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Expert Q&A - Healthy Relationships! 20th August

ConnorConnor Deactivated Posts: 508 Incredible Poster
edited August 2021 in Sex & Relationships
Hey everyone!

Our next Expert Q&A will be covering healthy relationships! This includes all types of relationships, including romantic relationships and family relationships :) This is taking place on the 20th August, and you can post below if you have any questions.

Who is the Expert?
Ailish (She/her)
Hi, my name is Ailish (she/ her) and I’m 28. I’m the Authentic Voice Coordinator on the Your Best Friend project, which means it’s my job to make sure young people’s voices are at the heart of what we do. Before this, I was a support worker at Rape Crisis centres for 8 years and I got my start in the field teaching LGBTQ+ inclusive sex and relationships education. I’m also at college part time training to be a counsellor so my heart goes out to anyone else who’s been learning from home this year! Working in domestic abuse can be full on sometimes so I’m big into my self-care and when I’m not working I love hill running (very slowly) and making dodgy DIY projects.

I’m so excited to hear all your questions but I’d like to put some big old quote marks around me being here as an “expert”. I know everyone of you will have a wealth of knowledge and skills you’ve learned from your own life. I see that as just as valid as what I’ve learned through my work and activism so I think everyone in this thread is an expert in their own way. I just hope that my perspective gives you a helpful way to see things, even if it’s different to yours

When?
You can start asking your questions today and the date that your questions will be answered is on 20th August! Ailish will be available from 6-8pm :)

Where?
Your questions will be answered in this thread!

How will this work?
If you have a question for our expert, you can either write it out in this thread, PM @The Mix or use the survey form, where you can ask your questions anonymously!
Post edited by TheMix on
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    Lauren223Lauren223 Posts: 71 Budding Regular
    Hello!

    As someone with BPD, I get overly anxious about people leaving me (both romantically and platonically), so I was wondering what is a good way to communicate this without putting me in a vulnerable situation?

    Likewise, when is it a good time to tell a romantic partner about diagnoses?

    Thanks!
  • Options
    DancerDancer Community Champion Posts: 7,917 Master Poster
    edited August 2021
    I struggle with the relationship with my dad and my parents also struggle with the relationship with eachother because it always feels like he doesn't care or can be bothered to do anything. It is particularly hard at the moment with my mum being in a lot of pain and stress due to a major shoulder injury and my dad not bothering to help. On Fathers Day, my dad decided that he would go out all day and just leave me and my mum by ourselves which made me really upset. I have autism and it sometimes feels like that is the reason for my dad not wanting to have a relationship with me. I live with my mum and my dad before you get confused. How can I try and help the relationship before it gets worse? It seems like my dad could be depressed as it has been ongoing and getting worse over years. I don't really have the option to go to the GP about my dad as I am only a teenager and he goes to a different GP surgery.
    "There's a part of me I can't get back. A little girl grew up too fast. All it took was once. I'll never be the same." ~ Demi Lovato
    "The way that I have found the light in my life is through the expressive arts because I know that I will be accepted for the way I am." ~ Me
    "I'm going to get strong again and see you soon. " ~ Anonymous 
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    StaryoveStaryove Posts: 2 Newbie
    in your experience, what are the signs of an unhealthy romantic relationship? are there any red flags to look for (particularly ones that aren't widely recognised)?

    also, what did you take away with you from working at rape crisis for 8 years?

    thanks for doing this :)
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    AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,056 Boards Guru
    edited August 2021
    Thank you for all the questions everyone, these are all really great questions. Feel free to keep posting any you have, Ailish will be online from 6pm tonight to answer them :)

