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Can you ever be physical in a relationship?

Crisis time: any physical contact that involves the intent to do harm is cause for alarm

Dear Dr Nekia,

I want to know if it is ever OK to be physical in a relationship. Everyone knows that couples argue and fight, and if the experts say that it is normal, then why is not getting physical normal?

Doesn’t it seem logical that at some point things will go too far and someone will throw something such as a punch or a frying pan or shoe?

Isn’t having such occasional disputes different from being in an abusive relationship?

Sincerely, Everybody Fights

Dear Everybody Fights,

You raise some very serious, yet interesting questions. On a whole, physical contact during an argument or a dispute is heavily frowned upon, no matter the circumstances.

Resorting to physical contact is a red flag in a relationship because it indicates a build-up of underlying anger and an inability to effectively communicate thoughts and feelings.

This could be because the person is too angry to formulate the proper words or because their partner is not effectively communicating with them, which can be very frustrating.

It is quite easy for things to get out of hand during an argument and that is why it is very important that couples learn to not only communicate in a healthy way, but that they also learn to realise when they are too angry to communicate.

And, yes, while an occasional dispute that gets out of hand does not in itself constitute an abusive relationship, it does constitute a relationship in crisis.

This is especially true if getting out of hand increases in incidence, and if getting out of hand results in bodily harm or an all-out brawl.

On the other hand, there are instances where negative physical contact may be warranted. In fact, couples therapists sometimes use foam bats or suggest some form of competitive physical sport where the couple can physically get out their frustrations.

The idea is to release negative pressure that has built up towards one another in a harmless and controlled environment.

As well, there may be times when your partner has become manic and you may need to offer physical contact in the form of a strike or restraint that snaps them out of their manic state to avoid them bringing harm to themselves or to others.

Such manic states are seen in those who are intoxicated, in a suicidal state, have reached a stress-related breaking point or are in a state of overwhelming grief. However, there is no way to tell if manic persons will lash out in response, so be very careful if you should choose to physically intervene.

So yes, everybody fights, but it is not necessary for couples to engage in negative physical contact. Any sign of physical contact which involves the intent of harm is cause for alarm, and such relationships or marriages need to be seriously evaluated.

Dear Dr Nekia,

I am involved with someone who heavily engages in social media and I am beginning to feel like they have more of a relationship with Facebook and their social media statuses than they do with me.

They often reveal intimate thoughts and feelings that they are having before I am made aware of them. In fact, I find out much about how they are feeling from reading posts and statuses.

I talked to them about it but they say it is not that serious, but to me it is because I am feeling betrayed and disrespected and like they are being disloyal. Am I overreacting like they say I am?

Sincerely, Social Media Relationship

Dear Social Media Relationship,

I understand your sense of betrayal. This stems from your need to connect in a way that your partner is not willing to.

You are seeking to connect on a level of intimacy where your partner feels comfortable to come to you first with their day-to-day thoughts and feelings.

This is natural because, in reality, what our partner chooses to share with us is all that we have when it comes to knowing what is going on inside of them.

If your partner is unwilling or incapable of sharing their thoughts and feelings, then it creates limitations in the relationship which leaves you only able to enjoy physical or tangible experiences that you both share.

This makes for a rather superficial relationship. In addition to this, the fact that he or she is so willing to openly share their thoughts and feelings with strangers rather than with you is a bit of a slap in the face.

Many people do not realise how much social media affects their daily lives and relationships so he or she may not see that they are creating a dysfunctional and unfulfilling relationship.

They are seeking attention, approval, concern and connections from the world instead of using their energy and intention on forming these connections with you. Your partner may say that it is not that serious but in fact it is.

Their social media fixation is so serious that they choose to devote themselves to that alternate reality to the point where they defend their use of it and refuse to compromise for the sake of your relationship. Hopefully they will realise the damaging effects of their actions and can find balance between their virtual social world and their real life where people and things really do matter.

Dear Dr Nekia,

I have been seeing someone for a few years now but things are not progressing as I hoped they would.

I had to make the very difficult decision of ending the relationship because I did not want to enter into a new year unhappy.

But I am honestly finding it difficult to not think about them constantly. Even though I know that I made the best decision, they were such a big part of my life that a day without them is difficult for me.

They still contact me, which doesn’t make it easier. How can I move on and stop obsessing over her?

Sincerely, Can’t Get Her Out Of My Head

Dear Can’t Get Her Out Of My Head,

What you are experiencing is normal, so do not beat yourself up. You will go through a natural process of grief because ending a relationship is a great loss to you.

Allow yourself time to grieve and release emotions that you may be experiencing from moment to moment. This is very important because suppressed or denied emotions bottle up inside to explode out later, affect future relationships and can even manifest as physical disease.

Transitioning from having someone be a part of your daily life to letting go may be an overwhelming event so you may want to consider cutting ties completely. If you can, it may be best for you to completely put a stop to contact with this person.

One thing that you can do to interrupt obsessive thinking about her is to become consciously aware of your thoughts.

When you begin thinking of her ask yourself why you are doing so, take a deep breath and think of something about yourself or bring to mind a personal goal that you wish to work on.

By questioning yourself you are bringing awareness to your habit of thinking of her. By taking a deep breath, you are calming and centring yourself.

By replacing your thought of her with a thought about you, you are teaching yourself to begin to shift your focus away from her and on to you.

This technique, though very effective, will not work overnight because you need a healthy grieving and adjustment period.

However, it will make this uncomfortable period easier to get through while giving you a solid foundation on which you can heal from your loss and move on with your life to love again.

• Want relationship advice? E-mail nakedtruth@royalgazette.com