eHarmony Blog eHarmony experts’ take on dating, relationships and the science of love 2015-03-26T22:16:05Z http://www.eharmony.com/blog/feed/atom/ Sara Eckel <![CDATA[Some Good News about Bad Dates]]> http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19141 2015-03-26T22:16:05Z 2015-03-25T20:18:12Z A man five years your senior informs you that you’re not getting any younger. The woman you’ve gone on three great dates with confesses that she’s married. Your new love suddenly ceases all communication. Dating can be an extremely emotionally raw experience, yet it’s frequently treated like fun and games. “Enjoy it!” your married friends […]

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A man five years your senior informs you that you’re not getting any younger. The woman you’ve gone on three great dates with confesses that she’s married. Your new love suddenly ceases all communication.

Dating can be an extremely emotionally raw experience, yet it’s frequently treated like fun and games. “Enjoy it!” your married friends say. “Be positive!” the dating gurus exhort.

Smiles and giggles are great, but there are times when you simply cannot turn that frown upside-down.

And that’s okay. In a new book, The Upside of Your Dark Side, authors Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener explain that while our culture consistently urges us to push away our negative emotions, we’re better off letting them be.

Unpleasant feelings, they explain, provide useful information. For example, if you feel angry when your date grills you about your age, that’s an entirely appropriate response. Someone is treating you poorly, and your internal alarm system is telling you to stay away. If you feel guilty for failing to return that nice person’s text, good. Your moral compass is signaling that you’ve fallen short of your standards.

“People who try desperately to escape, conceal, and avoid negative states, miss out on all this valuable information,” the authors write. “To be absolutely clear about this, you want to feel the prickle of fear in situations where physical harm is possible; you want to feel the thrust of anger when you need to stick up for your children; you want to feel frustration when you make inadequate progress in your guitar lessons and you want to regret telling your children they aren’t intelligent, attractive or good people.”

Those who allow themselves to experience their dark sides not only receive the benefit of this data; the authors’ research finds that they are also calmer and more emotionally balanced than people who try to repress their negative feelings.

Kashdan and Biswas-Diener found that anxious people who could articulate their feelings consumed 40% less alcohol than those who couldn’t, and the ability to label anger made subjects less likely to be verbally or physically aggressive to others.

When you can see what’s happening in your mind and your body—oh, my heart rate is going up, and my thinking is getting a little cloudy—you can take a step back from it, rather than getting carried away by it. You can realize that something physiological is happening to you and take measures to counteract it, like taking three deep breaths. You can, as a meditation teacher of mine recently said, “ride the emotion, rather than let it ride you.”

But first, you have to admit that there is nothing wrong with feeling angry—or anxious, or depressed, or guilty. That’s the funny irony: The light can only come in when you stop fearing the dark.

 

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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Sarah Elizabeth Richards <![CDATA[Dating Got You Down? How to Get Out of A Mini-Slump]]> http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19134 2015-03-24T15:58:11Z 2015-03-24T15:58:11Z Did you have high hopes of finding love at the beginning of the year and now are less than impressed with your online options? Perhaps you told yourself, “This is going to be my year!” and dared to dream that you would have fallen madly in love by now. But alas, it’s the end of […]

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Did you have high hopes of finding love at the beginning of the year and now are less than impressed with your online options? Perhaps you told yourself, “This is going to be my year!” and dared to dream that you would have fallen madly in love by now. But alas, it’s the end of March, and you’re asking, “How much longer do I have to do this?” It doesn’t help that spring is taking forever to arrive in many parts of the country.

Yes, love is timeless, but unfortunately online dating tends to follow seasonal patterns. After the flurry of activity of the new year – and maybe a few false romantics starts – daters’ enthusiasm can start to wane. Emails take longer to get returned. And you might be hearing, “Let’s touch base in a few weeks.” That’s after kids’ spring break schedules, holidays, and a certain basketball tournament with seemingly endless games.

Cheer up! It’s not you. It’s the time of year. All it takes is a few warm spring days to perk up everyone’s mojo again and make them realize, “I better get moving if I want to find a sweetie to spend the summer with!”

Here are a few tips to make it through the spring thaw:

1) Find perspective

Who doesn’t love to see a new year’s resolution pay off? But if you started your search for love at the beginning of the year, you’ve barely been at this for three months. You’ve looking for love and romance – not a good deal on health insurance. Getting it right takes time and lots and lots of patience. In the meantime, give yourself credit for what you’ve made happen for yourself so far. Hopefully, you’ve had a few interesting conversations and gone on a few fun dates. Maybe you even had a few mini relationships. That’s not a bad start.