    We've received a few questions through the form and on Instagram which I'll post below:
    1. Hi, I suffer from anxiety and body dysmorphia and constantly worried that no one will want me, or if they enter a relationship they'll only stay until someone better comes along. I'm in my mid-twenties, only dated one person and never had a relationship, so I'm worried that my anxieties and lack of experience will ruin any chance of having a healthy and happy relationship if the right person comes along. Do you have any advice on overcoming these anxieties or how to manage the body dysmorphic thoughts so that they do not negatively impact a relationship?
    2. Can someone be abusive even if they don't hit you?
    3. How can you leave someone who threatens to hurt themselves every time you try
    4. How can I tell if I like my friend more than a friend?
    5. How can I get past the feeling that every partner will eventually leave me?
    6. For somebody who is inexperienced both sexually and with romantic relationships, and who struggles socially. How would you suggest they go about meeting somebody to explore and experience these things with? How open should they be about their circumstances? And how should they best manage insecurity and anxiety with regards to sexual and romantic connections. Thanks!
    Maybe somethings don't get better, but we do. We get stronger. We learn to live with our situations as messy and ugly as they are. We fix what we can and we adapt to what we can't. Maybe some of us will never fully be okay, but at least we're here. We're still trying. We're doing the best we can. That's worth celebrating too ❤
  • Options
    DancerDancer Community Champion Posts: 7,917 Master Poster
    I struggle to form relationships with people due to my autism and I feel worried that this could have an impact on me in the future. How can I work on forming relationships and trust with people?
    "There's a part of me I can't get back. A little girl grew up too fast. All it took was once. I'll never be the same." ~ Demi Lovato
    "The way that I have found the light in my life is through the expressive arts because I know that I will be accepted for the way I am." ~ Me
    "I'm going to get strong again and see you soon. " ~ Anonymous 
  • Options
    AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,056 Boards Guru
    Just posting a few more questions that have come through today:
    What's your biggest tip for having a healthy relationship with your partner
    A young person has reached out to us anonymously to share that their dad is emotionally and physically abusive - any suggestions for them?

    Maybe somethings don't get better, but we do. We get stronger. We learn to live with our situations as messy and ugly as they are. We fix what we can and we adapt to what we can't. Maybe some of us will never fully be okay, but at least we're here. We're still trying. We're doing the best we can. That's worth celebrating too ❤
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    edited August 2021
    Hi everyone! I've been watching your questions come in all day and am really excited to be talking to you about them. I'm going to be with you until 8 and will try and get through everything because they all feel important. Some feel very personal so I'm very moved you would share them with me and the rest of the community. I think it says a lot about what a supportive space you have all built here <3

    As some of these topics are emotional, just a reminder that if anything upsets you or triggers you, look after yourself. Remind yourself you are safe now, take a deep breath, look around you, have a little dance and a wiggle and just be super kind to yourself.
    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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    AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,056 Boards Guru
    Welcome @Ailish thank you for running a q&a session for the community this evening. I'm going to be moderating the discussion behind the scenes and I'm looking forward to reading through your answers to the questions :)
    Maybe somethings don't get better, but we do. We get stronger. We learn to live with our situations as messy and ugly as they are. We fix what we can and we adapt to what we can't. Maybe some of us will never fully be okay, but at least we're here. We're still trying. We're doing the best we can. That's worth celebrating too ❤
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    edited August 2021
    Lauren223 wrote: »
    Hello!

    As someone with BPD, I get overly anxious about people leaving me (both romantically and platonically), so I was wondering what is a good way to communicate this without putting me in a vulnerable situation?

    Likewise, when is it a good time to tell a romantic partner about diagnoses?

    Thanks!

    Firstly, @Lauren223, I think it is amazing that you have the self-awareness to know that about yourself AND to be thinking about how to set boundaries that feel safe to you. That’s some top self-care right there. I want to clarify that when you’ve said ‘without putting me in a vulnerable situation’ I’ve taken that to mean ‘without sharing more than I’m comfortable with about my diagnosis’ so if you meant something different, sorry I’ve misunderstood!

    Although I know for some people a diagnosis is an important part of their identity and if that’s how you feel I don’t want to dismiss that! But I tend to think of a diagnosis as a way to help a person understand themselves and navigate the world. Your diagnosis is something which exists to help you as a whole person. So I don’t think it’s keeping a secret if you want to be private about that or talk about the feelings that come up in relation to your BPD as feelings in their own right without saying ‘this is part of my BPD’. If you want to be careful about sharing your diagnosis, would it feel like a safer option to not say ‘My BPD makes me anxious about people leaving me’ but instead say ‘I feel anxious that you will leave me/ that people will leave me’?

    From a communication perspective, it also feels useful to think about a second bit to that sentence: ‘I want you to know that because…’ Do you want them to understand your anxiety might make you act a certain way? Are there things you’d like them to do to reassure you? They will have ways they like to communicate too so how you do that will be a joint decision based on what you both need as people. For example, I’ve written notes for some people with BPD I’ve worked with saying ‘I was telling the truth when I said that positive thing about you’ or ‘I will still be here when you get back from holidays’ so even if I am not physically there they can reassure themselves I’m not gone for good.

    It also feels like it would be empowering for you to look at that anxiety about people leaving – where does it come from and are there ways can you soothe yourself when you feel that way? I know that fear of being left can feel world-ending and that a few deep breaths won’t fix it! But coping strategies can sometimes get us from everything being 99% awful ‘I-can’t-bear-this’ to 89% awful ‘this-sucks-but-I-can-get-through’. If you did want to look more in depth at this anxiety it feels like something the support of a therapist might help with.

