eHarmony Blog http://www.eharmony.com/blog eHarmony experts’ take on dating, relationships and the science of love Fri, 31 Jul 2015 17:40:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Stop Expecting to Be Rejected http://www.eharmony.com/blog/stop-expecting-rejected/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/stop-expecting-rejected/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 17:40:50 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19727 When you’re dating and putting your heart on the line, you can expect a certain amount of rejection at every level of the process. In most cases, it’s obvious: He doesn’t return an email, or she dodges an end-of-the-evening kiss. But there are cases when it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. We expect to be rejected, and […]

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When you’re dating and putting your heart on the line, you can expect a certain amount of rejection at every level of the process. In most cases, it’s obvious: He doesn’t return an email, or she dodges an end-of-the-evening kiss. But there are cases when it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. We expect to be rejected, and if we try hard enough, we can pretty much guarantee that we will.

Perhaps the rejection script in your head doesn’t start until after the third date or third month. “This isn’t going to go well,” you tell yourself. Or if you’re extra masochistic, you can use this version: “It’s only a matter of time before she loses interest.”

Maybe you assume history will repeat itself. Your college boyfriend blew off your birthday? Surely your new love interest will do the same. After all, your birthday is in a week, and he hasn’t even mentioned it.

Yep, romantic disappointment is headed your way. What’s challenging is that this kind of “rejection expectation” is hard to see with a clear head. Maybe you experience it as a series of defeating thoughts or tight shoulders. Still, it usually comes from a wounded dark place – you know, the one that says you’re unlovable and don’t deserve love anyway. It doesn’t operate in the present moment, but judges from the past and assumes awful things about the future.

If you don’t recognize this dynamic and get it under control, it will wreck a promising romance.

Here are some tips on how to get back your best self – quickly!

1) Stop looking for evidence

If you’re convinced someone is pushing you away, you can find evidence to support your theory nearly everywhere you look. He didn’t ask for extra salad dressing with your takeout order like he usually does. She didn’t come outside to meet you when you arrived late to the party. Or in the ground zero of potential hurt feelings – your sweetie rolled to the other side of the bed in the middle of the night.

When you’re feeling confident and self-assured, you can weather these alleged slights – or at least speak up about them. But when you’re feeling fragile and defensive, you don’t have the perspective to judge what’s acceptable along the spectrum of human behavior and what’s absolutely not okay.

2) Assume the best

Of course, you shouldn’t tolerate bad treatment or go into denial. But if you suspect you’re being overly sensitive, tell yourself that your love interest is totally into you and wants what’s best for you. If you wake up in the middle of the night feeling bad that your love is on the other side of the bed, tell yourself that he probably can’t wait to cuddle with you first thing in the morning.

People who believe deep down that they are loved – by others and themselves – attract more affection. On the other hand, if your significant other is truly giving you the cold shoulder, you’re not giving him or her the power to knock you off your center.

3) Focus on the good – not what you’re not getting

Want to kill people’s motivations? Tell them everything they’re doing wrong. Tell her that you thought she ignored you at the party. He didn’t introduce you properly. She took too long to answer your text. Why didn’t he offer you a drink? You’re not going inspire anyone.

Rather, praise everything they do well – even if it seems minor. “I love how you always have clean towels in your linen closet” or “I admire how social you are at parties. People always cluster around you.” If you’re going through a rough patch, it pays to dig deep to resurrect good feelings.

4) Ask for what you want

Do you long for a weekend getaway? A summer picnic? A drawer of your own? People want to make you happy. Tell them how. Several years ago, my friend reported that his new romance wasn’t going well. “I think she’s blowing me off,” he sighed. “She’s always busy during the week.” He had been working with a therapist who advised him to say, “I really like you and enjoy spending time with you. Would you be available to meet sometime during the week?”

“Okay,” she said. Two years later, they were married.

5) Take a breather when you need to

If you feel the rejection goblins grabbing ahold of you, take a small break from your relationship. Return the phone call or postpone the relationship talk until the next day when you’re not running a tally in your head of the other person’s offenses.

Also, play attention to your gut. We’re all guilty of overreacting at some point and not giving someone the benefit of the doubt. But if you’re dating someone who makes you feel rejected most of the time, it’s a sign you’re not a good match. That’s when it’s time to find someone you know will eventually come over to your side of the bed.

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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Why You Should Be a Selfish Dater http://www.eharmony.com/blog/in-praise-of-the-selfish-dater/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/in-praise-of-the-selfish-dater/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:53:34 +0000 http://advice.eharmony.com/blog/?p=8828 From the time we’re little children we are told to share. We’re told to be thoughtful, and to put others ahead of ourselves. “Don’t be selfish!” is a refrain heard in homes up and down every street in America. When it comes to little children and toys the lesson is necessary. When it comes to […]

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From the time we’re little children we are told to share. We’re told to be thoughtful, and to put others ahead of ourselves. “Don’t be selfish!” is a refrain heard in homes up and down every street in America. When it comes to little children and toys the lesson is necessary. When it comes to adults who are well-mannered it is essential. When it comes to marriage partners who can give and sacrifice for each other it is absolutely vital. When it comes to people who are dating? It’s poison.

