How Do I Know if I’m Really in Love?

Advice
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It's easy to confuse real love with infatuation. After all, in the first heady days of romance, you feel like you can walk on air. Your boyfriend/ girlfriend is perfect for you in every way. What's not to love about that? But once it fades and you're left with warm feelings instead of instant fireworks, does that mean you've fallen out of love? Or is there something else going on?

Unfortunately, most daters are quick to judge a relationship based on instant chemistry, and then wonder what happens down the road when the romance isn't so charged and things don't go quite the way they planned. The truth is, falling in love is different from physical attraction or even chemistry. It's about something deeper than that - something that holds on even if you no longer feel the intense passion.

But we're told from the time we're young that there is a Prince Charming, a perfect partner out there just for us. And so - whether we realize it or not - we bring these beliefs with us into our adult lives, believing we deserve and will find the Prince Charming who carries all of these wonderful qualities, with no faults or baggage of his own. This creates a problem - we're constantly comparing the real men we date with the ideal in our minds that is not realistic. After all, you aren't Cinderella either. How can you expect perfection and endless romance from anyone else? Eventually you realize that you don't have that amazing chemistry anymore, and he's not as attractive or charming or wonderful as you thought. So you think you're not really in love or you haven't met the right one. But this isn't necessarily the case.

And if you follow your passion, moving on from one romance to the next as soon as your current love fizzles? This is not an effective search for real love. Passion and romance are only the precursors to a deeper relationship that isn't based on physical connection and chemistry, but rather a deep understanding and a mutual desire to bring out the best in each other. You have to get to a stage of recognizing your partner's faults and understanding passion ebbs and flows. If you're chasing a feeling, you're in love with that feeling, and not the person. Falling in love takes time, understanding yourself, and commitment to seeing your relationship through the more difficult times as well as the good ones.

Most importantly, real love doesn't look for happiness in someone else. Real love is understanding that you create your own happiness. Instead of thinking your partner should alleviate your pain, anger, or hurt feelings, you take responsibility for your feelings and find healthy ways of dealing with them and healing yourself. We all create our own happiness, and the best relationships take this and share it with each other.

How Do You Gracefully Reject an Online Date?

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Online dating can take a lot of time and effort. In addition to posting your photos, writing your profile, and searching through matches, you can get a lot of emails or questions to sort through. It's almost necessary to be efficient.

So if someone emails you and you're not interested, what do you do? Do you ignore the email, sending it to the trash and hoping the person gets the hint and doesn't write again? Or do you respond, apologizing for your busy schedule and trying to delay any kind of initial meeting with more excuses? Sometimes worrying about what to do can take more time and energy than anything else.

Rejecting one of your online matches can be even more difficult if you've already had that first coffee date. Let's say you'd exchanged some emails, and the conversation was pleasant enough. But you just weren't interested - the chemistry wasn't there and you didn't want to go out with him again. Unfortunately, he had a different experience. He emailed you back right away, wanting to set up another date for the weekend, eager to see you again. You left the email sitting in your inbox, uncertain of how to gently let him down.

While rejection can be hard, it's a necessary part of online dating. Just be considerate and treat your matches with respect. You have to remember, this isn't a break-up. This is someone you just met, so there are no emotional ties to consider. And think about this: if someone you just met wasn't interested in you, wouldn't you rather know quickly so you could move on?

My suggestion: if someone took the time to read your profile and send you a thoughtful email, it's a good idea to respond. And if you've already been on a first date I think it's necessary. Keep your response brief and polite: "Thank you for your email/ it was nice to meet you, but I don't think we're a good match. Good luck with your search." You don't have to respond with more information than that, or an apology, or an excuse for why you feel this way. You don't want to leave the door open for conversation.

Remember, try not to take online dating so personally. It's a way to meet new people, but it doesn't mean that you'll click, get along with, or even understand most of the people you meet. Rejection is part of the process, so remember to let your dates know how you feel (firmly but kindly). Also, don't get down on yourself if someone else rejects you. It's not a reflection of who you are, it's that you didn't click with a particular person. Take heart and move on.

Is He Interested in a Relationship or Just Hooking Up?

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Sometimes it's hard to read someone else's intentions. So for the most part, you make assumptions based on past experiences. And if you've had a few disappointing dates, or met men who have only been interested in hooking up rather than starting a relationship, it's easy to jump to the conclusion that the date sitting across from you is after the same thing.

Most people are looking for chemistry when they date, and the majority of daters are more interested in finding a long-term relationship than just a casual fling. The problem is, we assume that with the availability and ease of meeting new people, the attention span of any one date is less than zero unless there is something he or she finds really compelling - compelling enough to start a relationship. The problem isn't that most people want to hook up. It's that until they find someone who makes them swoon, they like to keep their options open.

The truth is, a lot of people are looking for connection. Men and women approach it differently - for women, it's about intimacy and shared feelings, but for men it's more visual and physical.

So what does this mean? Does one or the other always have to compromise?

I think the important thing to remember is to know what you want, and to communicate well with your dates. It doesn't take a hook-up to know if someone isn't right for you, so don't feel pressured to go that route.

I was once on a date with a man who I found funny, engaging, and really attractive. We met for drinks and I asked him if he wanted to go somewhere else for dinner (it was only 8:00). He looked at me kind of awkwardly and said, "I think we're looking for two different things." I thought he was acting strangely, so I said, "how do you know what I'm looking for?" He said, "I'm not interested in dating."

That was all it took - he was honest enough to tell me exactly what he wanted, and though I was disappointed, I wanted to find a relationship, not a hook-up. So we said good-bye and went our separate ways. But if your man or woman is not that direct, it's important to be discerning.