    I think when you want to tell a romantic partner about a diagnosis is such a personal thing and all of these factors come into it. So I’d really struggle to give a hard and fast timeline! But it’s all about when you feel it’s right to do that, how confident you feel in your trust in that person and your relationship. It might be a decision to talk over with someone you trust outside of the romantic relationship when you felt the time is right :) .
    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    Dancer wrote: »
    I struggle with the relationship with my dad and my parents also struggle with the relationship with eachother because it always feels like he doesn't care or can be bothered to do anything. It is particularly hard at the moment with my mum being in a lot of pain and stress due to a major shoulder injury and my dad not bothering to help. On Fathers Day, my dad decided that he would go out all day and just leave me and my mum by ourselves which made me really upset. I have autism and it sometimes feels like that is the reason for my dad not wanting to have a relationship with me. I live with my mum and my dad before you get confused. How can I try and help the relationship before it gets worse? It seems like my dad could be depressed as it has been ongoing and getting worse over years. I don't really have the option to go to the GP about my dad as I am only a teenager and he goes to a different GP surgery.

    @Dancer I know the question you’ve asked here is ‘How can I try and help the relationship before it gets worse?’ but when I read this full post I was wondering if the question you are really asking yourself is ‘how can I make my Dad be the person my Mum and I need him to be?’ I might be wrong on that so I’ll give some thoughts on both and you can take what’s useful.

    If you’d like to try and help the relationship, the first thing that comes to my mind is to tell your Dad that you’d like to have more of a relationship with him. Being specific might be useful so saying something like ‘It’d be really nice if we could do have a hobby we did together’ or ‘Could we have one evening a week where did something as a family like watch a film?’ You know your Dad better than me so I don’t know if you think that would work or not? You’ve mentioned you’re autistic and that looks different for different people, but I know emotional conversations can be tricky for some autistic people. If you did want to have that conversation, are there ways of communicating that normally work for you?

    The important thing to me here is that all you can do is ask and your Dad might not be able to give you that relationship right now. If the question you’re asking is ‘how can I make my Dad be the person Mum and I need him to be?’ unfortunately we can’t make people act the way we want, even if we desperately would love them to be that way. So if you did have that conversation, it feels important to me to think of ways to look after yourself if he rejects that request. I hear you when you say you want to help if he’s depressed and that’s really kind, but how your Dad chooses to act isn’t your fault and his behaviour isn’t your responsibility.

    And when you said that it sometimes feels like you being autistic is the reason for your dad not wanting to have a relationship with you, it made me really sad to think that you might think you’re the problem here. I’m sure – like really 100% positive – that there is nothing about you that makes you less deserving of love and care from your Dad or anyone else. Reading your post the sense I got was of someone caring and responsible. Those are both amazing traits but it’s important to be kind to yourself and get support for you too <3
    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    Staryove wrote: »
    in your experience, what are the signs of an unhealthy romantic relationship? are there any red flags to look for (particularly ones that aren't widely recognised)?

    also, what did you take away with you from working at rape crisis for 8 years?

    thanks for doing this :)

    @Staryove, thank YOU for asking such an interesting question! There are lots of good lists about red flags (like this one https://womensaid.org.uk/the-survivors-handbook/am-i-in-an-abusive-relationship/) so rather than give a list, I’m going to give the basic principles I use to reflect on things like this when someone says something about their partner which gets my spidey senses tingling.

    1) Is this relationship making you feel good?
    I think there can be so much pressure to have a boyfriend or girlfriend sometimes we can focus on keeping the relationship going even if it makes us feel rubbish. We spend a lot of time talking about unhealthy relationships but not a lot of time saying ‘What do I really want?’ If your relationship makes you actively feel bad about yourself or if you feel small after spending time with that person, I think that is a red flag, whatever behaviour it is that’s causing that.

    2) Is the power equal in this relationship?
    Does this behaviour or belief give one person more control or say in the relationship than the other? Does it restrict one person’s options? One example of this which always rings alarm bells is when people say their partner uses their neurodivergence or mental health diagnoses against them e.g. ‘my partner says it’s not worth me doing the shopping because my dyslexia means I forget things’. Instead of finding ways to empower that person to do something they struggle with, they cut off an option for that person and that’s a red flag to me.

