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For many of us, Thanksgiving kicks off a season of celebration which doesn’t really seem to stop until sometime in January. I probably don’t have to tell you that large gatherings of people, festive parties, and times when everyone is supposed to be part of a happy family can be especially hard if you’re single and wishing you weren’t, maybe even hoping that you would have been on your way to creating your own little family by now.

In some parts of the world, this season is cold and dark as well, which doesn’t do a lot for my mental state at the best of times. Often, by the time I find my seat at the Thanksgiving table, I don’t feel very festive. I often don’t feel like being thankful.

Maybe you’ve played that game so often employed around the table. Everyone goes around and mentions something they are thankful for. I’ve gone through phases where I’ve really struggled with this idea. On years when I’m feeling uncharitable, it can seem like a way to brag about blessings, and on years when I’m feeling pathetic, it can seem like an excruciating exercise to figure out what I’m going to say.

But there is evidence to suggest that gratitude is good for us, and that it encourages more gratitude. What if this simple practice extended into the difficult days of winter and helped you to see a bit more clearly?

Like any practice, gratitude can be awkward at first, but it gets easier with practice. This morning, for example, I’m grateful for the sun streaming in my window. My home in the Pacific Northwest doesn’t get a lot of sun at this time of year and I’m choosing to accept these rays as a gift. Last night, I cleaned my kitchen from top to bottom until it sparkled, after a long week of putting it off. This morning, when I walked in to make my tea, I was grateful to last night’s self for this lovely gift.

These aren’t the sorts of things I’d say around the table, of course. But it doesn’t mean they aren’t worth noting. In fact, once you start noticing them, it will likely become habit. My own tendency is to focus on what is wrong with my life, on what I wish would change, rather than on the gifts I’ve been given, simple or otherwise.

Last week, one of my best friends moved back to town. She has a three-month-old baby and now I’ll have a chance to be more present in his life and in hers. There’s a new season of the Great British Baking Show on Netflix. Yesterday a friend called out of the blue, just to talk. These are all reasons to be thankful.

Why not give it a try? Once a day, or every couple days, spend a little time with a notebook. Make a list. Or carry it with you and write things down during your day as they come to you. Collect your blessings in a place you can see them and return to them. Use them as ammunition against the moments when it feels like everything is going wrong in your life.

When it comes time for Thanksgiving dinner, if you happen to be at one of those gatherings where you’ll need to say you’re thankful for something, you’ll have a huge array of options. But don’t stop there. Let the practice carry you through December, January, beyond. Let gratefulness become habit. There is no downside.

It’s likely that I’ll still miss blessings in my life—I’m not perfect at this. But I want to be on the watch for them. I don’t want to always expect the worst. It’s so easy to find when you’re looking for it—in the world, in your own life—I want to expect wonder and beauty. I want to expect joy. Maybe if I’m looking I’ll see those things more often. That would be something to be thankful for.

Cara Strickland writes about food and drink, mental health, faith and being single from her home in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys hot tea, good wine, and deep conversations. She will always want to play with your dog. Connect with her on Twitter @anxiouscook.

The post The Practice of Thankfulness appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

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When you think about addiction, you probably conjure up an instant picture. Perhaps alcohol comes to mind, or you may picture something darker. The truth, however, is that there are many different types of addiction from which men and women suffer every day.  These addictions are experienced by the entire breadth of society, from the charismatic investment banker to the cranky car dealer; the cashier at the store to the college professor. No one is immune to the power of addiction. The key for you when dating and meeting new people is to be on the lookout for anyone who is active in their addiction, and for you to avoid dating that person until he or she gets things under control.

Keep reading and you’ll get a sense of some of the most common addictions that you may encounter in the dating world. If you think that one particular type of addiction is more dangerous or destructive to a relationship, guess again. The hallmark of any addiction is that it will take control of the addict and tear apart their closest relationships. Romantic relationships suffer the most with an addict, because the addiction destroys any sense of trust and reliability.

Sex addiction

Sex addicts spend an incredible amount of time seeking out sex or sexual situations. Sex addicts may pursue sex in person, with multiple partners, or they may simply demand it all the time from the same person. Sex addicts also may spend hours online looking at pornography, and will talk about sex frequently.

