Jealousy

Match.com Celebrates ‘Love With No Filter’

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We know we shouldn’t compare ourselves to what we see on social media. Everything, from the poreless skin to the sunsets over pristine beaches, is edited and carefully curated. But despite our better judgement, we can’t help feeling envious when we see travelers on picturesque getaways and fashion influencers posing in their flawlessly organized closets.

This compulsion to measure our real lives against the heavily filtered lives we see on social media now extends to our relationships. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are littered with images of #couplegoals that make it easy to draw comparisons to our own relationships and give us unrealistic perceptions of love. According to a survey from Match.com, one third of couples feel their relationship is inadequate after scrolling through snaps of seemingly-perfect partners plastered across social media.

Why Dating is Not a Competition

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Dating can be difficult, there’s no doubt about it. One of the most difficult things about online dating is the mental game many of us play. Instead of looking and considering each potential match on its own, we compare and contrast our matches, swiping left and right based on a couple of photos or an Instagram feed. The faster we swipe to reject (or even accept), the faster we can meet someone with whom we have a connection. Someone “better” than the last match.

When we are judging others so swiftly and definitively, it’s hard not to do the same thing to ourselves. Do you wonder what others think of you – why they might be swiping left instead of right? Why another match might be “better” than you? Do you think that peoples’ reactions might change if you were just a little prettier, or more athletic, or taller? (Especially if you reject matches based on these same criteria?) This can ruin your confidence as well as your online dating experience. Sometimes, it’s better to take a step back and gain some much-needed perspective.

Online dating creates the illusion that we are not only sizing each other up, but competing with one another. Let’s take social media as an example – something that most of us check regularly. We are constantly looking at what other people are doing, and how our lives compare.

Have you ever come across the Facebook or Instagram feed of a friend who is always posting vacation photos from exotic locales, or your friend who is part of a happy couple who can’t stop sharing how much they adore each other or their new baby? Maybe you see your friends’ new promotions, new houses, and exciting moments and think your life falls short.

Social media can give us skewed perspectives, and so can endlessly swiping on dating apps. While we might think that other people have an easier time with online dating, or they are getting more dates, or are somehow meeting “better” people online, rest assured – all of us have the same insecurities and challenges.

Instead of looking at online dating as a competition or a numbers game, it’s time to approach it differently. Instead of mindlessly swiping and judging, try taking things slowly. (I know, it’s against the dating app mindset, but it’s necessary.) Try reading what each person says in his/her profile. Spend one minute looking at a profile before moving on to the next. Try looking through an Instagram feed and not judging or comparing your lives, just observing. Try saying yes to a match who doesn’t seem like your type, just to see what the date might be like.

The more you can distance yourself from the cycle of comparing yourself to others, judging others, and hating online dating as a result, the better. Instead, have a more curious approach. Try to get to know someone rather than making a judgment. Seek connection, not perfection.

Are You Attracted to your Friend’s Date?

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Have you ever been on a double date? I'm a big fan of group dates, because it takes the pressure off. Some daters feel more comfortable and relaxed when they don't have to think of all the conversation like they do in a one-on-one date.

But what if you're on a double date with your friend and you find yourself drawn to your friend's date? In fact, you've barely heard two words your own date has muttered. You're too busy staring at your friend's guy - his beautiful green eyes and sexy mouth. The chemistry is there. You can sense he's interested in you, too. Should you pretend not to notice, or do you pull your friend aside and ask her if you can pursue him?

This can be an awkward moment, especially because you have history and a friendship with your friend and likely you're just meeting her date. There's no reason to think that things might work out between you, or that you would know how your friend might feel about it. One question to ask yourself is: how committed is your friend to her date? Is this the first time they are meeting, or have they been going out a while?

If this is a first date and your friend doesn't seem to be too interested, it might be a good idea to pull her aside and let her know how you feel. After all, chemistry is a powerful thing - and if you feel it, you want to see where it leads.

On the other hand, if your friend has been dating him a while or has expressed real interest, then you might be crossing a line by asking if she'd be okay with you dating him. They might not be together, but you don't want to interfere if she started dating him first. If it doesn't work out between them, or if he doesn't feel the same way about her, tell your friend before you start pursuing him.

Think of it this way: would you want your friend to run off with your date, even if you weren't sure if you were interested in him? Probably not, because you at least want a chance to see where it goes. And if you were interested in him initially, it can still feel like a betrayal if she doesn't consider your feelings along with her actions.

Bottom line: Talk to your friend before the date, and let each other know where you stand on this issue. If it is a first date for both of you, then be willing to let your friend pursue your date if you're not feeling it. But if she's been dating him a while? Try looking for someone else.

Wallowing in Jealousy

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When you’re actively looking for love, there’s one sinkhole that can be difficult to avoid: jealousy. Sure, jealousy is something that you can encounter in any facet of life, but in romance it seems to be particularly easy to stumble across, and can take many forms: the happily married co-worker, the teens making out in the mall. Even the obnoxiously attractive acquaintance on your social networking site can trigger feelings of jealousy (surely such an attractive person has no trouble finding a date, right?).

Jealousy is something you want to give a wide berth, because it’s kissing cousins with another attribute: bitterness. Not only is bitterness something to avoid in general - it will make you generally, even unnecessarily, unhappy in a self-perpetuating cycle - it’s also unattractive, so it’s doubly bad for dating. Avoiding jealousy is easier said than done, though; you have to essentially counter a gut, instant reaction with cool logic. With a little self-awareness, though, it can be done. Here are a few points to help you start out:

First, remember that you’re helping no one by getting annoyed, angry or jealous at someone else. You’re not making yourself feel better; you’re probably just making yourself feel worse. It’s in your best interest to lift yourself out of the doldrums, by distracting yourself, removing yourself from the situation, or whatever other technique works for you.

Next, remember that you’re only seeing a tiny piece of the real story. Picture your co-workers; do you think they truly see an accurate representation of you? Do they know your personal struggles? Likely not; and if you come into work smiling, upbeat and with a lottery ticket that’s won you five dollars, they might just think something like, “Man, that person always has it together.” Similarly, you have no idea what problems that person you know through social networking has. You have no idea if that couple who seem like they’re in love actually are - and if they are, you don’t know the work they’ve done or the trials they’ve overcome to get there.

Finally, remember that everyone has ups and downs and romantic dry spells in their lives. You notice those happy couples because love is on your mind; you’re seeing people at their best, on their highs. You aren’t counting the number of single people you pass on the street. You’ve had highs before, and will again.

It’s tempting to succumb to jealousy; it’s far easier to wallow than to rationalize, empathize, and cheer yourself up. But as you continue on your dating journey, try to keep an eye out for those jealousy sinkholes. It may be easier to wallow in the short term, but rationalizing yourself out of it is still far easier than lifting yourself out of the quicksand of bitterness.