Oh, No! I’m Pregnant…Repost

I wrote this post a year and a half ago, but thought it was worth repeating.  I’m reposting it for those who don’t go back into my archives…

How stressful is it to find out you’re pregnant when you weren’t expecting it?  Let’s face it, having a baby wasn’t exactly in your 4 year college plan.  So what do you do?  First, if you are in a relationship, talk to your boyfriend.  This can be a very difficult conversation.  The first emotion most people feel is denial.  Don’t feel hurt if he is hoping that maybe the pregnancy test was wrong.  He isn’t rejecting you, his brain is just in freak out, no this can’t be happening mode.  If you’ve had a few hours or days to digest this, it will take that amount of time for him to catch up with you.  His first reaction may be to consider abortion.  This too, is common.  The first instincts aren’t pregnantalways the smartest.  There is a lot to discuss and consider.

You both have to think about whether you want to tell family members.  If you have a supportive family it may help you to decide what to do.  If you don’t, you may want to decide what you are going to do before telling your families.  Or you may decide not to tell them at all.  Without outside family support, it is very hard for two college students to raise a baby on their own.  It has and can be done, but not without major sacrifice.  Even with a lot of family support, keeping the baby requires giving up a lot of things.  It may require one or both of you to have to drop out of school either temporarily or permanently.  When you aren’t expecting to have to make these types of decisions, it can be very overwhelming.

However, the pregnancy has a way of marching on.  You can’t NOT decide when it comes to being pregnant.  The baby can only stay in the womb for so long.  If you decide to have the baby, whether you keep it or not, you will need proper prenatal care.  Then you have a few months to decide whether you want to give the baby up for adoption or keep it.  There are many places that help women with the adoption process.  You may consider an open adoption where you still get to be a part of the baby’s life or a closed adoption where you give up all rights and no information is released to the adoptive parents.

If you decide to have an abortion, your timeline shrinks.  In order to take the abortion pill, you need to make up your mind within 9 weeks of pregnancy.  Some women don’t find out they’re pregnant until they are 6-8 weeks along.  After 9 weeks you will need to have an in-clinic abortion.  One type of in-clinic abortion is aspiration or vacuum aspiration.  This type is used up until the 16th week of pregnancy.  After 16 weeks another type of in-clinic abortion is used which is called dilation and evacuation.  Pain and cramping is involved with all types of abortion procedures.

No matter what you decide this is a life changing decision.  You and your boyfriend will never be the same.  That is why using birth control is so important.  If you both feel the same way, making the decision together can bring you closer no matter what you decide to do.  It is when you disagree on the decision that stress adds up exponentially in the relationship.  Both women and men have come in for counseling because their partner pushed them into a decision they didn’t agree with.  A lot of resentment, guilt and anger can build up in this case.  Making this decision is hard enough without also having to go against your values.  Please seek out other people to consult with if you and your partner can’t agree on what to do about the baby.

pregnancyAlso be prepared for psychological stress after you go through with your decision.  If you decide to have an abortion, it may be hard to mentally deal with this after the fact.  The same is true with adoption.  Many people have reported that they go through a grief process afterwards.  Don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel sad or upset.  It is normal to feel this way.  If you have unresolved anger, guilt or resentment towards yourself or your partner, please seek some kind of counseling to help you resolve those feelings.  Also, if you find out you’re pregnant and you aren’t in a relationship, seek the advice of someone close to you that you trust.  This will help you talk through your options.  Have that person there with you if you decide to get an abortion, see a doctor for a check-up, or see an adoption specialist.  It is not recommended that you make every decision and do everything on your own.  That is a huge weight to carry and it helps to share the load with at least one trusted person to help you get through it.

If you do find out you or your girlfriend is pregnant there are many resources that can help you with your decision.  A few a listed below.

Planned Parenthood


Pregnancy Options

Fear of Being Rejected

It’s not easy to put yourself out there.  Some people live to meet new people and have no fear going up and starting a conversation with a perfect stranger.  Other people struggle with their fear of rejection.  They are interested in new people around them, but it can be scary to start something with someone new.  Especially if you’ve recently gone through a bad break up or you’ve been single for awhile.

If you have fear, the only way to get over it is to face it.  Outgoing people will tell you they are less worried about how they feel and more concerned with making others feel good.  If your goal is go out and meet new people, try to take your focus off your fear and focus on making just one person you meet smile.  Realize that not everyone you meet is going to be interested in talking to you.  That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you or with something you said.  Some people just won’t be in a good mood or be interested in any type of conversation.  Don’t let those people set you back.

