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January 2011



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5 Secrets to a Successful Long-Term Relationship or Marriage

By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

There have been a thousand or more articles written about how to have a successful long-term relationship or marriage, but none that seem to capture some of the core ingredients I’ve found important in relationships. So here’s the straight dope, from my experience.

Before I begin, however, it’s important to dispel a common relationship myth — relationships are (or should be) easy. That is simply not true. The grass always looks greener in other people’s lives, because few people share the truth of the amount of work that goes into relationships (hence why 50% of marriages end in divorce). Relationships — even the best relationships in the world — require constant attention, nurturing, and work. If you can understand and accept the need for constant attention and work in your relationship, you’re started in the right direction.

1. Compromise

Relationships are about not only taking, but also giving. If you find yourself not giving very much, or feeling resentful of how much you give and how little you receive back, you may be in an unequal relationship where one side is taking more than they are giving.

For instance, couples sometimes mistakenly believe that “love” will help them deal with any issue that comes up, and that if the other person truly loved you, they would just do as you ask. But people are independent with their own unique needs and personalities. Just because we found someone we want to spend our lives with doesn’t mean we give up our own identity in the process.

2. Communicate

Relationships live and die not by the sword, but by the amount of discussion. If two people can’t find a way to openly and honestly communicate their needs and feelings to one another, the relationship doesn’t stand much of a chance long-term. Couples must find a way to communicate regularly, openly, and directly.

This doesn’t mean waiting for an argument to tell your significant other how much he bothers you with his throwing his clothes on the floor instead of the hamper. It means telling him when you feel the need to, and to do so in a manner that is respectful but assertive.

3. Choose Your Battles Carefully

After marriage or when two people move in together, couples tend to discover pretty much the same thing no matter who they are – that they are two different people and living together is harder than anyone ever told them. Love conquers a lot of things, but it is no match for living day-in and day-out with another human being (especially if you’ve spent years on your own).

Prepare yourself for this challenge by choosing what arguments you want to turn into a full blown battle. For instance, do you really want to start a fight over the toothpaste cap or how clean the shower is? Or would you rather reserve your energy for the discussions over finances, kids, and career paths (you know, the things that might really matter to a person). Too many couples fight and bicker over the dumbest things, especially when put into context of issues of true importance.

4. Don’t Hide Your Needs

Sometimes when we enter into a long-term relationship, we put ourselves second, behind the other person’s needs and desires. We might give up working to have a child, or agree to move to another city to help support our significant other’s career. And that’s fine, but you need to be realistic first with yourself about whether such things really matter to you or not. If they do, you need to find a way to communicate such needs with your partner, and compromise where possible.

Two people will rarely have exactly the same wants and desires out of life — that’s just a fantasy. Instead, expect that sometimes your two paths will diverge. Express your needs at those crucial moments, but always find a way to do so respectfully and with an open mind.

5. Don’t underestimate the importance of trust and honesty

Different people have different areas of concern, but almost everyone values trust and honesty from their partner above all. Why? Because your partner is the one person you want to be able to depend upon in the long-term, without question or doubt.

Little things where your significant other hasn’t been completely honest shouldn’t be blown out of proportion, because virtually everybody tells little white lies (especially when one is dating). Focus instead on the big things, like if they say they’re a lawyer and you discover they’ve never even passed the bar, or they say they like kids but later on insist on never having one.

* * *

Strong relationships are like a really good conversation with someone you admire, trust and cherish – they are ever-changing, engaging, wonderfully rewarding and sometimes surprising. But in order to continue the conversation because you want to see what the person has to say next, you have to respect your significant other’s opinion even when you disagree with it.

And just like a good conversation, you need to work on keeping your end up too. You need to show attention and nurture the relationship constantly, just as you would nurture anything you value in life. You don’t just “get married” and that’s the end of it. Indeed, marriage is just the beginning of a long process of learning to openly and honestly communicate with another person in a respectful and caring manner.

If you’re up for it and follow these tips, you’ll be on a road to having a more successful relationship or marriage. But remember — it takes two to tango. Share these with your significant other or spouse and use it as an opportunity to begin the conversation of your life.

Source: http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/5-secrets-to-a-successful-long-term-relationship-or-marriage/2/

In A Good Relationship, Partners Provide Mirroring

By Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS

I’m taking a break from talking about mental illness, but I’ll be back to it soon!

I’ve been in a good, committed love relationship for a while now, and though I’ve also been happy during my single periods, being half of a couple makes me feel especially good in so many ways.

