eHarmony Blog http://www.eharmony.com/blog eHarmony experts’ take on dating, relationships and the science of love Fri, 19 Sep 2014 18:08:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 When Someone You Love is Depressed: How to Cope (and Avoid Getting Depressed, Too) http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/19/someone-love-depressed-cope-avoid-getting-depressed/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/19/someone-love-depressed-cope-avoid-getting-depressed/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 18:08:30 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=17746 No matter how psychologically healthy – heck, perfect – you want to believe you are, there’s a little part of you that wants to be your partner’s hero in a relationship. When he falls into a slump, you want to believe that you have the magic to pull him out of it and make him […]

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depressed person how to deal 300x200 When Someone You Love is Depressed: How to Cope (and Avoid Getting Depressed, Too)No matter how psychologically healthy – heck, perfect – you want to believe you are, there’s a little part of you that wants to be your partner’s hero in a relationship. When he falls into a slump, you want to believe that you have the magic to pull him out of it and make him happy. Yet anyone who has been in a relationship with someone who’s depressed knows how no hero exists who’s more powerful than depression. This mental disorder can seep into any relationship and smear sadness and hopelessness everywhere. I’m here to tell you what to do if this kind of juggernaut strikes your relationship.

The Signs of Depression and Common Reactions

First, let’s cover the signs. If your date or your partner is depressed, you’ll see: sad mood; a negative or hopeless outlook for the future; eating too much or too little; crying out of the blue; loss of or low energy; sleeping too much or too little; indecisiveness; and social isolation or withdrawal. For a bad depression phase, the average episode often lasts six to eight months.

When you find yourself in a relationship with someone you realize might be depressed, one of the most common reactions is to take the depression personally. If your girlfriend becomes depressed, for example, understand that something is happening in her brain on a chemical level that even she can’t totally control. Asking yourself if there’s something you’ve done to make her feel that way, or whether she has lost interest in and excitement for you are all very rational, logical approaches – but there is nothing rational about depression. It simply creeps in and the individual who feels depressed needs to 1) do what they can to try to keep it under control (through exercise, etc.), and 2) wait it out, because the heaviness of the depression phase usually always dissipates sooner or later.

The second common reaction when someone you love is depressed is to judge it. In other words, if your boyfriend is depressed, you may be patient for a while but then get to a point where you think, ‘Okay, now it’s time to get over it and pull it together.’ It’s true that there are things a person can do to remain functional when they feel depressed, but it’s often impossible for a depressed person to simply suck it up and feel happy. Don’t judge a person’s depression because the onset is usually beyond a person’s control, and making them feel bad for being depressed is only going to make their depression worse.

If you notice any of these signs early in the dating process, you may want to consider dating someone else unless you have a lot of patience or you happen to struggle with a bit of depression yourself; otherwise, you’re signing on for future frustration. Note that there’s nothing wrong with someone who’s depressed, but meeting them in this stage is simply not a healthy way for you to start a relationship.

For many couples, they’re further along in the relationship when they realize, ‘Oh no, she’s super depressed and I’m afraid it’s not going away anytime soon.’ And you would probably be right.

What to do about the problem:

This is my best and most clear-cut advice when it comes to mental disorders: As long as your partner is following licensed professionals’ recommendations about how to manage it, it’s worth considering keeping this partner – at least for now. Yet the guy who doesn’t take his medication or go to therapy? Child, please. You’ve got better things to do than to babysit your partner and make sure he remembers to take his lunchbox to school.

What to say specifically:

As soon as you identify that it’s probably depression that’s bringing your partner down, draw a boundary immediately. Say, “I’m not a doctor, but I think you might be depressed. If you want, I’ll go with you to an appointment to talk about it, but you’ll have to set it up. If you don’t, we should check in in a week or two and figure out what to do next.”

With depressed men and women, action often becomes the opponent. Depressed people will take forever to get help or to make major decisions, but that’s simply not okay. A week or two after initiating this discussion, sit down with your partner and say that you want him to try therapy and medication together (the two ingredients that treat depression most effectively). Explain that you love him and want to help him through this, but be clear that you aren’t going to let his avoidance of the problem (depression) make you feel depressed, too.

The other intervention that helps the partners of depressed individuals is to get educated about what depression is and the various behaviors that commonly occur with depression. Explore chat rooms and online forums to read about others’ experience with depression so that you can start to figure out whether your partner’s depression is something you can live with – or something that, long-term, would become one of your deal breakers. Above all, always remember to take care of yourself!

book Dr Seths Love Prescription lg 190x300 When Someone You Love is Depressed: How to Cope (and Avoid Getting Depressed, Too)About the Author:

Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.

