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Actions usually speak louder than words, but when you take action to put your words onto paper, then you just might create something magical. We're talking about writing a good, old-fashioned love letter. It's a lost art in this age of... Read More
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How to Heal a Broken Heart

Love hurts.

You finally find someone you thought was "Mr. or Ms. Right," only to learn they were all wrong. It just doesn't seem fair.

The good news is that time heals all wounds. While it wasn't the most pleasant feeling, it was definitely a learning experience. How can you mend a broken heart? According to grief counselor and breakup expert Susan J. Elliot, the end of a relationship is the same as other grief processes, which means there are phases to the process. The phases of breakup grief include "shock and disbelief," "review and painful relinquishment," and "reorganization, integration and acceptance." How an individual moves through these phases is based on the nature of their break-up as well as the individual's personality.{relatedarticles}

To help you through a break-up, it's important to have a plan of action. These 10 tips will help you ease the pain. It's important to keep in mind that everybody is different and recovers at their own rate.

Tip #1: Face the Pain

The worst thing you can do is turn away from your emotional pain and deny you are hurt. This will bury your feelings making it possible for them to emerge some other time when it isn't appropriate to feel them, for example, when you are in a new relationship.

The best way to face the pain of your broken heart is to think as much as you want to about the relationship, cry as much as you need to and talk to someone who will listen to you. Find a shoulder to cry on whether it's a family member, friend or professional. Processing what happened in the relationship by getting it all out will help make sense of it, so you can accept the reality and move on.


Tip #2: Understand the Relationship

Why didn't the relationship work out? To answer this, think about the relationship and all of the reasons why it just wasn't headed in the direction you or your ex wanted it to go in.

List all of the reasons why the breakup occurred and allow yourself to take it all in. Again, cry over it if you need to. The best part of this exercise is realizing and accepting the flaws in the relationship. As you unearth the major shortcomings, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that your relationship wasn't built to last.{relatedarticles}

Tip #3: List All the Reasons He Wasn't "The One"

No one is perfect, and a breakup is the ideal time to point out all of your ex's imperfections. What really got under your skin about him? What do you want out of someone else? The relationship didn't work out for a reason. Even if you can't find anything wrong with him, the mere fact he wasn't willing to work out the difficulties should be a major strike against him.

Relationships require work from both people, and it is difficult to make love last if one doesn't want to put in the effort to make the other happy.


Tip #4: List Your Awesomeness

Breakups can make you feel like you are a horrible person that no one will ever love again. Good thing this is simply not true.

Think hard about all of the qualities you love about yourself. Think about what your friends and family love about you. Be honest with yourself, not self-conscious. You are a great person, no matter if you make mistakes. You just need to realize it and that will make you feel you are strong enough to repair your broken heart and worthy to allow someone to love you again.{relatedarticles}

Tip #5: Take Care of Yourself

When you are depressed over a breakup, you might start eating and sleeping more or less than you normally do. This can make you feel ill and even more upset over the breakup.

Sleeping the right amount gives you even more energy and helps you process your emotions better. Eating well will help you feel less sluggish and provide you with the energy you need to get moving. Exercise will get your heart pumping and release endorphins that will help you feel better about yourself and the situation.


Tip #6: Think About Your Independence

Was there anything you wanted to do that you couldn't because you were in a relationship? Maybe you wanted to hang out with your friends more, have more time with family or see particular movies your ex didn't like to see. Now is your chance to do whatever you feel like doing with whomever you feel like doing it with, because no one stands in your way.

This is your life now. You are free. While you may prefer to be with your ex, rather than free, you can't deny the release of restraints when you no longer have to take someone else into account.{relatedarticles}

Tip #7: Consider the Future

The future may not seem bright to you right now, but just fantasize a bit about finding someone who is just perfect for you - someone who will come sweep you off your feet and carry you off into the sunset. Imagine a point in your life when you're happier than you have ever been with anyone, including your ex.

Can't seem to release those feelings for your ex because you miss him so much? You don't have to...just allow yourself to create a story in your mind despite the longing you have for your ex. Play around with it and try to have fun. If you find yourself smiling or feeling a bit hopeful for the future, you've succeeded.


Tip #8: Support Others

Sometimes the best way to deal with pain is to lend your support to someone else. It helps you see that your situation may not be as awful as you thought. It also may help you feel less alone when you see someone else going through as much grief as you feel.

Just be careful not to impose your problems on your friend's problems or she won't feel supported. If she comes to you for help first, you should focus on her. If you go to her first, she should help you.{relatedarticles}

Tip #9: Do Something New and Exciting

Living the same old life you were living when you were in a relationship will only remind you of how much you miss your ex and wish he were with you as he used to be. However, if you start engaging in new activities your ex was never part of, you won't miss him as much because it doesn't remind you of him.


Tip #10: Give It Time

Time heals all wounds. While you may want the pain to go away as soon as possible, it just doesn't work that way. You need to let yourself heal and that can take some time. Just hang on for as long as you need to start feeling better about the break-up. You will feel better...it just takes time.

