- While love may be a natural instinct, dating isn’t. We’re not born knowing how to choose the right partner.
- Intentional Love asks you to view your love life as a series of choices rather than accidents.
- Great relationships are built, not discovered.
- SPOILER ALERT: WE’RE IRRATIONAL
CHAPTER 1: WHY DATING IS HARDER NOW THAN EVER BEFORE
WE SHAPE OUR OWN IDENTITIES
WE HAVE TOO MANY OPTIONS
- Dating itself only began in the 1890s. Online dating started in 1994 with Kiss.com, followed shortly by Match.com a year later. And we’ve been swiping for love for less than a decade. If it feels like we’re in the middle of a gigantic cultural experiment, it’s because we are.
- paradox of choice.
WE YEARN FOR CERTAINTY
- There is no “right answer” to questions like Who should I be with? and How much should I compromise? and Will they ever change? No amount of Googling will reveal if James or Jillian will make a good spouse.
- We can’t achieve complete certainty before any big relationship decision—and luckily, we don’t have to in order to be happy. Great relationships are built, not discovered.
SOCIAL MEDIA LEADS US TO COMPARE AND DESPAIR
- Feeling like everyone else’s relationship is perfect when yours is floundering (or nonexistent) exacerbates that pain.
WE LACK RELATIONSHIP ROLE MODELS
- Divorce rates peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s.
- Around 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce or separation, and about 4 percent of married people report feeling miserable in their relationships.
- For example, women are much more likely to become inventors if they grew up in a zip code with many female patent holders. In fact, they’re more likely to patent in the same categories as older female inventors in their neighborhood.
THERE ARE FAR MORE WAYS TO BE IN A RELATIONSHIP
WE FEEL PRESSURE TO GET THIS DECISION “RIGHT”
- Everyone from public figures like Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg (who said: “I truly believe that the single most important career decision that a woman makes is whether she will have a life partner and who that partner is.”)
BUT THERE’S HOPE!
CHAPTER 2: THE THREE DATING TENDENCIES
- I’ve categorized the most common blind spots into a framework called The Three Dating Tendencies.
- Each group struggles with unrealistic expectations—of themselves, of partners, and of romantic relationships.
THE THREE DATING TENDENCIES QUIZ
- The Romanticizer
- You want the soul mate, the happily ever after. You believe you are single because you haven’t met the right person yet.
- The Maximizer
- You love doing research, exploring all of your options, turning over every stone until you’re confident you’ve found the right one.
- The Hesitater
- You don’t think you’re ready for dating because you’re not the person you want to be yet. You hold yourself to a high standard. You want to feel completely ready before you start a new project; the same goes for dating. Your motto: I’ll wait until I’m a catch.
- Although they seem quite different, the Romanticizer, Maximizer, and Hesitater have one major thing in common: unrealistic expectations.
- The Romanticizer has unrealistic expectations of relationships.
- The Maximizer has unrealistic expectations of their partner.
- The Hesitater has unrealistic expectations of themselves.
CHAPTER 3: DISNEY LIED TO US (How to Overcome the Romanticizer Tendency)
THE PROBLEM WITH FAIRY TALES
- When it comes to romantic relationships, psychologist Renae Franiuk found that people have either a soul mate mindset, the belief that relationship satisfaction comes from finding the right person; or a work-it-out mindset, the belief that relationship success derives from putting in effort.
- those with the work-it-out mindset believe that relationships take effort, that love is an action you take, not something that happens to you.
- People with the work-it-out mindset tend to fare better in relationships because when they stumble, they put in the work needed to get the relationship back on track, rather than giving up.
OUR FAIRY-TALE EXPECTATIONS
- Romanticism elevated love from “a kind of illness” to the new model for what we have come to expect from long-term relationships.
HOW TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST THE IDEALS OF ROMANTICISM
- Romanticizer Intensifier #1: Disney’s Prince Charming
- In animated Disney movies, people fall in love without even knowing each other.
- Work-it-out mindset shift
- Even Prince Charming has morning breath. No one is perfect, including you. Don’t know what I’m talking about?
- It’s time to give up on this idea of perfection.
- Romanticizer Intensifier #2: Disney’s Happily Ever After
- Soul mate belief Disney perpetuates
- The hard work of love is finding someone. Everything after that is easy.
- Work-it-out mindset shift
- No relationship is easy all the time. Even the healthiest, most rewarding marriages require effort.
- The hard part is feeling excited to see your spouse at the end of the day, after thirty years and two kids, long after the honeymoon period is over.
- The hard part is remembering why you love someone during all the logistical, financial, emotional, and spiritual challenges life throws at you.
- Romanticizer Intensifier #3: The Rom-Coms “Meet-Cute”
- Soul mate belief rom-coms perpetuate
- Don’t worry, love will find you, and it’ll probably happen in a really great meet-cute way you’ll want to tell your friends about.
- The problem with this idea is that it gives people permission to be overly passive in their love lives.
- Work-it-out mindset shift
- Love takes work—from finding it to keeping it alive. Waiting around at the farmers’ market just won’t cut it. You need to put in effort to find someone. (Don’t worry, I’ll show you how in Section 2.)
- Romanticizer Intensifier #4: Social Media
- Soul mate belief social media perpetuates
- Relationships are effortless, sex-filled love fests (in great lighting).
- On social media, we see curated images of the perfect relationship—from the romantic beach walk captured at sunset to the kiss over a masterfully plated homemade dinner. By contrast, we find our own partnership lacking. We compare and despair.
- Work-it-out mindset shift
- First off, don’t believe what you see on Instagram.
- Relationships go through periods of highs and lows. If you’re working hard at your relationship, that’s good sign, not a bad one!
- Many hours of a marriage are spent on the everyday, rarely posted minutiae of life: changing dirty diapers, doing laundry, and washing dishes. Love happens in these moments, not in spite of them. Love is so much more than a filtered photo captured at sunset.
FROM FAIRY-TALE ROMANCE TO REAL-LIFE LOVE
- Staying in love takes work,
CHAPTER 4: DON’T LET PERFECT BE THE ENEMY OF GREAT (How to Overcome the Maximizer Tendency)
Maximizers versus satisficers
- Maximizers obsess over making the best possible decision.
- American economist, political scientist, and cognitive psychologist Herbert A. Simon first described this personality profile in a 1956 paper. According to Simon, Maximizers are a special type of perfectionist.
- They’re compelled to explore every possible option before they feel like they can choose. Yet this compulsion becomes daunting, and ultimately unfeasible, when they face a vast number of possibilities.
- On the other end of the spectrum are Satisficers (a portmanteau of “satisfy” and “suffice”). They have standards, but they aren’t overly concerned that there might be something better out there.
- They know their criteria, and they hunt until they find the “good enough” option.
- It’s not that they settle; they’re simply fine making a decision once they’ve gathered some evidence and identified a satisfactory option.
- The difference is, once they stop, they don’t worry about what else is out there.
