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She Blinded Me With Social Science

by Rabbi Josh Yuter under Date Night,JDate,News,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

She Blinded Me With Social Science: Deconstructing that NY Times “To Fall in Love with Anyone” Article

I was in the middle of drafting this week’s post when I noticed several friends of mine sharing a recent New York Times article titled, “To Fall in Love with Anyone, Do This.” It’s easy to dismiss such a tantalizing headline as mere clickbait, but the article is based on an actual published psychology experiment in which participants felt “closer” to each other after answering a series of 36 personal questions — and the author herself says she fell in love with her partner because of it.

For the people who gave this article a superficial read, it would appear that true love could be yours if you just performed a simple exercise. And if this sounds too good to be true, rest assured, it most certainly is.

Because I’m me, I downloaded and read the original scholarly article (it’s since been pulled from the web), published in 1997 in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (23:4) with the decidedly less enticing title, “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings.” When discussing any study, the first thing to consider is what exactly is the study trying to measure. To wit:

             We should also emphasize that the goal of our procedure was to develop a temporary feeling of closeness,not an actual ongoing relationship (364)

So right off the bat we’re not talking about how to establish a meaningful relationship, but rather to create fleeting moments of connectedness. How do we accomplish this?

             Indeed, Aron et al. (1992) found that various measures of closeness have two latent dimensions of behaving close and feeling close (364). [Emphasis original]

Following this logic, the study decided to measure if acting in a way to achieve “closeness” would, in fact, generate the feelings of closeness.

            One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personalistic self-disclosure…Whereas behaving close in this sense could not really arise outside of a long-term ongoing relationship, it seemed to us that the subjective feeling of closeness, which is our focus, might well arise at least temporarily in a short-term interaction (364).

It turns out that putting in the effort of feeling close to someone else through personal sharing can even overcome or override some of the factors people normally assume do lead to connectedness.

            Overall, these data suggest that matching in terms of not disagreeing on important attitudes or leading subjects to believe that they and their partners will like each other probably has little impact on the overall closeness subjects achieve through this procedure, or even on their mutual attraction (367).

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If you can find a partner for this exercise, can you actually find true love?

To summarize, one way two people can feel closer to each other is by actively sharing intimate personal aspects about themselves, with reciprocity from their partner. This can certainly be useful information for people who are trying to make a go out of a relationship, either dating or even after marriage. But, before you start printing out the questionnaire for your next date, keep in mind there are some crucial caveats which come with the research.

The experiment was done in a controlled environment where the participants knew each other to some degree as classmates, or otherwise the pool was not completely randomized. There was also no expectation of commitment or consequences attached, which could have lead participants to give more freely. Perhaps most importantly is that the participants were willing to participate. That is to say, two people made the conscious decision to try to open up to one specific person, at least for a short period.

Dating usually doesn’t work like this. If you’re meeting someone online or from a setup you’re effectively meeting a random stranger. Even if you ask out someone whom you know, you still need to get past the willingness aspect. It’s not just that people are incapable of opening up to someone else (though many are), but they may not want to open up – or at least not to this particular individual. Even the NY Times author admits, “I see now that one neither suggests nor agrees to try an experiment designed to create romantic love if one isn’t open to this happening,” which is of course an obstacle many of us can’t even get past.

And let’s say we do find a partner to undertake this exercise, do we actually wind up finding True Love? The authors of the study address this question and have some bad news.

                 So are we producing real closeness? Yes and no. We think that the closeness produced in these studies is experienced as similar in many important ways to felt closeness in naturally occurring relationships that develop over time. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that the procedure produces loyalty, dependence, commitment, or other relationship aspects that might take longer to develop…Thus the procedure is like other experimental paradigms such as mood induction procedures, the minimal group paradigm, or methods for temporarily lowering self-esteem: It is useful as a means of creating a similar although not completely identical state, but under controlled conditions permitting experimental tests of causal hypotheses and theoretical issues (371-372)

Practically speaking what we really have here is a strategy and mechanism for two people who are open to the possibility of getting close to each other to at least try to develop feelings of closeness. As the NY Times author stated, his could in fact indicate that love is indeed more “pliable” than we’d otherwise have thought, in which case we have more control to determine our own happiness than we’ve imagined.

