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Dating Advice from a Psychologist

by Maryann Pisano on April 25, 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.

This girl that I know keeps going back to her boyfriend that cheats on her.  To be blunt, he is the definition of a loser. What can be the reason that she stays with him?


There are many reasons why some girls consistently stay with someone who, by all accounts, is a “loser”.  Here are some possible reasons:

*The girl has very low self-esteem and feels that she wouldn’t be able to have a partner who treated them well anyway, so why bother trying?

*The girl has a history of being treated badly by men, which makes this kind of treatment within her normal comfort zone.  Nice guys would make her very uncomfortable because she’s never been treated like that before.

*The girl may believe that things that are easy (like a nice boyfriend) are somehow less interesting, less cool, or less worth it than things that are more difficult (like a dishonest boyfriend).

*The girl may be the kind of person that thinks she can change the boyfriend and make him faithful.  In her mind, if she can change him, the relationship would be even more special.

Why do women like to cuddle and men do not?


*Both men and women like to cuddle equally, some more than others, but unrelated to sex or gender.  In a general sense, cuddling  releases feel-good hormones (oxytocin) and some people have a greater need or want for this feeling than others.  Their needs and wants also vary depending upon what else is going on.  For example, for a woman who has been caretaking babies all day, having a lot of physical cuddly contact, they may be much more stand-off-ish when their partner wishes to cuddle later.  Similarly, if a man doesn’t want to cuddle immediately following a sexual encounter, it may be because his hormones are already overflowing and additional stimulation is too much.  As always, it’s best to know both your partner and the situation before jumping to conclusions!

What kind of body language and speech do women usually use when they are into you?  


This varies depending upon personality style.  For example, if the woman is interested, she may be therefore excited which comes across as nervous.  Some nervous women talk quickly and giggle.  Others get shy or quiet and may even appear arrogant.  One tell-tale sign that has been shown over and over again in research is that women who are interested in someone tend to TOUCH THEIR HAIR.  Seriously.  Some do a full hair flip, and others smooth the hair from their face or eyes.  Do your own observations and see what you think.

When someone is interested in me, I always find something wrong with them.  However, I always fall for guys that are out of reach.  Am I too picky or do I just fall for the wrong guys?  


Most women who have this dynamic in forming relationships are usually self-sabotaging their chances for success.  When you are attracted to someone who is out of reach (or attached, or married, or lives far away) then you are setting yourself up for a non-relationship.  The next question is….why would someone do this?  Well, it does have a benefit:  now when the relationship falls apart or doesn’t happen, there are many factors to blame.  If you become involved with someone who is available and a good fit and then it doesn’t work out….what’s to blame?  In that scenario, the default will be to blame yourself, which can be really painful.  So, in a way, you are protecting yourself from feeling bad by setting up a relationship that is doomed to fail for reasons other than yourself.  I encourage you to think this through and take some risks.  You are stronger than you think and the payoff of a real, lasting relationship will be worth it.

The “rule” is to wait three days after meeting a girl to call her.  Is waiting three days really relevant when trying to ask a girl out?  Would calling her before three days look too eager?


Where did this rule come from?  Somehow 3 days is the benchmark for seeming interested but not desperate?  Who says?  You need to do what feels right for you.   The timing of the call is not the important variable:  the content of the call is.  I always recommend that after meeting someone (particularly if it was at a party or bar where drinking is involved) to be in touch rather quickly if interested,  and propose a very low-stress, non-alcohol date as soon as possible.  The date should involve easy conversation and no distractions (no movies, museums, or cooking classes).  Meeting for a specified amount of time also takes the pressure off.  The best dates for getting to know someone early on are typically for coffee or something similar, over about an hour.  After that, you both can determine whether or not you’d like to pursue the relationship and making plans and being in touch should go much smoother.

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.

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