Look for people who seem more open or friendly.  Dare yourself to give them a compliment.  Try to learn something from what they are wearing or how they are interacting with others.  Use your observation skills to give you something to start a conversation with.  If you’ve ever noticed, shoes will tell you a lot about a person.  Shoes can give you clues into hobbies someone has or what type of job they do.  Their shoes can tell you if they are more laid back or more stylish with fashion.  Their clothes will also give you other clues as well.  Finally, look at their face and their body language.  Do they gesture or show a lot of expression?  Or do they seem more closed off because their arms or crossed and their face seems blank?

Also, realize that you are giving off vibes as well.  What does your appearance say about you?  Non-verbal cues give off a lot of information to others to let them know if you are more open or closed to being approached.  Are you smiling and interacting with others?  Or are you sitting alone hunched over your drink at the bar?  You don’t have to be super fit and all GQ to get attention.  Your appearance does matter, but how you are projecting yourself to others matters even more.  You want to seem approachable instead of giving off a vibe that says, “Please leave me alone”.

It is okay to be nervous, but try to be aware if you are sending off desperation signals.  Sometimes you can try TOO hard and make the initial approach very awkward.  Remember to think positive and tell yourself positive things to keep your anxiety at bay.  Every person has great qualities, but not all people are aware or acknowledge their positive traits.  Try to focus on those qualities and realize you have a lot to offer other people.  When people get nervous they can focus too much on the negative and think of everything that can go wrong.  Instead, try to stop yourself from going down that path and try to be more positive about yourself and others around you.  Confidence will carry you a long way.

Even if you don’t feel all that confident, you can fake it a little until you get more comfortable initiating conversations.  Practicing will make it easier.  I often tell some of my shyer students to start conversations in less intimidating places.  For example, smile and ask how the gas station attendant’s day is going.  Talk to the cashier at Wal-Mart or the grocery store.  Go to places where you don’t know anyone and take a few risks without too much pressure.  The more you risk facing rejection, the easier it will become.  You will become used to the fact that not everyone responds positively, but that a lot of people will.

The key to remember is that you aren’t trying to make yourself feel better, you are trying to make someone else feel better that day.  Not every person you interact with has soul mate potential or even one night stand potential, but you never know when you may interact with the right person who ends up becoming someone significant in your life.  Just don’t give up and remember that nothing in life worth having is ever easy.

“Whether you think you can or you can’t- you are right”  Henry Ford

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”  Eleanor Roosevelt

“This time, like all times is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Fall seven times, stand up eight”  Japanese Proverb

Acquaintance Rape

September is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  I wrote this post last year, but feel it is worth repeating.  Date rape happens more often than people think and the beginning of the school year is when most rapes occur.  You think you would know if you’d been raped right?  Not necessarily.  I’ve had women come in for counseling because they felt a friend or acquaintance took advantage of them, either while they were drinking or while they were feeling vulnerable.  They either felt they couldn’t say no or felt pressured by the person they thought they could trust.

Acquaintance Rape happens a lot more often then being assaulted by a stranger.  Over 77% of women report being sexually assaulted by someone they know.  Of those 77% only 2% will actually report the assault.  Why do you think so many women refuse to come forward?  Sometimes it is out of fear.  Sometimes it’s because the woman blames herself for getting into the situation.  Sometimes the woman feels she didn’t say no forcefully enough.   A lot of the time, women will minimize their feelings and try to tell themselves to just forget what happened.

The following situation is an example of why sexual assault isn’t always so black and white:   One night a woman runs into one of her male friends.  She is upset, and he offers to listen and give her some advice.  She starts crying and opening up about what happened with another guy.  She tells him she feels rejected and unlovable.   Her male friend offers comfort and support.  He may start to hug her and rub her back.  It starts to get late and he asks her to stay a little longer so she won’t feel lonely.  They hang out and talk some more.  He starts to cuddle with her and before she realizes it they are kissing.  She says she should leave, but he convinces her that the other guy is stupid for rejecting her.  He tells he thinks she is beautiful, and he would never do that to her.  He continues to touch her and she gives in.  Soon most of their clothing is removed.  She starts to push him away again, but he resists and continues to hold and touch her.  He tells her not to worry, he’ll treat her right.  She feels guilty for letting things go this far.  She also feels she owes him for listening to her.  They have sex.

The best outcome of this scenario is the next day she feels bad about giving in and having sex.  She feels she consented in the end because she didn’t say no.  She may confront her friend and tell him she regrets her decision and doesn’t want to have sex with him again.  She may or may not ever choose to open up to him again when she feels upset or vulnerable.  She may also have lost some respect or trust for him, but doesn’t feel traumatized by the event.

