November 29th, 2013
A new study out of Florida State University on using your gut when making the decision to get married was published online this week in the Journal Science. It found that newlyweds had unconscious positive or negative gut feelings about their partners that they were not consciously aware of. These feelings actually predicted the satisfaction and survival of their marriages several years later.
Essentially, the study used photos of the person’s spouse along with a series of positive and negative words. The photo was only shown for a couple of seconds, enough time to recognize the person- and then they were given a positive and negative word and had to push a button for only one of them. The design left no time to construct an answer- it was instant and knee-jerk, often referred to as a gut reaction. Remember the word association game where someone says a word and you immediately say the first thing that comes into your mind? It’s much like that except a picture is used.
135 heterosexual couples who had been married within the past 6 months participated. The couples also filled out a marital satisfaction survey- and these came out as very positive across the board regardless of what the other part of the experiment showed. They were asked to reevaluate their marriage for four years at six month intervals, using the same questionnaire. Over time, their responses on both the questionnaire and their reactions to photos came closer together and showed a more consistent response. Twelve of the couples divorced within the four years the study was conducted- and their responses supported this outcome.
What this boils down to is that many people ignore their feelings, brush them under the rug, push them aside in order to achieve the goal of marriage- and then over time find that they can’t hide from these feelings anymore. In my work with couples I encounter this too frequently- folks who had doubts but either ignored them or rationalized them. They usually write them off as the typical “cold feet” experience that can happen before taking such a major step. However, as we discuss their pre-marriage concerns it becomes clear that there were many red flags and signs that said STOP and THINK that they ignored.
It will be nice for therapists like me to actually have a study to back up what we have been trying to tell couples for years- if it doesn’t feel right, slow down and delay making that huge commitment.
To read the study, click here
November 24th, 2013
It’s not really new- the term was coined back in 06 or 07. But for some reason it’s very much in the news again- the “Relationship Lite.” It’s a sort of relationship in which two people date, spend a lot of time together- but there’s no commitment. Kind of like friends with benefits, but the benefits are greater.
The fact that it’s gaining in popularity is probably due to the hook-up culture of dating today. People don’t date so much as go out with friends, then pair off at the end of the evening. These initial hook-ups can lead to friends with benefits or just to regret the next morning, depending. Relationship lite sounds like the third phase, where folks intensify their friends with benefits relationship and are more or less exclusive, at least until something better comes along.
It’s like having one’s cake and eating it too- except someone ALWAYS gets hurt, then they call me. In my experience working with singles of all ages and stages of dating and relationships I have found that everything new is old again. I’m hearing from young, successful, attractive men that they can’t meet the women they could be serious about. Instead they meet attractive, intelligent, often professional women who are very casual with sex and can throw back shots with the guys and always pay their way. A guy’s dream, right? Not according to my sources. They want women who really know and like themselves and aren’t just pretending to be something they think men want- which is how it feels to a lot of guys. They are aggressive and worldly and have it together- or do they? To many men it seems they are trying too hard.
If you are a woman looking for something more than fun and sex, it’s not only OK to communicate this- it would probably improve your dating experiences and chances for meeting the kind of man you want. Love yourself and set that bar so he has to reach for it. Let him know you don’t share yourself with every attractive and available man. If he’s interested, he will want to get to know YOU, and put thought and effort into doing so. Obviously I can’t tape my male clients as they tell me how hard it is to meet those special girls so you will have to take my word for it. I will tell you what I tell them- there are many beautiful, bright and accomplished women out there who want what you want and have those qualities you seek. Don’t be so quick to get drunk with them and jump into bed with them and you may meet the woman of your dreams.
November 19th, 2013
Only a month after her separation announcement, Kris Jenner discussed the subject of getting back into dating on Entertainment Tonight. Kris (58) and her husband, former Olympian, Bruce were married for 22 years. Maybe if reality show fame hadn’t intruded they would still be together…given the statistics, it’s not a stretch.
According to Kris, she is not in a rush- which it certainly would be after only one month. However, when she said she was open to the possibility of a new love, Kris added even with a “younger man.” It does leave us wondering if she may have someone in mind. The ET hosts presented her with several possibilities, ranging in age from the 20’s to 50’s and she said she’d like them all. In other words, she didn’t offer any clues as to what she meant by younger or if someone has already gotten her attention.
As the wife of a former athlete, Kris is probably into guys who are in shape and “youthful” in appearance. Many celebrities and high profile women have been known to favor younger men, and even marry them- think Demi Moore. These relationships draw a lot of speculation and snarky comments when the age difference is significant. Five to ten years may not even be noticed, but 15 and up provides a lot of material for celebrity magazines. Therefore Ms. Jenner would be wise to avoid someone who would be considered a boy toy, or would she? It wouldn’t last long, but it could be a lot of fun and keep her in the limelight, where it appears she enjoys being. Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kylie, and Kendall move over- it’s Mom’s turn.
