Valentine's Day Gifts

It would be amiss of us here at the Relationship Blog if we didn't tell you about the upcoming Barnes and Noble's fantastic Valentine's Day gifts. After all, this is a relationship blog and like it or not, Valentine's Day plays a  large part of relationships - even friendship ones.

Have you ever given a Valentine's day present to a friend who's had a bit of a rough time in relationships? I know, I have. I've also sent my sister cards and chocolates on Valentine's day. I know this 'holiday' was promoted by card companies to milk more money out of us, but the romantic side of me still kind of thinks it's a beautiful and innocent way to celebrate love. I remember this time of year in high school being a very exciting period for my girlfriends. I didn't have a boyfriend, so it didn't affect me much, but my friends were always nervous about whether the object of their affections were going to give them Valentine's Day cards and presents or not.

In her first year of Primary school, my 5 year old daughter was given a bag of chocolates and a teddy bear as a Valentine's day gift. There was also a card inside the bag, and the little boy (who sent it) had  written lots of little kisses under his name. My daughter was totally embarrassed, but she ate the chocolates anyway (she was only 5). This same daughter also received 2 marriage proposals that year from two different little boys in her class. Yes, Valentine's day is usually a day of going out for dinners, fancy cards and romantic presents - even if you're 5 years old!

Barnes & Noble

To facilitate this present giving, Barnes and Noble are pulling out all the stops and are giving you, the shopper 50% off all gifts bought during this time. If you're a bit strapped for cash and have been waiting for ages to buy something you've always wanted for yourself or a loved one, you should grab this Valentine's day sale now because this may be the cheapest you'll get it this year. 

The sale includes some amazing products: The nook, which is a cheaper alternative to the kindle, books, electronics and much more for your loved ones. Valentine's day gifts should last a bit longer than chocolates if you can afford it. :-)

Electronics valentine's day gifts
And their best-selling product.. the nook - kindle's rival
books are always welcome for valentine's day presents

Relationship Forum: Get Over A Boy Friend

The Relationship Forum is a special feature run by this blog to highlight some very real relationship problems being faced by women. These are taken from a forum I run elsewhere, but all identifiable details have been changed and the letters edited to fit this blog. I give you the problem and then the solution I offered. You can see other relationship problems tackled in here. Please do feel free to leave your thoughts on the matter.
get over a boyfriend: the road to recovery
Here's *Jennifer's story: (not real name)

Relationship forum: get over a boyfriend

Dear Anne, I’ve recently broken up with my boyfriend of three and a half years. I’m doing everything I can do to cope with losing him: Going out with friends, spending time with my family, staying busy etc. But for some reason I can’t move on.
I don’t know how to be on my own anymore and that scares me. I know it’s over with him and I am ready to move on but how do I do that when every part of me is still in love with him? I don’t feel like ME anymore ( I know it sounds pathetic but its true).
I feel as though I need to talk to him as we broke up through text message and I haven’t spoken since, but I am worried any contact will only make me miss him more.
I hate that this has affected me so much. I thought I was stronger than this. That I could deal with a little heart break. It turns out I was wrong.
Anne, please help me to get over him, I am tired of feeling this way.

Answer: get over a boyfriend
Dear *Jennifer.
It’s natural to feel the way you do. You don’t feel like ‘you’ at this point in time because your relationship with your boyfriend had become such an intricate part of your life, it was part of who you were. Now he’s not there your thoughts and feelings are all in a ‘different place,’ a place which doesn’t feel like ‘home.’ Essentially, a part of you has been ripped away. 

You'd be less than human if you didn’t still love this man. You loved him for 3 and a half years. Emotions don’t suddenly turn off because of a break-up.
A large part of the reason you feel so unsettled and unable to draw a line and move on is because of the way in which you broke up. This is certainly not the way to conduct such a traumatic event. It leaves everyone with unanswered questions.
My advice: You need to see each other face to face to say your goodbyes. You are strong, but no one is strong enough to absorb closure from a text message!
I suggest you do it properly. This is the only way you could start to draw from the strength I know is inside you, get over your boyfriend, find closure and move on with the the rest of your life. 
Time will indeed heal. Think on this, look forward to it happening, and you’ll start to see a difference.

