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Relationships JAN 19

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Behind every great man For John Mitchell-Ross, the old adage is true: behind every great man, there's an even greater woman. Here, he tells the story of how a married couple make living half a world away from each other work, and how they got to that position in the first place.

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Hidden bruises With two small children in tow, a poorly paid part-time job and absolutely no clue whether she would be able to support them all, Claire Standen decided that it would still be better on her own than to continue giving everything she had to an endless sink of time and energy. In other words, she packed up and left her relationship of 12 years a victim of emotional abuse and emerged stronger than ever.

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The A to Z of dating terms There have been euphemisms and slang for all aspects of dating since time inmemorial. Struggling to keep up with all the news ones? Here’s all the wonderful (and sometimes weird) words you need to know, from benching to cuffing to stashing.

64 A brief introduction to polyamory

06 (Un)healthy relationships Why do women stay in bad

32 relationships?

72 Let yourself and others grow

40 Gaslighting

74 Move over, Valentine’s Day

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hat is love? What a question. Chemically, it's a powerful combination of dopamine, oxytocin, norepinephrine and serotonin. Psychologically, it's equal parts intimacy, commitment and passion. The ancient Greeks understood four types of love (kinship, friendship, romantic and divine) while Chinese tradition distinguishes just two: one emphasising actions and one emphasising universal love. While English has just the one word, Japanese has three with distinct nuances: one is related to maternal love, one to romantic love, and one for passionate love. In Relationships, we explore love: how one couple made a (very) long distance relationship work for them; what a healthy relationship looks like; how to identify emotional abuse; and inspiration for the Valentine's Day alternative. On top of all that, we've got a definitive guide to all the dating terms you need to know, from the weird (draking) to the wonderful (snack). To our contributors, thank you. To our readers, enjoy. â– Jade Sterling Editor


‘Love is a many splendoured thing. Love lifts us up where we belong; all you need is love.’  ~ Elephant Love Medley,  Moulin Rouge


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(U N)H E A LT H Y R E L AT I ON S H I P S It may all look very healthy at the beginning, until something starts to change—in a flash. Crystal Hager

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e all think we know what a healthy relationship looks like. We fall in love; everything is perfect. The other person treats us well, and gives us loads of attention that makes our hearts melt—possibly even gifts, flowers, and good intimacy. When they have wowed us over, we start to trust them. They gain our trust, and hearts. It may all look very healthy at the beginning, until sometimes it starts to change—in a flash.

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A perpetrator or narcissist has other plans in mind when they enter a relationship. Those goals usually involve idealising, devaluing and then discarding you. However, they may not fully discard you—they may simply give you the silent treatment for a period of time. They may keep you around for as long as possible and continue this abuse cycle. This is why recognising a red flag in a relationship before it’s too late is so vital. There can be many red flags, but these are some of the most common ones:

1. Controlling behaviour A partner may feel the need to always be in control. This will probably include wanting to know where you go, wanting to know when you will be home, maybe taking control of all the finances, and limiting access and possibly disconnecting you from your friends and family. Controlling behaviour is one of the unhealthiest signs in an unhealthy relationship.

2. Irresponsible and unpredictable Some people have trouble managing their own life in the way of finances, keeping a job, managing their health and taking care of themselves. You’ll find that if you’re taking on all of their problems and helping them with all of these basic life skills then you’re going to go into overdrive yourself. They will start to rely on you for everything, and it will feel like you are running their life as well as your own. They will also have trouble making and sticking to plans, so you’ll never know when they are actually going to turn up or do something.

3. Trust issues Sometimes, if we’ve been hurt before we can certainly end up having trust issues with other people. But there comes a time when we get that gut instinct telling us that the other person may 8


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not be completely honest with us. If your partner sounds like they’re stumbling around facts during a conversation, or doing things that you’ve already mutually agreed to not do then you have a reason to be concerned. A bad feeling is always a bad sign. Trust is always key, and if they are breaking that then there are going to be more issues.

4. Illegal or addictive behaviours If your partner is participating in illegal behaviours or has an addictive personality to something like drugs or alcohol then this is sure to cause problems in the relationship—especially if you’re not okay with this behaviour. They might try and tell you at the beginning that they will stop, but then later continue with it, or it may possibly get worse as they feel that you have accepted it. Drugs and alcohol almost always do nothing good for a relationship.

5. Manipulation Manipulation is second nature to some perpetrators. They use this to get what they want, because that’s the only way they know how. A good way to tell if your partner is manipulating you is to watch how they treat their friends and family. If they’re gloating about manipulating them, or using it with them, they will definitely try it on you. This can also lead to gaslighting, where you question your own sanity and if something really happened or not.

6. They frequently put you down There isn’t much to explain about this one. If someone is constantly putting you down they are toxic. Someone who cares about you should not be degrading you, and making you second-guess yourself all the time. It can be very easy to believe what someone says when you love them, and you may even start to believe them, which is where your mental health and sense of self starts to decline.

