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.

Another dating trend that doesn’t involve dating: Breadcrumbing

Breadcrumbing, is the latest dating trend and label that replaces stringing along. The New York Times describes it as  “They communicate via sporadic noncommittal, but repeated messages — or breadcrumbs — that are just enough to keep you wondering but not enough to seal the deal (whatever that deal may be). Breadcrumbers check in consistently with a romantic prospect, but never set up a date. They pique your interest, of that prospective job, perhaps, by reminding you repeatedly that it exists, but never set up the interview.”

Basically, you’re keeping your options open while stringing someone else along with the least amount of effort or regard for the other person. Like ghosting, the other person is entertaining them when they reach out. What kind of reaching out you ask? Oh, “liking” a photo on IG or fb is the signal that game is back on. Right. What? It’s probably the saddest and minimal amount of effort to demonstrate interest in someone. I mean, we spend more time liking cat photos.

Urbandictionary.com

For us to accept these behaviors with disregard for how it impacts us emotionally is what the core of what I call, The Millennial Virus, is. What is it doing to our sense of self? Are we becoming more narcissistic? Are we becoming more insecure? Are we accepting sub-optimal relationships just to feel connected to something? Is technology driving dating, sex and emotion? Is it creating a generation that is passive-aggressive in life?

As a Behavioral Scientist, what amazes me is the hypersensitivity we all seem to have about almost all aspects of life EXCEPT relationships. Isn’t it interesting that we stand up against bullying, shaming, or political un-correctness; but with people we have interest in we act with total disregard? Some say it’s technology that’s driving our behavior, some say it’s the lack of employment, or that we are to attached to our devices or the way we are cognitively evolving.

Let’s look at some of the most common types that will most likely breadcrumb:

  1. Stalker types. These are the ones that reach out on your social feeds every now and then, but don’t follow-up with any sentences J They treat you like you are a notification on fb that they forgot they were connected to. If they can’t reach out to you in a text, what makes you think they are interested in having something pop off with you?
  2. Booty call types. These are the “DTF” “WYD” messages you’ll get at night. They aren’t interested in going beyond just the sexual set up you have. If this is acceptable to you, proceed with caution. Because it may not evolve into a
  3. Can’t get over you types. These are the ones that reach out to you months and years after it’s over in hopes of rekindling the relationship. If they failed the first time, chances are they aren’t new and improved. They just realize the error in not having you in their lives and hope that you are going to want to waste time with them again.
  4. Predator types. These types stalk you on your social feeds to keep abreast of the latest going on in your life. Once they notice a difference in posts or photos that indicates your seeing someone or they see that your seeing someone, they all of a sudden find you interesting. If they were on the fence about dating you and only reach out because you are happy in a new relationship, enjoy your new relationship.

In all these types, the underlying issue is not just their non-commitment issues, it’s their ego. Filtering through hundreds of profiles, spamming everyone, and getting rejected is rough on the ego. A way to deal with the rejection ratio is to find any kind of attention.  At the end of the day, people want to feel some level of relevance, importance or their own delusions of grandeur. Some get their rocks off by knowing that they’ve hooked you with a like or that you are still around when they disappear. Their ego is fulfilled when they reach out to you after months and you accepted their previous behavior and continue in a cycle of a dis-satisfactory relationship. Your ego, on the other hand, begins to take a hit to your self-esteem. Now you’re asking yourself questions like: why they reached out if they hadn’t ever planned to follow through, what’s the point of reaching out to me and why not meet up with me and finally why do I continue to attract these bullshit types?

 

5 types to avoid

  1. The emotionally and financially needy types. Emotional and financial neediness makes you attract co-dependent relationships that, in the long run, don’t fill either of these needs. Both emotional and financial need can be addressed in the short-term (money can be earned and support can be given), but it establishes a false sense of security in the long-term. ITA18FXIBLAlthough emotional and financial neediness takes time to overcome and seems harder, so is divorce. Which will land you in the same category anyway 🙂 It’s better to overcome some of the hardships you encounter so that you can experience the true happiness you wanted in the first place.
  2. Fixers. Stop trying to fix people. You didn’t break them to begin with. Change can happen if the person: a) wants it or b) life forces it of them. You can be a change catalyst if the person is at either of these points in their lives. Other than that, you can’t correct other people’s fucked-upness to your partner.
  3. Sex your feelings away types. Know your worth. If you treat your vag or dick like it’s a common sandwich, why would it surprise you that you aren’t relationship material? You’re deluding yourself and expect the world to give you the opposite of what you say you want and are doing. Level with yourself and others. There is nothing wrong with not wanting a relationship because you’ve been hurt or aren’t emotionally ready for one. Sexing your feelings away doesn’t get at resolving the core issue. For some, it creates a whole set of new issues.
  4. Insecure types. Insecurity makes you stop seeking and makes you start settling. You may not even realize you have started settling because you may have created a relationship that makes you comfortable in your insecurity. If you are controlling or obsessively jealous, the other person will adapt a pattern to avoid confrontation of your insecurity. Ultimately, though, you’ve created a relationship that won’t really address the core issues of your insecurity.
  5. Cheating types. If someone cheats, they’re designed to do it again and again. It’s got nothing to do with you, it’s their ego trying to fill a void. If you’re filling that void through people, re-read #3.

