Fairy tales in real life almost always go wrong

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As young girls, we grow up with the idea that we’re all princesses.  Disney has various princesses, enough to satisfy all tastes.  Parents call their daughters “little princesses”, and we see small pink bouffant dresses with garlands being sold in clothes stores, toy stores, and children’s stores.  A little girl is always a “princess”.  The majority of princesses in children’s stories (only the more traditional ones – stories with a different take on the princess trope are safe) have a prince who solves all their problems, then they live happily ever after.  This is always the end of the story:  The prince finds, then fights for the princess, who is waiting passively for him, and they get married.  The princess, in the end, has a dream come true: her prince.  She doesn’t need anything else.

This bombarding of princesses gives many women the idea that once you have a husband, your story is over.  Nothing else is important.  The whole point of life is finding a husband who will solve all your problems and make you magically happy for the rest of your life.  I shouldn’t need to say that this is not only wrong, but also incredibly harmful to a relationship (for both the husband and wife).  So without further ado, we’ll go straight to the prime reasons that is bad for you, your partner (future or current), and your relationship.

Rigid roles in a relationship are stressful and lead to disappointment, for men just as much as women.  It’s difficult to be a perfect princess all the time, and equally hard to be prince charming who has to do absolutely everything.  When you put everything on your partner he’s constantly exhausted, and when you expect too much, you’re just asking to be disappointed.

Being a princess prevents you from growing as a person. Girls who only focus on being delicate and feminine end up powerless to do anything of importance.  Women who only focus on their romantic objectives tend to have less interest in careers in math and sciences.  Women who don’t place their values in any other area than their own relationship  also have less self-esteem and become depressed more easily than women with diverse interests.

Women who search for prince charming will only find princes who aren’t so enchanting. If your partner wants complete femininity and delicateness out of you, that means he won’t want an assertive, independent woman who can make her own decisions.  Being a princess means your decisions and opinions will not be respected.

To be put on a pedestal and seen as a delicate flower can make you suffer from “benevolent machismo” from your partner.  To have an enchanting prince that protects you from everything has one major downside:  he is going to make all of your decisions for you (and almost always in a way that doesn’t benefit you – remember: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is).  I’m not saying that your partner is guaranteed to be like this, but by being a princess, you open many opportunities for this type of person.

In summary:  A fairy tale relationship is exhausting for both parties.  Demand too much of the man and the woman loses her purpose (and even more with time).  It’s important to have a healthy relationship, with realistic expectations and equal say in important decisions.  Don’t be a princess, be a warrior.  Go, and conquer your world.

To schedule a consultation:
psicologapaulamonteiro@gmail.com
(21) 99742-7750

Social Media and the Real World

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Social media has become extremely important in the last years.  These websites make it much easier to stay connected to friends and family, and also provide news and entertainment.  Calls to family and friends have become comments and chats, and even invitations to real events are sent through Facebook.  I can’t comment much about Instagram or any other sites of this fashion, but Facebook in particular has become essential to business and advertising.

But, like almost everything in life, Facebook has a bad side.  Many people see the number of friends, likes, or shares as a symbol of popularity and status.  Photos of friends or celebrities on the internet can cause unfair comparisons or jealousy – “why isn’t my life like this?”  This principally affects those who already have a fragile self-esteem, by generating anxiety and depression.

If you find yourself being affected by social media, read the following tips:

Visit less pages: Social media is, in fact, addicting.  Control your use.  Anything that is important, like invitations, will be waiting for you there when you return.  Remember that Facebook (or any other social media platform you use) is only a small part of your life.

Stop with the comparisons: Comparing yourself to others in real life is already bad, but comparing yourself to others on social media is completely useless.  It can even start to seem like you’re the only one bad things happen to, but the truth is that a large majority of people only post the good side of their lives – there are few who tell of their daily struggles and their sadness.  You basically are seeing photos without any context.  You should not compare yourself to photos that are selected just to show off a perfect life.

You are most important:  Likes on Facebook aren’t going to bring happiness.  Happiness comes from within, and your quality of life depends on how you think of yourself, not how others think of you.  Invest your time in doing things that make you feel good, and don’t let a website control your life and mood.  You are much more than your internet profile.

To schedule a consultation:
psicologapaulamonteiro@gmail.com
(21) 99742-7750

Tempted to cheat? Stop and reconsider

I’m not here to judge anybody. We all know that cheating isn’t the best decision in the world. My previous post inspired me to focus on an issue that I see repeatedly in my clients: Cheating and why you’re not only fooling your partner, but also yourself.

