Thursday, 17 January 2013

The Beauty of the Female Bond....!

I recently witnessed the dissolution of a friendship between two women who had been extremely close. It was interesting to see the two diverse paths each decided to take in regards to the healing of this tragic event. The one woman chose to do everything in her power to create havoc in the life of the other. She used vengeful tactics to express her anger and hurt, which included speaking badly of her former friend in their tight knit community. In the end, this behavior backfired on her. The second woman took a very different approach. It started with forgiveness. She reached out to the other woman, trying to mend the misunderstanding. When that didn't work, she turned to the network of other women in her life, letting them swaddle her with their love and support. It was beautiful to witness such companionship amongst women and to see the bonds tighten because of honesty and humility.

Female friendships can be complex. When we are young, we envy our friends, we covet their possessions and sometimes, even their boyfriends. We aren't always taught the importance of being happy for one another so when we reach adulthood, these intricate insecurities travel with us. I remember when I was in my early twenties and my best friend had it all, or so I thought. She had a dream job working for a network television company and she had boyfriend after boyfriend while I couldn't even get a date. In hindsight, I know I should have been happy for her, but I wasn't. She possessed all the things I thought I wanted in my life and I was jealous. I couldn't find it in my heart to support her, and I was always putting her down, mirroring my own lack of confidence onto her. In the end, I believe this led to the disintegration of our friendship. It was a difficult life lesson for me since deep down, I loved her very much and was grief stricken over this loss. After that, I decided to change my rapport with women.

Throughout history, women have bonded together during difficult times. When the men were off to war, the wives and widows turned to each other for a sense of community and family. Scarlet O'Haras were a rarity. For the most part, the bond of female friendships was resilient, and this was prevalent in all cultures around the world. So then, how did we become our own worst enemies?

We live in a culture that glamorizes negative relations between women. Reality shows profit from promoting competition and conflict, bringing out the ugliness inside of the participants. We even have the gall to call these people celebrities, as though we should celebrate this type of behavior.

A study at the University of Michigan focused on the importance of female friendships. In a news release, Stephanie Brown, the lead author of the paper found that "Most of the hormones involved in bonding and helping behavior lead to reductions in stress and anxiety." During a study at UCLA, Dr. Laura Cousino Klein, now at Penn State University discovered that during times of stress, men tend to go into "fight or flight" mode. For women, when the hormone, oxytocin (the love hormone) is released, they tend to gather with other women instead. By doing this, more oxytocin is released and acts as a calming agent. Our relationships with other women in turn, lower our blood pressure and cholesterol. "There's no doubt that friends are helping us live longer," Dr. Klein states.

Today, I am surrounded by beautiful, smart, successful women. Instead of envying all they have, I take so much pleasure in watching them grow, watching them succeed, seeing them in loving relationships. I'm always there to nurture them when their hearts are in need of healing, and I never find pleasure from in their failings. I love that I can partake in their happiness and especially, be a cause for it at times. I can say this about every woman who is an important part of my life, and judging by the support they give me in return, I'm sure they can say the same about me too. It took a lot of growth on my part to reach this point, but now that I have, my life is more fulfilling than ever. Yes, my friends are good for my health, and I anticipate a long, happy lifetime of joy with them.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

How Do You Know If He's In Love....!

Are you trying to figure out whether the guy you're seeing is as interested in you as you are in him? Does he act like he loves you, but he never says it? So you just want to hear those three simple words, but they just won't come out of his mouth! What do you do? Learn to read his signs!

Men communicate with actions far better than they do with language. They are physical creatures and are not as verbal as us women. If a guy truly cares for you, he will show it in his own way. It can be very discomforting for a man if you constantly question whether or not he cares for you, so it is important to be able to decode his actions and discern this for yourself. You can easily hurt his feelings by claiming that he doesn't care about you, and a hurt man is a man who won't want to be around you!

While he may not say the words out loud, he will undoubtedly behave differently when he loves a woman. Does he go the extra mile to make you smile? Can you tell that he's putting effort into planning dates or trying to make you feel good about yourself? These are his ways of showing that he loves you and you should take them as a sign that he cares.

Acknowledging your ideas, opinions and preferences is something a guy will do when he cares about you. He'll want your input on lots of things. Does his new sweater look good? What movie do you want to see? Does the dinner he made for you need more salt? When a guy is in love, he will instinctually want to please you. Asking for your thoughts on various scenarios is a good indication that he loves you.

Does he support you in all that you do? Whether it's resolving an argument with your sister or planning a project when you're up for a big promotion at work, if he cares about you, he will be by your side. He doesn't want you to be upset or sad, and he will stand by you. He will do what he can to help you succeed, and be proud of you when you do.

Sensitivity to your feelings is another good way of discerning whether your man genuinely cares for you. Does he make sure that you know he is there for you? If you are angry after a bad day at work or depressed after an unpleasant conversation with a friend, is he willing to listen and try to make you feel better? Being there for you emotionally means he loves you.

Does he shy away when you talk about taking your relationship to the next level? Whether or not that's committing to being in an exclusive relationship with you, moving in together or popping the question, it is important to know whether or not he's in it for the long haul and not still wondering whether or not you are the girl for him.

Love and relationships are never simple - and what fun would it be if they were? Just open your eyes and pay attention to your guy's behavior. You'll be able to figure out where his heart lies from a few little signs.