Ahhhh the tangled web we weave

I have to say that I wasn’t surprised that a site like Ashley Madison existed, but that the Impact Team hacked it for the greater good, did. “Will The Impact Team be hacking any other sites in the future? If so, what targets or sort of targets do you have in mind?
Not just sites. Any companies that make 100s of millions profiting off pain of others, secrets, and lies. Maybe corrupt politicians. If we do, it will be a long time, but it will be total.” Impact Team to Motherboard.vice.com 

hmmm So, what did this grand social experiment demonstrate? Nothing new. That some people who want to cheat will? Let’s look at other not-so-surprising details. People are shocked that the site contained fake female profiles? Of the 37M users, only 5.5M were women. If you go onto POF, some men start their profile with DON’T CONTACT ME IF YOU’RE FAKE.

Ok, let’s look at what other things shock people. That people paid for privacy and their data was revealed? Wait. What?!?! You mean to tell me that someone created a business model capitalizing on your indiscretion and desires for a profit on the INTERNET?!?! You mean they took your money and never did what they said they would do? Paid delete=the Nigerian Embassy wants to give you 3.3M USD.

Of course, when you are looking to be discreet, you naturally log on during work hours, right? Sure, but from your work email or computer? AND you work in the government? OR better yet, you build your platform around family values?

Oh, the CEO stepped down? No way. Could it be all of the encounters he had off the site, the massive law suits, or the threats he’s getting by the minute?  “Life is short, Noel Biderman. Have an affair.”

Oh ok, since you didn’t think any of that might happen, let me tell you what might happen next: divorce, losing your home, losing half your shit, and maybe joint custody. Gee, isn’t that what you were trying to avoid? 

Divorce lawyers and the housing market thanks you.

YOU’RE JUST A DUMBASS

Want to improve your OKC profile? Christian Rudder tells us how.

I recently had the honor of being a panelist with Christian Rudder, OkCupid‘s co-founder, on HuffPost Live about his new book Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One’s Looking). On http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/christian-rudder-okcupid-cofounder-dataclysm/53da6a2002a760346200058e  , I had a chance to ask Christian the burning question we all want to know: what are some of the reasons that people represent themselves as what they want you to see rather than the real person that will emerge in a relationship?

Christian attributes that to be something that is part of real life and human nature. He also added that the advantages of OKC is that people can meet each other in real life and determine chemistry quickly. I was hoping that he was going to provide stats about the discrepancy and maybe discuss some of the ways their algorithm may refine the process. Darn 🙁 Screenshot 2014-09-12 at 2.46.55 PM

Other highlights from the interview:

*Women search for men closer to their age, while men regardless of their age still seek 22 year olds. Christian attributes that to men still not growing up and that models in magazines are that age. Check out Dr Drew’s take: http://www.hlntv.com/video/2014/09/11/ok-cupid-online-dating-age-women-men-attraction

*50 year old men don’t usually contact 20 year old women for the realities of a higher rejection rate.

*The hot or not feature is not designed to have everyone flocking to the most popular person on the site, it’s designed to give everyone a chance to pair off with what they find most attractive.

*OKC does not manipulate factual data such as age, sexual orientation, they alter minor details like size of photo to help users have better compatibility results based on their desired characteristics.

Check out the full video for more behind the scenes insights on OKC and let me know what you think.  http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/christian-rudder-okcupid-cofounder-dataclysm/53da6a2002a760346200058e  

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.

Online Dating Rituals of the American Male

Bravo’s latest dating installment “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male” is a hilarious show. Ever wonder why so many of the “Online Dating Rituals of the American Male” guys are being dumbasses? Ever wonder why the girls seem desperate? Want to increase your craydar while online dating?

Just check out my twitter feed https://twitter.com/urjustadumbass from the first episode  for some of the comedy:Screenshot 2014-04-04 at 3.24.47 PM - Edited.png

Despite these characters, the show has a nice mix of professionals, entrepreneurs, and aspiring singles. It has featured these types with a bird’s eye view into what men are thinking as they go on dates and while they are on dates. Some of it is designed to shock you, most of it is built on some stereotype of what men are doing in the new online dating scene.  According to a recent article by Paul Hudson, http://elitedaily.com/life/9-ways-the-hook-up-culture-is-ruining-love-as-we-know-it/, the show really highlights how the hook-up culture is impacting the dating scene.

The show will have you wondering why guys like Alex, Grant or Brian get away with being dumbasses? Then you’ll have women like Alix, Mindy, or Candis that you really want to cheer on, but watch them fail miserably. If anything it will increase your craydar while online dating 🙂

Online Dating Rituals of the American Male airs Tuesday nights at 10pm EST on Bravo. Watch the show it is entertaining!