    And for your second question… It’s hard to put into words what I took away from working at Rape Crisis for 8 years. People always think about the horrible things you hear, which is definitely a part of it, but for me the flip side was getting to see resilience and tenderness and bravery and healing I never knew was possible in a human being. I know it might sound weird for a job when you’re hearing about such painful stuff but working at Rape Crisis gave me a really really deep sense of hope. It was an honour to have that hope and be able to say to people in deep despair, 'hey, I've seen this get better and I believe it can for you too'.
    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    edited August 2021
    1. Hi, I suffer from anxiety and body dysmorphia and constantly worried that no one will want me, or if they enter a relationship they'll only stay until someone better comes along. I'm in my mid-twenties, only dated one person and never had a relationship, so I'm worried that my anxieties and lack of experience will ruin any chance of having a healthy and happy relationship if the right person comes along. Do you have any advice on overcoming these anxieties or how to manage the body dysmorphic thoughts so that they do not negatively impact a relationship?

    Hey, thanks for such an honest question. Reading this, it strikes me that there is a focus on your anxiety and body dysmorphia being a reason for no one to want you or something that will ruin a relationship, and the lack of a relationship is the problem. But it makes me think about how you feel living with yourself, before we even get to anyone else. I imagine it’s hard to be anxious and not feel at home in your own body all the time, never mind the added worry of no one wanting you because of that. I get a sense of you putting yourself under a lot of pressure to be ‘good enough’ for someone to love, or that you’re having to live up to ‘someone better’. I wonder how it would feel to take the pressure off being good enough for someone else and look at how you feel about yourself first? It feels tricky to know how to overcome your anxieties or body dysmorphia without knowing more about what those are like for you but to me I think if you looked at ways to work through that just for yourself, that would be valuable (because you’re valuable!) And then they are likely to be more manageable if a relationship comes along.

    I also am picking up an idea in here that some people are ‘less deserving’ of romantic relationships or have to mask symptoms of mental illness to hold on to a relationship and I’d like to challenge that! I know people with body dysmorphia and anxiety who are in loving relationships with stable partners who saw that part of them and didn’t say ‘I’m out of here’ but said ‘I’d like to help with that’.
    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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    AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,056 Boards Guru
    edited August 2021
    Thank you so much for your answers so far @Ailish - they've been so helpful reading though. I really liked what you shared here in response to @Lauren223's question about safe ways to communicate how you're feeling without sharing your diagnosis:
    If you want to be careful about sharing your diagnosis, would it feel like a safer option to not say ‘My BPD makes me anxious about people leaving me’ but instead say ‘I feel anxious that you will leave me/ that people will leave me’?

    Really interesting to also to hear your answer to @Staryove's question and thinking about whether a relationship makes you feel good about yourself and whether the power is equal - all important signs to be aware of.

    Also really inspiring what you shared here about your work at Rape Crisis:
    It’s hard to put into words what I took away from working at Rape Crisis for 8 years. People always think about the horrible things you hear, which is definitely a part of it, but for me the flip side was getting to see resilience and tenderness and bravery and healing I never knew was possible in a human being. I know it might sound weird for a job when you’re hearing about such painful stuff but working at Rape Crisis gave me a really really deep sense of hope. It was an honour to have that hope and be able to say to people in deep despair, 'hey, I've seen this get better and I believe it can for you too'.

    Hope is something I really love about this line of work too, particularly helping people find that hope <3
    Maybe somethings don't get better, but we do. We get stronger. We learn to live with our situations as messy and ugly as they are. We fix what we can and we adapt to what we can't. Maybe some of us will never fully be okay, but at least we're here. We're still trying. We're doing the best we can. That's worth celebrating too ❤
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    edited August 2021
    2. Can someone be abusive even if they don't hit you?

    Yes, absolutely. I’ve worked with hundreds of abuse survivors and many of them have said that it was the emotional abuse that they found hardest. Power and control are key parts of abuse and that can look like controlling someone by physically forcing them or hurting them if they don’t do what you want. But it can also look like controlling them with lies, isolation, limiting their access to money, humiliation or intimidating someone and that’s just as harmful. A really good summary of some of the tactics you can see in abusive relationships is in the Power and Control Wheel https://theduluthmodel.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/PowerandControl.pdf which is often used to train people who work with abuse survivors. I always find it a useful reminder of how diverse abuse can look but that power and control is at the heart of it.

