How Dating Inevitably Changes You

How Dating Inevitably Changes YouDo you ever wonder what would be different in your life if you hadn’t dated the men you’ve dated? Do relationships actually change who we are?

If you’re a fan of the TV show Parks and Recreation, you may remember Ann’s dating adventures in the third season. She decided to just have fun and date a bunch of different people. So far so good.

But with every new boyfriend, she started behaving differently. At one point she showed up at Leslie’s office wearing a literal cowboy outfit. Eventually, Leslie (being a good friend) told her she was going overboard, changing too much to accommodate the guys she spent time with.

But that’s a TV show. That’s not real, is it?

A recent study suggests it may be closer to the truth than you’d think. Researchers from the University of Connecticut wanted to understand what happens to couples when one half of the couple loses weight.

Turns out, if one person decides to shed some pounds, their partner tends to follow suit—even if the partner doesn’t intentionally go on a diet! “The concept is called the ripple effect,” Amy Gorin, Associate Professor in Psychological Sciences, said. If you get healthier, your guy is likely to get healthier, too.

You already know where this is headed. The opposite also happens. If one person adopts bad habits, so does the other.

We’re heavily influenced by the people around us. Especially the people we date. And we have the power to influence them right back.

That’s a hard pill to swallow for some. It can be uncomfortable to accept that other people change who you are. But I want to encourage you to lean into this truth instead of pushing back against it.

If you accept that you have a lot of influence over your man and he has a lot of influence over you, you can use that fact in some pretty powerful ways. It can even make you a stronger couple.

Want to know how? I can tell you.

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What’s Your One Non-Negotiable Thing?

What’s Your One Non-Negotiable Thing?Jillian met Matt rock-climbing. It was a match made in heaven. Six months later, they’d moved in together and were on their way to happily ever after.

Except, one year later, Jillian was no longer all that happy.

She loved Matt. She still believed he was the One. But she didn’t always enjoy living with him.

In fact, if she were honest, she didn’t enjoy their life together a lot of the time.

“I’m always cleaning up after him. I feel like his mother. He doesn’t treat me like I’m special anymore, you know? I just want him to put some effort in.”

Jillian was hoping I could change Matt. She thought he’d listen to me.

What she wasn’t expecting was my advice to her.

“What’s the one thing you do for yourself?” I asked her.

“Me?” Jillian was startled. “I don’t know. Maybe shopping? Sometimes I splurge.”

“That’s great, but I was thinking more about something you do on a daily or weekly basis. Something you do just because you want to do it.”

“Well, I used to go climbing,” Jillian mused. “But now everything is organized around the climbs Matt wants to do.”

“Any hobbies you enjoy but Matt doesn’t?”

“Well, I used to ride my bike occasionally, but Matt doesn’t have a bike. I guess I used to read more, but now we watch TV in the evenings.”

I nodded. “So, you used to do things on your own, but since you became a couple you do everything together. Am I right?”

“Well, yeah,” Jillian said. “Of course. I mean, we’re a couple.”

I’d spotted the problem.

Jillian had fallen into a common trap. The trap of believing that being a couple means giving up your single pursuits.

This trap is so easy to fall into. When you finally find someone, who syncs with you completely, you want to spend all your free time together. You can’t get enough of each other’s company. Everything is more fun when you do it together.

And that’s fine in the early stages of dating. You don’t have all that much time together. You go home to separate beds, you both have jobs, and so you treasure the precious hours you have together.

But once you merge your lives, you can swing to the other extreme. Now you’re always together. You end up with too much of a good thing.

Counterintuitively, one of the most effective ways to keep the passion alive is not to be together 24-7 … but rather to build in a little distance from each other.

You need your “me” time. It’s non-negotiable.

Here’s how to get it.

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One change that can bring your relationship back to life.

One change that can bring your relationship back to life. When I was seven years old, I found an abandoned kitten in the road. She was missing an eye. And she was so skinny I thought she might die soon.

So naturally, I did what any seven-year-old boy would do in this situation. I took her home.

My parents said I couldn’t keep her. I’m sure they gave a logical explanation, though I can’t remember it now. I just remember feeling sad.

I carried her around outside. She looked up at my face and meowed in an earnest sort of way. I was convinced she was actually trying to talk to me.

The neighbor kids saw me carrying her around and came to investigate. Fortunately, their parents allowed me to leave the kitten with them. She would be an outdoor cat but they would feed her and I was welcome to visit as often as I liked.

She was clearly the runt of the litter. Apparently, the runt is often rejected by the mother in order to preserve her limited resources for her stronger, more viable offspring. Runts are not always rejected, but it’s more common among feral cats, like the one I found.

I’ve always had a soft spot for runts. Maybe because I was a bit of a runt myself.

I was the shortest person in my family. As a freshman in high school, I kept expecting my growth spurt to kick in at any moment. But it never did.

I just kept growing very slowly. By the end of my freshman year, some of my friends looked more like men than boys. I felt small and scrawny next to them.

But that summer, my older brother got his driver’s license, and I began tagging along when he went to a university fitness center (a perk of my dad’s job). A college football coach saw me there and probably took pity on me the same way I took pity on the runt of the kitten litter. He began to mentor me on the basics of strength training.

He would yell at his giant football players for a few minutes, then step over to me for a few seconds, gently pointing out my errors or recommending a different method.

I think he was impressed by the effort I was putting in. Though I never told him my true motivation. His football players were cool and all, but I just wanted to look like my childhood hero, He-Man.  

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A 10-Second Trick for More Love and Joy

A 10-Second Trick for More Love and JoyI’m about to share with you an exercise approved by the HeartMath Institute, a Google pioneer, Dr. David R. Hamilton, and the Dalai Lama.

This simple exercise takes just 10 seconds a day…

But those 10 seconds will have a far-reaching impact on your life.

You’ll feel inexplicably happier. You’ll look younger. And your relationships will never be the same.

Ready to give it a try? You can do it right now, while you’re reading this article.

(Don’t worry: I’m not going to ask you to do anything that will embarrass you. No one will even notice you’re doing this exercise, I promise.)

All you have to do is think of the man in your life.

If you’re not in a relationship, think about someone you’re interested in. You can even pick an ex you still have feelings for.

Got his mental picture in your mind? Great. Now think to yourself:

“I wish for [HIS NAME] to be happy.”

Feel that wish in your heart. You should feel something in your chest, perhaps a loosening or warm sensation.

That’s it! All done.

So what just happened when you did this exercise?

This exercise is a simplified form of the loving-kindness meditation, a Buddhist practice that goes back thousands of years.

It was originally developed to cultivate kindness, compassion, and goodwill towards all living things, but science has discovered that its benefits go far beyond the spiritual.

According to the HeartMath Institute, thinking of a loved one while focusing attention on your heart boosts levels of the anti-aging hormone DHEA.

Dr. David R. Hamilton found that the anti-aging benefits go even further. He points to a small study that showed regular practitioners of loving-kindness have longer telomeres, a biological marker of youth.[1]

It’s extraordinary. Wanting others to be happy can literally make you younger on a physiological level.

But those aren’t the only benefits. Wanting someone else to be happy can make you instantly happier, not to mention what it does for your relationship. Here’s how.

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