There are few times in life when we need to be more self-centered than when we are seriously dating. I’m comfortable saying you should be absolutely self-obsessed during your search for a partner. I also believe that daters who practice a spirit of selflessness during their serious dating period often don’t end up with compatible partners. Let’s break it down.

If you’re thinking about a serious relationship, you’ve got to be able to determine whether this new romantic interest is going to be a good partner…for a looooooong time. You’re going to be tied to this person socially, romantically, financially, perhaps even legally. Whatever their set of unique gifts and problems turn out to be, you are going to have to live with them and build a happy life in their midst. This is no small consideration.

Just to take a dramatic example. Let’s say your new boyfriend is an alcoholic. He’s kind, loving, and supportive. As a person who is compassionate you want to help him, because you love him. He has times of peace and health, but a bender is always around the corner and when he drinks he’s terrible. It is easy to see that marrying this man is a risky venture. Perhaps he’ll get sober and stay that way, but the risk that he won’t and the consequences of that choice are great.

A person who is putting others first and acting selflessly would say, “This man needs me. He may die without me. I can’t leave him. I know he has a problem, but what kind of person would I be to abandon him?” Of course, many hundreds of thousands of marriages have started for just this reason. The woman can’t act selfishly when she needs to the most. In fact, selfish doesn’t even sound like the right word. We’re asking her to quit being codependent and enable his drinking, but what we’re really saying is, “NOW is your time to be selfish. Act in your own best interest or risk a very bad set of circumstances.”

Of course, most relationships don’t have an alcoholic. They do have people with anger issues, neurosis, jealousy, control issues, and a host of other negative traits that would make a long term relationship hard to handle. Your best shot at encouraging change with a partner in any of these areas is before you marry or move in together. If you’ve discussed it, and things aren’t getting better, it’s time to be selfish and move on.

Clearly, no one is perfect. Relationships take change and compromise — without a doubt. The point here is that once you discover a major personality disorder in a romantic partner the clock should start ticking. You should discuss it and talk about steps to improve it. If this person can’t or won’t make those moves, you’ve got to be selfish. You’ve GOT to be selfish.

If you’re single, repeat after me. You’ve got to be selfish. NOW is your time to be selfish. Insist on a relationship that works for you. Insist on a person you can be proud of. Embrace this time of selfishness, because once you’ve made your choice and your commitment it will be time to switch gears.

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Was Finding Love Easier For Your Grandparents? http://www.eharmony.com/blog/finding-love-easier-grandparents/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/finding-love-easier-grandparents/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 21:45:21 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19710 In his new book, Modern Romance, comedian Aziz Ansari describes texting a woman named Tanya and asking her for a date. A few minutes later, the software shows she read it. Then he sees the little dots that indicate she’s typing a reply. Then the dots vanish. Several hours pass and no word. A day […]

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In his new book, Modern Romance, comedian Aziz Ansari describes texting a woman named Tanya and asking her for a date. A few minutes later, the software shows she read it. Then he sees the little dots that indicate she’s typing a reply. Then the dots vanish. Several hours pass and no word. A day goes by—still nothing. At this point, Ansari is beside himself.

“What has happened?I I know she had my words in her hand!! Did Tanya’s phone fall into a river/trash compactor/volcano?? Oh no, Tanya has died, and I’m selfishly worried about our date. I’m a bad person,” he writes in his delightful and very informative guide to contemporary dating.

Of course, Tanya didn’t die and she wasn’t “just busy”; her Facebook and Instagram accounts showed she was alive and posting.

Technology has provided great new ways for single people to meet and date each other, but it has come at a psychological price. All that information can seriously mess you up. It makes silences more aggressive and gives rejections an extra sting—as the heartbroken now routinely endure photographic evidence of their crushes enjoying full lives without them.

In this precarious emotional environment, it’s easy to become nostalgic for a simpler time—the days before smartphones or even computers, when men wore ties and arrived at doorsteps with bouquets of flowers, and couples held hands and sipped lemonade on front porches.

Ansari wondered if things were better in his grandparents’ day, so he and his co-author, sociologist Eric Klinenberg, visited a Manhattan retirement community and asked the residents how they met their husbands and wives. The authors discovered that fourteen of the thirty-six seniors they interviewed had married someone within walking distance of their childhood home. They weren’t anomalies—a University of Pennsylvania study, they later learned, found that in 1932 one-third of couples who married in Philadelphia that year lived within a five-block radius of each other before tying the knot; one in eight had actually lived in the same building.