    Post edited by Ailish on
    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    edited August 2021
    @Aife I always find The Mix a hopeful and inspiring place to be! I was lurking on the boards for the Your Best Friend branding consultations and loved how much everyone uplifted each other :)
    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    3. How can you leave someone who threatens to hurt themselves every time you try

    My heart goes out to you reading this <3:( It sounds like this is a question that comes from experience to me. I hope you are safe. If someone is threatening to hurt themselves when you try to leave, that to me shows quite a serious level of control and manipulation. This might sound harsh but you’re not responsible for what someone else chooses to do to themselves. If you want to leave and they choose to hurt themselves, you didn’t make them do that. Reading this, the word that jumps out to me is ‘threatens’. When I hear that, I don’t get the sense of someone who is struggling with self-harm reaching out for help, it feels like someone leaving you with no option but to stay. I think it would be worth seeing if there is a service near you who could support you with leaving. If you don’t feel like you can do that, I would have a little think about what you can do to keep yourself safe if you choose to leave.

    I am really surprising myself with how strongly I feel about this! I used to feel really differently about this and I’m trying to think about what changed, in case it would help you. I think it was seeing this used as a tactic of control a number of times. I think it was also talking a lot to people who self-harmed and were suicidal and noticing they never used it as a threat when we were talking. I think that made me see that the same idea or feeling can be expressed in very different ways if someone is trying to control or if someone is trying to get help.
    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    4. How can I tell if I like my friend more than a friend?

    Oh my gosh, I know that feeling. For me, this is instantly a list moment but I make all my decisions with lists. How do you normally make decisions or reflect on things? Perhaps that could help.

    I’m also wondering if it would help to compare it to how you felt if you ever had a crush or were in love before and see how it’s the same or different. Or if you haven’t had a crush, to compare it to how you feel about other people you are close to. I don’t want to make assumptions about how you experience romance or attraction e.g. if you are asexual so it might not just be about whether you think they’re sexy or good looking.

    I might be taking 2 and 2 and making 5 here, so ignore me if I am! But I am wondering if there is something else that’s making you think ‘can this person really be more than a friend?’. Like them being someone you’ve known for a really long time or someone who is a gender other than the gender you thought you were attracted to. Or also that there is a second question hiding underneath which is ‘If I do like this person more than a friend, what do I do about it??’ I find if I have an emotional decision to make it helps me to try and spot all the different emotions and questions tied up with the main question. That breaks it into more manageable chunks for me.

    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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    AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,056 Boards Guru
    Ailish wrote: »
    3. How can you leave someone who threatens to hurt themselves every time you try

    My heart goes out to you reading this <3:( It sounds like this is a question that comes from experience to me. I hope you are safe. If someone is threatening to hurt themselves when you try to leave, that to me shows quite a serious level of control and manipulation. This might sound harsh but you’re not responsible for what someone else chooses to do to themselves. If you want to leave and they choose to hurt themselves, you didn’t make them do that. Reading this, the word that jumps out to me is ‘threatens’. When I hear that, I don’t get the sense of someone who is struggling with self-harm reaching out for help, it feels like someone leaving you with no option but to stay. I think it would be worth seeing if there is a service near you who could support you with leaving. If you don’t feel like you can do that, I would have a little think about what you can do to keep yourself safe if you choose to leave.

    I am really surprising myself with how strongly I feel about this! I used to feel really differently about this and I’m trying to think about what changed, in case it would help you. I think it was seeing this used as a tactic of control a number of times. I think it was also talking a lot to people who self-harmed and were suicidal and noticing they never used it as a threat when we were talking. I think that made me see that the same idea or feeling can be expressed in very different ways if someone is trying to control or if someone is trying to get help.

    Thank you for your lovely supportive answer here @Ailish. Just to follow on from this with another question, you mentioned there are services out there that can support people with leaving someone in tough situations like this one. Do you have any services you would recommend to help with this?
    Maybe somethings don't get better, but we do. We get stronger. We learn to live with our situations as messy and ugly as they are. We fix what we can and we adapt to what we can't. Maybe some of us will never fully be okay, but at least we're here. We're still trying. We're doing the best we can. That's worth celebrating too ❤
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    Aife wrote: »
    Ailish wrote: »
    3. How can you leave someone who threatens to hurt themselves every time you try

    My heart goes out to you reading this <3:( It sounds like this is a question that comes from experience to me. I hope you are safe. If someone is threatening to hurt themselves when you try to leave, that to me shows quite a serious level of control and manipulation. This might sound harsh but you’re not responsible for what someone else chooses to do to themselves. If you want to leave and they choose to hurt themselves, you didn’t make them do that. Reading this, the word that jumps out to me is ‘threatens’. When I hear that, I don’t get the sense of someone who is struggling with self-harm reaching out for help, it feels like someone leaving you with no option but to stay. I think it would be worth seeing if there is a service near you who could support you with leaving. If you don’t feel like you can do that, I would have a little think about what you can do to keep yourself safe if you choose to leave.

