Why He Loves It When You Frustrate Him

Why He Loves It When You Frustrate HimPicture this.

You’ve got two dates lined up this week. Both are with equally handsome, accomplished, interesting men.

Bachelor #1 is the perfect gentleman. Your two hours together fly by. He asks for your number and promises to call.

Bachelor #2 is inconsistent. He acts interested in you one minute, then looks at his phone the next. After an hour, he tells you he has enjoyed getting to know you, but he has to leave. He looks deeply into your eyes and seems to be soaking you in for a few seconds. Then he hands you his phone and asks you to enter your contact details.

By the end of the week, you find yourself thinking about one of the men constantly. You keep wondering if he’s going to call.

Which man is it?

Bachelor #1 or #2?

Hold that thought. See what you think of my next question before I tell you the answer.

In the end, both men called you and arranged subsequent dates. Bachelor #1 showed up on time, and you had another wonderful evening together. Bachelor #2 ended up canceling on you but made up for it by taking you on a surprise date to a mysterious destination. You were amazed to find yourself flying on a hot air balloon over the countryside.

Now, which man is in your thoughts the most?

Steady, stable Bachelor #1…

Or unpredictable, exciting Bachelor #2?

You don’t have to be the kind of woman who likes bad boys to get swept up by one.

Unpredictability is exciting. It exerts a powerful pull. Not knowing the answer to the question, “Does he love me? Does he love me not?” keeps him on your mind.

You already know what Bachelor #1 is going to do. He’s going to call you when he says he will. He’s going to show up on time. But you don’t know what Bachelor #2 is going to do. He’s sending you mixed signals. Counterintuitively, that makes him more attractive.

Dr. Helen Fisher calls this “frustration attraction.” Inconsistent rewards ramp up interest, whereas predictability kills it.

You might compare it to gambling. Given that so many people lose the money they gamble, you’d expect to see a lot of frustrated people walking out of casinos, vowing never to return. Instead, the rare experience of winning erases all those bad memories of losing.

It’s the same in dating.

Winning his full, undivided attention feels so good that it erases all those bad memories of feeling frustrated.

So frustration isn’t the deterrent you’d think it would be. Rather, it transforms an otherwise average guy into a prize to be captured.

No wonder bad boys and girls who play hard to get are so successful. As Oscar Wilde wrote, “The essence of romance is uncertainty.”

So what can you do to protect yourself … and get a little of that frustration magic for yourself?

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One Argument Trap That’s Easy To Avoid

One Argument Trap That’s Easy To AvoidYour brain is programmed to have a very specific reaction to fear. That reaction can save your life. But it can also wreck your relationships.

Let’s take a quick trip back in time.

Imagine you lived thousands of years ago, long before the world was civilized. Life was considerably more perilous. In order to survive, you had to be ready for danger literally all the time.

These days, a saber-toothed tiger isn’t going to make a snack pack of you on the way to work. That’s not how the modern world works. And yet, the primitive fear reaction that allowed your ancestors to pass down their genetic code to you is still active in your brain.

Which is often inconvenient. Like, for example, when there’s an argument with someone you care about.

Conflict has a way of triggering FEAR. And while romance is (hopefully) mostly carefree, there are definitely moments when intimacy can be scary.

When those moments pop up, a specific part of your brain goes into overdrive: the amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for several things, but it serves as an instant on-switch for fear.[1]

When we feel afraid, the amygdala kicks into high-gear.  That elicits a response that psychologists refer to as “fight, flight or freeze.”[2]

When the amygdala goes into action, high-level reasoning SHUTS DOWN. This is known as an “amygdala hijack.”[3] The results make for horrible communication.

An amygdala hijack completely destroys any chance of productive dialogue. Some people fight harder. Some people just shut down. Some even physically run away, leaving the room and refusing to re-engage.

No one is immune to this, no matter how level-headed they are otherwise. The worst communication mistake you can make is to try to communicate while either of you are in the middle of an amygdala hijack.

Amygdala hijacks are going to happen, but they don’t have to wreck your relationship. There’s a simple, three-step plan you can use to handle them well. And the beautiful part is, it works every single time.

