Can People Really Be Afraid of Relationships?

There may be some real psychological truth when a date says, ‘it’s not you, it’s me’. They could fear being in a romantic relationship.

It is one of the most complicated fears because it involves a lot of history and baggage, says psychologist, Dr. Ron Glassman, who specializes in fears and phobias.  “This fear is common in people who have been in a series of bad relationships. The commitment and closeness may also mean a loss of control or space in one’s personal life.”

That said, these people can rarely get past a first date.

“A relationship fearing person hears ‘how do you feel about kids?’ as ‘this date will lead to several more dates, marriage and kids, how do you feel about that?’ Someone who has that response can be turned off to a second date instantly,” Glassman adds.

The fear can strike in both men and women and often shows up very early, even before a relationship has formed, says psychiatrist, Dr. Frederic Neuman. “Many such individuals seem inexplicably to their friends as simply too busy or unwilling to date.  These are the people who want all the advantages of a caring relationship and family, but such an affair is unimaginable to them because of the underlying fears of commitment, rejection and being dominated.”

These individuals may not like attaching themselves to anything.

“They rent instead of buy, they lease instead of purchase, they are very diligent in keeping their distance, even with friends,” says Glassman.

Another underlying belief is that the closeness associated with being a couple, can be dangerous, says relationship therapist, Stephanie Manes.  “If at any point being close meant being in the firing line of verbal and emotional abuse or total neglect, their fight or flight instincts kick in when someone starts getting too close.”

We all get stuck in old stories of painful events from our past. When old wounds get dredged up, our defenses come right back out.

“This is when people excuse themselves from the table and never come back and you never hear from them again. Or, they start some kind of a fight that ends in a relationship fiasco,” says Manes.

Although these feelings are deep rooted, like any other irrational fear, it goes away only after confronting it. With repeated involvement, a person becomes less hesitant.

Manes advises her patients to try a few more dates, not with the expectation it will go anywhere, but to learn a little about the fear that keeps stepping in. “When the urge to run comes on, can they stick around a little longer to see what it’s like on the other side?”

“People prone to being taken hostage of feelings from the past need to build some kind of internal alarm bell that will snap them out of the bad dream and into the present,” says Manes. “Some of the old excuses start to fall away and they start to really ask themselves, what is wrong with this picture?”

The Dating Safety Tips Women Need To Know

Credit: Candice Delong

Credit: Candice Delong

When we take a romantic interest in a new person, it’s like we need to know RIGHT NOW if this person can be our future boyfriend or girlfriend.  And, because of that, many daters willingly put a lot about themselves out there, whether it’s online or in person.  Just the chance of finding our perfect match can make us do some risky things—things you may not even realize put you in danger.  Even just posting a picture of your new car can give creeps enough information to track you down if your license plate is in the shot.


Because of the risks we face when dating, especially women, I wanted to put together a list of tips for single women to ensure they stay safe when putting themselves out there.  Who better to speak to about this than retired FBI profiler, author of Special Agent: My Life on the Front Lines as a Woman in the FBI, and famed commentator on Investigation Discovery’s, “Deadly Women”, Candice Delong.


Here are 8 crucial rules Delong says women need keep in mind:


1. Avoid posting too sexy and “party” photos.  It can send the wrong message.  “Not only are decent guys online looking to meet a nice woman, disturbed men and sexual predators are online, too.  If you put yourself out there in the wrong way, the wrong guy might think he’s JUST the guy to give you what he thinks you want.”


Having tens of thousands of followers is flattering, but while most may look and think, “Wow, nice looking woman!” It just takes one disturbed man or sex offender thinking something else entirely, and it usually isn’t good.


2. Get more information than you give.  You may want to brag but it’s better to be stingy about revealing specific data about yourself such as where you work or live, says Delong.  The more he knows about your personal life, the easier it is track you and remember, once they have that information, they have it forever!


