Dating Tips

Harsh Truths: 6 Reasons Why Your Relationship Fell Apart

iStock_000042224340_Small.jpg

Relationships end for a variety of reasons—some we can control, others we cannot. Before your next relationship, consider asking yourself if any of these issues are sabotaging your efforts at finding a deep, committed relationship.

 

  1. Your ex is STILL coming up

We all have a past, but when the past becomes the fodder of our present, you are creating a rift between you and your partner’s ability to connect. Talk of past relationships not only reveals that you’re not moving forward, it also jeopardizes your chances of a future. If you find yourself beginning sentences with “My ex and I…” or “When I dated X…” consider taking some time away from dating to understand why you’re still telling these stories.

 

  1. You couldn’t trust

It’s no surprise that trust is the crux of all healthy relationships; without the bond of trust, a couple will miss an opportunity to experience true intimacy. Aside from cheating, trust issues can also indicate jealousy, game playing, and possessiveness.

 

If relationships have ended because you couldn’t trust, ask yourself if it was because of actual events (i.e. your partner lied to you, broke promises, hacked into your phone) or if you are feeling unable to trust without cause (i.e. you feel jealous even though your partner has never strayed). Being able to differentiate feelings that stem from actual events versus unsubstantiated paranoia will help you uncover barriers to intimacy.

 

  1. You were Mr./Mrs. Right Now, not Mr./Mrs. Right

The relationship is guaranteed to fail if you find yourself on either side of this equation. Not all relationships are built to last—and that doesn’t make them any less important to our growth—but if you are looking for a life partner, meeting someone who is open to the same is crucial for long-term success.

 

If you are with someone until you land your dream job, move, lose weight, or meet someone better, you are wasting your time and your partner’s time. If your partner is not your priority, you aren’t ready for an enduring long-term relationship. If you’re wondering if you’re the top priority—you’re not.

 

  1. You harbor contempt

Dr. John Gottman, a leading expert on couples’ studies, concluded that the single, best predictor of divorce is contempt. Contempt, a toxic combo of anger, disgust and frustration, stems from a superiority complex. When we are unable to see our partner’s point of view because we believe they are less intelligent, sensitive, or competent than we are, we are making it impossible to communicate about the things that bother us.

 

In addition to contempt, there were three other closely related patterns of toxic communication: criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling (shutting down, no eye contact, etc.)

  1. You were emotionally dependent

If you are unable to make yourself happy, you will always seek someone who can distract you from the uncomfortable feelings you have towards yourself. Not only is it unfair to expect your partner to keep you afloat, it’s dangerous to allow someone else to hold the keys to your happiness. Codependent people usually don’t keep high standards when it comes to how others treat them, so it’s more likely that they end up with a partner who doesn’t treat them well. There are many ways to heal from codependency, but they all start with a belief that you—and you alone—can make yourself happy.

 

  1. You stopped appreciating your partner

A lack of appreciation comes in many forms. Perhaps you’ve stopped making an effort—to make fun plans, to keep up your appearance, to remind your partner how special they are. Taking someone for granted is a quick way to kill the romance and up the apathy.

 

When someone is asking what is best for “us”, compromise ensues. If you stop appreciating your partner’s efforts, it’s easy to stop asking “What is best for us?” and replacing it with “What is best for me?”

 

Of course not all reasons our relationships end are because we are at fault. Without the right timing, otherwise compatible people won’t be able to connect for reasons outside of their control. Age, seemingly just a number, will start to matter if he’s 28 finishing grad school and she’s 34 looking forward to starting a family. Life situations can also affect our chances of connection. If he’s ready to move things forward while she’s healing post divorce, the couple will not be able to connect on the same level. Situations can change, broken hearts can heal, and different phases can pass, but if the timing is going to be ‘off’ for more than a few months, it is better to make a clean break and revisit at another time.

 

Small Talk to Real Talk: 5 Ways to Get Him to Open Up

 

iStock-516655374 copy.jpgIf you are dating a strong and silent type, a shy guy, or someone with a more reserved personality, the conversation aspect of the date might not flow as smoothly as the underlying chemistry.