Gambling addiction

In recent years, there have been a couple of high-profile celebrities whose gambling addiction has been covered extensively in the media. The positive consequence of this is that it has brought more awareness to gambling addiction as a real and legitimate problem. If you start dating someone who loves to go gambling, uses more money than they have to comfortably gamble, and seems to like gambling a little too much, your date may have an actual addiction.

Illicit drug addiction

Some of the most common drug addictions are addictions to street drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin. However, a person can develop addiction to many other illicit drugs. The good news for those suffering from these addictions is that there are twelve-step groups in nearly every city and town to help treat these problems.

Prescription pill addiction

If only you knew the number of work establishments, high schools, and colleges in which someone is selling prescription pills at this moment for recreational use! If you’re dating someone who casually offers you a prescription pill, you need to seriously explore whether this person has an addiction to prescription pills. Pills are not meant to be passed around like a soda you’d sip from; they can be deadly if they are taken incorrectly or in conjunction with other substances.

Alcohol addiction

One of the best ways to determine if someone has an alcohol addiction is to see how the individual changes when they are intoxicated. Many alcoholics’ moods will change dramatically, where they become sad and tearful, angry and aggressive, or even manic once they reach the “drunk” mark. A good rule of thumb for drinking alcohol when you are of legal age: have a drink or two, but don’t get drunk.

Simple advice: Your job isn’t to be a therapist.

If you suspect that someone you’re dating has a problem, trust your instincts and avoid pursuing a more serious relationship. In this situation, you could play the role of a therapist and try to get that person help, or you could provide him or her with resources or addresses of treatment clinics nearby. However, your job in dating is to find a romantic partner – not to be anyone’s therapist. When you find yourself playing therapist too soon with someone, odds are that you are going to end up unhappy.

About the Author:

Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.

The post The Main Types of Addiction to Watch Out for in Dating appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

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Complacency is a continuous struggle that we all have to fight. ~ Jack Nicklaus

You know how you sometimes (perhaps frequently) have that experience of something bumping up against you repeatedly and you feel the nudge to listen. It’s like the universe is trying to tell you something, or to teach you a lesson, or remind you of something. Some things just seem to come up enough that you finally just have to pay attention …

Complacency.

That’s the word that has been bumping up against me repeatedly over the last month. So much so that I felt compelled to write about it.

I have a friend who has been married for 28 years. Her husband came home last week and told her he was leaving. No warning. No build-up to it. No kidding. He literally walked out. As she is reflecting on what happened, she admits that neither of them have been actively working on their marriage for several years. She assumed that they would be together forever (a normal assumption, for sure). He obviously decided otherwise. She says they stopped putting forth the effort into their marriage, their ‘dating,’ their sex life, their romantic gestures. As her kids pointed out, “you and Dad haven’t done anything together in years.” They were right. #RelationshipComplacency

I have a friend who has worked for the same company for 21 years. She has progressed through the ranks, worked her way up, earned a great salary, and was even able to work from home frequently. She has done very well for herself. As she has built her career internally, she has become insulated. She hasn’t kept up a professional network outside of this company. She hasn’t stayed networked and connected with others in her industry or in her function. She lost her job last week. She hasn’t put a resume together in over 20 years. She is totally unprepared for this. #CareerComplacency

I have a friend whose teenage daughter appear to have it all going on. She has never been in trouble at school or at home. She is outgoing, kind and respectful. She is a good student. The parents have never felt the need to ask too many questions. Over a few months, she started to act differently. The grades went down. The friend group changed. The attitude changed. Yet, they brushed it off as “normal teenage stuff” and didn’t take any action to try to find out what was going on. #ParentingComplacency

Familiarity breeds complacency. ~ Rick Warren

Why is it risky to become complacent?

Complacency happens! It happens when we get really comfortable with the situations in which we find ourselves. It’s easier to let things continue on as they are than to have to expend energy. Of course my marriage is fine; I don’t need to invest time or energy in it when there are so many other things I have to get done. Of course my job is secure; I don’t need to invest time or energy on my career when I am so busy in my career. Of course my kid is good; I don’t need to invest time or energy creating a problem where none exists. Complacency is risky because it creeps in when we let our guard down and we quit focusing on what’s truly important. Complacency happens when we get too comfortable with the status quo.

What can we do to avoid becoming complacent?

From a relationship perspective, I saw a great example of this on Facebook today. A colleague posted a photo of he and his wife of 27 years at the airport about to head out for a long weekend. He commented that the trip was “marriage maintenance.” How fun is that? He and his wife recognize that they can’t become complacent, but rather need to intentionally work on staying connected within their busy lives.