The next best scenario is the next day she feels bad about giving in and having sex.  She regrets it, but doesn’t feel strong enough to say anything to him.  She may act like it never happened.  She most likely will avoid talking to him when she feels so upset and vulnerable.  She has lost trust and respect for her friend.  A distance grows between them.  She may feel a little upset about the event, but tells herself she has lived and learned.  Next time she will open up to a girlfriend or talk to her guy friends during the daytime when she feels a little safer.

The worst scenario is the next day she feels sick to her stomach when she thinks about what happened.  She feels violated.  She regrets not saying no more forcefully, but feels he should have known she wasn’t there for sex.  She wishes he would have listened when she tried to stop him earlier and pushed him away.  She not only has lost trust and respect for this male friend, she now feels like he is a predator who only listened to her so he could get sex.  She feels traumatized by the event and can’t stop thinking about it.  She is very emotional and doesn’t know what she should do now.  She is very afraid of seeing him again.  Will anyone believe her?  She may start to blame herself and tell herself all the things she should have done.  She most likely won’t report it.  She will go on to blame herself even though somewhere inside she knows she was sexually assaulted by her friend.

Research funded by the U.S. Department of Justice estimates that  1 out of 5 college women will be sexually assaulted.  September happens to be the month when most sexual assaults are reported.  School has just begun and many college students are experiencing their freedom for the first time.  Students go out with their friends and blow off stress from the week.  Some may drink and end up in situations similar to the one above.  The next day they may feel they were assaulted, but don’t report it because they blame themselves for drinking too much.

Unfortunately, sexual assault can happen in all different types of situations.  However, they all leave the person assaulted feeling very vulnerable, scared and alone.  A lot of guilt is also embedded into these situations.  I used the above example to show that rape isn’t always black and white.  Different people are going to feel differently after experiencing similar situations.  However, your feelings are not wrong, whether you feel just slightly uncomfortable or horribly traumatized.  Everyone is different, and your feelings are more true than the details of how it happened.  No one can tell you that you shouldn’t feel something.

If you do feel traumatized, it does help to talk about it.  Processing your feelings can help you move through them.  This will make them less powerful in your mind and help you learn to not blame yourself.  You won’t “get over it”, but it may help you not think about it all the time or have nightmares about it.   I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but I do know that women have worked through this and felt they were able to take their power back.  If you are continuing to struggle, please see a counselor or someone non-judgmental who won’t tell you how to feel, but help you process your feelings no matter what they are.

Welcome Class of 2016!!

Another school year has begun!  August rolls around so fast every year.  What I can’t believe is that is was exactly 20 years ago that I was headed off to college as a freshman.  I know I shouldn’t date myself this way, but it just blows my mind that I started college that long ago.  It certainly doesn’t feel like it!

Anyway, move in day has come and gone for a lot of college freshman.  The first weekend away from your parents can bring mixed feelings.  For some it will be exciting to have freedom at last.  For others it will be somewhat anxiety provoking to be so far away from home.  Others will feel dread at classes starting and feel overwhelmed already looking at their syllabus online.  Other new freshman may feel a little lost, a little lonely and wish they had gone to the school where all their friends went.  Others will feel like they’ve walked into their high school class reunion.

There are so many different experiences while starting college.  You’re figuring out a whole new living situation and trying to find your way around campus.  You can’t believe how many new people you’ve met in just a few days.  So many new Facebook friends, yet so little time to actually be on Facebook.  You realize that 2am is early to get to bed, yet somehow you still signed up for all 8am classes.  You may make a mental note to change that for the spring semester.  It is a crazy time full of adjustment.

Some adjustments will be easy.  Others will be hard.  Some people are born to party and make new friends easily, yet will find they struggle to make it to class and finish the semester.  Other people will thrive in their classes, but feel anxious every time they have to find someone to eat lunch and dinner with every day.  Just know that everyone goes through some hard times their first semester.  College is a lot of fun, full of great new experiences.  However, it is also stressful and full of moments of doubt.  Each experience is going to shape you and help you become someone you won’t even recognize at the end of your four (or five) years of school.

It is okay to take risks and try new things.  If you make a mistake, do your best to learn from it and move on.  Don’t be too hard on yourself or have too high of expectations.  Especially watch the expectations.  So many new college students have this image of being the perfect student, or getting into the best sorority or fraternity, or finding the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend, or going to the best parties every weekend.  You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to be involved in all the right clubs or organizations or be in a relationship to have a great college experience. 

Just take this opportunity to explore the opportunities before you and make changes as necessary.  Ask for help when you need it and take responsibility for yourself when you don’t.  Have fun, but not too much fun.  Study hard, but not too hard.  Don’t go to any extremes.  My advice for new college students is to find balance.  All work and no play isn’t good for you, but all play and no work won’t get you very far either.   Make sure you find time to eat, sleep, and exercise.  This will help reduce stress and keep you focused when those really hard weeks during midterms and finals come around.

