Finding Love: 5 Basic Tips for Online Dating

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  1. Use websites to find potential dates, not to virtually date. Online dating is a way to meet people to go on dates with in the real world. It is NOT a mechanism to date.
  2. Keep your online dating profile brief. Your profile should not be a laundry list of your favorite movies, books, and albums. For the most part, it should contain essential facts about yourself like if you completed college. While you can sprinkle in a few of your interests and hobbies, remember those are conversation pieces to talk about during the date itself. Don’t reveal everything about yourself in an exhaustive profile.
  3. Let go of the small things when it comes to compatibility: similar hobbies, movie genres, etc. Unless fly fishing is so supremely important to you that your future partner must fly fish beside you, you shouldn’t care whether they like to or not. A lot of times things we consider to be deal-breakers, aren’t whatsoever. For instance, I have two friends who met on Match.com and are now married. She is an editor who earns a living correcting other people’s grammatical mistakes. Consequently, she refused to go out with anyone who made grammar mistakes in their profile, believing it to be a deal-breaker. She amended that rule for one man, who eventually became her husband. He works with computers for a living and happens to be dyslexic (hence the misspelled words). His poor grammar has never affected their relationship and they are a happy, compatible couple. Thus, a lot of times traits and similarities we believe to be deal-breakers turn out not to be. Who wants to date a carbon copy of themselves? Let trivial stuff go.
  4. Select people for their fundamental similarities to you, such as similar education level and wanting (or not wanting) marriage and children. While education level may not seem like a big deal, it is in terms of long-term compatibility. There are exceptions to every rule, but you want to date efficiently. If you have your MBA, it is unlikely that sparks will fly with a high school drop out. Also, if you definitely want marriage and children, you should only date people who want the same. If after a couple of dates, the topic hasn’t come up: ASK. “Do you want to get married and have children someday? I don’t mean soon and I don’t mean with me, but is it something you want?”
  5. Your safety and comfort level should never be compromised. Meet at a public place. Tell your roommates/family where you are going and when to expect you home. Leave the date if you feel uneasy or wary. You do NOT have to stay if you feel in any way uncomfortable.

Singlehood: What Everyone Should Know

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Happy, healthy couples consist of happy, healthy individuals. Many people believe their problems, fears, and insecurities will magically dissolve once they find love. I’m insecure about my weight, don’t like my career, and am unhappy single, but all that won’t matter once I have a boyfriend/girlfriend. They will make me happy and give me confidence. Finding love is NOT the cure to all one’s problems. In fact, the opposite is true.

A romantic relationship doesn’t resolve your personal issues and insecurities, it highlights them.

If you don’t like your job, getting into a relationship won’t solve that. Insecure about your body? Another person can’t (and shouldn’t) be your sole source of confidence. Don’t have fulfilling hobbies and interests? A partner isn’t going to provide them.

It’s easy to believe all of one’s issues and worries are resolved when first falling in love. The high of passionate love is unrivaled. Food tastes better, the world around you looks anew, and you feel as if you’re walking on air. Your worries and insecurities are a million miles away. However, falling in love is a fleeting stage. Once your relationship evolves to the next stage of companionship love, all your baggage will be there waiting for you. Worse, your partner will have to wade through and navigate it.

If you’re single, stop daydreaming about all the ways in which another person will one day fix you and your life. It ain’t going to happen. You want a happy romantic relationship in the future? Be a happy singleton. Figure out who you are, what you want out of life, and what your values are. Create a meaningful life for yourself. Build your confidence. Nurture yourself emotionally. Become financially independent. Build the characteristics and traits you’d like your future partner to have.

How fulfilled you are whilst single is directly correlated to how fulfilled you’ll be in a relationship. Plus, like attracts like. If you’re insecure and unhappy, secure and happy people aren’t going to be interested in dating you. You need to become the type of person a healthy, happy, successful person would want to partner with.

The secret to being in a healthy, stable, and happy romantic partnership is two people who are capable of being healthy, stable, and happy when single. As a singleton, you are laying the foundation, the bedrock, your future relationship will stand on. Set yourself up for future relationship success by getting great at being single.

Have questions or need advice on being single? Write to me in the comments and I’ll answer your question as my next post!

