Valentine’s Day can be great, but when it’s not long into the new year and everyone is still just about sticking to budget, it can be a super annoying expense. Well, if you want to treat your other half to something that shows your love but don’t have the bank account to go with it, we came up with a super quick list of how to celebrate the most romantic day of the year without breaking the bank. 

1) Go for a coffee date

Head off to the best coffee shop in town and spend less than a fiver on a drink and a piece of cake. It’s a great chance to spend a bit of time with your other half, feels like something a little bit special, and is dirt cheap. Wins across the board. 

2) Take a walk somewhere pretty

Wrap up warm and head off to the park or the countryside for a walk in the February sun. It might be chilly, but it will give you guys a chance to spend some quality time together. Just add a dog, and you are looking at an afternoon well spent. 

3) Make them a present

If you are a bit of an artist, make something for them. Draw or paint something, make a card, frame a photo of the two of you together, put a bunch of stuff into a scrapbook or make a coupon book full of favours they can cash in throughout the year. Whatever you feel like you might be able to make look kinda OK, or at least not like a toddler did it, give it a whirl. Even if it turns out a bit rubbish, chances are they will appreciate the effort you’ve put in. 

4) Send them a Spotify playlist of all the songs that remind you of them

The mixtape of 2020, make a Spotify playlist filled with all the songs that you guys enjoy together, or the ones that make you think of them. Send it over Whatsapp with a little note about what it is and why you’ve done it. They will love the thought that you put into making them something so unique to the two of you. 


5) Build a blanket fort

So maybe you’ve not done this since you were ten, but get your other half over to build a gigantic blanket fort in your room. Fill your fort with your favourite (cheap) snacks and stick something on Netflix. Hanging out in a fort is soooo much better than just sitting on the sofa. 

6) Small acts of kindness

It’s often our actions and not our words that show people just how much we care. Do one or two things throughout the day that shows them just how much you know them, and how much you care about them. Maybe that’s taking them a coffee, tackling some of the stuff on their to do list as a surprise, or something else entirely. 

7) Know that you don’t have to celebrate at all if you don’t want to

Life is expensive, but relationships don’t have to be. Have a chat with your other half before the big day approaches and say you just don’t feel like it’s worth celebrating. Make sure they know beforehand though, or you might find yourself in trouble.  

For some great tips on how to be an absolutely amazing partner, give this article a read.

So maybe you’ve been seeing someone for a while now, but you don’t know exactly where you stand with them? The ‘talk’ either hasn’t happened yet or maybe didn’t exactly go the way you wanted it to, and so now you are stuck in a weird limbo; where you both together and not together at the same time.

Well, we know these types of situations can be difficult to handle at best, and often result in a lot of anxiety, paranoia or arguments. At Ditch the Label, we don’t want anyone to feel like that, so we’ve put together this little quiz where you can put your ‘situation’ to the test and find out if you are in a situationship or if what you’ve got going is the real deal.


Got a situationship? Read on

So maybe you didn’t exactly get the answer you were hoping for, or maybe you always knew you were in a situationship and maybe want to do something to change that?

Well the most crucial thing you can do now is talk to your partner and find out where their head is at. We know it’s scary, but it’s important to be brave, listen to your feelings and do something about them when you feel ready. For more help, give these articles a read:

Relationship on the cards?

Congrats! It seems like you and your other half are getting pretty serious, and it sounds to us like they are just as in this as you are. if that’s the case, have a chat with them about getting on the same page about where your relationship is going, and laying down some boundaries similar to being in a relationship. For more, read these articles:

If you need to talk to someone about your relationship, you can speak to one of our trained Digital Mentors here for confidential advice and support.

It’s that time of year again. All the shops are filled with gigantic cards covered in love hearts and sickeningly sweet messages to be sent to the person you love most in the world. But what do you do if you don’t really know where you stand? 

So it turns out that there is a name for this. It’s called a situationship, and it is basically a relationship without the label. Now you know us, we are all about ditching the labels that define us as humans. But when you don’t know if the person you spend most of the time with actually feels the same about you, how do you handle it?