- Maximizers, on the other hand, may find an option that meets their standards, but they feel compelled to explore all possibilities.
WHY ARE MAXIMIZERS LIKE THIS?
- Anxiety plagues Maximizers. It’s not just FOMO (fear of missing out). They also suffer from the less catchy FOMTWD (fear of making the wrong decision).
- this assumes there is a right answer for whom to marry. And there’s not.
THE PROBLEM WITH MAXIMIZING
- Satisficers report feeling happier with their choices, even when they select an objectively worse option.
- Psychologist and The Paradox of Choice author Barry Schwartz explains that what separates Maximizers and Satisficers is not the quality of their decisions, it’s how these decisions make them feel:
- “Maximizers make good decisions and end up feeling bad about them. Satisficers make good decisions and end up feeling good.”
THE WISDOM OF SATISFICING
- What if you aren’t happy with what you pick?
- Here’s the good news: We have an incredible tool working on our behalf to make us happy—our brain! Once we commit to something, our brain helps us rationalize why it was the right choice.
- Rationalization is our ability to convince ourselves we did the right thing.
THE SECRETARY PROBLEM
- Instead of thinking about the total number of people you might date, consider how long you’re likely to avtively look for a partner.
- Apply the rule of 37 percent to that time period.
- Now it’s your turn. To determine your dating window, count the number of years from when you started dating to when you’d like to enter a long-term relationship. Now, what’s 37 percent of that number? Add that to the age when you started dating. That’s your 37 percent mark.
CHAPTER 5: DON’T WAIT, DATE (How to Overcome the Hesitater Tendency)
- We all want to improve along some dimension. But these aspirations can turn into excuses.
Why it’s a mistake to wait
- You’ll never be 100 percent ready for anything, including—and perhaps especially—dating.
- Everyone else is imperfect, too - even the person you’ll end up with.
- When you wait to date, you’re missing out on more than you think.
MISSING OUT ON THE CHANCE TO LEARN
- The first opportunity cost is losing the chance to learn. You can’t figure out what you like (and what you don’t) if you don’t date different people.
- If you’re not going on dates, you’re not getting closer to knowing the kind of person you want to be with long term.
GETTING IN YOUR DATING REPS
- Dating is hard! And it takes time to master, just like anything else.
- When you wait to date, and sit at home thinking about how you’re not ready yet, someone like you is going on a first date. They’re practicing their storytelling abilities, their listening skills, and their French-kissing technique. They’re getting in their reps.
OVERCOME YOUR HESITATION AND START DATING
- Step 1: Make a deadline.
- That’s enough time to do what you need to do first—the pre-dating work I’ve listed below—but not so long that you lose momentum.
- start doing the pre-dating work. Download the apps. Assemble a few solid date outfits. Consider going to an improv class to learn how to listen carefully and play well with others.
- Step 2: Prepare.
- Pay attention the next time you’re having dinner with a friend: How much are you focusing inward (How am I coming across?) versus really listening and being curious (What is this person trying to communicate?)?
- Step 3: Tell others.
- If you publicly announce your goals to others, you’re more likely to stay focused on them.
- Tell two to three of your closest friends or family members that you’re going to start dating. Share your deadline with them.
- (Bonus benefit: Sharing your dating goals with your community opens the door for people to set you up on dates.
- Step 4: Commit to your new identity.
- Reinforce your own identity as a dater, not just someone who goes on dates.
- Start thinking of yourself as a dater, and the world will see you that way, too.
- Step 5: Start small.
- In general, I recommend that clients go on at least one date a week.
- Step 6: Be compassionate with yourself.
STOP TALKING TO YOUR EX
- Keeping our ex around makes it harder, not easier, to move on.
- Commitment is crucial for happiness.
- So, did you slide into your ex’s DMs last night? If you’re still carrying a torch for them and secretly wondering if you’ll get back together, try these Seven Simple Steps to Block ’Em Like It’s Hot:
- Take a deep breath.
- Grab your phone.
- Delete their number.
- Block them. Block them on everything. Social media, email, your bed, etc. If their mom or sister follows you, block them, too. (It might seem harsh, but you’re protecting your future self against mom postings of your ex with a new boo under the mistletoe.)
- Actually delete their number this time. I know you have it saved elsewhere. I’ll wait.
- Burn your phone. (Just kidding, but you honestly might want to limit your screen time during this initial separation phase.)
- Oh, and don’t forget the payment app Venmo. Seeing your ex send Venmo money to some new fling for—Oh, God, is that an eggplant emoji?!?! THEY NEVER SENT ME AN EGGPLANT EMOJI!—is doing nothing for your emotional wellness.
- In one research paper, Marshall wrote that “exposure to an ex-partner through Facebook may obstruct the process of healing.”
CHAPTER 6: LEARN YOUR ATTACHMENT STYLE (How to Manage Your Attachment Style)
- People with a secure attachment style make ideal partners. They’re reliable and trustworthy.
- People with secure-attachment styles end up reporting higher levels of relationship satisfaction than avoidant or anxious folks.”
EXERCISE: Determine Your Style
- You can take the online quiz linked from my website, loganury.com, to confirm your attachment style.
LOOK FOR A SECURE PARTNER
- Try to date secure partners. The ones who text when they say they will. Who let you know what’s on their mind. Who don’t play games and avoid or even de-escalate drama.
LEARN TO SELF-REGULATE
- Attachment styles are relatively stable over your lifetime, although about a quarter of people change their attachment style over a four-year period. It takes effort, but you can shift your attachment style.
- for those of you who are avoidantly attached, pay attention to your feelings when you sense yourself withdrawing. Learn to ask for space instead of disappearing into space. Or when you sense yourself focusing on your partner’s shortcomings and wanting to leave because of them, try a different technique: Practice looking for the positive qualities instead.
- Remember that no one is perfect, and if you leave, the next person you meet won’t be perfect, either.
CHAPTER 7: LOOK FOR A LIFE PARTNER, NOT A PROM DATE (How to Focus on What Matters in a Long-Term Partner)
THE PROM DATE VERSUS THE LIFE PARTNER
- What’s an ideal prom date? Someone who looks great in pictures, gives you a night full of fun, and makes you look cool in front of your friends.
- when you’re looking for a long-term partner, you want someone who will be there for you during the highs and the lows. Someone you can rely on. Someone to make decisions with. The Life Partner.
- There are many people with whom you can share a tryst but far fewer with whom you can build a life.
- When you’re thinking about who to marry, don’t ask yourself: What would a love story with this person look like? Instead, ask: Can I make a life with this person? That’s the fundamental distinction.
WHEN TO DITCH THE PROM DATE
- To shift toward pursuing the Life Partner, you must learn to recognize the present bias and deliberately work against it.
WHAT MATTERS LESS THAN WE THINK
- Kahneman summarized this research finding perfectly: “Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it.”
- money matters. When couples below the poverty line struggle to meet their basic needs, their marriage suffers.