This weekend, I recalled the following reply from a happily married man when he was asked what was great about being married (though I can’t recall what book it came from):

The best thing about having a partner is that I don’t have to reinvent myself every morning.

There’s something so precious about being recognized, about having that special person who sees you, knows you, confirms you.

In his theory of Self psychology, Kohut described mirroring as one of the three poles of Self needs, essential to maintaining a healthy self-image and feelings of balance and well-being.

Even as adults, with our identities formed, we still need regular doses of empathic mirroring, positive feedback that reminds us of who we are, and that we are valued.

Of course people, single and married, can and do also get their mirroring needs met from other sources.

But there’s something especially satisfying about a love relationship that is working well and answering the mirroring needs of both partners, providing them with feelings of completeness and security and well-being.

Look at some of the ways we seek mirroring in relationships:

  • *When we meet someone new, we delight in discovering the things we have in common.
  • *We often exaggerate the commonalities and minimize the differences and may be disappointed later.
  • *We search for our “soulmate,” for the person who will “complete” us.
  • *We may try to change our partners so that they are more like us.
  • *We may dress alike, eat from the same plate, create all sorts of customs and gestures which suggest twins (mirror images of each other).

A good relationship helps support the psychological needs of both partners. Ideally both partners reflect positive-yet-accurate images of each other, providing strength and clarity. Good partners are like your favorite mirror, the one that casts your features in a flattering, yet undistorted manner.

Source:  http://blogs.psychcentral.com/always-learning/2010/03/in-a-good-relationship-partners-provide-mirroring/

Online Dating Behavior Similar to Real Life

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 4, 2010

A researcher has found that people who lie on online dating services are people-pleasers who want to present themselves in the most favorable light to get someone to like them.

Interestingly, the behavior would be the same if the individuals were dating in the traditional, face-to-face manner.

Jeffrey Hall, a University of Kansas researcher and assistant professor of communication studies, surveyed more than 5,000 participants in a national Internet matchmaking service to determine what kinds of people are most likely to lie during the online dating process.

He asked them how likely they were to lie about topics such as assets, relationship goals, personal interests, personal attributes, past relationships, age and weight.

“What people lie about depends on what kind of people they are,” Hall said.

“For example, if you’re an extrovert, you might downplay the number of past relationships you’ve had because chances are you’ve had more relationships than an introvert.”

Those most likely to lie during online dating experiences are “high self-monitors” — people who have an acute sense of what people like and control their behavior to achieve social ends. Their actions are not necessarily manipulative, Hall said, but rather reflect a desire to be liked and to fit in.

Hall’s research was published in the February issue of the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

The journal also produced a podcast with Hall, which can be found here.

In the study, men admitted to lying more overall, but women were most likely to lie about their weight. Because online daters hope to meet face-to-face eventually, the amount of lying is quite small, Hall said.

“Online daters shouldn’t be concerned that most people are presenting a false impression of themselves,” Hall said.

“What influences face-to-face dating influences the online world, too.”

Source: Kansas University


By Susan Love

I have a confession to make.

I pay hard-earned money to meet virtual men.

What’s wrong with me?!

Absolutely nothing. I’m cute (I swear!), in shape, have an interesting job, have interesting hobbies and tons of friends. Yet, I’m still single.

I had a serious live-in boyfriend for several years in my early twenties, and so, while my single friends were out meeting men in bars and partying, I was picking out paint chips in Home Depot and installing new light fixtures in the house. When that relationship ended (amicably, I might add), I was 26 and my once single friends were spending weekends picking out paint chips instead of going out with me!

Being Single Again

I embraced my singleness, and went date-less for almost a year. I didn’t have time to even worry about meeting men – I was too busy doing things that got tossed by the wayside while I was in that relationship. I hung out with my girlfriends again, planned my 10-year high school reunion, tried my hand at surfing and explored the world in my kayak.

After a year, a nice guy at a State Park helped me load my kayak onto my car and asked me out. I’m a sucker for guys who are willing to carry things, so I said yes and we dated for a couple of months. There were no real sparks with the guy, but it was a nice introduction back into the world of dating. He was the only guy who would ask me out until I started Internet dating a year and a half later.

I did not start dating online because I was lonely or desperate. It was more like a dare! One fateful night, one of my still single girlfriends was in the dumps about not having a boyfriend. After several adult beverages, I convinced her to stop feeling sorry for herself, be proactive and put a profile on one of the Internet dating sites. She didn’t want to be one of “those losers” so II promised her that if she did it, I would do it too. So I too, became a “loser.”