Want to know if you’re in one? Take this quiz to find out!

Try not to overthink

Situationships can be great if you are both feeling like you don’t want to commit to a full on relationship, especially the pressures that come with them. When it’s all basically like hanging out with a best friend that you hook up with occasionally, it’s hard to see what could possibly go wrong. But as soon as that balance gets thrown off, it can be an anxiety-inducing mess for the person who wants to move things along. 

If you are in a situationship and you think that you might want something more, try not to overthink. Every detail of what they say, do or don’t do can become fair game for your mind to pick over. For tips on how to not overthink, read this article

Think about what you want 

The thing with this type of non-relationship, is that they can change pretty quickly for good or bad. The best thing to do is to take some time to yourself and really consider what you might want out of it. Do you want a relationship when they don’t? Maybe it’s the other way around? Do you want something casual? Will you be able to stay friends if the situation changes and you are no longer hooking up? These are all things you might want to have a bit of a think about. 

Try putting them down on paper and weigh up what you really want out of it. If you are happy for now, then put them away somewhere and forget about them. But when the time comes to think about your future with or without the other person (and trust us, it will) get them out and give them a read. It will help, trust us. 

Be brave

So you’ve decided what you want, maybe you’ve taken a little time, and now the time has come to put thoughts and feelings into action. Situationships are never that great for in-depth talking, and you probably find yourself discussing Netflix or pizza a hell of a lot more than you do anything meaningful. But, being brave and asking where this is going is not a bad thing. 

Sure, maybe it won’t work out and you won’t get the answer that maybe you want this time around. We’ve all been there and you are not alone. For help getting over someone, read this article. 

Need some help dealing with rejection? Read this. 

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Know your worth… 

The  most important thing in all of this is that it can be really easy to forget how valuable you are. You are an amazing person with so much to offer the world, and so much to offer a relationship if that’s what you want. When you spend a lot of time in this type of situation, it can be easy to forget that, and instead imagine that perhaps this is the closest you are ever going to get to the real deal. Well, that’s simply not true, and you need to know that. 

…And know when to walk away

Finally, knowing when to call it a day can be the toughest thing of all. Situationships can give you a hell of a lot of good times, and the idea of letting go, especially when you’ve invested more emotion in it than you thought you would have, can be very difficult. But, knowing when to walk away is powerful, you deserve something amazing, and if this person can’t give it to you, it might be time to give it up and move on. 

Need to talk to someone about your relationship? You can speak to one of our trained Digital Mentors here for confidential support and advice. 

Sometimes, you just can’t get them off your mind. No matter how hard you try, they stay stuck in your head like an Ariana Grande song.

Dealing with a break-up can be really tough and often we find ourselves still stuck on someone long after the sympathy has dried up from everyone around us.

We know that it isn’t always that easy, and getting over someone takes a lot of work. That’s why we have put together a list of ideas for you to get your mind on you and off the ex. #ThankUNext.

1) Learn a new skill

Easier said than done right? But there are hundreds of videos out there that are just waiting for you to learn something you have always dreamt of knowing, so get on YouTube and start exploring.

Some examples to get you inspired include learning to knit or sew, taking up a new language, how to cook or bake, photography, videography, drawing, a new instrument, even learning to DJ. The internet is a big place full of knowledge – so use it!

2) Reconnect with friends

Your friends are the cure-all method to getting back to your usual self. Why not suggest a group day trip, a short break, or even just a meal out? Even if you feel like you might have grown distant from them when you were in a relationship, true friends understand this can happen and will want to help if you ask them.

3) Deal with your emotions

So we know we have said this is how to take your mind off your ex, but sometimes you just need to deal with your emotions in order to do this. Take a moment to really think about why the relationship ended and about what you have learned from it. It may not be taking your mind off them right this moment, but it will in the long run. Need some more help on this? Take a look at this.