3. Do a Google search. If you knew ahead of time your date was on the lam, would you still go out with him?  “We tend to show only our best side when getting to know someone–so buyer beware.  Always do at least a simple Google search on a potential date, and an advanced search is even better.  Try to verify what they are telling you about themselves,” says Delong.


READ: How to do a sly background check on your date.


4. Don’t judge a book by the cover.  There’s a lot you can learn from someone’s photos and a lot that can mislead you.  “Remember, everyone’s nice on the first date–even psychopaths.  Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious and prolific serial killers of young women in our history, was a very handsome  and charismatic man. Women voluntarily went off with him because he didn’t look like a bad guy. When he got them in his car, their hours were numbered…” says Delong.


5. Meet in a public place.  Good places include coffee shops, restaurants, and the mall.  Delong actually advise NOT to meet at a bar.  “A bar is not the best place for a first date, especially one in a questionable or remote location.  If you do drink alcohol, don’t leave your glass unattended – ever – and drink water too. Don’t put yourself in a high risk situation by becoming intoxicated,” she says.


6. Let others know where you’re going.  “Always let a friend know in advance where you are going and who you are meeting,” says Delong.  It’s also a good idea to check in with them during the date and when you get home.  And speaking of going home, Delong says ALWAYS have enough money to get home on your own.


7. Never lead someone on. Stalking situations can happen through no fault of your own (for men or women), but usually develop after an intimate relationship has begun, says Delong.  “For some people, a simple kiss on the cheek is enough to launch a delusion that you love them.  It’s impossible to know what’s inside someone’s head and heart.”


READ: Are you dating a psychopath? 


8. Trust your gut. If your gut tells you, “it’s not right,” then it isn’t.  “If you think someone has lied to you, you’re probably right–they did lie. If you overlook it (put it aside), you may end up regretting it later,” says Delong.  Hanging around and trying to make it feel right or justify probably won’t work.



>Peace, Love & Politics Part 2

What does the heat of Election 2016 have to do with the heat in your bedroom?  Quite a lot, depending on which side you lean.  The dating website, Zoosk, polled nearly 6,000 singles to see how they really feel about the candidates as it relates to their love and sex lives.


Here are some of the key findings:


  • Democrats are better in bed. 55% of singles think Democrats are likely to be better than Republicans in bed; 23% of self-identified Republicans agree.
  • The frontrunners are the most dateable. 49% of Republican singles say Trump is the most dateable candidate while 40% of Democrats vote for Hillary.
  • Trump is the most charming and funniest candidate. More singles (36%) find Trump charming than Bernie (25%), Hillary (16%), John Kasich (11%) or Ted Cruz (11%). When it comes to humor, singles think Trump is the funniest (41%) followed by Bernie (28%) and Hillary (14%).
  • Singles want to grab a beer with Trump. More singles want to grab a beer with Trump (38%) over Bernie (27%) and Hillary (15%).


While Donald Trump may be the preferred candidate to grab a beer with, singles are sick of talking about him on dates.  When Zoosk originally addressed this topic in its “Are Your Politics Getting in the Way of Finding True Love?” survey back in August, 77% would welcome a productive conversation about politics if their date brought up Trump’s campaign.  However, after 8 months on the campaign trail, only 29% of singles feel that way today.  Another noticeable change is as the campaign moves forward, more singles are open to dating across party lines.  The survey found that 84% of singles would date someone from the opposite party, a 9% increase from August 2015.


Author, Dave Willis, tackles the issue in his bestseller, “The Seven Laws of Love”.  He says that while differing worldviews can make for lively discussions, you may be wasting your time with someone who doesn’t agree with you on the really important issues.  “On areas where you disagree, you have to ask yourself the questions, “Am I willing to enter into this relationship knowing this issue may create a lifelong source of unresolved tension in the relationship? Will I be okay if my future children adopt my lover’s beliefs and convictions instead of my own?” If you can’t answer “yes” to those questions, then you may want to tap the brakes,” he says.


Of course, it’s certainly possible to have a happy relationship with someone of different political convictions, but the repercussions are much more complex than most couples may realize.