So what’s the deal? Why do people in the 21st century have to work so much harder to find a spouse? Why can’t we just marry the guy or girl who lives down the street?

The answer is simple: Because most of us don’t want to. When Ansari and Klinenberg asked the seniors how they chose their spouses they said things like “he had a good job” or “she was a nice girl.”

The younger married couples they queried were far more poetic. They wrote about how their partners make them the best versions of themselves, how they make them laugh and feel beautiful. “’He is stunning and I’m amazed by him every single day. He’s made me a better person for having known and loved him,’” wrote one woman.

In other words, we have different standards today. We want to fall deeply in love. We want to find a soulmate. And that simply takes more time and effort than picking someone because they’re reasonably pleasant or employed.

While most of the older folks the authors spoke with were satisfied with their marriages, the women in particular didn’t romanticize the old methods of mate selection and wanted their daughters and granddaughters to take a different approach. “They wanted the young women they knew to date a lot of men and experience different relationships before they took a husband,” the authors wrote.

Do contemporary dating standards and methods sometimes make people nuts? Sure. But for most younger people, the potential reward—falling deeply in love—is worth the heartbreak and hassle. It’s nice to know many of their elders agree.

 

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. Ask her any questions here.

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Rx for Dating Anxiety: Do Something Nice http://www.eharmony.com/blog/rx-dating-anxiety-something-nice/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/rx-dating-anxiety-something-nice/#comments Fri, 10 Jul 2015 21:40:10 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19702 In the novel The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., Adelle Waldman’s character Aurit perfectly articulates the unique emotional toll of dating: “Dating is probably the most fraught human interaction there is. You’re sizing people up to see if they’re worth your time and attention, and they’re doing the same to you. It’s meritocracy applied to […]

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In the novel The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P., Adelle Waldman’s character Aurit perfectly articulates the unique emotional toll of dating: “Dating is probably the most fraught human interaction there is. You’re sizing people up to see if they’re worth your time and attention, and they’re doing the same to you. It’s meritocracy applied to personal life, but there’s no accountability. We submit ourselves to these intimate inspections and simultaneously inflict them on others and try to keep our psyches intact.”

If you’re one of the many people who find dating stressful, you may have tried different coping strategies—exercise, deep breathing, affirmations about being good enough and smart enough. But a recently published study has identified another way to reduce social jitters: do something nice for someone.

In the study, which I discovered via The Science of Us, researchers at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University found that individuals who tested high in social anxiety were more likely to have “social avoidance goals.” Meaning: They focused on avoiding negative outcomes—like being rejected or looking foolish—rather than moving toward positive goals, like getting to know someone new.

Unfortunately, this behavior can create a self-fulfilling prophesy. The more you worry about being in an awkward social situation, the more likely you are to be in one, as your defensiveness will impair your interactions with others.

In an attempt to break this self-defeating pattern, Jennifer Trew and Lynn Alden instructed socially anxious college students to perform three acts of kindness a day for two days a week. Among the selfless acts reported by the undergraduates: doing a roommate’s dishes, mowing a neighbor’s lawn, and donating to charity.

After a month, Trew and Alden found that these students were less likely to focus on social avoidance—that is, less likely to worry that others wouldn’t like them or that their encounters would be uncomfortable—than individuals in control groups.

The study examined social interactions in general, not necessarily dating. But as Aurit points out, the “meritocracy” of dating is of course what can make it so excruciating at times. When two people engage in an act of mutual scrutiny, dates can often feel like job interviews, with each candidate attempting to fashion themself into an appealing package and broadcast their overall worthiness.

But this kind of self-obsession not only makes us unhappy, it’s also counterproductive.

Trey and Alden’s research indicates that this vicious circle can be reversed. After you help your elderly next-door neighbor bring in her groceries, you probably won’t be as worried that your nose has a new pimple or your bangs are doing that weird flip. And if you’re not stressing about your appearance, you’ll be more fun to be around—and probably more attractive, too.

You’ll also be more likely to focus on the needs and comfort of the nice person you’re meeting for coffee, which will be much appreciated. After all, your date is nervous, too.

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. Ask her any questions here.

