Research

Friends with an ex: Worth the time or time to move on?

 

iStock_000042224340_Small.jpgAfter sharing love and a life together, severing all contact with an ex sounds like a harsh outcome to say the least, but is maintaining ties with an ex worthwhile? Traditional advice seems to support “clean breaks” and “moving on”, but is there something to be said for pursing friendship in lieu of separation?

 

Is friendship with an ex even possible?

 

According to The Journal of Social Psychology, friendship after a breakup is more likely if you and your ex were friends prior to the relationship.; the transition is easier if both parties have experience in the platonic realm. Conversely, if sparks flew shortly after meeting, you stand to endure more pain and awkwardness as the romance falls away.

 

The nature of the breakup will also impact the opportunity for friendship. Naturally, break ups that included heated endings—arguments, cheating, or any sort of perceived hostility—jeopardize chances of friendship. However, if the dumper used “de-escalation” tactics—or slowly started pulling away, the ex-partner has time to adjust and consider an alternative dynamic.

 

Why stay friends?

 

If you do decide to remain friends, have an honest conversation with yourself about your motivations. According to a research study published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, your desire to remain friends after the relationship probably falls under one of the following reasons:

 

Reliability/sentimentality: your ex “gets you” and you can count on him or her to have your back.

 

Pragmatism: your ex makes your life easier. Your ex has resources you want—connections to business prospects, money, or skills you need.

 

Continued romantic attraction: You’re still in love.

 

Children and shared resources: Joint loans, kids, mortgages, etc. are obligations that make severing contact difficult if not impossible.

 

Diminished romantic attraction: Although the passion has waned, you still share an emotional connection.

 

Social relationship maintenance:You have similar friend groups or family friends.

 

Sexual access: Maintaining enough connectivity to ensure sexual opportunities or, simply, a friends with benefits situation.

 

Although reliability was the prevailing reason for friendship among both women and men, men were more likely to rate pragmatism and sexual access higher than women.

 

If you are pushing for friendship, be sure it’s friendship you’re actually looking for. To get your answer, ask yourself the following:

  • Are you scared to lose support, advice, and comfort?
  • Are you trying to avoid grief?
  • Do you want the benefits of partnership (i.e. sex) without a formalized commitment?

 

If you’ve answered “yes” to any of these questions, you might be more interested in filling a void than pursuing a true friendship. If you find yourself pursuing contact for these reasons, the pain and stress of the breakup are probably encouraging some unhealthy rollercoaster emotions.

 

Using friendship as a crutch while your relationship dies will prolong the agony of heartbreak. The sooner you cut ties and take time for yourself—on your own—the sooner you may have an opportunity to pursue friendship.

 

What does creating space for friendship with an ex look like?

 

Firstly—and this may sound dramatic—defriend your ex on Facebook. According to research that appears in the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, monitoring an ex on Facebook “exacerbates feelings of distress…and increases feelings of sexual desire and longing for an ex partner.” Although people who de-friended exes still experienced some setbacks in personal growth during their breakup, ultimately they reported less negative feelings than their stalker counterparts.

 

Instead of focusing on the friendship with an ex, you might find more value in revisiting your platonic relationships. The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships revealed that cross-sex friends who have always been platonic offer more satisfaction than cross-sex friends who have been lovers. Without sexual attraction or a need to get more serious, platonic friends share a pure connection.

 

Regardless of what you decide, give yourself—and your ex—and opportunity to adjust to the being single. If you do decide to pursue friendship, realize that the strong emotional connection you continue to share could complicate—at best—or preclude—at worst—your chances of establishing a new, totally fulfilling relationship.

Here’s what the science says about coming on too strong…

How often has the following happening to you:

Your great date has suddenly disappeared.

  • You always initiate contact with the person you’re trying to see.
  • You’ve heard “I’m just not ready” or “I think we’re moving too fast” within the first few dates.

If this sounds familiar, you’re probably coming on too strong. This type of oversharing can be attributed to the misalignment between how someone sees themselves versus how others perceive them. At University of Texas, researchers applied the self-verification theory to explain why people continually overshare. In an effort to get people to view them the way they view themselves, some people reveal too much too soon–overly personal details, traumas, and strong feelings.

To feel happier, people want to be viewed the same way they view themselves. The person who comes on too strong believes he or she is putting your anxiety at ease by confessing their own feelings. That person believes he or she is providing important information you need to have right away, because he sees himself as a romantic or someone in love. If the feelings are unrequited, or incongruence happens, the self-verification theory notes that the oversharer will experience a negative outcome.

