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Dr. Hughes Answers Your Dating Questions!

by Maryann Pisano on June 20, 2012


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.

Should you keep dating someone who tells you at the beginning that they never want to get married?


Well, this certainly depends upon a few things.  First, how old are you?  Your partner?  If you are both 12, I wouldn’t necessarily listen to a word either of you uttered.  If you are both over 25, that’s a different story.  The task here is to talk to your partner and ask, “What does marriage mean to you?  Why are you against it?  What could make you change your opinion of marriage?”  After you ask these questions, LISTEN TO THE ANSWERS.  You may be with someone that has seen failed marriages so is disillusioned, or perhaps you are with someone who doesn’t think that you need a piece of paper to be “married”, or maybe you’re with someone that never wants to marry YOU, but would marry someone else, or maybe they do not understand the benefits of marriage in our society.  After you start this conversation, you can evaluate your own position on marriage. Explain your reasons for wanting marriage—is it practical? emotional? Do you find yourself wanting a marriage….or simply a wedding? Ideally, you can have this adult conversation, know yourself and your partner, and see if you are well-matched. Simply having someone be “against” marriage and someone “for” marriage is meaningless until you really know what you’re both talking about.


What do girls expect from guys on a first date? How can you tell if a girl is a genuinely nice person?


Girls (and guys) pretty much expect the same things on a first date. A few guidelines: 1. Whoever does the asking should do the planning and do the paying. Period. Do not split the check. Do not make the person work for the date. You need to have a plan. If you go to dinner, choose the restaurant, and make a reservation. Of course, you can ask something like, “Do you like Thai food?” to avoid embarrassment, but don’t let the askee plan the date. 2. Do something that requires face to face talking. If you see a movie, most of your night will be a shared experience, but not a very productive date. Better to have a short activity or no activity. Coffee, a meal, always good options. 3. Prepare questions and ask them. It is so tempting to start yammering to a first date about all your interesting life events and family stories; however, the other person should be your focus. Let them talk. It has been shown that people feel more attraction toward those who facilitate conversation rather than those who simply talk about themselves. 4. Finally (do I even have to say this one?) dress up a little. This has nothing to do with style, it has everything to do with effort. Show the other person that you cared enough about the date to wear clean, matching clothes and have decent hygiene. A person who shows up in workout clothes is treating the date as an afterthought which makes the person feel like an afterthought. And people always, especially on a first date, remember how you make them feel more than what actually happens. And genuinely nice? Ignore how she treats you…watch how she treats others and what she says about others. Even if she’s nice to you, if she scoff’s at your waiter, complains about her friends, or tells story after story where she ridiculed someone, she is not nice.


Why do women get scared of being in a relationship after they’ve told you that they love you?


Well Mike, do you have a history of getting women to profess love to you and then running for cover? Neat trick! Not all women are like this, but some are of course. One likely reason is that they have mentally crossed a bridge in their mind: now you are in love. This may cause a woman to feel very insecure and suddenly start worrying about losing the love she just professed. This anxiety may come across as “being scared”. Before you were professing love, the loss of the relationship might not have been perceived as so painful. Now that love is on the table, the insecurities arise. Logically, this may be difficult to understand. But we’re talking love, not logic.


I think this girl likes me, but I’m not sure. How do I make the first move without looking like an idiot?


Who cares if you look like an idiot? Oh, I guess you do. Well then, here is an idea: pay attention to her. See what she likes, what interests her, what she does all day. Do not take this too far and become a stalker, just become more observant. Then you can approach her with some kind of conversation topic that, if interested, she can go with. If not interested, she can easily express that without your ever losing face. For example, if you notice she is always thumbing through fashion magazines, you can approach her one day and say, “Hey I need a new tie to go with my suit for my brother’s graduation. I’ve noticed you seem to know a lot about fashion. Can I show you the 2 I was looking at and get your opinion?” She can then interact with you for a very short time (i.e., “Pick the blue one”) or she can take this much further (i.e., “What’s your suit like? Can you bring in the jacket tomorrow? Do you want to stop by Nordstrom so I can help you pick one out?”). You get the idea.


How long should you date someone before asking them to marry you?


You should wait long enough so that you are certain they will say yes, provided that is the answer you seek. You will know this because you will have had conversations about love, marriage, commitment, and what each of those things mean to you. See #1, response to Sarah above.


Why do men feel the need to lie? What is their motive?


Both men and women lie and there may be several reasons. For most men who lie to women, especially those who seem to lie about inconsequential things, they are usually lying to avoid conflict. They feel that if they tell the truth, you will get upset and they don’t want that, so they lie. Of course, once you discover the lie, you are even MORE upset; however, they don’t see this that way. They see this as getting busted maybe 1/100X and that’s pretty good odds. If you are with a chronic liar, the best thing you can do is calmly let them know that you know they are not telling the truth and that you are OK with the truth. Over time, they may be able to change their behaviors, knowing that their lies are unnecessary and that the truth will not get them in trouble. Now if you are with a very serious liar who lies about their identity or history, that’s a different story. The motive is typically manipulation. These people are sociopaths. Get out.


What is your opinion of dating sites? Are they affecting the dating scene and are there different approaches on those sites versus real life?


Internet dating sites have really become commonplace. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages. Most strikingly, people can present themselves on a webpage very different than they are in real life. Photos can be different, written word is often much different from spoken word, and correspondence is typically monologue followed by monologue—not conversational. A person who writes a lovely email may have taken 2 hours to do so. Face to face, they may come across as stilted or quiet or inflexible. Before the internet (yes, there was a time before the internet) people met in person. There was still ample opportunitity for people to misrepresent themselves to some extent, however, it was much more difficult to do so than it is online. My opinion of internet dating applies to all the various forms of electronic communication out there: texting, twitter, facebook, etc. People contact others more and more yet somehow they are connecting with others less and less. Electronic communication allows for a wide range of interpretation of information and an unnatural dialog. Over time, I think we are going to see relationships deteriorate into abbreviations and MMS documentation. So if you start with online dating, fine. But get out there, meet people, have first dates (see above!), practice actually relating to others away from your smart phone, and you’ll be on your way.


Why do girls always go for “bad boys”? Why do nice guys finish last?


Nice Guy Rich: this isn’t entirely true. Perhaps you are discovering that the girls you like do not like you and that they prefer other, less-nice guys. Maybe they are trying to save the bad boy (what a special honor to be the girl who tames the lion!) or they want to feel extra special (what an honor to be the one girl he loves after the 35 he’s been with!) or maybe they like a challenge (what an honor to earn the love of the bad boy!) or maybe they somehow feel safe with the bad boy (what an honor to know your guy can stab someone else when he’s angry!). For you, Nice Guy Rich, stay nice, but do amp up your assertiveness. If you find yourself attracted to a girl and you quickly discover she likes “Bad Boys”, exit. Tell her that’s not you, wish her well, and go. That one bit of assertion has the potential to spark her interest!


Why do men love bitches?

-Maryann, me!

Oh Maryann….men love bitches? When did that happen? Some men do seem to attract to bitch women, but it’s not the bitchiness that’s attractive: it’s the aura of confidence and assertiveness. Many men do not like to work to hard in a relationship. Plan a date? Pul-eeze. Sense the moods of their girlfriend? Waaaay too hard. A “bitch” is often very direct. They tell you what they want, when they want it, and where to get it. No thinking required for the boyfriend at all. Bitches can get things done, they bring in energy, and they are often manipulative which can be both damaging and very attractive. So yes, for some guys, this is an ideal fit. Now Nice Guy Rich—-not so much! Maybe you and he should meet over coffee to discuss :)

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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