Relationship Advice from The Love Doctor, Dr Terri Orbuch
Jasbina Ahluwalia interviews Dr Terri Orbuch
A few of the topic’s Dr Terri Orbuch addresses in this interview are:
- (01:55) Can Rebound Relationships Work?
- (03:49) Gender Differences When It Comes to Rebound Relationships
- (05:06) Is Conflict in Relationships Bad?
- (07:41) Past Conflict Resolution Teaches Couples How to Have Healthy Relationships
- (08:41) What is TMI on Dates?
- (11:07) Is Sharing the Same Socioeconomic Status, Personality, Race, Religion, Relationship Longevity and Values Important in a Relationship?
- (14:05) Does a Woman’s Education Help or Hurt in Relationships?
- (16:12) Tips for Finding Guys Wanting Equal Relationships
- (20:26) Is Physical Attraction Important to Men or Women?
- (23:37) What do Men and Women Want Regarding Sex and Emotional Connection?
- (26:57) How do Men and Women Communicate Differently?
- (31:56) How do Men and Women Handle Conflict in Relationships Differently?
- (35:22) Tips to Handle Conflict in Relationships
- (38:45) Most Common Relationship Expectations and Needs of Men and Women
- (42:32) Men are More Romantic than Women
- (45:58) Men Fall in Love Faster than Women
- (47:07) Does Science Support Matchmakers Showing Pictures?
- (49:49) Why You Should Almost Always Go on a Second and Third Date
(01:05) I’m very excited to welcome to todays show Dr. Terri Orbuch. Dr. Orbuch, also known as “The Love Doctor”, is a world renowned relationship expert, author, speaker, therapist, coach, distinguished professor at Oakland University, research scientist at the University of Michigan, Institute for Social Research and media personality. She’s also the director of a landmark study funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH), where she’s been following the same couples for over 30 years. Her 2 best-selling books are “5 Simple Steps To Take Your Marriage From Good To Great” and “Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps To a New and Happy Relationship”.
Can Rebound Relationships Work?
(01:55) It’s a pleasure to have you on. Now, in your book, Finding Love Again, you discuss several myths which science refutes. Let’s just discuss a few of them. One concerns the concept of rebound relationships. Tell us what the myth there is.
(02:13) Well, the myth is that rebound relationships are not good relationships or healthy relationships, and rebound relationships assume then that you’re really not ready for a good or healthy relationship again. That’s not true, Jasbina, because what we know when we look at science is that everyone has a different time period in terms of whether or not they’re really ready for relationship.
Some people emotionally separate from a relationship while they’re still physically in the relationship, and then once the relationship ends and they’re no longer with that person, living with that person, for example, they’re immediately ready for a new relationship. They’ve separated emotionally. They’re ready.
Other people, though, are not ready for a new relationship when it physically ends, and so they need time to process. They need time to think about what they really need or want in another relationship. It would be good for them to wait. It would be good for them to date and figure out what they need or want.
What we know is that it is an individual difference between whether or not you’re ready to date after you separate another relationship or not.
Gender Differences When It Comes to Rebound Relationships
(03:49) Very, very helpful. Thank you. I have seen that variety. Let me ask you, have you seen any patterns as to gender in this regard in terms of whether men or women tend to need the physical separation. Any gender-based differences or not really?
(04:09) Yes, that’s a great question, Jasbina. There are some gender differences. Women, we know when we look at studies, tend to emotionally separate when they’re still in a previous relationship.
Men on the other hand tend to need the physical separation, the relationship actually ending before they begin to emotionally separate.
Again, when we look at research, when we look at studies, we’re really talking about 80% of the people. If listeners are on either side of what I talk about when I say studies or research, it doesn’t mean that you’re wrong or something’s wrong with you. It just means that you’re not in the norm, and there’s nothing wrong with that. When we’re talking about science or research, it’s about 80%.
Is Conflict in Relationships Bad?
(05:06) I love that insight because as I always say, these are guidelines. These are not rules because there are exceptions to every rule, so I love that qualification. Yeah, let people sort through this insight and then apply it to themselves. Super helpful.