When the Pain Ends

As you start to feel better and more like yourself, start to consider love again. You may be scared of it because you don't ever want to go through this type of pain again, it's important you give it another try. You never know whom you will find next and if that person will be the one you will be with forever.


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Signs Your Partner is Too Controlling

Our founding fathers understood that freedom is an essential part of human happiness and their words can be taken as excellent dating advice.

While most of us value our freedom in everyday life, sometimes we can lose sight of it in the context of a romantic relationship. Excessive control is one of the most common relationship complaints -- and one of the top reasons cited for the demise of a romance.

When a woman first meets a man, she may not notice his domineering tendencies. Often, the watered-down version of his controlling traits is what she'll be exposed to first, and ironically, these can be pretty appealing in a man.{relatedarticles}

In many ways, he can come off as the "perfect" guy: protective, decisive and utterly devoted to her. However, in time, she may begin to notice behavior that crosses the line from chivalrous to downright domineering.

Of course, controlling behavior isn't always incurable; there are ways to address this issue if both partners are willing to confront it and take steps to deal with it. The first step is recognizing that a problem exists. The following is a quick checklist of signs that your guy might be controlling.


  • He snoops. The FBI, the CIA -- they've got nothing on your man. He checks your email, your phone and your FaceBook page in order to keep close tabs on you. It's a sneaky game, and it can make you feel as though your privacy has been violated. It's always best to keep your passwords secure and to discuss privacy issues early.
  • He isolates you. At first, it might mean he gets pouty whenever you feel like having a girls' night. Later, as the relationship gets more serious, he may try and draw you away from friends and family so he can have you all to himself. Learn to recognize disparaging comments about love ones and realize he might turning you against your significant others.
  • He thinks he's the wardrobe police. This is surprisingly common. Many men feel that their female companions should dress in ways that make them (the men, that is) happy. Whether he wants you to dress down so other guys don't notice you, or wants you to dress up all the time so he can show you off, this type of controlling behavior can wear on your nerves and make you feel uncomfortable.{relatedarticles}
  • He gives you no space. Being smothered is no fun; everyone needs room to breathe. No matter how much your guy says he loves you, it can be annoying and stressful to get excessive cell phone calls and texts throughout the day. Does his world revolve around only you and your relationship with him? Does he have few or no other strong friendships?
  • He's extremely jealous. Jealousy is at the root of the control issue for most men. They act the way they do because of an overwhelming fear/anxiety that they will lose the women in their lives. To avoid the pain, they will try and control every aspect of the relationship.
  • He makes unilateral decisions. It takes 2 to make a relationship, and the partners need to respect and consider each other's preferences. If your partner thinks he knows best all the time, it can lead to many uncomfortable exchanges and frustrating scenes.

Controlling Behavior: Why it Exists and What to Do About It

Sometimes, people just have dominant personalities and don't learn how to give in and share power with others. In other cases, fear and insecurity is at the root of a controlling nature. The latter can be especially difficult to address because insecurity and fear can wreak havoc on a relationship.{relatedarticles}

He will tell you that his emotional outburst is because his ex cheated on him with half the guys in town/spent all his money/was mean to him/insert bad behavior here. Whether this is true or not, it doesn't mean he can use it as an excuse or that you should use it as an excuse for him.


As long as you're looking at your significant other in a realistic light, take the time to look at yourself in the same way. Is there anything you do that enables his controlling behavior?

Many relationships in which excessive control is an issue are actually mutually controlling. People with similar psychological traits often gravitate to one another. Take a look at your own behavior and ask yourself whether you may also be letting insecurities and fears take over your relationship.

Or on the flip side, if you sit back and let him take the reins in most matters just to avoid having to deal with things yourself, he will feel that you're OK with him being in the driver's seat all the time.{relatedarticles}

There are ways to handle a controlling partner, but it's rarely an easy undertaking. If your relationship is far enough along that you're committed to each other and the controlling person admits to the problem, you can set some goals and limits together.

For example, discuss how you'd like more autonomy in decision-making and set a schedule to take turns deciding what activities you'll do as a couple.

For insecure/jealous partners, you may need to set some strong boundary lines when it comes to personal space. If you don't, the behavior will continue unchecked. Unfortunately, your demand for increased privacy will probably just reinforce his fear that you are indeed seeking outside relationships.


 

In many cases, these issues respond better to couples' therapy. A therapist can help you both work through the problems and can give you a course of therapy designed specifically for the 2 of you.

When to Leave

If the relationship is in its early stages and you're not in too deep, your best course of action might simply be to end it. You can talk with him first and see if things improve, but be realistic. You won't do yourself or your man any favors by allowing things to progress when you can already see the warning signs of failure.{relatedarticles}

Leaving a controlling partner is even more difficult when you've been together long enough to share bank accounts and children, so bailing early sometimes can be the smartest course of action.

Abuse is the most important reason to leave a controlling partner. Not all controlling men are violent, but excessive, one-sided control is a prominent feature in the clinical description of an abusive relationship. If your partner shows signs of violence toward you, and that includes frequent vicious verbal attacks, you need to seek help and leave the relationship for the sake of your own safety.