Wow!!! I was awarded Top 100 Sex, Love, Lust, and Love Blogs

My blog, YOU’RE JUST A DUMBASS, was awarded Top 100 Sex, Love, Lust, and Love Blogs by stdcheck.com!!!  http://www.cnbc.com/id/101415509

Screenshot 2014-02-25 at 3.40.26 PM

STDcheck.com, the leader in online STD testing, searched over 1200 sites for the best blogs and websites in the sex, dating, love, and relationship categories.

81. Clarissa Silva is not your average single chick with a blog. While she does write about her experiences (which she often describes as “suboptimal,” betraying her background as a scientist and researcher), she does so for the benefit of the reader. After spending time developing techniques for her clients to use to “create relationship wellness,” she decided to share her perspective and wisdom. Her blog is a unique blend of stories about douchebags she met through online dating sites and suggestions for how to date by creating a “happiness hypothesis” and testing it out. Silva’s blend of logic, science, and humor make You’re Just A Dumbass a humorous and educational read.

Thanks for the award stdcheck.com and all the work that you do in helping people maintain healthy sexual relationships! It is a true honor to be among these amazing bloggers! In addition to the tremendous honor of the ranking, we also get $500 in gift cards that I’ll be donating to a nonprofit or giving away at a future event I hold.

Are you secretly dating any of these types?

Most relationship failures are related to some unresolved pain caused by someone else that you may have repressed. Most of the time when we are dating we don’t realize that we’re learning more about ourselves. Unexpressed emotions are some of the keys that keep us from finding our ideal partner. However, most of us don’t deal with the source of what caused the pain in past failed relationships which sometimes creates patterns and cycles.  Here are a few of the top unexpressed emotions that delay our happiness.

UNEXPRESSED_EMOTION

Jealousy=Insecurity

Insecurities are created from past experiences that could be from childhood, past relationships, former marriages, any life event that made you feel you were less than what you really are. You then took this definition and began designing yourself around it for years. When you compare yourself to others, you are already working from a deficit perspective and wonder why everyone else seems to get what they want, yet you don’t. The way people remedy that? By controlling factors in other’s lives that they can’t control for in their own lives. It’s easy to constantly look at someone else, talk about what they have and not create it in your own life.

Expectations=Underlying resentment

Resentment occurs because you expected one set of outcomes and go the opposite or worse than what you anticipated. Which is a function of life: things don’t always go the way we planned it or wanted it to be. How do some of us deal with life not turning out the way we want? By creating new expectations :). Expectations becomes a form of defense mechanism to prevent some from experiencing deep seated resentment when things and people fail them.

Anger=Misdirected expression

The expression of anger is usually due to a cumulative of life events that you experienced that you thought were unfair. Usually these past life events and its impact on the person span over decades: childhood trauma, abusive parents, sexual trauma, death of a parent, or disease. How do you resolve being treated unfairly? By treating others unfairly :).  Instead of dealing with what caused the hurt, some find it easier to direct it towards others as a way to resolve their pain.

Codependency=Lack of support

In the case of codependency, the lack of support has to do with not having people around them that understands them. When they do meet someone that understands them and they can share their true selves with, that person becomes their new addiction. It’s created because people want to feel real connection. How do some deal with not cultivating the right people around them? By people pleasing the one’s that let you consistently not grow. People that are codependent usually seek validation, but they ascribe it to the wrong person.

Top 10 things to stop doing right now

1. Don’t think that people will change.

2. Don’t settle. In every person you encounter you gain something. Focus on what you gained, instead of what you were disappointed with. Use that list to carry you into the next relationship.

3. Don’t think that people aren’t satisfied with what they are or their circumstances. People structure their lives the way they want. When you join someone’s life it either works or it doesn’t.

4. Don’t get caught up in someone else’s drama. Follow your gut. If you hesitate about something, it is usually something you should avoid.

5. Don’t help people that don’t deserve it. It could be that you are enabling something or you’re caught up in their lies.

6. Don’t live your life for others. Find the things you enjoy doing, enjoy those things, enjoy who you are and where you are in life.

7. Don’t lose your sense of self in a relationship. The person you were when you met is what attracted the person in the first place.

8. Don’t look for someone’s potential. Focus on what and who they are in the present.

9. Don’t be someone for someone else.

10. Delete the need to understand. Sometimes we really don’t know the reasons why things worked out the way they did.  Relying on a source outside yourself to understand why you feel hurt can lead you to persecute yourself. Sometimes people might not be completely honest with themselves and aren’t ready to be honest with you or can’t be honest with you. The best thing to do is just recognize that it’s over or the person is not going to call or the person doesn’t want to be in your life and that’s ok. You lost nothing. You will drive yourself crazy trying to figure out what the other person was about, said, did, etc.