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These six red flags will almost always come up in a toxic relationship simply because the type of people who portray these behaviours are actively seeking out some sort of harm. No one for any reason should be portraying these behaviours, no matter how angry or upset they may tell you they are. They may also be accompanied by physical violence as well, which is a sure sign that you are definitely not safe.

thing sometimes—whether that is to go out with our friends for a night out, read a book in peace or leave the house alone to go and do something. Just because we may live with our partner does not mean we have to do everything with them, or share every moment of our day. We are all individuals, and privacy in a relationship is an important factor. At the end of the day, you should feel happy, content, safe, respected, loved, and trusted and have no need to question your relationship. These feelings tell us that we are where we need to be, and they are healthy feelings. It can be very common to pretend that we are all of these things in a relationship to please the other person, but we can only feel these things when we are truly happy.

What should a healthy relationship look like? Number one is respect. Everyone should respect each other, especially in a relationship. If you and your partner disagree on something, a healthy argument is normal. You’ll most likely both put forward your reasons for disagreeing, and your emotions, and then compromise or walk away from the discussion to cool down. We all get angry from time to time, and it can be hard to control when we are passionate about an issue, but there are limits to how much we should express that emotion. For instance, one shouldn’t start verbally or physically abusing the other.

When you mention domestic violence to people, or abusive relationships, people generally think that only physical violence relates to those two things. This is not the case. Domestic violence is defined as violence, abuse and intimidation between people who are or have been in an intimate relationship. This can include emotional abuse, physical assault, sexual assault, Another factor of a healthy relationship is verbal abuse, financial abuse, psychological acknowledging each other’s right to individuality abuse, and isolating a partner from friends and and privacy. As people, we all like to do our own family. It’s possible that some people are not

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At the end of the day, you should feel happy, content, safe, respected, loved and trusted.

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even aware when they are committing domestic violence because they think it only relates to physical assault and victims may also doubt their victimhood. This is why awareness is so important in today’s society.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone at any time—a relationship can begin perfectly healthily and then turn abusive. This is because perpetrators have to work on making you trust them. It can happen to the most vulnerable people and to the strongest people. Toxic relationships don’t just refer to intimate relationships, but also friendships and family. Toxic people are all around us, and a lot of us have experienced at least one toxic relationship in our lifetime whether that is with a family member, friend or partner. Sometimes the relationships we have with people bring us down when they should lift us up. They cause us more drama than necessary and they may even attack our mental health. Toxic relationships are better off out of our lives. However, you can definitely use the experience to grow stronger as a person. A lot of abuse survivors can tell you that they are now stronger than ever from the experiences that they have encountered. Spreading awareness and personal stories can help the world become free from relationship abuse. We now see this happening more than ever, which is the start of something powerful. ■ Crystal Hager @raise.speak.shout

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Toxic relationships don’t just refer to intimate relationships, but also friendships and family.

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B EHIN D E V E R Y G R E AT M A N I have the most wonderfully supportive wife and we’ve made our situation work for us. John Mitchell-Ross

Happily married—but living alone in Abu Dhabi with my wife living in the UK—there are some who would say I’m living the dream, without the ties and responsibilities associated with day to day family life. How did I achieve this utopian state? I had no notion of living the expatriate life until I met my wife. Without her influence, I’d have been content to live and work in the rural town of Derby, England; and hopefully would have prospered in my chosen career of accountancy (trust me, it’s not as dull as made out to be). With her, I have lived and worked in Kenya and now for the last 22 years in Abu Dhabi, experiencing things most people only read about in books or see on TV. I have been truly blessed as a result of her influence.

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We moved to Nairobi in 1990, having been there six weeks earlier on honeymoon, and for the next three years we led the most wonderful life. Safaris, parties and entertainment were regular occurrences as we became caught up in the expat lifestyle. We also integrated into the local community through my work and made some wonderful Kenyan friends. It’s a shame these were the pre-email and pre-Facebook years as it has proved difficult to stay in touch with the vast majority of these friends and colleagues. We moved back to the UK in 1993, after my wife became pregnant and we decided it would be better to raise our family back home.

This is possibly a decision with hindsight we regret, as we did love Kenya.

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Family life took over and soon we had two wonderful daughters, with our second child born in 1995. By this time we were living in Kidderminster in the heart of the UK’s West Midlands. My wife is very posh and doesn’t drop her H’s and properly pronounces her R’s (unlike her rough and ready husband). I joke that one day our eldest daughter returned from her Montessori nursery counting from 1 to 10 and after pronouncing five and nine in a broad West Midlands accent, that was it.

My wife’s decision was made—we were leaving, get us out of here, no child of mine will speak like that. While this is a funny anecdote, what actually happened is we both pined for a return to the expat life and when a job opportunity came up in Abu Dhabi, it was too tempting to turn down. Most friends and relatives had no idea why we wanted to go live in Ethiopia, confusing Abu Dhabi with Addis Ababa. We moved to Abu Dhabi in October 1996 with our two small daughters in tow. Again we lived the dream and settled into a truly blessed lifestyle. What a wonderful, safe and secure place to live and raise a family. What a lifestyle—everything I have ever wanted to do was available: sailing, motorsport and a desert playground for four wheel drive cars. It was utopia for me; and not too shabby for the family either! For the vast majority of our early years in Abu Dhabi, I was home by 3pm each day and able to spend quality time with the girls as they grew.