2) Nurture your life offline

While the online dating world slows down, this is a great time to boost your life in the real world. Start training for a 5K or plan the next outing for your brunch or hiking club. Reconnect with family and friends whom you ignored when you were in serious dating mode. Check out Meetup to learn about the next full-moon bonfire or cooking class in your area. Being engaged and happy with your life will make you a better catch when those emails start flying around again in a few weeks. You’ll also have the chance to take some good new photos for your profile.

3) Schedule your spring

You won’t mind a dating slowdown as much if you’ve got a calendar full of events to look forward to. Spend an afternoon looking at the websites of the organizations you belong to and see what they’ve got planned for spring. If you need things to do, make a list of groups to join: Museums, religious organizations, sports leagues, book clubs, alumni connections, volunteer opportunities, etc. They usually have other single people there too.

4) Go somewhere

Nothing refreshes the spirit quite like a trip out of town. Plan a guys’ trip or girls’ getaway. Visit your parents in Florida or your sister in Oregon. If you’re comfortable traveling solo, pick a random weekend destination and take a stack of books and a beach chair. You’ve heard it before, but savor your single life now. You might miss these days when your summer is stacked with couples’ activities.

How do you get through a dating mini-slump?

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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Monique A Honaman <![CDATA[Introducing the Kids…]]> http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19115 2015-03-23T20:00:16Z 2015-03-23T20:00:16Z “The uncertainty of parenting can bring up feelings in us that range from frustration to terror.” — Brene Brown I had a great conversation with a friend last week. I’m not sure we ever landed on an answer, but it was a worthwhile discussion that I want to share here. I would love to get your […]

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“The uncertainty of parenting can bring up feelings in us that range from frustration to terror.” — Brene Brown

I had a great conversation with a friend last week. I’m not sure we ever landed on an answer, but it was a worthwhile discussion that I want to share here. I would love to get your feedback and suggestions.

It’s a “which came first, the chicken or the egg” scenario! There may not be an answer, and you can circle yourself around and around the question, and still not know the “right” thing to do. Here’s the deal: my friend (never married, no kids) is dating a guy (divorced, two school aged kids). They get along really well … “opposites attract” would be a great way to describe them. By way of background, they have been dating for nearly a year and have a ton of fun together on his “free” weekends (from his kids).

Here’s the thing. He is hesitant to let her get too close to his children until he “knows this is going to work out for the long-term.” She says, “I have a hard time figuring out if this is going to work out for the long term if I don’t have a chance to get to know his kids and see what it’s like to be their stepmom.” She has met his kids, but he has kept her at an arms length. She wants to do more with his kids and really get to know them.

Do you see the conundrum? He doesn’t want her to become a part of his kids’ lives until he knows she is the one, and how can she know if she is the one until she gets to know all of him – which includes his kids?

All of this begs the question, “When is the right time to introduce your date to your kids?” My belief is that it is somewhere in between. I didn’t introduce my now-husband to my kids until I knew that we had something serious going on. I also knew that we wouldn’t be able to advance to the next level of seriousness until my kids had met him, he had met my kids, and I was comfortable with how they all interacted with each other. I was falling in love with this guy, but I also knew that if he and my kids hated each other that I wasn’t prepared to deal with that drama. That would be a deal-breaker. At the same time, he was falling in love with me. And, he knew that I was a package deal. You get me AND you get two bonus kids. He needed to be able to spend time with my kids to get to know them and confirm that he could be and wanted to be their “bonus” dad in the future.

I was so fortunate that my kids fell in love with him, just as much as he fell in love with them. He has never tried to be their dad. In fact, when he asked me to marry him, he also asked my kids for “permission,” and told them that he knew they had a dad, and he would be thrilled to be their stepdad. But, he wouldn’t have been able to do this if he hadn’t already built a relationship with them, and he wouldn’t have been able to build a relationship with them if I hadn’t given him access to them to start developing a relationship in the first place.

I didn’t grant access right away. I didn’t want my kids to ever just see me dating a revolving door of men every Saturday night (not that I ever did that anyway). I knew that introducing my kids to my now-husband was a big deal. This is why I understand where my friend’s boyfriend is coming from. As parents, we want to protect our kids. We want to protect their innocence and shield them from having to understand the complexities of life — lessons like “mom and dad got divorced, and now mommy (or daddy) is spending time with (and falling in love with) someone else.” These can be tough changes for children to understand, but it’s also real life.

