eHarmony Blog http://www.eharmony.com/blog eHarmony experts’ take on dating, relationships and the science of love Fri, 22 May 2015 17:20:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 4 Big Online Dating Mistakes People are Making Right Now http://www.eharmony.com/blog/4-big-online-dating-mistakes-people-making-right-now/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/4-big-online-dating-mistakes-people-making-right-now/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 17:20:23 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19456 Online dating has changed a lot in the last few years. As technology advances, social norms morph, and personal preferences change, the decisions and mistakes people make evolve as well. Last year, I oversaw the launch of a new version of eHarmony, eH+. It’s a premium service that takes eHarmony’s matching algorithm and combines it with […]

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Online dating has changed a lot in the last few years. As technology advances, social norms morph, and personal preferences change, the decisions and mistakes people make evolve as well. Last year, I oversaw the launch of a new version of eHarmony, eH+. It’s a premium service that takes eHarmony’s matching algorithm and combines it with a personal matchmaker. People love this service. It has a real human vetting of matches, an extended match pool, and other helpful features. But most importantly, it gives our eH+ matchmaking team the chance to have heart to heart talks with our members on the telephone. We get deep insights into the tactics they are using and the results they are getting. We see the most common ways people are sabotaging their search for love.

1. They think their inner beauty will outshine their outer beauty.

If you think that dressing in an attractive way and having a photo that shows you in your most alluring light is somehow “selling out,” you need to stop online dating right now. Every day we hear someone say, “I don’t want to have photos that misrepresent who I am.” That is the worst of all possible ways to think about online dating photos. Like it or not, both genders use looks as a gate keeper. That’s not to say that everyone is attracted to the same thing, rather we all need some hint of physical attraction to move forward. When I meet you in person, in three dimensions, your expressions, your voice, your movements, and body language will help define the chemistry I feel for you. But in a photo, without all those things, all I can hope for is that you’re smiling, in a flattering light, wearing something alluring and appearing attractive to some degree. To dismiss this as unimportant is to be tone-deaf to how people attract each other. With some eH+ subscriptions we include professional photos, because they are so important to success. A date is also your opportunity to put your best foot forward, not show them how you look on a lazy Sunday morning. Look good!

2. They think online dating is a ticket to their fantasy lover.

We have a fairly developed “the customer is always right” philosophy in the USA. In general, the more people pay for something, the more picky they are about it being perfect. That’s fine when you’re talking about cars or suits, but not so for human beings. It is fairly common for a person who is 50 years old and has had no success dating to join eH+ and then tell us, “Now, I can really zero in on exactly the kind of person I want! No more settling!” Oh boy. It’s very likely that one of the reasons this person is still alone is because he/she is waiting for some fantasy lover that will never appear. Now, because they have joined a premium service they want to be more picky. “I’m paying for the best,” they tell me. It’s a recipe for disaster.

Another common complaint is, “I’m not asking for too much. Is it wrong to want a man who is 6’2″, owns his home, has a prestigious job, is my age, loves to travel the world, is very handsome, is funny, has no small children, lives within 30 miles of my house, and is a committed Christian of the Southern Baptist persuasion?” It’s not wrong to want this man. It’s pretty silly to refuse to date and get to know men who have some, but not all of these traits.

But this is what we see. If you are single and have been so for a long time, the chances are that you’re demanding traits you cannot find or earn. I know that’s a harsh thing to read. Dating is a marketplace. You are out there trying to earn something with the assets you have. If you’ve been at it a long time, and you have had no luck in earning what you want, you need to think about why that is. It is likely because what you want is scarce, and you don’t have the assets to attract it. That’s not terrible news. Maybe you come to realize that you can be happy with a man that’s your height and not 6’2″. Maybe he won’t be in a prestigious job, or love to travel. You can still find a man who loves you like crazy and be very happy for the rest of your life. Yes, using a premium service like eH+ can help you find more men/women and you’ll be presented to them in an effective way, but if you have some fantasy as your target it’s going to be a rough ride.

3.They don’t have the patience to let love blossom.

The relentless pace of life continuous to increase. I look at my email inbox. I keep each year’s email in a distinct folder. In 2007, I had 4,136 emails. In 2014 — 12,655 emails. That doesn’t even count the spam folder that is 20 times bigger. The methods of communication and the expectations keep picking up speed as well. I recently spoke to a physician in Jacksonville, FL who was thinking about joining eH+. She told me, “I don’t have much time to date. Maybe one night a month, and I don’t want to waste that night on people I might not like.” I told her not to bother with eH+. I said, “You don’t have the space in your life for this,” and I think she was a little puzzled when we hung up.

