When Hurry Met Sally I’m a guy in my 30s. I thought I’d found the love of my life. We had an incredible first few dates. We were so in sync we didn’t even need words to communicate. However, as we’ve spent more time together, things about her are really starting to bother me – especially how she has no interest in the news or the world beyond herself and mostly wants to gossip about her friends and celebrities. How could I have been so wrong about her being The One? — Disturbed There’s fairy tale romance, and then there’s fairy tale romance that’s gotten into a fender-bender with reality: “I will love you forever – uh, or until I learn your interest in international affairs is limited to the relationship status of the Queen’s beefcake great-nephew, aka ‘His Royal Handsome.’” Contrary to that schmaltzo saying, “To know someone is to love them,” to know someone is to be increasingly annoyed by them. This is hard to imagine if we have an instant connection. Psychologist Michael I. Norton and his colleagues explain that when we like someone we’ve just met, we tend to notice all the ways they seem similar to us, which leads to our liking them more. We then assume getting to know them even better will keep our liking of them on the upswing – an...Read More
Category: Advice Goddess
The Camera Sutra I really like the girl I’m dating, except for one thing. On every date, she asks me to take photos of her for Instagram. Afterward, she consults me repeatedly on which will “get the most likes.” I’m starting to get really annoyed, and I find it cuts into my enjoyment of our time together. She even did this on my birthday! — Irritated Psychologist Erich Fromm wrote, “Mature love says: ‘I need you because I love you.’” He died in 1980, thirty-some years before Instagram-infused love: “I need you, love, because my telescoping selfie stick won’t fit in my cute purse.” This girl’s far from alone in turning every occasion short of stints on the toilet into a photo op. Social media (and Instagram especially) transformed fishing for compliments into a business model. #admirationvampires Some young women – especially twentysomethings with a still-murky sense of identity – might feel they don’t exist in any meaningful way if they don’t post pix and videos of themselves to score likes and gain followers. #KeepingUpWithTheInstadashians There’s also the lure of easy money for those who can rack up an audience: potentially making big “influencer” bucks just by showing up to events in some pop-up shop’s dress and striking a bunch of poses they copied off Beyonce. Chances are you went on Tinder or Hinge or whatever in hopes of...Read More
Disappear Pressure I recently met this guy, and we’ve spent the entire past week together. Unfortunately, he’s moving across the country – tomorrow. He asked whether I’d be open to dating after he moved. I panicked and said no – I’m really not looking for long-distance – but now that he’s leaving, I’m sad, and I’m worried I’ve made a mistake. Help! — Confused Obstacles to love are like situational steroids. We long for what’s out of reach – and all the more romantic if reaching it takes crossing the desert on a camel or $553 with a layover in Boise. The perception that something is in short supply or soon will be (say, because it’s about to move across the country) makes it seem more valuable to us. Psychologist Robert Cialdini calls this the “scarcity principle” and explains that the possibility we could lose access to something (or someone) jacks us into a motivational state: Go! Chase it! Don’t let it get away! The scarcity principle is the psychological scheming behind ads like: “Today only!” and “Only one sofa at this price!” The looming scarcity (or “scarcity”) shuts down your Department of Reasoning, basically turning you into a dog chasing a couch-shaped squirrel. Only after you buy the thing and get it home (P.S. “no returns!”) do you notice an important fact: It will fit perfectly in your living room…if...Read More
Wii Are Not Amused During quarantine, my boyfriend started spending two or three hours a night playing video games. Not only do I think this is unhealthy (since video games apparently lead to violence and psychological problems), but I think gaming has become a coping mechanism/escape tool for him. How can I get him to stop? — Annoyed Claiming gaming causes violence is like claiming white wine causes stabbings. (Give somebody a sip of Chardonnay and before you know it, they’ll be dealing meth and then arrested, convicted, and shanking somebody in prison.) There’s been a lot of “moral panic” over video gaming. A moral panic is a mass overreaction to some behavior, art form or group of people, driven by the fear that it poses a threat to society’s values and the social order. Examples include rock lyrics said to be corrupting teenagers and the belief in the 1980s that satanic cults were running nursery schools. About the latter, Margaret Talbot explained in The New York Times Magazine that day care worker/“Devil-worshippers” were supposedly “raping and sodomizing children, practicing ritual sacrifice, shedding their clothes, drinking blood and eating feces, all unnoticed by parents, neighbors and the authorities.” It’s easy to succumb to a moral panic. Though we like to see ourselves as careful, rational thinkers, when we’re afraid we engage in reasoning that’s better described as “emotioning.” This makes us prone...Read More
Shifty-Fifty A close friend and I spend a lot of time discussing her issues with her boyfriend. I’m always there for her, even late at night when she’s upset about something. However, when I bring up someone I’m interested in, she’ll cut me off or say she just can’t listen to me talk about the guy. Is it petty to feel hurt and to expect more from her? — Disturbed There are friends you can count on – and friends you can count on to fake their own kidnapping the moment you are the slightest bit in need. This sort of “friend” can be hard to identify because we want to believe their friendship is based on more than seeing us as an easy mark. This isn’t to say we lack the psychological tools to identify and deal appropriately with users posing as friends. As humans began living in groups, we evolved to have a social “loss prevention team” – the psychological version of the squad department stores have to catch crafty shoppers who get nine months pregnant in a matter of minutes, uh, with 26 designer dresses. Our minds are tuned for “cheater detection,” to notice sneaky nonreciprocators – people who intentionally take more than they give – explain evolutionary psychologists Leda Cosmides and John Tooby. The police force of our cheater detection system is our emotions: anger...Read More
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