4) Get active

We know that sometimes you really don’t want to go for a jog or a walk when Netflix keeps playing the next episode straight away. But getting out of your comfort zone and pushing yourself to get active is a great way to take your mind off the ex, and counting reps in the gym or steps on your FitBit is a great way to fill up your brain space.

If these aren’t your thing, why not try a team sport? Being part of a team is a sure fire way to build your confidence and, combined with the happiness inducing effects of regular exercise, you will be your best strong single self in no time. If your talents lie with football, rugby, cricket or hockey, you can see if there is a team in your area looking for players here.

5) Start a new project

Now is the time to get on your way to becoming the next Zoella, Shroud, Charli D’Amelio or Shane Dawson, as working on a project is a great way to think about something else. Yeah sure, a big project can take time, but putting in the hours to plan and execute it to a high standard will take focus – something that will leave no room for keeping your ex on the brain. You never know, YouTube, TikTok and Twitch fame could be only a click away!

6) Do some good

Getting a bit of perspective might be a really good thing for you right now, and volunteering in your free time for a cause that matters to you definitely get you walking through life feeling like an absolute boss whilst filling up time otherwise spent thinking about the ex.

7) Start fresh

It might seem like a cliche but a good spring clean will have you feeling like a new person. Clear out any of their stuff you have been holding on to (and give it back to them of course).

Get the rest of your family involved if you feel like you don’t want to do it solo, or sell some old things online to make cash as well as space. You will feel better for having less in your life, and all the while, you haven’t given them a second thought. So make like Marie Kondo, and get you some joy from cleaning.

marie, kondo, tidying

If you need some advice on dealing with life, love, relationships, or about anything that is bothering you at all, reach out to us here.

It’s LGBT history month! So we caught up with Sam Stanley, one of the first openly gay rugby players, to chat about rugby, pride, and how he dealt with coming to terms with his sexuality in an industry where very few had already done so.

Hi Sam, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure, I’m an English born boy from Thurrock in Essex, raised by a Kiwi (someone from New Zealand) father and an English mother. I’ve Samoan heritage also. 

I played rugby from the age of 4 and ever since I can remember, it was my dream to play it professionally. My uncle was an All Black and so my father, as well as his other brothers, made sure their children would have rugby in their blood!

I would say I was around 10 years old when I started feeling different to what I was “supposed” to feel. Almost like my emotions weren’t in tact and that I was pretty strange feeling the way I did.

Being a rugby player, there’s this apparent “macho” way of being that you’re supposed to live up to so you can imagine the fear of thinking I may be gay. I say this because growing up, and even now I still hear, being gay for some reason meant you were less of a man – camp, effeminate, soft etc I’ve heard them all. People even tell me now how “it’s nice because you don’t act like a gay person”. If I acted like “a gay person” would you think of me differently? Maybe we’re all just very judgemental!!

Anyway long story short, I’m an out and proud gay man moving between London and Sicily with my partner Laurence. We’ve had a place in Sicily since 2013 and lived here for 18 months previously; having been together now for 9 years.

You played a very high level and touring with the England Sevens in the World Series, how did that feel to represent your country?

For me it was the icing on the cake having had numerous knee operations and struggling to stay fit.

I played at Saracens previously, having risen through their academy. I only managed a handful of first team appearances here and there, however, as I found myself sidelined a lot through injury. Maybe I should have played golf.

I’m just grateful that Simon Amor gave me the opportunity to do so and loved my time playing 7s. Met some awesome people along the way.


You’ve mentioned your mum being a huge support, what do you think that did for you when you were coming to terms with your identity?

Well at first I think Mum struggled to come to terms with it. We actually kept it a secret as her view was a protective one. She had gay friends growing up so not that that was the issue but more from the point of view of ‘What will it do for your career? If a coach is homophobic it might be detrimental to your progression’ etc. Also, she was afraid at what my siblings & father would say.

No disrespect to my mum but it was actually my ex girlfriend who was a huge support and helped push things forward for me. I consider her my best friend and I’m her gay best friend haha! I’m lucky I have numerous supportive people around me. My brother, sister, father, aunties, uncles… too many to name.

