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WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT
chapter 5
Couples
 

George Bernard Shaw’s statement that “all generalizations are wrong, including this one” is particularly apt when it comes to relationships among couples. “Chemistry”, physical attraction, mental compatibility and common interests all play a role in drawing two people together.
Wanting to Be a Couple
Here are some observations and recommendations for two individuals who seek to go beyond a casual relationship:
  • It is impossible for someone else to know for sure what specifically attracts two individuals to each other. Absolutely everyone possesses some element of “beauty” that someone else will find appealing, be it personality, eyes, ears, hands, voice or something else.
  • If you are too shy, you will never meet anyone. Take a chance, smile when you see someone, flirt a bit, initiate a conversation. What is the worst that can happen? When you really like someone, do not keep it a mystery.
  • When you truly care for someone, take advantage of absolutely every opportunity to build up your partner’s confidence and help him or her feel great. Do not miss a chance to express your admiration for what your partner is doing and how well he or she looks. Be a source of strong encouragement and support. This is equally important for both men and women. Criticisms create stress and tension. Genuine compliments build harmony.
  • Specific compliments have more impact than general ones. Giving a compliment such as “You look beautiful” is too general. Instead say, “You have the most beautiful eyes” or “You look fabulous in that dress” or “I really like your new hairstyle.”
  • When you are out together, refrain from taking an excessive interest in the appearance of other people. If you look across the room and say, “Wow, does she ever look beautiful” or “What a handsome guy,” you are probably going to make your partner feel insecure. Make sure your partner knows that he or she is always the center of attention for you. If you are incapable of doing this, you are not right for each other.
  • You are unlikely to find a wonderful potential partner by hanging around in bars and clubs. As Ann Landers said, “If you want to catch trout, don’t fish in a herring barrel.” Your chances are much better at an event or happening attended by people who share the same special interests as you do.
  • When a problem arises between a couple (or friends), it is much better to talk about it early on so it does not fester and become a serious issue unnecessarily. Use humor to defuse tense situations.
  • Always try to recognize your partner’s birthday with a birthday card and candy, flowers or another suitable present. The same applies to anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. This shows you are not taking your partner for granted.
Dating
Keep these points in mind regarding dating:
  • Do not play games or lead someone on by pretending to be attracted to a person when you are not. Be sincere when you describe your feelings. Save the words “I love you” for the real thing.
  • Avoid discussing your past relationships, age, money, being overweight and sex on your first date. Instead, get your potential partner talking about his or her interests, hobbies and passions in life.
  • Resist disclosing the intimate details of the sex life you had with a prior partner to a date or new partner. Keep the details of all previous sexual relationships completely to yourself as a confidential and private matter. Bragging about your past conquests is totally out-of-line and tasteless.
  • Nothing kills a relationship faster than constant jealousy and possessiveness. These emotions act like a deadly poison to destroy any relationship.
  • If you are drawn to someone, do not smother the person with attention by constantly calling, text-messaging and e-mailing. Give him or her some space and time to breathe.
  • Increasingly, women are initiating calls to men, suggesting they go out together, even if it’s just to meet at a coffee shop. Whoever makes the invitation usually should expect to pay for everything. Alternatively, the man and woman can agree to go “Dutch treat” which means splitting the cost of everything.
  • If you are a woman going out on a date, particularly if it is with someone for the first time, always take some “mad money” with you in case something happens that causes you to want to make an early escape from the date and go home on your own. It is similar to carrying insurance.
  • Do not engage in passionate smooching with your boyfriend or girlfriend when you are in front of others in public or at any kind of social event unless it is dark and no one can see you.
  • When you have had a great evening on a first date, be sure to call the next day to say so, even if you do not know whether you want to go out again with that person.