Can you understand my friend’s boyfriend not wanting to introduce his kids to her right away? Can you also understand him wanting to wait until he knows they are in a relationship, and not simply casually dating (remember, they have been dating for a year)? Can you understand my friend’s perspective saying she wants to spend more time with his kids getting to know them better because like it or not, he’s a package deal now? She knows if she continues to fall in love with him, that means loving his kids as well, and she wants to love them. Being a stepmother is a tough job. She wants to get to know them and become a part of their lives – all of their lives.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? When do you introduce your relationship to your kids? When do you introduce your kids to your relationship? At the end of this discussion, here’s what I truly believe: it depends! The answers to those questions are going to completely depend on you, your children, and the person whom you want to introduce or don’t want to introduce quite yet. Everyone is at a different place – in their maturity, in their ability to handle change, and in their emotional readiness. As parents, we must best assess when the timing is right for our kids, and go from there. Sometimes we get it right, and sometimes we don’t!

“I’m not a parenting expert. In fact, I’m not sure that I even believe in the idea of ‘parenting experts.’ I’m an engaged, imperfect parent and a passionate researcher. I’m an experienced mapmaker and a stumbling traveler. Like many of you, parenting is by far my boldest and most daring adventure.” — Brene Brown

What do you think?   

Monique Honaman 2013 HRLT2 265x180 Introducing the Kids...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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Dr. Seth Meyers http://www.drsethrelationshipexpert.com/index.html <![CDATA[What You Should Sacrifice for Love — and Where You Should Never Compromise]]> http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19080 2015-03-24T15:48:37Z 2015-03-20T22:49:24Z Brought to you by ‘The Longest Ride’, in theaters April 10. When we’re younger and more naive, we want so much to believe that love conquers all odds and obstacles. We tend to believe this until we get our hearts seriously broken for the first time. But when it comes to making a long-term relationship […]

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Brought to you by ‘The Longest Ride’, in theaters April 10.

When we’re younger and more naive, we want so much to believe that love conquers all odds and obstacles. We tend to believe this until we get our hearts seriously broken for the first time. But when it comes to making a long-term relationship last, love alone is simply not enough. To make a relationship work, you must reach a careful balance of love, positive treatment, and consistency.

To find the right balance in the right person, keep three words in mind: wants, needs, and dangers.

What you want…

Any happy long-term couple will tell you that love requires a platter of sacrifices. What should you sacrifice for love? The simple answer: some of what you want. I’ve listed a few examples of the most common sacrifices it’s worth making to find and sustain love.

I want: someone who makes a lot of money. While money is undoubtedly a terrific bonus, settling down with someone who makes only a modest income is worth the sacrifice if the two of you have a meaningful connection. Money makes life easier, but studies show that it doesn’t make couples happier.

I want: someone who’s in great physical shape. While you may not be most sexually attracted to someone who is overweight, that individual could make an amazing partner if he or she is smart, funny, compassionate, or all-around awesome. (Plus, as we age, don’t we all end up kind of overweight anyhow?) Bottom line: Being with someone who’s thin or thinnish is not something you need; it’s something you want.

I want: someone who’s exciting. Gather around, people: “Exciting” is totally overrated. If this is one of the feelings you struggle with – he or she isn’t exciting enough for me – you may have too narrow a definition of what is exciting. There’s someone for everyone, and remember that a quiet reference librarian is perfectly exciting for some. And this is as it should be. Don’t pass on someone because he or she is not exciting enough. You can never underestimate the value of having someone who is kind and consistent in your life.

Above all, you can get a clear sense of the things you may want but not necessarily need in a partner. It would be ideal to find all the characteristics of your dream man or woman in your real-life partner, but most people come to accept that they’ll never find someone who has everything they want.

What you need…

In contrast to what you want in a partner, there are some things that you need in a partner. The things you need are the things you should never compromise on. Check out the examples below.

I need: someone who is reliable with their time, word, and money. If you have your you-know-what together, trying to have a relationship with someone who is flaky or irresponsible in any major area of life is going to cause you endless frustration over time. You need someone who does what they say they’ll do, and who does it when they say they’ll do it!

I need: someone who wants the same kind of relationship I want. If you’re looking for something casual, you need to find someone who wants something casual; if you want a steady partner, you need someone who is looking for a steady partner. Trying to make it work when there is a crucial difference in this department will end, at best, in tears and, at worst, in knock-down, drag-out fights.

