Relationships and Real Estate: A 7-part Comparison

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One of my favorite things is comparing two seemingly different things – an object, for example, with a human experience such as love, a relationship, marriage and divorce. When I think about these comparisons, I often gain insights into the human condition – or at least have a good laugh. With this in mind, let’s consider whether buying a house is a good comparison for a relationship (unmarried or married). And while we’re taxing our brains in this way, let’s have some eggplant frittata.

Comparison Points 

(1) Love at First Sight

Have you ever been house shopping and experienced a love at first sight phenomenon? You walk in the front door and are immediately captivated with the space in front of you. It doesn’t matter if what you see first is an entryway or the rear deck; you just know this is THE ONE.

Similarly, seeing that new guy the first time (frontal or rear view) can invoke warm feelings of attraction (and lust) and the thought that this may be THE ONE.

Will love at first sight of house or hunk hold up? See points 2, 3, and 4.

(2) Getting to Know the Person or Home of Interest

So you think this may be the one (house or person). Don’t go too far, however, without seeing him or it in different situations and at different times of day.

You need to know if there are motorcycle gangs or drug runners going up and down the street OR if the person of interest (POI) turns into Mr. Jekyll at night (over-imbibing at the bar) or sleeps until the afternoon (a sign of circadian incompatibility).

(3) The Offer

After determining that the person or house of interest is a reasonable fit for a future residence or relationship, one can suggest an offer of purchase (house) or exclusivity (relationship).

(4) Negotiation

The seller or POI does not always meet the offer with unbridled enthusiasm. There may be a period of negotiation. The seller may ask for more money. The POI may ask for more time to decide about the offer or for certain concessions in the relationship such as a delay in starting a family, a vacation to the Super Bowl instead of the French Riviera, or a cancellation of the series of couples dancing lessons you recently purchased.

(5) The Inspection

No house should be purchased without a professional inspection. Similarly, friends and family members of the couple must inspect the relationship. In the case of a house, repairs are often suggested and bargaining may ensue. A basement may need to be waterproofed or a roof repaired.

Regarding the relationship, a family member may suggest that the POI should get a better job. A friend may suggest the POI’s clothes need to be laundered, given to the Salvation Army, or burned along with his decades old sneakers. The possibilities are endless.

(6) Closing

If you have survived all of the various stages – love at first sight, the offer, negotiation and inspection, you may proceed to closing. This means either signing away your life for a monthly mortgage payment OR securing a piece of paper that says you are married, or simply moving in with your guy.

(7) Extended Warranty 

During closing, you may purchase an extended warranty for your home to help defray the costs of future repairs. The arguable equivalent for a relationship or marriage is the couple’s efforts to make their union work. This “extended warranty” is often referred to as “working on your relationship or marriage” to help ensure its longevity.

(8) Refinancing

After a period of time, interest rates may drop and you may decide to refinance your mortgage. Refinancing is seen as evidence of a commitment to live in your home for the foreseeable future (or at least a few more years).

For the relationship, a couple may recommit to their relationship during a special vacation and/or time alone. A married couple may renew their vows. “Relationship refinancing” can also occur after a falling out and trial separation.

Insights

So are there lessons learned from this exercise in comparisons? Can we now understand relationships better? Or have we just pontificated in an effort to create a metaphor for love?

There are clearly equivalent steps to purchasing a home and finding, developing, and committing to a person of interest. And it’s fun to think that you can refinance a relationship.

The bottom line is that a good relationship IS a home for your heart. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be making those mortgage payments forever.

If you liked this post – or any past ones – sign up to get this blog emailed to you. I love subscribers.😊

Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXOOO

Nadia

Ten Favorite things to make you Laugh, Cry, Pause, Hope, and Learn

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In a frenzy of positivity, I discovered 10 things that I am enjoying – actually loving – and learning from. These include a TV show, several podcasts, a short animated film, and well-written prose with a purpose from both a sex educator and a relationship/sex therapist.

  1. Grace and Frankie

I binge-watched the first season of this new Netflix series starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as Grace and Frankie, two women whose long-time husbands (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) leave them for each other. Jane and Lily shine as the two polar-opposite women who go from barely tolerating each other to kinship and friendship.

I loved Jane’s initial foray into online dating (so relatable) and the honesty of Lily’s character, Frankie, as she purveys her homemade organic lube and gives Grace ongoing reality checks.