- Texas Tech University psychologists studied married couples in therapy and found that low-income couples were far more dissatisfied with their relationship than middle-income couples.
- research from Harvard Business School found that couples who can afford to outsource time-intensive tasks like cooking and cleaning enjoy greater relationship satisfaction because they can spend more quality time together.
- Money matters, but only up to a certain extent. You’re not wrong for considering that element of you future relationship, but don’t prioritize wealth above all else.
- Good Looks
- Attractive people tend to earn higher salaries and beat their less attractive opponents in political races.
- focusing on attractiveness to the exclusion of other traits ignores the fact that lust inevitably fades over time (and remember, we’re going for long-term success here).
- In his book The Science of Happily Ever After, psychologist Ty Tashiro analyzed a fourteen-year longitudinal study of satisfaction in marriages over time.
- He found that over the course of seven years, “lust” (sexual desire) for a partner declined twice as fast as “liking” (friendship characterized by loyalty and kindness).
- Cocaine and falling in love light up the same regions of the brain.
- Even if you marry the most attractive person, eventually, you’ll get used to how they look. That initial pleasure will fade.
- A big part of our sex drive is associated with novelty. So no matter how hot your partner is, it’s likely that your sexual interest in them will decrease over time, simply because they are no longer new to you.
- Infatuation fades! Lust fades! All that matters is that you feel attracted to the person, not that you scored the hottest possible person.
- Pay attention to whether or not you’re attracted to someone and focus less on how society would evaluate that person’s looks.
- A Personality Similar to Yours
- We assume that the more similar we are, the easier the merge will be.
- Research tells us that similar personalities are not a predictor of long-term relationship success.
- In other words, we make our potential pool of partners smaller by mistakenly eliminating people who are not similar enough to us.
- The question is: Would you really want to date yourself? I know I wouldn’t!
- Find someone who complements you, not your personality twin.
- when it comes to our genes, we may have evolved to prefer people who are genetically dissimilar to us.
- Shared Hobbies
- couples do not need to share hobbies to create a successful long-term relationship.
- Here’s the key: It’s fine to have different interests, so long as the time you spend pursuing your favorite activities doesn’t preclude you from investing in the relationship
- It’s fine to enjoy different activities as long as you give each other the space and freedom to explore those hobbies on your own.
THE OTHER SIGNIFICANT OTHER (OSO)
- One technique for managing different hobbies is the “other significant other” (OSO), a phrase coined by relationship scientist Eli Finkel.
- Modern couples often assume they can get all of their needs met by their romantic partner.
- Expecting our partners to fulfill all our needs puts a lot of pressure on relationships
- OSOs help alleviate that pressure.
- Research from social psychologists Elaine Cheung, Wendi Gardner, and Jason Anderson supports this idea. They found that having multiple people you can turn to for emotional needs—rather than just one or two—leads to an increase in your overall well-being.
- When you’re in a relationship, here’s how you can incorporate OSOs into your life. Consider what roles you’ve asked your partner to play that they are uninterested in fulfilling: for example, insisting they go to a party with you when they much prefer smaller gatherings.
- for those roles your partner isn’t suited for, find a friend or family member who can fill in.
- In the long run, this will make you happier because your needs are being met. And it will make your partner happier because they can focus on roles that match their skills and interests.
WHAT MATTERS MORE THAN WE THINK
- Emotional Stability and Kindness
- In his book The Science of Happily Ever After, psychologist Ty Tashiro, he defines emotional stability as being able to self-regulate and not give in to anger or impulsivity.
- The combined emotional stability of a couple predicts the satisfaction and stability of their relationship.
- Key tip for your dating search
- You can get a sense of how kind someone is by paying attention to how they treat people from whom they don’t need anything.
- One way to get a sense of someone’s emotional stability is to pay attention to how they respond to stressful situations. Do they freak out or keep their cool?
- They take time to thoughtfully respond rather than impulsively react.
- Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and celebrated psychiatrist. He wrote: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
- Someone who is emotionally stable takes advantage of that space.
- Find someone who will be there for the good and the bad. Loyalty matters.
- ‘Finding friends with fine fishing poles may be great in the short term. But what you really want to look for is somebody who will hold your purse in the cancer clinic.’ ”
- Look for someone who’s there for you whether you’ve won an industry award or are stuck in the cancer ward.
- Key tip for your dating search
- One easy way to estimate someone’s loyalty is to see if they have friends from different stages of their lives. How many old friendships have they carried with them over the years? Did they ditch their college bestie when they got depressed, or do they still meet up for monthly movie matinees? Do people from their past seem to rely on them for companionship and support?
- In general, old friendships indicate loyalty
- A Growth Mindset
- You want to align yourself with someone who has a growth mindset because when problems arise, which they inevitably will, you’ll want a partner who will rise to the occasion, not throw up their hands in defeat.
- Personality That Brings Out the Best in You
- In the end, a relationship is not about who each of you is separately, it’s about what happens when the two of you come together.
- What does this person bring out in you? Does their kindness make you feel relaxed and cared for? Or does their anxiety provoke your anxiety?
- A client met a guy who seemed perfect on paper. He had everything she thought she was looking for, especially in terms of intelligence and career success. Unfortunately, whenever they were together, he made her feel small.
- She’d leave dates with him questioning her decisions—and herself.
- through our work together, she realized that he was actually very insecure and that his insecurity triggered her own insecurity. It didn’t matter what he looked like on paper. In person, he made her feel bad about herself. She refused to choose a lifetime of self-doubt and ended things with him.
- One of my friends says his girlfriend makes him feel competent. She asks for his advice—and takes it. She relies on him in a way that makes him feel important and capable. He loves the side of him that she brings out.
- Skills to Fight Well
- The first step in fighting well is understanding that there are two types of problems in relationships: solvable problems and perpetual ones—unsolvable, permanent features of your partnership.
- John Gottman discovered that 69 percent of all relationship conflicts are perpetual.
- Common examples of perpetual problems include situations where one person likes to go out while the other prefers to stay in, or where one person is neat and the other is messy. These might include differing opinions on work, family, ambition, money, and sexual frequency.
- The goal is not to convince each other to change or even to come to an agreement—it’s to find a productive way to live with this difference.
- The goal isn’t to find someone with whom you don’t fight. It’s to choose a partner with whom you fight well, and who doesn’t make you worry that the fight will end the relationship.
- The second element to fighting well is being able to recover from a disagreement.
- Successful couples are able to break the intensity of a fight by making a joke, conceding a point, or telling their partner what they appreciate about them.
- Ability to Make Hard Decisions with You
- Key tip for you dating search
- The best way to know what it will be like to make decisions with someone is to actually make decisions together. Real decisions (read: not whether to order Chinese or Thai food).
- Dan Ariely offers something called “the canoe test.” Share a canoe. Yes, an actual canoe. Can you find a rhythm together? Is one of you comfortable leading and the other following, or do you both want to be in charge at all times? Most important, how much do you blame your partner when things go awry? Pay attention to how you literally navigate choppy water together as a team.