 

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The 4 Conversations You Should Never Have On a First Date http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/18/5-conversations-never-first-date/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/18/5-conversations-never-first-date/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 22:08:24 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=17735 Popular blogger Lindsay Tigar returns with valuable information for your next first date. If you are thinking about revealing all about the ex, or dishing about your finances, you better read this one! Written by Lindsay Tigar If you’ve been single for a while, you’re probably used to the first date dance by now: he […]

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first date questions 300x200 The 4 Conversations You Should Never Have On a First Date

Is it almost time to ask her about her crazy family?

Popular blogger Lindsay Tigar returns with valuable information for your next first date. If you are thinking about revealing all about the ex, or dishing about your finances, you better read this one!

Written by Lindsay Tigar

If you’ve been single for a while, you’re probably used to the first date dance by now: he asks where you’re from originally, you ask about his job. He asks if you prefer red or white wine, you ask about his hobbies. It usually feels like the same ole’ conversation just with a different person, unless you stumble across a truly magical (and rare!) amazing date.

It gets really old, we know. And it can be tempting to rock the boat and bring up some interesting conversation starters to get the banter flowing.

But while you’re doing the get-to-know one another tango, it’s important to not step on one another’s toes – or the possibility of a second date or relationship – by bringing up any of these five conversations on a first date:

The One About Exes

This one feels like a no-brainer, right? But get a glass of Merlot in you and suddenly, you have the urge to tell that one story about that one time that your ex and you did something…completely unrelated to your first date with a new guy. Discussing the past so early into a could-be relationship is like throwing water on a flame that’s barely starting to fluster. While it’s natural to have thoughts about your exes from time-to-time while dating (everyone compares!), opening up that floodgate brings up a guy’s insecurities, jealousies, and possibly encourages him to talk about ex-girlfriends, too.

When to talk about it: A few months down the line, when you’ve made it official already.

The One About the Future

Okay, okay, okay, we’ve all been on a really killer first date and allowed ourselves to retreat to never-never land with visions of white lace and blue-eyed babies. (And fine, monograms, too.) But here’s the thing: before you put the cart way ahead of the horse, take a breather and savor the moment of the first date. If he does happen to be the guy you’ll spend forever-and-ever with, this is your last first date… ever. So enjoy it! Hold onto to those moments of awkwardness and sweet tension, and don’t bring up where he sees himself in a few years. Or if he wants children. Or about his plans. The discussion about what’s next will eventually come (it has to) but for now, focus on how cute that dimple is on his left cheek and how your heart races when he brushes by your hand.

When to talk about it: About six or seven dates in.

The One About Money

Depending on how old you are, finding a partner with a steady financial future might be at the top of your list. But if we’re honest, nothing takes the fun, energy or romance out of a good date like dropping the ‘how much do you make in a year?’ or ‘do you eventually want to buy a home of your own?’ question prematurely. And excuse us, but it might come across as a little gold-digger instead of potential girlfriend material. While you might be curious to see just how much student debt he’s in or what you might be getting yourself into, keep the topic of money off the table until you’ve had a chance to see if you want a second date. Plus – you’re just fine without him, you don’t need his paycheck to have a good time, do you?

When to talk about it: After you’re officially dating.

The One About Families

You might talk about how many siblings you have in a cute ‘You’re such a middle child!’ kind of way, but bringing up heavy family topics (like sickness or feuds) is too personal for the first date. While it might not seem like a big deal to you, family matters are intimate details that shouldn’t be shared with just anyone. In fact, you should earn a spot in each other’s lives where trust is fostered before you bring up things that are possibly emotional. Keep the first date to lighthearted matters and save the heavy stuff for when you’re falling in love.

When to talk about it: After you’re officially dating.

What topics have turned you off on a first date?

About the Author:

Lindsay Tigar is a writer, editor and blogger in New York City. She’s the voice behind the 20-something dating blog, Confessions of a Love Addict and was named NYC’s most eligible single in 2014. Her work can be found at iVillage, Today.com, AskMen.com, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Engagement 101 and more. Follow her on Twitter.

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The Common Denominator is … ME? http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/12/common-denominator/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/12/common-denominator/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 21:28:24 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=17721 “The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation. But your thoughts about it.” ~ Eckhart Tolle I highlighted my hair blonde hoping it would make me happy; it didn’t. I guess blondes don’t have more fun! I dated a man for six months hoping he would make me happy; he didn’t. What a useless […]

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dating problems 300x200 The Common Denominator is … ME?“The primary cause of unhappiness is never the situation. But your thoughts about it.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

I highlighted my hair blonde hoping it would make me happy; it didn’t. I guess blondes don’t have more fun! I dated a man for six months hoping he would make me happy; he didn’t. What a useless man! I bought a fancy sports car hoping it would make me happy; it didn’t. It must be the car!