Another myth… your book has a lot. One other myth is concerning conflict and healthy relationships. Tell us about that. What’s the myth their surrounding?
(05:41) Yes. This is a myth…a commonsense notion, I think, that a lot of people hold. The myth is, the conflict is negative, it’s bad for a relationship. If you and your partner are disagreeing, have all these differences, have conflict, that somehow, you’re not in a good relationship or something is wrong with your relationship. It’s a myth. It’s a commonsense notion.
When I look at my own research… and I should say I’ve been following the same couples, 373 couples, for over 30 years now. When I look at the couples, inevitably, they have conflict over time, and there were 12 couples in year one who said, “We never fight. We never have conflict.” None of those 12 couples were still together in year three.
As these couples go over time, as these couples have a long-term relationship, they inevitably have conflict, and it is not predictive of the health, wellbeing, and happiness of the relationship.
It is not predictive of who stays together or who does not. Instead, what my studies show is that it’s how you deal with the conflict that predicts staying together or not and happiness, so those couples who do conflict well, they listen to one another, they validate one another, they don’t storm off, they don’t call each other names. If they handle the conflict well, that predicts who stays together and who doesn’t.
Those couples who have conflict and don’t do it well, that predicts not being together over the long haul.
Past Conflict Resolution Teaches Couples How to Have Healthy Relationships
(07:41) Thank you, Terri. Very helpful. I love it. As a matchmaker one of the questions I like to ask is, how would you describe your parents’ relationship? How do you remember your parents resolving conflict?
(08:00) That’s a good question, because I have talked to many clients as well, and when they don’t see their parents have conflict in front of them and resolve it well, that needs to both happen, then when they’re in a relationship and they have their first disagreement, they automatically assume that the relationship isn’t okay or they’re in trouble.
Seeing parents or others in our childhood argue, have disagreements, have differences and resolve them well is so important for children.
What is TMI on Dates?
(08:41) Very helpful. Now, touch on one more of these myths. Well, speaking of getting in a relationship, what’s the myth concerning this idea of getting it all out there as soon as possible when dating? Sharing everything about oneself. Putting people on notice kind of an idea. Tell us about that. Where’s the myth there?
(09:03) I think the myth is that you share everything really early so that the person either knows you, or if they don’t like something, they know it early, and that’s a myth. You should not disclose everything on the first date or too soon.
What we know science shows is that you should gradually disclose things about yourself. I talk to my clients about thinking of themselves as a book, and they want to share one chapter at a time because what happens is that if you share everything, the goods, the bads, about your divorce, about your previous relationships, you just inundate them. I call it almost vomiting up you. I understand why I want to do that, but if you vomit up you so quickly, people become overwhelmed and they run.
It’s almost like, you want to think about being on a plane and you’re sitting down and maybe the plane ride is six, eight hours, and all of a sudden this person next to you begins talking about themselves and telling you everything, private, personal, what do you feel… ask yourself. Well, most people will say, “Oh, no, I want to put on my headphones. I want to run.” Right? That’s that feeling of disclosing too much to a partner on a first date or too early, that person wants to run.
(10:39) Terri, I love your plane analogy as well as your book analogy. My favorite analogy I like to use with clients is the onion analogy, and I say, you can hack the onion, or you can peel back the layers slowly by slowly.
Is Sharing the Same Socioeconomic Status, Personality, Race, Religion, Relationship Longevity and Values Important in a Relationship?
(11:07) Now, speaking of myths and staying together, so tell us about what studies, what the science says regarding whether or not there’s a relationship between sharing the same socioeconomic status, personality, race, religion, and relationship longevity. Is there a relationship there? Tell us about that.
(11:32) Well, there turns out not to be a relationship between similarity and all of those traits that you just mentioned, whether it’s socioeconomic status or personality, race, religion and relationship longevity.
Instead, what we find… and I can talk about my study in particular, that it is similarity in underlying values and attitudes. Now, sometimes when you have two partners and they have the same socio-economic status or they have the same race or they have the same religion, they share underlying values or attitudes. That is what’s important rather than those other traits.
