#truelove #allowing #dating
Boy meets girl. Their eyes touch, and for a heartbeat the world stops turning. But it cannot be, because there’s another guy:
Or perhaps another girl:
Or maybe just crappy ol’ circumstances:
This doesn’t stop our hero/heroine. Through their undying faith in destiny they battle to win the heart of Their One True Love.
And they succeed!
Only to screw it all up for dramatic reasons.
And in one final act of soul-aching humility (that always seems to involve chasing a train or plane) our star-crossed lovers come to realize they’re perfect for each other.
And they live happily ever after. The End.
Unfortunately, this is all total wish-fulfillment bull crap. Worse, it’s poisonous to real relationships. Let me show you why.
Lie #1: Wanting someone means you should be together.
In our stories, our hero knows they’ve found the one, and they’ll do anything to win them over.
We all make this mistake. We want someone so much. Surely, that means we have to be together? Right?
In reality, few people find each other equally attractive. In fact, this almost never, ever happens. Pick two people at random, and if one of them does fancy the other, chances are the other one doesn’t feel the same way.
What makes a relationship isn’t just the strength of your feelings, but of your partner’s too. That combination is hard to find. But when we’re smitten, or heartbroken, it can be hard to notice how blind we are.
In our stories, our hero clings to their strength of feeling, no matter what the obstacles. Their feelings give them the power to win over the target of their affections, even if they are rebuffed again and again. In real life, a person who does that is kind of a crazed stalker who really needs to let go.
Lie #2: Sincerity wins hearts.
In our love stories, our heroes win by breaking down and confessing their feelings.
Now you might yearn for a world where we can all just be honest with each other, but that’s not this world. People are wired to take someone else’s desperation as proof of lower value. When someone comes on too strong, we instinctively want to run away.
And if someone is too direct with their feelings, we think they’re a callous asshole:
This is why we have flirting.
Flirting is how we advertise and measure interest in another person, without lowering our perceived value. The whole essence of flirting is we tease deniable hints that we like someone. A flick of the hair, a brag, a light touch on the arm. It’s a game of tit for tat, where both sides are trying to evaluate a prospective partner, and find out if the other person likes them as much as they do without coming over too strong.
People who skip this stage, or who don’t get it, are usually rebuffed and don’t know why. The truth is, attraction is a game, and you have to play by the rules.
Lie #3: “The One”
The concept of The One is ridiculous. Most people could think of three celebrities who they’d marry on sight. Are they all your Ones?
What we do look for is the best person we can find, the one who compliments and completes us, and one who feels the same way about us. In a world of 7 billion people, there’s probably quite a few of those, but that doesn’t mean they’re easy to find (see Lie #1, above).
In fact, our standards are 90 percent dictated by our options. So if you live on a desert island, you’ll find your “One” right there. If you live in NYC, they might be your neighbor or your co-worker.
What are the odds?
The One is an evil myth to spread because (a) it’s not true (b) you’re unreasonably expecting your partner to be literally the best person for you on Earth and (c) if you ever break up with such a person you would feel justified in ending your life right now, because you just lost your one shot at happiness. Which you haven’t.
The true formula to dating success
Well that was depressing. Don’t you wish dating actually made sense? Like, if only there was some kind of magic formula to finding your special someone? Well, there is.
Let’s break it down.
Imagine you filled a jar with 500 blue jellybeans, and then 500 pink jellybeans:
That’s like most social circles. Not a lot of blue and pink beans are going to get together. You’re one of them, and you need to mix it up.
The amount of mixing with potential partners you do in your life is a multiplier for your dating success.
Notice I said multiplier. You’ve got a great product (that’s you!) — but you need to get in front of buyers to sell it. Even if you’re super fit, smart, funny, successful supermodel who’s just won a Nobel Prize, that doesn’t do you a lot of good if you live alone in the woods.
Meeting the same people won’t expand your pool. Getting drunk won’t expand your pool. Try a new hobby. Join a club. Travel the world. Move to a new city. Sign up for speed and online dating. These things are literally multipliers for the number of people you meet, and therefore for your success. Not all of them will work, but that’s not a reason not to try.
Some people are just more attractive than others. And you might think there is little you can do about that, but there is.
Here’s a test: What’s going on in your life right now? What are you looking forward to in the near future?
Are you traveling somewhere interesting? Learning to scuba dive? Writing a book? Dancing in front of a crowd? How about giving blood, starting a business, helping homeless people, making a billion dollars or juggling knives?