November 16th, 2013
Certain months of the year are very popular for weddings- as anyone who has multiple friends getting married in the same year knows only too well. May, June, July and August come out on top and April, September and October aren’t too far behind. However, November through March are not considered desirable, except maybe that special day for lovers in February, and, of course, February 29th when it falls in a leap year.
What is behind this preference? Probably the desire for good weather, outdoor venues, and not getting married too close to Christmas, Hanukah or other significant family and/or religious holidays so guests would have trouble attending. However, there is also that seemingly basic desire to be like other people- and plan a wedding that is out of Bride’s magazine. Ever see one in there that is held on a gloomy winter day or at Christmas time?
A newer trend is that of couples wanting to be married on significantly NUMERICAL days. For instance, dates like 10/10/10 or 11/11/11. Then there are the dates that have a unique sequence like 10/11/12, 12/13/14 and so on. If you were to ask someone why one of these days was chosen they would probably say because it will bring them luck or that it will be easy to remember (for the groom) or perhaps just that it will be unique and stand out in a crowded field of brides and grooms.
Those who seek out such dates are often a unique bunch themselves. They strive to be different and like that their day doesn’t belong to too many others. As a therapist who works with many couples, I have learned that when we marry and how expensive or elaborate our planning is, has no impact on the health or longevity of the union. Elopements often lead to long-term, happy marriages. Elaborate and expensive weddings can fail at alarmingly fast rates- think Kim and Chris. In my practice, I have had many new brides and grooms calling me to discuss their big mistake- only a few short months after their wedding of the year.
So, pick your unique date and have fun with it. Just know that it will not bring you luck or make your marriage special in any way. That is all up to you and your spouse and the decisions you made all along the way from that first hello to reciting your vows.
November 12th, 2013
There are a couple of cautionary tales to this story. One is that some websites lie outright and others play with the truth through omissions, false promises- and sexy and untruthful marketing. The second is that if someone is capable of lying to someone else, they will do the same to you if it was in their best interest.
Ashley Madison is a website created for married people who want to cheat on their spouses. Apparently it is doing well and growing. A new Portuguese language version of the site was being launched and its creators hired a woman to write fake profiles of sexy, beautiful women that would draw lots of male users. According to this employee her job required her to write 1,000 fake profiles in three weeks and she is now suing Ashley Madison due to a disability caused by the enormous amount of keyboarding she had to do. The employee, Doriana Silva is seeking a total of 20 million to compensate for her being used this way for their enrichment and 1 million for general damages. According to Silva, she had no idea that what she was doing was deceitful; instead she believed it was a normal practice in this industry.
So, we have a website designed to help married people cheat, a company making large profits by providing a service that encourages and enables infidelity, and an ex-employee who says that she had no idea the 1,000 fake profiles she wrote were wrong and should be better compensated due to their high profits and the harm she suffered providing all those fake profiles to deceive potential users.
The suit was filed last year but is caught up in legal limbo. Best case scenario, they would go broke from the suit and all the bad publicity- and this woman would be truly unable to keyboard again. If you are thinking about cheating due to boredom, a lack of good sex, or any reason someone would cheat rather than get a divorce- consider your next moves carefully. You could end up with a fake new lust object and a marriage headed to divorce court.
November 7th, 2013
A recent study out of the University of Florida found that a woman’s success made her partner feel worse about himself, even though the men who participated weren’t even aware that their self-esteem had been affected in this way. Not too surprising is that the women in the study were unaffected by their partner’s successes or failures.
The lead author of the study, Kate Ratliff attributed the results to the different ways that men and women respond to competition. Males are more competitive, apparently even with their mates- and this study shines a light on how men perceive their partner’s success as their failure, regardless of whether they were in a direct competition or not. The study also theorized that that the men (from the US and Netherlands) might have been reacting to culturally reinforced expectations of traditional roles in which the male is dominant- and would therefore be threatened by a woman who was elevated by success.
It’s notable that the age of the subjects were college age to 30 years old- yet they still held on to many of the old norms that say the man should take the lead and be the primary earner. This is especially interesting as recent statistics show that 28% of American women now earn more than their husbands. As the roles continue to change and evolve it may be that women will become the ones who are telling the world that “behind every great woman, stands a supportive husband.”
November 2nd, 2013
If online dating has become too time consuming, frustrating and unproductive- you may want to consider bellying up to the bar and paying more for eHarmony’s new premium service. The cost is (swallow or choke) 5,000- but they promise to deliver what a personal matchmaker does, for a lot less money. Apparently 15,000 eHarmony members who earn more than 250,000 a year told them they would be interested in a service like this. What do you get for your 5,000 you ask? For starters, you will avoid a lot of rejection and reduce your online dating anxiety. You will get a personal counselor who meets with you in person or via Skype or phone, depending on your location. Your counselor will get to know you and what you really want, will sift through your matches- and will approach them on your behalf. So he or she gets paid to handle the rejection.
