Sunday, March 17, 2013

Frustrated to the Point of Quitting Online Dating?

Hang on a second! When I said "I give up!" in my Internet dating profiles it wasn't about online dating entirely! What I was referring to is our natural human tendency to latch onto new things and truly believe they're going to be something they can't be. Online dating becomes a near obsession for most of us when we first try it, appearing to be a crystal ball/magician's wand that will magically, through this wondrous new technology, deliver an ideal mate (or at least a series of great dates) to us. NOT! 

It's our intense disappointment over dashed expectations that leads many to abandon it and leave in a huff, yet they're ignoring online dating's biggest boon to us all (i.e. it gives us exposure to people we would NEVER meet without it). We react to our disillusionment with online dating like a jilted lover, or more accurately, like online dating is a matchmaker who (in our minds) guaranteed us success in finding us a new partner, but then took our money and let us down, so out indignant reaction is to fire it and never use its services again. We'll even stop recommending it to our friends! 

“You get what you put in?” 

The reality is this, it’s NOT true that “you get out what you put in” with online dating sites. Why not? Because we are most naturally face-to-face creatures and this is most definitely not a natural human communication medium. Putting too much time and energy into Internet dating only raises our expectations the same way they'd rise if we began networking in person with the same amount of time and energy. If we spend an equal amount of time befriending other singles in the real world and asking them to help us meet our ideal type of person, slowly but surely we'd begin to get quality dates, but quite the opposite happens with online dating! Putting a lot of effort into trying to get dates online merely leads to a lot of disappointing dates, the odd good one being a random lucky occurrence, versus the highly accurate, mutual compatibility dates we are expecting due to the fact that we have a list of all kinds of information about prospective dates available to us online. 

Over and over again we go through the ritual of making contact and setting up a 'coffee date', only to walk into a bar or coffee shop and go "Oh, crap, this won't work!" because that mysterious 'chemistry' isn't there. 

So how can we use online dating more effectively? 

Well first of all let me ask you a different question: how much time and effort do you put into being on constant (NOT desperate) ‘alert’ out in the real world every day, making eye contact and chatting with men who don't have wedding rings on who you find attractive? Most mature women will answer 'virtually none', yet when you were in your teens/20's you did all the time. Your 'radar' was on -- now it's off and your brain is telling you that online dating, with all it's 'magical unknown properties,' is going to replace your natural “chemistry radar” with cold, hard, analytical selection based upon thumbnail photos and 'facts'. 

[Interestingly, the very same women who post ancient, or heavily cropped/Photoshopped, or very few carefully selected, or all-close-up-no-full-body photos — any/all of which mean they are being fundamentally dishonest about how they’ll look when we meet in person — are the same women get VERY angry with me for 'lying' about my age, yet if we met face-to-face without online dating my age would be of little concern to them upfront as I seem 5 years younger. These women outright lie about their appearance/body shape, but treat the fact that, because a 'dating coach' advised me to input the age most people think I am when meeting me, they now have verifiable proof of a fundamental character flaw that disqualifies me from ever being a decent life partner. I find this dichotomy that clearly exists within those women's brains fascinating! The irony is entirely lost on them.] 