What you want to do if you’re thinking about finding a compatible partner is someone who shares those underlying key life values. For example, someone who has the same value about family or children, like if you’re thinking about the holidays or a party, do you want family to attend? Do you want to live close to your family?
Or if we’re talking about similarity in terms of underlying values about religion or spirituality, do you have somebody, or do you have a partner that you’re dating that shares how much you want to go to church or synagogue, or how much you want to infuse those beliefs into your lifestyle?
It’s not the actual traits like SES or race, but it’s these underlying values and attitudes that are so important to predicting staying together over the long haul.
(13:34) I love that. I love that that is something that has been shown in Western science, because what I like to do is blend the best of the East and the West, and that focus on values is something that I think historically has been there in a lot of the Eastern tradition. That’s the piece from the East I like to put in. I love that that is also in the West, also been shown in the West.
Does a Woman’s Education Help or Hurt in Relationships?
(14:05) Terri, our female clients tend to be highly educated, and our male clients, generally they seek that beauty and the brains, they want it all, the beauty of the brain.
What does science, what does your study say regarding a woman’s level of education and the chances of the relationship lasting and the relationship longevity, any correlations there at all?
(14:33) Yes. Jasbina, it’s not actually even a correlation. It’s a cause and an effect, which is fascinating. Yeah, even better. Because otherwise we don’t know the relationship’s direction, and that’s why I love this finding.
It was surprising in my study as I’ve followed these couples over time. When the females had a higher education, that couple was more likely to stay together over time. I know this is a very controversial finding and it’s not always the same in other studies, but what I found is that women who are highly educated, one, were much more likely to have opportunities to seek self-help, read books, get information to improve their relationship. They were more likely to talk to other people, go into counseling, read self-help books, go to religious advisors, and that helped the relationship.
They were also more likely then to use the strategies that they found as they went outside the relationship to get help, if there were issues or problems, or just to have a tune up or improve the relationship, which then in fact helped the relationship over time.
So, highly educated women, or the more education a woman has, the more likely the relationship is to stay over the long haul.
Tips for Finding Guys Wanting Equal Relationships
(16:12) Excellent. Now, let’s take it in a different direction. For the highly educated women that are out there, and they say, “Okay, actually what I’d like now is an egalitarian partnership. I want to do a modern spin on having a family together and building a life together.”
What are some of the best ways for a single heterosexual woman who has an attitude towards an egalitarian partnership, to filter as she dates. Any tips, any suggestions for that woman?
(16:55) Right. Well, first of all, it’s a great question. I can say that when we look at studies in general out there, heterosexual men are doing more around the house than ever before. There have been significant changes in terms of who does what around the house, and men are significantly more likely to do more around the house, and with childcare, I should say. But women continue to do the majority of work with children and around the home. I just say that in general so that women and even highly educated women know that.
On the other hand, your question is great. How can heterosexual women filter out dates so they get a more egalitarian or a more equitable partnership? There are two tips that I have.
- First, I think women in general should feel comfortable and secure discussing this topic with their dates. I wouldn’t just discuss it on the first date or even the first few dates. But after that, I think it’s okay to ask about that, about what they feel in terms of that value, in terms of having an egalitarian partnership, whether it be around the home or outside the home, what do they feel?
i) What do they think about in terms of children and who would do what around the house and with the children? Discussing that topic and asking questions is a very important.
- Now, the second tip is for if the woman does not feel comfortable or she doesn’t want to do it yet in that partnership, or she wants to know it earlier. I think, then, observing is very important.
i) Watch what the male is doing and thinking and saying, how is he treating the wait staff?
ii) How is he talking about his mother or his sister or his niece, and what they’re doing around the home, and friends, how they’re working outside the home or not, or how he feels about the man in that partnership, staying home and the woman working outside the home, bring up examples.
iii) Or even when you’re watching a movie with this male heterosexual partner, and you might be watching the movie and something comes up about a woman working outside the home if she has children or a man doing something around the home, ask a question, what do you think of that? Would you do that? Use movies or sitcoms or television shows or examples in his life to ask questions.
