level. Sexting has also been linked to hopeful popularity among young teens.  Research says the normative climate and desire for approval motivates millennials to sext despite the known risks of sexting.

Sexting can be beneficial at times to your relationships.

When asked about sexting, most adolescents associated the word with flirting, romance, and/or sex. For many, sexting is seen as a way to build rapport and strengthen romantic bonds. Millennials even report that exchanging these forms of messages enhances their relationship where sexts serve as proof of liking, admiration, and desire between two people. Sexting can help maintain relationships, especially if geographic distance makes interaction (including sexual interaction) difficult.  Sexting may even help balance the need for both predictability and novelty in a relationship: where we want routine but also something to ‘spice up’ our encounters.

The reality of sexting: it’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, it has become the norm and almost expected in our current dating relationships, where sexts prove beneficial to the development of new partnerships. However, sexting has harsh implications where our reputation, health, and even future are put at risk. Next time think before you take it off and pick up the phone.

**If you feel you are a victim of revenge porn, please click here – get help and take action. 

-BMO-

me circle


Drouin, M., & Landgraff, C. (2012). Texting, sexting, and attachment in college students’ romantic relationships. Computers in Human Behavior28(2), 444-449.

Lippman, J. R., & Campbell, S. W. (2014). Damned if you do, damned if you don’t… if you’re a girl: Relational and normative contexts of adolescent sexting in the United States. Journal of Children and Media8(4), 371-386.

Manning, J. (2013). Doing It| Interpretive Theorizing in the Seductive World of Sexuality and Interpersonal Communication: Getting Guerilla with Studies of Sexting and Purity Rings. International Journal of Communication7, 14.

Tungate, A. (2014). Bare necessities: the argument for a ‘revenge porn’ exception in Section 230 immunity. Information & Communications Technology Law23(2), 172-188.

Vanden Abeele, M., Campbell, S. W., Eggermont, S., & Roe, K. (2014). Sexting, mobile porn use, and peer group dynamics: boys’ and girls’ self-perceived popularity, need for popularity, and perceived peer pressure. Media Psychology17(1), 6-33. 

Weisskirch, R. S., & Delevi, R. (2011). “Sexting” and adult romantic attachment. Computers in Human Behavior27(5), 1697-1701.

Reader Confessions: Why I Cheated – Uncaping the Hero

Cheating

“Is it true you cheated on your last girlfriend?”
Um…yes.
“Then you told her that everybody cheats?”
Something like that…
“…I cheated on my last boyfriend while I was in Europe.”


Honesty is one of the hardest parts of relationships and dating. Being honest isn’t difficult. Honesty in its own realm is. It’s something many of us struggle with in various relationships. The reason is simple: You want to keep everyone happy. There’s an amount of heroism we inherently want to display while being involved with a significant other… but we’re all inherently selfish.

In 2012 I entered a relationship with a girl 8 years older than me. A year later, I found myself sitting on her couch at 3 in the morning fighting back tears while telling her, “trying to make you happy has made me unhappy.” We drank. We had sex. We cried. It was done. It should have been done months prior but like all relationships, you hold out for that change- be it with that person or within yourself. The truth is, we’re all inherently selfish (seeing a theme here?) and that selfishness can be in the form of martyrdom in holding out on your own happiness to make someone else feel a little better about themselves. Relationships are sacrifices that shouldn’t be made. Yeah, you can jump in front of the bullet for your significant other… or you can realize neither one of you should be in the presence of a shoot out.

Only two months later I found myself in another relationship. I came into it bitter, untrusting, and hurt. It was her first relationship. She would get overwhelmed with emotions on a whim, both good and bad. Crying tears of joy at parties because she “loved me so much” one night, and getting jealous of me bonding with friends at a party the next. She called me perfect. It was a pedestal of pressure I never wanted to be mounted on. It was a roller coaster that I was too indifferent to appreciate. I went through the motions. Meeting friends, family, spending the night for weeks on end. She was great. I just wasn’t ready.  It was this idea of making someone happy that made me stay. I was that hero again that everyone wants to be when they enter into a relationship. It’s easy to say you should just get out, but you have created this concept of being the person they’ve built you up to be, no matter how destructive it truly is for both of you. What could I do to make myself happy? Work more? Travel more? Well that comes with other distractions…

Sure enough, I found myself in a situation with an ex from years ago where we spent the night together. I knew where the night was leading the moment I left my house. It wasn’t a mistake or a lapse in judgment. It was something I wanted to happen because I needed it for myself. I took off my cape for a night. I allowed myself to be a different kind of selfish.

