The Attunement Bridge: Healing From an Affair

Many factors contribute to recovery from a relational rupture.

The post The Attunement Bridge: Healing From an Affair appeared first on The Gottman Institute.


A Series of Letters I Wish I Could Send to My Younger Queer Self

Letters from the author to himself in his teens and early 20s, as he tries to sort out multiple facets of his identity.

Age 13:

Hey, Mo!

You aren’t used to being called that yet, but it sounds good, right? I know you’ve never really connected with the name you were given, and that you wish you had another name, or a cool nickname people would use. Give it some time; you’ll really like this one, I promise.

It’s so easy for you to realize you have crushes on boys, but I wish you’d notice the crushes you’ve had on a couple girls, too. You’ve spent a lot of time daydreaming about what might happen when your penpal Rachel comes to visit; those daydreams have a lot of kissing in them, don’t they? You won’t wind up kissing her, but it might be helpful to remember that you wanted to. It means something, and I promise that it’ll be clearer eventually.

You cry a lot, and the world doesn’t feel real sometimes; your dreams are often the most vivid and memorable part of your day. I know you don’t feel safe talking to anyone about how bad you feel so much of the time, and I know you don’t feel safe seeking help because things went so badly the last time an adult learned how upset you felt. I’m sorry it’s so hard right now, and I’m sorry that you aren’t being offered the help you need. I’m so upset on your behalf about that. I wish I could offer help from where I am. I wish I could trust that anyone else would notice how badly you need it.

Also, I know you felt like you didn’t have the right words to express why it felt so wrong when your dad compared same-sex marriage to someone marrying their dog, but I’m glad you got mad and got into an argument about what he said, even though you weren’t sure how to win it. Your heart’s in the right place. Keep that anger safe; you’ll need it later.

Age 16:


We have to talk about your friend Tiffany. You think about her a lot. Her smile is amazing. She’s so clever and creative, and you love spending time with her. You pass notes in school constantly, and you get a little thrill every time you find one in your locker. I doubt you’re reading these words without smiling at least a little at the thought of her.

Mo, you sign your notes to each other with “Your Forbidden Love.” You call each other that all the time. It’s a joke between you, or so you both say, that you’d be in love if you weren’t both girls. Doesn’t it seem like maybe you have stronger feelings for her than just friendship?

Now that you think about it, doesn’t it seem obvious?

Do you remember the time you wound up together in the prom dress section of a department store when you were hanging out at the mall? Neither of you needed fancy dresses, but she suggested you try some on, anyway. She picked out a style and color you never would have chosen for yourself, but somehow it was perfect. You weren’t sure why it felt like such a special moment, to see yourself in something new that she chose for you, but you felt beautiful in a way you rarely did in those days. That shade of red will never stop reminding you of her.

I know you have reasons to believe she might not be able to accept your feelings any more than you can right now, even if she returns them, but I wish you could understand how you’re feeling now and not in a few years once she’s gone away to college. It’s a special thing to feel so strongly about someone else; I want you to be able to feel that admiration and love for her fully while it’s happening.

You’ve gotten a few books out of the library that say they’re about gay or lesbian experiences. You’re pretty sure you’re straight, but there’s a subtle pull coming from these books; you want to see if anything in them resonates with you. But you don’t live in a queer-friendly area, and the resources in your library aren’t up-to-date. The novels you manage to find aren’t uncomfortable and alienating to you because you’re straight; they’re uncomfortable and alienating because they were written in the ’70s, or written by straight people, or focused more on suffering than on any sort of joy in discovering one’s queer identity.

I wish you had something to read that felt relatable to you. Something about close friendships and longing and “jokes” that never quite felt like a joke, not really, about how you love each other. A narrative in which you could see a reflection of yourself, so you might be able to fit all these pieces together sooner. You’ll feel silly, looking back, when you do figure it out, but I understand why it’s so hard to understand your feelings now.

Age 19:

Congrats! You finally figured out that you’re attracted to women. I’m so glad for you, truly. I know you were worried, for a while, that you were faking those feelings somehow, or just pretending you had them.