I understand the pressures of time and modern life, but falling in love doesn’t know anything about modern life. I suspect the human connection that happens when people fall in love isn’t much different than it was when people were riding donkeys and drawing on cave walls. Chemistry can be fast. Chemistry can take time. Getting to deeply know someone in the ways it takes to fall in love isn’t going happen with one eye on the clock. It’s like demanding that a flower grow on your schedule. The flower doesn’t care about your calendar.

When an eH+ client calls and say, “I met her for coffee. I didn’t like her. Who’s next?” I like to say, “What did you like most about her?” Typically, the man can’t report a single fact about her. He took one look, asked her a few questions, and then tossed her into the NO pile. I suspect some very large percentage of lifelong loves took place between two people that didn’t even like each other on first sight. Circumstances forced them to be together, get to know each other, and then discover a deep and serious attraction.

4. They have a terrible sense of their own best traits.

An eH+ client calls me, “I don’t understand why these men aren’t attracted to me. I’m successful. I’m smart. I’m an academic achiever. Why do men like dumb women?” And she’s right. She is smart, and accomplished. She has a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering and teaches at a great university in addition to running a consulting business. Because I’ve talked to her at length, I know that deep down she’s also flirty, fun, loyal, sexy, compassionate, and affectionate. I also know that she carries a masculine energy that hides all these other traits. Her biggest problem is that she misunderstands which of her traits are most valuable to men. Do men like smart women? Of course they do, but for most men “affectionate” and “loyal” rank higher than smart.

If you’re searching for love and haven’t had the success you want, you’ve got to be willing to learn about what potential partners want, and then bring those parts of you to the fore. It can be hard for a successful business woman to leave the work persona behind, and bring a softer, sexier version of herself to a date, but it’s vital if she wants to have a relationship. If can be hard for a man to open up and talk about his heart on a date, but that’s what makes a woman feel a connection to him. It isn’t always what you think about yourself that matters!

Have you been guilty of any of the above? What have been your biggest challenges with online dating?

eHarmony’s new service, eH+, gives you the benefit of a personal matchmaker who picks your matches and guides you to success. We’re taking the best of what eHarmony does and combining that with what personal matchmakers do best – person-to-person conversation, opportunities for feedback, and coaching to put your best foot forward.

Learn more about eH+.

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Looking for The Real Thing? Find Someone Comfortable http://www.eharmony.com/blog/looking-real-thing-find-someone-comfortable/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/looking-real-thing-find-someone-comfortable/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 21:54:09 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19444 Ask him for a date, or let him pursue you? Respond to the text immediately, or let her wait? Tell him you love him, or stay mum until he says it first? The early days of a relationship are thrilling, but also stressful. That heavenly new-love high can feel pretty precarious, as if one false […]

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Ask him for a date, or let him pursue you? Respond to the text immediately, or let her wait? Tell him you love him, or stay mum until he says it first?

The early days of a relationship are thrilling, but also stressful. That heavenly new-love high can feel pretty precarious, as if one false move could unravel the whole thing.

So you plot and plan and strategize—discussing every move with a panel of your twelve closest friends. In some ways, that’s part of the fun, but a new book by Washington Post reporter Ellen McCarthy says it’s probably a waste of time.

McCarthy was the Post’s wedding reporter for four years—a gig she landed on the very day she and a former boyfriend broke up. McCarthy thought that covering weddings while heartbroken would be torture, but she discovered that it actually inspired her.

“All of these people—young, rich, poor, plain, beautiful, sophisticated, and simple—they’d all found someone. I was reminded again and again that love happens every day, in all kind of ways, to all kinds of people,” she writes in her terrific new book, The Real Thing: Lessons on Love and Life from a Wedding Reporter’s Notebook.

By investigating real relationships, rather than the ones in rom-coms or dating guides, she discovered that a lot of conventional wisdom about romance didn’t jibe with her fieldwork.

For example, we all love a good origin story, those tales of lovers whom fate brought together through snowstorms or missed trains. But McCarthy says that people who meet in less goosebump-inspiring ways, like online dating, are just as likely to have high-quality relationships.

“All of the couples who got together with a little help from technology feel the same sense of fate as couples who met while serving in the Peace Corps mission or while sharing a wall as next-door neighbors,” writes McCarthy, who estimates that 35 to 40 percent of the couples who apply to be featured in her column met online.

McCarthy also discovered that the happiest relationships didn’t require obedience to antiquated dating maxims. “One of the things I’ve heard over and over again from couples describing what was different when they met ‘the One’ was that for the first time, they didn’t feel like they were in the middle of a romantic chess match,” she writes. “There was no guessing whether or not the other person was interested. They didn’t worry about ‘the rules’ on how long to wait before calling or setting up the next date. The whole thing felt relaxed and transparent, not fraught with the typical ‘Does he or she like me?’ anxiety.”

