Undoing the Hollywood Relationship Hoax

by Dr. Neil Clark Warren, Clinical Psychologist and eHarmony Founder

Undoing the Hollywood Relationship Hoax

The average high school senior has listened to 12,000 hours of television, but has been in the classroom for only 8,000 hours. Those 12,000 hours of television, I’m sure you would agree with me, have probably been written more carefully, edited more excruciatingly, and presented in the most professional way to make sure they carry the points that the producers and writers and directors wanted carried. And those points that are carried through television very often have to do with the qualities Hollywood believes should be most attractive in the person you are selecting to be your longtime mate.

I’m going to focus on some ways you can "reprogram" your brain to better select the love of your life. I actually believe that in your brain, there are probably as many as 1,500 relationship factors on which you have a preference about what you would like in a person with whom you’d spend the rest of your life. Years and years of watching television have communicated to your brain that the things television finds attractive, namely appearance and money, are more important than the rest of the 1,500 factors. I think that most people have a filter group of qualities that allow them to sample, in a very limited way, from the 1,500 factors to look at only twelve to fifteen factors and make a determination about all the others.

For instance, when you say, "Hi, I’m Doug," and she says, "Hi, I’m Linda," you probably could come up with fifteen factors that you’re looking at. You know how tall she is. You know what her body proportions are. You know how she’s dressed. You know what her facial features are. You know what her mouth looks like. You know whether she’s attentive to you or not. You know the color of her eyes, and so on, for twelve to fifteen factors. Now you are going to make an assessment about an ultimate match between the two of you on the basis of these twelve to fifteen factors.

Unfortunately, most people are dead wrong in the prediction they make in the early phases of a relationship; dead wrong when it comes to determining whether a relationship will be a good one or not in the long term. I want to suggest to you that many times you make a negative evaluation about the long-term match between you and another person when indeed, if you got involved with this person, you would discover that you would have a great relationship with them.

The fact is that Hollywood has so encouraged us to place our emphasis on external things that when you don’t find what you’re looking for in the other person’s facial features, or their height, or their body type, you simply go right on by. If indeed there are 1,500, it is possible that you are passing up a person with whom you could have 1,490 factors in common. You’re predicting that everything is going to be negative because these superficial factors are negative.

That’s why we say to you that Hollywood has engaged in a great hoax. If you take part in that hoax, you’ll likely end up with a candidate pool so small that you will eventually give up the task of trying to find the right person. I want to help you develop a way of meeting people that will allow you to get beyond the first six or eight factors in order to get to know people at a deeper level, so that you will possibly meet that diamond in the rough with whom you can have a fabulous relationship down the line.

First of all, I would like for you to take ten empty 8.5×11 sheets of paper, and on the top of each of these sheets, I want you to write a word. These ten words come from my book Finding the Love of Your Life. On the top of the first sheet I want you to write the word "Personality." On the top of the second sheet, "Intelligence." On the top of the third sheet, "Appearance." On the top of the fourth sheet, "Ambition." On the top of the fifth sheet, "Chemistry." On the top of the sixth sheet, "Spirituality." On the top of the seventh sheet, "Character." On the top of the eighth sheet, "Creativity." The ninth sheet, "Parenting." The tenth sheet, "Authenticity."

Now what I want you to write under each of these words is everything you can think of about the person you’d like to spend the rest of your life that has to do with this word that you’ve placed at the top of the sheet. For instance, under the word Personality, would you like your mate to be quiet and somewhat shy, or talkative and gregarious? Which of those attract you? Would you prefer your person to be intense and logical, or kind of laid-back and easygoing? Would you like her, or him, to be funny or serious? Would you like the person to be strong and independent, or someone who leaves the decision making totally up to you? Do you prefer that the person be soft or tough? I want you to write down everything you can think of that relates to personality.

When you get done with these ten sheets, I want you to go back and read over all these things that you’ve written on each of the ten sheets, and I want you to list the ten most important things that you’ve written down on each of the sheets. Finally, I want you to go through the ten sheets and find, out of all the sheets, the ten most critical things that you are looking for in a potential mate. I bet you’re going to find that a number of these ten things are simply not available to you to assess when you’re just meeting a person for the first time. The possibility is that many of these ten things turn out to be from the inside of the person. They have to do with the person’s character, his or her spirituality. When you just see a person and you pass them day by day, you won’t know whether they have these things or not unless you get to know them. Reprogramming your brain. Reestablishing the importance of internal factors.

By following the above exercise you can make sure that you don’t become a part of the Hollywood hoax that would encourage you to look for superficial, external criteria and eliminate all persons who do not fall within these categories. This new perspective will allow you to maximize the time you spend with your eHarmony matches and get in touch with the traits that are likely to make you genuinely happy for the rest of your life.

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