Everyone needs a friend like Frankie for an order of honest, hold-the-brutality advice. To my delight, the show was just picked up for a 2nd season. See: Grace and Frankie.

  1. Women of Uncertain Age

This weekly podcast is brought to you by Karen and Philippa, two single, divorced forty-something friends who chat about dating, friendship, relationships, marriage and divorce. The show’s signature line, “We’re talkin’ and you’re eavesdropping” captures the relaxed intimacy and humor the two hosts bring to the computer waves.

Karen and Philippa (I feel like I know them already) share their stories in a mellow conversational style and sometimes have guests who provide their perspectives and insights. I like to eavesdrop as an alternative to bedtime reading. See: Women of Uncertain Age.

  1. 2BoomerBabes

Kathy Bernard and Barbara Kline, hosts of the syndicated 2BoomerBabes show, tackle a broad range of topics of interest to the nearly 80 million baby boomers. The “babes’” guests are experts on everything from relationships to healthcare.

Recent shows covered caregiving, tinkering, transforming your sex life, modern divorce, and train travel. Listen in and you’ll likely learn something. See: 2BoomerBabes.

  1. Sex Love Chat podcast.

They would be great band names but Dirty in Public and Single Dating Diva are the “brands” and blogs of Marrie and Suzie who also collaborate on a weekly podcast called the Sex Love Chat. According to the show’s description, “Our podcast is a sexy little place in cyberspace where we romance listeners with topics sufficiently naughty, a little nice, and always pleasing to the ear.”

As an online date investigator, I enjoyed the recent podcast on searching men’s profiles on social media sites, a practice known as “creeping.” Guilty as charged.   See: Sex Love Chat podcast

  1. Huffington Post Love and Sex radio show

I first learned of the Huffington Post Love and Sex radio show when I saw a tweet about their podcast on What is Sex Like After 70? The show – and this episode – has an anthropological perspective so I found it interesting as well as hopeful.

With a disclaimer, “This episode contains explicit material, please proceed with caution,” who wouldn’t be curious? Each show answers a single question (unless it’s a grab-bag of reader’s questions). Past episodes have covered the future of sex, the power of the clitoris, and the reality behind Fifty Shades of Grey.

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/love-and-sex-podcast/

  1. Ian Kerner’s books

Described as a “hip sex therapist,” Ian Kerner, Ph.D. has taken on the charge of demystifying sex and educating both sexes. His books, She Comes First and Passionista, The Empowered Woman’s Guide to Pleasuring a Man (previously published as He Comes Next), combine scientific research, clinical experience, and interviews with non-patients. As he describes it, Kerner offers his readers a vision — a way of thinking about sex and being.

With wit and humor and an engaging writing style, Kerner’s books present a how to but also a why to understanding and obtaining sexual fulfillment.

Every man you’re in a relationship with should read She Comes First – after you read it of course.

See: About Ian Kerner

  1. Emily Nagoski’s book

I first heard of Emily Nagoski, Ph.D., when she was interviewed on the 2BoomerBabes show (see above) about her new book, Come as you are: the Surprising New Science that will Transform Your Sex Life.

Nagoski, who is director of Wellness Education at Smith College where she teaches Women’s Sexuality, is an esteemed sex educator. Her book, which I’m still reading, is fascinating and she describes the premise in the Introduction: “No matter where you are in your sexual journey right now, whether you have an awesome sex life and want to expand the awesomeness, or you’re struggling with and want to find solutions, you will learn something that will improve your sex life and transform the way you understand what it means to be a sexual being.”

The great thing about Nagoski and Kerner (see above) is the scientific core of their work, the accessibility of their writing, and similar philosophies that serve to enlighten, educate, and instill confidence in the average person.

See: Emily Nagoski’s website.

  1. New York Times Modern Love column

Essays written by readers cover the joy and pain that go hand in hand with love. Men and women, young and not so young, share their experiences and insights. It’s quite brave to write about such things under your own name. The writing is often beautiful and I find many of the pieces hopeful and inspiring.

