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January 2011



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10 Types of Female Friends

By Therese J. Borchard
December 1, 2009

Awhile back I wrote about the four kinds of friends you need in your life to become more resilient. Now let’s talk about the kind of friends you actually have! Or at least the 10 types of female friends described by author Susan Shapiro Barash in her new book, Toxic Friends: The Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships. (I promise to follow up with one for the guys, okay?).

For her book, Shapiro interviewed 200 women of assorted backgrounds and ages, and asked them all kinds of nosy questions about their friends. The result is a labyrinth of 10 types of female friendships. I have excerpted the following descriptions from her book:

1. The Leader

The leader is the friend we feel we must have, the one who can make or break our social lives. Being the leader renders one a “winner”–she is strong and outspoken; she understands her potency. She is the one who gets us invited to parties and makes the decisions for herself and for her friends.

2. The Doormat

The doormat is a martyr, and the position she takes among her friends is obvious: She isn’t one to make her demands known and rarely questions anything. She is useful when any friend, in any category, is in a bad way–the doormat absorbs her sorrows willingly. The doormat yearns to belong to a group, and also seeks out intimate friendships. To this end, she isn’t critical and won’t give you a hard time.

3. The Sacrificer

The sacrificer is the one who takes the leap for her friends, and in tough times, we lean on this person, who will answer her phone in the dead of night to console you. The sacrificer’s search for closeness is often what motivates her, and she is confident that she can handle a friend’s expectations. When a sacrificer discovers that her friends are less dedicated than she, she can be very disappointed.

4. The Misery Lover

Enough women describe their misery lover as a friend who cares more about your bad news than your good news. These friends rally when a crisis hits and are even able to make a small incident into a bigger problem, at times. Although we find this friend consoling when the chips are down–if you’ve gained weight or lost your job, had a fight with your sister or mother, begun divorce proceedings, or are suffering along with an unhappy child–when the situation improves, she distances herself.

5. The User

The user stands alone in how every step she takes is purposeful and deliberate….This friend can be enticing and charismatic and knows how to wheedle her way into one’s life and firmly entrench herself. She also has a hidden agenda and, to this end, considers what is best for her. The conflict is that she’s very appealing; there is a sense that the friendship is attractive enough to keep it intact, as frustrating as it can be.

6. The Frenemy

The frenemy is the dark side of the user, with manipulation an underlying factor in these negative relationships. Many times her act is refined, unlike that of blatant enemies on the schoolyard during our grade school days…..Although it is apparent why and when one should walk away from this kind of friend, cultural messages, oddly enough, ramp up our view of frenemies. This gives tacit approval for the emotions and passive-aggressive behaviors that accompany the relationship.

7. The Trophy Friend

The trophy friend is out for the conquest of making you her friend. To this end, you elevate her to a new level and she, in turn, offers you something you don’t already have. This friend is capable of seduction; she discovers you, and it is thrilling to be together….The trophy friend is savvy about intimacy and passion but falls short on commitment.

8. The Mirroring Friend

The mirroring friend has an identity that resonates with our own. So we are drawn to her, even if we aren’t the same exact kind of friend ourselves; it is the mirroring aspect of the equation that makes it work. Our mirroring friends want to be with us in good times and bad with their matching joys and sorrows … and are able to provide great solace.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/12/01/the-10-types-of-female-friends/

Divorce - Broken Heart

Digital Solutions Developed to Support Divorced Families

ScienceDaily (Dec. 1, 2009) — More than half of all marriages end in divorce, and the majority of these involve children, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Conflict between parents, before and after divorce, is associated with feelings of anger, helplessness, loneliness and guilt in children. Now, an online program created by University of Missouri researchers is teaching separated parents to maintain and nurture relationships with their children.

“There is a great need for effective online programs to support and educate separated parents,” said Larry Ganong, co-chair of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. “In many cases, parents who divorce also move apart, and relocation makes it difficult to attend court-mandated trainings or develop effective strategies for co-parenting. Children are often the ones who suffer when parents don’t take steps to minimize issues caused by separation.”

The MU researchers offer tips for separated and divorced parents:

  • *Avoid criticizing the other parent and arguing in front of children.
  • *Reassure children that conflict and divorce are not their fault.
  • *Plan relaxing activities for kids to make transitions between households less stressful.
  • *Establish consistent routines and responsibilities in each household.
  • *Avoid using the child as a messenger — discuss parenting and financial issues directly.
  • *Avoid asking questions about other parent, which can make children uncomfortable.
Read in Full: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091201132429.htm

How To Apologize to a Woman

by Sam Margulies

A good apology can save a marriage.