(20:00) I love that. In context, not making sort of a summit about it, but doing it in a context. As you say, when it comes to men, I always tell our female clients that, “Let’s pay attention to the actions,” which is just the words and what you just said encapsulated that.
Is Physical Attraction Important to Men or Women?
(20:26) Now let’s shift gears and let’s talk about some gender differences when it comes to a number of things we encounter in dating and relationships. One of which is the role of physical attraction in selecting partners. We all understand. We all have friends and the attraction is an important piece, but tell us, are there any gender differences with respect to that?
(20:52) Well, first of all, I should say that physical attraction or how a person looks is important to both men and women. When we look at why people choose who they do, both men and women, physical attraction and how they look, beauty, is important. That’s across the board.
However, women tend to underestimate the importance of physical attractiveness, and men overestimate the importance.
When you ask men and women like, “Give me the first 10 qualities that are important to you about who you date or who you have a relationship with,” men will put physical attractiveness up on the top, like in the first five. When you ask women, they put it down in the last five, if they even put it down.
I think that has a lot to do with what men and women learn, and cultures or different cultures about whether or not they should say or report that physical attractiveness or how a person looks is important.
I think women have been taught… again, not all women, not all cultures, but in general, women have been taught that they should rely on other things and they should rely on humor or if a man has a job or how much money he makes or is he emotionally mature. She, woman, puts that up higher, then physical attractiveness, lower.
Men on the other hand have been taught… again, in general, that physical attractiveness is more important, so he reports it at the top. But again, it’s important to both.
What do Men and Women Want Regarding Sex and Emotional Connection?
(23:37) When it comes to how sex relates to emotional connection, any gender differences there? Again, understanding the 80% and the 20%, but generally speaking, any gender differences relating to that?
(23:51) Well, I can look at the findings from my study. In general, as you said, about that 80%, the connection between sex and emotion is opposite for men and women.
When we look at the husbands, and these are husbands and wives, and they’re both heterosexual, obviously… or at least they report that they are, that the connection is opposite.
When we ask the women or the wives in our study, they report that they would like an emotional connection before they feel a physical connection or before they desire a physical connection. The women in the study will talk about how they want to talk to their husband or to their male partner. The more talk, the more they feel connected emotionally, the more amorous they feel, the more they want a physical or a sexual connection.
On the other hand, when we spoke to the males or when we speak and talk to the males, they’re the opposite. They say that oftentimes they will want a physical or a sexual connection in order to feel that emotional connection.
There was a particular couple that I always love to give a story about. The man had experienced a loss of a parent. When he went to his wife, he told her that he wanted sex so he could feel better about this loss. She reports… because we have the couples tell stories of their relationship and how they feel with one another. She said that when he came to her after the death of a parent and he wanted sex, she was surprised and almost shocked, and she said, “Honey, can we talk about how you are expressing this loss and how you’re grieving? Let’s talk about how you feel before we have sex.” He said, “I don’t want to. I want sex, because that’s the way that I feel a connection to you, and that I will feel better about the loss.” Such an illustrative example of the differences between men and women, at least in my study, on the connection between emotional connection and physical connection.
How do Men and Women Communicate Differently?
(26:57) Along those lines, what about communication style? Does the same trick play out in terms of differences between men and women when it comes to communication?
(27:09) Right. Well, there are gender differences. I like to always say, because we’re talking about all these gender differences, that as a psychologist, when we look at all kinds of social behaviors, there are not gender differences.
Research study after research study shows that when we look at all kinds of social behaviors, that there are more similarities than differences, but when it comes to relationships, I think we still find all of these gender differences.
It’s not like there are gender differences between men and women on all kinds of topics and areas in psychology. But in terms of relationships, we continue to find these gender differences.
There is a wonderful communications studies scholar called Deborah Tannen, and she talks about these gender differences between men and women when it comes to relationships. In my study, I confirmed what she found, and I can talk about that in a second, but first, let’s talk about Deborah Tannen’s research.