How did it feel to be hiding your sexuality from your teammates?

It was the worst feeling to be honest. Having to see them day in day out making sure I had my lies down to a tee. Not being able to be open about who I really was, what I got up to at weekends. The only real social life I had in rugby was when I had to be at a function or something. I’d try and avoid going out with the boys every time, at least until I was honest about who I am, which was the best feeling in the world. It was a huge weight to carry and I hate the fact that so many people go through this.

What was the response from your teammates like when you did come out? Did anything change?

Yes a lot changed! The boys were great. I was playing 7s at the time so quite a tight knit group of only 18 full time players then. Lots of questions asked, obviously, and people were taking an interest in what it was like. It gave me lots of confidence and I was able to be training and playing without that fear anymore. 

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Did you receive any negative comments online after coming out? How do you deal with that?

Not directly but certainly indirectly that I saw on some threads. I think I’m responsible enough to know anyone can make an account and hide behind it. Negative comments I just tried to overlook. You’ve just got to laugh it off really.

How does it feel to see great ally support online and recently at London Pride from big name players in the game like Drew Mitchell, James Haskell, Chris Robshaw and plenty more?

Oh it’s great to see! Such progress in rugby and its inclusiveness. These guys just keep helping the cause. They certainly seem to be making it easier for players to be themselves. It would have been awesome to see the support back when I was struggling. I admire Drew Mitchell for his support, particularly with the issue over Israel Folau. They were teammates and as similar playing positions may have been pretty close at one point. Probably most players that disagreed [with Folau] kept quiet so it’s great to see others speak up! 

What advice would you give to a young sports player who is also coming to terms with their identity?

I think it’s a tough one all the time because there’s a lot to coming out. What are their family and friends like? Will they be supportive? Can the person support themselves or be supported if things don’t go so well?

From experience, I can say now that things have been great since being able to be truthful. Not having to hide your life really is incredible.

What’s the best thing about being in the prominent position you’re in and having come out?

That having shared my story helped others come to terms with themselves. I love receiving messages of support from those that have found courage because of what I have done. It really makes it all worthwhile.

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Sam’s story is nothing short of inspiring and he’s a downright awesome bloke. For more from him, be sure to follow his Instagram @samstannerz.

For more interviews, inspiring stories and everyday motivation, follow our Instagram @ditchthelabel.

We’ve all had friendships that have ended up a little pear-shaped and it’s unfortunate that most of the time, we all have to get burnt before we can spot a bad friend from a good one. We’ve pooled together our own experiences and come up with 15 of the most common signs that somebody isn’t your friend for the right reasons. If any of these apply to your friendships, we would encourage you to think twice about them and try to determine whether they are really a friend…

The 15 friendship signs

1. They only call when they want something

All friendships should be equal – which means that you should receive as much as you put in, it’s all based on reciprocation and mutuality. If you’re putting in more than you’re getting out, you should think twice about what they are asking from you.

2. The conversation is never equal

Do you find that you just spend your whole time focused on them when you’re hanging out? Yeah, that’s not cool – we all have problems and things we’d like to talk to somebody about.

3. They put you down or make fun of you in front of others

A definite no-no. Usually, people do this because they feel bad about themselves and want to use somebody else as a distraction. Draw a line through any friendships like this immediately.

4. You feel bad about yourself when you’ve spent time with them

Sometimes it’s difficult to analyse behaviour, but your emotions never lie. Friends should make you feel good, empowered and uplifted. If you leave them feeling like crap then you should probably re-evaluate the benefit you’re getting from the friendship. Some people, unfortunately, just like to bring others down.

5. They are aggressively competitive

It’s good to be a little competitive now and again, but like most things – you can have too much of a good thing. A friendship based on competitive behaviour is NEVER healthy or a true friendship.

6. They aren’t happy for you when good things happen

This is one of the most common tell-tale signs and it’s also based on competitive behaviour. A true friend will want to see you succeed and be happy.

7. They bring drama into your life

It’s usually the people who spend their time moaning about drama who are the ones causing it. You don’t need that negativity around you.