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Fast forward nearly 10 years and by July 2005, the time felt right for our teenage daughters to seek a UK education and in my words ‘have the Britishness knocked back into them.’ So we took the hard decision for my wife and daughters to move back to the UK. I would follow them as soon as I could as I was working on a project critical for the company and it felt wrong not to see this through to completion.

told me under no uncertain terms that she was in charge of the house, she controlled the girls and that, unfortunately, I was nothing more than a visitor in my own home. But how right she was, and how wrong I had been. And what a great job she was doing too—I can see that so clearly now. So back to Abu Dhabi I went with my tail between my legs!

Clearly an indicator that she is a great To cut a long story short, upon completion of woman, totally in control and having the respect (and fear) of the girls! the project I was offered a promotion, more responsibility, and better career opportunities (read: more money). So I stayed in Abu Dhabi; and here I am 13 years later, with the family still living in the UK. (Although my eldest daughter now married is back in Abu Dhabi with her husband.)

I’ve missed so much. How did we get ourselves into this position? My desire to provide for my family and establish financial security. Well, I think I have hopefully adequately ticked that box. Both girls have graduated university without the burden of student debt. I was very much of the What did I miss? First days at secondary view that as my parents had fully supported me school, girls becoming teenagers, school shows, through university I had to do the same for my parents’ evenings, Air Cadet parades, boyfriends daughters, so I did. knocking on the front door; the list goes on. Did the girls miss a father figure in the house? I don’t It’s not been all negatives of course. I’ve lived think I ever asked them. Did my wife miss having the life in Abu Dhabi as a part-time bachelor. Free from the shackles of family responsibility another adult to talk to? (but within the realms of sensibility—as I am Initially, during my visits home I would stroll a sensible and cautious person by nature), I’ve into (my) house and become that father figure. done what I want, when I want. Sailing, desert Trying to assert some male control over the trips, motorsport; I’ve done it all and not had to household, I would blow in like a whirlwind and seek permission or synchronise calendars. then leave my wife to deal with the fallout once I returned back to Abu Dhabi. After a few trips I have the most wonderfully supportive wife and back home, my wife actually took me aside and we’ve made our situation work for us.

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So am I selfish? Yes, possibly. Am I stupid? To a degree. Am I lucky? Yes! I have the love and support of a great person and exceptional wife. Do I regret it? Not for one minute. We all have choices and decisions to make in life. We made ours, drew up a plan, and have made it work for us. For me, the adage is definitely true. Behind every (great?) man is an even greater woman. â– John Mitchell-Ross

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HIDD E N B R U I S ES In July of 2017, I experienced what I have since realised was a spiritual near-death experience. Claire Standen

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live in Scotland, and have ever since I had a choice in the matter. I’ve lived in Edinburgh, in Dumfries and Galloway, Aberdeenshire, Angus and now Perthshire is where I call home. The beauty and serenity of Scotland has always called to my soul, and the vibrancy and eclectic nature of the cities bring out my creativity in equal measure. I have made deeply connected friendships, and the more I look, the more I find people in alignment with how I think about the world, right here on my doorstep. It hasn’t always been this way. I was married for seven years and together with my ex-partner for twelve in total. In those twelve years, from the age of 21 to 33, I lost touch with myself and became a victim of emotional abuse. It’s hard to say which came first—the abuse or the victimhood— because it’s a gradual process, a war of attrition.

What I do know is that in July of 2017, I experienced what I have since realised was a spiritual near-death experience. The light inside of me, that shone for who I truly am, had got so dim as to have nearly extinguished altogether. When you’re in an abusive relationship—be it physical, sexual, financial or in my case emotional—it is very hard to pinpoint where ‘normal’ ended and ‘this’ began. I believe that’s because no matter what has gone before, you’re always in ‘this’, the here and now. What you compare it with is the recent past, and in this way, abusive and controlling language and behaviours become normalised in your day to day life.

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I was on a walk with my dog, and I was contemplating life that fine summer’s day. I had realised some time before that something needed to change. If I projected my default future from where I was, if everything were to stay exactly the same, I was certain that the fire inside of me would no longer exist. There was a new magical beauty in the unknown. In that moment, I connected with a part of me that embraces change as an opportunity to become the creator of my own life. I saw a future beyond the current storm where the sun shone and the possibilities were practically boundless. With two small children in tow, a poorly paid part-time job and absolutely no clue whether I would be able to support us all, I decided that it would still be better on my own than to continue giving everything I had to an endless sink of time and energy. I couldn’t bear to be found wanting in every aspect of my life any more. I couldn’t take any more criticism or derision and I certainly couldn’t give anymore of myself.