What you can never accept in a partner (or else you’ll put yourself in danger).

When it comes to what is worth sacrificing for love and what is never worth compromising for, there are a few factors that fall into their own category: the traits or behaviors that potentially put you in danger. Take a look at the danger-inducers below and you will quickly see that these issues must be non-negotiable deal breakers as you set off looking for a partner.

I will never accept: someone who has a violent temper, who is extremely controlling, or who is physically, emotionally, or verbally abusive. If you wonder if I’m wrong, try volunteering at your local domestic violence shelter where you’ll get all the confirmation you need.

I will never accept: someone who is active in their addiction, whether it is sex, shopping, substance, gambling, or anything else. As appealing as these individuals may be – and as much as you may pity them or have a rescuer complex — you need to walk away from anyone you start dating and find that they’re active in an addiction. Whether you end up physically hurt, dead or financially broke, beginning a relationship with an active addict is one of the most self-destructive and lethal behaviors a person can pursue.

The takeaway

You will take the pressure off of yourself and your relationships when you accept that finding someone who meets your needs – as opposed to all your wants – is good enough because you will never, ever have it all in just one person.

The most important lesson is that you keep a clear head about what you need in a partner (honesty, reliability, and commitment) and steer clear of the traits or behaviors in a partner that can put your life and happiness in danger (terrible tempers, abuse, and addictions).

In Nicholas Sparks’ latest romance ‘The Longest Ride,’ Sophia (Britt Robertson) and Luke (Scott Eastwood) deal with these matters of the heart, as they figure out how much they are willing to sacrifice for love.

See the trailer and learn more about ‘The Longest Ride’, in theaters April 10.

Have you confused your wants with what you really needed in a partner?

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Annie Confer <![CDATA[Are Men and Women More Threatened by Emotional or Sexual Infidelity?]]> http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18600 2015-03-19T21:48:35Z 2015-03-19T21:38:31Z The green eyed monster — chances are most people have experienced, at least once, the not-so-pleasant feeling of jealousy. In fact, the term “green-eyed monster” was coined as far back as 1603 in the Shakespearian play, The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice: Beware of jealousy, my lord! It’s a green-eyed monster that makes […]

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The green eyed monster — chances are most people have experienced, at least once, the not-so-pleasant feeling of jealousy. In fact, the term “green-eyed monster” was coined as far back as 1603 in the Shakespearian play, The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice:

Beware of jealousy, my lord! It’s a green-eyed monster that makes fun of the victims it devours. The man who knows his wife is cheating on him is happy, because at least he isn’t friends with the man she’s sleeping with. But think of the unhappiness of a man who worships his wife, yet doubts her faithfulness. He suspects her, but still loves her. (Shakespeare, 1622).

Literally, humans have been dealing with and writing about relationship jealousy for over 400 years…before computers, phones, Tinder, and malls. One would think that after centuries, humans would have developed better reactions to jealousy or at least better understand it. But sadly jealousy is an intensely personal yet seemingly universal feeling that we are simply terrible at dealing with; both men and women.

A massive study on this subject has been completed by Dr. Frederick of Chapman University, which measured relationship jealousy (Frederick & Fales, 2014). Chapman polled almost 64,000 Americans about emotional and sexual infidelity. Participants were asked to imagine two situations and indicate which scenario was more upsetting. The first situation was that their partner was having sex with someone else, but did not fall in love (sexual infidelity). The second situation was that their partner did not have sex with someone else, but did fall in love (emotional infidelity). The study design allowed researchers to explore jealousy responses not only between gender, but also between varying sexual orientations, to better understand jealousy causes and responses.

This study demonstrated support for an evolutionary model claiming certain biological and adaptive factors impact the jealousy response. It revolves around the notion of paternal investment and uncertainty. For males, there is always a chance that their child could have a different father, whereas women never experience maternal uncertainty. Therefore while jealousy is expected from both men and women, the evolutionary theory states that men will feel more distress about threats to sexual exclusivity whereas women are concerned more with loss of partner commitment, resources, and attention. The results supported the theory because they showed that heterosexual males reported the deepest levels of jealousy about sexual infidelity. In contrast, heterosexual women, homosexual men, homosexual women, and bisexual men and women all reported they would be more upset about emotional infidelity.