From a career perspective, there are countless ways to stay connected and intentional about your development. Attend continuous development conferences to stay current on the latest trends in your business. This also allows you to meet others in your industry. Get involved in the community to meet others who might be able to help you should you ever find yourself unemployed. The worst time to try to build your network is when you need their help. Build it first, make deposit and investments in these relationships, so that if and when you ever need them, they are willing to help out because the relationship has been established.

From a family perspective, stay connected and involved. For example, I was never a big user of texting as a form of communication. I realized many years ago that if I wanted to stay connected with my own teenagers, I needed to start texting and quit leaving voice mails or emails (which are never listened to or looked at). Complacent behavior would just say, “it’s too much trouble to learn a new form of communication … my kids just need to listen to my voice mails.” But, if they aren’t listening then all those voice mails are just wasted air. You can avoid becoming complacent by adapting as the world evolves around you.

He who is content with what has been done is an obstacle in the path of progress.

~ Helen Keller

The bottom line is that while it’s nice to be comfortable in our lives (our relationships, our careers, our friendships) the reality is that we need to always be intentional about staying focused on what is most important to us so that we never get surprised when something derails and takes a path that smacks us in the face and surprises us.

About the Author:

Author Monique A. Honaman wrote “The High Road Has Less Traffic: honest advice on the path through love and divorce” (2010) in response to a need for a book that provided honest, real, and raw advice about how to survive and thrive through one of life’s toughest journeys, and “The High Road Has Less Traffic … and a better view” (2013) to provide perspectives on love, marriage, divorce and everything in between. The books are available on Amazon.com. Learn more at www.HighRoadLessTraffic.com.

The post The Cost of Complacency appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

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By Sarah Elizabeth Richards

You want to look your best when you’re dating new people. For most of us, that means dropping a few pounds. In your head, you just have to buckle down on your calorie count for a few weeks or months, and you’ll look great in your tightest jeans or fitted leather jacket. And then you’ll finally feel ready to date .

So you put off posting your profile. Maybe you succeed in losing a couple of pounds, but then life gets in the way. Maybe you regain some weight. Maybe you don’t lose as much as you’d hoped. Whatever the case, your weight can become a convenient and never-ending excuse for keeping you at home.

Here’s an idea: Sto p waiting. Put yourself out there in the perfectly imperfect body you have.

It’s no secret that two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. In other words, most people aren’t walking around rocking a doctor’s office-worthy Body Mass Index. That means they probably don’t expect yours to be, too.

Don’t get me wrong. Physical attraction is a critical component of dating. But it’s usually a combination of many things, including how someone takes care of themselves, dresses themselves and carries themselves in the world.

The good news is that plenty of people will love your curvy body just as it is. And they’re more than happy to meet you and your Dad Bod. People tend to be more forgiving about your weight than you might think.

Unless someone is looking for a very specific body type – and they often will clearly say they’re looking for someone who is slender or thin – they don’t let someone’s few extra pounds stand in the way of finding true love. They’re looking to meet a fun, attractive and nice person.

Here are some tips about how to feel good dating in the body you’re in:

Buy clothes that flatter your current size.

Find jeans, sweaters, dresses and jackets that you feel good in. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money because you plan to buy smaller sizes in the future, you can always find quality clothes on the cheap at discount stores, eBay or by finding online sales. The point is to wear clothes that help you feel good about your appearance so you can radiate confidence on your dates.

Post accurate photos.

Take some beautiful pictures of yourself at the size you are. Most people don’t mind your extra weight. What they do mind is false advertising on your online dating profile. They rightfully feel deceived when a person who is significantly heavier – or shorter, taller or older – shows up on a date, instead of the person they thought they were meeting.

Talk about yourself in a loving way.

You can influence how people see you by how you describe yourself. You also shape how you feel about yourself. If you’re asked to describe yourself, you can write about how much you love your “soft, curvy” body. Avoid loaded words like “fat” or “overweight.” Say you’re a “bigger guy who loves enveloping his sweetheart in a bear hug.” Find the positive message.

Show your date you live a healthy lifestyle.

Are you making your health a priority? Are you following a weight loss plan? You can easily communicate that to your matches. Send a photo of yourself on your Sunday morning hike. Share the fact that you’re spending your afternoon making healthy meals for the week.