So here I am, a year and a half later, and I can’t begin to tell you how far I’ve come with that vision that shone through in that moment of clarity. I have my own house, and I have launched my small business. I still work part time for now, which works well because I have so much energy for life. The life I want is well within my grasp, and I take steps every single day to make it so. Having accessed numerous resources to improve and connect with my own self-worth, abilities and knowledge, I now coach other women who’ve left emotionally abusive relationships to do the same. I have seen women transform from repressed, chronically tired and worn out people into powerful, creative and joyful individuals with clarity on their purpose and 29


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passion in this world. I am a Neuro Linguistic Programming Practitioner, I have started a Masters in counselling and psychotherapy and done a whole host of other courses that have improved my mindset and skillset.

I love investing in myself, and I believe that when women invest in themselves, they also invest in their children. Today my message to readers is that if you are recognising any signs of emotional abuse, be they romantic relationships, at work or familial; if you are told continuously that your opinion is invalid; if your point of view is questioned or mocked; if you are trapped in indecision due to the response you will receive if you make the ‘wrong’ choice; and if your emotions and feelings are invalidated in any way, please consider whether your relationship has an element of emotional abuse. It doesn’t have to be the end of the relationship—as mine was—but it does indicate that you need to make a change. Step out of victimhood and back into your power. If it’s real love, it doesn’t hurt and they’ll join you in welcoming this change for the positive. You will encounter resistance in yourself, too, which is also totally natural and a process that you can get help to go beyond. My purpose is to spread this message so that women see me and others like me and realise that they too have the courage, the ability and the power to pull themselves out of a situation which no longer serves them. Reach out for help and you will be surprised by the overwhelming response. ■ Claire Standen Rising Strong

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WHY WOM E N STAY I N B A D R EL AT I O N S H I P S When you're in an abusive relationship, it is very hard to pinpoint where 'normal' ended and 'this' began.

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bad relationship doesn’t necessarily need to be an abusive one and it doesn’t have to be a loveless one. You can find yourself trapped in a relationship where you deeply love your partner, but they’re a constant drag on your self-esteem, finances, or independence.

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Women give bad relationships second chances for many reasons—convenience, routine, stability, and habit are all real reasons and should not be underestimated—add in all the physical and emotional separation that occurs with any breakup and you’re welcoming another world of pain. Not to mention that the pressure from friends, family and society to stay together can be hard to overcome; you may stay with someone you know isn’t right for you just because it’s easier.

But one major reason might simply be low self-esteem. In dysfunctional relationships, one person tends to have an underlying insecurity of wondering if they are deserving of love. The fact partners tend to be affectionate and attentive in the early days of the relationship doesn’t help. When a partner responds in a way that makes this person feel she is desired, it’s overwhelming—it becomes unthinkable to pull away. Couple this with a history of dating men who treat you badly, and any attention becomes a welcome salve to those wounds.

boil and the frog will sit there until it’s boiled alive. When you’re entrenched, it’s hard to realise your boundaries are being trampled and your standards are being eroded. The boiling water becomes the new normal. Women also place a very high value on committed relationships and believe that there is nothing that can’t be worked out. Such women might also be anchored in the belief that if they keep at it, things will improve. They feel that if they are consistent in their behaviour, and if they continually try to be a good wife to their husband, things will get better. They may also feel like martyrs—they withstand discomfort or even pain for a greater good, thinking they can take this kind of pain if it helps their partner. They sacrifice their own happiness for the greater cause of their partner’s. It’s almost self-gaslighting—they don’t relate to the abused wife stereotype because they don’t feel helpless; rather they feel they’re engaged in a challenge and they’re too good or kind to give up on someone. There’s also something to be said for keeping a family intact—better the devil you know? Breaking up invites the unknown and the scary and what you know can seem the safer option.

The erosion of self-esteem and happiness doesn’t happen overnight—it’s slow and slow enough for you to get used to it. Think of the frog in the Then there’s the sunk cost fallacy: the fear of pot: drop it into boiling water and it’ll jump right losing years of effort and money when ditching out; sit it in cool water and bring it slowly to the a relationship is another major reason why some

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women give their men a second chance. This is compounded when a relationship starts with unrequited feelings before they get together, adding up to years of emotional investment. Plus, even when confronted with evidence of infidelity, for example, your brain might not want to believe it.

‘self ’—they feel undervalued and worthless, and firmly believe in their fundamental unlovability. When you’re deeply entrenched in a bad relationship, it can be hard to take a step back and acknowledge you’re being mistreated. One way of cultivating self-awareness is to treat your emotions as you would your physical symptoms—when you feel pain and sadness from a consistent source, it’s a signal telling you to pay attention. Don’t ignore it—look at the signs, where they are pointing, and acknowledge them. That’s the first step in understanding you need to make a change.