Although this blog is essentially devoted to the subject of divorce, every now and then I will discuss some aspect of marriage that leads to divorce and suggest ways to reduce the damage. Having mediated domestic disputes for thirty years it occurs to me that men and women regard apologies from very different perspectives. And simple as it may seem, these different views of apology are the source of extensive damage to many marriages. In short, most men don’t know how to apologize. In intimate relationships an effective apology can quickly heal an inadvertent injury. Similarly, an ineffective apology or the complete failure of an apology can cause an inadvertent injury to be experienced as a major wound to the relationship.

For women, apologizing is a way of reconnecting with someone whose feelings you have hurt, however inadvertently. When a woman gets feedback that something she has done or failed to do has left another feeling offended or injured, she is usually quick to apologize. A breach in the relationship is avoided and the relationship continues undisturbed. Neither the woman offering nor the woman receiving the apology regard it as unusual but rather see it as a routine aspect of relationships.

Apologies for men are very different. Men tend to view apologies as humiliating and a loss of face. Scholars of genderhumiliation have observed that for men, verbal communication is tied up with their concern for the way their status is perceived by others. Men are more conscious of the impact of what they say on how others perceive their power position or lack of power. So for a man to acknowledge that he has done something wrong often means that he feels diminished in the eyes of those who hear the apology. Thus a woman apologizes to maintain healthy relationships and feels no sense of loss. But a man apologizes and feels a sense of loss if not humiliation. The result of this difference is that men are reluctant to apologize and in many cases, do not know how to craft a sincere apology.

It is this lack of knowledge I seek to address here. Most of the women in the couples I see for divorce mediation complain that their marriages suffer from a terminal lack of intimacy. They report that their husbands are unable or unwilling to respond to their wives’ feelings and the husband’s tendency to stonewall when presented with a complaint leaves his wife feeling disconnected and alienated. It appears that in most modern marriages it is the woman who is angry at her mate more often than the reverse. Women express anger at their husband’s sins of commission as well as sins of omission. And the most common sin of omission is his failure to apologize when he has offended. So here is a brief tutorial for men on how to apologize.



There are six elements of a proper apology. If you do not want to waste your time you must include all six:

1. Acknowledge the Wrongful Act

You need to begin by saying ” I was wrong and I am sorry.” There are no substitutes for this admission. If you say something dumb like “I am sorry that you think I was wrong,” you might as well spare yourself and not bother. There is no getting around it. You were wrong so plead guilty and get on with it.

2. Acknowledge that You Have Hurt her Feelings.

Understand that your wrongful act has hurt her feelings and made her feel disconnected from you. You cannot reconnect without attending to the feelings piece. So you say “I was wrong and I am sorry that I have hurt your feelings” Once again, you cannot wimp out by fudging and saying ” I am sorry that your feelings are hurt” You have to connect your wrongful act to her hurt feelings.

3. Express Your Remorse

An expression of remorse and regret is the way you demonstrate your ability to feel an appropriate response to her hurt feelings. So you say, “I was wrong and I am sorry that I hurt your feelings and I feel terrible that I have done something that has hurt you.” (It will help here if you actually look remorseful)

4. State Your Intention Not to Repeat

This may be difficult particularly if you are a repeat offender but it is an expression of your acknowledgement of your need to reform. “I know that I am sometimes insensitive to what you need but I am going to try my hardest not to do it again.” If you smirk at this juncture you’re going to have to go back and start all over.

5. Offer to Make Amends

If you don’t know what would help ask her. “What can I do to make it up to you?” The particular act of contrition may be negotiated but the important thing is to express your willingness to do something by way of compensation. Of course, once you commit to do something you need to do it lest you render the entire effort useless.

6. Seek Forgiveness

Read in Full:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/divorce-grownups/200903/how-apologize-woman-o

The Big 5 Model of Personality

By Jason Rentfrow, Ph.D

If you’ve taken a college psychology course or have any interest in personality, you’ve more than likely come across the term “Big Five” personality dimensions or personality traits. These have been gathered through the result of decades’ worth of psychological research into personality. While they don’t capture the idiosyncrasies of everyone’s personality, it is a theoretical framework in which to understand general components of our personality that seem to be the most important in our social and interpersonal interactions with others.

Decades of research on personality has uncovered five broad dimensions of personality. These so-called Big Five dimensions are called:

  • *Extraversion (your level of sociability and enthusiasm)
  • *Agreeableness (your level of friendliness and kindness)
  • *Conscientiousness (your level of organization and work ethic)
  • *Emotional Stability (your level of calmness and tranquility)
  • *Intellect (your level of creativity and curiosity)
These are not “types” of personalities, but dimensions of personality. So someone’s personality is the combination of each of their Big Five personality characteristics. For example, someone may be very sociable (high Extraversion), not very friendly (low Agreeableness), hard working (high Conscientiousness), easily stressed (low Emotional Stability) and extremely creative (high Intellect).