In fact, McCarthy often stumped college classes when she asked them to guess the most common word she heard when couples described their relationships. It wasn’t “love,” “laughter” or “chemistry”—it was “comfortable,” a word 70 to 80 percent of her couples used.

The students thought this sounded like a drag, but I think it’s great news. “Comfortable” doesn’t mean you aren’t also counting down the seconds until you can see your beloved again. It just means that when you find the right fit, you probably won’t have to stress about the precise wording of your latest text—or spend much time decoding his or hers. If he says he’s going to be late because he got stuck in a meeting at work, that means he’s going to be late because he got stuck in a meeting at work.

In other words, winning someone’s heart doesn’t require employing a lot of complicated schemes. You’re more likely to find lifelong love by listening to your instincts and sticking with what works. That might be bad news for those who earn their living peddling strategies and tricks, but it’s great news for everyone else.

its not you sara eckel 185x300 Looking for The Real Thing? Find Someone Comfortable

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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Stop the Endless Emailing and Go on a Date! http://www.eharmony.com/blog/stop-the-endless-emailing-and-go-on-a-date/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/stop-the-endless-emailing-and-go-on-a-date/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 15:40:59 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=16067 You know the feeling: You anxiously open an email from the guy you’ve been corresponding with over the last few weeks. After quickly scanning the content, you see a series of question marks at the end. Oh, the agony! He’s asking you more questions. This time he wants to know: “What kind of music do […]

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You know the feeling: You anxiously open an email from the guy you’ve been corresponding with over the last few weeks. After quickly scanning the content, you see a series of question marks at the end. Oh, the agony! He’s asking you more questions. This time he wants to know: “What kind of music do you like?” or “What’s on your bucket list?” You got home from a long day at work. The last thing you want to do is answer essay questions. Why won’t he just ask you out?

Corresponding with the endless emailer is one of the biggest complaints about online dating. Of course, the first few exchanges are important. Believe it or not, those silly emails reveal a lot about a person: How long does it take you to respond? Do you write five paragraphs in response to his two sentences? Do you end abruptly or add a cheerful signature, such as “Stay warm” or “Happy Friday”? Do you write “LOL” a lot? Finally, how closely do you stick to the tried-and-true formula of responding to what they wrote, offering some new information about yourself and then advancing the conversation with an appropriate question, such as “Do you also like jogging in the park on Sunday mornings?”

Emailing is a necessary annoyance in the unnatural world of trying to flirt in bursts of delayed communication. In traditional relationships, we meet someone and get to know them. But as social critic Howard Rheingold wrote 20 years ago in the book The Virtual Community, “In cyberspace we get to know them and then we meet them.”

The problem is that there’s a limit to how well you can get to know someone this way. By the time you’ve been emailing four or five (or nine) times, you’ve developed an image of the recipient that usually won’t match up in real life. If an email exchange goes on too long, your sweet anticipation can quickly turn into disappointment upon meeting. (Or the poor recipient will give up altogether before you even get the chance to zoom in for the date.) She’s not as playful in the flesh as you thought she would be. He’s not as hilarious.

Your goal should be to suggest meeting (or at least talking on the phone) after two or three exchanges. If you’re dealing with a marathon emailer, you can scoot him or her along with this line: “I’d love to tell you more about my bucket list, but perhaps it’s best done over a glass of wine.”

The same goes for the phone. Some people like to skip the call and go straight for the date. Some people aren’t their best on the phone, and it can be challenging lining up your schedules. Are you really your most fun and flirty when you’re juggling your phone and weighing almonds from the bulk bin because he called while you were at the grocery store?

But if you prefer logging in a call, keep it to one. Don’t suggest Skyping next. Better yet, use that phone call to ask the person out and set a date right there. “It was fun talking to you. Do you want to meet next Saturday afternoon?” And please save texts to communicate directions and important information, such as being stuck in traffic.

You want to meet your date as soon as possible. You want to see him fidget with his spoon or watch her twirl her hair. You want to watch the way his eyes light up when he catches his first glimpse of you. You want to catch a whiff of her perfume as you help her with her coat.

You can’t do that behind a computer.

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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Rule #6: Know That You Won’t Always Be Happy http://www.eharmony.com/blog/rule-6-know-wont-always-happy/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/rule-6-know-wont-always-happy/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 22:54:18 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19432 “Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” ~ Helen Keller I recently read an article with a great headline that said something to the effect of, “Follow these 7 marriage rules from divorce attorneys … and never end […]

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“Many persons have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” ~ Helen Keller

I recently read an article with a great headline that said something to the effect of, “Follow these 7 marriage rules from divorce attorneys … and never end up in their offices!”  What married person wouldn’t continue to read that article? Who wants to end up in the office of a divorce attorney? Been there; done that. No more, thank you very much!