One of the top things I talk about in my counseling office, besides relationships, is stress.  Time management is key.  In college you really have to know how to manage your time.  Take the next few weeks and try to find a good routine and schedule for studying, hanging out with friends, and getting involved with other activities on campus.  If you take on too much, try to back off on a few commitments.  If you find you are bored and spending too much time in your room, look for ways to get involved with things that may interest you.  Tweak your schedule as you go through the semester until you find the right balance with your time.  This will be key as you go through your time in college.

Good luck out there!!  I hope you have a great first year!!

A New Adventure

School is starting soon!  It is that time of year again.  I love the energy on college campuses this time of year.  Yet, it is a time for change.  Every year on a college campus is different.  New students, new classes and most likely new living spaces.  Can be good, could be be bad, definitely is hard at times!

I’m going through some changes of my own.  I am moving to Georgia.  I have decided to leave Aurora University, and I’ll be starting at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, GA right after Labor Day.  I’m excited, but sad too.  I love working with college students and the good news is that I’ll be doing the exact same job, just in a new location.  The hard part is saying goodbye to great friends and the students I have worked with the last couple of years.

Yesterday was my last day at AU.  It was hard saying goodbye.  There will be so many people I will miss.  I’m looking forward to my new adventure, but wish I could take quite a few people along with me to Georgia.   I feel like a freshman student.  A new campus and I don’t really know anyone yet.  Missing my old friends, but looking forward to making new ones.  Those mixed of emotions of excitement and fear can be overwhelming at times.  It isn’t always easy, but it usually is worth it when you take a chance and try something new.

Like the above quote says, “You have to laugh and have fun with it!”  It has always been my dream to live in the south.  I hate cold winters!!  There is so much to look forward to.  I will keep that in mind as I go through the reality of moving 900 miles away.  Relationships are tested by change and stress.   I know my relationship will be fine during this huge move, but that doesn’t make it any easier to live through.  Those moments are when I have to think about warm winters and no more driving in ice and snow!

Trust me, I will use all the advice I’ve given to others and do my best to think positive when I feel stressed or nervous.  I’m glad I can find encouragement from reading the blog’s of other people who have been through something similar as well as reading my own advice which I often give to others.  I’ll also be staying in touch with all my great friends up here in Illinois, who I know will encourage me any time I need it.

I can’t lie and say I don’t have conflicting emotions.  It’s like a graduation.  Bittersweet.  Those are the hardest things to go through.  Those that you are excited, yet sad about.  I admit I’ve gone back and forth wondering if I’m doing the right thing.  On one hand I know it will all work out, but there is still a part of me that thinks, “what if it doesn’t?”.  There are no guarantees in life.  However, nothing is permanent.  There will be freshman that realize college isn’t for them or that they’re just at the wrong college.  They will leave and move onto something else that works better for them.  The same is true for me.  I can always come back to Illinois if it doesn’t work out.  So, why not take the chance?

Like I said, change is hard.  I am in the middle of packing which is a pain.  Starting a new job is a little scary.  Having a house for sale is very stressful.  Will it be worth it in the long run?  I truly believe so.  Valdosta State is a great university and their counseling team seems very solid.  I am very honored that they offered me the position and in January when it is 60 degrees outside instead of below zero, I don’t think I’ll be complaining.

I will still be keeping up with this blog and hope to impart some wisdom to the students at VSU.  Wish me luck on my new adventure and please send up a prayer that my house sells soon!!

Should You Confess to Cheating?

I read a post on Sexy Tofu’s blog about whether confessing to cheating is always right thing to do.  I thought she had some good insights and made some good points.  I decided to copy her post and share with you her thoughts on this topic:

I’ve written before on infidelity; It’s a big “no no” in my book—which, in case you were wondering, probably closer resembles a dog-eared trashy paperback than a manual on ethics.  But I’m going to get into ethics now.  Bear with me.

Most of us already know that when it comes to emotions, not everything is in black and white.  We all have feelings, and these feelings can make a bigger mess than a two year old with a white wall and a box of crayons.

However, if we want to get ethical, are there shades of grey when it comes to right and wrong?  Are moral standards based on the eye of the beholder?  Does right and wrong change situationally?  Is a hero still a hero if he only saved that little boy from the well because he knew he would be showered in praise?

Oh man, that was some rapid fire questioning.  Back on track.  I think that cheating is always the wrong thing to do.  If you’re unhappy or unfulfilled in your relationship, get out of it.  Don’t cheat.  But no one can be right all the time, and so let’s consider what happens after you have cheated.  Most would consider that the “right” thing to do would be to tell your partner.  Come clean.  You’ve already been unfaithful, let’s not double the offense with dishonesty.  Right?