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Dating at 25 Versus 35: Advantages and Disadvantages http://www.eharmony.com/blog/dating-25-versus-35-advantages-disadvantages/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/dating-25-versus-35-advantages-disadvantages/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 21:47:48 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19694 The experiences of dating at 25 versus 35 are light years apart. Though ten years’ difference may not seem so long relative to the overall lifespan, ten years makes an enormous difference at this critical juncture of adulthood. In one’s 20s, men and women are dating and getting established professionally; by their 30s, many men […]

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The experiences of dating at 25 versus 35 are light years apart. Though ten years’ difference may not seem so long relative to the overall lifespan, ten years makes an enormous difference at this critical juncture of adulthood. In one’s 20s, men and women are dating and getting established professionally; by their 30s, many men and women are already settled down in their romantic life (married, having children) and their careers (having been promoted, making decent money, buying a home). Dating at 25 and 35 are totally different experiences, and each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

The advantages of dating at 25

Life is more carefree. Simply put, life is typically a lot more carefree. People tend to go out more socially in their 20s and they feel like their whole adult life is ahead of them.

You don’t have a lot of emotional baggage from failed relationships. It’s easier to date when you haven’t been hurt a lot. Meeting someone in your 20s, you feel hopeful that you’ve met someone with whom you can have a lasting relationship. Because you’re only 25, you probably don’t have a lot of dating scars and bruises.

Most of your social circle hasn’t settled down yet, so you don’t feel anxiety about finding someone quickly. Your 20s are a great time for dating because there isn’t a lot of anxiety during this period about getting married and having kids. Even family members typically don’t pressure you to settle down when you’re in mid-20s because the idea, again, is that there’s still so much time ahead of you.

The disadvantages of dating at 25

You tend to be more idealistic about love and relationships. At this stage, men and women look to the future and imagine that the one they’ll end up with will be all – or most –things they’ve always wanted in a partner. Because men and women tend to be idealistic during this stage, they may see minor flaws in their date and abruptly end the relationship, telling themselves that they will be sure to find someone else who meets all of their criteria.

You don’t know yourself and your needs as well as you will later. As smart or self-actualized as you may be at 25, you still only have 25 years of experience from which to draw and make decisions. Many men and women at 25 tend to focus more on finding someone attractive or looking for someone who fits in perfectly with their group of friends. Your dating criteria looks very different at 25 than it will years down the road.

You’re financially limited at this point in your life. At 25, most people are just joining the workforce and they’ve had to enter their professions at the bottom rung. This stage is all about paying dues and working your way up, which means that you don’t have a lot of cash to drop on a fancy dinner date or a romantic weekend trip.

The advantages of dating at 35

You know better what you need in a partner. By 35, you’ve already been to a few different rodeos. You know better which types of dates tend to break your heart, and which types you can count on. Most people at 35 will tell you that they’re looking for someone who is honest and committed, as opposed to “hot” or fun.

You understand the difference between wants and needs. By 35, you realize that you’re not going to meet the magical person who has it all. Though you may want someone who is gorgeous and has a great sense of humor, you realize that what you need is someone who is reliable and treats you well. Understanding the difference between wants and needs is one of the greatest advantages of getting older and having more relationship experience.

You have more financial security and money to enjoy with your date. People say that money doesn’t buy happiness, but money sure can buy a nice night on the town. Having disposable cash and financial security makes you feel more secure in your life and allows you to a do a much broader range of recreational activities with your date.

The disadvantages of dating at 35

Many men and women are already married or coupled up. By 35, a fair number of men and women are settled down in long-term relationships, whether they’re married or living together. The 30s represent a weird limbo period in the dating world where many people are already hitched, and a lot of couples who will eventually get divorced haven’t yet broken up. (For example, when you’re dating at 45, you’re going to meet a lot more single men and women who were once married but are now divorced). When you’re 35 and dating, you feel like most people are already taken, which can feel frustrating and depressing.

You have to deal with the constant societal and family pressure to get married and have children. You have to work hard to draw boundaries with anyone who tells you that you should be settling down and starting a family. If you’re 35 and dating, it’s an ongoing annoyance when people tell you that you need to settle down, or they ask you one of the world’s most idiotic questions: “Why aren’t you in a relationship?” In short, some people simply make you feel like a leper if you’re still single.

You feel a little more cynical about love and relationships. Because you’ve probably had a couple of failed relationships by this point, and because each relationship’s ending brings added sadness and anger, it’s impossible to avoid feeling a little cynical about love.

Final Analysis: Dating at 25 versus 35 is like many other things in life: There are positives and negatives with each. The goal in each stage is to embrace the positives and to not wallow in the negatives or let the negatives make you feel pessimistic about the future. At the end of the day, remember this: Attitude is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g at any age.

 

 

book Dr Seths Love Prescription lg 190x300 Dating at 25 Versus 35: Advantages and DisadvantagesAbout 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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Stop with the Dating Horror Stories … Your Date is Not Impressed http://www.eharmony.com/blog/stop-dating-horror-stories-date-impressed/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/stop-dating-horror-stories-date-impressed/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2015 18:07:54 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19687 Have you encountered this favorite pastime of online daters? As soon as you order your drink, your date leans in with the bait. “So, how do you like online dating?” he asks. Before you can even answer, “I’ve met some nice people,” he exclaims, “Well, I’ve got a story for you!” Thus begins a so-called […]

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Have you encountered this favorite pastime of online daters? As soon as you order your drink, your date leans in with the bait. “So, how do you like online dating?” he asks. Before you can even answer, “I’ve met some nice people,” he exclaims, “Well, I’ve got a story for you!” Thus begins a so-called “horror story,” which I’ve noticed tend to be variations of these three themes.