As I read through their list of the 7 “rules,” I found myself nodding my head up and down. I agreed with the list. I decided that the 7 “rules” would make 7 really great articles and here we are already at #6. If you missed the rest you can find them here: Rule 1, Rule 2,  Rule 3, Rule 4, and Rule #5.

Rule #6 – Know that you won’t always be happy. Anyone who enters into a serious relationship thinking that everything will always be sunshine and roses is going to be very disappointed. Life happens. There are highs and there are lows, peaks and valleys, ups and downs! To falsely believe that you will always be happy is to set yourself up for tremendous disappointment, and frankly, an inability to handle the downs of a relationship when they do happen.

Sometimes the happiness disappears in a relationship because of relationship issues themselves. Other times, the happiness can disappear because of issues not in the relationship per se, but because of issues that impact the dynamic of the relationship and the intrinsic happiness of the individuals in the relationship. This could be one person losing his or her job. It could be one person dealing with a serious injury. It could be the stress of dealing with a child who is ill.

Regardless of the source of the stress or the unhappiness, how it is dealt with is of utmost importance. Recognizing and accepting that things will happen in our relationships that bring us sadness, or at least reduce our happiness, means that when these things happen, we are better prepared to skate through that season until we find contentment again.

When unhappiness finds you, do you retreat inside of yourselves and try to survive on your own, or do you lean on each other for support? Do you shut down, or do you open up? Do you batten down the hatches in your own survival mode, or do you recognize that two can be stronger than one?

Many people think that having to deal with unhappiness isn’t good. Most of us try to avoid being unhappy. The reality is that dealing with stressors in our lives, and dealing with periods of unhappiness, can actually serve to bring us closer to those who are important to us. When we are unhappy, we tend to be more vulnerable. That makes us more “human” and people respond to being needed and want to be helpful. When we are unhappy, we rely more on others. No longer are we invincible by ourselves, but rather we find we need to rely on others for support. This can actually serve to make our relationships stronger.

Think about it! Two parents dealing with a troubled teen. They can choose to shut down and fold into their own angst, or they can become partners and talk about how they are going to handle it together. Two lovers dealing with an unexpected bump in their road. They can choose to ignore each other and feign independence, or they can decide together how best to deal with this “issue” as a duo. Two spouses dealing with an unexpected financial crisis. They can process their stress and grief independently, or they can turn to each other for emotional support.

Most people don’t want to be operating in a cloud of unhappiness for extended periods of time. Those couples who recognize that stress is part of the natural cycle of life are going to be the stronger couples who survive that stress, and not the ones who are crushed under it’s weight. Those are the couples who choose to incorporate those moments as part of their story. They focus on what happened, and how they got through it together. Maybe it’s not about the happy ending. Maybe it’s about the story in between!

“The happiest people do not have the best of everything. They make the best of everything they have.”

What do you do think? When unhappiness comes along, how do you react? Turn in, or reflect out?

 

About the Author:

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

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Why Falling in Love Feels So Terrifying http://www.eharmony.com/blog/falling-love-feels-terrifying/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/falling-love-feels-terrifying/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 20:10:47 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19423 If falling in love is supposed to be so wonderful, why does it feel so awful sometimes? On one hand, colors seem so much brighter, and you just seem to float throughout your day. However, you can’t eat. You can’t focus. You can’t stop thinking about him or her. And you’re suddenly saddled with uncertainty […]

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If falling in love is supposed to be so wonderful, why does it feel so awful sometimes? On one hand, colors seem so much brighter, and you just seem to float throughout your day. However, you can’t eat. You can’t focus. You can’t stop thinking about him or her. And you’re suddenly saddled with uncertainty and asking yourself: “Is this the real thing? Is she right for me? Will he leave me? Does she feel the same way? If I let myself love this person, will I lose myself? And when he mentioned he wanted to travel around India this summer, did that mean alone?”

In fact, a recent Iranian study of 100 newly-in-love young men and women who completed a series of questionnaires asking about their physical and psychological symptoms concluded that they were more depressed and anxious. “Romantic love is not entirely a joyful and happy period of life,” the authors wrote. “Rather, data suggests that for young adults, falling in love might be a critical life event also associated with uncertainty and unpleasant feelings.” (One bright spot: Love apparently helps you sleep better.)

So that’s why euphoria is accompanied by the sensation that you just might lose your lunch. Never mind all the recent research suggesting that romantic love can be addictive by flooding your brain with the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine and affecting the same region as cocaine.