I think it depends on both the situation and motive behind your confession.

As for situation: How big is your offense?  If you meet with an old flame or a stranger and share a fleeting kiss, a one time mistake completely regretted, is that something worth uprooting your partners’ self esteem and your relationship?  Some would say no, and others would say yes.  You made your bed, now lie in it—crumbled relationship and all.

What if you’ve cheated but plan on leaving anyway?  Is it better to just leave and save your partner a bit of dignity (being left is bad enough, being betrayed and left is even worse), or should you tell them before you go?
What if you’re a habitual cheater?  That sort of dishonesty is often a personality trait; someone who tends to veer toward the hedonistic side of things.  Should Sir Tryst A Lot come clean while someone who kissed a stranger at the bar should keep their lips sealed?  Does it matter the level of offense, or is a cheater a cheater a cheater?

And as for motives, what if in your confession you lift your own burden of guilt only to place it on the shoulders of your partner?  You may feel better, but they all of a sudden feel betrayed and hurt. And anyone who has ever been cheated on knows that even if you KNOW the offense had nothing to do with you or your actions, you cannot help but take it personally.  It will make you insecure, even if only momentarily.  It’s insanely difficult, even for the most logical and mature of us, not to turn betrayal inward.  And on top of the pain you put on your partner, the relationship will suffer, trust will have to be rebuilt, if possible.  So in this light, is it always right to be honest?

I think the righteousness of a confession can also depend greatly on the motive behind the confession.  A friend of mine recently brought up the concept of acting out of love vs. out of fear.  Not to get all new agey on you, but I think that could have a lot to do with what makes coming clean the right or the wrong thing to do.  Are you telling your partner because you love them truly, because you’re truly sorry, and you want to correct your dishonest behavior and rebuild? Or are you telling them because you’re trying to remove your own guilt, which some may argue is a product of fear.  Or on the other end, could you argue that in staying quiet, you are acting on fear–the fear of your partner leaving you if they find out what you’ve done?  UGH I know this stuff has some merit but I really can’t talk about love and fear without thinking about Donnie Darko.

Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion

So let’s take this into pop culture, shall we. Recently to the horror of all those Twihards, Kristin Stewart admitted to cheating on R-Patz (nose wrinkle) with the MARRIED director of Snow White and the Huntsman. However she only admitted to it after some photos of her and director Rupert Sanders surfaced. Stewart regrets it, Sanders regrets it, lots of tears all around. But neither of the offenders came clean without the pressure of being found out, which makes their admissions completely fear based. Double fail for this shady lady.

Catching a Cheater with a Spy App…Good Idea?

If you’ve read my blog for awhile, you know I love watching 20/20 and Dateline NBC.  One of them recently aired a show about cheating in relationships.  Each of the segments focused on different aspects of cheating.  One of the segments focused on a spy app for smart phones.  It made me think.  Is it a good idea to use this technology to spy on your boyfriend or girlfriend’s cell phone activity?  I did some research and here are some pro’s and con’s from my perspective on this issue.

First, I googled spy app for cheaters.  I found quite a few websites.  One was about using a legitimate app or you could possibly download viruses.  It also stated that there is no such thing as a free app that will spy on someone’s cell phone.  If your looking for a spy app for a smart phone, you should look at these tested and proven Apps to Catch Cheaters listed below:

The apps that you actually pay for and that will actually help you monitor another persons cell phone activities are not free apps to catch cheaters, but they can help you catch someone cheating by:

  • Allowing you to monitor their call logs and to see who they are calling and when.
  • Permitting you to access their voicemail to listen to voicemail messages, even deleted ones.
  • Admitting you to read their text messages and to see who they are texting and what they are texting about.
  • Enabling you to see their web browsing history on their phone.
  • Allowing you to record calls if you need them as evidence.

Technology sure has come a long way.  It is very true that technology has made the opportunities to cheat on someone much greater.  I now realize that technology also works the same way in reverse.  There are now a lot more ways to catch someone cheating on you.  I found the story below when I was googling spy apps.  Here is this person’s story for why he chose to use this app.

Cheating is always hard to accept. In fact, the most common reaction upon finding it is denial. Because it feels like a personal failure, it takes a conscious effort to accept it. However, we can not do something about it and move on with our lives unless we accept it first.

I think that’s what I found most useful about using a spy app.  Until then, I was not able to be subjective about it.  Even when my closest friends told me about my wife’s unfaithfulness, I refused to believe them because they could always be wrong or subjective about it.  However, it’s very different to be forced to face facts by something as mechanical and cold as a computer program.  After that, there is no way you can consciously bury your head in sand anymore.  Sure enough, the spy app showed me that she was having an affair with her Spanish teacher who wasn’t a teacher at all.