Many people are looking for partners who will support their own health goals. Make it clear that eating well and exercising are important to you. And don’t forget to walk your talk on actual dates. That means skipping the nachos and margaritas and making healthy choices.

The bottom line:

We’re all human and trying to live the best lives we can in a world with constant temptation. Don’t let a little extra padding prevent you from finding a sweetheart now.  

The post Why You Should Prioritize Your Health Before You Meet Someone appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

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Emily Nunn’s new book The Comfort Food Diaries: My Quest for the Perfect Dish to Mend a Broken Heart is a memoir about a woman in the midst of grief. In the wake of her brother’s death, her fiancé breaks up with her and her life falls apart. What does she do? First, she moves toward health, going to rehab to get sober, but then she embarks on a “comfort food tour,” visiting friends around the country who have offered to host her (and cook for her) while she puts the pieces of her life back together.

I caught up with Emily for a sneak peek at her book and the lessons she learned along the way about connection, community, and love.

Tell me a little bit about your book?

Well, you know, it’s got a lot going on, but the premise of it was, I had this period in my life, years ago, where the top three or four things on that list of terrible things that can happen to you—I can’t remember the name of the chart—but about four or five of those happened to me, all within a couple of months. I just completely fell apart and I drank a bunch of wine and I got on Facebook, the way people do, and I complained about my life. I woke up the next day and I thought ‘oh my god, what have I done. I’m going to have lost half of my Facebook friends.’ Instead I had these amazing, incredible, warm notes from people—I mean hundreds of them—from friends that I hadn’t talked to in ages, some who were living across town from me, basically on my side, telling me they had a place for me if I needed it. It was like crying across the backyard fence with all your friends, or going down to the river to mourn—all of this kind of community on the internet. One of my old friends from college said ‘Well, you should just come with all of us and make comfort food—come visit us,’ and I was like ‘That’s a really good idea.’ So even though that didn’t happen immediately, and even though my life didn’t repair itself immediately—things got a little bit worse for a while, and that’s the reality of most situations like this, you don’t heal them with a comfort food tour—but that’s what I ended up doing. I ended up traveling around and staying with friends and cooking with them and they cooked for me or I cooked for them and some of them gave me favorite recipes and sometimes we just hung out, but it ended up turning into a real project for me and it was a real lifesaver, that part of the book, visiting so many old friends and friends also that I had actually never met before, some of them were friends from the ether that I had met through food sites. Meeting them in person was pretty amazing, and it turned into a book.

Obviously your book is about a lot more than food. Why did you choose food as a lens to explore heartbreak, family, and friendship?

Because at that point in my life it was kind of the only thing that I felt like I could count on. It actually makes me feel like crying saying that. I don’t know if I’ve ever really thought about that. I was a food writer at the Chicago Tribune and I had covered restaurants at The New Yorker magazine so food has always been a big part of my life, but it’s a way to connect and at that point in my life I felt so isolated and alone, despite the fact that these people were coming to me, I felt a little bit like I was in a jar and my trust was kind of shattered and my desire to be around other people was kind of shattered, but I knew that I needed to learn to trust people, I needed to connect. It’s the way that we all do connect, I mean our culture, you know, you meet for coffee, you meet for a hamburger, you meet for a glass of wine, you go to the zoo and you feed animals. We’re a food culture. I mean sitting at the table with people you love, there’s nothing like it, and there’s nothing like it with strangers either, so it turned out to be really perfect and natural.

At the beginning of the book, you had a hard time believing that you were worthy of love, even from yourself, what changed along the way and what are some of the ways you’ve learned to show yourself love?

I wish I had an easy answer for you but my path back from heartbreak, in many different ways not just a love relationship, but other areas of my life was hard for a while. I actually avoided it as long as I could. I avoided grieving, I avoided facing the heartbreak but you know it was a really gradual process and for me it actually took a really, really long time.

But as far as taking care of myself, there was this night, a really clear night, with moon and stars and I was outside and I was drinking coffee even though it was night time and I looked up and I could see the stars—I was out in the country and I just had this feeling that I was going to be okay, and it had been a long long time since I had thought I was going to be okay. I struggled for a long time. But I trusted that, I just chose to believe in it and I hung on to it.