The experience of falling in love is destabilizing, and for those of us who hate not feeling in control of our feelings, it can also be alarming. (Note the language we use to describe it, such as “He swept me off my feet” or “She put a spell on me.”)

Knocked off your center by someone special? Here’s how to tolerate the discomfort:

1) Ride the wave

Feelings are temporary, and even the most overwhelming ones pass. The good news is that that your ability to experience the joyful and unpleasant is evidence that you’re human with a deep capacity to love. You might forget to eat lunch for a week, but eventually you’ll get your bearings – and appetite – back.

2) Don’t worry about what anything means

When your brain is hijacked by love chemicals, you don’t have your usual perspective to sort through all the thorny issues that come up in early love. Try to resist the urge to over-think your relationship. You don’t have to know where it’s going right this minute. You don’t have to analyze his emotional availability based on the three things he’s told you about his divorce. You don’t have to wonder why she took two hours to return your text. You don’t even have to try to decipher if it’s just infatuation or the seedlings of a lifelong satisfying love affair.

The surest way to douse the excitement of a new romance is to inject a bunch of anxiety into it. Try to stay chill and accept that new love is supposed to feel uncertain.

3) Give your partner room to breathe

If you’re feeling out of sorts, and you think your new love interest likes you back, there’s a good chance he or she might be overwhelmed by intense emotions, too. Yet it’s important to remember that we all experience them in our own way. Some people enjoy being flooded by the whole spectrum of feelings, while others need frequent breaks and seek out distraction – that is, until love gets a hold of them again.

Of course, the romantic highs eventually make all the lows worth it. It just helps to remind yourself you’re in for both.

How have you handled feeling off-kilter?

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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Bringing a Text Romance Into the Real World http://www.eharmony.com/blog/bringing-text-romance-real-world/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/bringing-text-romance-real-world/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 19:17:32 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19410 Dear Sara: In November of last year, I finally put myself out into the online dating scene. I have been divorced for about three years. Feeling nervous, I finally found someone I was interested in. We met for coffee [and have] been out on a couple of movie dates. He admitted to me a few […]

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Dear Sara: In November of last year, I finally put myself out into the online dating scene. I have been divorced for about three years. Feeling nervous, I finally found someone I was interested in. We met for coffee [and have] been out on a couple of movie dates. He admitted to me a few months ago that he is sick—more than he was letting on. I am not sure how serious it is but didn’t want to just give up because of that. We never talk on the phone and the majority of our contact is through text. He is sweet and definitely boyfriend material. We flirt over text and have a lot in common. However, there is no romance–not even a kiss. He is having surgery soon and believes he will be better. Not sure what to do—stick around, call it quits, call him out or make a move. – L

Dear L: I can certainly understand your concern about getting into a relationship with someone who is seriously ill. You are the only person who can say if you’re prepared to take that on. Before you can do that, you need to spend time with him—in real life.

You mention that you two started seeing each other several months ago, but have only been on a few dates. I’m not sure why this is. Is it because he’s ill or because he wasn’t entirely truthful about his situation at first? Or was it his decision to make it a primarily text-based relationship? Or was it a simple matter of doctor’s orders—i.e., he needed to be quarantined?

Whatever the reason, you won’t be able to make an informed decision about this relationship until you’ve spent more face-to-face time together. Texting can be a nice diversion, but you can’t really know what it means to be with a person until you are … with them. He might be opting to text because it shelters you both from the reality of his physical condition. He (or possibly you?) might not really be interested in a flesh-and-blood relationship, preferring the digital kind, which is far less demanding and leaves ample room for fantasy.

A recent New York Times Modern Love column by Davis Webster illustrates the problem very nicely. Webster was snowed in at his apartment—unable to leave because his car didn’t have proper tires. He met a young woman through a dating app and they started texting, the weather preventing an in-person meeting. At one point, she asked what he was doing. Webster was drinking beer and watching an old sitcom, but said he was reading by the fire.

“I wish I was there with you,” she replied. Before I could respond, my phone buzzed again. “Sorry… Was that weird?”

“I wish you were here with me too,” I said, followed by a smiley face. “I bet it’d be really nice to cuddle with you in front of the fireplace.”

“Oh trust me, it definitely would.”

They continued for the rest of the night, and then over the course of several days, discussing what they’d be doing if they were together—a PG-rated conversation that involved making breakfast and listening to hip-hop.

Then the snow melted. Faced with the opportunity to spend real time together, the relationship changed significantly.