I ended up getting a divorce and now I’m starting a new relationship with someone else. I plan to do things right this time. And no, I don’t plan to use a spy app with her. One of the things I learned is that while the spy app helped me in the past, it’s not healthy to keep it using forever. It’s a bit like medicine, you use it until you get better, and then you move on.

I realize in this story, the person is married.  People may feel more justified spying on a spouse, rather than their girlfriend or boyfriend.  I used it anyway because I think some of the points are good.  I do know that it can be hard to be honest with yourself when it comes to someone you love cheating on you.  It is easy to be in denial and believe what you want to believe.  This could be helpful to people who know in their gut their significant other is betraying them, but just don’t want to believe it.  The person above used the information and left his spouse.  Cheating isn’t necessarily a death sentence to a relationship.  Many couples work through it and build back trust.  People can change.  Being caught can bring on a lot of shame and embarrassment.  A person can realize they made a huge mistake and move on from it.  Having this information in black and white may help both parties come to terms with reality which could help them move forward.

I also like when the person said he didn’t want to use the spy app with his new partner.  He didn’t need it to be able to trust in his new relationship.  I agree, a spy app is not an answer for those who have trust issues.  It could actually fuel a paranoid person’s thoughts and allow them to become much more controlling.  This app is probably more helpful for people who are too trusting.  If you have trust issues, you have to work on that separately.  No app in the world can replace confidence.  It takes work to build confidence and trust in yourself as well as others.   Even if the person above chose to stay with his wife.  He would have needed to take the spy app off her phone and begin to really trust her again.  It is the only way to build a healthy relationship.

The truth is if you are thinking you need to use this app, you already in an unhealthy place in your relationship.  Really evaluate if that is because you have trust issues that need to be resolved, or if your partner is doing something that just doesn’t add up.  If your radar is up and you know in the back of your mind you should be worried, then maybe this app could be helpful.  Either way, if you are not in a healthy place in your relationship, you’ll need more than technology to fix the problem.  The only thing technology can really do is identify that a problem truly exists.  After that, it’s up to you to put in the hard work to be able to move forward in a healthy way.  My advice is to think long and hard before downloading a spy app, and if you do, use it to be able to move forward in a positive way, not to get revenge.

Gonorrhea resistant to antibiotics???

This will be horrific if it is true.  I’ve heard on the news that a certain strain of Gonorrhea has become resistant to antibiotics.  The Center for Disease Control has this information on their website.  Right now, this horrible STI is very curable with antibiotics.  If you realize you have it, it can freak you out.  However, with one pill, Gonorrhea is eliminated from your body.  Unlike Herpes Simplex Virus 1 & 2, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), Hepatitis and HIV which can be treated, but can’t be cured.  Gonorrhea may join these incurable STI’s if it continues to become resistant to antibiotics.  It is important to know the facts and do what you can to prevent contracting this or any STI”s at all.

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection which can be contracted through semen or vaginal fluids during unprotected sexual contact, heterosexual or homosexual, with an infected partner:

  • vaginal or anal sex with an infected partner
  • oral sex, although this is less common
  • sharing sex toys
  • touching parts of the body with fingers (for example, touching the private parts and then the eyes)
  • any very close physical contact
  • the bacteria can be passed from hand to hand (very rare isolated cases)
  • from a mother to her baby at birth

You can NOT catch it from simple kissing, sharing baths, towels, cups, or from toilet seats according to the Sexually Transmitted Diseases Guide.

The best way to prevent contracting Gonorrhea is abstinence from sex.  If this is not realistic, then it is advised to follow these guidelines to reduce your risk of contracting Gonorrhea or any other STI:

  • Use latex condoms from start to finish every time you have oral, vaginal or anal sex.
  • Have sex with only one uninfected partner whom only has sex with you (mutual monogamy).
  • Water-based spermicides can be used along with latex condoms for additional protection during vaginal intercourse. Use of spermicide is not recommended nor found to be effective for oral or anal intercourse.
  • Have regular check-ups if you are sexually active.
  • If you have an STD, don’t have sex (oral, vaginal, anal) until all partners have been treated.
  • Prompt, qualified and appropriate medical intervention, treatment and follow-up are important steps in breaking the disease cycle.
  • Know your partner(s). Careful consideration and open communication between partners may protect all partners involved from infection.

Gonorrhea has several symptoms which can appear 1-14 days after sexual contact.