One essay published in 2009 by Laura Munson, Those Aren’t Fighting Words, Dear, has great meaning for me. When I read it, a year after publication, I was newly separated and wondering if my then-husband who wanted to end the marriage was suffering from temporary insanity. I was comforted by Munson’s words: “This isn’t the divorce story you think it is. Neither is it a begging-him-to-stay story. It’s a story about hearing your husband say “I don’t love you anymore” and deciding not to believe him. And what can happen as a result.“ I won’t give away any more because you should read it, but it gave me hope for a time, which I needed to put one foot in front of the other after the end of a very long marriage.

See: Modern Love

  1. Outlander

Outlander, the first of an 8-book series by Diana Gabaldon, combines historical fiction, time travel, and romance in a “can’t put down” read. The story begins in 1945 when Claire Randall, a former combat nurse on her honeymoon in the Scottish highlands, walks through a standing stone and into the war torn Scotland of 1743. She meets James Fraser, a young Scots warrior, and begins an epic romance.

The books are long (600 pages for volume 1) and immensely satisfying. A friend of mine called them “the bad Mommy books” because whenever she read one, she ignored her children. I have read all but the most recent one (waiting to savor it). The new TV show on Starz based on the Outlander series is one of those rare book-to-television adaptations with the look and feel of the books – just the way you imagined them. I recommend both the books and the TV show for good old- fashioned escapism.

See:

Outlander on Amazon

Outlander Starz TV series

Diana Gabaldon

  1. 5 Metres 80

Who cannot love high-diving giraffes? Enough said. Kudos to director Nicolas Deveaux of Cube Creative Productions. Reality was suspended for me the first time I watched 5 Metres 80.

See: 5 Metres 80

What are your favorite things? Tweet about it: #favoritethings. Until next week, happy dating or not dating.

XXXXOOO

Nadia

Dating Rules, Kismet, and Timing

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A recent article in a Washington Post blog on the single life explored the issue of whether men with bad online profiles could in fact turn out to be great guys. The writer, Jessica Guzik, was frustrated by the fact that her dates with men who had appealing profiles were not working out. So she decided to try an experiment. She dated men with unappealing or quirky profiles that would normally prompt her to ignore them.

To her surprise, she met some great men – whose bad profiles did not match the real person. One man in an attempt to be different filled his profile with obscure references; another was more interested in meeting women in the wild and filled out a lackluster profile just to put himself out there. Her conclusion: don’t put so much credence in the profiles; instead “put more faith in the men behind them.”

Of course this is easier said than done but Ms. Guzik’s article triggered some thoughts of my own about profiles, timing, and dating rules. Will you join me in some of Mark Bittman’s watermelon gazpacho while I explain?

It seems that for every rule you make, the opposite of the rule can also be true. After some disaster first dates that had been preceded by texts and emails but not a phone call, I made a rule that I had to speak on the phone with a man before meeting him. This rule was golden for a while and it helped me avoid creepy guys who were full of themselves and those who had terribly grating voices.

If I had already agreed to a date but subsequently had a “bad” phone call with a guy, I’d cancel the date after the call. I let the man know I didn’t feel a connection during our conversation. This angered some guys – especially if I texted or emailed them with this news. But I believe it is better to nip an obviously going nowhere relationship in the bud rather than to suffer a fool or miss-match in an awkward meeting at a café or bar.

So I had the “always talk on the phone before a date” rule. But then, I encountered some men who were able to carry on such a fun and witty conversation by email or text, that I forgot the rule and agreed to meet. And more often than not, the date was wonderful. So it seems that meeting someone great is often a result of chance, or fate or kismet.

This doesn’t mean that the first date, even if it’s fantastic, will lead to a relationship. A couple of weeks ago I met Mr. D for coffee. This first date was preceded by only a few emails and texts (funny, witty, and creative ones though). We had incredible chemistry, honesty and intimacy almost from the start. It was as if we had our own version of The 36 Questions. But it turns out Mr. D was separated. It was in his profile but somehow in my pre-date excitement I had missed it.

I discovered this key piece of information right before leaving to meet him. I decided to go anyway since separated can mean separated for 8 years with a scheduled court date or separated 2 weeks ago and still moving out of the marital home (I have dated both of these guys).

It became clear at the end of the date that our timing was off (a perpetual problem in the dating life). This was Mr. D’s 3rd marriage (previously widowed and divorced) and he was struggling with the fact that he didn’t want to leave his 3rd wife’s grown children whom he had grown to dearly love. I know it all sounds messy but he was truly a fine guy.