As far as changing my habits, I had to ease into it, of course, but I think it was the people connection. I had to cook for other people before I could cook for myself, and that eventually led me to cooking for myself. I cook for myself all the time now. Back then, I stopped doing things that were harmful first. What I would do is I would force myself to accept love from people who were offering it to me. I forced myself to be aware of other people, that I wasn’t alone in the world, that nobody really is. It is partly your responsibility to not feel that way. It was really hard for me to accept things from other people, and I forced myself to do it. That’s part of what the comfort food tour is about—making myself accept love. I think if you didn’t learn to do it as a kid I think you kind of have to teach yourself.

The comfort food tour was at at least in part a way to break unhealthy relational habits that you had. Would you talk a little bit about that process?

First of all, of course you have to be aware of it. When something happens in a dysfunctional family like mine, the patterns develop so early that you don’t notice for a long time that you are picking people like your family. If your family is, say narcissistic, or if your family is very shut down—if you have very reserved parents, I think you pick a very reserved guy. I think I’ve done that in my life and it didn’t really dawn on me to the degree that I needed it to until everything fell apart. When it felt like nobody in my life was really there for me, they were worried about how my break down made them look or made them feel, but I didn’t get a lot of support—it was a wake-up call. I was able to except certain kinds of ways of relating that might not be exactly the healthiest kind, they didn’t seem abnormal to me. So having everything split wide open the way it did really opened my eyes. I don’t recommend my method, it would be better to go to a good therapist, but I had it thrust upon me. I wasn’t going around saying ‘I wonder why I feel funny all the time?’ until the bad things came to visit.

Not everybody can take quite so elaborate a comfort food tour in the wake of the end of a relationship or in the midst of grief. What advice would you give to those wanting to experience a similar journey in their own lives?

First of all, anybody can cook. I say this in the book again and again: making a sandwich for somebody is cooking and there’s a saying: the best damn sandwich is the one someone else makes for you. It’s such a special thing to do for somebody. It’s just incredibly healing.

If you’re single and all your friends have families, you have to say: ‘Can I come and have family night with you? Can I be at your table?’ You have to say to your friends: ‘I want to meet people, I want you to set me up. I want to come to your house for dinner. I want to be with you. I know you have a family. When can you and I go for coffee?’ Whatever it is, you have to make yourself a part of other people’s families, and not get your feelings hurt if they are like: ‘No, this is family time,’ but you have to kind of sing above your voice in terms of getting the love you need.

What was your greatest take away from living this story and writing this book?

For me personally it was that I could survive anything, that no matter how far down I fell in so many different ways I could pick myself up and keep going. I could continue on some sort of path but that to do that I had to connect to other people.

When I was writing the book and not quite sure what I was trying to say I think what I wanted was to make sure that people knew that there was a way out of a deep hole—that when you feel like you’re being pushed just further and further down and you feel hopeless that you can get out—it does happen eventually.

The food lens is a really important aspect of it, but I think it applies to anybody’s life, especially when talking about relationships. You have to find a window into relating to other people, you have to get outside yourself and that can be really difficult. I wanted to show people that no matter how dysfunctional your family is, no matter how horrible a thing has happened in your life, not just to you but to other people in your family, or your friends, I guess it’s about finding your inner strength and connecting. I guess that was kind of the point of the book.

Cara Strickland writes about food and drink, mental health, faith and being single from her home in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys hot tea, good wine, and deep conversations. She will always want to play with your dog. Connect with her on Twitter @anxiouscook.

The post Emily Nunn’s Comfort Food Diaries: Lessons in Life and Love appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

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Dating can be exciting, exhilarating, and, naturally, nerve-wracking! While there are many things you can do to relieve stress, one aspect that you may not have considered is how creating a mindset of mindfulness may help to navigate the difficulties that all of us inevitably encounter along the way.

Eharmony partnered with Stop, Breathe & Think, a program designed to promote emotional wellness through guided meditations and mindfulness exercises, to see how members who used the program fared in their use of eharmony compared to those who did not. For this analysis, we looked at a subset of 311 eharmony members who have also used the Stop, Breathe & Think program, and compared them to a group of 311 members who did not used Stop, Breathe & Think but were of a similar age, gender, location and had signed up for eharmony during the same time period.

The differences were pretty dramatic — in a good way for those practicing mindfulness! First, we found that Stop, Breathe & Think users were logging into eharmony 81% more often, suggesting that users who are engaged in mindful meditation are more active and getting more done.