Use Online Dating Like You're Noticing People Across a Room

The ONLY way we can wring more success out of Internet dating is to recognize its limitations and treat it not like a magical crystal ball, but like we were ‘meeting across a room.’ What I mean by that is simple: 
  1. Photos, photos, photos: We are first and foremost face-to-face visual creatures — put up as many pics as the site allows that are candid, recent and full-body at a ratio of about 2:1 to ‘head shots’. The idea is for your dates to get an accurate impression, by flipping through the photos, of what it would be like to see you across a room in real life. Forget about ‘hooking them in’ with old photos so that your personality can dazzle them into ignoring the fact you’ve aged and your body shape has changed. Men, especially, are visual first, so you might as well be honest. Demand the same from your prospective dates. 
  2. The “Age Box”: Use the ‘age box’ only to judge whether or not their photos look far too young to be their posted age ("ego-based dishonesty" in photo selection), or whether they look far TOO OLD to be their posted age (honest photos, but "ego-based dishonesty" in the 'age box'), but if their photos look like they likely are current and you find the individual attractive regardless of the ‘age box,’ consider meeting them in person. You might be pleasantly surprised! (For many years I ignored the profiles of women over 45, assuming that I'd not find them compatible as my ex of 13 years is under 40.  When I agreed to a date with a slim 47 year old, I found a highly chemistry-compatible, passionate, smart partner who I dated for quite some time.)
  3. “I’m a nice guy who...”: Ignore their profile self-descriptions until you find interesting-looking candidates, then look to the 'mandatory boxes’ for your ‘deal breakers,’ whatever they might be (e.g. “currently separated,” “5 kids who live with me,” “did not graduate high school,” "Body Shape: about average," etc.), and cut out those who you know you’d never date in real life if you found out these details, REGARDLESS of how ‘sweet’ or ‘interesting’ they sound in their self-descriptions. This is not being unfair, it's being realistic. (For example, I'm not attracted to women who have upper arms that are not slim. This is not a conscious choice I make, it's the way I'm 'hard wired' for intimacy, and most women want to be with a man who feels passionate about them at their current weight, so there's no point in my contacting women who's upper arms are clearly not thin, as this is a dead giveaway of what the shape of the rest of her figure is. Sadly, these days "Average" or "Normal" body shape today is actually "Overweight".)
  4. Hyper-critical “reading between the lines”: If the photos and cursory details make them appealing, only then read the person's self-descriptions — BUT DON’T GET TOO ANALYTICAL! Maybe they have an IQ of 150, but English is their second language, or maybe the guy (like a friend of mine) is an articulate multi-millionaire, but has dyslexia, or maybe he’s the sweetest, most romantic guy in the world but cannot write to save himself... I use the self-descriptions only to get a sense of whether the woman is interested in conceptual thinking (above average IQ), or is just dull — I can usually tell based upon what words they’ve chosen to string together, regardless of how bad the spelling or grammar might be. 
  5. STOP ANALYZING AND “RELATION-SHOPPING” ONLINE AND MEET!: Seriously. That’s what happens in real life, we see lots of people in our daily lives and sometimes we meet potential dates (if we keep our ‘radar’ on ;-). If you can raise their interest, skip the endless emails, the phone conversations and instant messages and go on three dates a week with different people. You cannot tell what the guy will be like until you meet in person. And don’t lock on to the first one that seems interesting, especially if you are just getting started, get some practice and experience. Your confidence will increase and, just like women, men appreciate confidence.  ("Separated" vs. "Divorced" is a big 'watch-out', sadly, as most people aren't fully ready for a new relationship until a couple of years have passed.)
  6. Online Dating can become a CRUTCH: Sometimes we really NEED a crutch.  Don’t abandon it, leverage it as per the points above, but also get out and go to all kinds of functions, but especially singles functions! Check out “MeetUp.com” and local offline ADULT singles clubs and get out and circulate. The more you do, the higher your chances of meeting ‘Mr. Right’ (or at least being asked out) are.  (Humans are hard-wired for addiction which can lock in whenever we can get little moments of pleasure at low cost or output of energy.  Online dating provides just that with it's 'winks', 'smiles' and messages.)
  7. Play the “Numbers Game”: Really, that’s what dating has always been for the men -- we have to ask 10 women out to get to one who says yes. “Love at first sight” ain’t gonna happen online, and we are all way too mature to believe that it is going to happen AT ALL post-30. We all have too many 'criteria' to check prospects against. Send out 10 ‘likes’, ‘winks’ or emails and expect to get one reply, and don’t take it personally — you don’t do that on the subway when you see a hot guy and he ignores you, you move on without a second thought. Do the same online. And accept that, because we cannot use our “Chemistry Radar” online, only 1 in 10 “Coffee Dates” are going to lead to a Date #2 — the odds are what they are, sadly.
  8. Turn on your “Chemistry Radar”: Everyday. Everywhere you go. Go back to being aware of the men around you, look for wedding rings (and for philandering bastards!) and practice being flirty and open to possibilities. It may not lead to spontaneous dates, but it WILL lead to a highly appealing level of confidence when you do find yourself at a singles function.  Get your mindset to the place where it is all about chatting, socializing, meeting lots of new people, rather than getting actual dates -- the dates WILL then follow.
  9. Mature “hotties” don’t go to ‘singles’ events: And they also don’t meet a wide range of ‘quality’ candidates!!! If you are ‘fairly hot’ for your age, girls, don’t shy away from any event labeled ‘single’ just because you fear it will be filled with balding, fat losers who will hit on you non-stop like they do online — in person they will not (the intimidation factor is too high), but the one or two ‘hot’ guys there likely will! At worst you’ll get an ego boost by being the ‘belle of the ball’ (never a bad thing, just don’t let it go to your head -- none of us are getting any younger or ‘shapelier,’ all of our ‘assets’ diminish with age). 
So I’d advise sticking with online dating on an ongoing basis, just not treating it like it’s some kind of magic elixir, or virtual matchmaker. It’s just one more way to get exposure to new people. 