When your overall life is awesome, your attraction rises. Your confidence, and understanding, and imagination and humility and empathy and a million other skills all increase. You become more interesting. You become more unique. And you will almost certainly be happier, even when you don’t have a partner.
A surprisingly large number of my friends found their spouses by volunteering in the developing world. In what might seem like the least likely place imaginable they found other awesome people who were doing the same. They mixed up their jellybeans and made their life awesome all in one.
Paradoxically, one of the best things to do to improve your dating success is not focus on dating. Live awesome first. And don’t be afraid to mix up your jellybeans.
Just whatever you do, don’t buy into more stupid love stories.
When you’re in love…
Your heart is healthier. Love is good for the ticker. A large 2013 study from Finland, published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, showed that marriage reduced the risk of both fatal and non-fatal heart attacks among men and women of all ages. The researchers looked at a register of more than 15,000 “acute cardiac syndromes” (which includes both fatal and non-fatal cardiac events) over 10 years — the participants were all over 35 and lived in one of four regions of Finland. They discovered that cardiac events were 58 to 66 percent higher in unmarried men and 60 to 65 percent higher in unmarried women, compared to their married peers. And 28-day mortality rates were 60 to 168 percent higher among unmarried men and 71 to 175 percent higher for unmarried women.
What’s more, a study published earlier this month in the journal Psychological Science showed that having a supportive spouse was associated with lower levels of coronary artery calcification, or hardened arteries. And research has shown that married people are three times more likely to survive heart surgery in the three months following the operation compared to singles.
Your mental health could improve. An editorial published in Student BMJ concluded that men in committed relationships are in better physical health and women in committed relationships are in better mental health (assuming the relationship is a happy one). According to the authors, “the mental bonus for women may be due to a greater emphasis on the importance of the relationship.”
Plus, a 2012 study in the American Journal of Public Health identified a link between same-sex marriage and mental health benefits, ABC News reported. “We know that heterosexual marriage provides a higher perception of social integration and support,” study author Allen LeBlanc, a professor of sociology at San Francisco State University, told ABC. “It makes sense that same-sex marriages would carry some of the same benefits.”
You produce fewer stress hormones. For a 2010 University of Chicago study, researchers conducted several experiments with 500 study participants to stimulate a stressful experience, collecting saliva before and after to test their levels of cortisol (a stress hormone). While all the participants experienced a cortisol spike after the experiments, people in marriages or in a committed, romantic relationship had lower levels than those who weren’t paired up.
“Although marriage can be pretty stressful, it should make it easier for people to handle other stressors in their lives,” lead author Dario Maestripieri, a professor in comparative human development at the University of Chicago, said in a statement. “What we found is that marriage has a dampening effect on cortisol responses to psychological stress, and that is very new.”
You may experience less pain. Could love be a painkiller? Maybe so, according to research published in the journal PLOS One in 2010. Researchers exposed 15 study participants, all of whom were in the first nine months of a new relationship, to periods of moderate and high thermal pain. While doing so, they either looked at a picture of their partner, looked at pictures of an equally attractive acquaintance or completed a word-association task that’s been shown to distract from pain. While both the first and the third greatly reduced pain, looking at pictures of a romantic partner also activated the brain’s reward systems.
“Greater analgesia while viewing pictures of a romantic partner was associated with increased activity in several reward-processing regions, including the caudate head, nucleus accumbens, lateral orbitofrontal cortex, amygdala, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — regions not associated with distraction-induced analgesia,” the researchers wrote in the finding. “The results suggest that the activation of neural reward systems via non-pharmacologic means can reduce the experience of pain.”
You could have lower blood pressure. While it might ratchet up your blood pressure when your partner forgets to take out the trash (again), he or she could be a boon to your overall BP. One Brigham Young University showed that happily married adults have lower blood pressure than single people, even those with strong social networks. Specifically, happily married men and women scored four points lower on 24-hour blood pressure than single adults (each of the 300-plus participants had their blood pressure measured and recorded about 72 times over the course of a full day). But both groups had lower blood pressure than those in unhappy marriages.
“There seem to be some unique health benefits from marriage,” lead author Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor at BYU, said in a statement. “It’s not just being married that benefits health — what’s really the most protective of health is having a happy marriage.”
You might live longer. Several studies have identified a link between marriage and longevity. One 2011 study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, for instance, suggested that single people may die close to a decade earlier than their married peers, NBC News reported at the time. According to the finding, a single man’s risk of death was 32 percent higher over the course of a lifetime than married men. That number was 23 percent for single women vs. married women.