Months later, I find myself on the brink of another relationship undoing. My e-mail, texts, and Facebook messages had all been gone through by my then girlfriend, and she discovered all of the information regarding my affairs. It was a heartbreaking moment in watching someone be heartbroken. There were attempts to work things out, but I knew it wasn’t what I truly wanted. I was still the bitter, untrusting, and hurt guy… but I had managed to smile and kiss through 7 months. The cape was destroyed. The question kept coming, “why?” In that situation, you come up with all of the standard answers: “It was a mistake” or “I had a lapse in judgment.” Until finally I realized the one thing that I had been lacking in the relationship the whole time: Honesty. Honesty with her. Honesty with myself. Honesty in what I wanted at the time. “Everybody cheats and nobody is perfect.” Stunned. “We were together for less than a year. There are women walking in on their husbands blowing goats right now.” In that moment, I could see the switch in her eyes. The hero became the villain. Her friends knew. Her online posts all became about crying, cheaters, lovelorn, and sad Beyonce lyrics. That’s the fear in honesty. Watching the death of righteousness for someone you care about. The reason we see those couples sitting at dinner scrolling through their phones or the reason we far too often hear, “yeah, but they shouldn’t be together.” It’s easy to mill about when you see someone else is blissful and you think it’s what you’re supposed to do. We all want to be right. We all want to feel we make the right choices. We all want to be loved, respected, admired, remembered. We all want to be heroes to the point we forget to save ourselves.

I learned an incredible life lesson from that situation. I learned that I am human and therefore a fixture of common error.  But more importantly, I learned that it is OK. It is OK to be completely honest with myself and others and that honesty will make you happier in the long run once fear has fallen to the waist side. We’re connected by failure as much as we are connected by a desire for happiness, not realizing the two are interchangeable. Embrace your shortcomings so you’ll realize how to be happy despite them. Not only for yourself but for the next person who may come along that might be ready to take their cape off too.

-TRR Reader, Anonymous-

*This post was submitted by a reader of TRR and not constructed by the site’s author.

So what ARE we?: The 8 Situationships

situationship


It’s a question you’re guaranteed to be asked at any given family function: “You have yourself a boyfriend/girlfriend yet darling?”

[Turned-head eye roll] “No, no, grandma… still single”.  But the truth is you are in fact in some type of relationship. You just don’t know exactly what it is.

 Hookup Buddies? Friends with Benefits? Dating? Exclusive? WTH. Help.

You don’t know what to call the relationship situation you are in and you’re afraid to ask your partner the awkward question “…soooo what exactly are we?” You and your partner have yet to define the relationship and this causes anxiety and stress. Comm scholars Berger & Calabrese[1] explain how people naturally desire to have uncertainty reduced. Uncertainty occurs when we are unsure or insecure of our ability to predict or explain someone/something (someone fn tell me already the color of #thedress). But seriously think about it. Your friend sets you up on a blind date. What is the first thing you do? Stalk the shit out of them on every social media site. Why? Because we fear the unknown. Same goes for relationships. We want clarity on the state of our relationships because uncertainty causes stress and anxiety. This is why situationships are so frustrating.

If you have more questions than answers with your partner- then face it, you’re in a Situationship.

#TRR is here to help you identify the 8 Types of Situationships and give you tips on what to do next.


  1. The Repeat Offender

hump

When a one night stand turns into the repeat booty call. You met out one night when the shots were strong and your standards were weak. You likely don’t know their last name and have them saved in your phone as “Jake Tinder”, “Blonde Tin Roof”, “John Sigma Chi”, or the beloved “Tits McGee”. What makes this a situationship? You have repeated interactions and have entered a pattern (sending the ‘you up?’ text at 1 AM on a Wednesday).  Jealously may even occur if you see them with another potential hookup; however, you and your partner interact almost exclusively for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.

