You’re not dating, you’re co-texting

More and more our digital dating world keeps coming up with new terms for bad behavior. Thought it was just happening to millennials? Think again.  My Happiness Hypothesis study found that it is happening across the globe to both men and women for milennials and GenX. Many are experiencing it, but don’t know there is a term for it. It is creating the paradox effect in dating: the illusion of having more social engagement, social capital, and popularity; but masking one’s true persona and intent. Since some are interfacing digitally more than physically it is much easier to emotionally manipulate others because they are reliant on what I call “Vanity Validation“. Their digital persona is constantly seeking more validation through electronic likes/swipes, not life experiences.

Social media creates global connectedness, sharing life events, dating ease; but it also can create lower self-esteem, obsessive social stalking, and “Vanity Validation”. Has social media facilitated suboptimal dating behaviors? Have we become too reliant on checking social? How has it impacted our dating lives? Has it become easier to ghost, bench, gaslight or breadcrumb in today’s digital world? Are we causing self-inflicted pain while dating? For the Happiness Hypothesis Study, I conducted in-depth interviews with men and women, ranging from ages 28-73, that are active online dating app users and found that:

  • 80% reported it being easier to ghost, bench, gaslight or breadcrumb because of the lack of communication and face-to-face interaction
  • 80% of millennials reported having experienced ghosting, benching, gaslighting or breadcrumbing firsthand
  • 45% reported the average length of dates in between ghosting someone was 8
  • 50% reported an average of at least 3 months before reaching out again to the person they ghosted

Meanwhile the other person waits to hear back and wonder why they weren’t worthy a response. These current dating trends are just an extension of how we use our social media. We’re treating people like we do our social media streams. The shiniest object is what we stop at, then move onto the next shiny object. But, there is a vicious cycle to these dating patterns. What fuels it? Social media! Being connected to the person that has ghosted, benched, gaslit or breadcrumbed can have detrimental effects on your self-esteem. When I asked how often do you check the social feeds of those that have expressed some form of interest in you? 90% said daily. Once they have had a ghosting, benching, gaslighting or breadcrumbing experience, it becomes weekly for 70%.

Are we creating a false reality? What is it doing to our sense of self? You’re a backup plan, but they text or reach out often enough to confuse you just in case their plan doesn’t work out. Are we becoming more narcissistic? Are we becoming more insecure? Has this behavior become normative? Is technology driving dating, sex and emotion?

The Dating Paradox

Social media has been linked to higher levels of loneliness, envy, anxiety, depression, narcissism and decreased social skills. As a Behavioral Scientist, I wonder what causes this paradox? The narratives we share and portray on social media are all positive and celebratory. It’s a hybridized digital version of “Keeping up with the Joneses”. Meaning for some, sometimes it appears everyone you know are in great relationships, taking 5-star vacations and living your dream life.

However, what is shared only broadcasts the positive aspects of our lives-the highlight reels.

Since we’re only getting people’s highlight reels and comparing it to ourselves, it is natural to have reactions to what we’re watching. How does this impact relationships, dating and our love lives? I conducted in-depth interviews with men and women, ranging from ages 28-73, that are active social media users and found that:

  • 60% of people using social media reported that it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way
  • 50% reported social media having negative effects on their relationship
  • 80% reported that is easier to deceive others through their social posting

Paradox Effect

It seems that social media is creating a paradox effect: giving off the illusion of many choices, while making it harder to find viable options. Can it be that our highly connected world has now become disconnected? Posting dinners, selfies and vacay photos over human interaction for some is interaction. That IS their interaction. The paradox effect in dating is creating the illusion of having more social engagement, social capital, and popularity, but masking one’s true persona. Since some are interfacing digitally more than physically it is much easier to emotionally manipulate others because they are reliant on what I call “Vanity Validation”. The one you portray on your networks and the true you, for some creates a double consciousness. Your lauded self on social media is constantly seeking more validation through electronic likes, not life. 

Vanity Validation

In the latest Match Singles in America study’s findings on how social media has impacted people’s dating lives, they found that 57% of singles say social media has generated a Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). In my study, 50% reported feeling FOMO when comparing themselves to others on social media, while 60% of millennials reported feeling FOMO. Are we comparing ourselves to other people’s highlight reels? Are we creating a false reality? It seems that we’re only willing to share things that get positive reinforcement. If we’re living through only focusing on the highlight reels, how do we express the negative side of our lives?

If you’re comparing yourself to someone else’s profile, aren’t you discounting yourself? Anything that we share on our streams are things that we’re either excited about or creating some popularity for yourself. Are we supposed to applaud that you eat? Are we supposed to applaud that you are out? Are we supposed to applaud the 100th seflie you took while you were out? Are we beginning to learn to relate to people for immediate gratification only?