What's the best way to get over a boyfriend?
In conclusion: what is the best way you've tried in order to get over a boyfriend? Do you believe in the quick-rip plaster method, or the slow, painful recovery? What advice did you receive and which ones helped the most? What do you wish you knew back then to help yourself heal faster? Getting over a boyfriend can be a difficult thing for many women. The more we share with each other, the better we get at finding ammunition to help us cope. Please share this article with someone going through a rough patch at the moment. You may also like to read the book below, written by Pauline Anderson, on how to get over an ex. 

Here are some more love help articles and others designed for single people

Stress Management In Relationships

Stress Management In Relationships will show you real ways to cope with, and handle the stress in your relationship. In movies, the perfect relationships are those that are completely free of stress. They're relationships that represent a perfect match – two people that could not be more right for each other, to the point where they never fight, they never wonder about their relationship, and they never experience any amount of stress because of or related to their partner.

Not only is this a fairy tale – it actually goes against what we know about relationships. In fact, stress is an important part of a healthy relationship, because stress (and how a couple deals with that stress) is a type of connection. Those that learn to easily handle the stress and pressures of the relationship are those that are developing a great connection with their partner – one of mutual understanding and support. Those in relationships who struggle with stress regularly and do not find support with their partner are the relationships that struggle. (See this article,  Marriage and Healthy Arguments)


Stress Management in Relationships

Relationship stress may be brought on by any number of different factors. It may be caused by outside influences, such as a pressure filled job or fights with friends and family, or it may be caused by internal factors, such as infighting and arguments between you and your partner. Learning to handle this stress is an important part of making your relationship stronger, so here are several tips for dealing with tension in the relationship.

Stress management relationship tip 1: Talk
It's the most important, the most obvious, and yet the one that can't be said enough. Both partners need to talk about their issues when they come up. That doesn't mean that you need to bring up every little thing that bothers you, but the silent treatment, withholding sex, spending time apart – these are all bad solutions to the problem that will ultimately fail. Only talking can help, because only talking can relieve the tension and address the issue head on. There's a great article here called, How to Fall Back In Love.

Stress management relationship tip 2: Personal Reflection
Another thing you need to do is take a deep breath and ask yourself something very important that few people ask themselves: "Does it really matter?" Many people find that in relationships there are numerous little things that start to bother them. This is a false problem – there is no such thing as a little thing. However, there is such thing as giving weight to something that doesn't matter. For instance, if you are upset because your partner leaves the toilet seat up or frustrated because your partner talks during a TV show you watch, ask yourself how much that really matters. Often you'll find that something that annoyed you was annoying you because you were already annoyed, not because your partner was actually performing a problem behaviour.

Stress management relationship tip 3: Touch
Couples that are feeling stress often avoid touching each other, keeping physical distance between them because of the emotional distance they're experiencing. Once again, this will only make it worse. When you both know you're feeling stress, continue to hold hands, be close, cuddle – even make love once in a while. These things are all relaxing and natural stress relievers, and they help you avoid exacerbating your stress and anxietysymptoms.

Stress management relationship tip 4: Find a Happy Place
When you are feeling stress and tension, a good idea is to find a real, physical location that makes you feel relaxed and energized. Often that is near a beach, or a public park, or something calm like an aquarium or library. Regardless of where you choose, the idea is that you will be able to find a spot that helps you relax when you're feeling tension. From there you can integrate relaxation techniques or look for artistic outlets if that helps you relax.

Stress management relationship tip 5: Work On Yourself
Blame is a big part of relationships, often because one person feels that they are causing the other person grief.  While you can and need to talk about your problems and how you hope the other person can change, the truth is that you cannot change someone else. You can only change yourself.
This doesn’t mean you should assume that your emotions are wrong. If you feel hurt, upset, or angry, your partner may indeed be causing you this stress, and you shouldn't simply accept that you deserve to feel that stress or pressure. But there are likely other ways that you can change to make your relationship better. Work on the ways you can improve as well you can. It's possible that the more you work on yourself, the more your partner will work on themselves in response.

Relationships were never meant to be perfect, and even the best relationships experience stress and anxiety. What's important is that you address the problems head on, and look for ways to help yourself relax in the process. If you can learn how to handle the pressures, you'll find that your relationship becomes even stronger.
About the Author: Ryan Rivera offers advice on withstanding stress and anxiety that can be found on his website, 
If you liked Stress Management in Relationships or know someone who can benefit from it, please send them this article or share it on your favourite networking sites. Thank you. 