I had a conversation with a woman the other day who was chronically unhappy. She was searching for her happiness, saying to me, “My mission for this year is to find my happiness.” When I asked her what she had tried over the year in her effort to find her “happiness,” I got a list similar to what is listed above.

I asked her, “In all of your scenarios, what one thing is the common denominator?” Your hair color isn’t making you happy. Your former boyfriend didn’t make you happy. Your new car isn’t making you happy. In fact, the color of your hair, your former boyfriend, and your car shouldn’t make you happy.

I asked her again, “What is the common denominator?”

“Me,” she asked? “Yes, YOU!” I replied.

We have to be happy with ourselves first. There’s a saying, “Happiness is an inside job.” Haven’t we all met people who are chronically unhappy, and who are constantly blaming other people for their unhappy circumstances?

One of my friends had a first date a few weeks ago. He has successfully navigated through divorce by taking the high road. He’s a great dad, a great guy, and I would love to see him find his “perfect” someone to begin the next phase of his life. I couldn’t wait to hear how it went. “Soooooo … how was it?” I asked him the morning after his date. The response I got wasn’t what I was hoping to hear. “She was a negative nelly,” he said.

Apparently they weren’t too far into their date when she started to complain about how hot it had been that day (not a cause for alarm yet as it had been a hot day even for someone used to living in Atlanta in the summer). Shortly thereafter, she started to complain about the service at the restaurant where my friend had taken her to eat. He was a bit surprised as this was one of his favorite places and wasn’t pleased to hear her dissing it. The complaining continued as they began their meal. She complained about one of her best friends. She complained about her mom. She even complained about her hairdresser.

But, my friend says the kicker came when she started to complain about her ex-husband. My friend had no interest in hearing her bash her ex and relive her divorce. Needless to say, there was no extra time added to their date to go for dessert or an after-dinner drink! He said, “I couldn’t wait to get away from her negative energy. It was draining me.”

“Waiting for someone else to make you happy is the best way to be sad.”

My friend got it right. It can be extremely “draining” to have someone suck all the positive energy out of a room with their negativity, their unhappiness, and their constant complaining.

We need to own our own happiness. Remember, happiness is indeed an inside job.

“The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are. The second greatest is being happy with what you find.”

What about you? What is your common denominator? Is it you?

Monique Honaman 2013 HRLT2 265x180 The Common Denominator is … ME?About the Author:

Author Monique A. Honaman wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” (2010) in response to a need for a book that provided honest, real, and raw advice about how to survive and thrive through one of life’s toughest journeys, and “The High Road Has Less Traffic … and a better view” (2013) to provide perspectives on love, marriage, divorce and everything in between. The books are available on Amazon.com. Learn more at www.HighRoadLessTraffic.com.

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The Difference Between People Who Like Dating – and Those Who Hate It http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/11/difference-people-like-dating-hate/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/11/difference-people-like-dating-hate/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 22:30:54 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=17709 Disclaimer alert: You might not like what I’m about to say if you’re someone who is, um, e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y uncomfortable with the whole dating process. The truth, however, is that disliking or even hating dating is a sign that you have some sort of mental block that is getting in the way of you having a […]

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dating advice and tips 300x300 The Difference Between People Who Like Dating – and Those Who Hate ItDisclaimer alert: You might not like what I’m about to say if you’re someone who is, um, e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y uncomfortable with the whole dating process. The truth, however, is that disliking or even hating dating is a sign that you have some sort of mental block that is getting in the way of you having a good experience dating.

True, dating ushers in all sorts of unknowns: Will he be funny? Is she attractive in person? Will he be an awful jerk? Will she like my weird little quirks? But dating shouldn’t unleash rabid insecurities; if it does, it’s a sign that you haven’t done your part in dealing with your issues so that you can put them to bed for good. While it’s normal to have some minor insecurities and anxieties, dating shouldn’t be an awful experience. If it’s awful for you, it means that it’s high time for a mental shift.

I divide these two opposite groups of people into those who like dating (the likers) and those who hate it (the haters).

Looking for proof that you’re attractive vs. knowing it – and I’m not talkin’ ‘bout appearance.

From a rational, bird’s eye view, being attractive isn’t just about appearance. The likers of dating don’t focus on things they can’t control, such as physical beauty. Listen, we don’t all look like Brad and Angelina, but we simply don’t need to, either! Yeah, if you’re trying to star in the year’s summer blockbuster, you probably need to be a 9 or 10, no doubt. But most daters are looking for someone normal – and within a normal range of beauty, intelligence, and so forth. People who like dating – or, at least, don’t hate it – have a self-esteem where they see themselves as an overall composite of characteristics. The dating liker thinks to herself, ‘No, I’m not Gwyneth Paltrow-thin or Sofia Vergara-beautiful, but I’ve got a good job, I’m funny, and I know how to have a good time.’ The goal is to see yourself as having characteristics that attract others, characteristics which make you attractive overall as a person. That attitude is the attitude that not only gets phone numbers – but gets suitors to call you back again and again. In a nutshell, it’s a person’s personality that keeps someone interested; physical appearance merely attracts their eye in the beginning or keeps them interested for a few weeks.