She finds that when we look at men and women, men tend to do what we call report talk. They tend to talk to others in relationships as if they’re describing information and they’re giving information like a report, “This happened, that happened, that didn’t, this did.”
Whereas when we look at women’s communication style in terms of relationships… and this is, by the way, relationships in general, not just romantic relationships, women tend to do what we call rapport. “I want to gain a connection with you, so I’m going to tell you about my emotions. I am going to try to ask you questions and gain a connection.” It’s report talk versus rapport talk. I was fascinated by these gender differences.
In my study, as we looked at the couples over time and the singles over time, we asked them also about their communication style. We had them talk to a partner, if they were with a partner, and looked at then the different styles. Among the married couples over time, we confirmed that men did report talk and women did rapport talk, and it was fascinating. They would talk about when they first met and became a couple.
The man would talk about where they met and what they ate and about the server and about looking around in the restaurant or the coffee shop or on a picnic, and the women instead, would talk about the conversation that they had with him, the emotions that she felt when she first met him and she talked to him, and how she went home and what happened afterwards and what she felt. We confirmed that men did report talk and women did rapport talk, which was fascinating.
(30:41) It is absolutely fascinating. Yes, it really is. It’s one of those where, this education in this is so very important because if you don’t have it, you always think something’s wrong with your relationship. Women almost expect guys to be more like their girlfriends, and same with guys. Their women demand far greater than their guy friends. It’s very interesting.
(31:12) Exactly. I get a lot of my clients too, saying, if they’re a heterosexual woman that they didn’t like the male date. That he should have been more emotive. He should have asked more questions.
And the same with my male clients, “She was too emotional. She didn’t answer all of his questions. She wanted to talk about her emotions, her connections to other people.”
I think understanding that gender difference, and that it has to do with the gender rather than the person, is so very important.
How do Men and Women Handle Conflict in Relationships Differently?
(31:56) Now, between what you spoke of with respect to the sex relating to emotional connection as well as the communication differences, I imagine this is one place where processing conflict becomes an important skill in a relationship. Any differences between men and women with respect to how we process conflict?
(32:25) Yes. I think this is my most important, and the finding in my study that I liked the most, Jasbina, is that there are differences between men and women in terms of processing conflict.
What we found following these couples over time is that women like to analyze conflict for at least two to three days, whereas men do conflict, they let it go and they’re onto the next topic or next issue.
I can say that we did an exercise with the men and women separately. We had the men and women come into the laboratory and we asked them three questions;
- when was the last time you had conflict?
- Second, what was the topic?
- And third, is it settled?
We would have the husbands come in, and in general, again, the husbands would have a hard time figuring out what was the last time I had conflict, “Oh, I think it was last Tuesday. The topic was who would let out the dogs or who would empty the dishwasher and it’s all over. It’s been a few days; I have not even thought about it and we settled it.”
The husband would leave, and the wife of the husband would come in and she would automatically say, “Yesterday at 2:00 PM. Here’s the topic.” She would give detail after detail. But the most important thing she would say is that the conflict or disagreement is not resolved, “I’m continuing to think about it.”
Men and women have different meanings about conflict, and they process the conflict very differently, and we see this in all kinds of relationships. It’s not just romantic relationships. We would ask the men and women about conflict with friends, conflict with in-laws, conflict with work colleagues, and the same kinds of gender differences would occur, that women are continuing to analyze it.
I would say I’m just like that. I like to process the conflict and think about it, “What did I say to my best friend? Should I have said something differently? Should I go back and say something to her?” It’s in all relationships, women process conflict differently than men.
Tips to Handle Conflict in Relationships
(35:22) So fascinating. Now that we know this, what do we do with it? Are there any tips to deal with these differences when you think about it in terms of processing conflict?
Are there any tips that men and women… Okay, I know that, but now what do I do with that? How can I work around that? Any suggestions, any tips for that?