    I am really surprising myself with how strongly I feel about this! I used to feel really differently about this and I’m trying to think about what changed, in case it would help you. I think it was seeing this used as a tactic of control a number of times. I think it was also talking a lot to people who self-harmed and were suicidal and noticing they never used it as a threat when we were talking. I think that made me see that the same idea or feeling can be expressed in very different ways if someone is trying to control or if someone is trying to get help.

    Thank you for your lovely supportive answer here @Ailish. Just to follow on from this with another question, you mentioned there are services out there that can support people with leaving someone in tough situations like this one. Do you have any services you would recommend to help with this?

    This is tricky because it will be different region to region but if they contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247, they should be able to signpost them to something in their area. If the person who wrote this wants to PM someone at The Mix and say where they are, I can look up a service near them that could help :)

    Chayn have a self help guide for online safety and https://chayn.co/projects/ and Scarleteen have a general guide to writing your own Safety Plan https://scarleteen.com/article/abuse_assault/the_scarleteen_safety_plan
    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    edited August 2021
    5. How can I get past the feeling that every partner will eventually leave me?
    5.
    Firstly, it feels to me like there is a big echoey feeling behind this so *hugs* To be annoying and answer a question with a question, do you know where the feeling that every partner will eventually leave you comes from? What do you believe keeps people together? I know, I’m not asking easy questions! If it’s hard to get think about the answers to questions like that, journaling can help. One thing I’ve seen recently is to write ‘I have the feeling every partner will eventually leave me because…’ over and over until you feel you are getting somewhere. Even me typing it that feels like a scary sentence! So that’s just one suggestion. But the plus of journaling is if things start to come out that feel overwhelming, you can put down the pen. You’re in control.
    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    Dancer wrote: »
    I struggle to form relationships with people due to my autism and I feel worried that this could have an impact on me in the future. How can I work on forming relationships and trust with people?

    @Dancer, thanks for sharing this. I am not autistic and I have a number of autistic friends who have been wonderful friends to me who I think I’ve formed good relationships with. Because I don’t understand what bits are difficult for you specifically and from my experience I see autism as not being a barrier to having relationships, I feel a bit stuck on how to answer this one! It would be awesome if anyone else on the community who is on the autistic spectrum would like to share any tips on how they have built trust and formed relationships?
    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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    Millie2787Millie2787 Community Champion Posts: 5,160 Part of The Furniture
    I know this is late . But last year my boyfriend broke up with me - he did the usual it’s not your fault it’s mine blah blah blah I’ll speak to you about it when I next see you . This was last year snd he still hasn’t spoke to me . It’s awkward when we’re at Young carers groups together because he just completely avoids me and makes me feel like it’s my fault
    Sometimes all you need is one person to believe in you , for you to begin to believe in yourself.
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    To the people who wrote the questions I haven't answered yet... I am furiously typing away and have drafts in Word but these are important answers and I'd rather answer them with the consideration they deserve than rush something before I have to leave at 8. I hope that's OK and it doesn't feel personal, I have just been working them through in order (except number 6 because my partner came in and said something which made me rewrite my answer! I am always still learning :) ) I'm going to come back and reply to the remaining few on Tuesday 31st when I am back from my holiday. Thanks so much for having me at The Mix and letting me be part of the community for 2 hours <3
    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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    AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,056 Boards Guru
    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer those questions this evening @Ailish. I've found it really valuable reading through your answers and I'm sure you've helped lots of people here tonight. I'm looking forward to seeing you again on the 31st August. Have a lovely holiday and speak to you soon <3

    Also thank you to everyone for being so brave and sharing your questions. Also wanted to acknowledge your recent question there too @Millie2787 - we'll add this to our list for @Ailish's next session :)
    Maybe somethings don't get better, but we do. We get stronger. We learn to live with our situations as messy and ugly as they are. We fix what we can and we adapt to what we can't. Maybe some of us will never fully be okay, but at least we're here. We're still trying. We're doing the best we can. That's worth celebrating too ❤
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    Past UserPast User Posts: 0 Just got here
    Thank you very much for your time and thoughtful answers. @Ailish I hope you have a great holiday. And thank you @Aife for moderating as well.

