The Power of Curiosity

The Power of CuriosityCuriosity is powerful. Especially in relationships.

What happens when you cultivate a deep sense of curiosity about the people you interact with?

Well, let me ask you, have you ever talked to a psychic? I don’t mean a real psychic, or even a money-grubby fake. I mean a regular person who is constantly convinced they know what you’re thinking and feeling before you’ve told them.

I’ve had a few friends like that. Talking to one of them about something important is an exercise in frustration. As soon as I’m done describing a dilemma or challenge, they start telling me what they think I’m “actually feeling.” Then, under the false impression they’re helping, they push me to explore “the real issue.”

Most of the time they don’t even have a firm understanding of what’s going on, and they are almost never right about my feelings. How could they be? They haven’t taken the time to listen.

But when you’re close to someone, it’s easy to fall into that trap.

All of us develop the ability to “read” the people we interact with daily, like our partners, close friends, and family. The more time you spend with someone, the more natural it feels to “predict” their feelings based on what you know about them.

So when your best friend has had another bad date or your partner’s boss has irritated him again, the temptation is to assume it’s the same song, new verse.

We’ve heard it before, we tell ourselves. So we assume we already know what’s going on. But there are two major flaws with that assumption.

The first is this. There’s no guarantee you’re right.

The only way to know where another person is coming from is to hear them out. Handing out advice or opinions without all the information is a surefire way to derail communication.

It’s much better to listen first.

But what about the times you are right? Is it okay to play the mind-reader then?

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How to Keep the Spark Alive in Your Relationship

How to Keep the Spark Alive in Your RelationshipRelationships get boring.

It’s inevitable. You’re with the same person. You do the same things.

And that’s exactly what you wanted when you got together. Security. Stability. No nasty surprises.

But our craving for constancy comes at a very big price:

We give up novelty.

We get just one person. One relationship. No refunds or exchanges.

Imagine having to give up every outfit in your wardrobe but one. You can pick your favorite outfit, but you have to wear it every day. How do you think you’ll feel in a week? Will you still love it as much as you did when you chose it?

Human beings crave novelty just as much as they crave constancy.

We want things to be the same but different. We want what we’ve always had, but we also want what we’ve never tried.

The pleasure of novelty is obvious in the beginning of a relationship when everything is new and wonderful.

For many couples, it will never be that exciting again. Even their tenth wedding anniversary can’t compare to that first date when they were both so nervous and excited and hopeful.

It’s the same way with clothes. You might even say that your pleasure in a new outfit declines from the moment you plunk down your credit card to pay for it. Now it’s just another garment hanging in your closet. The novelty is gone.

Relationships must find the perfect balance between the poles of constancy and novelty. Go too far one way, and it gets boring. Go too far the other way, and it becomes unpredictable.

How can you maintain that balance? Here are three suggestions.

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Why a Bad Day Can Make You Hate Your Relationship

Why a Bad Day Can Make You Hate Your RelationshipTwo questions:

  1. How are you feeling right now?
  2. If you’re in a relationship, do you think you’ll be happy with your boyfriend in a year’s time?

Most of us would assume these questions have nothing to do with one another.

After all, how you feel at this very moment is irrelevant to how you think you’ll feel about your boyfriend in a year. Right?

Wrong.

A classic study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology[1] found that people report greater satisfaction with their lives when the weather is nice or when they’ve been thinking about something happy.

As everyone on vacation knows, life looks better when it’s sunny and hot.

How we feel right now also affects how we think we’ll feel about the future.

If someone interviewed you right after you’d had a particularly nasty argument with your boyfriend, you’d probably express serious doubts about your long-term compatibility. Spend the rest of your life with this monkey? Not likely.

But if someone interviewed you right after a Valentine’s Day in which your boyfriend pulled out all the stops, you’d probably have a decent idea about what style of wedding dress you want and how many guests you’ll invite.

Knowing this gives us some fairly important information about what not to do in relationships.

Don’t decide to marry your partner on the spur of a moment, just because you’ve had the most amazing weekend away with him.

Don’t break up in the middle of an argument, just because he’s made you mad.

In fact, try to avoid making any long-term decisions when you’re in the midst of strong emotions, because how you feel in the moment could prejudice your view of the future.

And feel free to use this psychological trick on him.

If you want to ask him something that involves a future commitment, wait to ask until he’s in a stellar mood. The better he feels, the more likely he is to say yes.

(All children know this trick. They save their big requests for when Mommy and Daddy are in a good mood.)

But there’s something else I need to show you. How we feel about the present also affects how we feel about the past.  Let me point out why this matters in your relationship.

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Don’t Let Social Media Wreck Your Relationship

Don’t Let Social Media Wreck Your RelationshipSome couples look so good on Facebook.

You know they’re happy.

They post sweet little comments on each other’s pages. They’re snuggled tight in their profile pics. Each time they go off to the beach or the mountains, a photo slideshow pops up the next day.

It’s enough to drive anyone jealous.

The worst thing is, researchers confirm that couples who look good on Facebook are probably happy in real life, too.[1]

Couples who go official on Facebook are more likely to be satisfied in their relationship than couples who prefer to keep their relationship status private. It’s true: when you’re in love, you want the whole world to know.

Researchers can even predict the strength of a relationship from examining Facebook profiles. They look for clues like couple photos, affectionate comments, and a coupled-up relationship status.

But there’s one little problem…

Facebook can expose the cracks in a relationship, too.

Couples counselors and divorce lawyers are well acquainted with the havoc Facebook makes of relationships.

It often starts when an ex or a former flame makes a friend request. You don’t think anything of it. After all, it was so long ago, and you’re keen to find out what they’re doing now. But your significant other notices. Jealous creeps in. Arguments ensue.

Before social media arrived on the scene, it wasn’t always easy to avoid an ex, but it certainly wasn’t impossible. Once you got into a new relationship, you knew to delete your ex’s contact details and throw out all old memorabilia—or at least hide it in a box in the back of the closet. You didn’t shove your past in your new boyfriend’s face.

But if happy couples post photos of each other on Facebook, what happens when they decide to go their separate ways?

The photographic evidence remains … unto eternity.

Once relationships have gone public on social media, they’re incredibly difficult to erase.

You could delete all your pictures of each other and ask him to do the same, but what if a friend took pictures of the two of you and tagged both your names? What about all those lovey-dovey posts dating back years?

Luckily, Facebook now offers the ability to untag yourself.  But exes emerging from a long-term relationship still face a mountain of work to clear themselves from association with one another.

It’s a no-win situation:

Couples who go public on social media reap the rewards of greater relationship satisfaction. But if they ever split, they face being reminded of the past at every turn, which could dampen the fun of any new relationship.

It’s up to you to close the doors on the past. Don’t give past relationships a second life by leaving their ghosts online.

Here are three tips specific to Facebook.

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