There’s more, though, and I know it makes things more complicated. Once you got to college, remember how happy you were to be able to start introducing yourself as Mo to more and more people? How you kept thinking about how nice it was to have a more gender-neutral name, but never thought too much about why that seemed important?

I know you remember how much of an impact Gender Outlaw made on you when your best friend loaned it to you. How striking it was to read about someone saying they didn’t identify with their assigned-at-birth gender, but that maybe they weren’t the “other” gender either. That maybe gender wasn’t a category with only two options.

It’s all still percolating in your mind right now, and I don’t want to push you towards any particular conclusion. But when you’re doubting your feelings here, when you worry you’re making it all up, I hope you’ll think about Tiffany.

Think about how obvious it is, now, that you had feelings for her. How clearly you can see that affection written across your friendship. How easy it was to push those feelings aside firmly enough that you never quite sorted things out when you were still spending time together.

Think about the clarity you have about those feelings now. Let yourself be confused or uncertain or overwhelmed by your thoughts and feelings about gender, sure, but don’t doubt yourself. Don’t try to argue against how you feel.

Everything feels like it’s changing, and it is. I can’t say it’ll all be easy, but I can tell you it’ll turn out all right.

Age 21:


Hey. I know things are really confusing right now. That you aren’t sure who you are, gender-wise, or even who you want to be, and that this uncertainty is eating you up inside. I know that it really is all right—truly—to be uncertain, and I also know that knowing this won’t make you feel any better just yet. There’s not much information out there for trans people, and almost nothing for trans people who don’t fit into a rigid binary system defined by a very specific idea of “traditional” gender roles. It doesn’t mean other people like you aren’t out there, because they are; there just aren’t many spaces for you yet, and you haven’t found all of the ones that are out there.

I don’t know if this will comfort you, but it’s the truth: your feelings, your identity, will continue to change. Even after you make some pretty big decisions about your gender and your life and how you want to present yourself to the world. What’s important to you, in terms of the language you use for yourself and the way you want others to see you, is going to keep changing. It’ll shift again and again; the general shape will be the same, but the edges will shift and blur and change. Above all else, I want you to know that that’s fine. It truly is.

So much about what you know about the lives and feelings of trans people is confined to your tiny local community of mostly-strangers, your partner, and the often alienating, occasionally helpful communities and resources you’ve been able to find online. Sometimes it feels like there’s no room for ambiguity in the trans experience, that your lack of a clearly binary, definitive sense of identity means you aren’t trans at all, that you’re mistaken or pretending or just not enough of anything to count.

None of that is true at all.

What’s wonderful, and what I hope you can hold out for and take hope from, is that before long you’ll have a huge community of friends with similar feelings about gender; even those whose genders are very different from yours will understand, deeply and intimately, the way you feel about your own. They’ll get you. You can all provide support and understanding for each other, and you’ll be able to see, as time goes on, how many of you there are. How incredibly varied the experiences of trans people turn out to be when we feel free to share them without worrying that our access to medical care will be taken away if we step out of line, when we’ve carved out spaces for ourselves in person and online.

Your gender is a block of beautiful, fragrant cedarwood you can carve and shape as you see fit; you can use whatever tools you like, and any sharp edge or fine detail that looks good to you now can be filed or chiseled away if it feels wrong later. It’s a flamboyant cuttlefish, small and shifting and strobing with color, remaining the same shape even as its appearance changes. It’s whatever you want it to be, and while I know the ambiguity hurts right now, I promise that pain will fade into acceptance and love as time goes on.

Take some of that love and bounce it back at yourself. Try to be compassionate when you think about your younger self who somehow made it through everything to get you here. Look how far you’ve come! I’m so proud of you.


Warm Weather Rituals of Connection: Ideas for Couples and Families

Here’s a list of warm weather activities to try together!

The post Warm Weather Rituals of Connection: Ideas for Couples and Families appeared first on The Gottman Institute.