When I told Mr. D I hadn’t realized he was separated and that I was looking for a relationship, he “fired himself.” But not until he kissed me and let’s just say this was a kiss worthy of a big-screen movie – possibly IMAX or even bigger. I can’t seem to stop thinking about him even though we were together for a grand total of 3 hours. Perhaps Mr. D will end up divorced and we’ll serendipitously meet again when the timing is right.

I have also encountered men with a great profile, who gave great phone (insert smile here), but we had zero or minus zero chemistry in person. As an added insult, these men did not resemble the old pictures they had posted.

Another issue is whether a good and long first phone conversation or date predicts anything. I’ve had very long (2 to 3 hours) late night phone conversations before meeting someone and long (up to 5 hours) first dates and then for one reason or another the fledgling relationship combusts. In one case, the guy was an alcoholic and we ended up in a phone fight after the first date. In the other case, following a 5-hour date, Mr. Q decided he wanted to date another woman at the same time he dated me. Apparently he scheduled me as the fall back and I didn’t hear from him for a week. Then, when his other “relationship” didn’t work out, he texted me to see if I wanted to talk. I was disenchanted at that point and had already moved on.

So many dating and relationship situations call for you to decide whether you’re going to trust your heart or your gut. A thought-provoking article in the Chicago Tribune describes the ongoing battles these two organs can have over your love interests. As the article points out, sometimes you just don’t want to listen to your gut tell you a man is not right for you…and the heart wins. See Mr. D above. Other times, it’s easy – and neither organ wants a particular piece of work otherwise known as an incompatible match.

I’m still looking for a rule-breaking, take my breath away encounter that is a win-win from both the heart and gut and appeases the timing gods. Until then, happy dating or not dating to all of us.

XXXOOO

Nadia

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover

I have a special treat for you on Mother’s Day – a guest post from my friend and Renaissance woman Donna A. Lewis. Donna has way more experience with men than I do and I thought she would be a great resource for all of us dating re-entrants!

Donna lives in Washington, DC where she dabbles obsessively in law, writing and art. She is the creator of Reply All comic strip and Reply All Lite cartoon, both of which are syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group.

I have the perfect lunch for us while we sit back and read Donna’s post. Let’s enjoy spaghetti al pomodoro (http://tinyurl.com/m9d37f9), Audrey Hepburn’s favorite recipe, recreated by food blogger Tori Avey.

reply all PIX 5 10 2015

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, Donna A. Lewis

For five or so decades, my mother has been talking to me about men. She considers herself an expert on men because she’s been married to one man for a really long time. In fact, she’s been married to that one man for as long as I’ve known her.

It’s hard for me to explain to my mother in a respectful, discreet way that what she actually knows is a lot about one man.

“Yeah, mom, you know about men. You know about one man named Joe.”

For the record, Joe isn’t my father’s real name. I changed the name to protect my father’s identity.

“Yeah, mom, you know a lot about ‘Joe’…. but I know somewhere between a little and a lot about hundreds of men.” 

See? I told you. There’s not really an easy way to respectfully and discreetly say that the reason you know a lot about men is because you have actually known a lot of men.

But I do. I do know my fair share about men.

Now maybe I don’t personally know a lot about hundreds of men, but I do know about a large enough number of men to provide a scientific sampling upon which we can base supportable conclusions.

And maybe I don’t know a lot about staying with one man forever, but nobody I know really has that as their top priority these days anyway since forever is different from the forever we grew up with.

What I do know about is how to meet men. And I know how to have a really good time with them. And I know how to get rid of them.

Now THAT, my friends, is valuable information for the modern woman.

To be honest, I didn’t realize how valuable that information was until so many of my married friends became unmarried. All of a sudden, I had some information they needed and didn’t have.

But before I tell you my 50 all-time favorite ways to leave lovers, let me tell you how to actually get a lover. Or two. Or ten.

Tip #1

Want a lover.

Sounds simple and kind of obvious, but do you really want a lover or do you just think you should want a lover? And if you actually want a lover, are you sure you want a lover now? Are you lover-ready, emotionally and otherwise?

The gist of this tip is really ‘don’t look for a lover before you’re ready for a lover.’ If you look for a lover too soon or at the seriously wrong time, all you’ll do is cripple your self-esteem with rejection resulting from bad timing.