Like this?  Read "The 7 Fatal Flaws That Kill Any Hope That Online Dating Will Work The Way We All Want It To"

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bullying Isn't a "Victim Problem," It's a "Bully Problem"


In an age during which "My unique, precious angel" has been elevated to nearly omnipotent status by mutually encouraged hyper-parenting, most of the attention given to the issue of bullying is being deflected away from the perpetrators in order to focus on the victims.  We see 'impact statements' and hear advice on how they should 'fight back,' but the cause of all this heartache (I was bullied as a child) is not the vulnerable victims, it's the bullies. 

We operate these days in a "politically correct" vacuum in which it is frowned upon to criticize anyone's "precious little angel," yet it's a few of those "angels" who mercilessly target the vulnerable.  Psychological studies have now proven that people with no to low empathy are all around us, regularly rising, through their relentless determination and lack of sensitivity, to boss-status and positions of power in politics and building businesses, yet these (often very high IQ) individuals did not magically have their EQ (emotional quotient) evaporate in adulthood, THEY STARTED OUT THIS WAY. 

It's also being proven that empathy can be taught to  low-EQ individuals if the lessons start early enough.  The real problem is their parents.  These kids tend to be 'difficult' to deal with at home already, so the parents aren't particularly open to hearing that they are problematic at school.  Finding this out not only is at variance with their loud inner voices that tell them their progeny are flawless, but it adds a new burden to the task of raising them. 

However, the only way to effectively tackle ANY deep-seated problem is by addressing the root cause, not the symptoms, and the root cause of bullying is the bullies, NOT the victims.  These predators take disturbing pleasure in eliciting emotional reactions from the most vulnerable of their peers that give them clearly demonstrable power.  They 'test the waters' from an early age with the kids around them, accepting the somewhat less cruel (but desperate to join a group) sociopath kids in as their 'henchmen' and zeroing in on the kids who react most dramatically to their psychological/emotional torture.

When we take into consideration the fact that the psychological/psychiatric community likes to cook up hard and fast, definitive 'disorders,' rather than recognizing that every disorder can exist in the presence of other disorders (every human brain is unique!) AND that each disorder is not a 'bucket,' but rather is a bell-curved 'spectrum' populated by those at the small 'pinched end' who are diagnosable (but with a ton of others on the bell curve who are close to that right-hand tip but don't have sufficient criteria to put them in the 'bucket'), we get a situation where the our society buys into the idea that there are very few, rare problematic individuals out there.  Recent work with psychopaths (reported on CNN) proves that there are as many as one in a hundred amongst us, yet that number ignores all of the people who have many of the traits, but aren't diagnosable.  Psychopaths most certainly are bullies, and their 'henchmen' tend to be sociopaths. 

Are there bullies who are not psychopaths or sociopaths?  Certainly.  I stood up to one in Grade 7 who had a dad who got drunk and beat him regularly, so he 'acted out' in school, trying to get back the control over others that was taken from him at home, but he was easy to confront and to turn around by offering him an empathetic ear.  If the combined population of psycho-/sociopaths is 2-3% at any school, we can be guaranteed those psychologically problematic, zero to low-empathy kids are going to be acting out inappropriately, doing so in the kind of experimental manner we'd expect of all unsupervised kids (no teacher or teaching assistant can monitor everything that goes on at school, much less on the way to/from school when I got bullied the most).  You can try standing up to a psychopath, but they feel little remorse and often little fear. 

I believe that the core of the challenge for us, as a society, is coming to grips with the fact that low-empathy children are present in every group and they need special attention.  They need to be identified and their parents need to be made aware that their "precious little infallible angel" is indeed 'special', so special that he/she needs special help (and as there's a high probability of genetic similarities, hence we can expect a defiant, low-empathy reaction from mom or dad, or both).  Keeping a politically correct, hyper-sensitive 'cone of silence' over the task of identifying low-empathy kids is at the root of the bullying problem and is preventing us from making any headway on this issue.

As was the case with supporting the breast cancer cause some years ago, everyone is jumping on the bandwagon these days to talk about the impact of bullying on the victims.  What we're seeing in terms of a solution are generic, across-the-board programs to talk about how bullying is bad in the hopes that these efforts to talk about empathy will somehow 'trickle down' to the few kids sitting in the audience who all the rest KNOW are the bullies.  Until we start identifying those specific kids, the "at risk to be bullies" kids, and start targeting them with empathy education programs, there will be little real effect.  Until these highly rational, but low-empathy kids understand that they ARE going to suffer real consequences for bullying, they won't stop.  The pleasure they derive from bullying is just too exciting, empowering, and addictive.

For more on my take on the problem with labeling people with personality disorders, click here: "The Problem with Labeling People"

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