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How To Be Less Self-Conscious

How To Be Less Self-ConsciousSophie plopped herself down in a chair. “I did it again,” she announced.

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Sabotaged myself. Completely wrecked a promising encounter with a cute guy.”

I waited for her to say more. I noticed how small she seemed with shoulders slumped…as if she was shrinking away from life. Her dazzling smile hidden behind the clouds.

Sophie was fun, smart, attractive, the whole package. But she didn’t always present her best self, to put it mildly.

“So I was at home, and there was this knock at the door. I got up and opened it, and there was this cute guy standing there. Seriously cute. With those kind, crinkly eyes I go crazy for. I thought Prince Charming dropped out of the sky, you know?”

Sophie continued, “He was asking for my neighbor. He must have got the house number wrong. I told him where to go, and he took a step back. Then he paused! He looked around and told me what a beautiful house I had. I was like, yes! Clearly he was looking for a reason to keep talking to me.”

“That’s a good thing, right?” I asked.

“Wrong. Because I started to get panicky. I realized I was wearing my worst sweatshirt, I hadn’t done my makeup, and my face was all shiny. If Prince Charming drops on your doorstep, you want to look your best.”

“So what?” I said. “He’d already seen you. What he saw must have made a favorable enough impression.”

Sophie sighed. “That’s the kind of thing I knew you’d say.  And it’s the kind of thing I only think of after the fact. Long story short, I started to panic. I have no idea what I said to him, only that I was probably babbling like some crazy woman. He left, and I was actually grateful. I was so embarrassed.”

Most of us have had an experience or two like that, when we really wanted to impress someone but started to panic instead.

It’s natural to feel self-conscious when you put yourself out there. Who doesn’t feel self-conscious before an important presentation or entering a crowded room of strangers?

But for Sophie, self-consciousness wasn’t an occasional thing. It was a habit. Every time she felt any hint of attraction, she immediately went into self-judgment. She could feel her brain freeze. Instead of enjoying herself, all she could think of was how she must be coming across.

Common wisdom tells us to deal with self-consciousness by reminding ourselves that people pay half as much attention to us as we think. The only person tracking our every move is us.

Sounds great, but self-consciousness is remarkably impervious to logic. Sophie knew she shouldn’t be so self-conscious, but she couldn’t reason herself out of an instinctive reaction.

How could she break this self-sabotaging habit?

Here’s what I suggested:

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When to Trust Your Intuition in Romance

When to Trust Your Intuition in RomanceHow much do you trust your intuition?

In our culture, we talk a lot about women’s intuition. A number of my clients have even told me that influential women in their lives encouraged them to always trust their intuition.

Here’s the picture we tend to paint.

Men rely on reason. Their raw logic. Women, on the other hand, are more tuned into subtle clues. They use their intuition to feel their way through difficult situations—with grace and strength, of course.

Personally, I don’t like making those kinds of assumptions based on gender. But the idea that women rely on intuition is pretty strong in our culture.

So much so that Marilyn Monroe once said, “A woman knows by intuition, or instinct, what is best for herself.” While intuition can be good, it’s not completely reliable.

That’s because intuition is a complicated thing.

Your brain is like a really advanced supercomputer. It processes some things way faster than you can articulate them. What we call “intuition” is really just your brain working quickly, and recognizing patterns outside of your conscious awareness.

And more often than not, your intuition is right. But what about the times when it’s wrong?

In a recent study, a group of researchers set out to understand what happens when intuition leads us astray. They found that when intuition is wrong, it only makes things worse.

As one of the researchers explained, “. . . people who strongly trust their gut instincts tend to harshly condemn moral transgressions, and they do not change their point of view even after thinking about the issue.”

In other words, if you put a lot of faith in your intuition, it can make you close-minded. When you’re wrong, you won’t be likely to see it. That can really mess with a relationship.

So what do you do? If intuition is almost always right, you don’t want to ignore it. But you don’t want to trust it completely, either.

The key is finding the right balance. Follow three simple guidelines to get the biggest romantic boost out of your intuition . . . without getting bit in the behind.

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