People who come on too strong tend to keep doing so, because they believe–on a fundamental level–that they are doing the right thing and when incongruence strikes, it’s especially debilitating because it jeopardizes the way the person sees himself.

So, how do I know if I’m coming on too strong?

Take a minute to evaluate your date’s responses. Did your date ask you lots of questions? Did (s)he initiate kissing, touching, or contact of any kind? Did (s)he propose a time or place to get together again? If not, slow down the pace until you see reciprocal positive signs that invite attention.

But, what’s the problem with telling someone how I feel?

There’s nothing wrong with sharing feelings, but it’s in your best interest to apply some objective, non-emotional thinking to ground you. For example, it’s been two dates, and you’re feeling very interested. Understand that the other person involved only knows you as much as he or she has experienced with you to that point. That person won’t know that you’ve turned down countless dates or are hard to get; they only know that it’s been a short period of time, and that’s all it took to win you over.

Without having had to “earn” your affection with positive behavior or sufficient time to show you who he or she really is, the other person won’t be able to figure out a legitimate reason for you to have such strong feelings.

When someone says too much too soon, it suggests an immediate need to fill a void versus a well-considered, intentional selection based on someone’s unique character. Just as you wouldn’t want to feel like your partner could be with anyone, and that you were just the first to come along, you shouldn’t give any reason for the person you’re dating to feel this way.

So, when should I express my feelings?

There is no “right” time to voice strong feelings. The only “right” thing to do is to try to understand what your true motivation is for doing so. Are these strong initial feelings stemming from a place of neediness? Has it been a while since you’ve met someone halfway decent? If you feel a sense of urgency to share the love, spend time figuring out the why.

 

Going the distance: How feasible is long-distance love?

 

iStock-1027701870 copy.jpgMaybe you met someone abroad. Maybe someone from abroad met you. Either way, you’re wondering if those romantic feelings can lead anywhere at all because of the distance. Of course distance can pose some unique challenges compared to dating a local single, but you might be surprised to learn those extra miles could be the fastest track into your next serious relationship.

Does distance make the heart grow fonder? The short answer: Yes.

 Two scientists, Crystal Jiang, City University of Hong Kong and Jeffrey Hancock, Cornell University, compared intimacy levels among couples in LDRs and local relationships. Surprisingly, the distance couples reported much higher levels of intimacy.

Researchers attributed the additional closeness to two unique characteristics. Firstly, the people in the LDR disclose more about themselves—more details, more vulnerability—that promote a higher rating of closeness versus the everyday chit chat from couples who live together. Secondly, distance couples tend to idealize their partners. Without opportunities to see their partner’s off days, people in LDR’s can hold on to that idealized version of their love interest longer.

In theory, my heart might grow fonder, but in reality won’t there be communication issues?

Ironically, couples communicating across distance enjoyed a greater sense of closeness than local couples. In one study published in the Journal of Communication, researchers found that although couples in LDRs weren’t always in constant communication, the overall quality of the communication was rated highly. After analyzing the diaries, texts, calls, and video chats, researchers learned that couples in long distance relationships shared more personal details.

Additionally, The Journal of Communication reports that the communication style between distance couples was rated less “problematic” than couples living closer—probably attributed to the fact that distance forces time between an emotional response and a reaction.

So, how much does the distance really matter?

Apparently, not that much. One study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy reported that couples living apart were just as happy as couples living in the same city. Even before the realities of distance set in, distance couples “perceived a lower likelihood of breaking up with their partner” when researchers wanted to measure commitment compared to locally-based relationships.

Ultimately, when these same participants were polled four months later about their relationship status, the break up rates between distance and local couples were the same.

Perhaps, we’re spending too much time wondering how the distance will make things harder rather than how it can help us get more intentional about connecting. If the chances of making love last are the same, why not see where those loving feelings take you?

 

Do women find men sexier when they’re taken? Here’s what the research says

jealous girl at party.jpg

Does it feel like you’re getting more attention now that you’re in a relationship? If so, there’s a scientific explanation behind your new popularity.

When women prefer a man they know to be taken over a single counterpart, they are engaging in a phenomenon scientists call mate-choice copying. Specifically, the phenomenon describes what happens when a woman “observes a romantic or sexual interaction between a male and another female (referred to as the model female) and preferentially chooses that male as a mate” (Pruett-Jones, 1992). In other words, the woman on your arm or the the wedding band on your finger are letting other women know that you’ve been pre-screened.