Jumping Into Online Dating

That was two and a half years ago. Just for giggles, I ran the numbers.

I have been single for five years. I have gone on dates with 19 different men during that time. I don’t know if that’s a good number or not, but it works out to 3.8 dates a year, which sounds pretty pathetic if you ask me. But it gets worse. I met 16 of these men online. Without the Internet, my average number of dates would have been 0.6 per year. A half a date per year!

Listen, Internet dating has definitely spiced up my life. I have emailed and talked to two or three times as many men as I have actually gone on a date with. There is always a little rush of adrenaline when someone new emails you, or you email someone and they actually respond. “Shopping for boys” becomes a game and something fun to do on a boring Wednesday night. My friends and co-workers have been fascinated by the steady (if slow) stream of new guys I go out with.

Most of the men I have met in person after chatting on the internet have been nice, interesting, attractive, or some combination of all three. I’ve dated tall guys, short guys, round guys, skinny guys, a juice-maker, an accountant, a psychologist, a developer, a guy who runs his truck with vegetable oil from the Chinese place across from his house, sci-fi fans, Christians, Jews, atheists, PhDs, and pot-smokers. I developed two serious relationships, one with talk of marriage. Some, I saw only once, but most were interesting or amusing enough that we went out at least twice.

Let’s compare this to the men I met in person: the golf course manager who was a friend of a friend, the guy who carried my kayak and a guy I know from work who is much older than me and a bit lonely. Because I at least had a conversation with them all before going out with them, I did go out with all of these guys more than once. But serious relationship material, these men were not.

What’s My Point?

Meeting new people on the Internet has enriched my life. I have learned new and interesting things from most of the guys I have been out with. I have experienced new things. Because I have been able to date so many diverse men, I have learned more about myself and what I want from my life and my relationships. I think, I hope, that this will help me embrace the “real thing” if it ever comes along.

Source:  http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/confessions-of-an-online-dating-woman-reflections/

Hooking Up vs. Dating

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on April 8, 2010

A new study explores the gender preference of two different forms of dating common on university campuses.

Although both genders perceive similar benefits and risks to dating and hooking up, more women than men continue to prefer dating whereas more men than women rate hooking up above dating.

Traditional dating follows a predictable pattern whereby the man is active − he asks the woman to go out with him, organizes the date and at the end of it may initiate sexual activity; whereas the woman is reactive − she waits to be asked out on a date and accepts or rejects the man’s sexual overtures.

They know each other or want to get to know one another and there is the prospect of a future relationship.

In contrast, a hookup is a casual sexual encounter which usually occurs between people who are strangers or brief acquaintances. For instance, two people meet at a party where they have been drinking; they flirt and engage in sexual behaviors from kissing to sexual intercourse, with no commitment to a future relationship.

Carolyn Bradshaw from James Madison University in Virginia and colleagues explored the reasons that motivate college men and women to hook up or to date, as well as the perceived relative benefits and costs of the two practices. Their findings are published online in Springer’s journal Sex Roles.

Bradshaw and team exposed 150 female and 71 male college students from a southern, public American university to a variety of dating or hooking up situations, such as when there was potential for a relationship, when their partner had a great personality and when drinking was involved.

They asked the students the extent to which they would prefer dating or hooking up in each situation.

The participants were also asked to pick the top three benefits and top three risks associated with dating and hooking up from a checklist, as well as provide details of their dating and hooking up activities over the past two years.

Even though men initiated significantly more first dates than women, there was no gender difference in the number of first dates or number of hookups. For both men and women, the number of hookups was nearly double the number of first dates.

Overall, both genders showed a preference for traditional dating over hooking up. However, of those students who strongly preferred traditional dating, there were significantly more women than men (41 percent vs. 20 percent).

Of those who showed a strong preference for hooking up, there were far fewer women than men (2 percent vs. 17 percent).

However, context mattered. When considering the possibility of a long-term relationship, both women and men preferred dating over hooking up; however, when the possibility of a relationship was not mentioned, men preferred hooking up and women preferred dating.

On the whole, men and women agreed on the benefits and risks of dating and hooking up. However, there were some notable differences:

  • *Women more than men seem to want a relationship. They fear, both in dating and hooking up, that they will become emotionally attached to a partner who is not interested in them.
  • *Men more than women seem to value independence. They fear that even in hooking-up relationships, which are supposed to be free of commitments, a woman might seek to establish a relationship.