Don’t go there until you’re ready to be there.

Tip #2

Smell good.

Look good. Feel good. Be intentional about being in the best condition to attract a lover. You don’t need to be a perfect hourglass size zero with double D boobs, high slit skirts and perpetually tanned skin. And hopefully you’re not, since that’s…well…you know.

But you need to generally look like you want to be attractive to those you wish to attract.

If you’re not sure whether you look like you want a lover, ask one of your most honest friends. An honest friend will tell you whether you look like you’re thinking about loving a lover or thinking about eating double stuffed pizza while learning to make your own curtains.

Tip #3

Go where the men are.

If you want to go where the men are, join a few local meetup (or other) free social groups and look at the male to female ratio before attending. If the group boasts one man for every twenty women, then you won’t be going home with a lover.

And don’t spend too much time hanging out where the men aren’t. Most men are generally not painting pottery or attending Pilates. They’re not usually at Sunday brunch or the shopping mall.

And if you’re thinking it’s a shame that your interests don’t include men, then prepare for a lot of time spent without men. Or find a few new interests.

Tip #4

Go where there are more men than women.

Go to a local dive bar that has televisions playing sports. Ask the men silly questions about sports and let them talk. Go to a local Comic Con, gaming outlet, car show or gun show. Hang out at Home Depot in the area where they sell wood. Ask the men at Home Depot silly questions about wood – the kind of wood they sell at Home Depot.

If you hang around places where men tend to be, the odds of meeting a man increase significantly and naturally.

Tip #5

Consider everything practice.

Remember when you were in the sixth grade and you had to present a book report to the class? Remember how well you did at home with your mom watching you and cheering you on? Remember how you then got to school and felt like throwing up when you realized you forgot what the notes on your index cards meant?

The same thing happens when you’re looking for a man to love you. You feel great when you’re safely at home being all cute and funny online with men who want to chat. Then you leave the safety of your house and remember that you have cellulite, a crooked tooth, and a top on top of your muffin.

When you leave your house, instead of thinking in terms of success or failure, think of everything you do as practice. Go on practice dates or practice trips to Home Depot. Ask practice men your practice questions. Don’t consider any activity the ‘real thing’ and you’ll be more relaxed. More importantly, you’ll be better prepared to accept whatever happens. …since it’s just practice.

Tip #6

Have fun no matter what.

Enjoy whatever you’re doing. Laugh at whatever is happening, even if the joke is on you. If you can have fun no matter what, more things will be more fun.

And people who have fun attract people who like having fun.

Tip #7

Talk to people.

Remember that people are shy, including men. And remember that other people are waiting for you to make a move, create an opening or give a sign.

So just say hi. And be really friendly. And make a stupid joke about something simple that makes them laugh and realize you’re one of those people who are easy to talk to.

And then be easy to talk to.

Tip #8

Leave the unsexy topics at home.

Talking about your ex, your divorce, your custody problems, your toe fungus, that weird bump that might be cancer but might just be a bump….none of these are part of foreplay.

And talking is foreplay if you talk about the stuff that turns people on.

If you’re not sure what turns people on, talk about delicious food, your favorite music or hot cars. Don’t talk about food issues, music you hate or the car problems you can’t afford to fix. Stick with the stuff that makes people feel good. When the listener feels good, the listener is more likely to like you.

Tip #9

Touch others appropriately.

If you’ve been talking to someone for more than five minutes and it’s going well, try an appropriate, light, gentle touch on their forearm or shoulder. Start making contact.

Practice by touching their sleeve or watch or ring and saying you like it and asking where they got it. Combine flattery with a gentle touch and you’re closer to getting a lover than you were before.

Tip #10

Be proud of rejection.

Rejection means you tried. Rejection means you’re out there. Rejection means you’re human and that you’re interacting with humans.

If you’re not getting rejected, you’re not out there enough.

Okay!!

There’s ten tips to get you started!

And please, let me know how it goes! I need material for my future posts!

xoxo, d

Relationship Recipe: Slow Cooker vs. Stir Fry

I’m an experiential learner. This is not something I always knew. I came to this “epiphany” as I realized that I could take in tons of advice but couldn’t really learn from and act on it until I had experienced a particular life lesson on my own. So, lessons about relationships and love had to be – and still are – painfully (sometimes) learned.