Finding a compatible partner isn’t easy—and the equation becomes even more stressful with a biological clock ticking in the background. To help filter worthy candidates, women look for clues. They evaluate men for the usual trademarks of great genes: height (Sheppard & Strathman, 1989), facial hair (Waynforth, Delwadia, & Camm, 2005), and facial symmetry (Little, Jones, & DeBruine, 2011). Women are also analyzing contextual clues; they rated men with status symbols like expensive cars (Dunn & Searle, 2010) and expensive clothes (Townsend & Levy, 1990) more desirable.

But, what about the other factors? Like temperament, passion, or sociability?

Personality does count but, unlike evaluating external cues, getting to know someone requires a substantial time investment. Instead of running her own due diligence, a single woman might take a shortcut with mate-choice copying. If a man is with a girlfriend, the single woman will use the girlfriend’s judgment to determine that the man would make a good partner.

So, I should only leave the house with a woman from now on?

It’s a bit more complicated than that. For a single woman to value the girlfriend’s judgment, the girlfriend must be as attractive if not more attractive than the single woman. To understand how much the girlfriend’s attractiveness matters, scientists gave participants pictures of potential mates alone and also pictured as part of a couple. Each potential mate was pictured with a “girlfriend” who was either unattractive, moderately attractive, or very attractive.

The desirability of the man was directly correlated to the attractiveness of his female partner. Participants rated men with attractive “girlfriends” much more desirable than the same men photographed alone. But, if the man is holding company with an unattractive partner, he’s actually rated as less desirable.

Mate-choice copying might sound like a conniving dating strategy specific to some morally questionable single ladies, but scientists assert that it’s more benign. It’s less about a single woman trying to steal another woman’s mate; instead, it’s probably just a single woman adapting her opinion to mirror that of a peer. We use other people’s opinions to help shape our own. If a woman sees a man who has been highly rated previously, it’s likely she will do the same.

How your monthly cycle can make you a man magnet

 

iStock-641434604 copy.jpgIn spite of the bloating, cramping, and PMS inherent with your monthly cycle, turns out there is a bonus: Men are more likely to find you attractive. According to a study in the journal “Hormones and Behavior,” men were more likely to rate women as being the most attractive when they were at the most fertile point in their menstrual cycle.

How does male behavior change during ovulation?

In one study, researchers asked 31 women to report their significant other’s behavior changes during all stages of the month. During ovulation, women reported more attentiveness and higher involvement from their partners. The behavior changes were even more evident in relationships that weren’t serious yet, demonstrating that men were extra cautious of competition during her time of peak attractiveness. The men also exhibited a higher level of protectiveness during ovulation. This phenomena, known as mate guarding, was especially prevalent among less attractive males.

So, what about ovulation makes you more attractive? According to Michael Kauth’s Handbook of the Evolution of Human Sexuality, you can expect to:

·      Smell better—In one study, men were given three sets of t-shirts: one set was worn by women during their most fertile phase, another set worn during their infertile time, and a third set of shirts that were unworn. After smelling the ovulation shirts, men exhibited higher levels of testosterone.

·      Become more creative—Researchers gave a group of women 4 tests, one for each week of the menstrual cycle. Creativity surged during ovulation, when estrogen and luteinizing hormone were highest.

·      Appear more attractive—After showing two pictures of the same woman—one while she was ovulating and one when she wasn’t—to a group of men and women, researchers learned that both the men and the women rated the pictures capturing ovulation more attractive.

·      Have a higher sex drive—After polling 115 women about their sex drive and monthly cycle, researchers noted a spike in libido and greater sexual satisfaction during ovulation.

·      Dress sexier—Because women feel sexier during ovulation, they are more likely to spend time on their appearance. As their libido surges, they tend to dress more strategically to attract a mate.

·      Have a higher pitched voice—As ovulation approaches, women will craft a more feminine, higher-pitched voice to be more attractive to men. The pitch gets higher as ovulation gets closer.

How much can ovulation up your sex appeal? Researchers at the University of New Mexico attempted to quantify it by asking strippers to report their earnings and their menstrual cycles for two months. During ovulation, the strippers made about $70 per hour, women in the luteal phase—the phase after ovulation but before the period—made about $50 per hour, and menstruating women made about $35 per hour.