  1. The Last Call

walk of awesome-GIF

You both hang out in similar social circles and consider each other friends… but if one or both of you strikes out with everyone else at the bar, you end up in bed with each other. Communication professor Dr. Paul Mongeau and colleagues[2] call this type of friends with benefits relationship (FWBR) “network opportunism”.  If neither of you finds another sexual partner for the night, you are a sexual ‘sure thing’ for one another. You feel safe hooking up with this partner because they are your friend, but you’re confused at the potential for this to turn into something more.

  1. The So-Last-Season

opps i

At one point you two were a couple… now you are just in it for the sex. This type of FWBR at one point was a romantic relationship that ended in a breakup.  You decided to not continue the romantic part of the relationship, but continue to have sex. This type of situationship is especially complicated where you may have to decipher between sexual feelings and past emotional history.

  1. The Houdini

disapearing

(Also commonly known as the Disappearing Act.) You have weeks where he/she is really into you: good morning texts, Netflix dates, grabbing dinner. But then they disappear for days on end. (I know you didn’t die on me, I SEE YOU READ MY SNAPSTORY!) And just like that, they reappear as if nothing happened.  This situationship creates anxiety where you are unsure if their silence is because you did something wrong, they found someone else, or if they skipped town after a bank heist.

  1. The Hang Out

jake Gyll annoyed

You and your partner go on frequent dates and enjoy each other’s company. You introduced them to a few of your friends and have met some in their friend group as well. You may have even begun to develop a pattern of sexual interaction… but you don’t know if the relationship is exclusive. Are they dating other people? Am I their boyfriend/girlfriend? How do they describe me to others?  Partners in this situationship are likely to tell others they are just “hanging out” or “talking” and report stress occurs due to a lack of communication on the status of their relationship.

  1. The Wedding Date

jennfier-lawrence-frenemy-gif-1422459378

You introduce them as your friend, but drag them along to social events as your date. Sister’s wedding? New Will Ferrell movie out? Routine Game-Day date? They’ve probably met your family and friends and you have their wifi password and maybe even a hoodie or two. You may or may not be sleeping together, but regardless one of you does not intend on a romantic future with the other. This situationship is especially stressful because you do in fact care for this person.  However, emotional closeness is not the same as romantic closeness.  You enjoy socializing with them and have similar personalities, but do not see this working out in the long run. You feel guilty but out of options. WARNING: If you are the one friendzoning in this situationship, you are likely to be given the title of either the Asshole or the Lead On.

  1. The Copyright

carrie bradshaw gif

You go on dates and sleep together… but one of you is also seeing other people. This situationship is likely to end with a slowmo face slap or drink-to-the-face, especially if there has been a lack of communication clarifying whether you two are openly seeing others or not. More than likely, this situationship occurs when a partner is cheating on someone outside the partnership. You may even be aware of the deception, but convinced they will choose you in the end. The Copyright often involves lying to yourself as much as you do to your partner.

  1. The Restriction

tina fey silence

The Restriction is sometimes close friends with The Copyright. You are dating, but for one reason or another, you are forced to keep your relationship secret. Maybe your parents do not like your partner? Or your friends wouldn’t approve (especially if you are seeing one of your friend’s ex’s). Or your relationship would break work policies (dating your boss/teacher)? Or you are afraid to reveal to others your relationship is same-sex? Or they are in fact seeing (or worse, married to) someone else, forcing you to conceal the relationship. You likely have a code name for talking about this partner with friends (That Guy, You-Know-Who, Voldermort, etc.) This situationship creates high levels of uncertainty where you are limited to whom you can discuss your relationship with.


SO WHAT DO I DO?

In a simple word- COMMUNICATE. Talk about the status of your relationship with your partner. As awkward as it might feel, you are guaranteed to have a more satisfying relationship (emotionally and sexually) after the conversation. At very least, gaining clarity on the status of your relationship will reduce your uncertainty.  Conversations need to include not only the status of your relationship, but what rules that status includes.

Are you simply just friends and don’t sleep together? Are you hookup buddies but want to make sure you both aren’t sleeping with anyone else? Is this just about sex or is there the potential for romance? Do you still romantically care for each other or are you just letting history repeat itself? Are you in an open relationship where seeing others is OK? Are you exclusive? Are they ever going to leave him/her for you? Are you both telling others that you are a couple? How are you going to introduce them to your friend/family circles? Should you terminate the situationship and end contact with one another?