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The Dos and Don'ts of Contraception

If you don't know the importance of having protected sex by now, you have probably been living under a rock.

Society has repeatedly driven home the magnitude of safe sex. The message is simple -- if you don't want to end up pregnant or with a sexually transmitted disease, cover up during your intimate encounters. The most effective way to prevent pregnancy or an infection from an STD is abstinence. While refusing sexual contact does eliminate the risks of pregnancy and potential illness, it can also limit the development of a loving relationship.

If you choose to add a sexual component to your life, make sure to examine the wide selection of birth control methods at your disposal. Just as having sexual intercourse involves personal preference, so does picking a contraceptive. Not all types of birth control fit every person's needs. Luckily, there are a number of alternatives out there.

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Contraception for Women

To avoid pregnancy, some women find the birth control pill to be best. There are 2 different types: combined oral contraceptive pills and progestin-only pills.

Each kind of pill operates differently, so it's important to understand how they work. Then you can decide which one suits your lifestyle.


The combined oral contraceptive pill includes two hormones -- estrogen and progestin. These hormones work together to stop ovulation, or the release of an egg, and limit the sperm's movement. Although this pill is a good way to prevent pregnancy, it does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases or HIV. It is recommended that condoms be used in conjunction with these pills.

When prescribed and taken properly, this kind of birth control pill has many benefits; among them are decreasing a woman's risk for ovarian cancer and reducing the chance of benign breast masses. The pill can clear acne and make premenstrual cramps more bearable.

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But with these attractive features come some issues as well. One of the biggest problems with the pill is remembering to take it at the same time each day. If you ingest it a few hours later than your normal schedule, you could be unprotected. This means you run the risk of ovulating and potentially becoming pregnant.

Additionally, the combined birth control pill can cause:

  • nausea;
  • spotting;
  • headaches; and
  • depression.

Blood clots are also a risk that can occur from taking this pill, though it is rare. Smokers are 1 risk group who should not take the pill.


The other type of birth control pill is the progestin-only variety. Its greatest advantage is that it does not contain estrogen, so women don't have to worry about suffering from the side effects associated with this hormone. Also, the amount of progestin is less than in the combined version. Therefore, the overall hormone intake is reduced in this form of contraception.

Like the combined pill, the progestin-only type of birth control reduces:

  • menstrual cramps;
  • headaches; and
  • mood swings.

However, an irregular menstrual cycle is a reported problem with this kind of pill. Women also have complained about weight gain or bloating because of regular use of this contraceptive. A healthy diet and exercise can make these side effects much more manageable.

{relatedarticles}

If possible side effects and the burden of remembering to take a pill every day don't sound very appealing, another option is the cervical cap. Spermicide is placed inside this latex device before it fits into a woman's vagina and onto her cervix. It's designed so that the suction prevents sperm from entering the uterus.

Women who choose this form of contraception should make sure to get a new cap on a yearly basis through a doctor or nurse. This is not an over-the-counter purchase. Besides this, it does offer a lot of flexibility to the user.


Not only is it small and easy to transport, but it also can be inserted up to one hour before sexual intercourse. Also, at the time of its placement, it works continuously for 48 hours straight.

A couple can have sex multiple times, and the cervical cap will still be effective as long as it's left in at least six to eight hours after the last interlude. Although it's constantly at work blocking sperm from entering the uterus, it does not interfere with the pleasure of having sex. In fact, a woman's partner won't know it's there unless he's told.

There are risks, however, to using this kind of contraception. The cap can cause inflammation on the surface of the cervix. If a woman is allergic to latex, irritation could result. But the greatest danger of all is a serious infection called toxic shock syndrome. This can happen if the cervical cap is kept on for more than 48 hours.

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So if you choose this birth control method, be very aware of how long the cap has been in place and make sure to remove it after a suitable amount of time has passed.

A diaphragm is another way a woman can block her cervix from any sperm. Like the cervical cap, it is fitted by a physician and can be inserted several hours in advance without causing any hormonal side effects.


However, this birth control tool does have several risks. Not only is toxic shock syndrome an issue if the diaphragm is left in for too long, but it's been known to cause urinary tract infections.

There is also the chance it could move around during sex, so women who use it should consider sexual positions carefully and check to make sure the diaphragm is still in place.

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Contraception for Men

Women are not the only ones who are responsible for making thoughtful contraception choices. Men also have a role in this process. The most common form of birth control for men is the condom. They're made of polyurethane and are designed to prevent bodily fluids from mixing during sexual intercourse.

In addition to protecting against most STDs and the transmission of HIV, they stop sperm from entering a woman's uterus to block pregnancy. This form of birth control is the best way to prevent any kind of sex-related infection, too.


However, not all STDs are preventable with the use of a condom. Genital herpes and syphilis, for example, are immune to condom use because they can be passed from one person to another through infected skin surfaces. Also, condoms can be ripped or torn by fingers, jewelry or anything sharp, so great care needs to be taken when putting on this product.

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No matter what form of contraception you choose, be sure to understand the risks and benefits before engaging in any sexual activity


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