The current state of the matchmaking industry from an insiders perspective

It’s 2018 and I can officially say I am obsessed with being a matchmaker. It’s incredibly hard to believe that I have been running my niche business since December 2003. I will never forget the day that I walked into my former boss’s office at Merrill Lynch and told him I was quitting to become a professional matchmaker. I think his head fell off and rolled across the floor in shock. But it was the right move. I wasn’t happy in financial services. It was neither my calling nor what I was meant to do. I knew deep down in my core that I would start my own company one day and succeed at it – I believed in myself. In the same vein, and at the beginning of another year, I encourage you to believe in yourself. To achieve your dreams, whether professional, personal (e.g. meeting an exceptional life partner), or a combination, you need to believe in your ideas and have a solid confidence.

 

I am writing this particular blog entry to address the state of the matchmaking industry, as I see it. I’d like to think I have a good sense of, and some deep insights into, this space.  My livelihood is my business – I have been at this for 14 years, it runs deep in my blood, and it has been an integral piece of my life’s journey. At the beginning of a new year, I want to share my thoughts with all of you.

 

Not to sugarcoat anything, I have been very disappointed reading the press coverage of many matchmakers over the last several years – last year’s news, in particular, struck a chord with me. Something is just plain wrong with so many of the “high-end” matchmakers and “not so high-end” matchmakers out there – the vast majority of them are volume-driven businesses who’s business ethics are very questionable.

 

As a business owner, I have learned some of my greatest lessons over the last 14 years. A big one is not to take someone on board as a client if I can’t deliver. Seems pretty basic right? Contrary to this principle, matchmakers for the masses (and those handful who claim they are “elite” but have zero filtering or curation), are extremely focused on total revenue. I get it. It’s so tempting when running a business, whether big or small.   BUT I can proudly say that I have worked extremely hard via science (my database) and art (my heart and intuition) to truly “cherry pick” the best of the best clients whom I know I can match and with whom I know I can work. Emphasis on whom I know I can match!

 

Thus, one of the most critical distinctions between Linx Dating and pretty much any of the dating services available domestically and internationally is that we actually turn away a lot of incoming demand. To reiterate, why would I turn away these prospective male and female clients who can help me increase my business revenue? For starters, Linx prides itself in representing a very select group of clientele. There are other matchmakers that make these claims, but I can assure you that the majority of these firms have a revenue model that basically requires them to take all of the business that comes through their door. It is precisely THIS model that gets these other business into serious trouble when they cannot deliver results. In addition to this, a large complaint is that when the matchmakers work with so many clients, it is extremely hard for the client to feel any connection to the team or that anyone really knows or remembers them.

 

The news that I have been reading, and the stories that I keep hearing, involve nasty lawsuits where disgruntled high profile clients file claims against matchmakers time and time again. What are the root causes of most of these cases?

 

  • Matchmakers taking on clients that they probably should not have.

For example, some clients will never be satisfied under any circumstances. Maybe they have unrealistic goals, or haven’t really thought about the most important qualities they want in a match, and this makes it impossible for the matchmaker to ever deliver, as they in search of glorified unicorns that do not exist.

 

  • Due to (1), Matchmakers are under pressure to make introductions that are often so patently “bad” that the client freaks out at the quality of match.

 

“Bad” could be a long list of reasons, with characteristics ranging from undesirable to unacceptable: e.g. the introduction is unemployed, a drug user, a sex offender, convicted criminals….the list goes on and on. Firms do these set-ups like this with random people to meet the quota of introductions for the client. It is a very bad, often times unethical, business that makes this industry at large look bad!

 

I have never been consumed by trying to grow my business to some massively large scale operation and becoming a victim of image, keeping up with the Joneses, or trying to be something I am not.  There’s plenty of matchmakers doing PR campaigns posing in front of fancy cars, private planes, using waifish models to bait men, and bragging about the last names of some of their clientele to the media (which is also a breach in confidentiality mind you.) Instead of resorting to these tactics, I have worked very hard to maintain my core values and business standards throughout the years. While no one is perfect and, sure, I have made my fair number of mistakes along this journey, I know I have done and continue to do a superb job of try to make my corner of this industry shine with integrity while staying true to who I am.

 

If it wasn’t already looking so grim, other matchmakers I’ve read about have chosen to launder money when it was meant for donations to charity, or taken all the membership money, and essentially disappear on some island, all while not returning worried clients’ phone calls, and often literally not even delivering on promised introductions.

