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Separation – helpful tips for ending a relationship

Helpful hints for ending a relationship because …..
Breaking Up Is Hard To Do


Remember when you held me tight,
And you kissed me all through the night.
Think of all that we been through,
And breakin’ up is hard to do.

sang Neil Sedaka in the 1960s.

Ending is a timeless, painful issue and a hard one to face. There is no Good Way to finish a love affair.
Many different circumstances can cause one, or both of a couple to re-evaluate a relationship. Sometimes it can be a particular, seemingly insurmountable, issue, but sometimes the yawning gap just quietly sneaks up causing a mighty draft between the two of you.
Back in the day, there was the possibility that an ending could be just that  …. finality.
But now with social media feeds, there is every chance that an ex may show up from time to time, and sometimes apparently having all kinds of fun without you.

Try and have a face-to-face conversation, however painful.

Never, ever allow a relationship to end by text or email. Those cliches – ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ or ‘I just need some space’ are tired and confusing. The truth is that disappointment has overtaken hope and at least one of you now believes that there is no creative way forward together.

Treat each other with some respect and sensitivity if at all possible.

Anger is a useful way of exhibiting distancing behaviour and therefore a great defence (‘I wish I had never met you’ or ‘I’ve wasted the best years of my life’) and is a lot easier to manage than the underlying emotion which is usually great sadness.

Do avoid the ‘Lets be friends’ route. It is possible, but unlikely at this point and usually a lot easier once some time has passed to allow you to become separate individuals again.

If you have loved, then never allow an ending to eclipse what you have had. It does no justice to either of you or your relationship.
The wonderful songwriter Carol King celebrates this in the poignant ‘It’s Too Late’ – singing, ‘Still, I’m glad for what we had and how I once loved you’

But before the final blow, take time to evaluate. Relationship counselling is not always driven by the need to remain a couple, and insights can facilitate a less painful and more creative ending.
Sometimes it also becomes apparent that with time and kindness, people will come to realise that a little work can help them to understand the reasons underlying what has changed and to find a different and better way forward together.

Christina Fraser

Cultivating Understanding in Our Relationships

I was listening to an interview with the Composer, Phillip Glass, last night and was struck by an answer he gave regarding his own father. After Glass told him that he was marrying a woman outside his faith, his father responded by telling his son that he would no longer be welcome in the family home.

“Time passed,” Glass told the interviewer. “And my father slowly began to speak to me again.” There was no bitterness in Glass’ voice, no recrimination, just an acceptance of the situation. He went on to say that as he grew older, he began to understand his father’s thoughts and reactions. Read More →

Drama versus Denial. Opposites attract.

Depending on childhood experiences, adults often seek difference as part of the attraction within the love of their choice of partner.

This conscious or unconscious choice can be part of the glue for a long term relationship.  It can be a positive collusion but it can also carry negatives which need altered management skills.

An example of the interaction of drama versus denial might develop in the following way.

In a social interaction, a couple experiencing stress, anxieties, loss, trauma or any of life’s difficult feelings, might be asked how they are.

The person defending their painful feelings with drama will go into full details of the situation dotting all the Is and crossing all the Ts.  The defence of denial from the other person might encourage the reply, ‘We’re fine’.

These different ways of protecting yourself can be comforting at the outset of a relationship because each side feels safer when they see no apparent harm coming to their loved one when they act out their feelings so carefully defended against by the witness.

This can encourage each person to try and modify their defence which may have become extreme.

Sometimes, however, our therapists at Coupleworks notice that the difference becomes so polarised that couples enter therapy to try and make some sense of their estrangement.

Clare Ireland.

Sex Over 50

Sex Over 50                                                                                                                                                                     Women are faced with transitions their entire lives. Be it childhood, adolescence, first sexual relationship, childbirth, menopause or the aging process. As women, we learn to grow from these changes and learn about ourselves in ways we possibly never expected to. Sex over 50 is no different. When we are able to see it as just one more opportunity for growth all is possible.

The Facts                                                                                                                                                                             Sexual desire diminishes post menopause; women produce less estrogen so the vagina becomes less elastic and lubricated. These are issues that can be easily addressed.    Having a sexual relationship keeps women (and men) feeling attractive, confident and connected to their partner and that can’t be a bad thing!

Decreased Desire                                                                                                                                                  Testosterone, which decreases after menopause, plays an important role in arousal in both men and women. It is normal for desire to decrease but it doesn’t go away completely. Addressing this through hormone therapy is one way but do consult your doctor to discuss the side effects verses the benefits.

Accepting and making your sexual relationship a priority will keep you and your partner close and connected. Like any change, accepting the loss of what was, creates endless possibilities for what can be. Talk about your sex life with your partner, but first, be clear about what your expectations are now and what you hope for going forward.

My experience when working with couples is that they rarely talk about sex with one another, especially when there are issues that arise. The beauty of getting older is that women often find their voice to say what they feel and are more confident to ask for what they want.

Try not to take yourself too seriously, have fun, be playful and surrender; this is an opportunity for something new and interesting to emerge.

Body Image                                                                                                                                                                        Let’s face it; we all look better than our mothers did when they were our age. We exercise, eat well and get the help we need to look better. Still, as our bodies age, our energy decreases and no matter how well we take care of ourselves, we do look older.

Just because we’ve reach a certain age doesn’t mean we should keep our sexuality and our bodies under wraps. Appreciating the experience, wisdom and love of life, that age brings, is something to embrace and bring into our relationships.

How to have better sex:                                                                                                                                                      Don’t let your body dictate your sex life. If your body isn’t producing the lubrication it once was there are other ways (for example, more foreplay) and products that can help stimulate your natural lubrication.

Moisturize yourself daily. Vaginal moisturizers help increase natural lubrication and elasticity. The more often you have sex that includes vaginal penetration; the easier it is for you to maintain lubrication and elasticity. Problem solved!

Being intimate doesn’t require us to be perfect, but it does help when we accept ourselves and appreciate how we look and feel now. Being present to ourselves in a loving and realistic way opens up more possibilities to let go sexually and stretch into a deeper and more sensual relationship. Being attractive and sexual doesn’t fade with age; it just changes.

Shirlee is an individual, couples and psychosexual psychotherapist in Notting Hill.





Love Sex and Intimacy Fair 19-20 October

If you are in the Brighton and Hove area this weekend, or if you can make it from London – we would recommend that you visit the Love, Sex and Intimacy Fair at Hove Town Hall on the 19-20th October.

To quote from their website ‘The fair has the intention of exploring the world of intimate relationships and allows a safe, non-judgmental space to look at what love, sex and intimacy mean to you.’

From our experience of working with individuals and couples in London, we find that one of the biggest tensions in people’s lives is where their desire for intimacy isn’t met by their experience of it in their relationships.

The list of workshop leaders is very impressive and the exciting programme has a great deal in it for everyone.  What’s more there is a strong fun element too.

Further details can be found on the website

Shirlee Kay featured in Cosmopolitan

Do you remember your first time?

Whether you lost your virginity with your first serious boyfriend or it was a one night stand that’s best forgotten, the first time you had sex can affect your life.

Read more…