Source: Springer


My Problems with First Dates and Rudeness

By Leigh Pretnar Cousins, MS

I used to be a professional matchmaker, and I’m still keenly interested in dating dynamics.

One piece of common “knowledge” so widely accepted that we form jokes and even car commercials around it, is the idea that people can be rapidly judged, within minutes of our meeting them.

There’s a TV commercial running now in which a woman is rescued from a disappointing blind date by her trusty girlfriend (whose car is especially reliable; thank goodness in such a situation! I can’t recall the make of car).

He said he’s an eternal student … of life! reports the bemused dater; she and her gal-pal chuckle as they make rapid tracks away from this self-confessed loser of a man.

I’ve got more than one problem with this mentality, including:

  • *Why is it OK to be rude to someone you’ve just met?
  • *Why is it apparently OK for women to openly label men as losers (in jokes, articles, and their everyday conversations),
  • *Whereas it certainly seems un-OK for men to ever refer to women as losers?

On first dates, people put their best AND worst feet forward.

Eager to present themselves in the best possible light, and pumped up with rationalizations to counteract insecurity and nervousness, people typically don’t realize the negatives they are also showing.

During my years as a professional matchmaker, the most frustrating thing to observe was how rapidly people discarded each other. It was as if they were sorting through racks of clothing on sale … not this one, not that one, nope, nope, nope …

It was hard to watch this process. I liked my clients. I cared about them. I invested lots of time in getting to know each and every one of them. To me, they were people.

But to each other, they seemed to be … what?

  • *Prospective job candidates?
  • *Merchandise?
  • *Objects?

I love the fact that meeting new people is easier than ever. Thanks to the Internet it’s now so much easier even than when I had my dating service, way back in the 1980s!

But I do worry about the callousness towards, the objectifying of, human beings.

As one Internet dating site reminds us, there are plenty of fish in the sea.

But what does this mean about how we treat each individual “fish” we encounter?

What does it do to us, psychologically and morally, to have so many dating choices?

Source:  http://blogs.psychcentral.com/always-learning/2010/04/my-problems-with-first-dates-and-rudeness/

Sex Without Romance Is Dangerous

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on April 5, 2010

Researchers are investigating a major shift in the United States toward nonromantic partnerships – a behavior that could have far-reaching psychological and physical risks.

A University of Iowa study found that one-third of sexual relationships in the Chicago area lack exclusivity. One in 10 men and women reported that both they and their partner had slept with other people.

Lovers in “friends with benefits” situations or those “hooking up” with a stranger or acquaintance proved much more likely to have multiple partners, according to the survey of 783 heterosexual adults.

Researchers are interested in the topic because concurrent partnerships speed up the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, said Anthony Paik, author of the study published in the latest issue of the journal Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.

“The United States has seen a major shift toward nonromantic sexual partnerships — people becoming sexually involved when they are just casually dating or not dating at all,” Paik said.

“A quarter of the respondents became sexually involved while casually dating and a fifth did so as friends or acquaintances.”

Respondents, ranging in age from 18 to 60, were asked how many people they had been with during their most recent relationship. They also estimated how many partners their partner had during that time.

Sexual involvement was defined as genital contact.

Overall, 17 percent of men and 5 percent of women acknowledged that they had been with someone else.

Another group — 17 percent of women and 8 percent of men — said they’d been exclusive but their partner had not. Twelve percent of women and 10 percent of men said neither of them had been monogamous.

Being involved with a friend increased the likelihood of nonmonogamy by 44 percent for women and 25 percent for men. Involvement with an acquaintance or stranger increased the odds by 30 percent for women and 43 percent for men.

The study also found that respondents who got along with each other’s parents were less likely to have multiple sex partners.

Paik said people are less likely to risk a relationship when they take family stakeholders into consideration.

Paik said the research does not lead to the conclusion that efforts should be made to revive dating.

“People can make their own choices, but we hope this information will be useful as they weigh the risks and rewards of nonromantic sexual relationships,” he said.

“We encourage people be aware of the potential for sexual concurrency and take appropriate precautions to avoid sexually transmitted infections.”

Source: University of Iowa


Dating Later in Life

By Chris Green

“At first, I felt like I was being unfaithful to my late husband,” says Paula, a 65-year-old widow who recently began dating again. Sam, a 70-year-old retiree, wants to date, “But my grown kids don’t think it’s such a great idea for a man my age.”