Leave the prom date at the prom
CHAPTER 8: YOU THINK YOU KNOW WHAT YOU WANT, BUT YOU’RE WRONG (How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Online Dating)
- Traditional economics assumes people have consistent, static preferences. But behavioral scientists know that’s a lie. The truth is, our environment matters. We’re impacted by the setting in which we make our decision, whether that’s a physical location or a digital landscape.
WE’RE DATING WRONG
- Issue #1: Our brains focus on what’s measurable and easily comparable. Apps display superficial traits, making us value these qualities even more.
- Behavioral economist Dan Ariely wrote: “Human beings adjust behavior based on the metrics they’re held against. Anything you measure will impel a person to optimize his score on that metric. What you measure is what you’ll get. Period.”
- University of Chicago professor Chris Hsee writes about a related concept called evaluability: The easier it is to compare certain traits, the more important those traits seem.
- Ariely found that a man has to earn $40,000 more each year to be as desirable as a man one inch taller.
- Issue #2: We think we know what we want, but we’re wrong. The apps allow us to filter out great potential matches.
- Most of us have no idea what kind of partner will fulfill us long term.
- we could change our preferences on the dating apps after we sign up, but most people don’t.
- This is because of something called the status quo bias—our tendency to leave things as they are, to not rock the boat. That’s why businesses with subscription-service models tend to be lucrative.
- Issue #3: Apps promote “relationshopping”—searching for potential partners like potential purchases.
- Dating apps have turned living, breathing, three-dimensional people into two-dimensional, searchable goods.
- Issue #4: Apps make us more indecisive about whom to date.
- The first night I downloaded Tinder, I spent six hours swiping.
- Our brains aren’t set up to select a partner from so many options.
- Columbia professor Sheena Iyengar and Stanford professor Mark Lepper demonstrated this in a now-famous study. They entered a gourmet grocery store and set up a table of free gourmet jam samples. When they offered twenty-four types of jam, people were more likely to approach the table than when they offered six jams. However, customers who sampled from among the twenty-four jams were far less likely to buy any jams than those who encountered only six options.
- even when we’re able to overcome choice overload and make a selection, having so many options to choose from makes us less satisfied with what we choose.
- We start to think: What if I’d chosen something else? Would that have been better? Would I be happier? That train of thought leads down a dark path toward regret.
- the point of a dating app is to go out on an actual date, not to spend all of your evenings swiping.
- Issue #5: When we see only a rough sketch of someone, we fill in the gaps with flattering details. We create an unrealistic fantasy of this person, which ultimately leaves us disappointed.
- I call this error in judgment the Monet Effect.
- When we have only a rough perception of someone, our brain, hoping for a great outcome, fills in all the gaps optimistically.
- People seem way more desirable than they actually are. It’s only later, when they transform into real people standing in front of us, that we see the flaws.
- The Monet Effect helps explain why, when compared to internal candidates, external CEOs are often paid more but perform worse.
- there are ways to use the apps to date smarter.
- Change Your Filters
- Change How You Swipe
- Challenge your assumptions.
- What you do isn’t who you are. And people with the same job can be completely different.
- If someone is a maybe, swipe right now and see what happens.
- Go on dates with people whom you don’t necessarily think are a fit. That’s the only way you can figure out what you actually like rather than assuming you already know.
- Don’t Go Out With Too Many People at the Same Time
HOW TO WORK THE APPS SO THEY WORK FOR YOU
- Select Great Photos
- men see a boost in their chances of getting a like by standing alone, smiling without teeth, and looking straight toward the camera.
- Candids seriously outperform posed photos.
- Selfies perform poorly especially bathroom selfies, which decrease your chance of getting a like by 90 percent,
- Black-and-white photos kill. Despite making up only 3 percent of posted photos, they see a 106 percent boost in likes. Consider going monochrome for your next pic.
- Present yourself accurately.
- a good profile should represent you, not an aspirational version of yourself.
- To spark conversations be specific.
- Don’t tell me you like to cook; describe to me your signature dish and what makes your Vietnamese soup pho-nomenal.
- Focus on what you like, not what you don’t.
- Your vibe attracts your tribe.
- Craft Your Opening Line
- Don’t ask people how their weekend was. That’s boring! Good opening lines are (again) specific.
- Look at the profile and comment on something subtle, a detail that not everyone would notice
- Use a touch of humor.
- you could say, “I see you like pictures where you’re peering off mysteriously into the distance. I’m dying to know what’s out of frame!”
- Stay in Touch
- Cut to the Chase
- I’ve seen over and over the negative consequences of messaging too much before a date.
- When people text nonstop before a date, they end up creating a fantasy of each other in their minds (#themoneteffect).
- A good transition from texting to a date might sound like this: “I’m really enjoying this conversation. Want to continue it over a walk on Sunday afternoon?”
CHAPTER 9: MEET PEOPLE IRL - IN REAL LIFE (How to Find Love off the Dating Apps)
- racism pervades online dating. It makes an already challenging experience that much more painful for Black women.
- Here are my four favorite strategies for meeting people IRL (in real life):
1. Go to events
- The Event Decision Matrix:
- Every time you hear about a new event, you plot it on the matrix using these two dimensions:
- How likely is it that I’ll interact with other people at this event?
- How likely it it that I’ll enjoy myself a this event?
- Research from psychology professor Gail Matthews shows that publicly committing to a goal makes people more likely to accomplish what they set out to do.
- EXERCISE: Create Your Own Event Decision Matrix
- EXERCISE: Attend Events
- How to find interesting events
- One client of mine met his girlfriend at a human rights protest.
- I love hearing stories about people who meet while volunteering. It’s a great way to find people who are kind, which you now know is an underrated but supremely important quality in a partner.
- How to Make the Most of Events
- Ideally, go alone. You’ll look more approachable, because it’s easier to go up to someone who’s alone than to wedge yourself into a group conversation.
- You may feel that familiar itch to reach for your phone. But seriously—keep it in your pants.
- Wear something that makes you feel confident. Don’t forget to flirt. Make eye contact with the people around you, smile, and then take your gaze elsewhere.
2. Get set up by friends and family
3. Connect with people you already know.
4. Introduce yourself to people when you’re out and about
CHAPTER 10: THIS IS A DATE, NOT A JOB INTERVIEW (How to Create Better Dates)
- There’s more to dating than simply making time for it.
- Many of my clients, desperate to find love but also busy with other commitments, have managed to drain all the flirtation and fun out of the experience of dating. Instead, they tend to engage in what I call evaluative dating.
- evaluative dating isn’t merely unpleasant; it’s also a terribly inefficient way to find a long-term partner.
IS IT A DATE OR A JOB INTERVIEW?
- just because dating requires work doesn’t mean it has to mimic what you do at work.
- The point of the first date isn’t to decide if you want to marry someone or not. It’s to see if you’re curious about the person, if there’s something about them that makes you feel like you would enjoy spending more time together.
