eHarmony Blog http://www.eharmony.com/blog eHarmony experts’ take on dating, relationships and the science of love Mon, 02 Mar 2015 23:05:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 I Fell in Love at the Wedding http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/03/02/fell-love-wedding/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/03/02/fell-love-wedding/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 23:05:00 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18935 “A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”  ~Mignon McLaughlin A dear friend got engaged several months ago. We were all so excited for her. She came over one night and we talked about her plans for the wedding. You know, all the normal stuff – where they were […]

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“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.”  ~Mignon McLaughlin

A dear friend got engaged several months ago. We were all so excited for her. She came over one night and we talked about her plans for the wedding. You know, all the normal stuff – where they were going to get married, what her dress looked like, who was going to be the ring bearer. And then, she popped the question – to me!

“Would you and J consider marrying us,” she asked? “YES! Absolutely yes!” I’m not sure I’ve ever been asked to take on such an important role in someone’s life. What an honor! That thought was followed by, “Yikes – are we even equipped to officiate a wedding?!!”

It turns out my husband and I could be equipped to officiate a wedding – in fact, we were ordained quite easily.  It was almost frightening how easy it was. In less than 10 seconds online (seriously), we were ordained to officiate a wedding. We weren’t asked anything about our religious beliefs or our views on the sanctity of marriage. We weren’t even asked to pay anything. Nevertheless, we are now able to perform weddings.

My friend and her fiancé were having a small wedding with just family and a few close friends. They wanted a small, intimate, and personal wedding. The four of us sat down and created a beautiful wedding ceremony. It was steeped in the traditional Christian service of marriage. We built in readings of certain Bible passages by two of his children, and his other daughter played her guitar and sang a beautiful song.  It was meaningful and personal.

Looking back on this beautiful experience, there are three things I learned from officiating their wedding.

It’s intense! I was more nervous performing someone else’s wedding than I was when I got married myself a few years ago. There’s something about wanting to make it absolutely perfect for the bride and groom that makes you pray that you don’t mess up the words! At our wedding (at our home) a few years ago, I wasn’t worried about messing up, and in fact, I loved the little things that weren’t a part of our “plan” like when our yellow lab came over and laid down right next to us during the ceremony. That’s become one of my favorite photos … us standing on our back porch, with my children in front of us, minister and our family and friends surrounding us, and sweet Willow laying at our feet.

It’s inspiring! Having someone repeat after you as you read the wedding vows and the declaration of intent allows you to relive your own vows all over again. We stood in front of our friends, and we asked them, “ … Do you take this man to be your husband, to live together in holy marriage? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful to him as long as you both shall live?” As I asked those questions of them, I answered them for myself again some six years after I last said them when we got married. I relived the enormity of those words, the true impact of their meaning, and standing next to my husband, I was able to silently answer, “I will – absolutely” to the declaration of intent. I fell in love with my husband (all over again) at the wedding

It’s intimate! I’m a big fan of sharing special moments, occasions, and activities with your spouse as a way to build intimacy and emotional connection. There is something about jumping out of an airplane together (OK, full disclosure, we’ve never done that) or fixing dinner together that builds that forged connection. It says, “We conquered this – together!” We found co-leading a wedding to be that kind of experience. We had to plan it together, write it together, and execute it together. It was a shared experience that we will treasure forever.

Now what? We had so much fun watching our friends fall in love, and so much fun being such a special part of their wedding day, that we half-jokingly tell other friends that we are happy to marry them, or even to help them renew their vows … and we’re especially fond of destination weddings to warm locales during the winter months!

 

What about you? Have you fallen in love at someone else’s wedding?  Were you single and did you meet someone and fall in love? Or perhaps, you fell in love with your spouse all over again as you silently renewed your own vows. 

AMonique Honaman 2013 HRLT2 265x180 I Fell in Love at the Weddingbout 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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6 Reasons Men and Women Leave their Partners http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/03/02/6-reasons-men-women-leave-partners/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/03/02/6-reasons-men-women-leave-partners/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 20:32:08 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18909 Who knows more about how and why a marriage falls apart than a divorce mediator? Those in this field have witnessed the breakdown of many unions, and now two of them are actually writing about it in a new book called Conscious Coupling – Positive Insights for Long-Lasting Relationships Shared by Two Divorce Mediators. Don Desroches and […]

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Who knows more about how and why a marriage falls apart than a divorce mediator? Those in this field have witnessed the breakdown of many unions, and now two of them are actually writing about it in a new book called Conscious Coupling – Positive Insights for Long-Lasting Relationships Shared by Two Divorce Mediators.