    My apologies if I'm reading into things here, but will this thread / form remain open for additional questions? Regardless of the answer this has been very helpful. Thank you again.
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    DancerDancer Community Champion Posts: 7,917 Master Poster
    Ailish wrote: »
    Dancer wrote: »
    I struggle with the relationship with my dad and my parents also struggle with the relationship with eachother because it always feels like he doesn't care or can be bothered to do anything. It is particularly hard at the moment with my mum being in a lot of pain and stress due to a major shoulder injury and my dad not bothering to help. On Fathers Day, my dad decided that he would go out all day and just leave me and my mum by ourselves which made me really upset. I have autism and it sometimes feels like that is the reason for my dad not wanting to have a relationship with me. I live with my mum and my dad before you get confused. How can I try and help the relationship before it gets worse? It seems like my dad could be depressed as it has been ongoing and getting worse over years. I don't really have the option to go to the GP about my dad as I am only a teenager and he goes to a different GP surgery.

    @Dancer I know the question you’ve asked here is ‘How can I try and help the relationship before it gets worse?’ but when I read this full post I was wondering if the question you are really asking yourself is ‘how can I make my Dad be the person my Mum and I need him to be?’ I might be wrong on that so I’ll give some thoughts on both and you can take what’s useful.

    If you’d like to try and help the relationship, the first thing that comes to my mind is to tell your Dad that you’d like to have more of a relationship with him. Being specific might be useful so saying something like ‘It’d be really nice if we could do have a hobby we did together’ or ‘Could we have one evening a week where did something as a family like watch a film?’ You know your Dad better than me so I don’t know if you think that would work or not? You’ve mentioned you’re autistic and that looks different for different people, but I know emotional conversations can be tricky for some autistic people. If you did want to have that conversation, are there ways of communicating that normally work for you?

    The important thing to me here is that all you can do is ask and your Dad might not be able to give you that relationship right now. If the question you’re asking is ‘how can I make my Dad be the person Mum and I need him to be?’ unfortunately we can’t make people act the way we want, even if we desperately would love them to be that way. So if you did have that conversation, it feels important to me to think of ways to look after yourself if he rejects that request. I hear you when you say you want to help if he’s depressed and that’s really kind, but how your Dad chooses to act isn’t your fault and his behaviour isn’t your responsibility.

    And when you said that it sometimes feels like you being autistic is the reason for your dad not wanting to have a relationship with you, it made me really sad to think that you might think you’re the problem here. I’m sure – like really 100% positive – that there is nothing about you that makes you less deserving of love and care from your Dad or anyone else. Reading your post the sense I got was of someone caring and responsible. Those are both amazing traits but it’s important to be kind to yourself and get support for you too <3

    Thank you so much. I do struggle to communicate with people about how I feel particularly if it is an emotional conversation. I don't think those suggestions you gave to me would work but thank you for sharing them with me anyway. I suppose that it is something that I could still consider. I hate it when my parents argue and when my mum gets upset about everything to do with my dad. Next week, I get a few days away from my dad because he is going to see his parents over the long weekend. I feel like a problem to my family. :( I don't like having to ask for help though.
    "There's a part of me I can't get back. A little girl grew up too fast. All it took was once. I'll never be the same." ~ Demi Lovato
    "The way that I have found the light in my life is through the expressive arts because I know that I will be accepted for the way I am." ~ Me
    "I'm going to get strong again and see you soon. " ~ Anonymous 
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    AifeAife Community Manager Posts: 3,056 Boards Guru
    edited August 2021
    Supernova wrote: »
    Thank you very much for your time and thoughtful answers. @Ailish I hope you have a great holiday. And thank you @Aife for moderating as well.

    My apologies if I'm reading into things here, but will this thread / form remain open for additional questions? Regardless of the answer this has been very helpful. Thank you again.