We want to believe the best of the people we love and it may take time to recognise the signs. We also want to see the return on our investment: once we’ve put so much time, effort, love and attention into something, we want to see the results. It can be hard to cut your losses. People in bad relationships may feel very

isolated—it’s hard to speak openly about real problems in your relationship. They turn to the internet—they google their problems and find relevant articles. Something clicks in them when they can relate to these. If you can’t verbalise how you feel, try searching online in private. You may find helpful reading material from people who have gone through similar experiences—this can help you understand you are not alone and you can get help. As unhealthy relationships can feel alienating, try to fall back on family and friends. This doesn’t mean talking about your problems if you feel you can’t but rather focusing on building bonds. Get involved in their lives and be open about yours—it’ll remind you your life is so much bigger than the problems with your partner.

But perhaps the most compelling reason women stay in bad relationships is the idea of ‘learned helplessness’—where no change happens despite them voicing their desire for certain things to be fixed. Maybe their partners make excuses, promise to put in more effort (then promptly forget about it), or just ignore their unhappiness. These women end up feeling that whatever they say does not matter because they have already told their partner their behaviour is not okay, but no real change happens. The result is a resigned acceptance that this less-than-ideal situation is their lot in life—it’s better than being alone, right? Women in toxic relationships tend to start to lose or forget themselves—they suffer put down after put down, their self-esteem plummets, and they begin to believe no-one else would want them. Their happiness is no longer a priority for them as criticism seeps into every aspect of their

Everyone deserves happiness and love; if you aren’t getting that from your current relationship, you deserve to leave it. ■

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P OW E R Fancy contributing to our upcoming edition? Wonder women! It's story time. For February's -ette magazine, we're talking POWER. We want your stories of feminism, strength and reinvention. We want to hear your thoughts on chivalry, on equality, on patriarchy and on #MeTool. Tell us why you think we need (or don't need) feminism in 2019; tell us your experiences of feminism at work, at school, in life; tell us what makes you feel powerful, capable, like Wonder Woman; tell us what your super power would be and why; rant about double standards; shout about equality; turn up the volume for us! If you've got a story to tell, we want to hear it! Get in touch on Facebook, Instagram, through our website or via email and tell us your stories. â– @hyphenette

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GASL IG H T I N G When you're in an abusive relationship, it is very hard to pinpoint where 'normal' ended and 'this' began.

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ou’re tapping your foot, waiting for your husband to come home from work. He’s late, for the tenth time in a row. Finally, he appears and you ask him why he keeps coming home late. ‘What?’, he says, shocked. ‘I haven’t been coming home late. Are you sure you aren’t just losing track of the time?’ You’re pretty sure he’s late. The next day, it happens again and this time, you checked the time: ‘You’re definitely late.’ And he says: ‘What? No, I’m not. I always come home at this time.’ You try to argue that it’s only been the last ten or so times that he’s come home this late, but he insists you must have been confused—maybe once in the past he got off work early but he definitely always comes home at this time. You let it drop: maybe you’re just being airheaded. You’ve clearly been unobservant if he’s sure he’s always come home at this time. You shrug and move on.

He goes on screwing his secretary. One day, you find a pair of underwear in the laundry basket and it’s not yours. You ask him about it—he got them for you two years ago for your anniversary, don’t you remember? You apologise because you feel bad for being inconsiderate and forgetting something that mattered to him. You wash and fold another woman’s underwear.

Gaslighting is an abusive technique that goes beyond simple lying—it erodes your reality and self-belief, it makes you docile and easy to control because you no longer trust your own sense of which way is up—you need them to tell you. The important distinction is the induced self-doubt and gaslighting as a portmanteau comes from a 1938 play called Gaslight, in which a husband convinces his wife she is losing her mind by doing things such as dimming a gas light and pretending nothing has changed, making her doubt her own senses and recollections. Why? He wants to have her committed to an asylum so he can steal her inheritance. A liar will go out of their way to craft believable lies that can’t be contradicted in an attempt to undermine your understanding of the truth; a gaslighter will repeatedly tell you things you both know aren’t true to undermine your trust in your own faculties. Lying is leading you away from the truth; gaslighting is leading you away from your ability to tell what’s true. The abuse is often subtle at first; if a person is telling a story, the abuser may challenge a small detail. The person may admit they were wrong and then move on, and next time, the abuser may use that past ‘victory’ to discredit the person further. You may argue back at first and intuit something is wrong in the relationship,

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but because each incident seems so minor, it’s hard to pinpoint any reason for your unease. Over time, you start to second-guess your memories and emotions and the abuser uses this to chip away at your confidence and selfesteem. This can have catastrophic effects on your mental health, now and in the future.

reinforce their sense of reality and help with any mental health concerns.

Because gaslighting is so insidious, it can be difficult to recover from.

If you feel like the way your partner, family member, colleague or anyone in your life engages with you is—intentionally or not—a form of gaslighting, it’s important to do something about it. Take a step back and talk to family and friends, people you trust who can give you an objective opinion. The gaslighter doesn’t necessarily need to be acting with malicious intent—it’s possible to gaslight without realising they’re doing it. But that’s still not okay. Gaslighting could be a bad habit picked up from the relationships they grew up around but if you recognise any of the gaslighting symptoms, it’s time to make a change. You may experience asking yourself if you’re too sensitive; feeling confused in the relationship; always apologising; making excuses for your partner’s behaviour; knowing something is wrong but you just don’t know what; having trouble making simple decisions; wondering if you are good enough.