 

To draw him out if his shell and get the conversation flowing, try these five tips:

 

Tip #1: Assume a ‘listener’ stance

 

Square up, make eye contact, and maintain open body language. Make sure your phone is off the table. Being fully present is the clearest invitation that you’re ready to listen. Once the conversation starts flowing, pivot to active listening. Nodding, smiling, summarizing, and asking questions are the best ways to show that you’re interested.

 

Tip #2: Set the example

 

If you’re looking for someone to let their guard down, you should be ready to go first. Mutual disclosure is the foundation for real intimacy—and it can start as early as the first date. Encourage him to trust you and share more about himself by openly discussing yourself. The more comfortable you are revealing your shortcomings or not so stellar moments, the more comfortable he’ll feel doing the same.

 

Tip #3: Come ready with questions that are easy to answer—and ask them the right way.

 

To make preliminary conversations easier on both of you, ask questions about non-controversial, easy topics. Your best bets? Think food, movies, and music. Everyone has an opinion on each of these, and you’ll find that these topics are great spring boards into other topics.

 

THIS WORKS:

You: Glad we’re trying this new Italian place. What kinds of food do you like?

Date: I try to keep it healthy and stick to organic produce exclusively.

You: Have you tried any of the grocery delivery apps?

 

The conversation is naturally pivoting away from food and could move in a variety of directions. You’re giving him a chance to talk about cooking, shopping, using technology, startups, etc.

 

With your questions, be mindful about your bias which could make your date feel uncomfortable sharing an unfiltered perspective.

 

TOO MUCH BIAS :

You: Just had great wine in Napa. What is your favorite winery?

Date: I don’t drink.

You: —

 

Understandably, a question that can be answered with a yes or no isn’t going to have the legs that an open ended question would, but the real problem here is that there’s too much pressure to answer the question a certain way. This nuance, however slight, can make conversation that much harder for both of you.

 

Tip #4: Choose the right activity

 

De-pressurize any first date by picking something more active than the traditional coffee or cocktails focused date. Take a walk through a nearby park, browse the shops on the same street, or try a museum exhibit. Walking can make talking easier, especially when you’re walking around things or places to talk about.

 

If you’d like to get more creative, try a new experience together. Giving yourselves a new skill to learn or an event to attend will alleviate a lot of pressure to make constant conversation.

 

Tip #5: Ask for help

 

Asking for a little favor will encourage your date to invest just a little bit more emotion into you and the date experience. Try asking for something small like, “Could you double check that the restaurant has veggie options?” Or, “Can you tell me where I should take my parents when they visit? I need a list. ” As we mentioned before, the Benjamin Franklin Effect—a principle that explains why a person who has performed a favor for someone is more likely to do another favor for that person—is a good way to establish connection early on.

 

Remember, relationships unfold at their own pace. It’s natural to want more information about the person who interests us, but never at the sake of their discomfort. Do your best not to take your date’s lack of openness personally; their desire and ability to communicate is part of who they are and not a reflection of your conversational skills.

 

If you desire date coaching to help get you ready for summer, contact our founder Amy at: amy@linxdating.com  Amy can give you some simple skills to help you succeed in love!

 

Pheromones and Attraction

iStock-622184828 copy.jpg

Have you ever found someone completely irresistible, but you’re not sure why? Some scientists argue that we might be picking up on someone’s genetic compatibility with our sense of smell.

When we smell something, tiny odor molecules bind to receptor cells that travel directly to the brain for processing. Smell—unlike the other senses—is analyzed almost instantly. This rapid analysis is the reason why smelling something familiar can trigger an emotional response instantly, and sometimes these responses can be quite powerful. Think of the last time you smelled chocolate chip cookies. Did you feel a cozy, comfortable feeling? What about popcorn? Did you find yourself in an upbeat, casual mood?

If smells can solicit hefty emotional responses, can they trigger us to have romantic feelings?

Scientists still debate the answer, but they all can agree that the discussion starts with pheromones.

Pheromones describe the special cocktail of chemicals that our body releases that may influence the way people behave towards us. These chemicals—when smelled—are known to stimulate the hypothalamus, a part of the brain known to regulate sexual behavior, mood, and hormones.