8. They bitch about you behind your back

An absolute no-no. Friendships need to be based on mutual respect and trust. Don’t put up with that crap.

9. Your relationship feels like it’s built on conditionality

This is likewise for all relationships in your life. You should feel like they are unconditional and not based on you being or acting in a certain way.

10. Your friends bail on you

Sometimes it happens and that’s fine, but if it’s consistent then it obviously shows that your friend is unreliable and much less invested in the friendship than you are. Maybe it’s your turn to bail on them, permanently.

11. They use your secrets against you and share them

This is malicious and absolutely nothing a true friend would ever do.

Are you looking to break up with a toxic friend? Here are our steps to breaking up with a toxic friend.

12. They are a bad influence and make you do things that get you into trouble

Nip this in the bud before you end up getting yourself into trouble. Friends don’t make friends do bad things… or text when drunk, but we’ll turn a blind eye to that one… for now.

13. They talk about their other friends behind their back

If they do this, the chances are, they do it to you too. It’s fine to have a moan occasionally, but anything malicious would probably indicate that they aren’t as genuine as they’d like you to believe.

14. They bail when you need them the most

So there are friends, who are, well… friends and there are friends who are still your friends at 3am on a Wednesday morning in the midst of your breakdown. The latter are your friends for life and it’s important to know that you can rely on a few select individuals to be by your side through thick and thin.

15. They exclude you from things with mutual friends

If it’s on purpose and happening often, despite you bringing it up then we suggest you create some distance. It is important to remember that sometimes it can happen accidentally so try and talk to them about it before jumping to conclusions.


It’s not me, it’s you: breaking up

Firstly, speak to somebody about it, make sure your response is rational. If it is, then deal with it, accept that it isn’t your fault and mentally move on.

Once you’ve done this, you have 1 of 2 options:

Let the friendship naturally fade out

Stop making arrangements, stop replying and distance yourself from them. Eventually, you’ll become increasingly distant until you’re officially no longer friends on Facebook.

Or…

Confront them

There are 2 schools of thought surrounding this: confrontation can be good if you’d like to hopefully try to resolve things, but on the opposite end, confrontation can be incredibly empowering if you’ve felt particularly suppressed or upset by somebody. Arguments can be healthy, provided that they don’t put anybody at risk and won’t make situations worse. We’d recommend a mediator to help keep an argument balanced.


Still Unsure? Talk to us…


More articles on friendship:

It’s finally here! It’s been 12 long months since Otis, Maeve and Eric last graced our screens, and we have been missing it like mad here in the Ditch the Label offices. In case you haven’t seen it, the Netflix series is a tour de force in everything sexy and awkward about teenage life, and this season the jokes just keep on coming. But it is also one of the most representational shows on any streaming service or TV channel, and Season 2 is no exception to this. Here are the biggest 7 of all the things we can learn from the awesome show. Watch it. Now. We give you permission to binge it. 

1) It’s perfectly normal to question your sexuality 

Questioning your sexuality is something that a lot of young people go through. You can’t control the things you’re inherently attracted to. It’s perfectly normal to question and explore your sexuality, it’s also surprisingly common. Ditch the Label research finds that half of us don’t identify as being 100% straight anyway.

For more on this, read this article


2) Asexuality is a valid and perfectly normal sexual orientation

This season is the gift that keeps on giving with the introduction of an asexual character, in the form of musical theatre fanatic Florence. Surrounded by peer pressure to have sex and convinced her lack of interest in it means she is broken, she panics.  

Asexuality doesn’t get a lot of visibility in mainstream culture, making it quite a widely misunderstood sexual orientation, with many wrongly characterising it as a mental illness, a hormone disorder, or an inability to get anyone to date. Asexuality is a sexual orientation like heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality. 

Asexuality can also work in tandem with another sexuality. This is when someone is asexual, i.e. having no sexual desire, but pursue romantic relationships and companionship.

To find out more about asexuality, check out this article with all you need to know.