Relationship Forum: Lost Love

Relationship forum is a regular item run by this site to give some relationship help to women in general. The relationship forum element of this blog is taken from my advice column (edited, with all the identifiable details changed, of course). It sets out to address some of the more general problems faced by women who've been mistreated by their partners, and those unlucky in love. I hope that by highlighting individual stories, I can help more people in similar situations. 

Have a look at the previous relationship forums on this blog here:
Confidence to stay away
Relationship has left a hole in your life
Feeling destroyed at the end of the relationship
Finding him, only to lose him

Relationship forum: Here is 'Mary's' story of lost love

Lost love just before wedding day
Dear Anne, I am going through an extremely hard break up. I’m older have already been through a divorce, but this is worse. We were engaged to be married later this year, but he broke up with me three months before our wedding day. I really didn’t understand why. I have asked him to explain and he said I pushed him away. I guess there may have been times that I didn’t show him the attention I should have but I work full time while raising my kids.

Feelings of depression
At times I feel a little overwhelmed and want to go into hiding. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I have apologised and told him I would try harder to be more aware and not push him away. He said at this time he needed to concentrate on himself and he could only be a friend. He did say that maybe after he works on himself, things could change. I so want to hang on because I feel like we’re supposed to be together. I’m a religious person and pray about it. I hold onto the hope that it’ll work out.
Help!  Am I just grasping at straws? When I try to think of bad things about the relationship I have a hard time thinking of any.

My reply to ‘Mary’
Past mistakes in love
I can understand why it hurts so much. You felt like you had a second chance at happiness with a life partner, and determined to make this one work. When that didn't happen it almost crushed you. As the (supposed) wedding date gets closer, your pain - instead of waning, grows even more intense.
Maybe it was your inner turmoil of being scared you were going to make the same mistakes as your first marriage, that led you to push him away. While there may be an element of truth in this, it sounds as though your fiancé was partly to blame as well. It appears as though he is also unsure this will work.
The only thing I can say is that (and you won’t agree) it may be a good thing the split happened now and not after you were married. Being twice divorced would’ve only left you more wounded, and would’ve negatively affected your self-esteem.

Difficult to let love go
There doesn’t seem to be much you can do about getting him back. The most important thing now is to focus your time and effort into reassuring your kids. Remember that this break-up is affecting them maybe as much as it has affected you. They’ll try to hide their pain because they do not want to place even more pressure on you than you already have. So talk to them and reassure them that relationships can and do work. The last thing you want is for them to grow up with unresolved issues about relationships because you were too buried in your agony to help them through theirs.

You’re suffering I know, but your focus on healing them will take your mind off your pain, especially at this time when you should’ve been preparing to become a new bride.

Take stock of what love has left you
After this desperate period is over, take stock of what is left of the relationship. If it cannot be restored, determine to move on. You’ve been strong enough to do it once and you can draw wisdom from that episode to do it again. You’ll feel alone, so once the kids are okay, gather your friends and family around you and rebuild.

There isn’t time to run after this man, let go of him. I’m assuming he’s older, so if he loves you, he’ll know that he’s got to come running back soon or you’ll be gone. Tell him you’re stepping away and really do so. If he doesn’t come back build your strength and leave him alone. You found him, so you can and will find another.
The bottom line is that your kids have to be comforted and reassured. This break-up could’ve left them thinking it was their fault. But of course, you wouldn’t know this until you really sit down, take time off, and speak with them.

Sometimes relationships aren't meant to be
Find calm, find peace. When you pray, stop asking to be reunited with this man and instead, ask God to give you the peace to let go. Always remember that as a Father, God sometimes answers ‘NO’ to our prayers when He knows something isn’t good for us. It’s only natural for a parent to do this. If your child asked you for a weapon what would your answer be?
Maybe God has already given you his answer…

Conclusion - relationship forum: lost love
If you've been affected by similar circumstances, please feel free to send me an email from my contact page or in the comments below. Also, if you know anyone who will benefit from this piece, send it to them by email or share it on your favourite networking sites. As always, thank you for visiting The Relationship Blog. Have a look at the rest of the stories in the relationship forum series. They're linked above.