To figure out how sensitive we are to pheromones, Swiss zoologist Claus Wedekind conducted “The Sweaty T-shirt Experiment.” He instructed 44 different men to wear the same t-shirt two consecutive nights. After collecting the t-shirts, he asked 49 different women to sniff each t-shirt and rate the odor for intensity, pleasantness, and sexiness.

Results showed that the women preferred the odors from men whose DNA was most different from their own. Because choosing a mate with a similar genetic makeup can cause a host of genetic complications for an offspring, the women’s choices show that they have an ability to analyze and gravitate towards men who guarantee greater reproductive success. In other words, women preferred sexual experiences with men who smelled a certain way.

Pheromones also solicit responses based on sexual preferences, not biological sex. In another study conducted by Dr. Ivanka Savic and colleagues at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, a group of men—some straight, some gay—and women were asked to rate attractiveness to two different pheromones. Both the gay men and women responded strongly to the male pheromone, whereas the heterosexual males preferred the female pheromone almost exclusively.

Despite the science, there is no real way to determine the true effect of pheromones; There are simply too many mitigating factors. For example, it’s impossible to confirm the real reason we gravitate towards certain people we find attractive. It could be the scent they carry, but it also could be related to personality, confidence, appearance, or status.

If pheromones can influence sexual responses, is it possible to recreate certain smells to make yourself more sexually desirable?

Unfortunately, pheromones are an elusive mix of natural chemicals, impossible to replicate in a lab. To date, scientists (and fragrance companies) have not been able to get to the heart of what exactly makes up pheromones, how they are created, or how to emulate them. Some companies tout “love potions”, but these are most likely gentle, pleasant fragrances.

Pheromones could be influencing attraction, but it’s more likely a combination of factors with pheromones playing some small role. Visual cues, body language, and the quintessential “chemistry” of how your personalities mesh all play into your perception of a potential romantic encounter.

 

Here’s How to Escape the Friend Zone

iStock-504460644 copy.jpg

The friend zone—it is the place you’ll end up if your romantic interest thinks you’re nice, but isn’t attracted to you romantically. Despite your best attempts to show your “friend” how great being in a relationship could be, your “friend” just isn’t reciprocating. Maybe one or more of the following has happened to you:

  • A romantic prospect introduces you to other people, saying “This is my FRIEND…”
  • A romantic prospect refers to you as a “brother” or “sister”- perhaps after there was some sort of physical contact (i.e., a brief make-out that leads to them pushing you away…saying “I feel like you’re my sister/brother.” 😦
  • You’ve made obvious advances that were ignored

Shifting interest from “just friends” to something more is difficult, but not impossible. If you are perpetually finding yourself in the friend zone, consider these three principles and a few tips on how best to implement them.

  1. The Principle of Least Interest: The member of a relationship who cares least about it is often more desirable and powerful. In other words, letting go of your intense desire to be in the relationship is more likely to boost your chances of ending up in one. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s the same principle that explains why so many of us have played ‘hard to get’. Feigning a lack of interest can make oneself more desirable.

So what can you do? Entertain other options.

Showing interest in others demonstrates that you aren’t willing to forego other options for someone who isn’t feeling the same way about you. In other words, you’re not going to sit and wait for someone to start being interested in you. Though not seeming too eager can be hard when you really do like someone, actively meeting other people and keeping your options open will help you regain some of the power that you lost while pursuing a relatively disinterested person.

  1. The Principle of Scarcity: A close cousin of Principle #1… Because we value things that are scarce more than we value the things that are abundant, it’s in your best interest to remain somewhat unavailable. When you are always available, you’re depriving your partner of an opportunity to win you over and understand just how valuable your time is.

So what can you do? Fill up your social calendar.

Getting busy will give your love interest an opportunity to miss you. Committing yourself to other activities—and refusing to cancel them—is a great way to signal that your time and energy are valuable.

  1. The Ben Franklin Effect: This psychological phenomenon explains why people have better feelings towards the people for whom they do favors. In practice, this means that you are the favor asker instead of the favor doer.