A considerable amount of research suggests that personality is stable throughout life and associated with a range of important life outcomes, from academic and occupational success, to marital stability and physical health.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/11/10/the-big-5-model-of-personality/

Do Opposites Attract Or Do Birds Of A Feather Flock Together?

By John M Grohol PsyD
February 14, 2005 (From the Archives)

Do opposites attract or do birds of a feather flock together?

Results show that couples were highly similar on attitudes and values; however, they had little or no above-chance similarity on personality-related domains such as attachment, extraversion, conscientiousness and positive or negative emotions. There is no evidence that opposites attract. What is most intriguing is that when the researchers assessed marital quality and happiness, they found that personality similarity was related to marital satisfaction, but attitude similarity was not. […]

“However, once people are in a committed relationship, it is primarily personality similarity that influences marital happiness because being in a committed relationship entails regular interaction and requires extensive coordination in dealing with tasks, issues and problems of daily living. Whereas personality similarity is likely to facilitate this process, personality differences may result in more friction and conflict in daily life,” say the authors.


Reducing Marital Stress Through Communication

By John M Grohol PsyD
November 17, 2009

One heavily researched area within psychology is couples’ and marital communication. How a couple chooses to communicate — especially during a conflict — affects all sorts of things in the relationship: stress, relationship health, intimacy, even each person’s health. As Gouin et al. (2009) note in a summary of our existing research on this issue:

Individuals reporting lower marital satisfaction experienced more non-specific physical illness symptoms over a 4-year period than individuals with higher marital satisfaction. Among healthy women, lower marital satisfaction was also associated with a more rapid progression of carotid atherosclerosis. Furthermore, women who were initially dissatisfied in their marital relationship were more likely to develop metabolic syndrome over an 11-year period.

Among women hospitalized for an acute coronary event, those who reported moderate to severe marital strain at baseline were 3 times more likely to experience a recurrent coronary event during a 5-year follow-up, compared to women reporting less marital stress. Poor marital quality was also associated with a lower 3-year survival rate among end-stage renal disease patients, and a lower 8-year survival rate among congestive heart failure patients.

Collectively, these results from prospective observational studies provide evidence of an association between marital stress and negative health outcomes.

The latest research from Graham et al. (2009) shows that couples who are more considerate and rational during a fight release lower amounts of stress-related proteins. This suggests that rational communication between partners can ease the impact of marital conflict on the immune system.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/11/17/reducing-marital-stress-through-communication/

Wives Roles & Marital Satisfaction

By Will Meek, Ph.D.

At risk of sounding like a 1950s relationship guide, research out of Iowa State University is making an interesting claim: to achieve high satisfaction in your marriage, let the woman have her way in matters of the relationship. The authors found that women had more intensity for events within the marital relationship, and that women that had male partners who provided more positive feedback and understanding of their concerns were more likely to have satisfying relationships.

My view is slightly more nuanced than the misleading but eye-catching headline “Key to marital happiness? Let the wife have her way”. Essentially, I think that simple acknowledgement of concerns and understanding facilitates better communication, problem solving, and balance of power in a relationship. Men who are able to engage at an intimate emotional level with their wives (obviously just rolling with the stereotypes, but certainly these roles could be reversed) will have a greater level of closeness that would increase satisfaction. Simply letting someone have his/her way would be destructive in the long run and lead to resentment or disengagement.

Source:   http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/07/08/wives-roles-marital-satisfaction/

The State of the American Woman

By Therese J. Borchard
November 16, 2009

About a month ago, Time Magazine published the results of a landmark survey gauging where America stands on the battle of the sexes. The results show that women are much more powerful than they were 40 years ago. In the 60s, one-third of all workers were woman. Now half are. Almost 40 percent of women are the primary breadwinners or are contributing substantial income for the household budget. And according to a Mediamark Research & Intelligence survey, women make 75 percent of the buying decisions in the home. You know the telemarketer who asked for the decision-maker of the house? Apparently it’s the wife.

Women’s power extends to the academic world, as well. Author Nancy Gibbs explains in “Time” that half of Ivy League presidents are women, and the female dropout rate has been cut in half since the 70s. Also, the ratio of 60-40 of men and women on college campuses has reversed. Moreover, half of all law and medical degrees go to women.

But they are stressed, anxious, and not as happy.


According to the poll results, both men and women say that the government and businesses haven’t adjusted to the revolution and need to do more to help families manage it all. For example, 54 percent of women and 49 percent of men say businesses need to be more flexible with work hours and schedules; they also agreed that companies need to give more paid time off, better or more day-care options, and longer school days or longer school years.

But are women really less happy than they were back in the day we wore pearls with our aprons and greeting Dad at the door when he arrived home from work, the turkey roasting in the oven?

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/11/16/the-state-of-the-american-woman/

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