In women the symptoms appear as:

  • strong smelling vaginal discharge that may be thin & watery or thick & yellow/green
  • irritation or discharge from the anus
  • abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • possibly some low abdominal or pelvic tenderness
  • pain or a burning sensation when passing urine
  • low abdominal pain sometimes with nausea

In men the symptoms appear as:

  • white, yellow or green thick discharge from the tip of the penis
  • inflammation of the testicles & prostate gland
  • irritation or discharge from the anus
  • urethral itch & pain or burning sensation when passing urine

50% of women and 10% of men do NOT have symptoms of Gonorrhea.  You may pass on the infection because you don’t know you are infected.  The only way to know for sure you have not contracted Gonorrhea is by getting tested.  Very often Gonorrhea is contracted along with Chlamydia.  50% of people who contract Gonorrhea, also contract Chlamydia at the same time.  Make sure you also get treated for Chlamydia if it is not ruled out when you are tested for Gonorrhea.  If Gonorrhea is not treated it can have long term effects on the body.

In women it can cause:

  • life-threatening complications such as ectopic pregnancy (outside the womb)
  • blocked fallopian tubes (the tubes which carry the egg from the ovaries to the womb), which can result in reduced fertility or infertility
  • long-term pelvic pain

In men, it can lead to:

  • painful inflammation of the testicles, which may result in reduced fertility or sterility

It is so important to protect yourself during any sexual contact.  STI’s are real.  Gonorrhea is one of the most common STI’s out there among young people.  It is known that over 65 million people in the United States are living with an STI and 15 million new cases are reported every year.  Please be smart about your sex life and practice safe sex every time you have sex.

Why Am I Still Alone?

Do you believe we send out vibes to others around us?  I do.  I believe our moods and how we see ourselves affects how others interact with us.  If I believe there is something wrong with me, I’m probably going to believe other people think the same thing.  If I don’t like myself, I’m more likely to think others will reject me too.  It may make me afraid of dating or getting close to someone.  If I’m shooting off this vibe of “Please don’t look at me, I’m gross”, do you think that is going to attract the opposite sex?  No, they most likely will be put off by my nonverbal cues of insecurity.

If you haven’t dated a lot in high school or college it is easy to start thinking there is something wrong with you.  I work with students who are depressed because they haven’t been in a serious relationship yet.  When someone feels depressed it is hard enough to get out of bed, so it is no surprise that it is also hard to put on a smile, act friendly and send out a positive vibe to all those potential single people out there to date.  It is one of those crazy cycles.  Like how can I get work experience unless I have a job, and I can’t get a job because I don’t have any work experience.  The same is true for single people who may feel depressed.  It is hard for others be attracted to them because of their mood and because people aren’t attracted to them, their mood becomes worse.

The longer this cycle goes on the more depressed people feel and the more fear they have that no one will ever want them.  The fear comes from not feeling good enough.  The fear may have started in the past from hearing people tell you that you are stupid, or fat, or ugly.  It is hard to believe someone would see something different in you if this is what you have been told in your past.  Or if you have been sexually abused, you may be afraid that if anyone found out they would never want to be with you.  Many people have demons inside of their heads telling them they don’t deserve to be loved.  It only reinforces the fear of being in a relationship with someone.  The truth is everyone deserves to be loved, but it can be hard to believe it for yourself.

So which comes first?  The chicken or the egg?  Do you need to get into a relationship first to feel good about yourself?  Or do you need to feel good about yourself to find a someone to date?  It does happen that a depressed person meets someone who sees through all their negativity and loves them in spite of it.  This can be a huge confidence booster to find someone who sees how beautiful you are even with all your flaws.  This relationship may help you to learn to love yourself.

However, I do believe YOU have more control over learning to love yourself even while you are single.  You can get away from anyone else, but you can’t escape yourself.  Others may not always be there for you, so its very valuable to learn to be there for yourself.  You can start by deciding whether you want to work on accepting yourself for who you are, or if there are things you want to work on changing to feel more confident.  It takes time, but you can learn to diminish those negative voices.  I encourage students look over a list of positive characteristics and mark which ones sometimes describe them.  Most students are amazed at how many great qualities they already have, but don’t give themselves credit for.  I then ask students to focus on those characteristics several times a day.  You have to put positive in, to get positive out.  It’s easier said than done.  Changing your thought process is hard, but over time it can have a big impact on how you see yourself.

I also encourage students who are afraid of being alone to take the initiative to reach out to others.  Start somewhere easy like being friendly to strangers.  Practice when you are out at Wal-Mart and greet the person who checks you out.  Be friendly to gas station attendants, waiters and waitresses, and other random strangers.  See how they react to you and you may find that a lot of them respond positively to the attention.  This will encourage you and hopefully give you more confidence without much risk.  Again,it helps to start somewhere less intimidating.  When you feel a little more brave, then look for someone to say hi to while walking across campus.  Ask someone in your class how they are doing.  Have a goal of making at least one person smile each day by giving them a genuine compliment.