So what can you do? Ask for small favors that can lead to spending time together.

Figure out a way for her to help you out and also to spend time with you. If your apartment feels a little stale, ask her to help you redecorate. If you need a weekend away, ask her to watch the dog; find a way for her to help you out. Instead of you driving to their home every day after work, ask them to drive to you.

Dating Fatigue is Real. Here’s What to do if it’s Happened to You…

iStock-588361062 copy.jpg

If you’re single and interested in a new relationship, first dates are inevitable. If you’re lucky enough to have friends setting you up or an experienced matchmaker on your side, you can count on some pre-filtering and quick turnaround time to make those first dates somewhat easier. But, if you’re searching for love online or on apps, you could invest countless hours getting to know someone before ever meeting—if you ever get to an actual meeting. According to a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center, nearly 1/3 of people using apps never make it to a date. For those that do schedule dates, many experience several bad dates before something relatively good pans out.

 

You know the drill. Anticipation and excitement grows as your first date approaches. Then, not even 20 minutes into the first date, you know there’s no chance of a future. This anticipation—disappointment—optimism cycle seems to repeat itself and, before you know it, you’ve stopped dating completely.

 

Dating burnout is similar to job burnout: An activity that once posed a satisfying challenge is now a mundane task. If the mere mention of a date conjures up feelings of inevitable disappointment, you’re definitely in the midst of dating burnout.

 

Other telltale signs include:

 

Experiencing jealousy over your friends’ relationships.

Jealousy is a sign of insecurity. If you feel slighted by your friend’s relationship or, if you’re pulling away from the new couple, you might be internalizing feelings of frustration about your own romantic life. “I couldn’t stand my coworker’s boyfriend,” says Marie. “Listening to her talk about his anniversary plans was so annoying, but I couldn’t figure out why. I typically liked hearing all of her dating stories. Then, I realized that it had nothing to do with boyfriend. I was sad we weren’t going to talk about our hilariously bad dates from the weekend.”

 

Feeling like the search is hopeless.

When quitting seems easier than fielding another bad date, you’re not heading towards dating fatigue—you’re there. If you’re fearing boredom, rejection, or exhaustion, nixing future dates will seem like the perfect way to prevent future pain.

 

Willing to go for anyone who isn’t terrible.

Settling for someone to stave off loneliness is a sign that you’re losing faith in yourself. Lowering your standards is the best way to find yourself in a relationship you should avoid. “The worst relationship I ever had was actually the first woman I met after my divorce,” says Tom, 41. “I didn’t know what I was doing and the thought of dating again blew my mind. Well, I learned my lesson.”

 

A string of bad dates.

Nothing is more exhausting than a streak of dates without any semblance of connection. Mustering up the enthusiasm—and courage—to get yourself out there again will seem like an uphill battle.

 

Finding your couch more appealing than social gatherings.

Taking a break from all social activities—not just dating—reveals that your frustration from the lack of romantic connectivity is seeping into your other relationships. If you are closing yourself off from everyone, it’s time to evaluate your approach to dating.

 

So what can you do to recover from dating burnout? Consider the following to get back the good vibes:

 

Lower your expectations, not your standards.

Instead of focusing on if the other person likes you, flip the equation to figure out if you feel something towards the other person. This process takes time and might not lead to fireworks initially.

 

Keep the first date short.

You’ll know if you want more—or not—within the first 20 minutes. Keeping the first date short will help you build tension for date #2 or save you from spending too much energy on a dead end. This advice is especially true if you are dating vis-a-vis apps and online.

 

If you know you aren’t interested, don’t go on a second date.

No one wants to be the bad guy, but going out again when you know it’s not there will waste your time and theirs. “I would rather sit through drinks with a guy I wasn’t into than have the ‘I’m not into you’ conversation,” says, Molly, 37. “Of course, this only makes things harder in the end.”

 

Keep your dating life private until you’ve narrowed it down to one person.

Save yourself the trouble of rehashing the same details of lackluster dates.

 

Give yourself a time out.