“If you’re a couple, a spouse may be after you to eat better and go the doctor,” lead author David Roelfs, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Louisville, Ky., told NBC. “Sometimes it’s just easier to be healthier and less of a risk taker when you’re married.”
You may be at a decreased risk of stroke (if you’re a man). Research presented at the 2010 American Stroke Association’s International Conference suggested that marriage might protect men from stroke — but it has to be a happy one. The researchers evaluated data that had been collected from 10,059 civil servants and municipal workers who participated in the Israeli Ischemic Heart Disease Study in 1963. The participants, who had an average age of 49, were tracked until 1997. Among the results were that single men had a 64 percent higher risk of fatal stroke than married men, and those who were in unhappy marriages also had a 64 percent increase compared to men who said their marriages were successful.
But while the research is promising, it’s hardly conclusive: “How much this reflects associations between being happily or relatively happily married and stroke-free survival in other populations, at later times, is not readily deduced,” study author Uri Goldbourt, Ph.D., said in a statement.
You’re at a decreased risk for chronic conditions. Here’s something to thank your Valentine for: Research has linked being in a happy marriage with a lower risk for chronic illnesses, compared to people who are divorced or widowed. What’s more, according to 2013 research from the University of Missouri, people who are in good marriages tend to rate their health better as they age.
“We often think about the aging process as something we can treat medically with a pill or more exercise, but working on your marriage also might benefit your health as you age,” study author Christine Proulx, an assistant professor at the university, said in a statement. “Engaging with your spouse is not going to cure cancer, but building stronger relationships can improve both people’s spirits and well-being and lower their stress.”
You might get better sleep. Even if you share a bed with a cover hog, a happy marriage could be good for your Zzs (at least for women). Research presented at the 2008 Associated Professional Sleep Societies showed that women in happy marriages sleep better than their unhappy counterparts. “Marriage can be good for your sleep if it’s a happy one. But, being in an unhappy marriage can be a risk factor for sleep disturbance,” lead author Wendy M. Troxel, a psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh, told HealthDay News. Indeed, the finding suggested that happily married women had a 10 percent greater likelihood of banking a good night’s sleep, the publication reported.
You might have more (and better) sex. Despite the stereotype, married people may actually be more active between the sheets than their single counterparts. “Studies have found that married people have more sex than single people, and they also have more varied sex,” sexual health expert Dr. Laura Berman told HuffPost Weddings in 2012. “Oral sex is also more common among married people.”
And that’s good news in the health department, considering sex has been linked with a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure and even, interestingly, increased libido.
You’re probably happier. Maybe there’s some truth to the old “happy wife, happy life” cliche. One Journal of Research in Personality study found that happiness spikes in the year after marriage, and remains higher over the years than it would have been if people were to remain single.
“Our data suggests that married people are happier than they would have been if they didn’t get married,” study author Stevie C.Y. Yap, a researcher in MSU’s Department of Psychology, told HuffPost Weddings when the results were released. “Marriage protects against age-related declines in happiness.”
And other 2012 research showed that cohabitation may also be linked with an uptick in happiness levels.
You produce more “feel good” chemicals. In her research, anthropologist Helen Fisher took scans of the brains of people madly in love and found activity in a part of the brain where cells make the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical associated with the brain’s reward system, she explained in a 2008 TED talk. “In fact, the same brain region where we found activity becomes active also when you feel the rush of cocaine,” she said.
And there may be similar patterns amongst people in long-term relationships, as well. “Individuals in long-term romantic love showed patterns of neural activity similar to those in early-stage romantic love,” concluded 2011 research on which Fisher was an author. “These results support theories proposing that there might be mechanisms by which romantic love is sustained in some long-term relationships.”
Romantic relationships also trigger the production of oxytocin, a.k.a. “the love hormone,” which can be stimulated by activities such as cuddling and kissing and produces feelings of well-being. “The increase in oxytocin during the period of falling in love was the highest that we ever found,” psychology professor Ruth Feldman of Bar-Ilan University in Israel told Scientific American of her research.
Published: 02/14/2014 08:08 AM EST on LiveScience
Talking to the stranger in seat 4B on a cross-country flight is often considered one of the torments of air travel, to be avoided at all costs. But new research suggests people are deeply wrong about the misery of striking up conversations on public transit.
Contrary to expectations, people are happier after a conversation with a stranger, the study revealed.