Viewing eHarmony Matches

Are there differences in how users review their matches? We found that Stop, Breathe & Think users browse 92% more of their matches’ profiles than non-Stop, Breathe & Think users. Additionally, Stop, Breathe, & Think users are viewed by their matches 53% more often.

Communicating with eHarmony Matches

We found differences in how many matches users are viewing, but how about communication? We found that Stop, Breathe & Think users are also more active in using eHarmony’s communication system compared to non-Stop, Breathe & Think users. Stop, Breathe & Think users send 215% more close-ended questions to their matches, and they are engaged in open communication with 137% more of their eHarmony matches. Most importantly, Stop, Breathe & Think users were more likely to be successful in their communication with their matches, with 85% more matches in two-way communication compared to non-Stop, Breathe & Think users.

Overall, we found that Stop, Breathe & Think users were more engaged in their eHarmony experience, logging in more often, viewing more of their matches, and ultimately communicating with more of their matches compared to users who did not use Stop, Breathe & Think. This suggests that using tools of mindful awareness are absolutely beneficial in online dating success. While dating may be stressful at times, developing skills to center and ground yourself may help to be more productive in the eHarmony experience and feel better during the process.

To try Stop, Breathe & Think’s kindness boosting mindfulness and meditation activities free for a whole month, click here and use the code EHARMONY.

The post Meditation Improves Your Dating Life: We’ve got the Proof appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

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Dear Sara: After a year of going on dozens of so-so dates, I finally met a guy I really liked. Our dates were lively and fun, and he was really cute. It had been ages since I’d felt that way about anyone, and I was so happy and relieved.

I was sure he felt the same way. We spent all three dates laughing and chatting, and when we kissed on our third date it was … well, it was just wonderful. Finally, it seemed like I was going to find the relationship I’ve been wanting for so long.

Then he disappeared. He sent a few texts about “being really busy at work blah blah blah” and then just stopped texting entirely. I’m devastated. And what makes the situation worse is that some of my friends are saying things like, “Oh, come on. You only went on three dates! Shouldn’t you be over it by now?” I’m not over it. Not even close. Am I completely weird for having such a strong reaction? – A

Dear A: No, I don’t think you’re completely weird. Or maybe I’m just weird in the same way. During my single years, I was often chided to “just get over” some man who broke my heart. I was often presented with calculations based on the amount of time I had spent with this man, and the amount of time that had passed since. The math was never good.

When people say things like this to us, it’s because they find it frustrating to see someone they love so miserable over someone who, to them, is just some random jerk. It is very, very hard to watch. But what they don’t understand is that this kind of heartbreak isn’t simply about the management consultant you had dinner with three times. The devastation is about the hope that has been dashed. It’s less about the time that you spent with this one person, and more about the many months or years before that that you spent trying to find someone you liked this much.

But don’t get down on your friends too much—they mean well. Most likely, they’ve either never experienced longtime singledom or they have allowed themselves to forget. Either way, there is no point in judging how you feel, or even analyzing why you feel that way. You were hurt, so honor that. I don’t mean wallow in it by mentally rehashing the ordeal. I mean, just let yourself feel sad without judging that feeling. As Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron often says, “Feel the feeling. Drop the storyline.”

When you criticize yourself for feeling bad, it doesn’t make you feel any better—all you’re doing is adding shame to the hurt. But when you can allow those difficult feelings to have a little space, that’s when start to loosen up. In other words, if you want to “let it go” start by letting it be.

Sara

Sara Eckel is a personal coach and the author of It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single. You can get a free bonus chapter of her book at saraeckel.com. You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. Ask her questions here.

The post ‘It Was Only Three Dates, But I’m Devastated’ appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

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What is self-esteem? Your self-esteem reflects the core beliefs you have about yourself. In dating, the smartest thing you can do is to find a partner who has good self-esteem. That individual likes himself; she isn’t too critical of herself; and he accepts himself as-is and works on the parts of his personality or his behaviors that cause problems for himself or others. Most of all, the reason why you should date and partner up with someone who has good self-esteem is that people with self love will treat you better than people with poorer self-esteem.

What are the signs of good self-esteem? Some of these you probably already know because they are obvious, but some may be surprising.

1. People with good self-esteem are happier and more hopeful.

There’s no doubt about it: You meet someone who sounds negative and bitter, and you can safely assume that this person is an unhappy individual. People who are happy don’t worry about bad things happening, and they work hard to see the positive side of situations instead of focusing on what’s negative.

