Science Advice Goddess: Heavy Settle
I'm a guy who falls into relationships too easily, ending up with women I'm not particularly interested in. I thought I had discriminating taste, but obviously my relationship track record says otherwise. How can I grow up and stop being so impulsive?
You're far from alone. People will insist they're highly "discriminating" in choosing partners -- and then move in with somebody on the third date. They, of course, portray this as the height of romance -- when it's really the height of "Hello?! You barely know this person...were you dropped on your head as a baby?"
We humans have a powerful longing to be in a long-term love thing, and probably because of that, we're far less choosy about romantic partners than we believe we are -- at every stage of a relationship. Social psychologist Samantha Joel finds we have a GO! GO! GO! bias in romantic relationships: a strong tendency to make decisions that move a relationship forward -- from the first night we meet our soon-to-be beloved to the 615th time they go all human nightmare on us.
People find all sorts of reasons to stay when every molecule of sense they have is screaming "FLEE!" Being in love is, obviously, a biggie, as is fear of being single (and the stigma that can go along). Breakups also become "logistically difficult" when partners' lives become "intertwined," through marriage, moving in together, or merging their groups of friends.
As for you, understanding that falling in love is often the twin of falling in an open manhole is a start. In the early stages, take it slow -- and sober. Meet for coffee for an hour, and have someplace to be afterward (and actually stick to that and vamoose). Avoid marathon calls and texts.
When you're into somebody, see whether they're a good fit by holding them up to your standards for a partner. Allyour standards. Don't just check the "she's hot" box and crumple up the list.
Finally, in a world where we all experience harsh challenges every day, like the Uber driver arriving five minutes late, it's easier than ever for people to contain their worst qualities. It might take you a year to know someone's true character. This suggests it's wise to hold off on "entwinements" (like sharing a pad) till you've seen enough to answer the unfun questions, such as, "Hmm...what's the likelihood I'll end up emotionally and financially eviscerated and then dumped in a ditch to be picked apart by buzzards?"
Female, 25, straight, single, and looking for a boyfriend on dating apps, as are my female friends. We're all wondering what's with these guys who post profile photos of themselves lying across the hood of a Lamborghini with their ridiculous greased abs on display. It's like the opposite of cool; it's immature and ostentatious and clueless and tacky. Seriously, is there reasoning behind this behavior? My friends all agree it's a major turnoff.
There's this notion (held by some men as well as some feminists) that men and women are just people with different funparts and "What men want, women want." Um, no. Note that you never hear dudes complaining to the bros, "Eew! So gross!" about getting unsolicited boob pics -- first, because they never get them, but if they did, it'd be like they caught the boobie leprechaun with the pot of nymphomaniac hotties at the end of the cul-de-sac.
Women seeking a relationship tend to be turned off by the conspicuous display of abs (versus a guy "inconspicuously" showing he's fit), and the display of the sick-expensive car is likewise a fail. Social psychologist Jill M. Sundie and her colleagues find a man's motivation to engage in "conspicuous consumption" -- flashy, wastefully extravagant displays of wealth -- is triggered by "short-term mating goals." In plain English: "Yeah, he wants a lasting relationship -- lasting from about 3 a.m. to sunup."
Women read this signal loud and clear -- which is why you boyfriend-seeking ladies are "grossed out." Guys will counter, "But wait...women like men with money!" Well, yeah, but there's some nuance to that. Women seeking more than a three-hour sex tour are primed by evolution to find a man who'll "invest" -- and not just in his "baby" (aka his 911 Turbo S): "Dylan, buddy, I know you need your tumor removed, but Daddy's rims are almost six months old!"
By the way, these flashy car pics could even be a fail for a guy hoping to target the hookuperellas on an app, because they often signal he's a liar. Twenty-two years old and ab-splayed across the hood of a Ferrari? The ladies know exactly what to look for. Yep...just zoom in on the photo for the clip-on bow tie and balled-up polyester valet vest -- right behind the back wheel of LeBron's car.
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com). Follow her on Twitter @amyalkon. Order her latest "science-help" book, "Unf*ckology: A Field Guide to Living with Guts and Confidence."