Have You Got Business Plans For 2012

I know a lot of stay at home mums and working mothers are now looking for help with their startup businesses. The spread of Internet use means that a lot of people can now work from home with their very own businesses.  If you've got a business plan, a small capital and the will to stick with it, there are corporations out there (like this company formation in Hong Kong) set up just to help you achieve your dream of working for yourself.

A friend of mine has just started her own shoe design business from home. She had some amazing ideas for shoes (and bags) and decided to give it a go, even though she already works outside the home. Work dissatisfaction is sometimes the key to finding yourself a career path you're perfect for. After all, working on something you're passionate about is truly a contentment not many people find.

This incorporate company in Hong Kong helps you with all the nuts and bolts of the start up business game. All you need is your plan, your idea and your dream and they will get you the logistics you need. Not all of us can do everything. And in order to do something right, you need the specialist help on the element with which you're weakest.

If you're already working in an office, but are dissatisfied with your job, or if you're a WAHM and have a desire to start your own business you should look into this. It may be just the thing you need.

How To Be Friends With An Ex

Breaking up is hard to do. Many people try to avoid the pain of that sudden break by promising to stay friends with your ex and trying to maintain some connection. Others may lament the loss of someone who meant so much at one time and try to adapt that relationship by forming a lasting friendship after the break up. However, maintaining a friendship with someone for whom you once had such strong feelings can be harder than breaking up. If you want to stay friends with an ex, there are several things you will need to do:

How to be friends with an ex

staying friends with your ex can be very difficult

To be friends with an ex, consider why you want to be friends
Start by evaluating your motivations. Why do you want to stay friends with your ex? Perhaps you have unresolved guilt about how you behaved as a partner and you want to make amends. Maybe you were the one who ended the relationship and you want to soften the blow by continuing some type of contact. If these are the kinds of reasons motivating you to pursue the friendship, then you should make a clean break. Friendships founded on these reasons will not last, and the end of the relationship will be harder than the break up. For friendship help and advice click on the link.

To stay friends with your ex you must keep it 'friendly'
If you still have any unresolved feelings for your ex - or your ex for you - then your friendship will not be able to move forward. You will simply be prolonging your breakup and holding each other back from moving on. Make sure you've given both of you time to let your romantic feelings go, then focus on keeping the relationship platonic. Don't continue to have romantic relations, and don't engage in romantic behavior like flirting or discussing your feelings for one another. 

To be friends with an ex, redefine the relationship
It is easy to fall into old patterns. If you're going to be friends with your ex, you have to redefine the relationship. You can't expect to have the same rights, such as knowing the other's whereabouts, or being present at functions with family or friends, or expecting the other person to perform certain favors. You may not be able to talk about some of the things you used to talk about, as you may not enjoy the same level of intimacy. Understanding that a friendship will impose more emotional distance than a romantic relationship will help you to create a new, successful relationship.

To be friends with an ex, don't rehash the past
You have broken up, and the past is behind you. Don't use your new friendship as an opportunity to continue to work out past grievances, or even to reminisce about fond memories. Don't spend time talking about things that happened while you were a couple, bringing up past complaints, or trying to work out your lingering anger over past problems. If these issues are not resolved enough to move past them, you aren't ready to establish a friendship.

To be friends with an ex, be prepared to face a new romance
Finally, you should be prepared to accept the fact that your new "friend" will eventually start dating someone else, and will one day fall in love with someone else. Accept that you will at some time have to (at least) have a superficial conversation about your former love interest's new love interest. You don't have to be your new friend's confidante and offer love advice, but you should be able to have casual conversation about the new relationship.

Conclusion: how to be friends with an ex
Learning to become friends with an ex will take some time. You have to give yourself enough distance to get over your former romantic feelings and to move past the problems that caused your break up in the first place. Once you have done that, you should be prepared to redefine the relationship on platonic terms. With time and effort, you could find a satisfying friendship to replace the once happy relationship you shared.

About the author:
Amanda Tradwick is a grant researcher and writer for She has a Bachelor's degrees from the University of Delaware, and has recently finished research on college grants and student grants for adults.
Anne Lyken-Garner is a published author, editor and freelance writer. Her specialities include relationships and confidence building. You can find her inspirational memoir here.
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