This week we were asked to find a newspaper article and describe our various reactions to it. This is the article I have chosen:

Link to article here.

R-bombing: The new dating trend you may have already experienced

Today’s dating trends are as whimsical as they are ephemeral. When once the thing burdening singletons the most was simply finding a socially acceptable way to flirt, now, it’s a case of navigating a perilous battleground of ghosts, zombies, cuffers and benchers. The behaviours these terms describe may not be revolutionary, but giving them a quippy moniker firmly vindicates them as ubiquitous within the all-too-cruel modern dating landscape.

Obviously, it’s every singleton’s responsibility to stay abreast of the romantic zeitgeist in all its lexical glory so they can defend themselves accordingly – and make intelligent references when conducting in-depth post-date analyses with their friends. So, the latest one to note is “R-bombing” i.e. when a person you’re interested in reads your messages but doesn’t respond. Rhetoric-savvy daters would be forgiven for conflating this with ghosting – whereby someone you’re dating suddenly cuts off all communication without explanation or warning. The difference is a matter of minutia: ghosting is an all-encompassing rejection that may also imply unfollowing or even blocking someone on social media to prevent all future interactions.

Meanwhile, a humble R-bomb simply refers to a single incident of having one’s message ignored, a fact that has been made all the more explicit with the advent of read receipts. “This is incredibly common both by text and through social media,” explains dating coach James Preece. “It’s very similar to ghosting, only you have no doubts they have got your message. You’ll be confused and wonder why they aren’t responding. The truth is that the other person doesn’t want to meet but doesn’t want to hurt you by explicitly saying so.” Someone might excuse their R-bombing tendencies by leaning heavily on the narrative that they are “super busy” at the moment.

Alternatively, they may argue that they’re simply “useless” on social media – a line they no doubt use to perpetuate their anti-smartphone stance that conveniences their supposedly “transgressive” personal brand. Whatever their line, Preece explains that a persistent R-bomber is typically disinterested in the person they’re R-bombing but is simply too afraid or immature to admit it. However, being the victim of R-bombing may occasionally lead to obsessive behaviour, warns Preece, i.e. repeatedly checking to see if that person has been online or active on other forms of social media.

This may seem innocent enough, but it’s akin to a mild form of stalking, he tells The Independent. “It’s just not healthy to torture yourself by constantly checking out what someone else is up to,” he adds. If your R-bomber is getting you down, Preece advises swallowing your pride and moving on. “Focus on finding someone who treats you respectfully,” he said. “If you get R-bombed, stop chasing and don’t contact them again.”

Well. My initial response to this article is that dating is confusing nowadays! It makes me feel nervous that someone you are interested in and are talking to over text or social media would just leave you hanging on like this. I can understand how it happens though – life is hectic sometimes, and I have received a message before, read it, and not replied immediately, only for it to fall off of my priority list. Two weeks later and I’ve still not replied, and the person must think I’m horribly self-centred. I have no intention of going back into the dating marketplace, but if I did then I think I would try to avoid this altogether by meeting real girls in real-life, and phoning them to arrange further dates. I’d just skip social media and text messages altogether! If someone brought up a problem like this in counselling I would ask them to consider what it would be like to have this forgetful person as a bigger part of their life, or even as their partner – see how they would envision that scenario.

We also did a few short roleplays this week, revolving around how to communicate the limits of our abilities and how to refer a client on to another more experienced counsellor or more appropriate service. I thought I did a good job at referring my client, and I sensed that she was happy that I was honest enough to admit I was only a trainee counsellor and that I didn’t feel I was experienced enough to help her. I felt relieved that she took it well and didn’t get angry for being counselled by someone with not much experience.

While we were going through skills needed to enable the client to identify their needs and stay focused, my tutor used a “bottle of pop” analogy that I really enjoyed. Counselling could indeed be likened to a bottle of fizzy drink. It’s important to tip a little bit out at a time so as to not be overwhelmed. And be sure not to shake it up too much or it could explode everywhere.

This lesson also made me consider the ways in which I manage my own reactions. I practise meditation and mindfulness, and I feel they have contributed to the strength of my mental fortitude immensely. When you meditate, the aim is to accept any thoughts that stumble into your mind, and then kindly shoo them away. It can help to focus on an inner sensation like breathing in and out, or an external stimulus like the trickle of running water, or the flickering flames of an open fire, and when you find yourself drifting into thought, simply realign your focus. A meditation is not a failure if a thought pops into your head. Thoughts will happen. You just have to shoo them away.

I’ve always been quite an empathic and emotional person and I’ve often felt overwhelmed by that in the past. Meditation has helped me recognise that I am not my thoughts (they literally pop out of nowhere and could be absolute nonsense), and my emotions do not rule me (for example I am able to choose not to allow my anger to control me and strike out with violence). It takes judgement to realise which thoughts are worth pursuing and which should be ignored, and it takes self-awareness to be able to respond to flowing emotions rather than react and be controlled by them. Thus, a person may not be able to control how they feel in reaction to something they hear or see in terms of the emotions they feel or the thoughts that immediately pop into their heads, but they absolutely can manage how they physically and mentally respond to an event. All they need is the knowledge that it can be done.

Going to the gym and working out regularly also helps me sublimate these instinctual emotional responses. I recall negative thoughts and feelings and use the energy to lift the weights one more time after I feel like I am not able to lift them anymore. A good workout lifting heavy weights also generates a good motion of positive energy around my body, so it is a win-win scenario.

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