You might be thinking, “wait, that doesn’t make sense!” When infidelity occurs, men don’t immediately think about losing their chance to reproduce. The theory implies that jealousy is an adaptive mechanism, inherited from ancestors who lived in much more hostile environments. For example, humans developed a liking for sugar, fat, and protein, all of which are adaptive solutions to scarcity of food. Do we like just like the taste, or is there something deeper at play? Adaptation mechanisms exist in today’s society because they were behaviors that helped our ancestors survive and we are not necessarily always aware of the logic behind it, like jealousy.

So why is jealousy so bad and why does it matter if people respond differently to infidelity? Regardless of gender and sexual orientation, people can become jealous in relationships, and statistics show how the fear of actual or suspect infidelity can be one of the most stressful and upsetting events in a relationship.

According to Buss (2000) “sexual infidelity causes divorce worldwide more than any other marital violation, being closely rivaled only by the infertility of the union.” Additionally, jealousy can lead to devastating physical and mental consequences such as partner abuse, depression, anxiety, violence, and is a strong predictor of partner aggression. Also infidelity is one of the top factors associated with homicide in the United States and accounts for nearly one-third of murders (Barash & Lipton, 2001). The negative consequences of jealousy range from broken hearts and abandonment to extreme cases of violence.

So in your own relationship, it is important to have an open conversation about cheating with your significant other. When discussing infidelity, remember that there is no single definition, and it varies on a continuum from emotional to sexual.

Make sure that you share with your partner what infidelity means to you — how you define it, is it strictly sexual, emotional, or both? If yes, will it be expected, not tolerated, and what about online cheating? Also, while keeping the evolutionary model in mind, remember that jealousy is not a mark of immaturity, rather it is an extremely important adaptation which helped our ancestors survive; emotional wisdom! Just don’t go overboard.

What would be worse to you, emotional or sexual infidelity?

You can access Chapman’s blog here.

References

Barash, D. P., & Lipton, J. E. (2001). The myth of monogamy: Fidelity and infidelity in animals and people. New York, NY: W. H. Freeman.

Brand, R. J., Markey, C. M., Mills, A., and Hodges, S. D. (2007). Sex differences in self-reported infidelity and its correlates. Sex Roles, 57, 101-109.

Buss, D. M. (2000). The dangerous passion: Why jealousy is as necessary as love and sex. New York, NY: The Free Press.

Frederick, D. (2014). Upset over sexual versus emotional infidelity among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and heterosexual individuals. Retrieved March 2, 2015, from    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-014-0409-9

Shakespeare, W. (1622). The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice. Retrieved March 2, 2015, from http://shakespeare.mit.edu/othello/full.html

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Taraneh Mojaverian <![CDATA[How a Double Date Could Improve Your Relationship]]> http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=18954 2015-03-19T21:07:23Z 2015-03-19T21:07:23Z When you and your romantic partner lead busy lives, it can be hard to find time to enjoy each other and spend time together with friends. You may talk about going out over the weekend for dinner or drinks, but you end up staying in and watching whatever happens to be on TV. On Monday, you […]

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When you and your romantic partner lead busy lives, it can be hard to find time to enjoy each other and spend time together with friends. You may talk about going out over the weekend for dinner or drinks, but you end up staying in and watching whatever happens to be on TV. On Monday, you end up hearing about all the fun that you missed.

The next time you get an invite for a couples’ night out, consider committing to a double date. New research suggests that cultivating a friendship with another couple can help to reinvigorate your romantic relationship with your partner (Welker et al., 2014).

Researchers had dating couples come in together and take part in a discussion task, either alone as a couple, or in a group with another dating couple whom they had never met before. For some couples, the discussion task was designed to encourage self-disclosure and closeness. Each member of the group took turns answering questions that gradually increased levels of self-disclosure, starting with questions like “Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?”, and escalating to questions like “If you could go back in your life and change any one experience, what would it be and why?” For other couples, the discussion task did not invoke self-disclosure, focusing on small-talk questions, such as “When was the last time you walked for more than an hour?” After the discussions were completed, participants individually answered questions about their romantic relationship, specifically passionate love (feeling intense desire and chemistry with their romantic partner) and relationship satisfaction.

Results found that having a deep conversation was associated with greater relationship satisfaction regardless of whether couples talked alone, together or with another couple, whereas having small-talk conversation did not have positive relationship benefits. Furthermore, couples who interacted with another couple using the self-disclosure task also reported increased passionate love for their partner, while couples who completed the task alone did not.

Including another couple can have benefits for your relationship that a conversation alone with your partner doesn’t. A second study by the same researchers proposes that the act of sharing deeply about yourself and feeling understood and validated by another couple is responsible for these increases in passionate love. Receiving validation from another couple about you and your romantic partner may help strengthen your relationship with each other.