A person can grow to mistrust everything they hear, feel and remember so one of the most important things a survivor can get is validation. They may also benefit from reforming any relationships they pulled back from during the abuse: other people can verify one’s memories, sympathy from others can reduce feelings of shame, and the person can relearn how to trust others and themselves. It’s also recommended people who have experienced gaslighting seek therapy to help

It can be very difficult to get out of a relationship with a gaslighter but it’s possible. In the film adaptation of Gaslight, the wife, realising her husband has been manipulating her, turns the tables on him. In the final scene, he has been tied to a chair by the police. When she enters the room, he instructs her to get a knife and cut him loose. But she gaslights him by pretending that she is too mentally ill—using the reality he has constructed for her—to carry out his instructions. ■

As gaslighting can also affect a person’s social life, people may be manipulated into cutting ties with friends and family. They may isolate themselves, or find themselves isolated, believing they are unstable or unlovable. The most common form of gaslighting? ‘You’d be alone forever if it weren’t for me. No one will love you.’ Even after the person escapes the abusive relationship, the effects can persist as they may still doubt their perceptions and have trouble making decisions. They are also less likely to voice their opinions and emotions, knowing they are likely to be invalidated.

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All the wonderful (and sometimes weird) words you need to know

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is for ACE

An asexual person doesn't experience sexual attraction. This doesn't mean they can't have sex, just that they don't feel the need in the same way.

is for BENCHING Putting someone on the bench; you like them, but not enough to not keep your options open. But you don't want to not be dating them, so you keep it low-key and string them along.

is for CUFFING

Cuffing season is that time during the winter months when loneliness and cold weather make us seek someone to snuggle with. It's strictly seasonal and a mutually beneficial arrangement that ends when sharing body heat is no longer required. Cuffing comes from African American Vernacular English (AAVE).

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is for DRAKING

What Drake song doesn't involve wallowing in sadness over your love life or missing your ex? Draking does what it says on the tin.


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Save money on your heating bills by joining in cuffing season this winter! Find your nearest half-decent singleton and chain yourself to them (hand-cuffing) until winter’s over.

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is for EMOJI Specifically, the aubergine and peach. Not used to remind your partner to pick up groceries.

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Remind you of anything?

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is for FIREDOORING Just like a firedoor, this relationship only opens one way. You hear nothing when you message them but when it's convenient for them, you'll get a message out of the blue.

is for GHOSTING The disappearing act ghosts are so well known for, just in a relationship. You weren't particularly impressed during a date or with someone's Tinder chat so rather than telling them you're not interested, you just disappear out of their life. Pretty harsh.

is for HAUNTING Oh, so you ghosted me but you now you're watching my stories and liking all my Insta posts? Stop haunting me!

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Nothing spooky to see here.

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is for KITTENFISHING If catfishing is pretending to be a completely different person online, kittenfishing is the lite version. You might use outdated photos, claim you're a lawyer when you're a law student, or rely heavily on Photoshop.

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It’s all roses and chocolates until the love bomber turns off the tap.

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L M N

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is for LOVE BOMBING We've all been in those relationships when you click immediately and want to show as much affection and put as much effort in as possible. Love bombers do all of this until you've committed to a relationship with them, then withdraw it all suddenly. Before you know it, you're stuck in a nightmare relationship. Make no mistake: love bombing is manipulative and abusive.

is for MICROCHEATING You're not sleeping with someone else, but you're definitely being unfaithful. Microcheating is the low-level dishonesty that culminates in an emotional affair through heavy flirting and secrecy.

is for NON-BINARY Non-binary people may identify as neither male nor female or as both male and female, nullifying the idea that there are only two genders.

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P R

is for PIE HUNTING A 'pie' is a person with a diastrous dating history full of rejection and heartbreak. They are vulnerable people, perceived to be easier and low-maintenance, and therefore appealing to pie hunters. 'Pie' comes from British slang for being stood up or dumped.

is for ROACHING Roaching is a new trend where people hide the fact they're seeing more than one person at once. It refers to the old adage that if you see one cockroach, there are plenty more hiding away. Roachers tend to claim there was no implication of monogamy, shifting the blame to the other party. If it turns out your partner had been seeing seven other people the whole time, you've been roached.

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A master pie hunter lies in wait.

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S Snack: as irresistable as freshly popped and buttery popcorn

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is for SLOW FADE Ghosting is pretty harsh; much better to slowly fade out of someone's life instead. The slow fade is a gradual process whereby you end a relationship by gradually reducing contact until you go silent.

is for SITUATIONSHIP It's complicated, right? You're not in a committed relationship, but you're also not just casually seeing each other. It's more than a friendship, but less than a relationship: it's a situationship.

is for SNACK They're so good-looking, they're irresistable. You could just eat them right up. You could even say: they're a snack.

is for STASHING If you won't introduce the person you're seeing to anyone in your life, you're stashing them away. This could be because you're a commitment-phobe or just don't think it'll last long enough to be worth the introductions.