You clearly like this man—you’re thinking about him, texting him, writing to an advice columnist about him. If you think he’s definitely boyfriend material, then you need to find out where he stands. That means asking what he wants you to be to him: a friend, a fantasy, or a real-live girlfriend? Finding out might be unsettling or even heart-breaking, but that’s real life.

Have you encountered this ‘stuck in a texting relationship’ situation? How did you handle it?

its not you sara eckel 185x300 Bringing a Text Romance Into the Real World

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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Divorced and Dating Again: What I Know For Sure http://www.eharmony.com/blog/divorced-dating-know-sure/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/divorced-dating-know-sure/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 19:44:40 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19400 Coming back to the dating world after a marriage fails can be one of two things: depressing or exciting. I hope that you feel it’s more exciting after you’re finished reading this article. There’s no doubt that no one gets married to get divorced, but divorces happen every day. Regardless of why your marriage ended, […]

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Coming back to the dating world after a marriage fails can be one of two things: depressing or exciting. I hope that you feel it’s more exciting after you’re finished reading this article. There’s no doubt that no one gets married to get divorced, but divorces happen every day. Regardless of why your marriage ended, you have control over how happy you feel going forward. I tell my therapy clients to wait at least six months or a year after divorce to start dating again. But once you’ve reached that point, it’s time to get back in the dating saddle.

First, never let yourself feel self-conscious about being divorced.

Divorce is not a four-letter word. Our society can be a tad judgmental when it comes to divorce, as if it is a sign of failure or weakness. Child, please! Two people start a marriage with the best of intentions but – let’s be honest – making a marriage last over a lifetime is really, really hard. If you are divorced, I give you credit for trying and wish you a better relationship in the future. When you start to wade back into the dating pool, don’t succumb to that nonsense that divorce is a blemish on your past. Instead, tell your dates that you actually learned a lot of important lessons from your marriage, and everyone will love and admire your positive attitude.

Don’t expect dating to feel normal.

Once you start dating again, it can be…a trip. After you’ve been married, dating again can feel like being forced to go back to a seventh grade dance where everyone awkwardly stands against the wall. At first, dating will feel like an annoying obligation. If you want to date happily after a divorce, you have to be honest about the fact that it’s unpleasant to have to put yourself out there again and subject yourself to the unpredictability of meeting new people. If you accept that it’s not ideal, you can stage your own pity party and then, soon after, you can move on again.

Focus on having fun – not finding a lifelong partner.

The biggest mistake you can make is to try to find another husband or wife soon after your divorce. I’m instantly reminded of my advice to one celebrity, Kim Kardashian, when I read aloud an open letter to her on television’s “Showbiz Tonight.” Before the divorce to her husband had been finalized, she was already discussing whether she was going to marry Kanye West! I told her that she needed more time to be single.

After a divorce, you should take the issue of marriage off the table entirely. Take a year or two and simply have fun with people: casually date a couple of people at the same time; go out of your comfort zone and date some people whom you wouldn’t normally picture yourself dating; and go for romantic weekend getaways. After a divorce, don’t focus on the question, ‘Is he marriage material?’ Focus instead on enjoying the moment with your date, and don’t put any pressure on the relationship to be anything more than having fun.

Use dating as a vehicle to do some of the things you love to do.

You will look forward to dating a bit more if you use it as an opportunity to do some of the things you like to do: visit restaurants you’ve always wanted to go to; check out movies or plays your ex was never interested in; and try recreational activities that make you feel happy and alive.

The takeaway…

Oprah Winfrey has her own magazine column adoringly titled What I Know for Sure. It always offers a cute nugget of wisdom, a paragraph with a life lesson from which we can all benefit. Well, here’s what Dr. Seth knows for sure: Life keeps getting better when you are able to have an experience and later reflect on the lesson you learned from it. Trust that your divorce was an event that you were supposed to have in your life to help you grow, and make it your goal to better enjoy all relationships that follow – dating or otherwise.

book Dr Seths Love Prescription lg 190x300 Divorced and Dating Again: What I Know For SureAbout 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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Rule #5: Don’t Expect Perfection http://www.eharmony.com/blog/rule-5-dont-expect-perfection/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/rule-5-dont-expect-perfection/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 16:58:01 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19390 “Life is better when you stop criticizing the faults, instead look for the beauty in the flaws.” I recently read an article with a great headline that said something to the effect of, “Follow these 7 marriage rules from divorce attorneys … and never end up in their offices!”  What married person wouldn’t continue to […]

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“Life is better when you stop criticizing the faults, instead look for the beauty in the flaws.”

I recently read an article with a great headline that said something to the effect of, “Follow these 7 marriage rules from divorce attorneys … and never end up in their offices!”  What married person wouldn’t continue to read that article? Who wants to end up in the office of a divorce attorney? Been there; done that. No more, thank you very much!