Haters, on the other hand, don’t like the stress of knowing whether a new date is going to find them attractive. That’s a lot of pressure, which is why so many people hate dating. Readjust your mindset to tell yourself, ‘I’m going to manage to have some kind of fun on this date, no matter who shows up!’

Meeting ‘The One’ vs. meeting a new character on the periphery of your social life.

Simply put, the likers are open to new social experiences. They view dating as a sort of public happy hour, one where you get together with someone new and converse with someone you might not otherwise have the opportunity to get to know. Likers aren’t dead set on meeting a deadline to find ‘The One,’ as they tend to accept that meeting people you like happens in a more laid-back, organic way. Likers live by the motto, ‘If it’s meant to be, it will be.’ This approach to dating is much healthier because it takes the pressure off everyone involved.

Haters, on the other hand, tend to be rigid, overly focused on a set physical type, and picky to a fault. (When the music stops, it’s the picky ones who will find in the end that they don’t have a chair.)

‘It’s a numbers game’ vs. ‘Two people are destined to meet and fall in love.’

Though they may be perfectly kind people when you get to know them, Hollywood producers of silly, far-fetched romantic comedies have totally messed with the minds of our culture. The idea that love is destined or fated – well, if that’s been your experience, you need to start to doing infomercials and selling that magic potion. Likers of dating don’t overthink things, understanding that dating is a numbers game: the more people you meet, the higher your chance of connecting with someone you like. Likers approach dating in a sort of disciplined, gotta-do-it-for-your-health mindset. Instead of focusing on the negatives, they say to themselves, ‘I’m sure if I keep putting myself out there, sooner or later I’ll meet someone and feel a click.’

Haters hate dating because they tend to be overly emotional, at times, and impulsive – they want to meet The One right.this.minute. No, no, no, ladies and gents. It takes time to figure out if someone is right for you, so get out there and meet as many people as possible!

If I had one wish at this moment – and that wish couldn’t be spent on me, let’s be honest! – I wish for all the haters a new, let’s-drain-the-swamp mindset. If you’ve been one of the millions of dating haters who’s suffered through what could have been a pretty decent experience, I wish something different for you in your future dating. I wish you romantic patience with a touch of – wait for it – cockiness. A little ‘cocky’ never hurt, so feel free to think, ‘I know I’m worth it, and that – I never second-guess.’

Are you a liker or hater of dating?

book Dr Seths Love Prescription lg 190x300 The Difference Between People Who Like Dating – and Those Who Hate It

About the Author:

Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.

 

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Do You Feel Overlooked — or Invisible? http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/11/feel-overlooked-invisible/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/11/feel-overlooked-invisible/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 16:50:39 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=17691 They say that to find a great love, you must first learn to love yourself. Dr. Margaret Paul returns in today’s guest blog about this exact subject. It’s all about taking the steps to understand your worth, believing you are deserving of great things, and then taking action to get there. This is a process, but awareness is […]

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invisible feeling invisible 300x219 Do You Feel Overlooked    or Invisible?They say that to find a great love, you must first learn to love yourself. Dr. Margaret Paul returns in today’s guest blog about this exact subject. It’s all about taking the steps to understand your worth, believing you are deserving of great things, and then taking action to get there. This is a process, but awareness is really the first step.

Written by Dr. Margaret Paul, YourTango

Have you wondered why you are so often overlooked when others aren’t? It feels terrible to be constantly overlooked. This is the situation that Melanie is struggling with:

“Even when I think I am fitting in to a group and talking to everybody okay, I always seem to be overlooked when it comes to invitations etc. and then I feel completely invisible, as if they either don’t remember that I exist or they are deliberately being mean to me. I don’t understand why I am treated differently from other people. I look okay, dress nicely and I think I behave well. When you talk about false beliefs I think—how can I tell myself it is false when it has been proven true over and over again? Sorry if I sound like a victim, but it is how I feel right now and I can’t say this to anyone else.”

Melanie, I’m sure it’s not a false belief that you are being overlooked, since this is your experience over and over. The place to look at the underlying cause is not in how you look, how you dress or how you behave. The place to look is in how you treat yourself.