The dates did something considered rude or impolite. They said something inappropriate. They laughed out loud with a piece of black olive lodged in their teeth. They were late. They spent the date playing with their phone or their dog.

The dates misrepresented themselves. They were fatter, thinner, taller, shorter, older or younger than they advertised themselves in their photos. Maybe he had more hair, or she had a way better tan than the person who showed up on the date.

The dates veered from dating customs. They expected you to pay — or grabbed the check when you wanted to treat. They made an unwelcome sexual overture or waited too long to kiss you. They got one look at your paisley unitard and bolted out the door.

Although such tales are occasionally entertaining, they’re not helping your love life. Except in the rare case in which you can show off how you handled the bad date (You got the drunk woman home safely and were a hero!), it’s better to resist to temptation to tell all.

Besides showing a lack of tact, here are some reasons your stories aren’t a great reflection on you:

1) They show whom you attract into your life

Of course, we never know who’s going to show up on the other side of that café table. (Everyone has had at least one surprise!) But at some level, if you tell your new dates that all your former dates were total disasters, the newbies might start to question your judgment. You do get some idea of your matches’ personalities by communicating with them beforehand. You can’t always screen out crazy, but you can improve your odds of better dates by investing some time getting to know people. At the very least, if you’ve had a string of disappointments, it’s not a great idea to advertise it.

2) They show your lack of tolerance

Before you break out your worst tales, ask yourself if they were really “horror stories”? Was property damaged? Were hearts or bones broken? Were the police involved? If not, stories about life’s everyday inconveniences (or others’ occasional poor judgment) make you look inflexible and disapproving. And you definitely don’t endear yourself to anyone if you brag that you that you ditched the date who had put on a few pounds since they posted their profile photos.

3) They make your date nervous

If you attempt to entertain your date with the story about the date who fell asleep during a movie or said something too political or wrote “it’s” instead of “its,” you run the risk of causing your date to be extra guarded. She will censor her comments, or he will be hesitant to write long emails if he thinks his grammar will be picked apart. It’s not a great strategy to grow close to someone.

Everyone loves an audience to hear their stories. Just think twice about whether they’re helping your romance credibility.

What do you think about other people’s “horror” stories?

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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Signs That Your Date Has Emotional Problems Vs. Everyday Issues http://www.eharmony.com/blog/signs-date-emotional-problems-vs-everyday-issues/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/signs-date-emotional-problems-vs-everyday-issues/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 20:46:54 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19675 Show me someone who doesn’t have any personal issues and I’ll show you a briefcase full of thousand dollar bills. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, it’s simply not going to happen. The goal in dating isn’t to find someone who doesn’t have any issues but rather to find someone who doesn’t have serious emotional problems. […]

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Show me someone who doesn’t have any personal issues and I’ll show you a briefcase full of thousand dollar bills. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, it’s simply not going to happen. The goal in dating isn’t to find someone who doesn’t have any issues but rather to find someone who doesn’t have serious emotional problems. This is not to say that there’s anything inherently bad about a person with emotional problems; those individuals just have to work on their issues and wait to get into a relationship until they’re stable and balanced. As you look for a lasting relationship, I’ll give you the 411 on how to distinguish between those who have basic, everyday issues versus those who have intense emotional problems.

If you see red flags in the first few weeks of dating

The best way to tell if someone has serious emotional issues as opposed to the garden-variety, everyday issues is to consider the timing. In the beginning of dating, everyone is theoretically on their best behavior. For this reason, you shouldn’t see any major red flags in the first month or so of dating. If you do see such signs in the first few weeks, it’s fair to assume that you’ve started dating someone who has significant, long-lasting emotional issues.

If family or friends notice your date’s bad behavior

There’s nothing quite like someone you know well to keep it real and put a situation in perspective for you. If you are dating someone who has any number of issues – a touch of jealousy, a hint of insecurity, or a habit of getting defensive – you and those close to you will typically blow it off. Why? Because we all have flaws. However, we don’t all have serious emotional issues. If someone close to you points out something worrisome in your date – and you trust the person who reports it, it’s fair to say that your date probably has some emotional issues that could seriously get in the way of having a good relationship.