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‘Like my post,’ said the spider to the fly.

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T U

is for THIRST TRAP An intentionally provocative photo or sexually suggestive snap designed to ensnare viewers. If you're thirsty for someone, you're feeling it and you've likely fallen into the trap. Thirst traps are an ego boost; a cry for likes.

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is for UNCUFFING They've served their purpose, the sun is shining again, and it's time to find a summer fling: it's uncuffing season. Everyone is single and ready to mingle again.


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is for ZOMBIEING You were ghosted, and now they've appeared again as if from the dead. Zombies offer a vague and unlikely explanation for their disappearance and try to rekindle a relationship.

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A BRIEF INTR OD U C T I O N TO P OLYA M O R Y Very basically put, polyamory is the idea of having more than one lover or partner.

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hen I was younger, I thought being grown up meant finding my one Prince Charming, moving in together, marrying, having children and being able to eat chocolate whenever I wanted. As I got older, I discovered that the world is a lot more complicated than Disney taught me. While I still rejoice in eating chocolate whenever I want, my ideas about relationships have substantially changed.

My partner and I also talked to each other about everything. We started really thinking about defining our relationship, which we had always previously assumed was monogamous. I came to understand why he wanted an open relationship as I confronted my beliefs about friendships that didn’t fit with my ideas about relationships. I have several very close friends whom I love individually, and do not love less just because I have multiple best friends. Why shouldn’t this be the same for lovers? I often struggle to find differences between So, together we decided to try out being my romantic relationships and very close polyamorous and keep re-evaluating how we friendships. I enjoy spending lots of time felt our relationship was going. with both friends and lovers, I can tell them almost anything and I know they will both But what is polyamory? Very basically put, it always be there for me. The only difference is is the idea of having more than one lover or I sometimes have sex with my partner and we partner. have a romantic attachment. Although I’m not More importantly, polyamory is about really sure what the latter means.

not only defining, but constantly Despite these thoughts, when my partner redefining the boundaries of your approached me about opening up our relationships according to the wants and needs of all parties involved. relationship and trying polyamory, I cried for three days. I cried because I felt like I was not good enough for him—not enough in general. I didn’t understand why he would want to have more lovers than just me because I hadn’t really had the same urges; I fall in love very slowly. I spent several weeks researching polyamory, reading books (try Redefining our Relationships by Wendy-O Matik and The Ethical Slut by Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy) and talking to friends in open relationships.

It means different things to different people: for some it means having a primary partner, but allowing each other to have one night stands. For other people it means having several romantic and/or sexual relationships at any given time. And at any point in time, the boundaries that people have can be changed, meaning that if someone hits a rough patch and feels like they want a more monogamous relationship, this too can happen.

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Polyamory therefore opens the pathway for people to explore each and every new friendship they make, openly and with the opportunity for deepening friendships into romantic relations following the natural flow of bonding. There is no need to choose who you love the most and relationships do not need to end from one drunken kiss. There is no fear associated with developing closer friendships, no need to friend zone or cut off people who are coming too close in the worry that you might fall in love.

Instead, there is a wealth of opportunities to find love everywhere. I have found that polyamory tightens the bonds in existing friendships too, because it means you are expected and able to grow your relations as far as you want (within the limits you and your partners have consented to). And this blurs the already fuzzy line between friend and lover a little more. Instead of having one main person as support, you can build up a large network of people who are very close to you in their own way. Alongside the new opportunities, my initial partner and I have become even closer. Being in an open relationship requires you to communicate extremely well and empathetically about very personal and difficult topics. While it can be scary to open up, if someone does not discuss how they are feeling, the problem cannot be addressed and will instead fester without being solved. Nowadays, we are very effective at discussing the various worries that we have with our relationships, and arguments are no longer fights against each other—instead we work together to solve what is actually a problem for all of us. 68


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Of course, polyamory is not always easy. Jealousy, lack of trust and sadness are very real emotions and can be very painful. However these emotions have taught me a lot about myself. Instead of seeing jealousy as a shameful and evil emotion, I have realised that—like most other feelings—the reason for feeling it can show me something about myself or my relationship.

ways in which I can feel more validated and less of a burden to my partner. Working through these emotions has helped me to grow and be more comfortable with who I am.

Polyamory is certainly not for everyone. But still I would urge every couple to at least consider polyamory, even if is just to say ‘no thank you, that’s not for me.’ It’s all too easy to simply accept the Disney idea of a For example, I have often felt jealous when my relationship when it might not be the best sort partner goes to parties with other girls. This of relationship for you. It is healthy to regularly used to be something we did together but since redefine and re-evaluate the boundaries of I became disabled, I can rarely go out. your relationship and the way it functions— whether you are practising monogamy or I now realise that part of the reason polyamory. And if you are interested in the that I am jealous is because I have a low idea, why not research it, or try it. You might self-esteem. I am afraid he will replace be surprised at how much you can get from it.

me with a fitter and more able-bodied person, no longer wanting me because I will leave you with this thought: ‘people I am a burden. should learn to treat their friends more like lovers and their lovers more like friends.’ From this, I have realised how much I need Happy Loving! ■ to work on my self-worth after becoming disabled, and together we have tried to find Kathryn Stone

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LET YOUR S E LF A N D OTHE R S GR OW I heard something when I was younger that stuck with me: ‘the first thing you think is what you’ve been taught to think; the second is what you actually think’.