Don Desroches and Dana Greco (who’s also a licensed therapist) are hoping to shed some light on what makes a relationship start to veer off-course. Their goal is to save marriage, and keep families together. I asked them to list the biggest reasons both men and women ultimately leave their relationships. Here are their observations. I think we can learn a lot from these short lists.

6 Reasons Why Men Leave, by Don Desroches

1. They no longer feel the love. For example, when children come into the picture, men can sometimes feel neglected and vulnerable.
2. They no longer feel needed. Men are industrious and need to build, create, mend, and construct in order to feel valued.
3. When they feel like everything they do and say is wrong. Suddenly attention outside the relationship will feel great.
4. Sex becomes a rare occasion. Not only is it a biological need, but it’s also an important way for a man to feel emotionally connected to his partner.
5. A lack of connection and support. Without this, a man loses his ability to conquer the world.
6. If she cheats. It is extremely difficult for a man to recover from this. The same goes for emotional affairs.

6 Reasons Why Women Leave, by Dana Greco

1. If she feels abandoned emotionally. Women need to feel heard and appreciated.
2. If she can no longer trust him. If he has betrayed her, it’s possible she won’t be able to accept his love anymore.
3. When she feels she is not a priority in his life. In order for her to feel happy and secure in a relationship, she needs to know that they will put each other first.
4. If her friends think he isn’t good enough for her. Women take very seriously the opinions of their closest friends.
5. If she doesn’t feel loved, desired, and special. She will turn to someone who does make her feel this way.
6. If she loses pride and respect for him. A good relationship will always have mutual respect and pride.             

conscious coupling 186x300 6 Reasons Men and Women Leave their Partners

 

About the Authors:

Don Desroches pulls together the material in this book from hundreds of experiences and stories while mediating divorces with partner Dana Greco, as part of his professional caseload, and from his personal experiences in marriage and relationships. Don made the decision with Dana to write this book to try to save marriages before they got to divorce. In addition to volunteering as a coach for over 20 years, Don has volunteered his time with many different organizations to help children and families.

Dana Greco is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and certified mediator.  She holds a master’s degree from Fordham University, a post-master’s certification from the Ackerman Institute for Family and Couples, and serves as an expert forensic clinician for new york’s Family and supreme courts. Dana has been a specialist family therapist with Memorial Sloan-Kettering in new york city, a social worker for the public school system, and has held numerous workshops for families in crisis.

Learn more about Conscious Coupling: Positive Insights for Long-Lasting Relationships Shared by Two Divorce Mediators.

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7 Questions with Miss Robbie Montgomery http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/27/miss-robbie-dating-deal-breakers/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/27/miss-robbie-dating-deal-breakers/#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 19:53:39 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18889 At 74, the very single and sassy Miss Robbie Montgomery is living a life beyond what she ever imagined. We had a quick chat with the owner of the famed Sweetie Pie’s soul food restaurants — and star of OWN’s “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” — about the important stuff in life. A new season of ‘Welcome to […]

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At 74, the very single and sassy Miss Robbie Montgomery is living a life beyond what she ever imagined. We had a quick chat with the owner of the famed Sweetie Pie’s soul food restaurants — and star of OWN’s “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” — about the important stuff in life. A new season of ‘Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s‘ returns Saturday, February 28 on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

Q: What is the biggest difference in terms of what you are looking for now in a partner, versus what you looked for when you were younger?

Miss Robbie: The age! I’m looking for an older man now, a long time ago I was looking for a younger man.

Q: What are your must-haves in a mate, and your deal breakers?

Miss Robbie: My must have is that he’s got to be secure — not jealous and not intimidated by a successful, working woman. And a good sense of humor! A deal breaker is bad breath!

Q: What is the best advice you could give someone dating later in life?

Miss Robbie: When you’re dating later in life you know exactly what you want, and I think you’re looking more for a companion than a husband.

Q: Do you have any mantras or affirmations you live by?

Miss Robbie: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Q: What do you love about your life most these days?

Miss Robbie: I’m at a place where I’m happy and content…it doesn’t take much for me to be happy. I still want and dream, but I’m comfortable where I am.

Q: What would you tell someone who is struggling with finding happiness and contentment?

Miss Robbie: Happiness is what you make it. You can’t look for it. You can be happy with nothing and you can be unhappy with wealth. So it’s what you make out of life.

Q: The key to your happiness is…

Miss Robbie: The key to my happiness is my business. I enjoy what I do! I’m a people person and I just love being in business for myself.