This research suggests that building a friendship with another couple can strengthen passionate love within a relationship. So, make the extra effort to set plans with friends for a double dinner date, or invite your coworkers over for a couples’ board game night. Not only will you get to reconnect with old friends or make new ones, but it may be good for your relationship!

 

Resources:

Welker, K. M., Baker, L., Padilla, A., Holmes, H., Aron, A., & Slatcher, R. B. (2014) Effects of self-disclosure and responsiveness between couples on passionate love within couples. Personal Relationships, 21, 692-708.

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Jeannie Assimos, Vice President, Content <![CDATA[8 Major Signs You Should NOT Marry Him]]> http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19059 2015-03-18T21:11:55Z 2015-03-18T21:11:55Z Unfortunately, there aren’t classes in school teaching us how to choose a great romantic partner. Some people score and find a healthy relationship, but many of us stumble along the way. I really liked the straight talk from Dr. Charles & Dr. Elizabeth Schmitz about warning signs women should look out for in a man. Written by Dr. […]

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Unfortunately, there aren’t classes in school teaching us how to choose a great romantic partner. Some people score and find a healthy relationship, but many of us stumble along the way. I really liked the straight talk from Dr. Charles & Dr. Elizabeth Schmitz about warning signs women should look out for in a man.

Written by Dr. Charles & Dr. Elizabeth Schmitz, YourTango

You think you love the guy. You even think he’s marriage material.

He says all the right things, but over time … you begin to notice that his actions don’t match his words. He tells you that he respects you, but dismisses your opinions. He claims he wants a shared relationship between the two of you, but then he makes all the decisions.

We’ve learned from over 33 years of marriage research conducted around the world that ignoring these warning signs comes at great risk to your health, happiness, and welfare. Heed the warning signs … before it’s too late.

Our favorite question for a woman whose marriage has failed is: “Why? What went wrong? Why do you think your marriage failed?”

The answer is almost always the same: “I thought I could fix him.”

There is one truth you can take to the bank, and that is: you CANNOT change a man! Either accept him the way he is—or move on.

Remember, personalities are well established by the early to late teen years (some even say by age 7). If you think you can change him, you are potentially setting yourself up for an unsatisfying and failed relationship.

Here are eight tell-tale behaviors you cannot change or fix:

1. He constantly engages in controlling behavior. We often hear women say to us, “He always wants control,” or, “If I want to go to movie X, he buys tickets for movie Y.” When your guy exhibits behaviors that telegraph he clearly wants complete control of your relationship, be very wary. A true loving relationship does not have bosses.

2. His condescending attitude drives you crazy. He doesn’t have the right to always have the last word. Frankly, a loving relationship should not have a hierarchy. He is not more important than you; his attitudes and opinions do not trump yours.

3. He often exhibits narcissistic behavior. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings.”

If your guy thinks he is superior to you, you should demonstrate otherwise by walking away from your relationship with him. It really is that simple.

4. He engages in bullying tactics. Let’s be honest here—nobody likes a bully. Sadly, bullying occurs in many marriages and relationships. A bully pushes you around and wants to make you cower in his presence. A bully is like a termite. He is always trying to get inside of you and weaken you at your foundation. He wants to eat away at your interior so he can control you. So, we ask this simple question, “Does your mate bully you?” If he does, it’s time to leave your relationship.

5. He tries to manipulate you. Does he try to “pull your strings” as if you were a puppet? And more importantly, does he continuously attempt to manipulate your actions, your feelings, your behaviors, and your aspirations? Some men always want to steer you towards a conclusion they would draw, not one you would. Manipulation is an insidious form of control.

6. He NEVER follows through with promises. Okay, he promised you a rose garden, but never delivered. He told you he would fix your car, but didn’t. He told you he would pick you up at 8:00 PM, but didn’t show up until 10:00 PM. He said he’d cut the grass, but didn’t. The truth is, he’s promised you that he’d do a lot of things. In the end, he rarely ever follows through on his promises.

7. He cannot be trusted. We’ve found over the years what the best marriages have at their core—TRUST. In those marriages that survive over time, they all report to us that their undying trust for each other carried them through the good times and the bad. Without complete trust, you cannot stay in the relationship.