Others tend to treat us the way we treat ourselves. How are you overlooking yourself? As I list some of the way you might be overlooking yourself, try to be honest with yourself:

1. I’m focused primarily in my head, ignoring my feelings.
2. I ignore even my basic needs, such as when I’m hungry or when I need to go to the bathroom.
3. I believe that others’ feelings and needs are more important than mine.
4. I believe that what I say and believe isn’t as important as what others say and believe.
5. I don’t speak up for myself when others discount me or are mean.
6. I give myself up to others, trying to please them.
7. I don’t value who I really am. I believe I’m not good enough and I judge myself harshly.
8. I need other’s approval to feel okay about myself.

You might want to look inside to see how else you might be overlooking yourself in ways that may be causing you to be overlooked. If you recognize that how others treat you is a mirror of how you treat yourself, and if you are honest about how you are treating yourself, then you will understand why you are so often invisible to others and so often overlooked.

More at YourTango: Where is Prince Charming and Where is He Hiding?

It’s not your beliefs about being overlooked that are the problem—it’s your false beliefs about yourself that are the problem.

If you want to change all this, then you need to start to practice steps of inner bonding to learn to love yourself, rather than keep rejecting and abandoning yourself. You will be amazed at the changes that occur in your life when you:

1. Lovingly attend to your feelings and needs, rather than continuing to ignore them.
2. Make your feelings, needs, and opinions just as important as others’.
3. Learn to speak up for yourself when others are being unkind.
4. Stop giving yourself up and caretaking others — instead, giving yourself the approval you need.
5. Learn to define your own essence, rather than leaving your definition of yourself up to others.

In order to do all of this, you need to develop your loving adult self, which happens only when you develop your spiritual connection. You can’t see and define your essence through the eyes of your programmed ego wounded self. Only your spiritual guidance can help you to see the incredible wonderfulness of your essence—the spark of the Divine within you. This is the result of practicing inner bonding.

Learn more from Dr. Margaret Paul

More at YourTango:

Want Him to Fall for You? Make Him Feel Safe

14 Phobias Destined to Ruin Your Love Life

Wake Up! Here’s How You Can Stop Settling in Life

 

Originally posted at YourTango: If You’re Always Getting Overlooked, You May Be to Blame

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What Your Profile Picture Says (and Doesn’t Say) About You http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/10/profile-picture-says-doesnt-say/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/10/profile-picture-says-doesnt-say/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 20:25:13 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=17678 You know the basics. No pictures of exes with heads cut out. No shots of you ten years younger or twenty pounds thinner. And guys, please keep your shirts on. But two recent studies published in the journal Psychological Science shows that the act of choosing the right profile picture isn’t always so intuitive. A […]

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online dating profile photo tips 300x200 What Your Profile Picture Says (and Doesn’t Say) About You

Nice smile: check. Sunglasses off: check.

You know the basics. No pictures of exes with heads cut out. No shots of you ten years younger or twenty pounds thinner. And guys, please keep your shirts on.

But two recent studies published in the journal Psychological Science shows that the act of choosing the right profile picture isn’t always so intuitive.

A study conducted by Alexander Todorov of Princeton University and Jenny M. Porter of Columbia University found that participants judged photos of the same people very differently depending on their facial expression.

In one experiment, 800 participants looked at pictures of men and woman and judged the individuals on attractiveness, competence, creativity, cunning, extroversion, meanness, trustworthiness or intelligence.

They discovered that even slight changes in facial expression had a big impact on how participants rated photographs of the same people. For instance, an image of a frowning mustached man was judged lower in extroversion than a clean-shaven man with a very slight smile. But the results between these same two men were flipped when Mustache had a look of surprise and Clean Shave a mild grimace.

So if you want to be seen as trustworthy and extroverted, smiling appears to help.

In another experiment, these researches asked participants to choose the best image for a particular scenario like online dating, resume, political campaign or an audition for the role of a villain in a film. Participants consistently chose different photos depending on the context—a favorite resume shot didn’t necessarily make the best online dating pic. Translation: That LinkedIn photo you are so proud of may not be the right shot for your dating profile!

The researchers also noted that the importance of certain characteristics varied according to the situation. When asked to choose the best resume headshot the pictures that rated high in competence, intelligence and trustworthiness were most often selected. For an online dating profile shot, trustworthiness, extroversion and meanness (this last one being a negative predictor) mattered the most.

“The face is not a still image frozen in time but rather a constantly shifting stream of expressions that convey different mental states,” said the authors. “To the extent that these mental states lead to different personality inferences, single snapshots captured in still images of faces may be a poor source of accurate personality inferences.”

In other words, when in doubt just meet the person for coffee.

And you might want to bring a few friends. In another study, researchers found evidence that suggests we look hotter in a group. College students were asked to rate the attractiveness of group photographs and individual faces cropped from those photographs. Both male and female faces were considered better looking when they appeared in group shots.