If the intensity of your date’s negative feelings are too strong

It’s perfectly normal to show a little anger or frustration here or there when you’re dating someone. Yet sometimes you’re out on a date with someone and his or her reaction hits you like a freight train. When you see your date express a negative emotion, you will instantly have an oh snap! moment if the emotion is too strong, and this isn’t normal. If your date gets a little too angry or frustrated about something small in the blink of an eye, be very careful. There’s a good chance that your date has some serious emotional issues.

If your date can’t bounce back quickly after getting upset about something small

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind is this: Getting annoyed or upset about something minor is okay as long as you can bounce back within a few minutes. But if you get upset and you’re then stuck in a funk that’s hard to get out of? It’s a problem. If you’re on a date with someone who can’t seem to bounce back quickly, it’s a sign that your date may have some pretty heavy emotional issues. Ask yourself immediately, do I want to be this person’s therapist in the relationship? (Just checking…but please answer “no.”)

If you think about your date’s worrisome traits before you fall asleep or when you first wake up

I’ve heard it said that the thoughts you have when you first wake up are some of the most clear and honest thoughts you will have all day, and I have found this to be true in my own life and in the lives of my therapy clients. If you wake up in the morning and replay upsetting statements your date made or you mull over things he or she did, odds are that your instinct is sending you a clear message that this person may have some serious emotional problems. Your instincts speak to you loudly when you hit the pillow at night, too. If you’re lying in bad and trying to fall asleep but keep replaying something upsetting about your date, it’s a sign that your date is triggering real anxiety in you and that this person may have emotional issues that are interfering with your ability to relax and feel good about the future of the relationship.

Final Thoughts

You’ll hit the dating bullseye – finding someone positive and lasting – if you remember to be on the lookout for serious emotional problems as you meet new people across the dating world. When you do meet them, don’t freak out, be rude, or run for hills crying. Instead, try your hardest to be kind and empathetic, and let them down easy. If they catch you off guard by trying to make future plans, say, “Let me think about it and get back to you.” If they go in for a real kiss when you know you’re not going to see them again, say, “Can we just do a kiss on the cheek?” Ultimately, being nice is the right thing to do, even when you meet with someone who has emotional problems.

What has your experience been like identifying serious emotional issues in a date?

 

book Dr Seths Love Prescription lg 190x300 Signs That Your Date Has Emotional Problems Vs. Everyday IssuesAbout 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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Should Smoking Be a Deal Breaker? http://www.eharmony.com/blog/smoking-deal-breaker/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/smoking-deal-breaker/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 19:36:47 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19665 For many men and women, smoking is a deal breaker in any potential date. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 18 percent of adults smoke cigarettes. If you rule out people who don’t smoke, the reality is that you are ruling out thousands – no, millions – of people! Yet the […]

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For many men and women, smoking is a deal breaker in any potential date. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 18 percent of adults smoke cigarettes. If you rule out people who don’t smoke, the reality is that you are ruling out thousands – no, millions – of people! Yet the question about whether you should date a smoker is valid. What does it say about a person when he or she smokes?

Thousands of studies have been conducted on smokers and the results have found that smokers tend to struggle more with anxiety and depression than non-smokers. I also found that many smokers smoke because they tend to be compulsive; they like to do something when they feel bored. Certainly, we can all agree that smoking is an unhealthy habit to avoid so that we don’t seriously increase our risk for disease. But if you meet someone who smokes, you shouldn’t outright say, “No, I would never date a smoker.”

When smoking triggers a physical reaction

If you want to find a good relationship, the person you end up with will inevitably have some traits or engage in some behaviors that you don’t like. Note that some men and women have a strong physical reaction to the smell of smoke, causing near-gagging or stomach-turning. Some people simply have a very keen sense of smell to the point that many odors – not just smoke – induce a noxious reaction. For those of you who have a negative physical reaction to the smell of smoke, you obviously can’t date a smoker.

When you’re a health nut and need your partner to be a health nut, too

Some people pride themselves in prioritizing physical health, including eating healthfully, exercising, and avoiding all unhealthy behaviors. But to suggest that smokers don’t similarly value healthfulness would be inaccurate. Many smokers also work out and eat healthfully; smoking, for them, provides a way for them to relax or ease stress. This coping mechanism is an unhealthy one, but understand that someone who smokes may not necessarily be unhealthy in the other parts of their life as well.

The vast majority of men and women who swear off dating smokers hate smoking because they have a psychological – and not a physical –reaction to it. Plain and simple, they think smoking is disgusting. While I can understand that you may be turned off by smoking, you shouldn’t be more turned off than you are by any other number of problematic behaviors you’ll come across in the dating world: lateness, flakiness, canceling plans at the last minute, having a bad temper, being self-centered or controlling, getting jealous, being financially stingy, flirting with others in front of you, preferring to talk mostly about themselves. infidelity, excessive drinking or other substance abuse, and so on. When you consider this list, maybe smoking doesn’t seem so bad?