(35:42) Well, I think the first really important tip is:
- to understand the gender differences and that they exist, because if the gender differences occur and we’re a man or a woman, and we’re hoping that our partner processes conflict like us, then we’re going to get frustrated, then we’re going to get disappointed and upset. We know that frustration eats away at happiness in a relationship. Understanding and expecting those differences is the first really important tip, again, because that then doesn’t lead to frustration and then a decrease in happiness.
- Second, I think an important strategy is to know that when your partner is different than you, that then you can understand that partner’s perspective. If you’re a heterosexual male and your female partner comes to you after two days and says, “I want to discuss what we were disagreeing about two days ago,” you might breathe and think before you say anything, “What were we disagreeing about two days ago?” Because if you automatically say, “What! What were we disagreeing about?” rather than thinking about it and taking a few seconds, your partner is going to be upset. Understand that they’ve been processing it for almost two days. They’ve been thinking about it. You haven’t, but they have.
Opposite to that, if you’re a heterosexual female, and your male partner comes to you, or you go to your male partner and say, “I want to talk about what we were disagreeing about two days ago, “and they say to you, “What were we disagreeing about?” It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t important to them. Remember that they are processing conflict and disagreements differently. It’s all about communication and understanding.
I think that miscommunication occurs a lot, that we interpret something in our framework, our approach differently, but it doesn’t mean that they meant it or interpret it how we interpret it, if that makes sense.
(38:26) Absolutely. The interpretation more so than the actual event. You know what else that your tip seems to reflect is, it’s almost a difference in… well, whether it be a difference in relationship needs or just addressing relationship needs, even if you don’t share it.
Most Common Relationship Expectations and Needs of Men and Women
(38:45) Building on that, any gender differences between what men and women generally or fundamentally need from their partners? But you understand that all men are not the same, all women are not the same, but in terms of gender, any differences in what their needs might be?
(39:07) Well, I think if we’re talking about needs being expectations, like their ideal notions of what should be in a relationship, we actually did not find any gender difference.
- Number one is trust, and that was true for men and women. That need for a partner to be trustworthy and reliable, and at least honest and predictable, was so important to both men and women. That was fascinating.
- On the other hand, most individuals, most people, most partners don’t know what they need, as you even suggested right now. It’s so important for people to identify their own needs or expectations. I encourage all the listeners to do this. Just ask yourself, if you could think about an ideal relationship, what do you expect? What do you need to be there? I would identify your top two expectations or needs, and then share it with your partner so that they know your needs and expectations, or even as you are dating someone, share those needs over time.
- And then ask them (your partner)… number three, what are their needs or expectations?
Because what I found in my study over time is that:
- there were no gender differences, one.
- Second, that partners do not have to be similar in terms of their needs or expectations,
- but three, knowing your partner’s needs or expectations were significantly… or that was significantly predictive of who stayed together and who did not.
When you can say, “I know my partner needs X or my partner expects Y,” that predicts who stays together and who doesn’t over time.
Men are More Romantic than Women
(42:32) Right. Well, let’s go back to getting in these relationships. What does science, what does your study say about who is generally more romantic women, men, any findings there?
(42:48) Yeah. Well, this is very surprising again. When we look at other studies, as well as my study, what we found is that men generally are more romantic in their beliefs than women. I think many people out there, I would say the majority of people out there think the opposite.
It’s really a myth that women are more romantic in their beliefs than men, because when we look at studies, that myth is dispelled.
What we find is that men are more romantic in terms of; they’re more likely to believe in love at first sight. Then women, they’re more likely to believe that love conquers all, and men are more likely to believe that you need love to have a commitment, and I’m not talking about lust, because everybody comes back and says, “Well, of course, lust.” I’m talking about love. Men in general, when we look at beliefs, not behaviors, but beliefs, tend to be more romantic.
(43:58) I love that distinction between belief and behaviors. I actually see that in our men. I see that yearning for that. That is so interesting that science really bears out what we see anecdotally. I love that.