Match.com tried this a few years ago, for less money- but it apparently was not a money maker for the site and they discontinued it. After all, how many folks out there have that kind of money to spend on a service like this? The pros are that it will save time and angst, which frees up a lot of time and that is always worth something. Also, other folks often have a better sense of who would be a good fit for us. Think about your friends who have been fixed up by friends and found love. All right, there are those blind date fix-ups from hell, but they are only part of the story. The cons are the money. You could be making a big investment that reaps nothing.
The bottom line is that dating, especially online dating- is partly a numbers game and partly luck. No matter how you approach it, there will be elements you can’t control. A service like this helps you to up your odds or at least be less exhausted and discouraged with a process that can be mind-numbing. So, if you have the income and want to take a risk, it probably has better odds than Vegas.
October 25th, 2013
Two websites designed especially for those 5o and up are offering a hard to pass up deal. They are offering free lifetime subscriptions for a limited time only. In other words, if you sign up quickly you will never have to pay a membership fee- never. One is designed by boomers and is especially for boomers and the other is also the creation of these same mature folks and is especially for seniors.
They are a place to go for dating and romance, travel buddies, companionship and home sharing. They have articles, a blog, a chat room and an event calendar. I don’t know about you, but I would see this as a no-brainer. Free to join (if you do it soon), the right resources for mature daters, lots of humor thrown in- and just for older folks like you.
If you are curious, you can check them out at: http://www.seniorpremierdating.com/ and
http://www.boomerpremierdating.com/ What have you got to lose?
October 22nd, 2013
Elizabeth Bernstein of the WSJ put out a great piece today on marital sex. The article focuses on two studies from the University of Toronto that were recently published in the Journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. The studies divided the most common reasons people in long-term relationships have sex into two categories of motivation- approach and avoidance. Approach is about a more positive outcome (seek closeness) where avoidance is about evading a negative outcome (like guilt). They also divide these categories into self-focused or partner-focused.
Bottom line is that WHY couples have sex in the first place- approach or avoidance- affects overall marital satisfaction. Yes, common sense, but somehow we don’t give this the thought we should. Apparently, the after affects of a positive reason for intimacy persist for months afterwards and boost martial happiness and health- talk about an afterglow. Partner-focused goals come out on top in their impact on a relationship, no pun intended- so remember that valuing your partner’s needs and feelings has rewards of its own.
Not surprising at all is that when the motivation of one’s partner directly affected their sexual satisfaction. In other words, when they are into it and into you- it’s great. One’s gender did not make any real difference to the study results.
The important take way is that if you are into having sex for positive reasons and care about the feelings of your partner and seek more closeness from the act- you will have a stronger and happier marriage. Sounds simple, huh? Tell that to the exhausted Mom who only wants time alone and extra sleep at the end of another kid-crazy day. It’s not simple, but it can be done with some planning and creativity. Think of what better sex could do to the divorce rate????
Want to read more? Go to Ms Bernstein’s article at http://online.wsj.com
October 21st, 2013
A new study on the popularity of online dating has just been released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project. The findings are not terribly surprising, but interesting none the less. 38% of single Americans (overall) say they have used online dating or a mobile dating app. 59% of internet users as a whole agree that online dating is a good way to meet people and this number has risen by 14% points since 2005. Now for the statistic every single person wants- 11% of people who started a committed relationship over the past decade met their partner online.
It appears that online dating is most popular with men and women between the ages of 25-34 years old, only 10% in the 18-24 year old group have tried it, those 35-44 are at 17%, and the 45+ folks are below 10% and drop steadily after 65. Seems like it’s lower at both ends of the age spectrum- and this makes sense when we look at who those people are, their life stage, where they go, who they know- and their ease of access to social networks and other available singles. 46% of those surveyed over all age categories use dating sites to find a long-term relationship- while 25% said they just want to have fun. White people show a higher use over other races/ethnicities, but it’s not very significant. Those who have completed some college are the most represented and those without a high school diploma were underrepresented. It’s also interesting that the stigma of having met online has decreased- down to 21% from 29% eight years ago.
Not all the feedback was positive as about half the responders complained about someone they met who misrepresented themselves in their profile- and more than a quarter felt harassed by someone who had contacted them online. The study counted online dating sites and mobile dating apps as “online dating,” so this changes the comparison to earlier studies done when there were no dating apps.
No surprise is that match and eHarmony had the largest memberships- so if one is playing the numbers game, they are always worth exploring.