 

Photo credit: OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network

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Should Unconditional Love Apply to Your Romantic Relationship? http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/26/unconditional-love-apply-relationship/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/26/unconditional-love-apply-relationship/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 21:35:08 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18877 The idea of completely accepting someone as they are is so nice, but in reality, not so easy. There have to be personal boundaries and one has to be able to express themselves and share when a behavior that their partner is exhibiting is bothersome, or upsetting in any way. One of my favorite dating experts, […]

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The idea of completely accepting someone as they are is so nice, but in reality, not so easy. There have to be personal boundaries and one has to be able to express themselves and share when a behavior that their partner is exhibiting is bothersome, or upsetting in any way. One of my favorite dating experts, Janet Ong Zimmerman, explores this area with her usual depth. Enjoy!

Written by Janet Ong Zimmerman, YourTango

Giving unconditional love in your life means loving without conditions, boundaries—loving someone as they are. This kind of love seems ideal, but in reality … dating and relationships are actually full of conditions.

These conditions manifest around us every day: If I do this, then he will like me more. I’ll wait for him to call me first. I should love him no matter what. He should love me no matter what. I need to make things work.

How is the notion of “unconditional love” helping or hindering your dating life?

Are you dating a guy and trying to love him without conditions, boundaries—just as he is? If so, these situations probably sound eerily familiar:

• You continue to date him because you feel content and safe, but actually feel no passion with him.
• You excuse his bad behavior and try to make things work with him.
• You always put his needs and wants above your own.
• You see things as you want them to be, instead of how they really are.
• You accept that as time goes on, it’s natural for him to stop putting in as much effort.
• You deny issues and dismiss or overlook red flags.
• You go along with what he wants even though it doesn’t feel right.
• You try too hard to make things work or you force things.
• You think that real love is about over-extending yourself and making great sacrifices.

When you try to practice this kind of unconditional love in your relationship, it’s impossible to relax and let things happen naturally. Instead, you’ll only feel uncertain, doubtful, frustrated and disappointed.

So … how do you know if you’re trying to love unconditionally?

Still not sure if you’re trying too hard to love unconditionally? If you are, you’re doing one or more of these things:

• You are not expressing yourself and tend to agree with what he says and wants.
• You worry excessively about how he will react to what you want to tell him.
• You tend to blame or judge yourself when things go wrong.
• You lose yourself in his life and aren’t truly living your own life.
• You do whatever he wants because you don’t want to cause trouble.
• You try to do things perfectly or a certain way.
• You feel uncomfortable and anxious much of the time.
• Your mind is busy maneuvering and figuring out next steps.

On the surface, loving unconditionally may not seem like such a bad thing. But the message you’re sending is clear: I am not enough. I don’t deserve better. It’s okay if I’m treated poorly.

Forget loving “unconditionally!”

If you think you’re not enough, loving unconditionally will keep you from sharing what’s really on your mind or how you truly feel. You’ll censor your words, act like someone else, and compromise your integrity.

If you convince yourself that you don’t deserve better, the guy you’re dating will end up treating you poorly. It’s easy for him to take advantage of you and keep you wondering where things stand. Ultimately, this same kind of guy will keep showing up in your life instead of the high-quality man you deserve.

He may not feel the need to consistently show up as the guy you fell for: truthfully, he may think you are so into him that he can stop putting in the effort to please you.

Unconditional love does not come without expectations in your relationship: when loving someone unconditionally, a part of you will expect the same in return. So, when that doesn’t happen, disappointment will set in.

What should you do instead of loving unconditionally?

If loving without conditions and boundaries is making you even more uptight and stressed, let go of unconditional love. Set boundaries and honor them, creating a dating experience that will make you feel supported. The equation is simple: the more you honor your boundaries, the more success you will have in your love life.

Guys who aren’t right for you will fall by the wayside and make room for more of the right men to show up.

Your stress, disappointment, and frustration will diminish, allowing you to relax and experience what real love is about. When you take a lighter, healthier, and more inspiring approach you’ll realize you can actually enjoy dating. What’s more … you’ll feel even more at ease about it than when you were stressing yourself out trying to accept someone who wasn’t right for you.

If you’ve experienced heartache and pain from loving a man without conditions and limitations, learn how this better approach will help you attract more of the right men, keep your self-worth intact, and enjoy love with more ease.

More at YourTango:

The Secret To Unconditional Love? Radical Acceptance!

The Awesome Benefits Of Unconditional Love

What Is Unconditional Love?