    @Supernova Great question. If you wanted to post a question, I'm sure we could fit in one more for Ailish to answer. Feel free to post it anyway and if Ailish runs out of time, we'll be sure to let you know. Really great to hear that you found the answers to these questions helpful :)
    Maybe somethings don't get better, but we do. We get stronger. We learn to live with our situations as messy and ugly as they are. We fix what we can and we adapt to what we can't. Maybe some of us will never fully be okay, but at least we're here. We're still trying. We're doing the best we can. That's worth celebrating too ❤
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    DancerDancer Community Champion Posts: 7,917 Master Poster
    There is another family relationship that I am having problems with. My grandparents on my mum's side died before I was born so I never did get to know them (although apparently they were really good and genuinely cared.) However, my grandparents on my dad's side are still alive but don't seem to care at all. My mum has told me how my grandparents have basically just completely denied the fact that I even exist and they don't care at all. My mum even said that my grandma used to completely avoid even going near her whenever she dropped off my dad to work (I think that it was because he didn't have a car at that point or he lost his license at the time) and only ever spoke to her if she needed something. I feel like a burden to my family and that I just seem to always be a problem. I was very young at the time so wasn't aware but now it makes me feel like nobody seems to care. My dad thinks of me as a problem due to my autism. My grandparents think of me as a problem because of my dad. I want to be able to have some sort of relationship with my grandparents but my mum doesn't seem to want me to. My dad used to be badly treated by my grandparents (all because he has a stammer.) How can I try and improve my relationship with my grandparents if I am not allowed to see them? I have contacted my grandad a few times over Facebook but that was a while ago.
    "There's a part of me I can't get back. A little girl grew up too fast. All it took was once. I'll never be the same." ~ Demi Lovato
    "The way that I have found the light in my life is through the expressive arts because I know that I will be accepted for the way I am." ~ Me
    "I'm going to get strong again and see you soon. " ~ Anonymous 
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    Hey everyone :) Just finishing off the final answers I missed from last time
    6. For somebody who is inexperienced both sexually and with romantic relationships, and who struggles socially. How would you suggest they go about meeting somebody to explore and experience these things with? How open should they be about their circumstances? And how should they best manage insecurity and anxiety with regards to sexual and romantic connections. Thanks!

    Something about this question makes me really happy. I feel like you are exploring stepping into something that’s outside your comfort zone and that’s inspiring to me :)

    I guess my first thing to say is there would be lots of ways to approach this and it will depend what feels right to you. I get the sense that you are looking for a relationship rather than something casual? Although no judgement if not! If you are nervous, I think having something in common with someone to start with could help. So if you have hobbies or interests, meeting someone in a club for that hobby means you will have something to talk about. If you struggle socially it also means that you will be a bit in your comfort zone. I am wary about saying this cos I feel like it sidesteps your question but I think it helps to go to social spaces where you might meet people who would be appropriate for you to have a romantic relationship with without ‘looking for a girlfriend/ boyfriend’, does that make sense? Otherwise I think you can start to feel demoralised when you set out for romance and it hasn’t happened yet. That might also take the pressure off it you struggle socially, as you’ve already achieved going to something social.

    With regards to how open you should be about your circumstances, that totally depends on how comfortable you feel sharing it. I don’t think you need to ‘confess’ to being inexperienced – in the same way if someone has had lots of sexual partners they don’t have to share that. That’s personal. But if you think you might feel more relaxed saying ‘this is new to me’ then that sounds like it would be helpful.

    As I’m thinking it through, it feels like the insecurity and anxiety sort of connects to the openness about your circumstances? Like, feeling like you need to apologise for not being ‘experienced enough’? I don’t know if that chimes with you. If it does, it feels like a lot of additional pressure to put yourself under. I was chatting with one of your team before doing the Q and A and was saying that all this time doing this work, I think the thing I’ve learnt most is that there is not one answer and it’s OK to be unsure and learning. Humans are complicated! I get things wrong in relationships all the time. But now I trust that I can fix it because I’ve got things wrong before and it’s worked out. That feels connected to me to the idea of anxiety, like you might ‘get it wrong’ and have this feeling other people are ‘getting it right.’ I think ‘right’ will be whatever you and your partner need it to be. And you’ll figure it out together.
    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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    AilishAilish Posts: 27 Expert
    What's your biggest tip for having a healthy relationship with your partner

    Can I give two? A bit sneaky…

    I think communication is the key skill and that respect is the key value. In any relationship that is longer than a one night stand you’ll find there is something you disagree on which you’ll have to talk through. And if that disagreement is big and you are mad at someone, you can still respect them (even if at that moment you don’t even really like them). If you respect someone, to me that means you will really listen to them as well as being honest.

    Learning how to communicate is something that will be different for every relationship because everyone communicates differently but I’ve found that using ‘I sentences’ has been really helpful. So what that means is rather than saying:

    ‘You are a selfish person for eating all my favourite biscuits’

    you change that to

    ‘I feel like you don’t care about me when you eat all my favourite biscuits.’ That way you’re not attacking a person but telling them how you feel following an action.

    Similar to this is Non Violent Communication, which I am totally NOT an expert in but has some ideas I’ve found very useful. I especially like separating out reality from how you feel to the underlying need as often these get all mixed up. https://nonviolentcommunication.com/learn-nonviolent-communication/4-part-nvc/ https://wikihow.com/Practice-Nonviolent-Communication I struggled to find good guides on this online but between those last two, they should explain it.
    Your Best Friend Project is empowering all 13-24 year old girls, young women, and non-binary people with knowledge and confidence
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