You’ll project your best self if you’re not forcing yourself to feel or act a certain way. If you’re juggling five people, none of whom you really like, do everyone a favor and take a break. Channel your energy and free time towards a new hobby, keeping physically active, seeing friends, etc till you are ready to date again.

 

Get honest with yourself.

Self awareness is the first step to making sure you aren’t self sabotaging. If you don’t feel anything after several dates, ask a trusted friend about what it could be. If this isn’t possible, seek a dating coach —an objective third party can work wonders.

 

Although it can feel overwhelmingly hopeless, dating fatigue is only temporary. At Linx, we’re here to streamline your dating experience. Matchmaking isn’t just about more dates; it’s about optimizing the variables for connection. If you’re feeling disconnected, we can help. Email our founder Amy at amy@linxdating.com

 

How to Date with Asperger’s…

iStock-626852868 copy.jpg

Dating is challenging for everyone, but for those with Asperger’s, the dating dance seems more like a series of spastic, rhythm-less movements. Matthew Rozsa, a successful journalist with Asperger’s described his personal experience eloquently: “If life in a society is a game (and make no mistake about it, it is), having Asperger’s forces you to play while learning two-thirds of the rules as you go along, even as everyone else knows them instinctively … and assumes you do too.”

Unlike their neurotypical (NT) counterparts, people with Asperger’s struggle to understand nuance or things that aren’t to be taken literally. Dating, especially, with all the flirting and mixed messages makes courtship exceptionally difficult. Though intensive, personalized coaching is the best way to improve dating success. Until you are ready to take that step, try these five dating tips for better dating experiences.

  1. Focus on the Signals

The best way to determine if someone is interested is to watch for signals. Before speaking, most people communicate through body language. Proximity, hand gestures, and eye contact are all ways of communicating without saying a word. Not all signals carry the same strength, so it’s crucial to differentiate weak signals, which could indicate friendship, from strong signals, which could indicate romantic interest.

Weak signals include: saying hello, making infrequent eye contact

Strong signals: touching, asking for your phone number, getting very close, asking you many personal questions

Think of weak signals as springboards for you to mine for more information. For example, if you notice a woman across the room, but she decides to order a cocktail next to you, she is offering a weak, yet positive signal. If you initiate conversation with this woman and notice that she is asking questions about you, the signal is getting stronger.

  1. Keep the First Date Shorter

To de-pressurize the first date, try selecting a single event or activity as the date. With a time limit on social interaction, you can relax and focus on learning about your date. As you’ll be maintaining constant one-on-one contact in a public place, you run the risk of sensory overload. This level of distraction can take you out of a comfortable mind frame and spoil budding romantic feelings. A time limit on the first few dates will help guide you through the more uncertain parts of the dating process. As your relationship grows, you’ll be better equipped to negotiate how much time to spend with each other.

  1. Consider Being Open About Your Condition

A lot of people wonder if they should be open about their autism when they are first dating someone. According to sexologist Amy Marsh, an authentic, straightforward approach is best. “The best thing a former partner said to me was, ‘I have a limited capacity for emotional engagement.’” If you feel that your partner is giving you strong signals—and you feel similarly—opening up about your condition might not only help her know what to expect, but also prevent her from taking some of the emotional challenges personally.

  1. Listen More than You Speak

If you have a tendency to talk a lot, you need to remember the purpose of the date: You are trying to learn about a new person. If you find yourself talking incessantly on one subject for a prolonged period of time, you aren’t creating an opportunity to learn about your date. Prepare a few questions that cannot be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, and try your best to listen twice as much as you talk.

  1. Follow Up

If you aren’t sure about the signals you received during the date, and you’re interested in seeing your date again, you should certainly ask. If your date is unresponsive, she is probably not interested in seeing you again romantically. However; you can use this opportunity to learn more about her dating experience to improve. The best way to get answers is to create a safe space for her to be honest with you. You can leave her a voicemail or text and politely ask for feedback. After you make the request, you should not continue to contact her or ask her out on more dates.

Example: “Hi. I’m really happy you took the time to go out with me last week. I understand we might not be matched for dating, but I would really appreciate your feedback so I can improve. I think it’s really hard to read emotional cues and communicate about my feelings and any help you could give me would be immensely appreciated. Absolutely up to you and no pressure.”