In my last post, I talked about passion within an official relationship; specifically that it diminishes over time, that this decrease in passion is totally natural, and the many factors that can cause this to happen. I also mentioned that it’s precisely when passion starts to decline that the risk of cheating goes up. However, the cheating parties in a relationship aren’t always truly aware of what is going on, and don’t realize that their desire for passion is blinding them.

Let’s go one step at a time:

The majority of people who cheat don’t really love the person they’re having an affair with. I wrote about the mystery a new person can bring in my last post, and also about how the rush that comes with forbidden “love” releases neurotransmitters (dopamine). And also, I wrote about how we idealize people we either don’t (or can’t) have, or don’t know completely. Indeed, all these things fit. What I often see, is that people aren’t passionate for the actual person they’re having an affair with, rather they are passionate about the idealized version of that person that lives in their head. Every new person awakens strong feelings within us that make us feel like they’re the love of our life. In time, some people jump from one affair to another once they realize it wasn’t what they were searching for, only to find themselves in another affair that releases new strong sensations, at least until those get old… and the cycle continues on and on.

Beyond idealization, there is also a strong chance that the other person is feeding your “ego”: if they also idealize you, all the extra attention makes you feel special. The majority of people who are in an extramarital relationship feel special (after all, why have an affair with someone who makes you feel worse about yourself?), and they feel like they’re receiving more attention.

What I’m trying to say with all of this is that the majority of people who are in an extramarital relationship aren’t in love with another person, but with how the other person makes them feel. Many times it’s a question of validation and self-esteem. Therefore, before you give in to temptation, or if you already are in an extramarital relationship, consider individual or couples therapy to try and repair your marriage.

Paula Monteiro
Psychologist
psicologapaulamonteiro@gmail.com
+55 21 99742-7750

Infidelity: When To Forgive

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I am not writing this to say what’s right or wrong, or to tell you what your limits should be. If you can’t forgive or accept any infidelity at all and would prefer to just end the relationship, then this post isn’t for you. I am writing for those who want to know if it’s ever worthwhile to give a cheater another, (or multiple) second chances

The most destructive part of infidelity is not the sexual act itself, but rather the loss of trust that it causes. Often, it’s impossible for a couple to move past this breach of trust, and the relationship ends. Love alone isn’t enough to maintain a strong relationship; trust is necessary as well. Trust is the glue of the relationship.

Relationships involve many promises: perhaps one of the most important is the promise that you’re only with your partner, and no-one else (excluding open relationships). When this promise is broken, all trust vansihes. Without trust, intimacy and communication suffer. Hostility takes the place of tenderness, the relationship slowly becomes toxic, and a break-up is likely. However, if both parties desire it, the relationship CAN be revived and rejuvenated, though at this point therapy is absolutely necessary to accomplish this. Therapy helps by working out the problems with communication, broken trust, grief, and the anger caused by betrayal.

To reconstruct a broken relationship, all cards need to be on the table. After all, infidelity is couple problem, not an individual problem. The truth needs to be spoken, by both parties. The cheater should not attempt to hide what they did, should explain their motive (i.e. what is the relationship lacking?) and assume the blame. In the same way, the one who was betrayed should explain what they need from their partner in order for trust to be regained. However, trust is not regained easily, nor should it be. The betrayed partner was manipulated and repeatedly lied to. Trust is no longer a guarantee, and needs to be won little by little; it’s a slow process that requires lots of hard work and dedication.

But is all this effort ever really necessary in the first place? The chances of a couple staying together after infidelity are surprisingly reasonable, as long as both parties desire it, and put forth the required effort. But what about partners who have cheated multiple times, or of betrayals that were discovered but never admitted? The point I’m trying to make is that many times, while in therapy, the ‘victim’ is completely blind to the reality of what is going on. Love truly is blind. What is the victim’s responsibility in a situation such as this one? One of the most difficult things to do is examine the whole situation and determine what portion of the blame needs to be placed on us. What about partners who have never shown signs of infidelity before? Or situations where we are blind to everyting until the last moment? What do these situations say about us? What makes us go to therapy to “fix ourselves”, to accept a monogamic relationship that is repeatedly disrespected? What is it that stops us from looking for a way out fo these relationships and starting over? Is it the fear of being alone? Is it what’s “best” for the family? Is it the fear of an uncertain future? These are important questions that need to be answered before giving another chance to anyone who has repeatedly shown signs of betrayal. The ability to forgive, while commendable, is not always the best solution.

Paula Monteiro
Psychologist
psicologapaulamonteiro@gmail.com
+55 21 99742-7750

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