Even if you find solace or encouragement in this empowerment, keep in mind you still need to work at the relationship, but more importantly you need to find that willing partner.

But then again, that’s why there’s JDate, isn’t it?


What’s Your Story?

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

As I said in Monday’s post, let’s forget about the negative connotation of “baggage” and call it “your story” instead. But, how do you turn it from negative to positive?

You need to get to a place from within where your story becomes that amazing thing called life that has made you who you are. You get there by accepting your past and your current situation, and then embracing it. Then you need to figure out how to spin it so that it adds confidence and character. By spinning it, I don’t mean lying or manipulating the truth, but seeing the silver lining in all of your life experiences — what you learned from them, or who it brought into your life, or how it changed your life for the better.

You cannot change the past, but you can change your attitude about it moving forward. You do not want a date to feel pity for you with a sob story, so get to the point where you realize that you are the amazing person you are today because of your story, and then tell your story as an adventure. It’s called life. You can live it or let it happen to you.


The Power of One

by Caryn Alper under JDate,Online Dating,Single Life

Because my first blog post was more of an introductory foray into JBlogging, I’ll use this one as my first “official” substantive post.  Enter: the obligatory New Year/new you/dating resolutions/fresh start motivational advice piece on how to snag a guy by simply being more positive, going to more events, and always looking your best.  If only it were that easy, right?  Instead, I offer to you a new mantra for the New Year: It only takes one. Dating is pretty much a numbers game, and I’ll talk about this more in a future post. But for now, I want to focus on the power of one.

According to my rigorous research (Google), online dating membership and activity peaks between January 1 and Valentine’s Day, and JDate is no exception.  This membership surge makes sense – people are resolving to look for love in the New Year, no one wants spend cold nights binge watching Netflix  alone, and maybe others were not-so-subtly gifted a JDate subscription from their mom for Hanukkah.  Whether you’re a long time online dater or new to the site, and whatever your reason for being here, take advantage of the post-holiday season because the numbers are currently in your favor!

So, how does this all tie together?  I’ll explain: With new members showing up in your search, it’s easy to scroll through new faces in pursuit of your perfect guy or girl. But this year, resolve to search for the person that is perfect for YOU, not perfect on paper, and not perfect for your friend.  Try something different this January – change one thing about your search criteria. It can be something as small as increasing your preferred age range by a couple years in either direction, or expanding your mileage, especially if you’re in a smaller city, or opening yourself up to a few more categories of religiosity.  I’m not asking you to buy a new wardrobe or dye your hair or even to revamp your profile for the New Year.  Just try out a more tailored, refined search in an effort to to increase the chances of finding your best match.

So what if expanding your age range or mileage gets you only one new match? Great! That’s another person in your personal numbers game, and who knows – he or she could be YOUR one. Remember, there might be hundreds of new people joining JDate, but for your purposes, it only takes one!


Are You An “Older” or “Mature” Single Adult?

by Tamar Caspi under JDate,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

It doesn’t matter if you are labeled a “mature adult” or an “older adult” — because many dating problems remain the same, regardless of age. In some ways it’s easier, but in some ways it’s more difficult.

Instead of having nosy Jewish mothers bugging you for grandchildren, you may have nosy Jewish children bugging you to find someone to keep you busy so you leave them alone.

Instead of a bad break-up that felt like the end of the world after a mere three months, you may have 30 years worth of memories that only came to an end because your spouse passed away.

Instead of a drama-filled relationship that ends where you’re able to avoid that person at all costs, you may have three children with your ex-spouse whom you will be connected to for all eternity and have to deal with in some capacity on a near daily basis.

Instead of feeling like your life is over because you’re single on your 30th birthday, you may have instead embraced your independence and yet still hope to find someone to enjoy the rest of your life with.

These comparisons are the differences in your baggage as an adult dating after 40-ish. Everyone has baggage, whether you want to admit it or not. Baggage has a negative connotation, so let’s just call it – “your story.” Everyone has a story. There’s no way you can get through life without making one. What’s yours?