2. People with good self-esteem treat the people around them better.

Caveat: People who treat others poorly aren’t necessarily bad, but they do have emotional issues they need to deal with. People with good self-esteem like themselves overall, so they don’t feel competitive or feel the need to put others down to make themselves feel better. Why? They already like themselves, so they don’t need to do anything negative to others in order to feel better.

3. People with good self-esteem don’t get jealous of others, especially those who are important to them.

People with good self-esteem like themselves overall. People who get jealous are the way they are because, at root, they feel like they are lacking in some way, and they get jealous of those who seem to have what they want. How does this apply on a date? If you tell your date that you just got an amazing promotion or that you had something great happen to you, the date with good self-esteem will feel nothing but happiness for you. If you tell your date the same thing but your date has low self-esteem, your date will have any of the following reactions: feel sad or depressed because the same thing didn’t happen to them; feel angry or bitter that good things never happen to them; or feel threatened or afraid that you may believe that you’re better than them. One of the most important things you can do when looking for a partner is to find someone who celebrates – and doesn’t put down or feel competitive with – all the good things that happen to you.

4. People with good self-esteem are viewed as more attractive by others.

When I work with clients on their relationship problems, I always tell them the same thing: Focus on getting yourself mentally to a place where you feel happy and relaxed, and a good date will materialize from that. So many young men and women believe that that they will find a partner when they look most attractive, but the truth is that what people are really turned on by is someone who seems at peace and who can carry on a down-to-earth conversation. The mistake so many people make is to try too hard, or to tell themselves that what others want is someone “hot” or “sexy.” Actually, what people really want is to go on a first date and feel like the conversation flows naturally, as if the two of you have known each other for years.

5. People with good self-esteem rarely talk about people critically, and they try to see the good in others.

Most people with good self-esteem don’t focus much on other people. They don’t like to put people down or be critical. The surest way to know that someone doesn’t like himself or herself is to see that person talk critically about other people. If you are on a date and he or she is critical of the waiter at the restaurant, and then later is critical about a good friend or someone else, make a point to watch their behavior from that point forward to see if this is an ongoing personality trait. The short version: If you want to be with a happy person and have that relationship last for a long time, that person is probably going to be pretty happy overall and is going to say positive things about other people. The simplest rule to remember: People who like themselves are nice when talking about others; people who don’t like themselves are critical or even cruel when talking about others.

The final message

If you have one goal when looking for a life partner, make it finding someone who has good self-esteem. Of course, we all have our own emotional issues or shortcomings we have to deal with it, but some people have better self-esteem than others. The smartest, savviest thing you can do in dating is to invest in someone who already seems to like himself or herself as-is. Trying to make a relationship work with someone who has low self-esteem is going to add many more layers of complexity than you probably want to deal with years down the road.

About the Author:

Dr. Seth is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, Psychology Today blogger, and TV guest expert. He practices in Los Angeles and treats a wide range of issues and disorders and specializes in relationships, parenting, and addiction. He has had extensive training in conducting couples therapy and is the author of Dr. Seth’s Love Prescription: Overcome Relationship Repetition Syndrome and Find the Love You Deserve.

The post 5 Signs of Good Self-Esteem (and Why You Should Date These People) appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

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Hi there,

If this is the fall where you can’t quite seem to get excited about the idea of new beginnings, I’m writing this to you. You’re here, I know, because you’re holding onto hope by a tiny little thread. I get it—it seems like an impossibility that you will meet the right person, someone who will love you and someone you will love. It seems likely that your relationship status will stay as it is. After all, what’s different about now?

I have any easy time succumbing to doubt myself. In other ways, my life is going really well, maybe that’s enough, maybe I don’t get to be happily coupled as well. When I say things like this to my therapist, or to the friends who know and love me, often they laugh. Why wouldn’t it happen to you? They say. It’s just not the right time yet.

It’s so easy for me to hold hope for other people. I’m confident that my friend who is job hunting will find something great, ready at any moment to hear of long-awaited pregnancies, of a closing date on the right house, of new boyfriends, engagements, and book deals. Why is it so hard for me to believe that the very best things will happen to me?