>Do’s and Don’ts For Dating a Co-Worker

Thinking about dipping the pen in the company ink? In other words, are you trying to date one of your co-workers?


Since many of us work upwards of 50 or 60 hours per week, office romances can be hard to avoid. In fact, according to’s Office Romance Survey, 51 percent of business professionals report engaging in some type of workplace relationship.


Just like relationships forged anywhere else, some office romances will work out — but many won’t.  However, dating within the workplace can have its advantages, as long as you follow these do’s and don’ts so you don’t end up with a failed relationship and without a job.




Ever “Ghost” A Breakup? It’s Exactly What You Think It Is

man textingWe’re likely all guilty of it to some extent, or have experienced it ourselves when it comes to breakups. It’s called ‘ghosting’ and it’s probably what you think it is. It refers to ending a romantic relationship by cutting off all contact and ignoring the former partner’s attempt to reach out. Do you ever tell yourself “it’s like [he/she] fell off the face of the Earth”? Well, my lovelorn friend, you’ve been ghosted.

Just when we thought breaking up with someone over the phone or by text was bad, ghosting is the ultimate avoidance technique for the immature and insecure, who want to avoid the potential fallout of a face-to-face breakup.

But beware ghosters, because it may not always end as easy as you hoped it would. If someone feels they haven’t gotten the closure they need or ends up showing a serious concern for your whereabouts and sends out search teams, you could actually be creating more drama than if you had just told the other person why you were breaking up with them.

It goes without question that technology plays a huge role in this impersonal breakup technique. Host of “Death, Sex & Money”, Anna Sale, told the New York Times that she believes social media enables the avoidance of difficult conversations. “As people have gotten less and less comfortable talking face to face about hard things, it’s become easier to move on, let time pass and forget to tell the person you’re breaking up with them,” she said.

Ghosters don’t have to worry about feeling bad for hurting the other person’s feelings because you’re not there in person to witness their pain.

It does take a lot to fully ghost someone these days. It’s not just about avoiding phone calls. You would have to block them on all social media accounts, avoid having any mutual friends tag you in photos, turn your status off on messaging apps, you may have to move, change phone numbers, let your voicemail box get full…etc. So after all of this, maybe just telling the person ‘not interested’ or ‘it’s over’ is a lot easier, in the end.

Sure, ghosting may be more acceptable for those short and meaningless dating scenarios. Maybe after the first date or two, you just knew there was nothing there; and therefore didn’t care about ever getting back to the person. But when it comes to deeper, long-term relationships, you at least owe the other person a respectable breakup and a decent explanation. Even if it’s just “this just isn’t working out for me.”

Have you ever “ghosted” or been “ghosted”?

Empathy Is A Great Quality, But Can Being Too Empathetic Ruin Your Love Life?

couple for empathyBeing empathetic is a great quality to have. It’s also a very important trait when it comes to intimate relationships. However, being TOO empathetic might actually be ruining your love life, especially if you’re with someone who doesn’t appreciate this great quality, but rather, takes advantage. When you consistently put your partner’s needs above your own, or set your standards too low when considering your own needs in the relationship, it could be problematic.

In this case, the message that you’re sending to your partner is that your needs and feelings don’t matter, says psychotherapist, Dr. Robi Ludwig. “Empathetic people are more sensitive to the feelings of those around them. This can lead to taking responsibility for others’ feeling states, when you really shouldn’t.”

The overly empathetic person may lose the ability to even realize what they need in the relationship. They’re too busy identifying with their partner’s feelings that they can’t make decisions in their own best interest.

There is a clear loss of power and an increase in vulnerability.

“The overly empathetic person can feel burnt out emotionally because they don’t know how to separate themselves from the other person and the emotions the other person is experiencing. Suddenly, their partner’s problems become their own,” says Ludwig.