TEN STEPS TO DESIGNING BETTER DATES
1. Shift your mindset with a pre-date ritual
- Lucky people expect good things to happen. They are open to opportunities and recognize them when they appear.
- People who saw themselves as unlucky tensed up—because they expected the worst—and their anxiety prevented them from noticing unexpected opportunities.
- Their mindset became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Whether you believe the date will go well or poorly, you are right.
- design a pre-date ritual. This is something you’ll do before every date to get you in the right headspace.
- Here are some pre-date rituals from my clients:
- “I always plan ahead. I turn off my work notifications. I try to block off at least thirty minutes before starting my date. I usually call one of my closest friends, someone who makes me feel confident and loved.”
- “I do jumping jacks to get my heart pumping. It releases endorphins and puts me in a good mood.”
- “I feel so unsexy when I leave work. Baths before a date work wonders. I use a bubble bath with a great smell. I’ve found scent is a powerful aphrodisiac. Then I apply lotion to my body. It helps me turn my work brain off and turn myself on!”
2. Choose the time and place of the date thoughtfully
- try sitting next to—rather than across from—your date.
- it’s easier to talk when we’re not looking someone in the eyes.
- Eye contact and processing language rely on the same neural circuitry. You can use this insight to your advantage on dates. Why not suggest going for a walk? This will help the date feel less like a job interview, protect your brain from overloading, and promote connection.
3. Opt for a creative activity
- Look for a fun activity you can do with your date.
- You can find a whole list of creative date ideas on my website (loganury.com).
- Here are some outside-the-box dates that my clients and I have come up with:
- Do karaoke.
- Go for a bike ride and bring a picnic.
- Try swing dancing.
4. Show your work
- Domino’s Pizza lets you follow along as your pizza is “fired up,” “in the oven,” and “double-checked for perfection.” We all know how pizza delivery works. But when you see effort, you appreciate value.
- letting your date know about the things you’ve done to make the experience special.
- One great way to show your effort is to offer to plan the date, or to choose a place near the other person’s home or work.
- You can show effort by making the date convenient for the other person.
- Think back to the best date you’ve ever had.
- What made your best date so great? Probably not the fact that your companion satisfied eight of your top ten criteria for a partner. You probably had fun! And yet fun is rarely something we build into our dates.
6. Skip the small talk.
7. Be interested, not interesting.
- good dates are about connecting with another person, not showing off.
- Instead of trying to be interesting, make the person feel interesting.
- That means learning how to be a good listener.
- The goal is to understand rather than merely waiting for your turn to talk.
- You can become a better conversationalist by learning to give support responses rather than shift responses.
- Shift response is a moment in which you shift the focus of the conversation back to yourself.
- A support response, on the other hand, encourages the speaker to continue the story.
- if your date says, “I’m going to Lake Michigan with my family in a few weeks,” a shift response would be: “Oh, I went there a few summers ago.” Even though, on the surface, you’re engaging with what your date has said, you’ve drawn the attention back to yourself.
- A support response might sound like “Have you been there before?” or “How did your family choose that location?”
8. Limit phone use
- Please, please: Keep you phone out of sight.
- Research from MIT professor Sherry Turkle found two negative impacts of having a phone on the table when you’re talking to someone:
- One, it decreases the quality of the conversation.
- Two, it weakens the empathetic connection that forms between the two people.
- At the beginning of the date, ask the other person how they’d feel about both of you committing to putting your phones out of sight. You’ll show you care and increase your chances of the date going well.
9. End on a high note
- A phenomenon called the peak-end rule: When assessing an experience, people judge it based largely on how they felt at the most intense moment and at the end.
- order dessert at the end of the meal. Give the other person a meaningful compliment before you head your separate ways. Take advantage of the peak-end rule.
10. Use the Post-Date Eight to shift to the experiential mindset
Answer these questions on your way home from each date:
- What side of me did they bring out?
- How did my body feel during the date? stiff, relaxed, or something in between?
- Do I feel more energized or de-energized than I did before the date?
- Is there something about them I’m curious about?
- Did they make me laugh?
- Did I feel heard?
- Did I feel attractive in their presence?
- Did I feel captivated, bored, or something in between?
CHAPTER 11: F**K THE SPARK (How to Reject Myths About Instant Chemistry)
- I’ve come to see our obsession with the spark as one of the most pervasive and dangerous ideas in dating.
Myth #1: When you meet the right person, you’ll feel instant fireworks.
- Married couples love to tell me about their disastrous first (or first and second!) dates.
- When we first meet people, we evaluate them on their mate value—their overall attractiveness and how they carry themselves. As we get to know and share experiences with them, we discover their unique value—who they are on the inside.
- The importance of mate value disappears over time. What matters is how you feel about someone as you get to know them.
- That same lesson applies to sex, too. Good sex often doesn’t magically happen right away. As anyone who’s had a lousy one-night stand can tell you, it takes time to develop a rhythm and learn about someone else’s body and preferences (and your own!).
Myth #2: The spark is always a good thing
- The Truth: It’s not.
- Sometimes the presence of a spark is more an indication of how charming someone is—or how narcissistic—and less a sign of a shared connection.
Myth #3: If you have a spark, the relationship is viable
- The Truth: Even if the spark leads to a long-term relationship, it’s not nearly enough to keep the relationship going.
- Don’t pursue the wrong relationship because you met the “right” way.
- I’ve spoken to couples who stayed together years longer than they should have, all because of the spark. Many divorced couples once had the spark.
DITCHING THE SPARK FOR THE SLOW BURN
- Plenty of good relationships start with the spark, but plenty of bad ones do, too.
- As my mathematician client said to me once, “The spark is neither necessary nor sufficient for long-term relationship happiness.”
- Stop optimizing for that exciting feeling and focus on what matters, like loyalty, kindness, and how the other person makes you feel
- Ditch the spark and go for the slow burn—someone who may not be particularly charming upon your first meeting but would make a great long-term partner.
CHAPTER 12: GO ON THE SECOND DATE (How to Decide if You Should See Someone Again)
The Golden rule: Do not judge others the way you would not want to be judged
THE NEGATIVITY BIAS
- our brains have developed a negativity bias, an instinct to ruminate on what’s gone wrong.
- If you’ve ever received feedback from a manager or coworker, what do you remember more clearly: the compliments or the criticism? This is the negativity bias in action.
THE FUNDAMENTAL-ATTRIBUTION ERROR
- The fundamental-attribution error: our tendency to believe someone’s actions reflect who they are rather than the circumstances.
LOOK FOR THE POSITIVES
- Seeing the positives in life is a muscle, a skill you can develop. It requires practice.
- After your next date, text a friend five things you liked about your date.
- what happens when your date makes a mistake and the fundamental-attribution error kicks in? You can choose to override this impulse by coming up with an alternate—more compassionate—explanation for their behavior.
- Situation: He’s slow to respond to initial dating messages.