Like Paula and Sam, many seniors think about dating, but question doing so in light of past relationships, family concerns or health issues. Dating later in life, however, can be rewarding, offering seniors the attention, companionship, affection and support people of all ages long for.

Why date now?

Admittedly, your reasons for dating now may differ from those you had in your youth — but the human need for intimacy and companionship does not change, no matter what your age. You may be content being single or satisfied with your current social circle, but you also may seek a degree of intimacy that is not being met by your friends and family. Sharing life experiences, such as the joy of grandparenting or the grief associated with a loved one’s death, with someone at the same stage of life can be enriching. Or perhaps you miss the passion and emotional investment romantic relationships can offer.

Dating later in life also can be just plain fun. Now that you enjoy freedom from the responsibilities of raising a family and maintaining a household, you can take a risk and pursue new relationships. Plus, relationships between men and women today are more equitable, honest and open, and society is more tolerant of relationships that cross ethnic, racial or religious lines.

Overcoming obstacles

Letting go and saying goodbye to past relationships is the key to enjoying dating. Remove reminders that hinder you from moving on, such as your wedding band or keepsakes on display in your home. Doing so does not mean that you are forgetting a loved one. It just means that you can see beyond what was and to the potential for future relationships.

Grown children sometimes object to a parent dating later in life. Do not be embarrassed by your desire to see other people in a romantic or intimate way. Ask your children for their support, but do not yield to their wishes.

You may think your physical condition or health problems are reasons to not date. But such concerns can and do happen at any age. Plus, through dating, you will meet other people who, like you, are coping with the inevitable aging process. You will appreciate having friends to support and empathize with you through this stage of life.

The singles scene all over

Finding people to date is not difficult if you look for everyday opportunities and are willing to take a chance. Consider meeting others through:

  • *Online dating sites
  • *Neighbors
  • *Volunteer groups
  • *Clubs and civic organizations
  • *Gyms
  • *Adult education opportunities
  • *Bookstore lectures
  • *Church or synagogue
  • *Travel groups

For the most part, dating is much the same as you remember. Nowadays, however, it is appropriate for women to invite men out, and even pick up or split the bill. One way to help ease the transition is to ask your date for coffee or a walk in the park, outings that generally are shorter and more casual than an evening dinner date. And always use common sense when it comes to safety. Think about alcohol use, sexually transmitted diseases and sharing personal information with strangers.

?Want to learn more about adult dating?
Read our three-part series, Adult Dating: From Attraction to Commitment.

Source:  http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/dating-later-in-life/

Dating a Divorcee With Kids

By Robert Stone

Dating someone who has a child from a previous marriage introduces many complicated issues. Get your relationship off to a good start by considering these common scenarios.

My date has a son from a previous marriage. Is it OK to meet him now or should I wait until I have a better feel for the potential of this relationship before making introductions? If all goes well, how should I get to know him?

Most experts agree that you should wait until your relationship shows signs of becoming serious before making introductions. Children (especially young children) quickly can become attached to someone new and, consequently, may be confused or hurt if the relationship ends. If your date wants you to meet her son right away, suggest that she introduce you as a friend.

You may consider bringing the child a small gift to show your good will and sincere interest in him, such as baseball cards for a collector or new crayons for an aspiring artist. Don’t bring anything extravagant, which he may perceive as an effort to buy his affection.

Once your relationship becomes somewhat serious, try to get to know her son gradually, without attempting to rush or force the relationship or stepping in as a parental figure. Plan an outing that is fun and that requires minimal interaction. Go ice skating, take a day hike, visit the zoo or attend a sporting event. Activities such as those offer low-pressure ways of becoming acquainted with each other. Ask the child for help planning-requesting his opinion can help get the relationship off to a good start.

I’m really starting to like this guy I’ve been dating. But, I’m reluctant to meet his daughter. I’ve heard that a divorcee’s child can make dating the parent a real challenge. What kind of reactions can I expect from his daughter?

You may be surprised by her immediate acceptance. But more than likely, she will be upset by your relationship. Many children of divorced parents still have a lingering hope that their parents will reunite, and you are a sign that her parent’s relationship really is over. Common reactions to a new relationship include resentment, fear, jealousy and competitiveness.

Much of how your date’s daughter will react depends on her age. Generally, younger children are more accepting of new relationships. Adolescents, however, may have more trouble. This age is just beginning to understand sexuality, and often preteens have trouble dealing with their own sexuality, let alone the idea that their parents are sexual beings, too.

Although the child at first may refuse to bond with you, over time (maybe even over a year), you can build a relationship. Sticking around is the best way to show your date’s child that you intend to be there through thick and thin.