(44:18) I think it goes back to the issue of dealing with conflict as well or problems. I think if you believe that love conquers all, if you’re having conflict or a disagreement, I think that’s why men can do conflict and then let it go and go on to the next, because in general, they believe that love conquers all, and so I still love you. I’m still okay in the relationship, let’s go forward.
Whereas women, I think in general, want to address the conflict, want to figure out the disagreement so that they can continue to feel good and love in the relationship.
(45:10) Oh, that is fascinating. Well, we could go all over with this, but that actually sort of speaks to men actually. The commitment, I think some women have a misunderstanding where they think men are commitment phobes, can’t commit, but actually that shows a pretty high degree of commitment to your relationship.
Some of us like this idea of we were meant to be, and love conquers all, and we’re in this for the long-term, that is commitment. That’s fascinating. I love that.
Men Fall in Love Faster than Women
(45:58) Let’s talk about falling in love actually. Did your study find anything there in terms of… do men or women tend to fall in love faster?
(46:03) Yeah, my study along with other studies have shown that men tend to fall in love faster than women.
As women, we are much more selective in who we give our love to. We’re cautious, but once we fall, we fall, we fall hard as women, but again, men fall faster.
As we follow these couples over time, as we followed the singles over time, men will report that they’re in love faster, and women will wait, they’ll check the boxes. Then after the men have been checked on the boxes, and again, I’m studying heterosexual women and men, then they will report that they love, which is fascinating, because, again, I think if you asked most people out there, they would say that women fall in love faster than men.
Does Science Support Matchmakers Showing Pictures?
(47:07) I want to find two more things out if we can. Let me ask you about navigating those first couple of dates. This is in the matchmaking space, in terms of showing pictures, is a big question. What does science say about seeing a date’s picture before the date, seeing prospective date’s picture? Does science have of anything to say about any pros and cons to that?
(47:41) Well, I think science would not suggest that you show a date’s picture before you set up a date. I understand that is not how people work in terms of most people wanting to see what someone looks like and…
(48:01) Well, we work that way. I’m going to cut that. We work that way, so I want to find out why, because we work that way, largely because of what you said, but I want to hear it from you. Why does science say that? Why are they saying, “Maybe don’t show the picture if you want to go pure science route.”? Why does science say it?
(48:21) Because I think science says that when you show a picture, it sets some certain expectations, and when you set up certain expectations and then you go out on a date, you don’t see all the information in front of you in the same way, and this is called the confirmation bias.
That’s when we see someone and we form an impression, we form expectations, then we only see what will confirm our initial expectations and our initial impressions so that we don’t see things that maybe we should see. We don’t see things that maybe are not good about this person or are not compatible with us. That sets up a situation where perhaps in the future, we are bound to get frustrated and disappointed, and we are bound to then get in relationships with people who might not be compatible, but who we didn’t see the signs, the red flags early, because of that seeing of a picture.
Why You Should Almost Always Go on a Second and Third Date
(49:49) What does science say about the pros and cons of going on a second or third date when you just don’t know if you feel the sparks on the first date? Does science have anything to say on that one?
(50:00) Well, that’s a hard question, Jasbina. But in terms of my own research, I would say that you should go out on a second or third date, that relationships grow and develop over time.
- First of all, people can be nervous on first dates, right? People cannot bring their best selves to the first date. I always encourage people then to give people a second chance or a third chance.
- Second, I think that relationships can develop as you get to know more about that person. I know chemistry is important. I know physical attraction is so important and you have to feel the chemistry, but sometimes you want to find what is below the physical person. You want to know their values. You want to know what they do. You want to know how they’re compatible with you.
Those are the things that predict a happy, healthy relationship over time. Sometimes chemistry can occur on a second or third date because you learn you are compatible, because humor comes out, because you have common compatibility. That needs to either develop or occur as you ask more questions over time.
(51:47) I so appreciate you sharing your valuable insights with us. How can the listeners find you if they’d like to learn more? How can they do so?
(51:58) My website is drterrithelovedoctor.com, and that’s all one word. Thank you so much for having me on your program, Jasbina. I loved talking to you.