The Best Scientific Relationship Advice I’ve Heard

  1. What are common mistakes people making in dating? Especially given how much choice people have thanks to dating apps now. What does the research say?
  2. Nowadays, people are taught by movies and songs about what to look for, which is just misleading. What signs SHOULD people look for when going on dates?
  3. Why do people get so attracted to someone who plays hard to get? Why do we keep chasing that kind of person?
  4. How is it that you can predict which couples will divorce with 90% accuracy?
  5. If I’m one of those couples going down the disaster route, what can I do?
  6. What was a hypothesis that you had that you were shocked to find out was wrong?
  7. Your research shows that 69% of conflicts in marriages are never solved. Why and how so? How can couples solve those problems?
  8. What is the role of compromise? Does it even exist? How do you do it effectively?

Q1: What are common mistakes people making in dating? Especially given how much choice people have thanks to dating apps now. What does the research say?

First of all, the dating sites are bad at creating matches. They algorithms don’t really work. For example, the founder of OKCupid saw that they had to set up 50,000 encounters before a couple really liked each other. That tells you just how bad their system is!

Q2: Nowadays, people are taught by movies and songs about what to look for, which is just misleading. What signs SHOULD people look for when going on dates?

On a first date, you should ask these questions to yourself:

  1. Does that person listen to you?
  2. Do they remember your answer?
  3. Do they ask you big open-ended questions? So instead of asking you How long have you been in Seattle? they ask you What do you love about Seattle?
  4. Is that person just interested in finding out superficial details about you, or do they want to get to know you at a deeper level in accordance with how much you’re comfortable disclosing.
  1. Is that person reliable? Do they show up when they say they’re going to show up?
  2. Do they call you and thank you for the date?
  3. Do they show that they’re interested in you? Or all they playing hard-to-get and mention all their other relationships?
  • The playing-hard-to-get is not sincere and not cool.
  • Watch out for the person looking away, not really listening to you, looking at someone else in the room, staring at someone else, not really being attentive.
  • Look out for sharp little remarks that are sarcastic and not funny.
  • Watch out for someone who’s unreliable and then doesn’t apologize or take responsibility over and over again. Everyone can have an emergency once in a while, but if it’s a pattern, then it’s over! You don’t deserve that.
  • Watch out for someone who’s only interested in your appearance, job title, or possessions, rather than actually being interested in you as a person.
  • The person should have substance and character. Look at how they treat a waiter, a server, a sales clerk who is delayed or can’t meet their needs. Are they understanding, courteous, patient, kind? Or are they acting all superior and cutting them down? That’s a great way to know the nature of someone’s inner being.
  • The person should be trustworthy, kind, generous, and show a real interest in you. You should feel at ease when with them, not tense and on edge.

Q3: Why do people get so attracted to someone who plays hard to get? Why do we keep chasing that kind of person?

To generalize, it’s because that’s what we’ve seen on TV and movies. They show us these hard-to-get characters and that makes for an exciting show, and so people learn their idea of love from that.

Q4: How is it that you can predict which couples will divorce with 90% accuracy?

We were just as surprised when we found out how accurate we are. Basically, we’ve done 40 years of research, where we asked couples to come in to our lab and discuss everyday days and problems. We tracked their physiological data like heart rate and sweat while they discussed.

Q6: What was a hypothesis that you had that you were shocked to find out was wrong?

John answered that he had a hypothesis that couples being neutral about a problem is bad. The idea is that being neutral means the fire of passion is dead, and so the relationship is doomed.

Q7: Your research shows that 69% of conflicts in marriages are never solved. Why and how so? How can couples solve those problems?

In our research, couples are brought in every few years to discuss problems. And over 20 years, the only things that changed were their fashion and hairstyles. They kept talking about the same problems.

Q8: What is the role of compromise? Does it even exist? How do you do it effectively?

First off, compromise does NOT mean grudgingly yielding. That’s called surrender.

  • Are there any ethics or values involved in what you want?
  • What’s the childhood history related to this?
  • Why is it so important to you?
  • Is there an underlying purpose of life meaning for you?

Concluding Thoughts

I’m very grateful to Jay, John, and Julie for sharing the science on what makes for a good relationship. Like Jay said, I grew up learning about relationships from movies and pop music. I learned to look for someone who’s physically attractive, who’s cool, who is similar to me. I also learned that it’s necessary to have really strong desire, almost painful desire to be with that person, or else it’s not true love. Looking back, it’s no wonder my relationships failed! I sure wish I had heard this advice earlier in my life.

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Alex Chen

Alex Chen

Passionate about self-cultivation, happiness, and sharing wisdom.