“At least in some cases, people don’t seem to be social enough for their own well-being,” said study researcher Nicholas Epley, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “They think that sitting in solitude will be more pleasant than engaging in conversation, when, in fact, the opposite is true.” [7 Thoughts That Are Bad For You]
Talking to strangers
Epley, author of the book “Mindwise: How We Understand What Others Think, Feel, Believe and Want” (Knopf, 2014), studies social connection. Humans are social animals, he said, to the extent that having more and stronger friends and family connections is linked with a healthier life.
But in waiting rooms, trains, planes and other public spots, people fail to show their social stripes, Epley told Live Science. During his own commute in Chicago, he sees “highly social animals getting on the train every morning and being remarkably anti-social … They might as well be sitting next to a rock.”
Perhaps people know that interacting with a stranger is likely to be less pleasant than sitting in silence, so they choose the latter, Epley said.
Or maybe, just maybe, everybody is wrong about talking to strangers. Maybe it’s actually fun.
To find out which is true, Epley and his colleagues recruited real-life commuters at Chicago train stations. They also conducted a series of experiments with bus riders. In some of these experiments, they simply asked people to imagine striking up a conversation on the bus or train. Would it be pleasant? Would they feel happy afterward?
By and large, people said “no,” it wouldn’t be pleasant, and that such an interaction wouldn’t result in a happiness boost. In addition, people guessed, on average, that fewer than half of strangers would be interested in chatting. They expected to be rebuffed.
In other experiments, the researchers actually asked the commuters to go through with the conversations. At random, some participants were assigned to start a conversation. Others were asked to sit silently, and a third group was told to go about their normal commute routine (which involved silence for some and speaking to a friend for others). The participants were given sealed surveys to complete and mail in after their commute.
The results? People had a more pleasant time when they talked to a stranger versus when they stayed silent. Incredibly, the findings held even when the researchers controlled for personality traits, like extraversion and introversion.
“Everyone seems happier and has a more pleasant interaction when they connect versus sit in isolation,” Epley said.
Perhaps even more surprising, their conversation partners seemed to welcome the connection, too.
“Nobody was rejected in any of our studies, as far as I can tell,” Epley said. “Everybody who tried to talk to somebody was able to.”
In another study, the researchers set up participants in a waiting room, so they could test the happiness of both the conversation starter and their target. Again, everyone was happier after chatting — even the person who hadn’t started the conversation. Pairs of strangers deep in conversation also reported that the wait seemed shorter.
Epley’s research isn’t the first to find that interactions with strangers influence mood. Findings reported in 2012 showed that even smiling and nodding at strangers makes people feel more connected. [5 Wacky Things That Are Good for Your Health]
Giving conversation a chance
Based on Epley’s findings that people expected fewer than half of strangers to want to talk, Epley and his colleagues suspected that a fundamental misunderstanding of others’ interest might explain why people sit in silence when chatter would make them happier.
To check the suspicion, the researchers set up studies of cab riders out of Chicago’s Midway airport. The riders were surveyed on whether they would normally talk to their cab driver on such a trip. In two experiments, 56 percent and 65 percent said yes.
“Talkers” and their nonchatty opposites, “loners,” were then asked to talk to their driver or sit in silence. The results showed, again, that talking improved the experience of the commute. Intriguingly, in the presurvey, the talkers indicated they expected that improvement. The loners, on the other hand, said they expected talking to the driver to be unpleasant.
Those opposing predictions suggest the reason people stay silent is a lack of experience, Epley said. The talkers have tried chatting with strangers and found it pleasant; thus, they make accurate predictions about the experience. The loners, on the other hand, have always stayed quiet, so they make pessimistic predictions and fail to give conversation a chance.
The researchers tested whether people with negative expectations about talking to strangers had stronger memories of bad conversations in the past and found no evidence of a bias induced by bad memories.
Epley will present the findings Friday (Feb. 14) at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Austin, Texas. The work is currently under review at a peer-reviewed journal, he said. In the meantime, he’s putting the findings into action.
“I’m just more social now,” Epley said. “It’s that simple.”
He’s ditched his smartphone and now strikes up conversations during his morning commute. An opening line as simple as, “I like your hat,” can lead to a pleasant conversation, he said. And as a result, his mornings are no longer so impersonal. He often finds himself seated next to someone on the train he’s talked with before, which “just makes it more pleasant than the alternative.”
“Other people are people, too,” Epley said. “And it turns out, they’d like to get to know you.”
Follow Stephanie Pappas on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.
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