- Fundamental-attribution mode: He’s rude.
- Compassion mode: He has a lot going on at work this week but is still trying to find time to date.
HARNESS THE POWER OF DEFAULTS
- You can design defaults to help you make better decisions. Why not set a default that you’ll go on the second date? Not only will this help you avoid the brain’s natural tendency to focus on the negative, it will also help you look for that slow-burn person instead of seeking the spark.
PPPS (PERMISSIBLE PET PEEVES)
- Stop confusing pet peeves with dealbreakers.
- Actual dealbreakers are fundamental incompatibilities that doom a potential relationship. For example, if you and your date practice different religions, and you both want your kids to be raised solely in your faith. Anything less important is a nice-to-have but not a requirement.
- Let’s make sure we have our definitions straight:
- PPP (Permissible Pet Peeve): a preference that feels like a dealbreaker but is really just a pet peeve.
- Dealbreaker: a genuine reason not to date someone.
- let’s say you’re certain you don’t want kids. And you go on a great first date that ends with your date gushing about her nieces and nephews and how she can’t wait to be a parent. I don’t care how gorgeous she is and how much you loved spending time with her—you two have fundamentally different plans for the future. That’s a dealbreaker.
- Other examples of dealbreakers include: One of you wants monogamy, the other doesn’t believe in it. One of you has very old-fashioned views about gender roles in relationships, the other believes in a different balance. You smoke and aren’t willing to quit, and the other person has serious asthma.
HOW MANY DATES DO I NEED TO GO ON BEFORE I CALL IT?
- If your date is rude or disrespectful—to you or anyone else—don’t see that person again. Ditto if your date made you feel uncomfortable, anxious, or sad.
- GHOSTBUSTERS PLEDGE: DON’T YOU DARE GHOST!
- Here’s how I define ghosting: communication in which one party has the expectation of a response from the other person and doesn’t get it.
- Ghosting is awkward. Plus, it’s hurtful and leaves the other person in limbo.
- Ghosting makes “ghosters” feel worse than if they’d been up front with their feelings.
- Volunteers consistently see higher levels of happiness and self-esteem than non-volunteers,
- When people ghost, they think they’re taking the easy path for themselves. But they’re wrong. If we instead choose the kind, up-front, polite path, we get positive reinforcement.
CHAPTER 13: DECIDE, DON’T SLIDE (How to Consciously Navigate Relationship Milestones)
- Decision point: a moment that interrupts our automatic behavior and gives us an opportunity to make a conscious choice.
- Relationships, in particular, are full of decision points. Many of them stress us out and keep us up at night.
- But relationship decision points are never as obvious as the colored pieces of paper that divided the cookies. They can be easy to miss, especially when we’re being carried along by the momentum of life.
- Psychologists describe two ways couples transition into the next stage of a relationship: deciding or sliding.
- Deciding means making intentional choices about relationship transitions, like becoming exclusive or having children.
- Sliding entails slipping into the next stage without giving it much thought.
- couples who made a conscious choice to advance to the next stage of their relationship enjoyed higher-quality marriages than those who slid into the next stage.
- individuals who tend to “slide” through relationship milestones feel less dedicated to their partners and engage in more extramarital affairs.
- While relationships present many crucial decision points, in this chapter, I’ll help you address two of them: defining the relationship and moving in together.
DEFINE THE RELATIONSHIP (DTR)
- the DTR is an essential decision point. It’s a chance to discuss where you are and where you’re headed. If someone doesn’t take you seriously as a potential partner, wouldn’t you rather know that sooner than later?
- If either of you is sleeping with someone else, the other one deserves to know.
- There’s no perfect time to DTR. Bring up the conversation when you feel like you’re ready to stop seeing other people and would feel comfortable calling the person your boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Make sure to talk in person.
- “My friends are asking me what we are. What should I tell them?”
MOVING IN TOGETHER
- the research into living together before marriage tells a different story: Married couples who move in together before they get married tend to be less satisfied and more likely to divorce than those who don’t. This association is known as the cohabitation effect.
- cohabitation can lead to marriages (and subsequent divorces) that wouldn’t have occurred if the couple hadn’t moved in together.
- Moving in together makes it harder to be honest with yourself about the quality of the relationship because the cost of separating goes up significantly.
- Take this moment to be intentional. Confirm that you and your partner are aligned on where the relationship is now and where it’s headed in the future. Decide, don’t slide.
CHAPTER 14: STOP HITCHING AND STOP DITCHING (How to Decide if You Should Break Up)
- People who ask me for breakup consultations usually fall into one of two categories.
- Some tend to stick around in relationships that aren’t working. I call these people Hitchers.
- The other group consists of people who tend to leave relationships too soon, without giving them a chance to grow—Ditchers.
FALLING VERSUS BEING IN LOVE
- Ditchers believe the feeling of falling in love will last forever.
- When they experience that shift from falling to being, they interpret it as a mark of disaster for their relationship.
WHAT CAN DITCHERS DO INSTEAD?
- If you want to be in a long-term relationship, eventually you have to commit to someone and give it a try.
WHY HITCHERS STICK AROUND
- avoid—the sunk-cost fallacy. It’s the feeling that once you invest in something, you should see it through.
THE PROBLEM WITH HITCHING
- by staying in the relationship, you are already making a decision.
- here’s the worst thing: You’re not alone in the car. Your partner is with you. If you’re planning on ending the relationship, every day you wait, you’re wasting their time, too.
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?
- Answer these questions:
- Take the Wardrobe Test: If your partner were a piece of clothing that you own—something in your closet—what piece of clothing would they be?
- Are there extenuating circumstances going on in your partner’s life right now—like a new job or a sick parent—that make it hard for them to show up for you the way you want them to? Is it possible that things will go back to normal when this situation is resolved?
- Have you tried to fix things and given feedback?
- While your ex can’t sue you for breaking up without a heads-up, I don’t recommend this behavior.
- What are your expectations of a long-term relationship? Are they realistic?
- Our brain is on this drug of love for the first few years of a relationship. The next phase is more familiar, less intense. More “What can I pick you up from the grocery store?” and less “Let’s do it on the kitchen floor.”
- Finally, it’s time to look at who you’ve been in the relationship. You are half of the dynamic. Are you bringing your best self to the partnership? Are you doing everything you can on your end to make it work? Can you work on being a more generous, present partner?
- Check out Chapter 18 for tips on how to make a long-term relationship work.
- ASK A TRUSTED FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER
- If you’re still struggling to decide whether you should stay in a relationship, it may be time to phone a friend.
- Ask a trusted friend or family member what they really think about your relationship.
What to do next
- If you’re a Ditcher who has given this relationship a chance and it just isn’t working: Leave the relationship. Maybe this just isn’t the person for you, and that’s okay.
- If you’re a Ditcher or a Hitcher who hasn’t given the relationship a real chance (for example, you haven’t brought your best self to it): Stay in the relationship and see what happens when you’re patient and invested.