Originally posted on YourTango: Why Loving a Man Unconditionally Makes You Miserable

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How to Spot Control Issues in Your Date http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/24/spot-control-issues-date/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/24/spot-control-issues-date/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 22:53:58 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18864 While some character traits are tough to identify in others, control issues shine like Las Vegas neon lights when you see them in action. Unless you’re interested in co-signing for months or even years of drama down the road, you should avoid these signs in your dates immediately. Take a look at the behaviors below and […]

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While some character traits are tough to identify in others, control issues shine like Las Vegas neon lights when you see them in action. Unless you’re interested in co-signing for months or even years of drama down the road, you should avoid these signs in your dates immediately. Take a look at the behaviors below and see if any resonate with someone you’re dating now, or perhaps you’ll be reminded of controlling exes from the past.

Before we decode controlling behavior, don’t forget that both men and women can be controlling. I use both male and female examples because both genders can be guilty of this off-putting personality type.

Controlling people want to be your keeper, so they watch your time like a micromanaging boss.

A controlling guy is going to ask a lot of specific questions about time, including what you spend it doing and with whom you spend it. He may want to know specifics, like how long you spend at the gym actually working out versus talking to others; where you eat lunch and whom you eat with during the work day; the exact time you usually get home from work; and the exact time you get home after going out with friends for the night.

Examples: “You’re sure you got home at midnight? Didn’t you say that you left at midnight? And it must take at least 20 minutes to drive home.” “Did you run a lot at the gym tonight, or did you get caught up talking to people? Were there a lot of people you know there?” “How many of you went to happy hour after work? Anyone new?”

Analysis: The level of detail in these questions is extreme, which indicates that there is a motive behind the questions. The motive is to teach you the lesson that someone is always watching your time, so don’t slip up – or else.

The controlling individual wants to be your everything – so you don’t need anyone else.

If you’re in the early dating stages with a controlling individual, this person is going to work hard to understand who all the major players are in your life so that they can later start to put them down and isolate you from them. Controlling individuals desperately need you to see them as necessary and all-important in your life, while they criticize or find fault with your most cherished friends and family members. While psychologically healthy individuals want you to have other people in your life (understanding that no one person can meet every emotional need), controlling individuals would love nothing more than having you all to themselves.

Examples: “I love your brother, but…” “Your best friend is awesome, but…” “Don’t you think your friends are a little…?” “You are smarter/more sophisticated/cooler than your friends.”

Analysis: Notice that the comments about your friends or family all include a “but…” or other veiled criticisms. This is a bad sign in anyone you’re dating, and it’s often a sign indicative of a highly controlling individual.

The controlling person goes into detective mode to learn more about your exes.

Anyone you’re attracted to is going to be an incredible threat to the controlling person, but exes provoke the most anxiety and fear. When you’re dating someone controlling, she will ask a lot of specific questions about your ex. In her mind, she’s got competition. She must compete with your memories of your ex in terms of the sex you had; how much fun you had together; and what specifically attracted you to your ex. For the controlling person, she will always fear that you could go back to your ex or that anyone similar to an ex could threaten your relationship in the future. Watch out for too many questions about your exes because – bottom line – your exes really shouldn’t matter anymore to either of you.

Examples: “Can I see another picture of him?” “How often did you have sex?” “Was he really smart?” “How much money did she make?” “Did he go to the gym a lot?” “Did she dye her hair?”

Analysis: Notice that none of these questions has anything to do with the quality of your current relationship! When answering questions about your exes, ask yourself first whether there is any real reason why your current date needs to know the answers. Whenever possible, avoiding providing details about your exes.

The controlling person often tries to change how you dress, talk, or act around their friends.

Let the following advice wash over you like a self-help riptide: No truly good relationship includes anyone telling anyone else how to be – ever. The happiest relationships are ones where each partner accepts the other as-is, and each partner has enough respect for the other to leave him or her alone for the most part. Controlling individuals usually won’t make comments to try to change you on the first few dates; they’ll wait a month or two, once they feel they have you in their grip. As soon as you see it, you must watch your back because some controlling men and women can get extremely destructive over time.

Examples: “Are you sure you want to wear that?” “You are so good-looking, but that is not your color.” “You act weird with my friends.” “That humor is not funny, so why are you always joking like that?” “You look best/hottest when you…”

Analysis: These comments serve to undercut your confidence and to create unnecessary dependence on your partner. After hearing too many comments like these, you inevitably start feeling like you need to check with them about what you say, do, or wear because they are (successfully) training you to doubt and second-guess yourself.

Ladies and gentlemen, please watch out for these controlling signs in others as you date and try to find a good, healthy, supportive relationship and partner. That is what you deserve. Above all, protect yourself and keep yourself safe – physically and emotionally – from controlling predators in the dating scene!

Have you ever been with a controlling partner? Did you experience any of the signs above?

book Dr Seths Love Prescription lg 190x300 How to Spot Control Issues in Your DateAbout 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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Breaking Up Might Be Easier Than You Think http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/24/breaking-might-easier-think/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/24/breaking-might-easier-think/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 22:25:34 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18855 There’s no doubt about it: Breakups hurt. One study found that newly single people looking at pictures of their exes had the same brain activity as those experiencing physical pain. In the aftermath of Valentine’s Day, many people are feeling that sting. This is, unfortunately, a common time of year for couples to part. The […]

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There’s no doubt about it: Breakups hurt. One study found that newly single people looking at pictures of their exes had the same brain activity as those experiencing physical pain.

In the aftermath of Valentine’s Day, many people are feeling that sting. This is, unfortunately, a common time of year for couples to part. The world over, the heartsick are drowning their sorrows in discounted chocolate and binge-watching premium cable dramas.

But as truly gut-wrenching as these separations can feel, research suggests that most of the lovelorn will recover sooner than they think.

In a study led by Dr. Paul Eastwick, college students who had been in a relationship for at least two months completed questionnaires. In them, the participants indicated how in love they were with their partners, and how upset they would be if they broke up.

The participants received new questionnaires every other week, and each time they were asked if they were still with their partner. Those who had broken up completed an assessment designed to measure their distress. For example, they were asked how much they agreed with statements such as “In general, I’m pretty happy these days” and “I am extremely upset that my relationship ended.”

The researchers discovered that those who said that they were in love with their partners at the beginning of the experiment did a poor job of predicting how upset they would be after the breakup. It turned out to be much easier than they thought it would be.

Most of us think breakups are easier on the people who initiate the split, but Eastwick’s research found that the participants who made the decision to end things felt just as bad as those who did not. The difference was, the people who broke things off accurately predicted their recovery time, while the jilted thought they’d feel worse than they actually did.

“Recovery takes less time than people originally anticipate, and the present data suggest that these unexpected gains are realized remarkably soon after the distressing event,” writes Eastwick in the Journal of Experiment Psychology.

All of the participants did understand one thing: They predicted that the pain would reduce gradually in time, and they were right.

Next time: The upside of your breakup…
its not you sara eckel 185x300 Breaking Up Might Be Easier Than You Think

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 andFacebook.

 

 

 

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How to ‘Dig Deeper’ to Connect with Your Match http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/23/dig-deeper-connect-match/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/23/dig-deeper-connect-match/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 22:32:33 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18846 If you participate in eHarmony’s guided communication process, at some point, you’ll be prompted to ask and answer three open-ended questions known as “Dig Deeper.” As the name suggests, they’re intended to give you and your matches a chance to explore a topic near and dear to your hearts more thoroughly. Yet there’s an art […]

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If you participate in eHarmony’s guided communication process, at some point, you’ll be prompted to ask and answer three open-ended questions known as “Dig Deeper.” As the name suggests, they’re intended to give you and your matches a chance to explore a topic near and dear to your hearts more thoroughly.

Yet there’s an art to picking the right questions out of that long list suggested by eHarmony. (You also have the option of writing your own.) You want to find the sweet spot of inspiring your matches to do some revelatory soul-searching and not complain, “Oh no! I just got back from work, and now I have to answer essay questions!”

With a little strategy, you can choose questions that help you bond with your matches and get you closer to a first date. For example, if your match included a long list of recent exotic travel destinations, he might appreciate the chance to brag about them a bit if asked: “What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done in the past year?” That’s a win. On the other hand, if your match is a child of divorce, you risk making her feel unnecessarily defensive by bringing up the sensitive subject “Describe your parents’ relationship with each other.” Until you know more about your matches’ family backgrounds, that might be a good one to skip altogether.

Here are some tips to help you be a better inquisitor:

1) Use clues from their profiles

People write their profiles trying to describe what makes them tick. (Yes, some people are better at it than others.) So pick your questions according to what you think they want you to think they’re about. If your match includes lots of photos of her competing in triathlons, sailing, diving, skiing, cycling, and hiking, it’s a good bet she’s looking for a partner to participate in her active lifestyle. In this case, you can’t go wrong by asking, “Describe an interest you have that you would truly hope your partner could share with you.”

What if your match writes that he’s proud of being an involved single dad to three school-age children? He might not feel you get him if you ask: “In general, how many nights a week do you go out for entertainment?”

In the same way, if she mentions in her profile that she’s newly divorced, you can guess that she’s trying to come to grips with a new family identity that doesn’t include her ex-husband’s relatives. She probably won’t appreciate being asked: “How big is your extended family? What are the holidays like for you and your family?”

2) Give them opportunity to brag

There are certain questions that everyone likes to answer because they give us a chance to highlight what we do well. For example, most people think they’re good at relationships, so they might like the chance to answer: “What do you think are the three best traits you have to offer a partner?”

You’ll also help your matches sell themselves if you ask: “Looking back on your life, of what are you most proud?”

3) Ditch the agenda

You have the opportunity to ask questions that are important to you, but you have to consider how they might be perceived. Some topics may be better explored after several dates. For example, if your ex was terrible with money and ran up his credit cards, you might want to be extra sure your next partner is financially responsible. Yet you risk seeming overly preoccupied with the subject if you ask: “What are your general feelings about money and personal wealth?”

Similarly, the topic of gender roles is an extremely complicated one and deserves a long conversation to sort out the nuances. Do you really want to give your date the wrong idea about your views by posing this? “How important is it to you that your partner fulfill traditional gender roles? Would you like a woman who will cook, shop, and keep house? Would you like a man who maintains the cars, manages the finances, and is handy around the house?”

4) Stay positive

We all long for a sweetheart who will love us just as we are. So you probably won’t impress your matches if you focus on how they could change themselves already by asking: “If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?” And well, you probably won’t feel closer to someone who asks about your past failures. So feel free to pass on: “Looking back at your life, describe one particular event that you wish you had handled differently.”

5) Make it easy

Finally, you have a lot better chance of moving along the communications process if your matches don’t think of your questions as “work.” So avoid those that require a lot of soul-searching until you get to know each other better. After a busy week, your match might not be in the mood to answer: “Describe your emotional health.”

You don’t want to turn off your matches before you even get a chance to go on a date. So pick questions that allow them to feel good about themselves and inspire them to want to meet you. An added bonus: You’ll have a list of positive topics to talk about.

Which questions do you love or hate?

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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The Importance of Being There When Things Are Going Well http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/23/aaa/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/23/aaa/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 20:25:30 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18595 One of the cornerstones of a successful relationship is supporting one another when things are difficult. But what about when things are really great? Now, more than ever, we are surrounded by good news. Opening your Facebook page and viewing your newsfeed or checking pictures from your Instagram account, you see that your friend got […]

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One of the cornerstones of a successful relationship is supporting one another when things are difficult. But what about when things are really great? Now, more than ever, we are surrounded by good news. Opening your Facebook page and viewing your newsfeed or checking pictures from your Instagram account, you see that your friend got a new car, your sister got a new job, your cousin went on a Caribbean vacation, and the guy you have been seeing just adopted a puppy. You might just keep scrolling, or maybe like a post, but is this an opportunity to connect? When you post about the new promotion you got at work, or send your friend a text about following through on one of your new year’s resolutions, what kind of responses do you get and how do you feel about them? Being able to share your good fortune with others, and sharing in others good fortune may be good for your relationships.

Researchers have examined the process of sharing good news with others and how this may benefit relationships. By telling someone about a positive event in your life, a process called capitalization, the person sharing the event can relive the positive event and also feel connected to the person they are sharing with. The type of response you receive to sharing your event also matters.  Receiving an enthusiastic response, a response that makes you feel understood, validated, and cared for, is associated with relationship benefits. Research on this topic has found that talking about personal positive events with others is associated with experiencing greater positive emotion and well-being, especially when responses are enthusiastic and supportive. Within romantic relationships, having a partner who generally responds enthusiastically to your good news is associated with greater relationship well-being and relationship intimacy (Gable, Reis, Impett & Asher, 2004).

Having a romantic partner who is happy about your successes has concrete long-term implications for your relationship. In one study (Gable, Gonzaga & Strachman, 2006), researchers had dating couples talk to each other about a series of recent negative and positive personal events, taking turns as the person sharing and the person listening. The researchers observed the interaction, focusing particularly if partners responded enthusiastically to positive events and were supportive when sharing negative events. They asked couples to report on how they felt after they disclosed their event to their partner, and also about how their partner generally responds when they share positive events. Researchers followed up with these couples again two months later. They found that couples who showed an enthusiastic response to their partner’s positive event during the initial session were more likely to still be in a relationship together two months later, compared to those who had a more subdued positive response or a negative response.

Couples who stayed together also reported feeling more understood, validated, and cared for by their partner after sharing their positive event compared to couples who had broken up during the interim time period.  Additionally, how couples responded to each other’s positive events was more strongly connected to relationship health than how they talked about negative events.

This research suggests that being attentive and enthusiastic about others’ good fortune isn’t just about being a good friend or romantic partner; it has real long-term implications for relationship quality and well-being. Being there when things are going well is just as important, if not more important, than being there when things are tough.

Resources:

Gable, S. L., Reis, H. T., Impett, E. A., & Asher, E. R. (2004). What do you do when things go right? The intrapersonal and interpersonal benefits of sharing positive events. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 228–245.

Gable, S. L., Gonzaga, G. C., & Strachman, A. (2006). Will you be there for me when things go right? Supportive responses to positive event disclosures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 904–917.

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Rounding the Corner http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/20/rounding-corner/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/20/rounding-corner/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 22:06:10 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18833 “It will always be okay in the end; if it’s not okay yet, then it’s not the end.” I had coffee with a friend last week. She told me about her niece who is going through a nasty divorce. Her niece is angry. She’s hurt. She feels as if her life is over and that […]

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“It will always be okay in the end; if it’s not okay yet, then it’s not the end.”

I had coffee with a friend last week. She told me about her niece who is going through a nasty divorce. Her niece is angry. She’s hurt. She feels as if her life is over and that she will never be happy again. I know that in the moment it definitely does feel that way. It’s easy to think that life is over. It’s easy to wonder if you will ever be happy again. I encouraged my friend to tell her niece that she will “round the corner” and find happiness again in her future. I’ve seen it happen to practically everyone I know who has been through some sort of tumultuous situation. They ultimately “round the corner” and find peace and happiness again.

I love that term. I get a really great visual when I say it. I see someone coming around a very dangerous and scary curve, and then once they round the corner, it’s a straight-away along a beautiful flat paved road heading towards a perfect blue sky. Not sure why, but that’s the visual I see.

I had lunch with two colleagues the other night. As it frequently does when a group of women get together, our conversation turned from simply professional dialogue and friendly niceties, and transitioned to more vulnerable and connecting conversations. One shared how her ex-husband had cheated on her, and now three years later, she was just beginning to re-enter the dating world. She shared how she had been so blind-sided and hurt by his unfaithfulness that it had taken her a while to recover. Then she uttered the words I love to hear. She said, “But … I’ve rounded the corner and I’m so thankful that he did that to me. I am so much happier now than I ever was before.”

The other colleague began to share her story. She had once been engaged. Shortly before the wedding, her fiancé shared that he had cheated on her. They postponed the wedding, and tried to work through it together, but she discovered that he was still cheating on her with the same woman. What?!?! Needless to say, she was devastated, and called off the wedding for good. It took her a while to get her groove back after being hurt so badly. She is now dating again and in a wonderful relationship with a great guy. She said, “I was so angry and ruined emotionally. I never thought I would trust anyone again, but here I am now, happier than ever.” She, too, had “rounded the corner.”

I spent several hours many years ago with a neighbor who had been through a brutal divorce. I ran into her at the grocery story a few weeks ago. We passed each other in one aisle and it was obvious we were both trying to place each other. I love the irony because by the time we literally rounded the corner in the next aisle we both recalled each other. “How are you?” I asked. You guessed it. She said, “I’ve rounded the corner and I’m doing great. Life is really good and I’m so happy being independent.”

Rounding the corner doesn’t just apply to surviving divorce. It applies to any challenge that life presents to us. For many of us, not getting into the college of our dreams, or surviving the loss of a job, or dealing with the death of a parent or a dear friend may throw us for a loop. We may wonder if we are ever going to get our groove back. I read in my devotion this morning that faith is blind trust that everything will be okay again. That’s a great description. We all need to believe that and have faith that we will eventually round the corner, and when that happens, we will look back on whatever lessons life threw at us, and be able to learn from them, grow from them, and move on from them.

For some people, rounding the corner just comes with the passage of time. For others, it comes from talking with a therapist, a minister, or a good friend. For others, it comes through intense self-reflection, and a desire to look towards a new horizon in the future as opposed to being stuck treading water and being sucked backwards.

There’s a trick to the ‘graceful exit.’ It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, or a relationship is over — and let it go. It means leaving what’s over without denying its validity or its past importance to our lives. It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving up, rather than out.” ~ Ellen Goodman

What about you? What unwanted and unwelcome lesson did life throw at you? Have you rounded the corner yet?

AMonique Honaman 2013 HRLT2 265x180 Rounding the Cornerbout 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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It’s Not About the Shampoo (Listen for the Unspoken) http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/20/shampoo-listen-unspoken/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/2015/02/20/shampoo-listen-unspoken/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 20:43:15 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18819 How many times have you had a conversation with someone where they got really upset over something trivial? Clearly, there was a subtext there and something deeper going on. Instead of just reacting in the moment, is it possible to figure out what’s actually occuring and steer things in a more positive direction? Author Peter Bregman […]

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How many times have you had a conversation with someone where they got really upset over something trivial? Clearly, there was a subtext there and something deeper going on. Instead of just reacting in the moment, is it possible to figure out what’s actually occuring and steer things in a more positive direction? Author Peter Bregman believes so, and he has written a new book about exactly that (and much more!) Enjoy his thoughtful guest blog below.

Written by Peter Bregman

I was pretty focused, working in my office on an article. When my wife called my name, I really didn’t want to be interrupted.

We were going away for the weekend and Eleanor wanted my help packing. She shouted from the bedroom, raising her voice enough to be heard between the two rooms. I yelled that I was working on a deadline.

She yelled back “Could you at least pack the shampoo?”

Now that just seemed ridiculous to me. She wanted me to get up from my computer, walk over to the bathroom, grab the shampoo bottle, and put it in our suitcase? She was in the bedroom already packing everything. It would take her ten seconds to do it herself.

“Listen”, I shouted, “can’t you just put the shampoo in the bag? It doesn’t seem like a big deal.”

“Fine!”, she yelled, and as soon as I heard the tone of her voice, I knew I had made a critical error. I had missed the entire point of her request. I thought it was about packing the shampoo, but that wasn’t the case.

Welcome to the land of clumsy communication, misunderstanding, and unnecessary arguments escalated by not paying enough attention.

On one level, Eleanor’s request was about packing the shampoo. But even then, I had misunderstood what she meant. She thought I hadn’t yet packed my own toiletry kit and was asking if, when I did, I could pack some shampoo into a small bottle for the family: a reasonable request.

On another level, Eleanor’s request had nothing to do with the shampoo; it had to do with the fact that Eleanor is the one who always packs for the family, and she was sick of it. She asked me to pack the shampoo because she needed to feel like she wasn’t the only one packing. Like we were in this together. In some ways, she was being generous by asking me to do something as simple as pack the shampoo. She could have asked me to get all the children’s clothes together, but she didn’t. She was being sensitive to my deadline. I’d missed that.

And then at the deepest and most profound level — a level impossible to reach effectively in a conversation carried out between two rooms —  I eventually learned that Eleanor’s request was about a nagging question: this, she wondered as she was packing, is how she’s using her Princeton education? Her master’s degree? Her role as the packer represented, to her in that moment, the failure of equality, of women’s rights, and her own decision making about family and choices.

All those things were packed deeply inside her request. But I wasn’t really paying attention, since I was in the middle of writing. Which one of us was right? In situations like these, it doesn’t matter who’s right. It only matters how we communicate, connect, and collaborate.

It’s not unusual to miss the real communication going on behind the words. It’s typical. We’re taught to clearly and rationally express our needs, desires, requests, and expectations. And we’re taught to listen carefully. But how often do we do either in our relationships? And when we don’t, and a miscommunication follows, who’s responsible for making the first move to clear up the miscommunication?

Whoever sees it first.

And that’s the real challenge. It’s hard to listen to what someone is saying and understand the real need hidden behind words. How do we know when there’s something deeper and more significant going on?

My clue, after being jolted by her tone, was Eleanor’s words at least.  Could I “at least” pack the shampoo? There’s an edge to that. A sign that something else is going on.

Once I thought I figured it out, I was able to go to Eleanor and, after apologizing, ask her if she was feeling all alone in preparing the family to leave for the weekend. Yes, she told me, she was. And she hates that feeling. I let her know that I understood, and appreciated it. And then I got the shampoo.

When someone you are in a relationship with expresses a request, demand, assertion, or thought that doesn’t seem to make sense, resist the temptation to react. Instead, pause.  For four seconds. The length of a deep breath. Ask yourself what’s going on. Ask the other person. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Chances are there’s something deeper going on that is not being said.

four seconds 205x300 It’s Not About the Shampoo (Listen for the Unspoken)About the Author:

Peter Bregman is the CEO of Bregman Partners, Inc., a firm which advises, coaches, and develops leaders at all levels to take powerful and ambitious actions to achieve the things that are most important to them and their organizations.  His most recent book is Four Seconds: All the Time You Need to Stop Counter-Productive Habits and Get the Results You Want, to be released on February 24, 2015. His previous book was the Wall Street Journal best seller 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done, winner of the Gold medal from the Axiom Business Book awards, named the best business book of the year on NPR, and selected by Publisher’s Weekly and the New York Post as a top 10 business book.

 

 

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