Are You Dating Someone with Asperger’s?

With nearly 3.5 million Americans falling somewhere on the autism spectrum scale, it’s likely you’ve been on a date—or even a relationship—with someone who may show signs but not may not be formally diagnosed. Asperger’s syndrome is a mild form of autism that makes it extremely difficult to read others; social cues, hints, romantic gestures, and suggestive language won’t make sense to someone with Asperger’s. Paul, a 37-year-old with Asperger’s described dating with his condition as “learning a new language, but instead of words and phrases, I had to learn how to read and speak nonsensical behavior.”

When it comes to dating and relationships, people with Asperger’s, or Aspies, have additional challenges that may frustrate romantic partners. Without understanding the condition, neurotypical (NT) people can feel hurt, annoyed, and embarrassed by well-intentioned singles with Asperger’s. To help bridge the gap, we’ve addressed the top stressors of dating someone with Asperger’s and what you can do to make it easier for all parties involved.

An inability to express sentimental feelings

What you can do: Don’t assume the other person is uninterested, just because he isn’t telling you he likes you or finds you attractive. Let him know what you think and tell him why it is important that he learns how to make you feel special. Employing some structure to this conversation will help everyone feel more open and honest. “Create a ‘safe space’ for discussion and using semi-formal techniques like active listening, time outs with agreed upon return times, and speaker-listener paraphrasing,” says Amy Marsh, a sexologist “set regular times if you have to.”

Lack of understanding about physical affection

What you can do: Affection like holding hands and kissing won’t make sense to your partner. Attaching a gesture to an emotion is not intuitive, so take the time to explain what the gestures mean and why you are doing them. Otherwise, your physical affection can have an adverse effect. According to The Partner’s Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome, hugs can be very uncomfortable as they essentially restrict movement and invade personal space without warning. Best to say, “I want to give you a hug, because it will make me feel close to you. Sound good?” to help your partner acclimate to your style of affection.

Harping on the same subject or telling the same story repeatedly

What you can do: Shift the conversation to something that interests you. If your partner interrupts or continues to talk, gently tell them that this behavior makes it difficult for you to feel interesting. “If you are the more “neurotypical” partner, then you may find yourself playing detective and trying much harder to understand the other person than they ever will try to understand you, and it can feel lopsided” says Marsh. “Remember that for many people on the autism spectrum, social and emotional skills and communication have to be learned more intellectually rather than intuitively.”

Inability to read social cues or knowing which social rules to apply in certain situations

What you can do: Ease him into large social situations like parties or group outings. If he or she is overwhelmed or decides skip the event, try not to take it personally. Social situations are especially trying with so many different social cues coming from so many different people. To help your partner feel more comfortable, try to make the introductions on their behalf and help them transition topics.

Not understanding sexual situations, specifically how to escalate into physical intimacy

What you can do: For many people with AS, physical intimacy is the expression of feelings; however, escalating to the physical realm and establishing the mood with foreplay won’t seem important or necessary unless the NT explains what he or she is looking for in the bedroom. Asperger’s specialist, Dr. Kenneth Roberson suggests the following exercise: “Together with your partner make a list of the things that your partner does sexually that you like. Make a second list of things you would like your partner to do or try sexually. Make a third list of things that you do not particularly enjoy sexually. Ask your partner to generate similar lists. Then sit down together and share the items on your lists.”

If things do not go as planned in the bedroom, wait for a better time to discuss. “DO NOT argue in the bedroom,” says Marsh. “Let that be your area for safe connection with emotions and intimacy. Period.”

The first step in sustaining a serious, long-term relationship with someone with Asperger’s is acceptance. “Don’t confuse acceptance with granting permission to act whatever way your partner chooses. Callous, unsympathetic, and cold behavior, for example, are not things to be supported,” says Dr. Kenneth Roberson, Ph.D. “There is nothing wrong with expecting to be treated decently, wanting to be accepted and loved, and disapproving of anything less, but when your goal is to change the fundamental characteristics of who your partner is, you not only set yourself up for failure but you risk setting the bar impossibly high for your partner.”