- The longer the relationship, the more likely it is that there will be periods—perhaps even several years—when relationship satisfaction dips.
- Focus on yourself first. We’re most able to love when we feel complete.
- If you can work on making yourself happy first, instead of expecting it to come from someone else, your relationships will be easier.
- There’s a misconception that if a relationship needs therapy, it’s too late to save it. No! Give it a chance.
- According to relationship scientist John Gottman, despite there being almost a million divorces in the United States every year, fewer than 10 percent of these couples ever talk to a professional.
- If you’re a Hitcher who has given this relationship a chance and it just isn’t working: Leave the relationship. It’s going to be painful for both of you, but it’s time to move on.
CHAPTER 15: MAKE A BREAKUP PLAN (How to Break Up with Someone)
- When people don’t execute on their goals, it’s usually because they’re missing a plan.
Step 1: Record your reasons for wanting the breakup.
- During moments of peak motivation, we’re able to do really hard things we couldn’t have accomplished otherwise. The trick is to take action at this time.
- Write yourself a letter about why you’ve chosen to end things. In a few weeks, when you’re horny or lonely (or, in extreme cases, “hornly”) or want someone to feed your rabbit during a trip, you’ll remember exactly why you made this difficult decision.
- Here’s a letter written by one of my clients:
- When I lie in bed at night next to him I feel like I’m lying to myself. He’s not nice to me. I treat him like a priority and he treats me like an option. He lets me down, and he doesn’t care about my friends. I’m attracted to him and we have fun together but that’s not enough. I can’t keep pretending that I am okay being #5 on his priority list after his job, going to the gym, swimming, and riding his bike. I want a relationship that feels like we’re both giving. I’ll miss him and I’ll miss the great sex but I am doing this because I really believe I deserve something more than what he can give me right now.
Step 2: Make a plan.
- Set a deadline for yourself so you actually get it done. I recommend clients set a deadline that’s within the next two weeks.
- Choose a quiet location, preferably your home or your partner’s. Don’t break up with someone in public.
- Don’t break up with someone the day before they have to take a big exam, or give a presentation, or interview for a new job.
EXERCISE: Critical Conversation Planning Doc
- What’s your goal for this conversation? (In other words, what does success look like?)
- What’s the core message you want to communicate?
- What tone do you want to use? What tone do you want to avoid?
- How do you want to open the conversation?
- What needs to be said?
- What are your concerns about how the other person will react?
- What will you do if that happens?
- How do you want to close the conversation?
Step 3: Create a social accountability system with a friend.
- one of my clients wrote a check for $10,000 to the presidential campaign of a candidate he strongly opposed. He gave his friend permission to mail it in if he missed the deadline to break up with his girlfriend. He broke up with her later that day.
Step 4: Have the conversation, but don’t have sex!
- Breakup sex is fun, but it’s not worth it. It introduces a lot of confusing feelings.
- One of my clients worried he would sleep with his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend. He made sure he didn’t by promising to pick up a friend from the airport shortly after the conversation.
Step 5: Make an immediate post-breakup plan for yourself.
- it’s helpful to make a post-breakup plan to keep you from making decisions that you’ll end up regretting.
- Perhaps you can go to a friend’s house,
- I don’t recommend being alone those first few nights. Feeling lonely and uncertain makes you more likely to slide back into the relationship.
Step 6: Create a Breakup Contract with your ex
- When you actively agree to do something, you feel like the decision is yours, and you see it as a reflection of your own preferences and ideals.
- You can find a blank Breakup Contract on my website—loganury.com.
Step 7: Change your habits to avoid backsliding.
- Your breakup will likely leave a number of holes in your life. Let’s work on filling them.
- To help my clients break their texting habit and avoid backsliding, I ask them to list specific moments that might be difficult for them, then write down the people they’ll contact instead of their ex. I call it Text Support.
Step 8: Don’t be the “Nice Breakup Person.”
- resist the urge to check in on your ex too much, especially in the first few weeks after a breakup.
- “Have the courage to assume responsibility for the damage you’ve done in their life, without trying to make it all better immediately,”
- Don’t be “nice” just to make yourself feel better. Give them space to move on.
CHAPTER 16: REFRAME YOUR BREAKUP AS A GAIN, NOT A LOSS (How to Overcome Heartbreak)
- the exact same information, presented in two different ways, resulted in vastly different decisions.
- The framing effect is our tendency to evaluate things differently based on how they’re presented—whether
- Framing, I believe, is the key to getting over breakups.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN YOUR BRAIN AND BODY
- What you’re feeling now is temporary. Your weird bodily reactions (goodbye, immune system, and sleep!) will end, the pain will fade, and you will overcome this terrible stage.
Reframe #1: Focus on the positives of the breakup.
- You can speed up the healing process by giving your brain what it’s craving: reasons why the breakup was actually for the best.
- EXERCISE: Write About the Positives of the Breakup
- Set a timer on your phone for thirty minutes. Without stopping, and without looking at your phone, write about all the positive aspects of the breakup.
Reframe #2: Focus on the negatives of the relationship.
- EXERCISE: Write About the Negatives of the Relationship
- Spend three consecutive nights writing for thirty minutes about the negative elements of this relationship.
Reframe #3: Rediscover Yourself.
- let’s focus on what you can gain from the breakup—who you can be again now that you’re single.
- Sociologist and Columbia University professor Diane Vaughan conducted extensive research on breakups in her book Uncoupling
- If you don’t feel as upset as you expected after a relationship ends, don’t be alarmed. You’re not a heartless demon. You did the grieving while still dating, and now you’re ready to move on.
- If you were broken up with, your timeline likely started after the relationship ended, so it makes sense that you’ll take longer to heal.
- The only way to know whether you’re ready to start dating is to go on an actual date. If you come home from that date and cry, you probably need a bit longer. But if you find yourself having fun, even just a little, take that as a sign that you can keep going, one step at a time.
Reframe #4: See this as a chance to learn from the past and make better decisions in the future.
EXERCISE: Consider What You Want to Do Differently in Future Relationships
- In a journal or with a friend, take some time to answer the following questions:
- Who were you in your last relationship?
- Whom do you want to be in your next one?
- What have you learned about what truly matters in a long-term relationship?
- Moving forward, what will you look for in a partner that you didn’t prioritize this time?
- Update your thinking from “Time heals all wounds” to “Meaning heals all wounds”
EXERCISE: Explore the Deeper Meaning
- Answer the following questions:
- What did you learn from this relationship?
- What did you learn from the breakup?
- How are you different from the person you were before this relationship?
- What changes will you make in your life as a result of this experience?
- breakups don’t have to leave you broken, because you’re stronger than you know.”
- You can regain your sense of identity, which is often disrupted by a breakup, by participating in “rediscover yourself” activities—things that you enjoyed doing previously but gave up during your relationship.
CHAPTER 17: BEFORE YOU TIE THE KNOT, DO THIS (How to Decide if You Should Get Married)
WE’RE IN LOVE: ISN’T THAT ENOUGH?