Lately, I’ve been taking a break from hope. I’m letting other people hold it for me. I’m letting my therapist believe that love is just around the corner, letting my girlfriends look forward to dancing at my wedding, letting my family know for certain that someone is going to fall in love with my particularities and quirks.

It’s helped me to be lighter, not hoping all on my own. Maybe you should try it, too. I’ll hold some hope for you.

Maybe you’re comforted by statistics: the numbers show that most of us will eventually find partners, even if we have to wait a while.

Perhaps you prefer anecdotes. Lately, I’ve watched a few couples get together, even in my small city, where it seems like everyone is already married. There is no way of knowing where love is going to strike, and when.

But maybe you just need to hear somebody say this: you’re going to make it through. You are strong, and brave. You have what it takes. You are lovable. You are just someone’s type. You are the answers to somebody’s prayers, the one they have been waiting for. I just know it.

Believe me, I know that waiting is hard. I don’t blame you if you want to take a break from carrying the weight of hope. Pass it along to your friends, give it to your therapist if you have one. Maybe you’ll find that you’re better off without it. I’m sure that ceasing to worry will not preclude your meeting someone great. Maybe without the worry, you’ll be able to see them more clearly when their path intersects with yours.

So give up the stress, the doubts, the franticness. Embrace true hope, which is calm and self-assured. Allow yourself to believe that all is well and that everything will come right in the end, and see how it feels. Relax into the knowledge that you are loved and lovable already, as if it were a warm bath.

Don’t forget to treat yourself with kindness—make yourself something delicious to eat, wear your favorite sweater, put on your favorite song in the car, go out with friends, or go to sleep a little earlier. Remember that you are your best significant other, no matter how great a future partner might be. They might love you to the moon and back, but they will never know you as well as you know yourself. Set an example for how you should be treated. Be generous with you.

They always say that love happens when you aren’t looking for it. For many of us, this is a completely ridiculous statement. Even when I’m at my most content, I can’t trick myself into thinking that I don’t want a partner. My eyes still turn when a new guy enters the room. I can’t turn off that part of myself that wants to fall in love. Maybe you can’t either, so don’t. You won’t block love by hoping for it, by talking about it, any more than you will attract it by playing coy. When it comes, it still might manage to surprise you, how, or when, or who, but it won’t mind if you swing the door open wide, seeing it coming. For my part, I’ve left the door open with a note on the screen. Let yourself in. I’m ready, wrapped in hope.

Love,

Cara

Cara Strickland writes about food and drink, mental health, faith and being single from her home in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys hot tea, good wine, and deep conversations. She will always want to play with your dog. Connect with her on Twitter @anxiouscook.

The post A Letter to Those Who Hope appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

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eHarmony Blog | Trusted Dating Site for .. by Jeannie Assimos, Vice President, Co.. - 7M ago

It all started when an eharmony engineer named Greg Petroski thought to himself, wouldn’t it be cool if there was an eharmony skill for Amazon Alexa, where you could check out your matches, listen to messages, and get updated without lifting a finger?

Not even a year later, that thought has become a reality.

eharmony users can now enable the eharmony ‘Skill’ for Alexa, hear their matches and messages by voice and then ask Alexa for more info on dating prospects.

How It Works:

To get started, first enable the eharmony skill, then link your eharmony account in the Alexa app, and say “Alexa, open eharmony.” From there you can navigate to the sections of eharmony that you’d like to hear about. As the skill reads through the profiles and tells you about your matches, it also sends a photo of a potential love interest to your smartphone. And those with an Echo Show can see their matches photos right there, resulting in a completely hands-free way to experience eharmony.

Here are some helpful phrases to use with Alexa.

•To check out your matches, say “Alexa, ask eharmony for my matches.”
•To read your unread messages, say “Alexa, ask eharmony to read my messages.
•To hear who viewed your profile, say “Alexa, ask eharmony who viewed my profile.”
•To get a summary of your account activity, say “Alexa, ask eharmony to give me a summary.”

Alexa also offers an element of fun with witty remarks such as…

•”Oh my, you have a lot of new matches.”
•”Let me tell you about your first match. Ooh la la! She lives 5 miles away!”
•”Oh and there is NAME. What a catch! He seems great.”
•”You have five unread messages, woo hoo!”
•”You are popular today!”

Thank you Greg, Amazon, Alexa, and I hope you all enjoy the skill.

The post ‘Alexa, Show Me My Matches!’ appeared first on eHarmony Blog.

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