Staying Seen: Being Bi in Relationships with Straight People

When you identify as queer but enter into relationships with heterosexual people, or those with of a different gender to your own, it can feel odd to consolidate these two parts of your identity. You’re not straight, but society can perceive you that way – where do you fit in, exactly? 

When you identify as queer but enter into relationships with heterosexual people, or those with of a different gender to your own, it can feel odd to consolidate these two parts of your identity. You’re not straight, but society can perceive you that way – where do you fit in, exactly? 

I knew that I wasn’t straight when I was in my teens. I knew that I wasn’t gay either; if we were to go by the Kinsey scale – for all its faults – I’d hover around a 1 or a 2. This was confusing for me to come to terms with. I was surrounded by casual homophobia and toxic masculinity – the sort of “locker room culture” that is so damaging to young men, yet didn’t feel able to really challenge it despite knowing inside that I wasn’t heterosexual.

It was a weird situation where I felt as if I was in some sort of purgatory, drifting in a weird zone between different concrete identities.

Despite identifying as bisexual, the vast majority of my sexual and romantic experiences have been with people who identify as women. This wasn’t ever something I had consciously planned: it’s just so happened that I lean more towards women than men in my attractions and opportunities, and this has been reflected in the makeup of my experiences. As a result, I’ve variously been straight-passing when in relationships with women, and have also had people assume that I am gay when my relationship status hasn’t been disclosed. Regardless of my sexuality not being anyone’s business, this brings in tropes that demonstrate how society often perceives and represents bisexuality.

There often seems to be an assumption that men who say they’re bisexual are actually gay, for example, and that women who say they’re bisexual are actually straight. Is attraction to male bodies considered the default? Those assumptions sure make it sound that way. There’s almost an expectation that eventually, you’ll pick a “side” when such narratives are incredibly damaging. It can make us feel pressured to “pick”, when there’s really no reason why we should need to. A bisexual man could be with a woman his entire life – but that doesn’t for one second mean that he’s straight. Alternatively, he could be with men and men only, and this wouldn’t make him gay if he didn’t identify as such.

Bisexual men have to deal with toxic masculinity, homophobia, and biphobia, too. 

Biphobia exists amongst people of every sexual orientation and identity, and it can leave us feeling unsure as to where we fit in. Acquaintances and peers may assume you’re straight if they only see you in relationships with women, and also might assume that you’re down with their casual homophobia. Alternatively, they may think that you’re gay, and trying to come out gradually by identifying as bisexual. The revolutionary notion that you could experience attraction to people of more than one gender isn’t often even considered – people often think in binary terms, and it can be difficult for them to unlearn those patterns of thinking.

The sad reality is that, because of ignorance and bias about bisexuality if you’re open about your queer identity, you may also risk deterring some potential partners. Studies have shown that some straight women perceive bi men as being less attractive than straight men, so it’s easy to see why a queer man in relationships with heterosexual people could feel the need to keep quiet. Unfortunately, it’s perhaps unsurprising that bisexual men are considered to be less attractive by some, as bisexuality can invite connotations of femininity. These ideas are generally rooted in biphobia, and even if your partners don’t realise it, they may harbor certain biphobic ideas like this.

At school, in the locker room, or on the field, young men are constantly policing each other in terms of expressing masculinity, and at a time often when insecurities are often at their highest, it can be hard to come to terms with your sexuality on top of that. Particularly if you’re treated as one of the guys, you may be worried that coming out will change how you’re treated, whether or not you have any sort of romantic or sexual attraction to your friends.

How many queer men have had a conversation with male friends that’s gone something like, “It doesn’t bother me that you’re, you know, bi or whatever – just as long as you don’t try anything with me!” or, “You’re cool – you’re not one of those gays who are like, ‘in your face’ about it”? A stereotype remains that bisexual people are hypersexual, and want to sleep with anything that moves – it can get to the point where you’re telling friends of the same gender that actually, you aren’t even attracted to them in the first place, which can be pretty awkward.