In intimate relationships, like most things, empathy is supposed to be reciprocal. If you’re the over-empathetic one (it is safe to say women are more empathetic than men) and with someone who can’t appreciate your understanding and kindness, it’s easy to be taken advantage of. It’s no surprise that sociopaths and narcissists tend to prey on these types of people.

A recent article titled “The Empathy Trap”, published in the June 2015 edition of Psychology Today, warns that if you spend more time thinking about your partner’s feelings than your own, focus more on what your partner says during an argument, to the exclusion of what you want to say, or that your mate’s feelings become your own, you may become trapped by your own empathy.

There is no argument that empathy is a great quality and a positive attribute. So, how do you prevent others from taking advantage?

“Ask yourself if the empathy is serving you and the relationship well or not. If the empathy is helping to plug into your partner’s needs without forgetting about yourself and your own needs, then great! But, if the empathy is getting you to forget yourself, your needs and creating an imbalance in the relationship, that’s not good,” says Ludwig.

Being empathetic should never feel exhausting. Sure, we want to not be seen as selfish, but there is nothing wrong with being self-aware. If you feel burnt out as a result of constantly putting yourself in your partner’s shoes and catering to THEIR needs, you need to revisit just how understanding and accommodating you’re being. It’s one thing to be empathetic and another to be someone’s doormat.

-Ashley M. Papa

Science Says Love At First Sight Is Possible For All Of Us, If You Believe

coupleIt may be one of the most debated topics when it comes to relationships: Is “love at first sight” real?

Some say, it is impossible to fall in love with a person instantaneously and that it takes time and getting to fully know one another to fall in love. Then, there are those that say it is real and that you just know right away that you love this person.

Well, according to science, we are all genetically wired for the possibility to experience love at first sight. However, why some experience it and some don’t, comes down to timing and self-assurance.

In a recent survey of thousands of singles, 59% of men and 49% of women said they believe in love at first sight. And, 41% of men and 29% of women say they have experienced it.

Research shows that just as our sex drive can be triggered instantly, (like when you see someone and know right away you would have sex with that person) so can our desire to love.

There are three factors that go into loving someone, says Arthur Aron, a research professor who studies love. You have to be attracted physically, find their personality desirable and you have to feel that the person likes you. That is where the self-assurance comes in. And, we all know how important timing is in any relationship. When you are ready physically and emotionally, it is easier to fall in love faster.

Not to mention, the survey also found that men were the ones who fell in love faster than women. That’s because men are visual creatures.

“[Men] see women who appeal to them physically, and it will trigger the romantic love system faster. Women are custodians of the egg, so they are more careful romantically,” says biological anthropologist, Helen Fisher.

So how do you know if it is actually love or lust at first sight? A separate study shows that where a person looks can determine that. According to the University of Chicago, when people were fixated on the other person’s face, it showed feelings of romantic love. However, when people were focused on the person’s body, it was more lust.

Whether or not you have fallen in love or lust at first sight, it is impossible to know if the relationship will actually last. There is little research on when, why and for whom, love at first sight actually works out for the long term.

Now that we know love at first sight is real and possible for all of us, try not to fight it. It is important to be open to it, let yourself experience it and follow your heart. If it peters out after the first date, fine. But how great a story it would be if your love at first sight experience lasts an eternity.

-Ashley M. Papa

The Look Of Love Is In The Eyes


Your eyes have a lot of power, especially when it comes to love. Having a passionate gaze with another can boost your chances of love, as noted by Dr. Jeremy Nicholson in his recent piece in Psychology Today. Holding eye contact with another not only piques someone’s initial interest, but can also ignite feelings of passion and increase attraction. (as long as it’s not one of those stalker-ish ‘I want to kill you stares’).

In an experiment, researchers paired up strangers of the opposite sex and instructed them to either gaze at their partner’s hands, eyes, or count their partner’s eye blinks for two minutes. After doing so, couples who participated in the mutual eye gazing reported stronger feelings towards one another than any other group. Not just that, but they also admitted to having higher feelings of affection, passion and a general liking for their partner.