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby. Let’s Talk About You and Me.

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Here are a few pertinent facts about sex:

  1. Not to insult your intelligence, but I have to start with the basics: people have sex, including Americans. 95% of Americans have sex before they are married and 99% of Americans have sex by age 44 (1).
  2. Abstinence only education doesn’t work because irregardless of religion or ideology, 95% people have premarital sex (2). Those taught abstinence only education are less likely to use contraceptives when they have sex, which puts them at higher risk for unintended pregnancy.
  3. “More than 99% of women aged 15–44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method.” Further, 99% of American Catholic and Protestant women have used contraceptives (3). The take-away point being women need contraceptives in order to plan the size and timing of their families.

The United States has an epidemic of unintended pregnancy. Our unintended pregnancy rates are distressingly high in comparison with other industrialized countries. “Currently, about half (51%) of the 6.6 million pregnancies in the United States each year (3.4 million) are unintended” (4).

There are many reasons why the U.S. has high unintended pregnancy rates: lack of sexual education in schools, lack of access to contraceptives, etc. The consequences of so many unintended pregnancies include a huge financial burden on tax payers, high incidences of abortion, and lower quality of life for children. (Many studies enumerate the ways in which children conceived unintentionally have worse health and life outcomes- check it out in the references) (5).

With how immense the problem is, it’s easy to think the solution is complex, that we haven’t fixed the problem because we don’t know how to or because it would require a huge amount of effort. This is not the case. The solution is well-documented and simple: contraceptives.

As you can see, modern contraceptives work, especially contraceptives that require little to no effort on the user’s part such as IUDs.

While most people understand cognitively that people have sex, this reality gets terrifying the closer it gets to home. Dr. Pepper Schwartz at the University of Washington explains that parents often fail to speak to their child before they are sexually active. When parents are asked if generally speaking teenagers are sexually active, they concede yes, but not my teenager (6).

Why don’t we talk openly about sex and contraceptives in the U.S.? SHAME

Shame is what keeps us from acknowledging that we are sexual beings who like sex, enjoy sex, and pursue sex. Fear and shame dominate how we talk about sex. We fear our children having sex. We fear other people’s sex lives. Older generations shame younger generations for having premarital sex when they had premarital sex. In fact, if you were only allowed to promote abstinence education if you, yourself, remained abstinence, there would be a lot less yelling, shaming, and vitriol. Remember, 95% of Americans (regardless of their religion) have premarital sex. That being said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being abstinent or saving sex for marriage. The problem is that most people simply can’t do this, and need to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy and STIs.

No matter how obvious it is, we haven’t accepted the reality that people have sex. Until we come to terms with our sexuality and stop shaming ourselves and others over wanting to have sex will we markedly lower the instances of unintended pregnancy.

If you have need advice related to sex, shame, or contraceptives, write me in the comments with your story and question. If you need relationship advice of any kind, I am here to answer your questions!

References

  1. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html
    2. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111129185925.htm
    3. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html
    4. https://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/FB-Unintended-Pregnancy-US.html
    5. https://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/2722895.html
    6. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/love-lessons/200912/sex-talks-timing-is-everything

The Power of Love: Dating with Intention

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This is a TED talk worth watching. Alexandra Redcay breaks down the process of falling in love and a common trap we fall prey to when picking a spouse. The most important takeaway is this: we fall in love very fast (within 3 weeks of dating). Obviously, 3 weeks is not enough time to know someone in any capacity. Being in love is an extremely powerful emotion and bond. Once we fall in love, a lot of time has to pass before we see that person for who they really are. Many times this new love is not someone who is compatible with us, nor someone we have much in common with. Our close friends and families often see this. When they point red flags out to us, we become defensive and render excuses, “You don’t know him the way I do- he’s different when it’s just the two of us.”

Sometimes, as the relationship unfolds and the initial passion dwindles, we see the red flags for ourselves, and the relationship ends. I think most of us know what it’s like to reflect on ex-partners and spouses and think- What was I thinking? They were so wrong for me. Other times, we don’t see (or refuse to see) the red flags, go full steam ahead, and marry the person. We lose precious years of our lives investing in a relationship that was never going to work out, with someone we were never compatible. When the relationship inevitably ends, our loved ones bite their tongues thinking, I knew the whole time he/she wasn’t right for you, but you just wouldn’t listen.