The topic today is going slow in a new or potentially new relationship – from the perspective of an experiential learner. Slow refers to sex, personal disclosure, and involvement. Let’s have some spring vegetable stew while we’re chatting.

After a long marriage and divorce process (see About) and a good period of healing and recovery, I yearned to be in a relationship again. I also knew that I wasn’t ready to meet my soul mate because I wasn’t sure what I was looking for.

When you go into a marriage with relatively little dating experience, post-marriage dating is truly a whole new universe. Even if you married late and dated a lot before marriage, dating norms have changed. So we’re all starting over but the woman who was almost a child bride (not quite but now you can have maximum sympathy for me), has more to learn about what she wants and doesn’t want.

If I look back on my first relationship (not first date) after divorcing, I know that I was somewhat blinded by pheromones. Mr.A, a relatively recent widower, was also a newbie and excited to connect with someone. We leapt into sex rather soon after meeting, comforted by the fact that we were both post-long term relationship virgins. Ultimately we weren’t suited for each other. In hindsight, we didn’t have enough in common and were not even sexually compatible. And it was very clear that it was too soon after his wife’s death for him to be in a relationship.

But I started to learn a little about what I was looking for and truly enjoyed that excitement that came from flirting with a new man.
So, this wasn’t a slow cooker encounter… but I don’t regret it.

As I continued to date, I found that I wasn’t always discerning enough and leapt into some relationships (stir fry mode) without really evaluating whether they had the potential to go the distance. It was part of my Auntie Mame “just live” philosophy of life. I wanted to make up for lost time. After all, I had already begun the 6th decade of life. If not now, when??

So you see my reasoning. I wanted to experience men, love, sex – everything (within reason). There was no risk of pregnancy and, being careful, no risk of STDs. Unlike some younger (and older) women, I wasn’t after and didn’t have any first date sexual encounters — but neither did things progress at a slow cooker pace.

Recently, I dated a new man, Mr. Z (see The 36 Questions), and realized that we should not in fact have sex or continue our relationship (even though we had already gone on a number of long dates). Our lifestyles were just too different and I could not imagine a life with him. Fortunately, the feeling must have been mutual because things just seemed to slow down and stop.

I saw the value of a slow-cooker relationship with Mr. Z. It would have been emotionally entangling to go full speed ahead with him only to break up relatively quickly. Break-ups take a toll and it’s not always easy to “roll with it” when you are disappointed once again.

By going slow, you allow more opportunity to disclose vulnerabilities and to probe more deeply into what makes the other person tick – developing emotional intimacy as a precursor to physical intimacy. It may not be as easy to nurture that sharing once you have sex. For one thing, there’s more to lose.

So, you see I am learning. Going forward, I plan to make a list of essential attributes in my ideal man and relationship. I can use this list to help me decide whether I want to start or continue dating someone. I could not have created this list 3 years ago.

I hope that Amy Webb, author of
Data, a Love Story: How I Cracked the Online Dating Code to Meet My Match would approve of my lists. She took evaluation and planning in dating to a new level and had great results.

I found some more food for thought in a recent Match.com article that interviewed men for their perspective on sex and relationships: Guy’s Eye View: Slept Together Too Soon?

Age differences and the marital history of the men interviewed played into their viewpoints. Three men were quoted in the article by author Steve Friedman, including Alec, a 50-year-old never-married man. When asked about sleeping with a woman on the first or second date, his comment supported the slow cooker philosophy:

“In my mind, it doesn’t make a difference—as long as the woman understands that just because she slept with me, it doesn’t mean the rest of the relationship is also moving quickly. But I will say, it does sort of put pressure on the situation when you sleep together so quickly. It makes the getting-to-know-you part tougher.”

The same article quotes a 40-year-old divorced man who believes the timing of the first occurrence of sex with a woman does not indicate anything in particular for the relationship’s future. A 35-year-old never married man thinks men and women are wired differently. It’s o.k. for a man to sleep with others more quickly, he says, but for a woman it “would not bode well for the future.” I see a double standard in play for some men that regardless of how you view it, may be hard for women to escape from.

I’d love to know what you, dear readers, think of all this. Send me your comments and thoughts about slow cooking a relationship versus quickly stir frying it. In the meantime, happy dating.