“Having a few wingmen—or wing-women—may indeed be a good dating strategy, particularly if their facial features complement, and average out, one’s unattractive idiosyncrasies,” said authors Drew Walker and Edward Vul of the University of California, San Diego.

Of course, bringing along cute friends can be a hazard, especially if they are also single and looking. That’s why it’s important to use your best judgment. The process of finding love is still more art than science.

What bugs you most about dating profile photos?

More: 4 Photos You Need in Your Online Dating Profile

About the Author:

Sara Eckel is the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook

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Think Your Last Relationship was a ‘Waste of Time’? http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/08/think-last-relationship-waste-time/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/08/think-last-relationship-waste-time/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 23:02:34 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=17666 There are fewer heartwarming phrases found in online dating profiles than this gem: “Don’t waste my time!” It’s about as effective for warding off romantic disappointment as writing “Don’t lose interest in me” or “Don’t hurt my feelings” or “Don’t pretend to like football and then play on your phone when we watch games.” Wouldn’t […]

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relationships a waste of time 300x181 Think Your Last Relationship was a Waste of Time?There are fewer heartwarming phrases found in online dating profiles than this gem: “Don’t waste my time!” It’s about as effective for warding off romantic disappointment as writing “Don’t lose interest in me” or “Don’t hurt my feelings” or “Don’t pretend to like football and then play on your phone when we watch games.” Wouldn’t it be nice to have that much control of all the things that could go wrong from the beginning?

This concept of “wasting someone’s time” is one we only apply to romantic unions. We wouldn’t accuse our monthly brunch pal of squandering our precious Sunday mornings because our relationship never went past crab cake benedicts. Or we wouldn’t rue investing energy in countless conversations with relatives during family gatherings if we lost touch with them later in life. No, somehow we’re able to give ourselves permission to enjoy those relationships for whatever they are, no matter the outcome.

But, of course, most of us want our romances to “go somewhere” – whether it’s marriage and kids or a long-term partnership with someone who picks up your favorite wine on the way home or gives good foot rubs. It’s natural to hope that the person you’re spending your weekends with shares the same goals you do.

There’s a gigantic difference, though, in writing “I’d like to find someone who shares my goals” compared with “You better not waste my time!” The latter assumes another person has the power to waste it. You’re basically saying, “I’m not going to take responsibility for the trajectory of our relationship, and if it doesn’t work out, I’m going to accuse you of sucking up my time.” That’s not exactly attractive.

1) All relationships serve a purpose.

If you buy into thinking that only relationships which scoot you down the road to “happily ever after ever” are worthwhile, that means every romance you’ve had since junior high has been a waste of time. But somehow we’re able to accept that our early crushes were part of the bigger human experience of what it’s like to connect with another person’s heart. I’m a big believer that every interaction – whether it’s a “one and done” chat over pumpkin-chinos, a six-month rebound relationship or even a failed engagement – gets us closer to catching a keeper.

We refine important skills and get more in touch with what works – and doesn’t – for us. Every relationship offers a lesson: Perhaps you could have been more appreciative of all the things they did for you or set better boundaries or paid more attention to obvious red flags. Maybe the lesson is simply accepting that sometimes relationships run their course, or that the timing or chemistry wasn’t right, and it’s no one’s fault. Whatever the case, losing someone you once cared about stings to the core. Chasing someone who wasn’t that into you is frustrating. Sometimes love doesn’t work out. Sometimes it hurts. But it’s never a waste.

2) Find some meaning in your past relationships.

Even if you think you learned absolutely nothing from your past heartbreak, you can at least find something to be grateful for. Perhaps your previous sweetie made you feel desired in a way you’d never felt before. Or she showed you how to make a killer brisket, or he inspired you to try hot yoga. Maybe the only thing you got out of a date was a movie recommendation.

The idea that the energy and emotion you put into something or someone is a “waste” in any area of your life – even cancelled flights or shelved work projects – is just depressing. So swallow your bitter pill. Make a running list of what you gained from your last relationship in your head. Or better yet, write it down. It will help you keep a positive perspective and keep your heart open for your next love.

Do you ever consider relationships a waste of time?

About the Author:

Sarah Elizabeth Richards is a journalist and the author of Motherhood, Rescheduled: The New Frontier of Egg Freezing and the Women Who Tried It. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Marie Claire, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Slate and Salon.

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Worrying About Being Single? Then Read This… http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/05/worrying-single-read/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/05/worrying-single-read/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 18:36:50 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=17651 Worrying about things we can’t control is fruitless. We all know that. But it’s pretty tough not to get concerned about some areas — like matters of the heart. I really like today’s guest post from Dr. Karin Anderson — as she brings a great perspective to those feeling badly about their single status. Written by […]

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coffee date first date 300x188 Worrying About Being Single? Then Read This...Worrying about things we can’t control is fruitless. We all know that. But it’s pretty tough not to get concerned about some areas — like matters of the heart. I really like today’s guest post from Dr. Karin Anderson — as she brings a great perspective to those feeling badly about their single status.