Make Yourself More Attractive

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

An awesome thread on Reddit titled What can you do that is NOT appearance based to make yourself more attractive?  brought some great answers that singles should take to heart, including:

  • Be passionate about something
  • Be decisive
  • Recognize your best qualities
  • Be a good listener/conversationalist
  • Have a sense of humor
  • Be confident

I’m going to boil this down for you: what are you good at in life? You should have a few items on that list whether it be a skill, hobby or character trait. Now, what makes you happy? Knowing both of those answers will help build your confidence because it creates self-awareness. You are going to be asked these types of questions on dates so it’s better to be prepared (NOT rehearsed) to answer them by thinking about it now.

 


Date to Win

by Rabbi Josh Yuter under Date Night,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life
סוּר מֵרָע, וַעֲשֵׂה-טוֹב
“Turn from evil and do good” Psalms 34:15

 

I’ve long since forgotten how many dates I’ve been on, but I don’t have that many horrible stories. At worst, most of my dates have been forgettable or what I sometimes describe as, “painless but pointless.” Decent days or nights out with decent people, but either no chemistry or just pronounced feelings of “meh.”

Regardless of how much time one chooses to invest in any person – some people are always willing to give someone a second date, others bail quicker – when we aren’t interested in someone else, a popular confronting us is “what’s wrong with that person?” This is usually more common among matchmakers, some of whom I have encountered tend to take rejections personally (both before and after the date).

Asking “what’s wrong” can be constructive if it helps someone gain greater insight into their wants or needs, or to help friends and matchmakers refine their suggestions. From my own experience, people ask “what’s wrong” more like they ask “why aren’t you married yet?” – as an accusation meant to put others on the defensive for their life choices. The problem is that most of “what’s wrong” isn’t always apparent, in part because there may not be anything actually wrong at all.

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Is it the wine or does this just feel “right?”

Here’s where I think a common cliché may be useful. Looking for the absence of a negative would be what I call, “dating not to lose.” According to this attitude, the default status would be that you’d marry the first willing individual who you don’t find particularly objectionable. Depending on your priorities in life, this may be a perfectly valid option and precursor to a long and healthy marriage, provided of course that it’s your decision and not imposed by external (e.g. family, social, economic) pressures.

But for many others, this is wholly insufficient. I’d like to think that people don’t just want to “get married” as much as they want a happy and healthy marriage. While this is never guaranteed (even in the best scenarios), my sense is that the more optimistic people are in dating, the more hopeful they’ll be entering the marriage. This is more along the lines of what I’d call “dating to win,” where you’re not trying to avoid what could be wrong as much as finding someone with whom you feel “right.” In this regard, the mere absence of attraction or chemistry (however you choose to define it) is itself enough of a “flaw,” such that it’s not worth it to pursue it further.

“Dating not to lose” is a surefire way to get stuck in a long-term dissatisfying relationship, one of those where it’s not bad enough to leave… but not good enough to commit. This can certainly be comfortable in the short-term, and you might even convince yourself to get married, though I’d suspect there would be a greater chance for future remorse and resentment.

“Dating to win” is far more difficult. It requires a certain degree of confidence to be unattached rather than be in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship, or even continuing to go on dates where you’re just not that into someone. But I’d also suggest that the potential rewards are far greater in the long run.


Dating Differently

by Tamar Caspi under Relationships

After a tough breakup a lot of people think they need to start looking for someone who is the opposite of the type of person who just hurt them. But, finding someone who is blonde instead of brunette, corporate instead of an entrepreneur, quiet rather than loud, an introvert vs an extrovert, and so on, does not mean that the next relationship is going to be successful. There’s no one thing that is going to change the fate of a relationship. There are going to be traits that you’re attracted to which will contribute to a relationship never working, and there are traits that you will need in another person in order to complement your own traits. It will take some introspection to figure out which traits are which.

Liking a strong and outgoing person, but not wanting someone who is controlling is a difficult balance to find. That doesn’t mean that you should look for someone who is shy and quiet. Wanting to laugh and have fun is not the same as being made fun of and hearing constant sarcasm. That doesn’t mean you should find someone who is boring and serious all the time.

What it does mean is that you need to take your time and get to know someone, and see who you are and how you are when you are together.


Meet Caryn: JDate’s Newest Blogger

by Caryn Alper under JBloggers,JDate,Online Dating

Greetings from the Midwest! I’m Caryn, and I’m here to show you that the good, the bad, and the strange of JDating occurs everywhere, including here in St. Louis, known to many of you as flyover country.  I’m absolutely delighted to be reporting to you live from behind my computer, and I look forward to sharing with you some insights, stories, observations, and advice that stems from my (uh… I mean my friend’s) experience with JDate.  While I’m not a professional dating coach, I’ve learned a thing or two about dating and relationships over the years, and my natural tendency to overanalyze, coupled with my love for writing, has translated into this awesome blogging gig.

Caryn

Meet Caryn!

Because this is my first post, I thought I’d start with a brief introduction of who I am and my brand of writing.  Professionally, I work at a large private university (hint: it’s NOT in D.C.) coordinating research in the psychiatry department. People tend to think this means I wear a lab coat and perform lobotomies or something, but really, it’s a desk job where I can use my background in psychology and counseling. On the home front, I am a proud daughter and big sister, and I’m super close with my family. Judaism is also quite important to me, as is perpetuating future generations of Jews, which is one reason why I’m so excited to help people find success on JDate.

In terms of my preferred dating blog topics, I’d say anything goes. In my little corner of the Internet, you might find assorted observations, true stories, advice, lists and charts, and posed questions, likely with a psychological spin and served with a little satire. You hopefully won’t find clichés, misplaced modifiers, the real names of people involved in embarrassing stories, or signed confessions. This content is subject to change, though, as I’d like to see this blog become an interactive discussion with readers.

Brief disclaimer: I know not everyone in the audience is a single 31-year-old girl, so I’ll try my best to generalize my posts to fit a larger audience. However, because I don’t know what it’s like to date as a 56-year-old divorced man, or 44-year-old single mom, I welcome and value your input! Please add to the discussion by commenting below or sending me a direct message.

Finally, I can’t guarantee that everyone reading my blog will go on three JDates this month, will become exclusive with one of them in a couple months, and will be engaged within a year. But, it’s my hope that you might learn something new, consider something in a different way, or if nothing else, be mildly entertained.


Big Bag Baggage

by Tamar Caspi under Date Night,Single Life

I admit it, I love a big bag. I like knowing I have everything I could ever need right at my fingertips, even if it means rifling through dozens of random contents until I find my needed item. But a date is not where a big bag belongs. A big bag translates into baggage when you’re on a date. No one needs all that “stuff,” whether literally or figuratively, on a date.

Ladies — you should carry no more than a clutch or small handbag on a date. What else do you need besides an ID, some cash, one credit card, lipstick, your cellphone and keys? Leave the rest of your junk at home along with your last relationship drama, your emotional scarring from your childhood, and the stress you have from work.

Dates are not impressed by your Louis Vuitton Neverful. In fact, you will probably be prematurely judged as being high maintenance and a JAP if you walk into a first date lugging a purse half your size. Leave it at home and don’t even think of introducing it on a date until you’re in a committed relationship!


Dating Deadlines

by Tamar Caspi under JDate,Online Dating,Relationships,Single Life

Since coining the phrase “poly-dating,” I have been asked the following question: isn’t that cheating? No. No, it is not. Until you are in a committed, monogamous relationship (whether you had ‘The Talk’ or you just know you both want to be pursue a future together), you do not need to explain yourself to anyone. You can date anyone you want. But, as soon as things start getting serious with one person, then you must break it off with the others. If you’re planning on having sex with one of your prospects then you need to break things off with the others beforehand, out of respect for all parties involved.

Once your new relationship is secure you can mention that there were others you were dating until they made you realize that no one else could measure up (may as well spread it on thick if you’re going to go there), but don’t volunteer the information if no one asks because it really doesn’t matter what you did before things got serious.

And, in general, there is no reason to continue having a friendship with any of the rejected prospects. You were dating to see if there was a future together; there wasn’t, and that relationship is now over. Your new significant other will not appreciate you having a friendship with someone you were dating at the same time.