8. He exhibits financial warning signs. Since the number one cause of disagreements in a marriage are financially related, it’s critical to notice warning signs present in the guy you think you want to marry. Here are just a few warning signs to pay careful attention to: He is often out of work. He spends his money on a lot of personal “toys” without regard for the consequences. You often end up paying the bill when you go out to dinner, a movie, or a concert.

These eight tell-tale behaviors are pervasive characteristics. They are very real. They define who a person is and they almost never change. A person’s actions do, in fact, trump their words.

Recognizing these characteristics could save you from a life of unhappiness, distress, and, very often, danger.

Far too many women mistakenly enter into a marriage believing that a man’s behaviors can change. It rarely ever does. Terrible disappointment is the only possible outcome. Don’t marry a guy you think you can change. Marry a man that you love completely (just as he is right now).

 

More at YourTango:

I Can Sum Up Marriage In These 11 Texts I’ve Sent My Husband

15 REAL Marriage Vows I Should Have Made On My Wedding Day

Be Still, My Heart! 10 Of The Greatest Love Stories Of ALL TIME

 

Originally posted at YourTango: 8 Warning Signs that Scream ‘Don’t Marry Him’!

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Jeannie Assimos, Vice President, Content <![CDATA[Franny Agnes Lee Returns with a ‘Bargain Date’]]> http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19049 2015-03-18T20:17:39Z 2015-03-18T20:17:39Z Our brave gal Franny Agnes Lee will often take time off to recover from dating fatigue. As smart as she is, she doesn’t always make the best decisions when it comes to matters of the heart — like in this latest foray with a bargain dating website. More Franny: See Franny’s summer date gone awry! […]

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Our brave gal Franny Agnes Lee will often take time off to recover from dating fatigue. As smart as she is, she doesn’t always make the best decisions when it comes to matters of the heart — like in this latest foray with a bargain dating website.

ep 13 Franny Agnes Lee Returns with a Bargain Date

More Franny:

See Franny’s summer date gone awry!

Franny: Blind Date One

Franny: Blind Date Two

Franny: Blind Date Three

Franny: Blind Date Four

Franny: Blind Date Five

Franny: Blind Date Six

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Dr. Seth Meyers http://www.drsethrelationshipexpert.com/index.html <![CDATA[When His Ex is Prettier Than You]]> http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19039 2015-03-18T16:33:18Z 2015-03-18T16:33:18Z Let me say from the start that I feel your pain. Dating someone seriously and simultaneously knowing that his ex was prettier than you can make you feel, well, pretty low. Even if you happen to be the most well-rounded, well-adjusted catch in the world, the reality is that you’re still human and that we still […]

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Let me say from the start that I feel your pain. Dating someone seriously and simultaneously knowing that his ex was prettier than you can make you feel, well, pretty low. Even if you happen to be the most well-rounded, well-adjusted catch in the world, the reality is that you’re still human and that we still live in a looks-obsessed world. As a therapist, I know that dating and relationships, in general, would be so much healthier if it weren’t for the gold standard of appearance. Yet appearance matters, especially the younger you are.

For daters in their 4os, 50s and beyond, they have had enough life experience to put appearance in perspective. They know the truth: Attractive people usually are no happier or well-adjusted than the rest. (They also know that looks fade). But in your teens, 20s and 30s, appearance tends to take first position when it comes to importance. Can we all please agree that we hate that?

If you’re dating someone who happens to have a prettier ex, I won’t patronize you by suggesting that it doesn’t matter. Looks do matter. Keeping it real, it sucks that his ex is prettier than you. The question becomes, what do you do with this information?

Remember that the relationship with his ex ended for a reason.

Sure, his ex may be gorgeous, but her beauty was not enough to keep the relationship afloat. Even if she ended it but he would have chosen to stay with her, sooner or later he’s bound to realize that what he really wants is a woman who wants him, too. In other words, he is going to grow up and have a real relationship, which means that he will realize that appearance simply isn’t enough to sustain a relationship over the long haul. You must remember that your boyfriend has chosen to be with you at this point in his life, and that’s what matters most.

Just because they’re pretty doesn’t mean they were funny, smart, or interesting.

I won’t mention any names but I can think of a laundry list of gorgeous celebrities that seem dull or (perhaps) even a tad brain-dead in interviews. I always tell my clients in my practice the same thing: What keeps someone coming back to you is humor and warmth. If you really want to know the trick to keeping a man, it’s making him laugh, listening to him, and showing him a lot of affection. So, while a bona fide beauty may hold a man’s attention for a few months or even a couple of years, he will inevitably leave her after a while if she doesn’t bring much to the table in all the other ways, too.