3) Self harm is not the solution

One of the most tragic story lines of the season was Jackson’s fall into his anxiety over the pressure to perform in the pool. It sees him struggle so much under the mounting pressure from all aspects of his life that he turns to hurting himself to free himself from his obligations. 

Self-harm is often used as a way of dealing with things when they become too overwhelming. It may seem like a good idea at the time, but self-harm can be incredibly dangerous and can have unintended consequences on your health. You can find 15 safer alternatives to self harm here.

If you feel like you need someone to talk to about this issue, join our community here for access to one to one confidential support and advice from one of our trained Digital Mentors. 

4) Sexual assault can come in many forms 

Aimee’s story in this season took a turn when she was sexually assaulted on the bus on the way to school by a man who masturbates on her. Whilst some series deal with sexual assault on some level, here we can see a series treating any and every form of sexual assault with the level of seriousness it deserves. It shows just how any even like this can be incredibly traumatic, and that we shouldn’t be looking at sexual assault as some of form hierarchy, where a certain amount of criteria need to be fulfilled for the victim to be upset. 

If you are dealing with issues around this and need someone to talk to, you can speak to one of our trained Digital Mentors here in confidence, and we will always listen to you.

5) Understanding STIs is the best way to prevent them

It’s hard not to crack up at the opening episode of Sex Education Seaosn 2, with entirety of Moordale High imagining they have got airborn chlamydia. Yeah, it was hilarious, but it also raises some important questions about STIs. If you have any questions about them, you can always talk to your GP or nurse practitioner. 

6) Only you know when you are ‘ready’

Yeah we know you’ve probably heard this one from every teacher you’ve ever had and your parents as well, but it is so true. Being ready for sex is entirely down to you. It is not down to whether your pals are doing it, your other half wants you to or any other reason. It’s your body, it’s your rules. 


7) Talking about sex is key

It can be pretty embarassing to talk about sex, especially when it comes to things you might not know about or awkward problems that come up. But whether you go to your partner, a friend or a family member, talking about sex is the best way to get those questions answered and problems sorted. It’s like they say, the birds do it. The bees do it. Even educated fleas do it. We aren’t saying go and have a chat with your nearest pigeon, but there will be plenty of people in your life who have experience in this area that would be discreet about it.


Why we should all be hugging each other ❤️

Some people are huggers, some are handshakers. When you think about it, it’s a strange concept. Hugs vary from a quick bro hug to a warm embrace, but what’s going on behind the scenes when we cuddle our loved ones? Well, we found out for you…

The Love Hormone

The act of hugging releases a hormone called oxytocin from your brain into your bloodstream which plays a role in social bonding and love – helping you to form closer bonds with your hug companion. Oxytocin also produces antidepressant-like and pain-relieving effects so, in effect, hugging makes you happy, makes you love more and makes you hurt less.

The Happiness Hormone

Hugging releases serotonin, AKA the ‘happy hormone’. There are actually loads of hormones which make up happiness but serotonin is considered a key component. Someone who is depressed has lower levels of serotonin than someone who is not. When you hug someone, this hormone is released giving the hugger and huggee feelings of significance, importance, wellbeing, happiness, euphoria and elation.

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The Pleasure Hormone

Dopamine: the ‘pleasure hormone’ is also released mid-hug. You have probably heard of dopamine because it the chemical that is often stimulated in a person’s body during the abuse of addictive recreational & hallucinogenic drugs and using social media. Unlike this however, the natural occurrence of dopamine is good for our bodies and brains and is involved in almost every bodily function. It, like serotonin also plays a large part in the makeup of happiness.

In a study of young British men, almost 93% said that they had cuddled with another guy.

The Stress Hormone

It is reported that stress levels reduce significantly post-hug. That’s because hugging reduces levels of cortisol which is closely linked to stress and worry. In the same way, hugging someone you don’t want to hug is likely to increase your stress levels so this one works both ways!