Growing up, dating, and entering into relationships while bisexual can be an absolute minefield. While bisexuality forms only part of your identity, it can often feel as if people see your sexuality before they see you as a whole person. In short, don’t shy away from owning your identity. Whether you identify as bisexual, queer or even questioning – you shouldn’t hide who you are.

There are some things you can do to help manage tricky situations which may arise while dating, as difficult as they may seem.

Talk to your partners – Although it’s not your responsibility to educate them, if your partners ever harbor biphobic or heteronormative ideas, it can be beneficial to try and  talk things through. Tell them how you feel: they may not understand what it’s like to be in your shoes. They might not even be aware of their own biphobia at all, so this can be a good starting point.

Be open about your identity (where and when it’s safe for you to do so) – Work on being proud and confident in who you are. Embrace your identity, as ultimately your partners should love and respect you for who you are, your bisexuality very much included. Rather than locking away parts of yourself, it’s always better to be open and honest about yourself. Essentially, if your partner doesn’t accept your sexual orientation, they probably aren’t right for you. You can start the discussion around intersectionality, looking at both your own identities and those of your partner.

Encourage your friends and partners to be open with you – Maybe your friends want to become better-informed, or have questions or worries. It’s best if you can be open with each other, and that includes them opening up to you. Conflict is a healthy element of all relationships – what matters is how you handle it.

Address your own internal biasesInternalized biphobia is a real thing experienced by many bisexual individuals, not just men. Is your internalized biphobia stopping you from expressing yourself fully? This is a journey that you and your friends, family or partner might be able to travel on together. As you grow and unlearn ideas, the people around you may be able to do the same.

super fancy glasses in bisexual pride colors and the title of this piece


Depression Q&A: Common Kinds Of The Depression

* What is Depression?

Depression is a disorder, engaged in a person ís body, mood and thoughts. It can influence and interrupts eating, sleeping or judging manner. It is different from unhappiness or a down feeling. It is also not an indication of personal flaws or a condition that can be motivated or wanted away.

Persons with this disorder cannot just gather themselves together and get well. Usually, treatment is important and significantly vital to healing.

* Are there different types of depression?

Yes, there are actually three primary types of depression. Most of these are established by how ominous the signs are. They are:

Major depression This is the most serious type of mood disorder based on the number of signs and austerity of symptoms. It has become a severe health disorder and significant health concern in this country.

Manic depression  This type involves both high and low mood swings. It also indicates other major symptoms not found in other depression types.

Dysthymia depression identifies the low to moderate level of depression that continues for about two years and sometimes longer. Though the symptoms are not as serious as a major depression, they more lasting and defiant to healing. People with this type develop a major depression for a moment when depressed.

* What is major depression?

This is the most serious type of depression. More symptoms found in this depression that are usually severe and serious.

Sometimes, it can be an effect from a particular disturbing incident in your life or it may develop gradually because of various personal frustrations and life struggles. Some people seem to develop the signs of a major depression with no apparent life problems.

Major depression can happen once, because of a major emotional trauma, react to healing, and will not happen again as long as you live. This is normally what they called a single episode depression.

Some people are inclined to have habitual depression, with events of depression followed by periods of a number of years without depression, followed by another one, typically in reaction to another distress. This would be continuing depression.

Usually, the healing is similar, but that healing normally is over a longer period for continuing depression.

* What is Postpartum depression?

Postpartum depression can vary from temporary “blues” following childbirth to serious, unbearable and emotional depression.

Postpartum depression signs are just the same to those experienced by other depressives, involving desperate belief, feelings of despair, low self-confidence, and constant fatigue and mood changes.

It can be healed successfully as long as the mother and her support group identify the warning symptoms and examine them with considerate clinical experts. While some psychological occurrences and depressive feelings might be completely normal, constant feeling of unimportance or desperate views are not.

The secret to healing is to be honest with what you feel during each postpartum meeting with your physician.

* What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder felt by most people during Winter months. It is characterized by a seasonal depression, the down feeling, a longing to sleep for too long and habitual desire for starchier foods.