Won’t this impact our dating behaviors? If we only broadcast the “look at me”, are we able to deal with the side of rejection, detachment, and non-commitment? Are you surprised when people blow you off or lead you on aka ghost, bench, gaslight or breadcrumb? Yet another paradox. Here we are thinking the world is a positive and reinforcing place, that we are interesting, we’re so popular; then we get ghosted, breadcrumbed, benched.

Is there a science to love?

HPLSJCS_62414I recently had the honor of participating on HuffPost Live’s segment “How We Can Understand Love Through Science” with Dr. Sue Johnson. Dr. Johnson’s book, Love Sense, is a result of her groundbreaking research on our emotional bonds and attachment styles. Love Sense “presents new scientific evidence that tells us that humans are meant to mate for life. Dr. Johnson explains that romantic love is an attachment bond, just like that between mother and child, and shows us how to develop our “love sense”–our ability to develop long-lasting relationships. Love is not the least bit illogical or random, but actually an ordered and wise recipe for survival.” -Little, Brown and Company

Dr. Johnson says that she wrote this book as both a guide and a warning. Tune in to hear about her views on sex, dating, love, and the impact social media plays on our relationships. http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/third-metric-thrive-on-live-love-sense-dr-sue-johnson/5363f31f02a7604eae00045c She’s concerned about our relationships in the age of technology because “it is making people lonelier and more isolated”. I asked her what her thoughts were on online dating and why single women are having difficulty finding sincere men. I see it as a function of online dating. We treat online dating like we do our social media streams and select only the images that stand out to us. Is it related to a faulty attachment style? Tune in to hear Dr. Johnson’s take.

What do you think? Are we selecting people based on superficial qualities and discounting other factors? Do you think online dating makes it easier to run game? What frustrates you the most about online dating?

 

Top 3 things to help get over an ex.

Dealing with a break-up, separation or divorce is often difficult. Here are a few things that can help you cope with the break-up, separation or divorce.

1. Try to refrain from highlighting negative things about your ex. Simply because it disrespects you. Afterall, you were in the relationship with the person. When you re-tell events or character flaws, the person listening will wonder why you were in the relationship to begin with. Utilize your discussions to be about rebuilding yourself and not diminishing the other person because that doesn’t improve your sense of self. It may feel good in the short-term, but not long-term.

breakup 2. Cultivate a network of support that has diverse perspectives. That way you will have different outlets to express the range of your emotions.  Especially when dealing with divorce where you can experience anger, resentment, and loss all in the same breath.

3. Forgive yourself. The only thing you did was try to show someone love and cultivate a life for you both. Allow yourself to feel the pain and unburden yourself of what was your former life. All you did was demonstrate that you have the capacity to love and build a life for yourself. You can do it again.

Thanks to a great relationship wellness panel discussion by The Law Firm of Wisselman, Harounian & Associates, P.C.

What people don’t tell you about dating the wrong types.

When you’re dating down, you aren’t always aware that you are doing it. I came up with an inventory to help you identify some of the red flags on Stop dating down! If you are doing 4 or more of these things, chances are you are settling in your relationship. Once you realize this is a feature of your relationships, then you can see if this yields a pattern in your life.

So, let’s begin by talking about the types of thinking that occurs, then we’ll talk about what occurs as a result.

Type 1: I know that s/he isn’t xyz, but they possess abc.cheating

Type 2: I know that s/he isn’t what I normally date, but I was unsuccessful with my past types.

Both types create a false sense of intimacy, hope, trust, and disillusionment in the relationship. If you are lying to yourself in the relationship, it’s easy to disillusion yourself about the realities of the relationship. In addition to decreasing your standards, you are changing your tolerance level of other people’s lies they tell themselves and you accepting it as your reality (their bullshit).

Which invariably creates Type 3: I’m getting a shot at someone I normally wouldn’t have a shot with and this is great!  

This is creating a false sense of hope in someone else and they will apply that to their next relationship. Type 3 will pursue people that they probably wouldn’t ever approach because they have this new inflated self-esteem. While the person who has admitted to dating down, has a diminished self-esteem.

 

Top things you can do to ensure your happiness.

In honor of International Happiness Day, I have compiled a list of things that either reminds us of what happiness can be or what we can do to get to a state of happiness.

  1. People demonstrate what they are. We don’t pay attention to the signs.stop
  2. People are what they are, not what you want them to be.
  3. Life doesn’t happen to you. You have to play an active role in shaping it.
  4. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Identify the reason things are compelling you to do the things that you don’t want to do/that don’t make you happy.
  5. Sometimes you only realize someone’s worth when they are gone.
  6. Spending time with someone that doesn’t make you happy delays your happiness and theirs.
  7. You choose all that you allow in your life.

It’s not you, it’s me. It is you. The 3 D’s to help you get closer to that ideal person.