I decided to write an article about each of the 7 rules. We are coming into the home stretch and today we are on Rule #5. If you have missed any of the others, you can catch up here: Rule 1, Rule 2,  Rule 3 and Rule 4.

Don’t expect perfection. Remember what our parents used to tell us? Nobody is perfect. They were right. We aren’t perfect. Our parents aren’t perfect. And, our partner isn’t perfect. We have to learn to accept them for who they are.

It’s interesting. We are usually willing to overlook “flaws” or things that bother us early in relationships. Some things are cute, and we find we can overlook them easily. They aren’t a big deal, and we ignore them. Or, we are so in love that we are willing to overlook them because all the great traits overshadow these few “annoying habits.” Or, we lie to ourselves and tell ourselves that these “flaws” – these cracks in perfection – aren’t a big deal and we will get used to them. Or, and this is a dangerous one, we believe we will be able to “change” them and “fix” them once we have some time to work on them. These are all reasons why we are willing to overlook perceived “flaws” and move forward with a relationship.

Most of the time, as these relationships progress, all the reasons and excuses we gave ourselves about the “flaws” we find in our spouses suddenly dim in their importance, and the “flaw” itself seems to become magnified. Sure, we told ourselves that it was a cute “flaw,” or that that we would get used to it, or that we could change them, but the reality is that “flaw” isn’t going anywhere.

You will also go crazy trying to change someone to make them perfect. Too often I’ve spoken with divorced people who tell me, “I thought I could change him (or her) … and when I realized I couldn’t, things got really bad.”

So now what? I’ve seen “flaws” that have gone on to create giant wedges between couples who could no longer see all of the great qualities that attracted them to each other in the first place. Suddenly all of those wonderful traits that you fell in love with – his wacky sense of humor, the way she wants to adopt every stray pet she sees, his special way with your kids – take a back seat to the fact that he leaves the toilet seat up or that she throws clothes on the floor in the closet.

We need to accept “flaws” for what they are: inevitable parts of every one of us.

Remember, nobody is perfect. And, if you married someone to begin with, it’s likely that their list of wonderful attributes far outweighed their list of “flaws.” It might be time to revisit what it was that you initially fell in love with, and then decide how important those “flaws” really are in the grand scheme of things. I’m guessing those “flaws” will turn out to rank pretty low on the totem pole in comparison with other wonderful qualities.

“Vulnerability is the essence of romance. It’s the art of being uncalculated, the willingness to look foolish, the courage to say, ‘This is me, and I’m interested in you enough to show you my flaws with the hope that you may embrace me for all that I am but, more important, all that I am not.’ ” ~ Ashton Kutcher

What do you think? Have you let “flaws” become more important than they deserve to be? Are you aware of your own “flaws?”

About the Author:

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

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Feeling Discouraged? You Might Want to Avoid Your Happiest Friends http://www.eharmony.com/blog/feeling-discouraged-might-want-avoid-happiest-friends/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/feeling-discouraged-might-want-avoid-happiest-friends/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 22:13:01 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19377 If you’ve had a bad date and need someone to talk to, your most happily married friend is probably not the best choice—even if she thinks she is. A study published in the journal PLOS One found that people who are in a good mood gave themselves higher marks for their empathetic skills than people […]

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If you’ve had a bad date and need someone to talk to, your most happily married friend is probably not the best choice—even if she thinks she is.

A study published in the journal PLOS One found that people who are in a good mood gave themselves higher marks for their empathetic skills than people who were feeling down did. However, when researchers evaluated their ability to empathize, the data told a different story.

In the study, 121 participants were asked to vividly recall either a positive, negative or neutral memory and then write about it briefly. The participants then watched four videos of people discussing different experiences of varying emotional intensity—extremely positive (getting a ballet scholarship), moderately positive (a late-night drive through the desert), intensely negative (the death of a parent), moderately negative (a dispute with landlord). The participants were asked to assess how the people in the videos were feeling at each moment, adjusting their ratings whenever they saw the person’s mood shift.

When asked how much they empathized with the subjects of the videos, and how empathetic they perceived themselves to be in general, the participants who were in a good mood greatly overestimated their skills. Although they were skilled at detecting shifts in the moods of people relaying positive experiences, overall they were no better at empathizing than anyone else. And when the happier group watched the highly distressed person, they received the lowest scores for empathy.

“This is of note because individuals who are experiencing intense negative emotions may often be those who need support and empathy the most,” said the authors of the study, “Not As Good as You Think? Trait Positive Emotion Is Associated with Increased Self-Reported Empathy but Decreased Empathic Performance.”