The signs of SAD normally start in the late Fall where there is already less daytime. It may not start subside until late winter or spring.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include:

  • Symptoms such as unnecessary eating and sleeping, weight increase normally take place during the Fall or Winter months.
    Complete reduction from despair happens in the Spring and Summer months.
  • Indications have taken place in the past two years, with no seasonal depression episodes.
  • Seasonal episodes considerably outnumber no seasonal depression episodes.
  • There is a longing for sweet and starchy foods.

* What is bipolar depression?

Bipolar depression, also identified as manic depression, is categorized as a type of affective disorder or mood disorder that happens during life ís normal difficulties. It can become a severe clinical condition. It is a significant health concern in the United States. This is distinguished by irregular episodes of acute excitement, elevated mood, or bad temper (also referred to as mania) opposed episodic, common depressive signs.

Guiding principles for RSE Day

RSE Day promises to buzz and hum with activity, bringing schools, families and communities together around the joint project of celebrating excellent Relationships and Sex Education.

The day will fly by at speed. It will be exciting to see the new resources that have been produced, selfies and book choices that are shared and to hear about the RSE activities taking place nationwide.

Before the wave of activity sweeps us along, let’s take a moment to reflect and remember that RSE is first and foremost about meeting the needs of children and young people. RSE Day itself is guided by a set of principles and top of the list is the fact that RSE helps keep children safe – this is based on evidence. 

With evidence at the core of what we do at the Sex Education Forum, we are proud to release an infographic summarising the impact of RSE on young people’s health and wellbeing, young people’s preference to learn about sex from school, parents and health professionals and a reminder of the overwhelming consensus of support for RSE.

Research evidence shows that RSE is more effective when home and school are involved, and RSE Day is all about encouraging everyone to have a role. Communication between people is the key. Perhaps you will be opening up new questions and conversations on RSE Day, asking children and young people how RSE can be improved or asking families to choose love themed books to read together. Involving people with different roles, and of different ages, and supporting life-long learning is something that RSE Day activities can help set in motion.

Sometimes people will disagree about the choice of a resource to use in RSE, or how and if to answer a child’s question. People’s choices of favourite books about love will be wide-ranging too. The task for RSE is clear though; to educate children and young people about healthy relationships and positive sexual health, and in doing so to meet the child’s need to feel safe, to feel included and be respected. Adult differences must be put aside to make sure this is our common priority.

Excellent RSE should also be enjoyable and useful. Through the stresses and strains of the Covid-19 pandemic the relevance of RSE is striking. Friendships, family dynamics, intimate relationships and social interactions have entered new territory. RSE Day 2020 is an opportunity to learn from each other at a very particular moment. In 10 weeks time, Relationships Education, RSE and Health Education will become statutory in schools across England, making 2020 a landmark year for RSE. Today we can keep it simple: have a conversation, share a book, ask a question and enjoy RSE Day!

Lucy Emmerson
Director, Sex Education Forum 
25 June 2020



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Celebrities celebrate the ‘books I love about love’ for RSE Day 2020

Media release
For immediate release: 23 June 2020

Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) Day takes place on 25th June 2020

The children’s author and illustrator Olly Pike and author and television presenter Janet Ellis, are among celebrities sharing the books they love about love to mark RSE Day 2020 on 25th June.

RSE Day, coordinated by the Sex Education Forum in partnership with Nottingham City Council, encourages everyone to consider their role in promoting healthy relationships and positive sexual health – whether as a parent or carer, an educator, a faith leader, a councillor, a health practitioner, a friend or family member.

Influencers and celebrities will be taking to social media, as the nation is invited to share their favourite books that have a story to tell about positive relationships, using the hashtags #RSEday and #RSEtogether.

Olly Pike has been noted as one to watch on the Independent on Sunday’s “Rainbow List”. His YouTube channel has had over 1 million views and his books are currently being used in UK classrooms and beyond.

Schools will be playing their part in RSE Day, with relationships themed activities taking part in classrooms and via online learning across the country.