Relationships can be challenging because of the things that are unresolved within us. We learn more about ourselves while we are in relationships through mirroring or confrontation of our true selves. This sometimes causes hurt because you might be resolving past hurt in a current relationship or dealing with aspects of yourself that are unexplored.

Sometimes we experience relationship failures because of our expectations. Those expectations become the disillusionment in the relationship. Here’s what we can do: the 3 D’s to help get closer to that ideal person.desithnkg

  1. Distinguish between what you need and want. Your previous relationships where all tests of what you thought you wanted or needed or a combination of both. Extract the answers from those past experiences.
  2. Define what your happiness hypothesis entails. Be honest with yourself. The #1 person we lie to is ourselves. Despite the hurt you might have experienced, it made you recognize the things that you won’t find acceptable in another relationship.
  3. Decide what you want your life will look like with your ideal partner 5 years from now. Sometimes we focus on the immediate goals or just that we found someone. Go beyond the immediate time frame and add into the mix what it will be like to have that person along with you during major life events and how that person will handle goal-seeking together.

Top 10 things to tell the woman in your life

Men, do you want Valentine’s Day to come early? Tell the woman in your life any of these phrases 🙂

  1. I love you!
  2. You cooked, I’ll clean.
  3. I picked up something at Tiffany’s for you just because.
  4. You are right.
  5. You have my undivided attention. I’m listening.
  6. spaHow about you have a spa day, I’ll take care of the kids.
  7. You are an amazing wife and we are awesome parents.
  8. You are unbelievably beautiful and I am lucky to have you in my life.
  9. I ran a bath with your favorite rose petals soak for you.
  10. I don’t know what I did to deserve you!

Start off your New Year with a bang!

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As I reflect on the year, I realize more and more that life isn’t always about getting what you deserve. It’s about us all being on different trajectories. The reality is that everyone has the same opportunities at being happy. It’s about the choices we make and understanding how it shaped our experiences. The better we are at understanding why we chose what we did, the closer we get to actualizing our goals.

The things that we experience are temporary. It changes as our perception of the experience changes. Everything has its own unique trajectory. Imagine a ball in flight. The speed and direction in which it travels is dependent on the amount of force exerted onto the ball, the angle of your wrist, your strength for it to travel. The same principle can be applied to our everyday lives. Each person’s trajectory possesses its own unique set of qualities that is directed by each decision we make. What it yields is dependent on the decisions we make around the goal we want to achieve. The better we understand our experiences, we get a better sense of what we need and then we are better aligned to encounter the right set of circumstances and people.

This year, in addition to your New Year’s resolution, write a letter to your 2012 self itemizing the things that you gained, how you grew, and what you’re appreciative of. Whether you: grew from the ordeal of a break-up, divorce, found the love of your life, found a job, got laid-off, gained more customers or started your own business. Think about each thing that you would like to continue and things that you would like to grow from. Everything we go through brings us closer to what we need to actualize our dreams or brings about our happiness. If your goal is to be a better partner in your relationship (your trajectory), think about how your communication style may have improved in the last year or conversely how it can be improved in the coming year (your decision making process). Whatever the situation is, think about what led you to that moment and what you intended on happening. If it is what you intended, apply that formula to other situations. If it wasn’t, revise the process by being more congruent with what you want to achieve. Sometimes when we see it written, we are better able to see some of the incongruence very clearly. When I have reflected on my past experiences, I realized that the qualities and circumstances that I was seeking was the opposite of what I was experiencing. Hope this helps you have the best year yet!

Have a happy, healthy & prosperous New Year!

The gift that keeps on giving

For many, the holidays are times to celebrate family, life, love, and personal goals. However, couplefightingwhen you’re single it can be a time of anxiety. It’s a reminder that you are single; either because you are around family or because your family reminds you of the fact. So, what do most people do? Try to fill that void by entertaining the idea of getting back with an ex.

Here are some things that you can remind yourself to prevent you from returning to a failed relationship:

What you do: Although it may be difficult, try not to reminisce about the relationship. When you do that you are only extracting the moments of the relationship you want to remember that were about companionship. You are recalling only the things that created an illusion of belongingness.

What you can do instead: Weigh out the reasons that you are no longer together, when you start to think that they should be back in your life.

What you do: Although the holidays might be emotional for you, remember that most of the world knows pain. Remind yourself of those that have endured different pain e.g. those that go without water or access to food.

What you can do instead: Perhaps volunteer at a local non-profit organization or attend a charity event.

What you do: Try to avoid stalking your ex on social networks. This only stagnates your growth because it occupies your brain with thoughts about your exes’ activities and whereabouts. Instead of mentally preparing yourself for a better relationship and a more realized version of yourself.

What you can do instead: Remind yourself that they are an ex for a reason.