Post image for Dating Advice from a Psychologist

Dating Advice from a Psychologist

by Maryann Pisano on February 5, 2011


The information presented in this website and the comments from Dr. Hughes are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or psychological disorder. The information presented is not a substitute for medical, psychological or psychiatric treatment. You are advised to seek professional medical and psychological help as necessary.

What does it mean when a woman is sending you signals that she likes you (ex: very open, physical and flirty) but still refers to you as a “friend”?  What does this mean?


Dear Eric–some girls (like some guys) enjoy the playing the game more than winning it.  Although people have different motivations for this kind of behavior, here are 3 potential reasons:

1.  The girl really likes attention from the opposite sex, so she is simply very flirty with everyone, all the time.  Why make you her boyfriend when she can have this kind of dalliance with lots of guys?

2.  She may feel very close to you, but the only way she knows how to show “closeness” is by sexualizing her behaviors.  She may not know any other ways to show she cares.

3.  She may want to keep you interested in her, and has discovered that being flirty does just that.  She may be using you as a back-up date or for when she’s really lonely.

Bottom line….stop worrying about her behavior toward you and think about how you feel about her, knowing this is what she is doing.  Be in charge, Eric!

Why does the “honeymoon” phase end?  When does it normally happen and what can we do to limit its affect?


Dear Ryan–based on biological research, it has been determined that the intense period of that feeling of love and sexual attraction tends to last about 3 years.  This is thought to be due to our instincts to procreate; 3 years is enough time to replace ourselves on this earth.  Though this may be interesting to think about, in reality, the “honeymoon” phase varies from couple to couple.  Some people still see stars after 20 years, others only last 20 days.  The trick to sustaining this feeling of love is twofold:  reflect upon all the things in the other person that you initially found so appealing, while at the same time, be open to learning and experiencing new things as a couple.  The combination of feeling secure and comfortable with the known coupled with excitement and mystery of the unknown is a good start.

What conditions or factors usually lead up to “falling in love”?  What kind of environment is most effective for falling in love?


Dear Aaron–the number one reason people fall in love is…….drum roll……PROXIMITY!  That means, the closer you are to someone, physically, the more likely you are to fall in love.  So yes, you are more likely to fall deeply in love with your next door neighbor than you are to fall in love with someone across town.  Aside from that, certain situations can affect relationships.  Very intense situations where emotions are fueled by adrenaline can influence feelings of love.  For example, people who go through traumatic events as a group often form extremely strong, unbreakable bonds with one another.  Are you looking for love?  Sign up to volunteer for a place that has been through a natural disaster.  After a few long days facing overwhelming need with limited resources you may find your soul mate among the volunteers.

Is it important to date someone of your own ethnicity?  What are the positives/ downfalls?


Dear Jim– If you feel that your ethnicity is a huge part of your identity and something that you feel strongly about having in a mate, then yes, it is extremely important.  If, on the other hand, you have other important defining factors and ethnicity is not your primary concern, then being with someone who doesn’t share your heritage can be an opportunity to expand your world view.  No matter what your true thoughts are on this topic, if you are considering entering into a permanent relationship (i.e., marriage) then there are often other variables to consider.  Your families may be supportive or they may object.  There may be religious differences that will become important should you have children together. Be sure to consider all the ramifications of any big decisions; even if ethnicity is not an issue for you, if your union results in your losing your entire family, you may need to think it through to be sure you are ready to face the future.

Why do I get annoyed with a man who is kind and does everything for me?  Why am I attracted to a guy who is the opposite?


Dear Nicole—get thee to a therapist!  You may have very low self esteem where your comfort zone includes negligence and emotional pain, not someone nice and accommodating.  You may have a mistrust of men so that you disbelieve kindnesses (they may even make you nervous!) and feel strangely at peace when they are unkind.  You may have a notion that someone gentle must be a loser and that someone nasty must be cool.  You may see kindness as insecurity and arrogance as confidence.  Anyway, kudos to you for noticing your trend and questioning your behaviors.  A good therapist can help you sort this out so you can make the best choices for yourself.

Dr. Carsi Hughes received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Northwestern University Medical School.  She is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in adult psychopathology, clinical neuropsychology, and psychoanalytic psychotherapy.  Academic appointments include Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology and Post Baccalaureate Pre-Medical Studies at Dominican University.


{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Aaron February 7, 2011 at 12:06 am

Really good answers to really interesting questions. I learned a lot from this, thanks!


Grace Joy February 7, 2011 at 12:52 am

What is love? (Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me… no more)

How is the “honeymoon” phase different from being in ‘actual’ love? If it varies from couple to couple (since some can be in it for 20 years, and others, 20 days), then how can one tell if he/she is still in this phase or not? What’s after this phase?


Leonard Marks July 3, 2012 at 5:27 pm

great post


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: