eHarmony Blog http://www.eharmony.com/blog eHarmony experts’ take on dating, relationships and the science of love Thu, 02 Jul 2015 20:46:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 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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‘How Can I Stop Intimidating Men?’ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/can-stop-intimidating-men/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/can-stop-intimidating-men/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 17:45:35 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19634 Recently a reader wrote to me after a man she’d been dating for ten weeks broke up with her. She said that the breakup was mature and honest, but was dismayed that the man gave her the same reason she’d heard many times before. “They say ‘I deserve better’ and they just weren’t feeling it,” […]

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Recently a reader wrote to me after a man she’d been dating for ten weeks broke up with her. She said that the breakup was mature and honest, but was dismayed that the man gave her the same reason she’d heard many times before. “They say ‘I deserve better’ and they just weren’t feeling it,” she said. “I am a successful woman with my own design business, flexible hours, excellent cook, above average in looks, extremely athletic, confident, and funny. I really have all the goods.”

She wanted to know why she was continually faced with this pattern and wanted to know how she could break the cycle, adding that she tried not to let her “masculine energy” take over.

“Since I have had to fend for myself all these years being single, I have mastered the art of independence,” she wrote. “As much as that can be attractive to a man, I really think it also is more intimidating to the majority of men. I really can go toe to toe with a man in most sports and activities—pretty face on the outside, but a competitor on the inside. In the end, they don’t like to be challenged and lose. As a matter of fact, on my first date with this recent guy, we went to the driving range and had a putting competition. I lost on purpose, as I was afraid of offending his manly-hood on a first date.”

When I was writing my book, It’s Not You, I spoke to many women who were told that they should be less intimidating if they wanted to attract a man, and one woman actually took that advice to heart. While dating a very traditional man, she pretended to be a girly-girl. She let him plan all the dates. She feigned incompetency when they were doing things like bowling or playing darts. The guy loved it, but she was miserable. She broke up with him, and I’m happy to report eventually met and married a guy man enough to handle a woman who knows how to pick a restaurant or hook a bowling ball.

Of course, everyone likes stories like this, but when you’re struggling with repeated rejections, it’s hard to not feel like you must be doing something wrong. The trouble is, when you start blaming your singleness on some fatal flaw, you put yourself in a tricky position. If it works, you’ve doomed yourself to pretending that you are incapable of negotiating a contract or acing a tennis ball—and spending your time with a very insecure man. If it doesn’t work, then you’re back to picking apart your personality and trying to figure out what’s “wrong.”

So rather than try and fashion yourself into the cultural ideal of a dateable female, why not relax and wait for the guy who appreciates you as you are? That wait might feel long its not you sara eckel 185x300 How Can I Stop Intimidating Men?sometimes, but it beats the alternative.

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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Franny Agnes Lee: ‘No Dice, Grandpa’ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/franny-agnes-lee-dice-grandpa/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/franny-agnes-lee-dice-grandpa/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 22:33:13 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19624 Franny Agnes Lee has many chapters in her dating diary. Her latest outing turns out to be a shocker of the senior kind. I am sure some of you can relate! See More Franny Dates!

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Franny Agnes Lee has many chapters in her dating diary. Her latest outing turns out to be a shocker of the senior kind. I am sure some of you can relate!

ep 15 Franny Agnes Lee: No Dice, Grandpa

See More Franny Dates!

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You Humblebrags Aren’t Fooling Anyone http://www.eharmony.com/blog/humblebrags-arent-fooling-anyone/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/humblebrags-arent-fooling-anyone/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 20:46:30 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19615 “I can’t believe I tripped on the red carpet!” “Some dude asked if I was a model. I was like, don’t you think I would have brushed my hair if I was?” “Disadvantage of driving a Porsche: People assume I’m picking up the check.” We all know a humblebrag when we see one. It has the intent […]

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“I can’t believe I tripped on the red carpet!”

“Some dude asked if I was a model. I was like, don’t you think I would have brushed my hair if I was?”

“Disadvantage of driving a Porsche: People assume I’m picking up the check.”

We all know a humblebrag when we see one. It has the intent of informing others of something impressive about the speaker, while offering a mildly embarrassing tidbit or complaint in an attempt to negate the appearance of boastfulness.

While other people’s humblebrags seem pretty transparent, many of us still con ourselves into thinking we can get away with them, and dating only makes the temptation greater. How else will you let that cutie know you won a prestigious award or hiked the Appalachian Trail? If you mention an on-stage stumble or a poison-oak calamity, won’t that cancel out the bragging part?

Doubtful, says a recently published Harvard Business School study.

In the study, participants read tweets compiled by the @humblebrag Twitter account. Examples: “It’s been 10 years but I still feel uncomfortable with being recognized. Just a bit shy still I suppose,” and “Graduating from 2 universities means you get double the calls asking for money/donations. So pushy and annoying!”

Participants were asked if they thought the author of each tweet was complaining, bragging, or humblebragging. They were also asked how much they liked the person who wrote the tweet. Did they think this person was competent and sincere?

The result: Participants responded more negatively to the people they thought were humblebragging than they did to those who appeared to be complaining or just plain bragging.

“While people do not love braggers or complainers, they at least see them as more sincere than humblebraggers, such that perceptions of insincerity drive lower ratings of humblebraggers,” wrote the authors of the study, Humblebragging: A Distinct—and Ineffective—Self-Presentation Strategy.

Even in situations where speaking well of yourself is required, humblebraggers fair poorly. In another experiment by this team, participants were asked to answer the dreaded job-interview question, “What is your weakness?”

The majority of respondents offered a humblebrag, “confessing” that they worked too hard or were too nice or some such. This appeared to be the wrong tactic. Evaluators said they would be less likely to hire the people who humblebragged than those who admitted to true weaknesses, like being disorganized or prone to procrastination.

While it might be slightly dismaying to realize how badly our attempts to impress others can go, it’s also liberating. Bragging (humble or otherwise) is one of those things that often feels good in the moment but doesn’t sit well later, as time and reflection can bring the unhappy awareness of how one really appeared.

Fortunately, another Harvard Business School study offers a better strategy for communicating your strengths: ask for advice. The study found that people who ask for advice are perceived as more intelligent than those who don’t.

“We find that being asked for one’s own advice … is flattering and critically contributes to the boost in perceived competence of the advice seeker,” said the study’s authors.

So if you want to impress others, the best strategy may be to cut the boasting and give the bragging rights to them.

What do you think about people who brag/humblebrag? Is it a dating deal breaker for you?

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

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Book Up Your Summer to Boost Your Chances of Finding Love http://www.eharmony.com/blog/book-summer-boost-chances-finding-love/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/book-summer-boost-chances-finding-love/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 20:30:41 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19607 Think being single is difficult around the holidays? The summer can feel a bit worse. While it’s acceptable to lay low during the winter months, it’s harder to justify just hanging out when the rest of the world seems to be enjoying every last UV ray of sunshine. This is especially the case if you lived […]

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Think being single is difficult around the holidays? The summer can feel a bit worse. While it’s acceptable to lay low during the winter months, it’s harder to justify just hanging out when the rest of the world seems to be enjoying every last UV ray of sunshine. This is especially the case if you lived in parts of the country where snowstorms never seemed to end.

Yet we all know people who seem to have solid summer schedules, no matter their romantic status. They’re grilling by the lake, hopping on stand-up paddleboards, fishing with nieces and nephews, organizing brunches or happy hours, visiting old high school friends, trying out yoga in the park or joining running or cycling groups. They realize that watching fireworks or an outdoor film is much more fun on a blanket with a sweetie, yet they still manage to set up satisfying single lives.

Then there are people who tend to float through lazy summer days. Of course, some people don’t over-plan on purpose. But this column is for people for whom long unstructured weekends that stretch on forever feel like low-level torture. They might be content with spontaneous visits to a café with a gripping novel, but one whiff of campfire fills them with longing and reminds them what they’re missing out on.

This is the time of year when the world is sunniest and most alive. The weeks fly by quickly, so be mindful of how you want to spend your time – with or without a significant other.

Here are some tips on how to savor the season:

1) Find activities where you can meet other people.

This advice is pretty standard, but it’s worth repeating. Find things to do where there will be other single people. Check out Meetups, religious organizations, community associations, recreational leagues, alumni groups or the bulletin board at your local sporting goods store or café. After recently moving from New York City back to my hometown of San Diego, I was terrified about leaving my social circle. After a couple hours of searching online, I realized I could book up an entire week with wine and cheese tastings, girls’ nights out, a college game-watching at a local bar, cooking classes, book readings, and group swim workouts. There is a shocking amount of things to do out there, and it doesn’t take much effort to learn about them.

2) Find activities where you don’t have to meet other people.

You don’t hear this advice often, but sometimes I think it can be more important than approaching a cluster of eligible singles with nametags. If you’re looking for love, sometimes it’s exhausting always being in a “looking” state of mind. If you think of going on a date as having to put on a “game face,” then it’s time to take a break and reconnect with yourself. Go swimming with your college roommate and don’t worry if your roots are showing. Have a few beers with your cousin at an outside café and really listen to the family gossip without constantly checking out who else is there. Or find an activity where you’re just looking to meet friends. When you’re relaxed and happy, you’ll have a better chance of connecting with someone special later. Bonus points if you swear off eye makeup or dig out those old paint-splattered cargo shorts that no one thinks look good.

3) Create your own adventure.

Maybe you don’t have vacation days or a group of pals available to hang out with. You can organize your own events by asking people you do know to join you at a local concert on the lawn. Or maybe you resolve to try out a new café or craft brewery every week. Want to try out sailing but don’t know anyone with a boat? Add your name to a local yacht club’s bulletin board for skippers looking for crew. My favorite Meetup story is about a guy who invited people to join him at a beach bonfire to celebrate the full moon. A few full moons later, the gathering grew to a huge community event made up of more than 100 people and multiple bonfires.

Take charge of your single life and makes some plans. Go on a road trip to visit a special aunt or old friend. Take some pics and post them on your online dating profile. And bring back some good stories to tell your dates.

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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Feeling Left Out? You’re Probably More Likable http://www.eharmony.com/blog/feeling-left-youre-probably-likable/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/feeling-left-youre-probably-likable/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 22:41:59 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19599 “Am I the only single person left?” That’s a question that often strikes unattached people, especially during wedding season. While the bridal showers and bachelor weekends are often fun, watching close pals disappear into relationships can leave many singles feeling left out. But a study recently published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology finds a […]

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“Am I the only single person left?”

That’s a question that often strikes unattached people, especially during wedding season. While the bridal showers and bachelor weekends are often fun, watching close pals disappear into relationships can leave many singles feeling left out.

But a study recently published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology finds a surprising advantage to feeling excluded: heightened social skills. In the study, Elaine Cheung and Wendi Gardner of Northwestern University found that participants who felt excluded showed higher emotional intelligence than those who were experiencing social acceptance.

The authors define emotional intelligence as the ability to accurately perceive and manage the emotions of oneself and others. To measure this, they asked participants to either relive a time when they were socially excluded or conjure a neutral memory—in this case, the layout of their local grocery store. Afterwards, participants were asked how they would cheer up a sad friend or calm down an angry friend.

Cheung and Gardner found that the people who recalled the socially isolating incident were more committed to helping the distressed friend, offering a greater number and a wider range of strategies for providing solace.

In the second study in the series, participants took on the role of career coaches. Some were asked to recall a time when they felt intense social exclusion, while others were told to relive a time of great social acceptance. They then worked one-on-one with job interview candidates.

Afterwards, the researchers discovered that the excluded coaches did a better job. Their job-candidate clients were more energized and were superior negotiators, offering a greater number of reasons why they should be hired than the other group. They also reported liking their coaches more than the individuals whose coaches had been positively primed.

A third study, in which individuals wrote letters to online ‘pen pals,’ had a similar finding: Those who were feeling excluded were more likable and made more attempts to help than those who were primed for acceptance.

“Even though these participants were not explicitly instructed to attempt to manage other’s emotions, nor given specific information that could be used to manage the other’s emotions, we found that excluded participants wrote letters that contained a greater number of attempts at managing their pen pal’s emotions and that they were seemingly more effective and likable,” the authors wrote.

In a culture that frequently stigmatizes loneliness while equating happiness and popularity with virtue, this study offers an important counterpoint. Difficulties can make us more compassionate and eager to help, while the good times can make us more resistant to others’ pain, or just oblivious.

So if your current social situation has you feeling left out, take heart. Rather than focusing on the people who appear to be abandoning you, consider those who are feeling just as isolated. They could probably use your help.

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

 

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How Your Partner’s Personality Affects Your Workplace Success http://www.eharmony.com/blog/partners-personality-workplace-success/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/partners-personality-workplace-success/#comments Thu, 11 Jun 2015 20:51:59 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19575 Imagining the perfect relationship partner, it’s easy to list off desired traits, whether you are looking for a film buff who will discuss the latest Cannes nominees or a fitness enthusiast who will run a half-marathon with you. You may think about all of the interesting and exciting experiences that you can share together. What […]

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Imagining the perfect relationship partner, it’s easy to list off desired traits, whether you are looking for a film buff who will discuss the latest Cannes nominees or a fitness enthusiast who will run a half-marathon with you. You may think about all of the interesting and exciting experiences that you can share together. What you might not be thinking about is how your choice in a partner can affect your life outside of your relationship. New research proposes that your romantic partner’s personality may have implications for your own success at work (Solomon & Jackson, 2014).

Researchers analyzed data from a large, nationally-representative survey of Australian married couples collected over the course of 5 years. Initially, couples individually filled out personality measures, and then answered yearly follow-up surveys with questions about occupational success, such as job satisfaction, income, and job promotion as well as questions about their marriage and relationship satisfaction.

Results found that having a spouse who is high on the personality trait of conscientiousness is associated with increased partner workplace success. Specifically, having a conscientious spouse was associated with greater job satisfaction, higher income, and greater likelihood of job promotion over the course of the study compared to people who had a spouse who was low in conscientiousness. This effect held even when accounting for an individual’s own level of conscientiousness.

What is it about having a conscientious partner that makes your workplace experiences better? Researchers looked at how relationship satisfaction, allocation of household chores, and partner emulation can help explain the relationship between spouse conscientiousness and partner occupational success. They found that having a conscientious spouse was associated with greater relationship satisfaction. Having a happy relationship may have a spill-over effect, facilitating more positive work experiences. Conscientious partners also reported doing more household chores. When your spouse helps out with household obligations, it may be easier to focus your energies at work. Additionally, conscientious partners may serve as positive role models for behavior, encouraging conscientiousness in their spouses, with downstream effects in their workplace endeavors.

You may be thinking about the stereotypical gender implications of this research, where a homemaker wife supports a breadwinner husband. However, this research found no differences between genders for this effect. Both men and women benefitted equally from having a conscientious spouse. Additionally, this effect was found for both dual and single income households. Conscientious spouses are associated with their partner’s workplace success even when both members of the couple work outside the home.

Having an organized and supportive partner may be important for more than just your romantic relationship. Being in a happy relationship where your partner helps with chores and provides a positive role model for behavior may help you to thrive at your workplace. If you are currently single, think about how your potential partners can have an impact on your personal successes and professional life.

 

Resources:

Solomon, B. C., & Jackson, J. J. (2014). The long reach of one’s spouse: Spouses’ personality influences occupational success. Psychological Science, 25, 2189-2198.

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