Parents’ participation is just as vital, and a pack of activities has been distributed that parents can use to start valuable conversations with children and young people at home.

In Nottingham, RSE Day will feature online creative workshops exploring healthy relationships; with poetry, visual arts, music and dance online lessons, creative challenges and short story and picture book readings. Celebrations in the city will be supported by CBeebies star Sid Sloane.

The Sex Education Forum will announce winners of the RSE Teaching Awards, recognising the achievements of staff in primary, secondary and special schools, as well as the most effective adaption of RSE during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lucy Emmerson, Director of the Sex Education Forum, said:

‘It’s a landmark year for RSE. From September, the subject becomes a guaranteed part of every child’s education. So it is a perfect moment for everyone to think about healthy relationships, and how education at school can complement learning in the home and within our communities, so that children and young people get the information they need. It’s easy to show your support for RSE, just share a book that really speaks to you about love and let’s get the conversation started.’

Catherine Underwood, Corporate Director for People at Nottingham City Council, said:

“RSE Day is a really important event in our school calendar. Good RSE can equip young people with facts they can trust, helping to keep them safe and preventing them from turning to playground gossip or dubious information online. It is important that children and young people are given the opportunity to explore a range of family and relationship types in a way that is supportive, inclusive and affirms children’s different experiences of family life.”

You can download useful resources, including tips for schools and parents on getting involved here.

On social media use #RSEday #RSEtogether @RSE_day and @Sex_Ed_Forum


Notes to editors

For further information, please contact the National Children’s Bureau media office: / / 07721 097 033.

For urgent enquiries out of office-hours call: 07721 097 033.

About Olly Pike
Olly Pike is a children’s author and illustrator, LGBT+ Youtuber, and Director of Pop’n’Olly LTD.

Olly has been noted as one to watch on the Independent on Sunday’s “Rainbow List”, Olly has since spoken at London City Hall and Parliament, regarding Children’s Rights and Mental Health in relation to LGBT+ Education. He also shared his work at Stonewalls ‘Education for All’ 2017 Conference. Olly was shortlisted for a ‘National Diversity Award’ in 2017 for his LGBT+ educational work. His YouTube channel has had over 1 million views and his books are currently being used in UK classrooms and beyond.

Olly’s experience in children’s entertainment ranges from playing ‘Wiley Sneak’ in the BAFTA winning CBBC Television show ‘Trapped’ and ‘Trapped: Ever After’, to numerous theatrical productions including West End credits and regular appearances in Pantomime.

About Janet Ellis
Janet Ellis is an English television presenter, actor and writer, who is best known for presenting the children’s television programmes Blue Peter and Jigsaw between 1979 and 1987. She has published two novels, The Butcher’s Hook (2016) and How It Was (2019).

About RSE Day

RSE Day is the original idea of Nottingham City Council.  The first RSE day took place on 28 June 2018. To build on the success of the first RSE day, Nottingham City Council is working in partnership with the Sex Education Forum to increase the profile of the day across the country.

The overall aim of RSE Day is to improve the quality and reach of relationships and sex education provided for children and young people by celebrating good practice RSE on an annual national day. Good quality RSE needs to happen all year round, with a planned curriculum, but 25 June 2020 is an opportunity to start new conversations and share what you are doing with others.

For more information visit:

About the Sex Education Forum
The Sex Education Forum, part of the National Children’s Bureau, is the national authority on relationships and sex education (RSE). We believe that good quality RSE is an entitlement for all children and young people and we are working with our partners, who all support statutory RSE and include local authorities, children’s, religious, health and family organisations, to achieve this.

For further information visit:  

About the National Children’s Bureau
For more than 50 years, the National Children’s Bureau has worked to champion the rights of children and young people in the UK. We interrogate policy and uncover evidence to shape future legislation and develop more effective ways of supporting children and families. As a leading children’s charity, we take the voices of children to the heart of Government, bringing people and organisations together to drive change in society and deliver a better childhood for the UK. We are united for a better childhood.

For more information visit


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