 

And then there are other matchmakers who loathe the success and positive media attention of their competitors so much that they resort to guerilla tactics that I have had to deal with over and over again in my business – e.g. false reviews posted on Yelp from “people” who were never even clients. “Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.” -Colin Powell

 

To thrive in business and life, one must be prepared for critics and for those who wish to see you fail. While it can feel very out-of-control in the moment when it is happening, the silver living becomes your greatest blessing. The silver lining is the motive of the competitor. Envy. They recognize something great, likely question “how” such a small, niche business has managed to get to where it’s at, and want to copy its success. There really is no greater compliment than a person wanting to model your success.

 

As you are possibly researching matchmakers to hire, I encourage you to meet with many and do your due diligence. Do meet and greets, ask them questions, see which ones feel right, ask if they offer references (often we cannot, due to the strict privacy policy, but sometimes a client is willing to speak), and most importantly follow your gut. Just like I tell my clients when they are on dates, study your date’s body language, look into their eyes. What feeling are you getting? Is it a good one where your intuition is telling you to keep exploring the chemistry over the course of future dates or does something feel off?

 

The greatest lesson I have learned is never to ignore your intuition. There is a reason we human beings have it. My biggest regrets, and luckily they are few and far between, have been going against my intuition in business hires or in admitting a client or two whom I definitely should not have. So I encourage you to do the same, listen to what your heart and mind tell you.

 

While I continue to try to make a positive impact on the matchmaking industry, I wish you a strong start to your New Year filled with health, peace, prosperity, and clarity into your love lives in 2018!

Is your relationship cheat-proof? Research reveals the most common reasons partners stray

 

jealous girl at party.jpg

After polling over 100,000 people, Chrisanna Northrup published extensive research on infidelity in her book The Normal Bar. Her findings explored not only the prevalence of cheating, but also perhaps more interestingly, she learned the situations that were most likely to encourage committed partners to stray.

 

  1. The Business Trip

For frequent travelers, life on the road comes with loneliness and stress—two circumstances that make meeting a beautiful stranger a welcome distraction.

36% of men and 13% of women admitted to cheating on a business trip. Respondents claimed that the sexual liaison was just too enticing to pass up, even if they had a robust sex life at home. Researchers concluded that the infidelity was related to sex, but also with the thrill of being wanted sexually and being able to engage and get away with it.

How long into a relationship is the business affair most likely to happen? 6-9 years.

 

  1. An ex

Even though the relationship maybe over, the feelings can still exist—especially for women. 32% of women admitted to having a fling with an ex or old interest, compared to 21% of men. Those who cheated with an ex reported a satisfying sex life at home; however, the forbidden nature of sleeping with someone who still holds emotional connectivity proved tempting.

How long into a relationship is an ex most likely to tempt? 2-5 years.

 

  1. Boredom in the bedroom

A mundane sex life is a big reason men and women entertain the idea of getting their needs meet elsewhere. 71% of men and 49% of women cheated after claiming boredom in the bedroom. Often times, people cheat because they are ashamed of their bedroom preferences. In an effort to avoid the conversation, people will suppress their desire and ultimately engage in an affair later to indulge it or, unfairly, project the shame onto their partner.

 

  1. Revenge infidelity

After a partner cheated, 9% of men and 14% of women admitted to cheating for revenge.

 

  1. An inability to be monogamous

Despite entering a committed relationship, many people just can’t dismiss the urge to cheat. 46% of men and 19% of women who strayed and were asked why said, “I just can’t help myself.”

 

But are there reasons people cheat that are beyond their control?

 

We are ultimately responsible for our decisions, but some factors can certainly cloud our better judgment. After meeting someone interesting and attractive, the brain produces a surge of dopamine. The dopamine rush triggers an intense, addictive euphoria—a euphoria that leaves us begging for more, even if it’s outside of the confines of our relationship.

 

There could also be a genetic propensity for cheating. In one study,  researchers surveyed 294 participants and discovered that those who had at least one parent cheat were twice as likely to cheat as the participants who had parents who maintained committed relationships.

 

Is there hope after infidelity?

 

Ironically, affairs don’t necessarily indicate a broken marriage. Although difficult, one of the biggest hurdles to getting the relationship back on track is working through the “victim/perpetrator” mentality. According to Dr. Joe Kurt, Ph.D., LMSW, the betrayed partner can start thinking that because he or she was cheated on, it’s up to the cheater to make everything right again. This blame-focused approach will ultimately sabotage any chance at reconciliation.

 

The best hope for a couple is to talk through the cheating—both the cheater’s experience and the injured partner’s response—in the presence of a counselor or therapist. Together, they can figure out the best ways to rebuild trust and demonstrate transparency.