The research results prove how important having good eye contact with others can be. It goes beyond just getting that hot guy or girl’s attention at the bar. Having good eye contact with a lover can even help build, maintain or rekindle feelings of passion and love. As Nicholson says, if this works on random partners in a study, imagine what it can do for the relationship you’re already in or want to be in.

Eyes are the windows to our souls, or so they say. We can learn a lot about how someone feels about us just from their eyes. Take the pupil: it’s the one area of body language we have no control over. Science shows that pupils will dilate when someone is interested in us or like what we are talking about. Mutual eye contact is also critical in being a good communicator and good communication is crucial in relationships.

So whether it’s a first or fortieth date, pay attention to your gaze. It has more romantic power than you realize…

Ashley M. Papa

Steak For Him, Salad For Her? Daters Do Order Down the Gender-Line.

tbonesteakongrillIt’s a fact. The gender stereotype that men typically order meat for dinner at restaurants and women order ‘a salad’ is true. According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, diners are still ordering primarily along the gender-based line. And this also holds true when it comes to going on dates.

The general manager of one New York City restaurant, that recently added a “From the Grill” section to its meaty menu, told the WSJ that it wanted to cater to calorie-conscious diners, many of whom are women. The restaurant also didn’t want women to feel like they were being high maintenance by making special requests from the kitchen.

saladOrdering food based on gender-stereotypes specifically holds true on a first date, says Arizona State University psychology professor, Dr. Capaldi Phillips. Perhaps because a woman doesn’t want to be seen as having a big and hearty appetite in today’s image-obsessed society.

Do you ever hear your female friends talking about craving a “hearty” meal or a big T-bone steak with a side of truffle mashed potatoes? Probably not often, if ever. But when a guy is craving such fare, it’s seen as manly and ‘normal’.

Phillips adds that this cultural expectation of diet and gender starts young, with little girls eating more vegetable than little boys. So the more balanced a restaurant is with their menu, the more likely they’ll attract both sexes.

And when it comes to dessert? As imagined, those dishes are typically always created with the women in mind. Even for the ones who say they’re avoiding dessert to “save calories”…mini or lighter portions like sorbet or berries with crème fresh are typically offered on menus just incase the calorie-counter can’t fight the temptation for something sweet. (or wait to get their date home) berries

Food descriptions also play a huge role in who orders what, as women tend to be drawn to fancier sounding descriptions, says one pastry chef.

While this cliché may hold true, I must admit that I have plenty of girlfriends who would opt for a hamburger over tuna sashimi any day, and plenty of manfriends who could never say no to a cookie or something sweet, whether it’s on date #1 or date #235.

Ashley M. Papa

Study: One Drink Makes You Hot. Two Drinks? Not…

Celebratory drink
Tend to feel sexier after a few drinks? (who doesn’t) Perhaps a little more confident? (totally) Well, you may actually want to stop after one cocktail if you’re trying to impress a date with your looks.

A new study shows that people were rated more attractive after one glass of wine, but not after two glasses, compared with when they were sober.

For the experiment, researchers gathered 40 students willing to get a little tipsy. They had their face photographed three times; once when sober, again after one drink and once more after two drinks. A separate group of students then rated how attractive they found each headshot. As it turns out, the photo after one drink rated higher than the sober photo. But the photo after two drinks got the lowest rating.

Researchers don’t know why this exactly is, but some say it could be the greater pupil dilation after one drink (which is usually perceived as positive), more muscle relaxation or even the rosiness of their cheeks.

After two drinks, these features tend to get more exaggerated, perhaps looking more tired than relaxed and more flushed than “rosie”.

It is important to remember that the experiment was done in a controlled setting, where the people analyzing the photos were sober. Other research has showed that after drinking, people perceive others as more attractive. So, you consume a drink and see others as more attractive, but you also become more attractive. Exactly how this plays out in the real world, the lead researchers says, we don’t know. However, I can only hypothesize that it means more sex.

The study was published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism.

Ashley M. Papa