I have talked with many people who fell into this trap. Plus, I personally have dated “red flag” guys, all the while rebutting my loved ones’ objections. Most of us have lived what Redcay addresses, but few of us mindfully date with the wisdom she shares in mind. I certainly didn’t have this knowledge when I was single. True to her model, I fell in love with Bob within 3 weeks from the time we met. While my passionate and adoring feelings were sincere, I didn’t actually know him. Luckily, he is a wonderful man, but my goodness, he could have been anybody. I was head over heels in love with a basic stranger! Our hearts go all in on the first hand. We are hooked by week 3 of dating.

Okay, so let’s delve deeper. Let’s look at one of our biggest myths when it comes to love and relationships.

We are a culture of hopeless romantics. “Love conquers all.” “All you need is love.” “Love will find a way.” Falling madly in love with someone is the ultimate thrill and achievement in our culture, epitomized by the saying, “They’re THE ONE!” We have an entire genre of movies dedicated to romantic comedies. We raise our children on Disney movies that instill an utterly unrealistic and over-the-top “magic carpet ride” type of love. We are steeped in a culture that espouses that as long as you’re in love, the rest will sort itself out. Don’t worry about the logistics, love is all you need to make a relationship work. One day you’ll stumble upon the person you’ve been waiting your whole life to meet, you’ll fall in love, and live happily ever after. In our culture, happiness is synonymous with finding true love.

If you’re still unconvinced, consider this hypothetical. Ask any American bride or groom on their wedding day why they are getting married and why their marriage will last. Do you think their answer will be, “Because we have realistic expectations, we practice constructive communication, and are willing to put in the work?” Ha ha, NO! Ask that groom why things are going to work out with his blushing bride, and I guarantee he’ll answer, “Because I loveee her.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of love, romance, and affection. I’ll never escape my Disney upbringing (nor do I want to). But, I’m not a fan of the pervasive myth that if you’re in love with someone, your relationship is real, it’s worth fighting for, and it’ll last until the end of time. Um…NO. Love is definitely not enough. Feeling in love is a temporary emotion that is destined to evolve into a deep, companionship type of love. Plus, as already addressed, being sincerely in love with someone does not mean you’re compatible with them. You’re in love after 3 weeks!

Now let’s talk about another prevalent reality in our culture: divorce. Roughly 50% of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. Ouch, really consider that. Half of all marriages fail and second marriages are even more likely to fail. If you plan on getting married one day, these are some terrible odds.

What is going on? How are we a culture of both hopeless romantics strung out on Disney princesses AND a culture rooted in divorce and fleeting relationships? I mean, it’s fine if we believed in short-term true love, but that isn’t the case. We don’t think ah yes, Cinderella found her Prince Charming. They are madly in love. Their relationship will make a sensible three year courtship. As I stated earlier, we believe love to reign supreme. It’s not a reason to marry someone, it’s the reason. We believe love sustains marriages, not pragmatism.

Here’s something our culture needs to embrace. Love IS beautiful, sacred, incredible, and worth celebrating. Yet, it is not the be all end all, and being in love with someone doesn’t guarantee your relationship will last. Loving somebody doesn’t guarantee that you’re compatible with them. Feeling in love is wild and thrilling, but it’s not reason enough to say “I do.”

Watch the TED talk and heed her dating advice, so you don’t fall into the trap of committing yourself to the wrong person. Date a substantial amount of time before getting married. You need time to spot any red flags before walking down the aisle, and you can’t do that without dating a sufficient amount of time.

This topic means a great deal to me. I know too many people who have lost years of their lives investing in a relationship that was never going to work out. Members of my family have gotten divorced because they were too in love on their wedding day to see the red flags obvious to others. They bought into our cultural myth that love is all you need.

Believe in love, but also believe in its power. You fall in love within 3 weeks of dating- way before you know who a person is. Honor love by not believing in it blindly.

Thanks to Alexandra Redcay for her excellent research and TED talk- keep it up!

Need dating advice or have a relationship question? Write your story and question in the comments.