Sciencey things aside, there are loads of other benefits to hugging:

  • Helps to improve immune system
  • It’s good for the heart (in the literal sense, as well as the emotional sense 😍)
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Helps to balance the nervous system
  • You are being a good friend by offering a hug to a pal in need
  • It’s a good indicator that someone is comfortable around you
  • It’s good for confidence and self-esteem

So, in short, hugging is good for your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. If you’re already a hugger, keep doing what you’re doing, if not, then give it a go, you might be surprised by the results!

In his latest article for Ditch the Label, our Ambassador Max Hovey talks relationship anxiety, negative mental health stigma and why we need to be kinder to each other.

“My ex is a psycho”
“They’re so needy”
“I feel suffocated”
“They’re so jealous”
“They’re so paranoid”

I think it’s safe to say we’ve all dated someone or had a relationship with someone where these sorts of phrases have been used. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending psychopaths – but the phrase “they’re a psycho” is so overused when it comes to dating, and so often creates a pretty negative stigma on genuine mental health issues.

So, what do I mean by this? 

I’m speaking from my own experiences about this topic. I myself have not had any of those things said to me specifically, but I know that people I have dated could quite easily use these phrases when talking about me. As many of you know, I went through therapy earlier this year. This was due to severe relationship anxiety.

Prior to this year, my anxiety, paranoia and co-dependent mindset would lead me to be openly paranoid towards the person I was dating. I would blame my insecurities on them, I would be confrontational and cause arguments about topics that were not actually their fault. After going through therapy, I am now more conscious and aware when I am becoming paranoid, and have learned to deal with it in my own way – without projecting it onto my partner. 

Co-dependence is not a healthy way to build a relationship, as your partner may feel suffocated and controlled. However, I myself know how this kind of behaviour develops. The important thing is to stop shaming people who may have these kinds of insecurities. The first step is to recognise if you are becoming co-dependent or experiencing relationship anxiety.

Spotting the signs: 

  • Can become anxious when your other half is busy or not responding to you.
  • May have a fear of being abandoned 
  • Social media can make you feel worried by checking activity etc. 
  • Scared about the pace of the relationship; setting goalposts and being hurt when they’re not met.
  • Fear of rejection.
  • Overanalysing text messages

These are all things that I have experienced and can become like a fog that takes over – controlling your behaviour and dominating your thought process. The first step is to recognise the problem. Knowing that your behaviour may be unhealthy and lead to self-destructive actions will lead to you wanting to help yourself. This landed me in therapy, where I spoke openly about my issues, learned where they stemmed from and was taught techniques on how to overcome them.

I have now had opportunities to put this into practice and am now able to take conscious steps towards building a healthy relationship. I am under no illusion that I am cured or will never experience this kind of anxiety again, I still do to this day. However, I am now able to stop my thought process in its tracks, be kind to myself and handle things in my own way (whilst discussing my concerns with my best friend, as she checks my worst impulses).


The rest of the responsibility lies with the other kind of partner, someone who is secure. I get how it can feel, especially when your co-dependent partner doesn’t actively recognise their insecurities. However, branding people with these sorts of negative terms will be even worse for their self-esteem in the long-run; especially if they already have an active critical inner-voice. 

We need to learn to be more understanding of each-other. I’m more than guilty of reacting negatively to people’s actions and sometimes it’s necessary to call people out on their bullshit. However, this kind of issue is a two-way street. 

If someone is emotionally unavailable, it is our responsibility to recognise this and take a step back. It is also the responsibility of the emotionally unavailable individual to recognise their inhibiting behaviour and to not seek romantic connections with people knowing full well that they do not have the emotional capacity to currently do so. 

If someone is insecure and co-dependent, it is our responsibility to approach this carefully and with sensitivity, not with confrontation and name-calling. It is also the responsibility of the co-dependent person to recognise their negative behaviour and take active steps to work on their mental state.

Everyone in situations like these have stuff they should work on, there’s no doubt about that, and the thing is, most people don’t even recognise when they are in it. If this resonates, from either perspective, it may be time to take a step back and have a think about why it does. The thing with relationship anxiety is that there are always real feelings involved, and it should never be on your agenda to hurt those feelings. 