If you meet someone who is a great catch – good personality, good job, and a willingness to commit to you – be very careful about saying “no” just because he or she smokes. The truth is that a relationship can survive and be happy if the smoker makes certain accommodations (smokes outside, or tries to smoke mostly when you’re not around, or brushes teeth prior to kissing or getting close).

If you’re the one who smokes

If you are the smoker, it goes without saying that you would serve yourself well to quit. But until that point, you shouldn’t feel deeply ashamed of yourself for smoking. After all, we all have flaws and weaknesses, and smoking is simply one of yours. Within the first few dates with someone new, tell the truth. Say, “Hey, I want to tell you that I do smoke, but I also want you to know that I am going to try to quit sooner or later. I hope that you can keep my good points in perspective, and that you’ll give me a chance because I really like you.” If someone won’t give you a chance because you smoke, don’t sweat it. In fact, you would serve your self-esteem well to just think to yourself, Okay, you don’t want to give me a chance because of this one bad habit? So be it, but you’ll be missing out on all the other great traits I have. I will find someone who accepts me for the overall package that I am.

Where do you stand on the smoking issue?

book Dr Seths Love Prescription lg 190x300 Should Smoking Be a Deal Breaker?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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Planning a First Trip Together? Here’s How to Make Sure There’s a Second http://www.eharmony.com/blog/planning-first-trip-together-heres-make-sure-theres-second/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/planning-first-trip-together-heres-make-sure-theres-second/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 22:17:58 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19654 Travel can bring a couple closer, but it can also stress out a new relationship and make you wonder if you’re really compatible in the long run. With every couple sunset selfie and delightful discovery of some amazing café that makes the best Nutella and banana crepes you’ve ever had, comes a lot of opportunities […]

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Travel can bring a couple closer, but it can also stress out a new relationship and make you wonder if you’re really compatible in the long run. With every couple sunset selfie and delightful discovery of some amazing café that makes the best Nutella and banana crepes you’ve ever had, comes a lot of opportunities for conflict. You might be able to handle the inevitable travel snafus of cancelled flights, lost luggage, and crazy schedules that cause you to get overtired and over-hungry, but you need to anticipate the differences in your travel philosophies that can cause frustration and disappointment.

Some examples: She’s read five reviews to source the best lobster roll. He wants to eat at the nearest tourist trap with the shortest line. She doesn’t think the ocean view was worth the extra money and won’t stop complaining. He wants to bask in an incredible mountain view and wishes she’d stop looking at her phone. She thinks his attempts to speak Spanish were cute at first, but now they’re sort of getting on her nerves.

Of course, being on vacation together isn’t a good indication of what real life would be like with your partner, but a bad trip can instill doubts that you want to stick around to find out. Here are some tips for navigating the most common travel pitfalls:

1) Keep it short and simple

If you’ve been dating someone for a few months, it’s probably not a good idea to embark on a cross-country road trip or multi-city European journey. Try out a long weekend first.

It’s also wise to hold off on big trips to visit each other’s extended families or friends. The same goes for bringing along your kids. You’re trying to establish your travel rhythm as a couple first.

2) Decide on expenses beforehand

Few couples like to talk about money, but it’s especially important to be on the same page during a trip when you have to reach into your wallet multiple times or pay for big expenses, such as plane tickets or lodging. Perhaps you agree to split certain costs and both put money into a kitty for daily expenses so you don’t have to haggle each bill. If you’re dating someone who insists on treating or is able to kick in airline miles or credit card points for flights or lodging, you should offer to pick up some meals or sightseeing costs. On the other hand, if you have a bigger travel budget than your partner, it’s reasonable to say, “I’m happy to pick up the hotel. Would you mind taking care of the rental car?” You don’t want to spend your precious few days together quietly fuming that one of you isn’t contributing enough.

3) Discuss how you want to spend your money

If you’ve been dating for a while, you probably have some idea about your financial values. It’s a different ballgame on a trip, however. Some people like to eat expensive meals every night or drink $12 cocktails at fancy hotel lounges. Others think making lunch from a local farmer’s market is the best way to experience a new culture. Do you spring for beach chair rental or bring your own blanket? Discuss all these things beforehand. Perhaps you can figure out how much you want to spend per day or agree to certain “splurge” meals or hotel rooms.

4) Spell out expectations

If you’re bringing a date to a weekend wedding, let her know when she’s expected to spend time with your friends or family. Will most of the weekend be booked with wedding festivities? If you’ve invited him to tag along on your business trip, make it clear when you have to work and when you’ll be available for fun. Make sure to carve out some couple time.

5) Plan down time

Don’t expect your partner to hit three cathedrals a day or share your enthusiasm to hit multiple local antique markets.  Find time to relax in the afternoon when you can read or nap. Or fit in a run or other activity, if you need some alone time.