Online Dating
Online dating now represents one of the fastest growing sectors of the Internet, attracting some 30 to 40 million individuals in North American alone looking for an easier, faster way of finding mates than the traditional ways of meeting and dating potential partners. The large online dating sites, such as www.Match.com, www.OKCupid.com and www.eHarmony.com, claim to offer their members access to a huge pool of compatible soul mates based on a computer analysis of data pulled from their online profiles through mathematical algorithms. Similar to online shopping, users browse these dating marketplaces, select someone who looks appealing and then initiate contact with a keystroke via texting, e-mail or Twitter.
Generalizing, teenagers and those in their 20s tend to utilize online dating to arrange casual dates and hookups, those in their 30s and 40s do so as a result of being sick of traditional forms of dating and as a last resort, and those in their 50s and older do so in an attempt to connect with compatible partners as opposed to hanging out in bars and clubs. Online dating also appeals to people who experience difficulty meeting and dating others regardless of the reason for this. As typically occurs on the Internet, there has been a proliferation of niche online dating sites catering to specific interest groups, including those of a particular religious background, sexual orientation or different exotic taste.
Some worry that these online dating sites are creating a “hookup culture” that fosters on-the-spot, indiscriminate, commitment-free, sexually promiscuous flings, especially in the case of students and younger people. Plus, if one has the perception that there are going to be an ever increasing number of compatible potential dates available online, one may be less likely to make any attempt at maintaining a committed relationship at the first sign of any difficulty.
Despite contrary claims by the online dating sites, there is no scientific evidence that their mathematical algorithms have any proficiency at predicting compatibility. Their ability to do so is further hampered by the frequency of users misrepresenting their personal characteristics in the profiles they post.
Exercise caution and common sense if you decide to connect with someone via an online dating site. Always hold your first meeting in a public place where there are lots of other people present. Never get into the vehicle of a stranger or go to some place where you will be alone with that person. Do not disclose your personal address, phone number and the location of your workplace at the initial meeting. Also, be somewhat skeptical of the information that others post online but be truthful in what you post about yourself.
Dead-End Relationships
To avoid dead-end relationships, consider this advice:
  • Do not waste yourself or your time on relationships with a married person. When someone says, “My husband (or wife) doesn’t understand me” or “I’m going to end my marriage for you,” do not believe it. Such statements are often just a line to get you to continue a completely one-sided relationship. When you engage in an affair with a married individual, you are playing a role in the destruction of an established relationship with the real potential for both embarrassing and serious consequences for everyone involved, including other family members and yourself.
  • Initiating a romance at work can be a high-risk, ill-advised proposition. Your career success depends on maintaining a professional relationship with co-workers, subordinates and superiors. Office affairs make it virtually impossible to have a normal working relationship, especially after the affair ends.
  • There is only one thing to do if you find yourself in a relationship with an abusive partner, one who inflicts physical or emotional abuse on you, including being constantly critical, threatening, controlling, degrading or denigrating to you. End the relationship as fast as you can without hesitation! Better yet, do not start it. To stay in such a relationship is dangerously self-destructive, regardless of how great the sex is or how much money your partner has.
  • Likewise, there is only one thing to do if you discover you are in a relationship with someone who has an addiction to alcohol, drugs or gambling. Tell that person that if he or she does not immediately seek professional counseling to stop this addiction, you will terminate the relationship right away. “Minor addictions” have a habit of becoming major addictions. Sadly, the chances of anyone successfully curing a serious addiction are low, so be prepared to end the relationship after a brief “grace period”.
  • People rarely change their basic nature, so do not waste yourself on hopeless relationships. Do not delude yourself into thinking, “I can change his (or her) ways.” Individuals can make some adjustments to their behavior but rarely to their fundamental character. The best way to make a change in someone’s behavior is to change your own behavior. Life is too short to subject yourself to a doomed relationship.
Lastly, given the lethal risks involved in having unprotected sex, the time to have a discussion about safe sex is definitely beforehand, not afterwards. It may not be romantic but both parties have too much to lose to take anything for granted in this regard. The responsibility for taking the necessary precautions for both birth control and protection from sexually transmitted diseases belongs to both of you. Do not take any chances when the adverse consequences are so serious.
 

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