For more from Max, check out his Instagram @max_hovey

Struggling in your relationship at the moment? You can talk to one of our trained Digital Mentors here for confidential support and advice.

It’s World Mental Health Day! We know that talking about yours can be rough and pretty scary, so we have come up with this quick guide about how to talk to your friends about mental health.

Talking to your pals about anything remotely serious can sometimes be a bit of a tall order, especially when you guys are pretty much living life in your own personal sitcom. But sometimes, when the laughter stops and you go off home, some in your friendship group (or even you) might be having a pretty tough time.

That’s why we think it’s pretty important that everyone be able to have a chat with their buddies about mental health – so that everyone has someone to go to. We know it’s awkward though, whether you go to them or they come to you, which is why we put this speedy guide together on how to do it.

If they come to you…

1) Don’t judge

This one might sound obvious, but lots of us can quite easily slip into thinking “what do they have to be depressed about?” or “they’re just being dramatic”, even when it’s a close friend that is coming to us. Try to reprogramme these thoughts when someone comes to you by thinking about how hard it must have been for them to come to you and what you can do to help. It might be that you or someone else is going through stuff too, but that doesn’t make what they are dealing with any easier. Remember that this person has confided in you because they trust you and they might just want someone to talk with now.

2) Just listen

If your mate approaches you with something they want to talk about and you’re not sure what to say, just lend an ear and listen. You don’t have to know everything about everything, and whilst it is super nice that you want to help, telling them to do the wrong thing could make a sticky situation worse.

If you really want to help, you could suggest that you both do some research about the next steps to take or find someone who can help. Alternatively, you could just be honest and say “I’m not sure how to help, but I’ll always be here to listen.”

3) Don’t make it all about you

Sometimes you can use your own personal experience to help someone else and that’s fine. But if you’re just changing the subject to talk about yourself when a friend is trying to talk, this is pretty unhelpful for them. If you can genuinely relate to what they’re going through then there’s no harm in telling them that, but always be mindful of the fact that they chose to confide in you.

If you go to them…

1) It doesn’t have to be face to face

Talking face to face is the best way of communicating for some people, for others, it can be literally the worst thing in the world. Instead, try sending a friend a quick message explaining what you are dealing with – you might find it much easier to talk about their feelings over text or by writing it down because it gives you more time to think about what you’re going to say. You could even start a group convo with some trusted mates and create a space where you can all talk about your wellbeing in a group chat.

2) Keep it casual

If you’re worried about a mate or want to talk a friend about your own mental health, you can do it in a casual way to avoid things getting too intense. You could bring it up when you’re playing a game or doing something else so that it’s not the main topic of conversation. This kind of conversation is great because it normalises talking about mental health. The more we talk about it, the less stigmatised it becomes! Here are some things you could do together whilst talking:

  • Go for a walk
  • Play a video game
  • Do something creative like drawing or painting
  • Do each other’s hair/makeup
  • Go to the gym

3) Give this a read

We know that having the conversation about something big in your past or what’s going on in your life can be really difficult, and being worried about getting it right can be a huge added source of stress. We put together this list of tips on how to open up about your past to someone in your life, and it should give you a bit of guidance on how to do it right.

Most importantly…

Always take them seriously

If they ever say that they’re feeling suicidal, or words to that effect, it’s really, really important that you take them seriously. You can help them by:

  • Notifying a trusted adult ASAP (parent, older sibling, teacher, family member)
  • Encouraging them to speak to someone at The Samaritans. You can speak to someone over email, on the phone, in person, or even by post 🐌 – find out more here or call 116 123. If they don’t want to speak to anyone, you could call on their behalf to get some advice.

Look out for each other

The best thing to do is just look out for each other everyday. Know the signs. If your friend is acting a bit off, it can be as simple as just asking them ‘are you okay?’.

If you or your friends are struggling and need someone to talk to, head over to the Ditch the Label community and we will listen.


Related:

For more information on talking about mental health, check out Time to Change