The study did not specifically address the issue of how well the happily coupled empathized with those who are single and searching, but heartbreak is definitely one of the more challenging emotions out there—one study found that rejection actually changes your heart rate.

Logically, it makes senses that when you are single and struggling, you’d turn to your happily coupled friends for their wisdom. But your equally frustrated single friend might be a better bet.

The study authors note that it’s just possible that people who are in a good place might be less able to able to shift out of that state. “It perhaps takes more sacrifice to ‘drop down’ and focus on another person’s high-intensity negative emotions,” they said.

In other words, it’s not that your blissfully paired off don’t want to help, but they might not be up to the task.

 What do you think? Who of your friends gives you the best support and advice?

 

its not you sara eckel 185x300 Feeling Discouraged? You Might Want to Avoid Your Happiest FriendsSara 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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Do You Like Your Date Enough to Stop Seeing Other People? http://www.eharmony.com/blog/like-date-enough-stop-seeing-people/ http://www.eharmony.com/blog/like-date-enough-stop-seeing-people/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 22:39:09 +0000 http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19365 Before we get into my specific advice on the subject, I want to make sure it’s understood that dating a few people at the same time is actually a very good practice. Why? Because people are more likely to settle down with someone who’s not a great fit when they only date one person at […]

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Before we get into my specific advice on the subject, I want to make sure it’s understood that dating a few people at the same time is actually a very good practice. Why? Because people are more likely to settle down with someone who’s not a great fit when they only date one person at a time. It makes sense, too, because it’s human nature to get emotionally attached once you hang out with someone for a while. Remember, once you attach, it’s hard to detach. This is why it’s important to date a few people at the same time and avoid attaching emotionally to any one of them until you feel like you know that person well enough. If you make it a habit to date a few people at the same time, you will be much more objective in deciding which person is a better fit.

If you are someone who dates multiple people at the same time, first, good for you! You’re following the best protocol to meet a healthy partner. Yet, sooner or later, you’re going to have to ask yourself a basic question: Do I like this person enough to stop dating the others? How do I know when someone meets enough criteria that it’s time to stop dating others and commit to that one person? There are a few factors that can act as sign posts when you’re making this decision.

Level of Emotional or Intellectual Compatibility

Simply put, if you still like sitting across the dinner table from someone a few months into dating, you really, really like that person. Plus, the fact that you enjoy simply hanging out with them – say, having a random dinner – is a sign that this is someone you could enjoy being around for many years to come. If you find someone whom you like going to dinner with and you are physically attracted to him or her, you’re poised to win the ‘This is The One’ game show.

Sexual Chemistry (Hint: It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.)

Many romantic relationships end because the sexual chemistry dies and the couple realizes later there wasn’t enough emotional compatibility to keep them glued together. Listen: The dating gods never said that we’re all supposed to choose the one we’re most sexually attracted to. You want to be sexually attracted enough, but not to the point that it feels like pure lust at the expense of talking or emotionally relating to each other. Lust or great sexual attraction is not enough; you need good enough sexual chemistry and amazing emotional compatibility. (I want to trademark that, by the way.)

When someone consistently passes the friends’ approval test

If you date a few people, your friends will inevitably end up meeting a cross section of your dates. Because friends are friends – they say whatever they think because they love you – they will let you know in no uncertain terms what they think about every single date they meet. Though you should never let friends decide how you feel about someone you’re dating, it’s a good sign when they approve of someone you like.

When you’ve discussed it with your date and your date feels the same way you do…

Of course, I had to save this one for last. You can’t have a real relationship without both of you agreeing to make things official and monogamous. It’s time to stop dating other people when you feel ready, and when your chosen date has indicated that he or she feels the same way. In an ideal world, the transition into official boyfriend-girlfriend status would be smooth and totally organic. But the reality is that you will probably have to have The Conversation to make it happen. The conversation involves the explicit agreement that the two of you will now be monogamous, which also includes cutting off any contact – emails, texts, calls, etc. – with any other potential suitors.

Before you go…

The most important point is to never rush having the conversation about transitioning to a monogamous, steady relationship. I always tell my clients this: If the two of you are truly supposed to be together, don’t rush anything because you’ll have the rest of your lives to be together! Follow my steps to determine when to settle down with your chosen one, but understand that following the steps will take some months. The biggest problem people have in dating is rushing things. Sometimes I actually wish that I could show up on my clients’ dates and wrap yellow police tape around the entire table; maybe then they would approach dating and relationships more cautiously. Take your time, ladies and gentlemen, in dating. The goal isn’t merely to find anyone; it’s about finding the one who’s just right for you.

book Dr Seths Love Prescription lg 190x300 Do You Like Your Date Enough to Stop Seeing Other People?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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