I want to begin spending the night at my girlfriend’s, but fear that doing so will compromise my relationship with her daughters.

You and your girlfriend should talk seriously about this next step. If possible, consider sleeping over when her children are not at home or are elsewhere. Only after a relationship is very serious should you consider exposing the children to this side of your relationship. By waiting, you will show the children that sex is not to be taken casually and that it should be reserved for only serious, loving relationships.

Source:  http://psychcentral.com/lib/2007/dating-a-divorcee-with-kids/

Modern Love: Ways Women Can be More Assertive

By Jane Collingwood

It’s not long ago that men were expected to do all the chasing and make all the decisions when it comes to dating. But how much has this changed in the 21st century?

A survey by DatingDirect.com suggests a new trend — women are becoming sassy and assertive, while men are remaining more traditional in their approach to courtship.

In the survey of over 2,000 people, women reported being less shy on dates than men (29 per cent versus 44 per cent), and making more effort with their appearance — half choose smart, sexy clothes on a first date, whereas 78 per cent of men go for the casual and relaxed look. Women also like to keep the finances on an equal footing. Seventy per cent prefer to split the expense of a date, or pay for themselves. However, 52 per cent of men believe it’s their time honoured duty to pay.

Darren Richards of DatingDirect.com concludes: “The rules of dating may be changing for some, but the concept is still as popular as ever.”

But what might be stopping you from taking the first step? Sometimes even very intelligent, funny, confident women don’t ask guys out because they believe that “it’s the man’s role”, or they fear rejection, scaring men off, or appearing too keen. But there is a whole generation of men who want women to make the first move, and feel that women should embrace the power and independence they now have. And in fact, some guys are just too shy, or don’t know what to say, or think that you won’t be interested.

But perhaps your lifestyle doesn’t bring you into contact with potential new partners. So consider widening your social circle — take up a new class, try out new clubs, get involved in political or volunteer activities. Also, don’t discount your current social network, because often friends, family and work colleagues are more than willing to help and will set up introductions if asked.

Other possible avenues include personal ads in newspapers and more specialized dating services to cater for your specific hobbies or preferences, guaranteeing that you share at least one common interest.

These days, the internet is increasingly used by modern singles to search for a compatible date. So join in discussion groups, forums and chat groups and put your dating skills into action. And in the arena of internet dating, women can be as forward as they like and either side can make the first move. Men report that they are perfectly happy to be approached by women and their supposed “male pride” isn’t hurt at all — quite the contrary!

In many ways, online dating is the ideal way to meet someone suitable, as you can quickly get to know a great deal about a person at no risk to yourself. It’s no small thing to be aware of the other person’s outlook on life, religion, sense of humor etc. before meeting up in person. Chatting in a safe environment encourages honesty and therefore compatibility, so may prevent a wide range of problems occurring further down the line.

Internet dating also avoids the potential problems of dating work colleagues or other people you will inevitable continue to see socially, and it puts you in control of your future without even leaving your front door!

Experts recommend getting to know the other person well via email or over the phone before actually going on a date. The more you know about each other, the easier the conversation will flow. They also suggest remaining anonymous until you feel confident enough to share your contact details (the dating service will have its own internal messaging system). And don’t cast your net too wide geographically or you’ll run up against practical difficulties later.

When setting up a first date, choose a public place such as a restaurant, cinema or museum. If you’re concerned about seeming too ‘forward’, you could invite the guy to something you are going to anyway, like a concert, so it’s like you are asking them to come along.

Tell a trusted friend your plans and arrange your own transport. Then it’s a case of picking up on the cues to your compatibility, so trust your instincts and don’t drink too much. Remember there will always be other dates so there’s no need to settle for second best.

If the date goes well, don’t wait for the guy to call you – let them know you had a good time. This doesn’t have to be a plea to see them again right away. It’s simply a courtesy. If your date had an enjoyable time too, it will be icing on the cake!
Too often, life is a case of “what ifs” and maybes, so if you really like someone, then you have to do something about it. Ultimately, what is there to lose? A bit of pride that can be replaced with a cheap bottle of wine. The answer is easy — take the initiative. You have nothing to gain by waiting, and if it doesn’t work out then you’ll know they weren’t right for you, with no regrets.

Source:  http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/modern-love-ways-women-can-be-more-assertive/

How Do You Get Your Needs Met?