Written by Dr. Karin Anderson, YourTango

I hear it all the time and see it everywhere—singles being made to feel inadequate, unworthy, and flawed just because they have yet to meet their match. Watch any episode of “The Bachelor” and you’ll see what I mean. After each Rose Ceremony, the rejected 24-year-old beauties tearfully lament, “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong! Why can’t things just work out for me? I keep getting my heart broken again and again!”

I shake my head, wanting to scream at the TV, “Really? Look at yourself! You’re gorgeous, talented, kind, and smart! This guy just wasn’t your guy. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. It just hasn’t happened yet!” Read on to discover three realities to keep in mind as you journey to meet The One.

More at YourTango: The Real Reason Rejection Hurts So Much

Timing is Everything. The Supremes told us years ago that you can’t hurry love, and guess what? They were right. Sure, we’d like to control when The One comes along. Once we graduate college, score a fabulous career and settle into our first apartment, we figure we’re ready to meet the love of our life. When our soul mate doesn’t show up at the expected time, we get discouraged and try to figure out why. But actually, there is no reason why. It just hasn’t happened yet!

There’s a Lid for Every Pot. Look around. Happy couples come in all sorts of configurations, each operating with unique dynamics that work well for them. But sometimes well-meaning friends and family pinpoint qualities they’re convinced we need to change before we’ll find true love. When I was single, I was told I was too picky, too opinionated, and too intimidating (just to name a few). Then I met my husband and he fell in love with me exactly the way I am. Moreover, he was thankful I’d been picky, loved hearing my opinions, and wasn’t at all intimidated by me. If you’ve ever heard you’re too something remember, someone out there wants exactly what you have to offer. It just hasn’t happened yet!

More at YourTango: Remembering Joan Rivers: Her Best Lines About Love and Sex

We’ve Been on Both Sides of it. Think back to when you’ve broken up with someone. Often times, we don’t even completely understand why the spark isn’t there—it just isn’t. So we cobble together a weak explanation to the effect of, “You’re great! I love spending time with you. I just don’t see us having a future together.” And when your ex counters with, “What did I do wrong?” you probably don’t have a very good answer. Typically, there is no good answer. Someone can look perfect on paper, but if the chemistry doesn’t click, it’s not a match. Nothing wrong with you, nothing wrong with your partner. It just hasn’t happened yet.

Stop searching for some personality quirk or idiosyncrasy that’s keeping love away. Relax and give yourself a break. You’re fine the way you are—it just hasn’t happened yet!

More at YourTango.com:

 OK, Where is Prince Charming and Where is He Hiding?

Nice Guys Don’t Finish Last, They Get Girlfriends

 

 

Originally posted at YourTango.com: Still Single? Three Reasons Why You Should Stop Worrying

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Want to Impress Someone? Don’t Try http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/03/want-impress-someone-dont-try/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/03/want-impress-someone-dont-try/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 21:29:54 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=17637 Many years ago, I was talking to a woman at a party about relationships and mentioned that I hadn’t been in one for ages. She told me this wasn’t a problem for her. She always had a boyfriend—her current beau was a biologist at an elite university—and before him there were plenty of others. “Men […]

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how to impress someone 300x200 Want to Impress Someone? Don’t TryMany years ago, I was talking to a woman at a party about relationships and mentioned that I hadn’t been in one for ages. She told me this wasn’t a problem for her. She always had a boyfriend—her current beau was a biologist at an elite university—and before him there were plenty of others.

“Men flock to me,” she said.

The hostess called us to dinner, where the woman continued to assert her superiority, informing the table of her culinary skills and deep appreciation of classical music, while I scowled into my plate. All I wanted to do was go home and turn on the TV and try to forget that I was an unappealing cipher who men didn’t flock to. But instead, I looked up at the faces of the other guests and saw that they were nearly as miserable and annoyed as I was. And I realized this woman had made a terrible mistake. Her attempts to impress everyone were having the exact opposite effect.

She might have been extreme, but I’ve seen this kind of clueless behavior in others—very often in myself. It’s a little tragic: Many of us are at our most insufferable with the people we most want to impress.

The impulse to say “Hey, check out how great I am” hits its apex when dating, of course. You want to let them know you’re worth the effort, so you casually mention your prestigious alma mater or that time someone said you should model. On some level, we all know this doesn’t work—because we’ve all been on the other side of it—but we con ourselves into thinking an expensive car or road race victory really will close the deal.

