Being around people doesn't help loneliness, at least not for people suffering from depression or an anxiety disorder. Perhaps you've noticed that sometimes getting someone to the party just isn't enough to get them out of their funk. It seems that being around people just isn't enough sometimes.
Loneliness can be a very significant issue. It is associated with depression and other mental disorders, including suicide. Many people suffer loneliness in silence, making it all the more dangerous. It should be mentioned that loneliness is not the same as solitude. Being alone does not necessarily make a person feel lonely, sometimes solitude can be a welcome break and sometimes a preferred lifestyle.
A group of researchers from the United Kingdom recently investigated the effect of social support on loneliness and had some surprising results. They asked about feelings of loneliness, their symptoms of mental illness, and finally their social participation and social support.
They found that social participation and support were helpful for getting rid of loneliness for most of the participants, just not the ones who were suffering from depression or anxiety. This finding is important because many therapists recommend participating in social events as treatment for depression and some anxiety problems.
For people who are suffering from depression and anxiety, it is more important to consider their thoughts as they mingle with others. These thoughts and anxieties may highjack the benefits of being in the group. For example, if the person is so down that they see every person in the group as rejecting them, then being with others might not be so helpful.
Fortunately, it is possible to examine and change how people think in social situations. Therapy has been shown to be helpful for overcoming negative thinking and emotion. Once the distressing thoughts are handled, social situations would once again have the benefit of dispelling feelings of loneliness.
By Dr. Syras Derksen
Meltzer, H., Bebbington, P., Dennis, M. S., Jenkins, R., McManus, S., & Brugha, T. S. (2013). Feelings of loneliness among adults with mental disorder. Social Psychiatry Psychiatric Epidemiology, 48, 5-13.
Using pornography changes people's attitudes, relationship commitment, sexuality, ability to think, and likelihood of acting aggressively towards women. The research, much of which is very recent, is making it clear that pornography has multiple negative effects on users.
This article will only discuss the effects of pornography on men. Women do use pornography to a lesser extent and the effects of this use are less clear.
Pornography has been show to negatively effect men's attitudes towards women. Pornography users have been shown to have less egalitarian views, but it is unclear whether pornography use is causing this difference or if it is just that less egalitarian men are more likely to use pornography.
However, a piece of research was conducted which had some randomly chosen men view pornography first and then measured where they landed on the "hostile sexism" scale. The men who watched pornography were higher on this scale than the men who didn't. This research suggests that pornography is causing men to become more sexist in their attitude.
Of course, there are many out there who would not be surprised by this research. Many view pornography as degrading and objectifying towards women. Generally speaking, people's beliefs will generally become consistent with their behaviour. So even if a non-sexist man begins using pornography he will generally begin to believe that it is right to objectify and degrade women.
Pornography use reduces relationship commitment. Men who use pornography are more likely to have an affair. It isn't just that cheating men are likely to use pornography, the pornography seems to cause the cheating.
In one experiment some randomly chosen men were shown pornography and, afterwards, these men were more likely to see other women as romantic alternatives. In another experiment a group of randomly chosen regular porn users stopped using pornography for three weeks. At the end of the three weeks these men were more committed to their relationship.
A number of other interesting experiments have been done looking at how porn users are different in relationships. For example, in one experiment porn users were found to be more likely to flirt when chatting online. In another experiment couples were asked to complete a task together and their interactions were videotaped. The couples' interactions were then rated by observers on how committed they seemed. The couples in which the man was using porn were rated lower on commitment than the non-porn couples.
Research has shown that male porn use predicts lower sex quality for both men and women. Men often report not being as attracted to their spouse when they use pornography and this may be part of the reason for the lowered quality. Sexuality, like any other behaviour, can be modified to an extent by reward and punishment. If a man is regularly having rewarding sexual experiences to pornography, he will begin to need that kind of stimulation to achieve orgasm.
Exposure to pornography has also been shown to predict adolescent uncertainty about sexual beliefs and sexual orientation. It is impossible to say if the pornography is causing this uncertainty or if it just that uncertain youth seek out pornography, but the connection is concerning. If you do find that your child is viewing pornography, it would be good to have a discussion about sexuality and pornography to help him or her manage potential feelings of uncertainty.
There is now research showing that pornography users have more difficulty with attention and working memory. These differences do not only occur during pornography use, but continue throughout the day. This seems to be supported by porn users indicating that they were able to think better after ending their porn use.
Pornography seems to cause men to be more physically punitive towards women. In a very interesting experiment some randomly chosen men were shown pornography and some were not. Both groups were brought back a week later and paired with a female who was part of the researchers team. At the beginning of their meeting the woman mildly rejected the man by saying that she wasn't attracted to him. They then played a guessing game and the man had the option of physically punishing the woman if she got the answer wrong. The men who had been exposed to pornography were more likely to punish the woman.
It has been suggested that pornography makes men more likely to act out violently against women. This type of research would be unethical, so it has never been proven.
Couples Therapy for Porn Addiction
For some couples pornography is an issue and for others it is not. When couples come for therapy because of a pornography issue therapists differ in how they approach the issue. Some will encourage the woman to accept the pornography and begin trying to help her with the issues the pornography is causing. Other therapists will accept the couple's assessment of the problem and begin treating the pornography usage. Often in these situations the porn usage has become an addiction. If it weren't an addiction, the man would likely have given up the porn usage when he realized it was an issue for his partner.
When pornography is an issue it can feel like an affair. If the female partner is not comfortable with pornography, porn usage will usually either stop or become secretive. When the usage continues in secret, the lying, the feeling of there being these "other women", the loss of intimacy, and the fact that the man is seeking comfort from another source makes the dynamics in the relationship very similar to those created by cheating. Sometimes the relationship between the pornography and the man can be stronger than the relationship between the couple. Couples therapy can help in these instances by helping the couple to unite as they work on the pornography addiction as a team.