6) Communicate what’s important to you

Do you want to stay out late or get up early for sunrise yoga on the beach? Do you want to find time for shopping or exercise? Do you want to start the day by the pool with a beer in your hand or tour Revolutionary War battlegrounds? Do you crave the comforts of a cruise ship or want to go off the beaten path? Don’t concede “I’m cool with whatever you want to do!” Have a quick chat.

7) Go with the flow

This goes without saying, but most trips don’t go as expected. Plans will change. Blood sugar levels will drop. Keep an open mind and bring lots of water, snacks, and pain relievers. On the other hand, don’t place too much importance on your first trip to make or break you as a couple. Focus on sharing an experience together, and hopefully you’ll create the first of many travel memories.

Do you have any tips on how to make couple travel go smoothly?

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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Taking the Panic Out of the Search for Love http://www.eharmony.com/blog/taking-panic-search-love/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/taking-panic-search-love/#comments Fri, 26 Jun 2015 20:10:58 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19646 Last year I sat on a panel at a prestigious university with an author who’d published a book telling female students that if they wanted to avoid lifetime spinsterhood, they needed to find a husband while they were in college. “Double down,” she told some of the brightest young women in the country, “before you […]

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Last year I sat on a panel at a prestigious university with an author who’d published a book telling female students that if they wanted to avoid lifetime spinsterhood, they needed to find a husband while they were in college.

“Double down,” she told some of the brightest young women in the country, “before you run out of time.”

The author seemed genuinely surprised when I noted that women’s average age of first marriage is 27, and that the longer they wait to marry, the lower their risk of divorce. She was also unaware that women with college degrees were more likely to marry than their less educated peers.

At any rate, the facts didn’t appear to sway her. She seemed intent on instilling fear in a group of smart, hard-working young women who had every reason to be confident in their futures. I was invited to offer an opposing view.

Before the talk, the moderator sent us the questions she’d be asking. Among them: Should women at the university be devoting their time to building a career, finding a husband or a bit of both? Was this school the right place for women to search for a significant other? Was the period between ages 18 to 22 the right time?

At first, I was annoyed by these questions. Did Ivy League students really need me to tell them there was no universal “right” time or place to find a spouse? Did they not know that going all in on either academics or social life was probably a bad idea?

But then I remembered how terrifying it is to be young—to have your whole adult life before you, with so many decisions to make, choices that will affect the rest of your life.

The students in the audience had arrived at the prestigious university by keeping their mistakes thus far to a minimum—by getting good grades and high test scores, by engaging in impressive extracurricular activities and avoiding delinquency—or at least the type of delinquency that lands on one’s school record.

Now comes along a woman telling them their achievements aren’t enough, that some of the very things that made them successful so far would work against them in their personal lives. She stoked an anxiety that’s very real for many high-achieving young people: the fear of making a mistake.

So I told the audience members that if were trying to avoid making any mistakes they would fail. Everyone makes mistakes, and a life spent avoiding them is probably no life at all.

I suggested that instead of trying to line up their ducks so they could have a perfect life, they consider developing the emotional and mental agility to deal with the inevitable setbacks that will surely come their way. That way, instead of flipping out when things didn’t go according to plan, they’d be able to confront the situation with gentleness and curiosity.

The author thought I was being completely irresponsible. “To say that you can’t plan for the components of your personal happiness. I think that’s absurd. I think you have to plan your happiness. And it’s so important. Why would you think that you don’t have to plan for your personal happiness?”

To her, there were two ways to live. Take complete control or be a hapless victim.

But life isn’t like that. Of course, one must make efforts. If you’re looking for love, of course you must leave the house and meet people, whether that means online dating, or schlepping to that friend of a friend’s housewarming party.

But you also have to face the fact that you can’t control what the outcome will be.

This is particularly true of the search for love, where the relationship between effort and results is tenuous at best. Some people meet their beloved spouses without trying—they just happen to be in the right Medieval History class or catering job. Others devote tremendous effort to online dating, speed dating, meet-ups, etc., and don’t see results for years or even decades.

We can control our actions, but not the results. This can be hard to accept at times, but it beats living in a fear-based mindset that constantly buzzes with worries about dying alone. It feels terrible, and doesn’t help find love.

Research shows that people who treat themselves kindly are more likely to reach their goals than those who beat themselves up over their mistakes or disappointments. The reason: They don’t burn out as fast.

It’s hard to heave yourself off the couch for the next date when you’re jacked up on panic and fear. But if you can be nice to yourself—take a yoga class, go for a hike, spend a weekend with good friends—then you’ll be refreshed and ready to schedule the next lunch or coffee.

Or not. After all, there’s no rush.

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. Ask her any questions here.

 

 

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