But a recent study published in the Harvard Business Review reveals a much better strategy: If you want to make someone think highly of you, don’t tell them you’re great—make them feel great. And the authors offer a simple one-step process: ask for advice.

The study found that, contrary to popular perception, people who ask for advice are seen as more intelligent than those who don’t. But the researchers also noted that participants only granted the perceived IQ boost to people who asked them questions. Deferring to the waiter or another person in the movie ticket line wins you no points.

“The benefits of advice seeking are contingent on direct flattery,” the authors explained. “Being asked for advice caused advisors to feel more self confident and, in turn, to view the advice seeker more positively.”

Writer Paul Ford offers another strategy: Tell the person that her job sounds difficult. In a lovely essay, Ford, who describes himself as, “big and droopy and in need of a haircut,” recalls the time he met a beautiful and very stylish woman at a party.

“I could tell that she was disappointed to be introduced to this rumpled giant in an off-brand shirt,” he said.

At one point, she told him that her job was helping celebrities choose expensive jewelry.

“That sounds hard,” said Ford.

Immediately, the energy changed.

“She brightened and spoke for 30 straight minutes about sapphires and Jessica Simpson. She kept touching me as she talked. Eventually someone pulled me back into the party. The celebrity jewelry coordinator smiled and grabbed my hand and said, ‘I like you!’” Ford wrote.

To be clear, Ford’s essay was called “How to be Polite,” not “How to Pick Up Beautiful Celebrity Stylists.” And we all know that flattering dates and people you meet at cocktail parties can be just as smarmy and manipulative as bragging about how much you bench press.

The Harvard Business School study found that asking for advice only makes a positive impression if it means something—that is, when the person has some knowledge of the topic. If your date informs you she knows nothing about wine, then consulting her on the right Pinot Grigio won’t help—and may even hurt. On the other hand, if she tells you she works for a brewery, get her consult on whether to choose the IPA or the stout.

its not you sara eckel 185x300 Want to Impress Someone? Don’t TryThe point is not to ply her with fake praise, but to simply step back and let the other person shine. Not only is this much easier than trying to impress, you’ll probably get a much better glass of beer.

About the Author:

Sara Eckel is the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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The Romeo and Juliet Effect: How Disapproval Can Affect Your Relationship http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/03/romeo-juliet-effect-disapproval-can-affect-relationship/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2014/09/03/romeo-juliet-effect-disapproval-can-affect-relationship/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 21:12:17 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=17625 What happens to your relationship if your parents or friends don't approve? It may not be what you think. Read here to find out more.

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romeo and juliette relationships 300x204 The Romeo and Juliet Effect: How Disapproval Can Affect Your RelationshipIn the recent hit “Rude” by MAGIC!, the song tells the story of a guy who goes to his girlfriend’s father to ask for her hand in marriage, but is denied and doesn’t get his blessing, which leads to the guy asking, “Why you gotta be so rude?” Some of us may have run into similar situations in our lives, or at least know somebody that has, in which a couple’s parents or friends do not approve of their relationship. Can the disapproval of others have a significant effect on the couple’s actual relationship?

Research in the 1970s investigated such an effect, and found that meddling and disapproving parents would actually create a stronger relationship between the couple, which they coined as the “Romeo and Juliet” effect. However, research since then has not been able to replicate that original finding.

What has been found in recent research, however, has actually been the opposite. Sinclair, Hood, & Wright (2014) did a very similar study to the original Romeo and Juliet effect study, and found that couples who reported more parental interference and disapproval of their relationship were more likely to have lower levels of love, trust, and commitment, as well as higher instances of criticism of their partner four months later. So rather than supporting the Romeo and Juliet effect, this study showed that support from a couple’s social network led to a stronger relationship, which has been referred to as the Social Network effect.

Additional research has shown similar results. In a series of studies by Dr. Justin Lehmiller, he found that couples who had higher levels of disapproval were more likely to break up in the next year. More interestingly, that disapproval can affect both people both psychologically and physically. Individuals who felt like their relationship wasn’t approved of reported significantly lower levels of self-esteem, more reports of poor physical heath, and more instances of risky health behaviors, like cigarette smoking and lower usage of condoms. Dr. Lehmiller explains that this could be because of the great amount of stress that a relationship with high disapproval can elicit, and in turn people in these stressful relationships will turn to riskier behaviors to cope with the stress, as well as have more physical ailments due to stress.

So the singer from MAGIC! might want to reconsider marrying that girl anyway, given that it could have a significant effect on their relationship. Rather than just going against the wishes of a disapproving father, maybe he should work on winning him over instead of forcing him to stand on the altar with him. It could help out his relationship in the long run.

 

To hear more about this research, listen to this Relationship Matters podcast where Dr. Justin Lehmiller talks about this research in greater detail.

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