XXXOOO
Nadia

Resources:
Data, a Love Story: How I Cracked the Online Dating Code to Meet My Match, Amy Webb, Plume
Data: A Love Story – The algorithms, statistics, charts, and lists I used to game online dating and find my match, Amy Webb, Slate
Guy’s Eye View: Slept Together Too Soon? Steve Friedman, Match.com

The 36 Questions: An Experiment about an Experiment

You may have read a recent New York Times essay that described a real life application of a scientific study on closeness, certainly a precursor to falling in love. In the study, pairs of strangers asked each other 36 questions. There were 3 sets of questions and each set contained increasingly personal questions designed to provoke self-disclosure and intimacy. After the Q and A portion, the study participants stared into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes.

The combination of these two activities was supposed to jumpstart a connection that would lead to a temporary feeling of closeness. The result: after the experiment, participants reported high ratings of closeness and at least one pair married. This research generated a firestorm of public interest and publicity, including commercial applications such as The Love Game and a number of apps.

Ever since I read about this study, I wanted to try the 36 questions with a romantic interest. I didn’t think it would be a good idea to do this on a first date. After all, you wouldn’t want to engage in this activity unless you liked the other person enough to entertain the possibility of a love relationship. And that would require at least one date and possibly more. When I read the original study by Dr. Arthur Aron, State University of New York at Stony Brook, I realized that my plan was in fact in line with his methodology since study participants were matched so they did not disagree about issues of importance to them.

I recently met a Mr. Z who I thought would be a good candidate for this experiment. If nothing else, it might help us know sooner rather than later whether love was in the cards for us. Join me in a lovely spring lunch of Herbivoracious’ Pan-Seared Pressed Tofu with Apples and Champagne Vinaigrette while I tell you about my research.

We agreed to proceed with the questions one recent evening after a glass of wine. Technically it was our 4th date. It probably would have been a good idea to start the Q and A at an earlier time since the process can take several hours but the moment seemed right at the time.

I had printed out the list of 36 questions from a follow-up New York Times article. Question number 1 was the only question I had peeked at prior to our evening. I thought it would be closer to the real experiment to not figure out my answers beforehand. Mr. Z hadn’t looked at the questions either.

As we made our way through the first set of 12 questions, I observed some interesting things about our responses. In some cases, our answers were less revealing than they might have been given the particular question. In other cases – such as answering what would constitute a perfect day – we had very similar responses (being outdoors – at the beach if possible – with someone special). And some of Mr. Z’s responses were touchingly revealing.

We easily named three things we thought we had in common and we listed a couple of the same characteristics. The most stressful question for me was trying to tell Mr. Z my life story in 4 minutes. I ended up elaborating on things that “came out of the blue” from my childhood, leaving less time for more significant events that occurred in adulthood.

Given the time constraints of this exercise, I provided a resume of my life with occasional emotional components thrown in. Before beginning this 4-minute monologue, I set a timer on my phone and Mr. Z gave me updates on how much time was left, which I found stressful. I had a flashback to when I took the SAT test (a long, long time ago in another galaxy) and started to feel anxious because I felt that my biography was skewed and incomplete.

It was getting later and question #12 about magically having a quality or ability was quickly dealt with. I wondered if Mr. Z was taking the quiz seriously. Of course we managed to intersperse questions with kissing (probably invalidating the experimental procedure).

Mr. Z had to leave and so we stopped the Q and A at the end of the first set. I have been under the weather and not able to get together with Mr. Z since that evening. I’m interested in seeing whether we continue with Set 2 of the questions. I’m game but I want to be sure he is.

My conclusions about the 36 questions as a vehicle for fostering intimacy (to be updated when/if the experiment is completed):

  • Wait until you’re sure you like someone enough to entertain the possibility of falling in love with this person – unless your goal is to strictly get to know the person better. This could even be an exercise at a family gathering or at a party.
  • Try to schedule the session in the early evening or afternoon so you can complete the entire list.
  • Observe reactions and responses to the process – sometimes this can be as revealing as the answers.
  • Take notes later to remind yourself of your partner’s answers. With so many questions, you might want a cheat sheet to help you remember what was shared.
  • After the experiment – or instead of – develop your own questions. Questions I have used with previous dates:
    • What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
    • Have you ever had an epiphany about your life and as a result changed course or direction going forward?
    • Can you describe a time when you overcame a fear?
    • What’s your philosophy of life?

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