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ELLE Canada uncovers the top five relationship issues facing modern women, and turns to the experts to discover the best ways to address them.
Relationship issue #1: You're single
Being single is no longer synonymous with being a spinster. In fact, according to recent stats, single women are most responsible for shaping the Toronto housing market, as an increasing number set up home solo and enjoy the benefits of living alone.
(Imagine unfettered remote access, being able to blast your favourite music and light dozens of vanilla-scented candles without complaint. Heaven, right?)
However, according to Christine Hart, founder of Toronto-based website Your Date Coach, many women, no matter how independent, still feel depressed when Valentine's Day approaches.
"When you're single, you have to create your own rituals around Valentine's Day," Hart explains. She suggests treating yourself to small pleasures, like a coffee upgrade or a luxe spa treatment.
That's exactly what Lindsay Pratt, 25, does. "Every day is like my birthday when I'm single, because I can always do exactly what I want," she says with a laugh.
Relationship issue #2: You're jealous
It's easy to become jealous of friends who have the kind of relationship you yearn for, but as Hart warns, giving into the green monster is never a smart idea.
"Try admiring the relationship your friend is in," Hart suggests. "Say to yourself, ‘That is physical proof that what I want is out there, it exists.' Address it as a source of inspiration instead of envy."
Of course, being jealous of your ex is another matter entirely. As Hart explains, "Try not to creep your ex on social media, because you're bound to find something you don't want to see."
Hart also warns that around Valentine's Day (and other sentimental occasions), it's easy to look back on a past relationship with rose-coloured glasses.
Chances are that you broke up for a reason - so don't lose sight of that reason amid the romantic tendrils that might cloud your vision around February 14.
Discover more surprising relationship issues for women on the next page...Relationship problem #3: You're always fighting about money
Experts agree that finances are one of the biggest relationship breakup factors.
While there are many ways to address money matters as a couple, Valerie Gibson, a Toronto relationship expert, frequently advises couples to maintain some measure of financial independence.
"Both partners should have a bank account where they each have something of their own," says Gibson, explaining that doing so allows each person to maintain financial freedom.
"But of course," she adds, "that's something for couples to sit down and talk about."
So how does one go about having such a delicate conversation? Gibson prescribes candlelight and a bottle of wine.
"Instead of talking about numbers and figures exclusively, sit down together and ask, ‘How are we going to manage this household?'" Gibson suggests. "It all boils down to how you communicate."
Relationship problem #4: You and your partner don't have anything in common
You know the drill: when you first started dating, you had wild nights out, cooked romantic dinners and spent weekends entirely in bed. But now, a few years into your relationship, date nights consist of a movie rental and Thai takeout.
According to Gibson, while it's perfectly natural to have separate interests and hobbies, it is important to find a common ground as well.
"If a couple is worried that they are drifting apart because they're not spending time together - then just do it!" she says. "Take turns doing each others' activities, try something new together."
At best, you'll discover a new pastime that you both enjoy. At the very least, you'll have a hilarious new story to share: "Remember that time we though trapezing was for us...?"
Discover the biggest relationship issue on the next page...Relationship problem #5: You - or he - isn't ready for marriage
You met somebody fantastic, fell in love, moved in together, perhaps even adopted a puppy and are now facing the so-called "next step" of tying the knot. But what do you do if one side of a couple isn't ready - or interested in - getting married?
"You can't force anyone to marry you," Gibson says, laughing. "All I can suggest is to have an open, calm and rationale discussion about marriage. Find out why it is so important to one and not so important to the other. Try to understand both sides."
Unfortunately, Gibson says, the realization that one partner doesn't want to get married is frequently interpreted as "I don't love you enough to walk down the aisle."
"Ultimately, you have to decide if this is the person you want to spend the whole of your life with," says Gibson. "Maybe you create your own definition of marriage. What life do you want? What kind of future do you want? You have to make a decision that will best meet your needs."
Whatever relationship problem you're facing, it can often be resolved through open and honest communication. Be brave, face the issue straight on, explain your feelings and listen to what your partner is sharing. Only then can you share a true fairy tale ending.
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