My advice is to look for the following signs:

  • Is he sharing anything personal with you, about his life, family, past relationships, etc.?
  • Does he keep looking around at other women?
  • Does he avoid making plans in advance?
  • Does she seem bored or disinterested?
  • Does she make excuses when you say you want to see her again?

Bottom line: trust your gut. If she (or he) seems hesitant, distracted, or unable to make plans, she's probably not interested in anything long-term. And if you're interested in something more than a fling, don't just hook up. Give yourself time to know each other.

Facebook Determines “The Right Time for Love”

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These days Facebook is getting a lot of criticism about their privacy policy, and while I have to agree that the amount of data Facebook collects on its users is staggering and more than a little scary, at least they're now putting it to good use. Enter Facebook Data, a team that "builds scalable platforms for the collection, management, and analysis of data."

Facebook Data recently released a report called "The Right Time for Love: Tracking The Seasonality of Relationship Formation." Using U.S. Facebook data from 2010 and 2011, the team looked at how different times of year affect the beginnings and endings of relationships. They started by examining changes from non-coupled relationship statuses (like "Single" or "Divorced") to coupled statuses (like "In a relationship" or "Engaged"), then compared that figure against the number of changes in the opposite direction.

They found that Christmas and Valentine's Day are both good days to try your luck in love. Far more people paired up on those days than split up:

  • Feb. 14: 49% more new relationships than break-ups
  • Dec. 25: 34% more
  • Dec. 24: 28% more
  • Feb. 15: 22% more

Another big day for relationships shows that most Facebook users can take a joke, even when it comes to their relationships: April Fool's Day. As the fifth biggest day for a net increase in relationships, April 1st saw 20% more relationship initiations than splits. Many were clearly just in the spirit of the silly holiday, however, as the following day was the most extreme day in the other direction. April 2nd saw 11% more break-ups than new relationships.

Looking at the data on a monthly basis, summertime seemed to be the most problematic for relationships. In 2010 and 2011, May through August saw a low point in the daily net change in relationships across Facebook users of all age groups.

The Facebook Data team also found patterns at a weekly level. They discovered a net gain in relationships after the weekend - Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday were the biggest days for the announcements of new romances to hit the social networking site. In contrast, breakups were more likely to be reported in the days leading up to the weekend, reaching a peak on Friday and Saturday.

In speculating on why these patterns exist, the Facebook Data team believes that "One explanation could be that people looking for a change tend to end their old relationships in time to spend the weekend with friends or get back in the game with someone new." Another theory is that "breaking up is hard to do, and having a difficult conversation has to wait until the work week winds down." To explain the net gain in relationships at the beginning of the week, the team posits that it "may be a visible echo of the weekend's festivities -- and the new social ties that result."

For information on how to use this social network to find people to date, you can read our Facebook review.

eHarmony offers Free Communication this March Weekend (2012)

eHarmony
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eHarmony let us know that they are offering free communication this weekend in the United States and Canada. This promotions starts in the morning at 12:01am on Friday March 16th and ends in the evening of Monday March 19th at 11:59pm.

For singles interested in trying our eHarmony, this 4 day event is a great way to do it for free and with no credit card required. To start all you need to do is sign in and create a free profile on eHarmony. Once you are finished with creating the profile and taking the in-depth questionnaire, you will then receive your first set of matches. After you have reviewed your matches you can then start the guided communication process and contact your preferred matches. Features not included during free communication events are photos, Secure Call or Skip to Email.

This will be eHarmony's 38th free communication event (by our count) with the last one happening around Valentine's Day (see Story).

To find further information about this online dating site, you can read our eHarmony.com review.

Twitter, Facebook, and your Dating Life – What NOT to Do

Tips
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We all have a social media presence, so it's hard not to share the inner workings of our everyday lives. But when is it too much?

When you're dating, you're easily found on Facebook, Twitter, or any number of sites you may have a virtual presence. So it's good to pay attention to what you put out there, not only for your professional life but also for your personal. Would somebody looking to date you get the wrong impression of who you are? Unless you want to explain yourself, it's best to keep the tirades and TMI status updates to yourself, or at least protect your tweets.

Following are some tips to keep your personal life from getting too personal on Twitter:

Don't overshare. It's easy to become addicted and give your followers a play-by-play of your every move during the day, but is it necessary? Oversharing can kill any sense of romance, and make your dates wonder if you spend time doing anything else.

Don't tweet your anger. Maybe one of the people you follow tweeted something that made you angry, so you get in a Twitter-fight with him, barbs going back and forth. Before your date mistakes you for Charlie Sheen or someone else with an anger issue who can't let something go, don't let your tweets get out of control even if you think you're being funny. Keep your comments in line.

Don't post your relationship status updates. Sure, you might be going on five dates over the next three days, but your dates probably don't want to hear about it. Keep the plans of your dates and when you have them out of the social media world. Also, don't keep switching back and forth from "It's complicated" to "in a relationship" on Facebook. Talk about it and decide what you'll post together, or don't post your status at all.

Don't tweet while on a date. This is such a party foul. I had a friend who did this, calling her date boring and heavier than his picture. When she got up to use the bathroom, he told her that he checked his Twitter account and saw what she posted. She was embarrassed, and so was he. Game over.

Don't rant about your dates. This might be obvious, but worth mentioning. If you have a series of bad dates and you tweet, blog, or Facebook details about them, you're only setting yourself up for future problems. Everyone has bad dates, but if you turn your accounts into a bad date confessional, you could be a turn-off to potentially great dates. After all, they won't want you writing about them.

For more information on how to use these social networks for dating, you can read our Facebook.com review and our Twitter.com review