- Remember, love is a drug.
- Couples who date longer before getting married have better odds of staying together, in part because that honeymoon-period high is already wearing off when they tie the knot.
- Couples who wait one to two years before getting engaged are 20 percent less likely to get divorced than those who wait under a year before putting a ring on it.
- Couples who wait at least three years before engagement are 39 percent less likely to get divorced than those who get engaged before a year.
- The drug of infatuation, combined with the false-consensus effect, leads a lot of couples to skip crucial pre-marital conversations.
Part 1: All About Me
EXERCISE: Answer the All About Me Questions
- Before you think about yourself as part of a couple, consider your individual wants and needs.
- Answer these questions:
- Is my partner more of a Prom Date or a Life Partner?
- The wardrobe Test: If my partner were a piece of clothing in my closet, what would they be?
- Is this someone I can grow with?
- Do I admire this person?
- What side of me does this person bring out?
- Is this the person I want to share my good news with?
- When I have a hard day at work, do I want to talk about it with my partner?
- Do I value my partner’s advice?
- Am I looking forward to building a future with this person? Can I envision reaching key life milestones together, such as buying a house or having a family?
- Is this someone I can make tough decisions with? If I imagine worst-case scenarios, like losing a job or losing a child, is this the person I’d want by my side to think through questions like “Should we relocate?” or “How can we manage our grief while taking care of our other children?”
- Do we communicate well and fight productively?
- Move to Part 2 only if you decide this is the right relationship for you right now.
Part 2: All About Us
- it’s time to talk to your partner. These are heavy conversations. Set aside three nights over a month.
- Remember, you’re trying to avoid the ff.
- I recommend doing an activity together first to help you feel connected.
- Psychotherapist Esther Perel notes that one of the moments when we feel most attracted to our partners is when we admire their individual talents. Invest in that attraction by teaching each other a new skill. If one of you is a great cook, why not teach the other a new recipe?
Conversation #1: The Past
- What are three moments about your past that you feel define you?
- How do you think your childhood affects who you are today?
- Did your parents fight? What are your fears around relationship conflict?
- What traditions from your family do you want to carry on in our family?
- How did your family talk (or not talk) about sex when you were growing up?
- What did money represent in your family?
- What baggage from your family do you want to leave in the past?
Conversation #2: The Present
- Do you feel comfortable talking to me as things come up?
- Is there anything about our communication style that you want to work on?
- Do you feel like you can be yourself in the relationship? Why or why not?
- What changes would you like to make to our relationship?
- How well do you think we handle conflict?
- What’s your favorite ritual that we do together?
- What’s something you wish we did more of together?
- How well do you feel like I know your friends and family? Is there anyone in your life (family, friend, coworker) whom you’d like me to get to know better?
- How often would you like to be having sex? How could our sex life be better? What can I do to improve it? What’s something you’ve always wanted to try but have been afraid to ask for?
- How often do you think about money?
- Let’s talk openly about our finances. Do you have student loans? Credit card debt? Is my debt your debt?
- What’s the most you’d spend on a car? A couch? A pair of shoes?
Conversation #3: The Future
- Where do you want to live in the future?
- Do you want to have kids? If yes, how many? When? If we can’t conceive on our own, what other options would we consider? Adoption? Surrogacy?
- What are your expectations around splitting child care and housework duties?
- How often do you want to see your family?
- What role do you want religion or spirituality play in our lives?
- Do you want to discuss a prenup? What fears does that bring up for you?
- How do you expect to split finances in the future?
- Do you expect you’ll always want to work? What happens if one of us wants to take time off?
- If I were considering a big purchase, at what point would you want me to call you? (For example, what’s the cutoff for how much I can spend without checking in with you first?)
- What are your long-term financial goals?
- What are you most looking forward to in the future?
- What is a dream of yours for the future? How can I help you achieve it?
- Love is a drug that intoxicates us.
- The false-consensus effect is our tendency to think other people see things the same way we do.
- When love and the false-consensus effect combine early in relationships, couples often fail to discuss important aspects of their future before they decide to get married.
CHAPTER 18: INTENTIONAL LOVE (How to Build Relationships That Last)
- Great relationships are created, not discovered. You can form a lasting bond by putting in the work.
CREATING A RELATIONSHIP THAT CHANGES WITH THE PEOPLE IN IT
- Charles Darwin’s ϯndings on natural selection: “It is not the strongest of the species which survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
- Even if you have a strong relationship today, your relationship may fail if you don’t adapt.
- Because of the ever-changing nature of relationships, we should act as if they are living, breathing things. But too often we treat our relationship like a toaster. We take it out of the box, plug it in, and hope it stays the same.
THE RELATIONSHIP CONTRACT
- The word “contract” might sound scary, but this is by no means a prenup. We’re talking about a non–legally binding, mutually agreed-upon document that helps couples create a shared vision for their relationship.
- Psychologists Jesse Owen, Galena Rhoades, and Scott Stanley observed that couples who take the time to talk through big decisions are happier than those who don’t.
- On the first page of the contract, the couple sets a specific date in the future when they’ll revisit the agreement.
- Some couple reevaluate their contract annually.
- This conversation forces a decision point when the couple can ask: What does our relationship need now?
EXERCISE: The Relationship Contract
- Find a weekend when you and your partner are both free. If you can go on a weekend getaway, great! If not, plan a romantic staycation.
- First and foremost, turn off your phones.
- Throughout the weekend, in between delicious meals and constant canoodling, find time to work on your Relationship Contract. Make this discussion about love and connection.
- Think: Love Actually, not love contractually.
THE CHECK-IN RITUAL
- I love this quotation from psychotherapist Esther Perel: “The quality of your relationships determines the quality of your life. Relationships are your story, write well, and edit often.”
- I’m a fan of the weekly Check-In Ritual, a short conversation in which you and your partner discuss what’s on your mind.
- The Relationship Contract helps you set the direction for your partnership—and the Check-In Ritual ensures that you keep it on track.
- Every Sunday night, Scott and I sit down on our big white couch to talk.
- We ask each other these three questions: How was your last week? Did you feel supported by me? How can I support you in the coming week?
- Sometimes this Check-In flies by in under five minutes.
- Creating this ritual lets us address what’s going on before too much time passes and too much resentment has built up.
- Many couples I’ve worked with who’ve adopted the Check-In Ritual report feeling happier, more passionate, and more resilient.
EXERCISE: Design Your Own Check-In Ritual
- Sit with your partner and answer these questions together:
- When do you want to have this weekly ritual?
- Where do you want your Check-In to take place? Think of a spot where you’re both comfortable. The couch? A favorite bench at a nearby park?
- What questions do you want to ask each other each week?
- How can you make this ritual special? For example, could you eat your favorite dessert while answering the questions, or give each other a foot massage?
- What will you do to check in if you’re not physically together?
- WHAT’S NEXT: A WORLD OF INTENTIONAL LOVE