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t took time (and a lot of growing up) to realise some of the opinions I had were both damaging and limiting; I don’t want to go into detail because I’m ashamed of them. They were very right-wing opinions formed from a lifetime of privilege and an unwillingness to see other sides of the story. What’s worse is there are artefacts of my past self online—some of which I’ve locked down and hidden away and some of which are out of my grasp, floating around on now defunct social networks.

All of which would be easily accessible to anyone who wanted to find something controversial on me. The problem is that’s not me anymore. I’ve had the amazing fortune to travel extensively and see other cultures with my own eyes; I’ve met people from all walks of life at university and I’ve broadened my horizons with the journalism I choose to consume. I’ve challenged my preconceptions in myriad ways and I’ve become much more open to seeing the world through other people’s eyes, realising my perception of life is vastly different to that of the person next to me. I’ve learnt so much: about culture and experience; about privilege and how to recognise it; about patience and compassion; how to stand up for others and use my privilege for their gain; how to correct 72

myself and catch myself from falling into those old ways. I am unrecognisable from the person I was before and it breaks my heart to think I could—and would—be judged on those old opinions should anyone want to. This is a common sight: the worst thing you can be in this day and age is ‘problematic’. Internet sleuths can dig up anything on you, and genuinely making efforts to be a better person does not protect you from this eventuality. I’ve only been on this journey to make myself a better person for eight years; there is so much further to go and as society evolves, it’ll be even easier to dredge up my previously-okay, now-unacceptable opinions ten years from now.

Sometimes it seems once you’ve said or done something, you can’t ever go back on it: this is a lie. We must allow ourselves and each other to learn from mistakes and grow as individuals. What we said or did before does not define us because opinions and beliefs can change and ignorance is not an indication of evil. While there will always be the unrepentant, let yourself and other people grow. ■ Jade Sterling


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MOV E OV E R, VAL ENT I N E’S DAY Love Valentine’s Day but find yourself single this year? Galentine’s Day is the day for you.

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Try something new

irst coined in 2010 on Parks and Recreation, Galentine’s Day is officially a thing now, with Pinterest searches increasing by 1780 percent year-on-year. Of course, you don’t need to be single to take part—grab your girlfriends and make a plan for 13 February every year from now on. Here are five ideas to get you started.

Hit up an indoor ski slope for a lesson; test your balance at a skating rink; bounce your heart out at trampolining; get competitive at mini golf; try your hand at darts or shuffleboard. If you can imagine it, there’s probably a place to try it. The more you laugh, the better.

Dinner and drinks

Sleepover

A classic, dinner and drinks is the way to get an authentic bromance (Galmance? Sismance?) experience. Go somewhere fancy and treat yourselves; try a new cuisine or the latest restaurant to open in your area; head down to an old favourite; wander food trucks or market halls; order all the nibbles at a wine bar. Therapeutic, fun and with options for every budget, it’s a classic for a reason.

Recreate the sleepovers you used to love as a child with your nearest and dearest now. Pyjama parties and wine might be the best new combination since avocado and toast. Make dinner together and choose a recipe you’re only pretty sure you can make; dig out the brownie pan or order pizza. Stick on a trashy rom-com and curl up under blankets; stay up late gossiping. Go to work the next day with indigestion and a mild hangover.

Afternoon tea

Flowers and cards

Maybe not the most appropriate for a work day (unless you can take a long lunch break together), afternoon tea is a perfect Galentine’s date idea. Pick somewhere fancy and practice sticking out your pinkie fingers, somewhere themed (Alice in Wonderland tends to be popular), or no-frills for scrummy scones and tiny little sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Pair with all the tea or champagne you can drink.

Who said romantic tropes were just for couples? Get as tacky a card as you can find and scribble a gushing message inside. Munch your way through a selection box together or splurge on fancy truffles and gorge yourselves on the tube. Order some flowers or better yet— head to a flower arrangement workshop and pair orange roses for friendship with peach roses for gratitude. ■ 74


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SUB S CR I B E N OW #POWER

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H Y P H E N E T T E . C O M

Power FEB 19


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The modern female journalism you’ve been waiting for. For content enquiries: editor@hyphenette.com For advertising enquiries: sales@hyphenette.com

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Relationships  

The January edition of the -ette magazine focuses on our nearest and dearest: we’re looking at all the different relationships in our lives.

Relationships  

The January edition of the -ette magazine focuses on our nearest and dearest: we’re looking at all the different relationships in our lives.

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