Weight the pros and cons of this situationship turning into something more.  This includes how the relationship status change would effect you and those around you.  If sex interferes with these important conversations, hang out in a public setting where the potential for sexual interaction is low (no alcohol or drugs present; not on a couch or in a bedroom).

Be honest about your feelings towards your partner and your intentions for the relationship. Gaining answers to these questions and more will reduce your uncertainty and eliminate the stress and anxiety common to all situationships. Now go out there and get to talking!

-BMO-

me circle

[1] Berger, C. R. (1986). Uncertain outcome values in predicted relationships uncertainty reduction theory then and now. Human Communication Research,13(1), 34-38.

[2] Mongeau, P. A., Knight, K., Williams, J., Eden, J., & Shaw, C. (2013). Identifying and explicating variation among friends with benefits relationships.Journal of Sex Research50(1), 37-47.

Girl Fight: 5 Signs She’s More Frenemy than Friend

frenemy2

Best Friends Forever? Not so fast.


The term ‘frenemy’ is not new. Frenemies have been described in political and social spheres for years where relationships became rocky among political figures, competing companies, or even entire countries. [Bush & McCain. Samsung & Apple. The U.S. & Saudi Arabia have all been given the title.[1]]

A change came in the late 2000’s when the word was attributed to the Regina George’s of the world. [Frenemy: someone who is as much a friend as an enemy.] This term can be applied to men as much as women (go ahead and tell us you don’t hold a grudge against who won Fantasy Football last season guys); however, frenemies are the spotlight of the Mean Girl culture where female on female aggression is studied.  Authors DiMarco, Owens, and more[2] have explored how to deal with drama in these relationships… but how can we tell if a friendship is turning from Tina & Amy to Taylor & Katy?

Let’s discuss the 5 signs your BFF is more frenemy than friend.


1. She acts differently in private vs. in public.

rachel correct

She loves to talk to you over mani-pedis or during Netflix binges at home, but ditches you if a boy comes along at the bar.  She calls you by your nickname and you share inside jokes in private, but she seems annoyed with your silly insiders when out with others. One of the signs that your friendship is headed for trouble is if she acts differently in private than when you are both out in public. Social scientist William K. Rawlins explains in his book The Compass of Friendship[3], that how we act across a range of social relationships affects our friendship.  In other words, if she’s ignoring you when others are around but acts like your best friend in private, your friendship is headed towards conflict.  And she just might be more frenemy than friend.

2. She’s friends with you for the perks.

nene bullshit

Does she really care for you as a friend? Or is she just using you to get closer to your older brother or to get your help in calculus? Does she enjoy spending time with you? Or is she hoping you can introduce her to your guy friends or work contacts? Rawlins explains this friendship tension as the struggle between affection and instrumentality.  Friendship should focus on affection and warmth rather than rewards. Friendship based only on instrumental goals (think HBO GO passwords or same shoe size) can be impersonal, but a friendship with no benefits at all might not be rewarding to the individuals[4].  If the majority of your conversations/activities revolve around her achieving superficial goals, then your friend might actually be a frenemy.

3. She doesn’t respect your space.

go away

Does she make one of your hobbies her thing? Did your new idea somehow turn into a group project? Did she invite herself/get angry when you grabbed dinner with your work friends? If she is constantly piggybacking off your ideas or overstepping her bounds, she cares less about maintaining the friendship and more about attention.

One of the biggest conflicts that can arise in a friendship is the need to have both freedom and independence. Rawlins explains that friends need to have both activities of individualism as well as participating in accomplishing their identities together. This means you want freedom to do things alone, but you also want to have help and support from your BFFs. You want time to yourself to learn and practice the piano, but you also want support from your friends at the recital. This tension is common in all relationships, but the need for space can cause friction in friendships if your BFF does not understand your need for individual hobbies or alone time.