Confidence reigns supreme.

Confidence comes in a very close second place when it comes to what men notice about a woman. As long as you are confident about what you bring to the table, you will have no problem attracting and keeping a man who’s a good match for you. Men love confidence as much as women love confident men. The confident mindset when it comes to his prettier ex says, ‘Well, I must really be an extremely good catch because I’m the one he chose to be with now.’

Details about his ex can eat you alive.

The surest way to become insecure or obsessive is to know too much about his ex. When the subject of his ex comes up, feel free to listen but don’t follow it up with questions about her personality, career, or lifestyle. Her existence simply doesn’t have to matter to you. That relationship ended and it’s now time to focus your energy on cultivating the relationship you’re in.

The big picture…

Looks do matter but only as much as you say they do. Never forget: You are in the driver’s seat of your life, and you control with whom you choose to spend it. Keeping the big picture in mind, the vast majority of men and women fall in the average category across the board: looks, intelligence, and income. You shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to be exceptional in any one area. If his ex is prettier than you, just remember that appearance is only one of many characteristics that count.

 

book Dr Seths Love Prescription lg 190x300 When His Ex is Prettier Than YouAbout 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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Sara Eckel <![CDATA[Coping with the Milestone Birthday Blues]]> http://www.eharmony.com/blog/?p=19026 2015-03-17T21:41:55Z 2015-03-17T21:41:30Z Dear Sara: I’m two months away from turning 35. Despite my trying to stay away from depressing media and articles, I find myself getting sucked in anyway. What would you tell yourself as a single 35-year-old, knowing what you now know? —R Dear R: When I turned 35, I had been unattached for four years, […]

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Dear Sara: I’m two months away from turning 35. Despite my trying to stay away from depressing media and articles, I find myself getting sucked in anyway. What would you tell yourself as a single 35-year-old, knowing what you now know? —R

Dear R: When I turned 35, I had been unattached for four years, and that birthday hit me really hard. I had spent age 34 in a state of panic, thinking I just had to meet someone before this looming deadline. After my 35th birthday, I thought, “Okay, game over.” I bought an apartment, but also sleepwalked though the process and didn’t even bother to paint it. It didn’t feel like a happy occasion—it felt like a declaration of my lifelong spinsterhood.

So here’s what I would say to that woman: You think you know the future, but you don’t. You think that you will always be stuck in the same place, that the story will never change, but it will. And the reason it will change is because even though you sometimes get very, very down you never actually give up. You say you’re giving up, but you’re full of it because what actually happens is you mope around your apartment for a bit, and then you go out to brunch with friends, and then you make plans to visit someone in California, and then you sign up for a meditation class, and then you swap homes with a friend in Seattle.

That’s why you’re going to be okay–why you’re already okay. Doing these things won’t guarantee that you’ll meet the love of your life, but staying committed to making your life as rich and interesting as possible will give you power.

Gradually, you will start to see that all this work you’re doing is paying off—you’ll feel a lot better about yourself, and you will be better able to see through all the crap that we put on single people and not be so affected by it. You’ll still want a partner, but you’ll stop hating yourself for not having one (or for wanting one). You’ll stop caring what other people think and just know that you are lovable even if you don’t have a dapper man by your side. This power will serve you extremely well for the rest of your life–in your marriage, your career, and everything else.

The point is not that there is a husband at the end of the rainbow. It’s that when you look back on your life ten years from now you will see that it was incredibly rich and meaningful and your one-and-only regret will be that you wasted so much time worrying about the future. Seriously, that will be the only thing you regret: all the time you spent fretting about finding someone and letting the scolds and scaremongers get under your skin. Don’t waste another second on those people. You don’t have everything, but you have some things so enjoy those things because one day you’ll have different things. You’ll like those things, but you’ll also miss what you have now.

The great irony of worrying about the future is that I don’t think it leads to a better future. You make smarter decisions when you aren’t beating yourself up over things you can’t control. In fact, you will never once make a good decision out of fear. And of course, it is those daily choices that determine what our futures will be.

So have fun, do your best, take care of yourself, and be nice. The future is always uncertain, but you’ve got your best shot at a happy one if you can stay grounded in the present.

Oh, and the apartment? Buying it won’t seal your fate a single person, but it will have a profound effect on your future: One day you’ll sell it for three times what you paid.

Yours,

Sara

What would you tell someone facing a milestone birthday — and feeling inadequate in some way?

its not you sara eckel 185x300 Coping with the Milestone Birthday Blues

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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