There are many negative effects of pornography, but one of the most concerning aspects of pornography use is that users seem oblivious to how it is changing them. In fact pornography users often report feeling positively about their porn usage. Unfortunately, this leaves users as often the last to realize how pornography has damaged their relationships and their psyche. Pornography usage is growing every decade and wireless technology is making it more accessible to young people. As pornography grows it becomes even more important for society to understand the dangers that are associated with pornography so everyone can make decisions and take actions that are informed.
By Dr. Syras Derksen
Ford, J. J., Durtschi, J. A., & Franklin, D. L. (2012). Structural therapy with couple battling pornography addiction. The American Journal of Family Therapy, 40, 336-348.
Gwinn, A. M., Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., & Maner, J. K. (2013). Pornography, relationship alternatives, and intimate extradyadic behaviour. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 4, 697-704.
Hald, G. M., Malamuth, N. N., & Lange, T. (2013). Pornography and sexist attitudes among heterosexuals. Journal of Communication, 63, 638-660.
Laier, C., Schulte, F. P., & Brand, M. (2012). Pornographic picture processing interferes with working memory performance. Journal of Sex Research, 50, 642-652.
Lambert, M. N., Negash, S., Stillman, T. F., Olmstead, S. B., & Fincham, F. D. (2012). A love that doesn't last: Pornography consumption and weakened commitment to one`s romantic partner. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 31, 410-438.
Peter, J. & Valkenburg, P. M. (2010). Adolescents' use of sexually explicit internet material and sexual uncertainty: The role of involvement and gender. Communication Monographs, 77, 357-375.
Poulsen, F. O., Busby, D. M., & Galovan, A. M. (2013). Pornography use: Who uses it and how it is associated with couple outcomes. Journal of Sex Research, 50, 72-83.
Thomas, L. A., & Gorzalka, B. B. (2013). Effects of sexual coercion proclivity and cognitive priming on sexual aggression in the laboratory. Journal of Sex Research, 50, 190-203.
Wright, P. J. (2013). U.S. males and pornography, 1973-2010: Consumption, predictors, correlates. Journal of Sex Research, 50, 60-71.
Financial cheating is common and damaging to relationships. Apparently one third of individuals who are in relationships with joint accounts report lying in some way to their partner about money. This can lead to arguments, separations, and sometimes divorce. Financial problems caused by intimate partners has become so common that researchers have coined the term "sexually transmitted debt".
Financial cheating can be large or small and it can involve spending and saving. Sometimes it can be lying about the size of a purchase or it could mean having a small stash of cash. However, these issues can grow quickly becoming huge debts or large savings accounts. When issues like this come to light it is often the breach of trust that is the most damaging.
One of the major reasons for financial cheating is the fact that couples don't talk about money. They often argue about money, but rarely discuss it. Some researchers have commented on how it seems that couples find it more difficult to talk about money than sex. In fact, only 25% of couples actually track their spending and have a financial plan. Couples often fall into their money management habits without thoughtful discussion or consideration.
Not watching spending gives each person more opportunity to cheat. We are only human and when people are given the opportunity cheating can be a temptation that is hard to resist. Keeping an eye on the bottom line is always the best way to help each other stay honest and accountable.
Lying and cheating is usually inconsistent with the positive image people have of themselves. So if someone is going to lie, they usually come up with a reasonable explanation. Perhaps the person spends a bit more as a way of compensating for not receiving enough attention. Perhaps they feel they feel they should have an extra savings account because the other person is untrustworthy.
Research has found that people find it easier to justify lying and cheating in ambiguous situations. For example, it would be easier for a teacher to give his or her favourite student a higher grade on an English essay because it is so subjective as opposed to a math quiz where there is a clear right answer. Relationships are notably ambiguous in nature. They are often filled with misunderstandings and usually both members of a couple feel they are giving more than they are getting back. Financial cheating can be a way to get back what they feel they deserve.
Couples can also cheat financially to punish one another. I met one couple who got into frequent heated arguments. In one instance the husband left in the middle of an argument and bought a SUV. This kind of action may be meant to assert power and dominance in the relationship.
Sometimes financial cheating is because of a specific personal issue. A gambling addiction is a good example of this. Being a gambling addict usually goes along with lying about money.
Each person in a relationship brings in their own feelings about money and how it should be spent. Some people are spenders and others are savers. Some like to risk and others like steady growth. Some really feel the power money brings and others accept it as a form of love. Unfortunately, these issues are often not well understood because people rarely talk about money in meaningful ways.
Overcoming Financial Cheating
The two primary ways to prevent financial cheating are to discuss finances as a couple and to monitor spending. The actual system you develop to manage your family finances is less important than ensuring you have a system with which both parties are satisfied.
If you are concerned that your partner is cheating financially, the main thing to look for is inconsistency. Does their behaviour match what they are saying? For example, have you noticed any of the following - avoiding talking about finances for no apparent reason, insisting on managing money alone for no reason, and spending that does not match income with no financial consequence. Other things to look for are sudden changes in behaviour, lying about money to others, parents who have issues with money, and signs they are covering their tracks - like an empty browser history.
Finding out that your partner has cheated financially can be devastating. In some ways it can be harder to cope with than sexual cheating because you may now have a significant debt that is a constant reminder of the lie. Moving forward from this type of betrayal can take a great deal to time and effort, but there is hope. Couples can be very resilient and can achieve a new intimacy and trust with some hard work and the help of a trained therapist.
By Dr. Syras Derksen