The best way to meet others is to show interest.  Start by just being nice and ask them something about their self.  Don’t start by asking a complete stranger on a date.  That will be too hard to do if you’ve never done it.  Build your way up to that by just being friendly and trying to make other people feel good around you.  As you build confidence, then start to notice people you may be attracted to.  Be friendlier to them and see how they react.  Again, if they show interest by continuing the conversation, then find more opportunities to talk to them.  If they don’t show interest (give you one word answers, don’t ask you anything back or ignore you), then simply move on to the next person.  Don’t be afraid of the rejection.  It is normal and doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you.  Not everyone is going to click with you and that is okay.  The more people you interact with, the better chance of finding someone you do click with.  It does take time and practice.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!  You may need someone to encourage you to not give up or keep you accountable to your goals.  Tell someone you trust about your fears so they can help you fight them.  The only way to defeat fear is to face it head on.  It takes work to be a more positive and initiate conversations with others, but it may be worth it to chase the FEAR of dating away.

Alcohol Makes Me More Social

Many students tell me they don’t feel comfortable in social situations without engaging in some type of extracurricular activity.  Some claim they want to have the “college experience”.  Others say that parties are boring unless they get completely wasted.   Then there are the students who started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol back in high school and can’t imagine changing that pattern in college.  Most studies would say that students use these extracurricular activities to lower their inhibitions and be more social.   Because we all know college is about socialization.  Many students who admitted to using alcohol or marijuana as a freshman in college stated they used it to feel more confident when meeting new people.  What happens is this becomes a way of life and everyone around you now sees you as someone who drinks or smokes at every party.

I have counseled some students who are now labeled, “the party girl or guy” in their circle of friends.  They have considered slowing down or even stopping their drinking or smoking habits, but feel obligated to keep their status with their friends.  It isn’t so easy to go to a party and say no to the drugs or alcohol offered.  Especially if you never have declined these activities in the past.

It can be intimidating to reinvent yourself.  To have to explain to your girlfriend or boyfriend why you are making  a change.  Your friends may even feel like you are trying to blow them off or that you starting to look down on them.  So the pressure to stay in the same situation is intense.  Only you know why you do what you do.  If you know you don’t need alcohol or weed to relax and have a good time, be courageous and show others they can do the same.  Sometimes it only takes one person to say no before others will have courage to do the same.

Confidence is the key to saying no.  If you’re single and going to parties to find someone to date, be self assured enough to know that you don’t need alcohol or marijuana to be outgoing and social.  There are students who go to parties and stay sober, or at least don’t get completely wasted.  They are able to meet people and have fun anyway.  There are many reasons you can use to say no.  One, you may not want to spend the money on it.  Two, you know it is illegal (underage drinking and smoking marijuana) and you don’t want to risk having it on your record when applying for a job in the future.  Three, you can say you don’t enjoy it anymore and that you would rather not suffer from hangovers in the morning.  Four, you can say it is interfering with your grades and you want to be able to stay off of academic probation.  Five, you can admit that it changes your personality and you don’t like the choices you make under the influence.

Other students may not be bold enough or want to say no to everything.  There are other ways to cut back on alcohol at parties.  You can sip your drink and then go to the bathroom to pour most of it down the drain.  If you have a glass you can fill it with water or pop.  No one will notice what you’re drinking after a couple of hours.  You can also switch back and forth between non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks to slow down the amount you consume.  You can opt of out drinking games or refuse shots and just drink beer.  You can eat a big meal before going out to slow down how fast your body absorbs the alcohol.  You can also volunteer to be the designated driver for others at the party.  As for marijuana you can share the love and pass it on to the next person.

We all have things we don’t like about ourselves.  Alcohol and weed may help you to numb out those things or make you not care for the moment that they exist.  But they do exist and instead of ignoring things you may not like about yourself or your life, you may just want to work on  making positive changes.  If you don’t like that you are shy or nervous around others, work on those things to improve your confidence in social situations.  This means exposing yourself to social situations when you are sober and feeling anxious.  This is the only true way to develop that confidence and get rid of the fear you feel.  If you have a hard time relaxing and letting go of the stress of classes, you can find ways to learn to relax without the help of alcohol or drugs.

It is worth it to figure out how to be yourself in social situations.  You want someone to meet you and like you for who you are all the time, not only when you are drunk or high.  You can also learn how to drink or smoke less and still have fun.  This will help you find and stay in healthier relationships, as well cope with stress in better ways.  The point is to still go to parties and have fun, but without needing to be completely wasted to feel comfortable in your own skin while doing it.  If you want to build your confidence and self-esteem it is more beneficial to cut back on the use of drugs and alcohol instead of using them as a crutch.

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