By Stanley J. Gross, Ed.D

How do you respond to other people? Do you know the difference between assertion and aggression? Is it ever appropriate to be aggressive or submissive? Which style do you favor?

While growing up, we learn three styles for meeting our needs: assertion, submission, and aggression. Each style is necessary for dealing with the variety of situations we experience. Problems emerge, however, when we are submissive or aggressive in situations that call for assertion.

When inappropriately submissive, we deny our own needs and rely on the good will of others or their need to control to meet these needs.

When we are in the submissive mode, it is difficult to say “no” when something does not suit us.

When inappropriately aggressive, we deny the needs of others and may abuse the very people who can meet our needs for caring and affection.

When we are in the aggressive mode, it is difficult to stay calm and simply say, “I am angry” if someone invades our space. We will, more likely, fly into a rage to express our displeasure.

Three Response Styles

Submissive behavior may be necessary or advisable when it is physically dangerous or socially inappropriate to express oneself more directly. Submissiveness is a problem, however, if it is our usual way of responding to others. Submissive behavior seeks to avoid conflict, risky situations, and confusion. Our communication is emotionally dishonest when we do not directly express our thoughts, feelings, and desires. We may withhold entirely or express ourselves indirectly. We may say “yes” to others when we want to say “no.”

Submissiveness as a lifestyle revolves around the belief that our rights to personal space or to engage in efforts to meet our personal needs are subject to the approval of others. When we are prevented from getting what we require, we may try to meet our needs in a passive-aggressive manner, or by withholding, guilt, manipulation, or sneakiness.

When we are submissive, we may blame ourselves for this perceived denial of rights and attempt to calm the situation with apologies or by talking around the point. We may agree to do things we really do not want to do. Allowing violations of boundaries, denial of rights, and exploitation, coupled with an ignorance of our own needs, are all part of a pattern of avoiding conflict and gaining the approval of others. “You” statements, which proclaim innocence and blame others, and assumptions that others should meet our needs, avoid personal vulnerability and responsibility. A reduced sense of “being alive,” unsatisfactory relationships, low self-esteem, martyrdom, negativity, disappointment, hurt, not getting what we want, and periodic outbursts of rage are characteristic consequences of submissiveness.

Read More …  http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/how-do-you-get-your-needs-met/

Real-Life Communities Benefit From Online Interactions

Article Date: 07 Apr 2010 – 0:00 PDT

If you think Facebook, Twitter and other Web sites that foster online communication and interaction are merely vapid echo chambers of self-promotion, think again, say two University of Illinois professors who study computer-mediated communication and the Internet.

According to Caroline Haythornthwaite and Lori Kendall, professors in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Illinois, online interactions not only have positive outcomes for real-life, place-based communities, but the intersection between online communication and the offline world also forms two halves of a support mechanism for communities.

Previously, most attention was paid to highly virtual, online-only experiences. But as information and communication technologies have become increasingly intertwined with everyday life, the Internet and social media have combined to create a vibrant and indispensable communication and information platform and infrastructure for today’s world.

“In its earliest incarnation, the online world was considered a separate realm, and it was not viewed as a serious venue for work or business,” Haythornthwaite said. “But as more people have come online, the more online communication has become the norm. So it isn’t thought of as a separate realm anymore, but as one that merges and overlaps with our daily activities.”

From social networking, to civic participation, to community support during emergencies, to providing on-the-ground information in disaster areas, the professors say that the rapid development and widespread use of online technologies – for communicating and networking, for contributing and distributing content, and for storing, sharing and retrieving files – are creating ties that bind for offline communities.

“Research on who people communicate with online shows a lot of local activity,” Haythornthwaite said. “So online communication always reinforces local relationships and local identities that build networks of interacting individuals who are mutually aware of each other. Together, this demonstrates a continuous change in how we maintain local community, while also emphasizing the importance and significance of our attachments to local places and spaces.”

Although there are still a considerable number of people who go online to build new, non-local friendships, there are also people who go online for a specific purpose – to research information about breast cancer, for example – and, incidentally, form relationships as a result.

“While people can go to a site for information and personal support, they have also formed some long-term relationships with others they’ve met there and communicated with,” Kendall said. “So both things are happening, but I would say there’s probably more contact online with locals, and more searches for local information.”

“What has been growing over the years is a stronger, Internet-enabled connection to the geographically-based community,” Haythornthwaite said. “We’ve evolved from one-to-one or small group communication to whole ‘community’ communication.”

From crowdsourcing for information to citizen journalism, the participatory culture that exists online, where people will work for free, is an extremely important trend, both socially and economically, the professors say.