4. She is quick to pass judgement or criticize and does not accept who you truly are.

regina correct

Your friend finds a way to subtly insult your wardrobe during the pregame.  She asks what you see in the boy you are dating and continues to explain his ‘flaws’ without hearing your side.  She does not understand why you don’t just dye your hair already or why you like reading HP fan fiction (it’s a thing people). Tension can arise in a friendship if your BFF judges you instead of accepting you for who you truly are. Rawlins explains one of the difficulties in this tension is that we tend to judge others with our best friends. (Don’t play innocent, we’ve all shared screen shots of someone’s embarrassing FB post).  Collectively judging others may make your BFF think it is OK to make judgments about you as well. Rawlins explains all judgments in a friendship are not necessarily bad, especially when similarities are affirmed or when advice is genuine and displays closeness between two people.  However, true friendship means accepting the other friend, even in the areas you see “flaws” in.  If your BFF constantly gives negative criticism and does not accept you fully, your friendship may be headed towards disaster.

5. She refuses to open up as much as you do.

loki tell me

You tell her that you think your boss is hot/ when you lost your virginity/that you slept with your ex’s best friend/that you own the 50ShadesofGrey audio book/that you know every word to Frozen/that you’re deathly afraid of pickles… but you know little to nothing about her emotions and experiences.  Conflict can occur in any relationship if our self-disclosure is not equal.  If we tell something very personal to someone, we expect him or her to be just as open with us in return. Females bond more through emotional talk, where males tend to become close over shared activities [think: girls talking over wine at dinner vs. guys going to a basketball game together]. This explains how disclosing private/emotional information is essential to maintain a female friendship.  Both males and females claim self-disclosure is essential to friendship satisfaction[5], making the balanced exchange of self-disclosure important.  If you spill your life story but your BFF provides little to no information in return, she holds the power in the friendship.  If she refuses to open up to you, she may not be in this friendship for the right reasons.

Of course, revealing private information is a double-edged sword. Rawlins explains expressiveness and protectiveness as the struggle friends feel between being candid and open versus being responsibly discreet. Sharing too much private detail can expose your friendship to criticism or rejection. If she tells you she is contemplating committing a crime or sleeping with a married man, your friendship could be affected where you may feel awkward with her statements or responsible to help her in these difficult times.  This over-share of information may place a burden on your once simple friendship.  Close relationships require self-disclosure of private information, especially in female friendships… but only to a certain extent.


Friendships are never easy and knowing the first signs of conflict can be a great indicator that trouble is ahead. If she acts one way in public and another in private; is only friends with you for the perks; or refuses to open up, trouble could be brewing.  If she values attention over giving you space or places judgment over acceptance, she might be a frenemy and not a friend. If these signs sound familiar, prepare yourself for a potential girl fight.

-BMO-

me circle


[1] Carney, J. (2008). Frenemies: The McCain-Bush Dance. Time. com16.; Gupta, P., Kim, M., & Levine, D. (2013). Insight: Apple and Samsung, Frenemies for Life.; Levine, S. (2011). Frenemies forever: How Washington stopped worrying and learned to love Saudi Arabia, again. Foreign Policy184, 31-33.

[2] DiMarco, H. (2010). Frenemies: What to Do when Friends Turn Mean. Revell.; Owens, L. L. (2010). Frenemies: Dealing with Friend Drama. ABDO Publishing Company.

[3] Rawlins, W. K. (2009). The compass of friendship, narratives, identities, and dialogues. (pp. 1-43). Sage Publications, Inc.

[4] Guerrero, L. K., Andersen, P. A., & Afifi, W. A. (2013). Close encounters: Communication in relationships. Sage Publications.

[5] Jones, D. C. (1991). Friendship satisfaction and gender: An examination of sex differences in contributors to friendship satisfaction. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships8(2), 167-185.

#TheRelationshipRevolution

therelrev

It’s time for a revolution.

Relationships look vastly different than they did in our parents’ day.  Courting and going steady has been replaced by Tinder and friends-with-benefits hook ups.  Same-sex relationships are more openly discussed and accepted.  Relationships are validated by social media updates.  Emojis replace emotions in everyday conversations.  Breakups are more likely to occur over text than in person.  Families have even changed.  Millennials are more likely to be part of a divorced, step, or blended family.  Research needs to keep up with these changes in everyday relationships.  This blog hopes to help people identify issues in their relationships and explain how best to manage tension once shit hits the fan and conflict occurs.  TheRelationshipRevolution is here to transform how we deal with conflict in our friendships, love-life, and families.  So buckle up, listen up, and stay tuned.

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