“Socially, the Internet provides a platform for just about anyone to contribute, and everyone benefits by having many different angles on a news event or topic,” Haythornthwaite said.

“Economically, the ease of publishing Web pages challenges traditional publishing, which we can see played out in the battle between the traditional news media and blogs, news aggregators and Twitter,” she said.

Emerging and evolving uses of information and communication technologies only serve to reinforce and regenerate geographically-based community identities, the professors say. With the ubiquity of Internet-enabled cell phones with cameras, the mobile Internet provides a low effort, just-in-time, virtual printing press, making anyone a writer, editor and publisher of hyperlocal news.

“I think the use of cell phones to access the Web is a bigger factor in connecting the Internet to a local geographical community than the World Wide Web has been,” Kendall said.

Whether they’re posting a status update to Facebook, sending out a tweet from Twitter, or uploading photos to Flickr, “people have a cell phone with them in physical space, and they connect that physical space to the Internet when they use their cell phones for Internet access,” she said.

Does all this focus on the local bleed into myopic provincialism?

“I think it’s more of the online communities than the local ones that become parochial,” Haythornthwaite said. “As individuals join communities of interest, they increasingly join communities of people who are like them – same interests, same background. Offline, or outside of our geographically-based community identities, we’re more exposed to new people and ideas.”

“It’s very possible for people to ignore opinions they don’t like and talk only to people they agree with online,” Kendall said. “Offline is often messier. To the extent that you’re going to get involved with your local community and your neighbors, you’re going to have to hash out disagreements and deal with a wide range of identities, experiences, and opinions.

“To a certain degree, all communities are ‘imagined communities’ – that is, our sense of being part of a community is always something we must create in ourselves, and it often occurs through media.”

Haythornthwaite and Kendall’s article, “Internet and Community,” is published in the April 2010 issue of American Behavioral Scientist.

Phil Ciciora
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


The Challenge of Long-Distance Relationships

By Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.

More and more young couples are struggling with launching two separate careers at the same time that they are launching a relationship or a marriage together. Having spent endless hours with each other in college, grad school or during a first job, they feel ready to commit to each other. Having focused time and intent on a career-in-the-making, they feel equally committed to their vocations. Often enough, the first rung of the ladder at their respective careers is in different cities. So,being Generation Yers — modern, forward thinking, and ambitious — they decide that a few years of distance won’t hurt. After all, they are meant for each other. They are meant for their jobs. And they are meant to have both.


The strains on a long-distance relationship are many and intense. Frequently, couples in this situation quote “absence makes the heart grow fonder” as a way of reassuring themselves and each other that their love will sustain them over the difficulties of distance and time. But unless both partners are committed to doing the very hard work of being together alone, their relationship will soon fall to another, equally common saying: “Out of sight, out of mind.” The immediate demands of work and the availability of attractive, available singles can, and regularly do, overwhelm good intentions and even love.

What can a couple do to preserve their love and relationship over the miles? Here are some key characteristics of couples that make it.

Both members of the couple are committed to the commitment. All relationships have their ups and downs. All relationships have times when one or the other partner feels held back, misunderstood, not given enough, left in the dust, or any of a whole host of less-than-wonderful feelings. The couples that make it, whether they live together or apart, are those that understand that this is a natural part of a long-term commitment. Working through difficult times usually strengthens and betters the relationship.

The long-distance couple is especially challenged during these times. When people live together, there are hundreds of little opportunities every day to connect, to reassure, to touch, to pick up a conversation that was too hard to finish an hour ago, to try again and again. The long distance couple needs to take the time to phone, to e-mail, to stay in contact even when it would be so much easier and more pleasant not to.

Both members keep their partners visible to the people around them, as well as to themselves. Couples who live together generally share at least some friends, go home to each other at the end of the day, and make references to each other quite often, just because it’s a natural part of the day. They may not realize it, but being so visibly “coupled” helps create a context for themselves within their community and workplaces that helps to maintain the couple. People around them see them as part of a couple, not as single and available.

The colleagues and friends of a person in a long-distance relationship aren’t as apt to see their friend as part of a couple because the couple isn’t visible. It falls on each member of the couple to make it happen anyway. Pictures on the desk, references to phone calls and conversations, stories about the partner, and introducing the partner to everyone during visits are all ways that a person makes it clear that he or she is “coupled.” The result is support for the relationship.

Read More …  http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/the-challenge-of-long-distance-relationships/

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