Entries in rejection (18)

Wednesday
May182016

Do You Know When Your Partner is in the Mood for Sex?

Sometimes it’s obvious that our partner is interested in having sex—they might give us that seductive look or special touch. But other times it might be clear that tonight’s not the night—our partner might avoid our advances and simply roll over and go to sleep. But often, amidst our busy lives, work responsibilities, and children to care for, it may be much less clear how interested our partner is in engaging in sex. In a recent set of studies, my colleagues and I looked at how accurate people are at picking up on their partner’s interest in sex and how perceptions of a partner’s sexual desire are associated with relationship satisfaction and commitment.1 

First I want to share what we currently know from previous research about perceptions of sexual interest. All of the the past research on perceptions of sexual interest has focused on initial encounters between men and women—that is, men and women rating the sexual interest of a person they are meeting for the first time. The results are very consistent: men tend to show a sexual overperception bias where they perceive greater sexual interest in a women’s behavior than she herself reports. The majority of this research draws on evolutionary psychology and explains these findings as reflecting the fact that it’s more costly (in terms of men’s chances for mating with a good partner and having kids) for men to miss a potential mating opportunity than to perceive that a woman is interested in sex when she actually is not; thus, men tend to err on the side of overperception.2

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Friday
Nov072014

The Truth Behind Online Dating: How It Compares to “Offline” Dating

Read Part 1 of this series here: The Truth Behind Online Dating: What Is and Isn’t Real

Read Part 2 of this series here: The Truth Behind Online Dating: What Motivates Users and Companies

Online daters aren’t really that different from offline daters. I often hear my students claim that people who use online dating are “weirdos” or “that’s for people who can’t get dates in real life.” But the idea that people who prefer online dating are somehow different than offline daters is not supported by science. First of all, different how, exactly? In terms of general personality traits (e.g., openness to new experiences, neuroticism), online and offline daters are not significantly different from each other.1

One study did find that people who have used online dating (ever in their lives) were more sensitive to rejection compared to non-users—but this was a general “have you ever used online dating in your life” question and did not differentiate between one-time users and regular users.

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Wednesday
Sep242014

Rejecting People is Hard to Do: Why People Fail to Turn Down Unwanted Dates

Relationships frequently fall apart due to irreconcilable incompatibilities. Sometimes these incompatibilities are so large that they seem like they should have been obvious from the start (e.g., one person wants children, the other partner doesn’t; one person is deeply religious, the other isn't). Why don’t such dealbreakers prevent relationships from getting off the ground in the first place? Why do people so frequently wind up with incompatible romantic partners?

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Monday
Jun302014

Afraid to Ask Someone Out? Read This.

Bob is interested in dating Anne and thinks that they could really click, but he is unsure whether Anne feels the same way. As a result, Bob is afraid to make a move on Anne because he doesn’t want to be rejected. So Bob plays it cool, thinking that his interest is obvious to Anne, and waits to see if Anne will ask him out. Anne, who is interested in Bob, is also worried about being rejected, and so she also plays it cool and waits to see if Bob will ask her out. They are both holding back because they each fear rejection, but because neither of them make a move, they both assume each is disinterested in the other. They also both think their worries about rejection and interest in dating are obvious. Alas, Bob and Anne never end up dating, because they both waited for the other to make the first move and when the move didn’t happen, they assumed the other was disinterested. You may have experienced versions of this scenario in your own life, or seen it played out on TV or in movies. In this post, I describe research on how the fear of rejection affects how people think and behave when trying to start a new relationship (what researchers refer to as relationship initiation).

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Tuesday
Nov192013

How You Doin’? Self-Esteem Affects How People Flirt

Popular wisdom or results from a cursory Google search suggest that people with lower self-esteem have poor social skills. However, recent research finds that this is not true: In fact, people with lower self-esteem have the same social skills as people with higher self-esteem, but they often don’t feel safe enough to use them.1 This ‘safety’ concern comes into play in situations when one tries to start a relationship with another person, or what researchers call relationship initiation; such situations are risky because one often doesn’t know if the other person is going to be accepting or rejecting,1 and thus the outcome of the attempted initiation is often uncertain. So what do people do when they want to start a relationship but don’t know how the other person will respond?

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Thursday
Oct172013

Does Rejection Lower Self-Esteem?

It seems intuitive, right? Getting a rejection letter from a top college, dumped by the love of our life, or excluded from lunch with friends can make us feel pretty crummy. Rejection can cause us to re-evaluate ourselves and make us think, "Why wasn’t I good enough? What am I doing wrong?" According to the sociometer theory, being rejected by others decreases self-esteem.1 From this perspective, self-esteem represents an internal monitor of our acceptance level in our social world. When our acceptance is high, we feel pretty good about ourselves. But when we experience rejection, we are much more critical of ourselves and modify our behavior in an attempt to restore our sense of belonging. Thus, rejection’s effect on self-esteem is adaptive: it sparks self-reflection and improves our likelihood of gaining acceptance going forward.

But does rejection really lower our self-esteem?

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Monday
Oct012012

Breaking Up Bad: The Best and Worst Ways to Break Up

Many of us, at one point or another, have experienced a breakup. Sometimes breakups are mutual, but more often they are not.1 Further, breakup initiators (the one doing the dumping) have an assortment of strategies—like the classic “it’s not you, it’s me” line, or the dreaded Facebook relationship status change—to choose from when dumping their former darlings.

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Monday
Sep102012

“Insanimus Guano,” Stalking, and How to Deal with Unstable Ex-partners

My friend Jessica just broke up with her boyfriend of 6 months. Why? Her boyfriend’s ex-wife went crazy after finding out he was dating someone new; she created a scene in front of his house that ultimately required him to call the police to get her to leave his property. Suffice it to say, my friend did not want to be involved with someone who brought so much baggage to the table.

I understood all too well. Sadly, many of my closest friends have had similar experiences. A few of my favorite gems (names have been changed to protect the innocent):

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Thursday
Aug162012

Relationship Feeling Like a Hurt Locker? Try Tylenol

Let’s face it, relationships aren’t all “sugar and spice and everything nice.” Sometimes, love stinks. R.E.M. had it right, romance can be downright painful and “everybody hurts sometimes.” What if I told you that you could lesson some of life’s heartache with a (totally legal and over the counter) pill? Well, it’s true, and the remedy is probably already in your medicine cabinet. It’s Tylenol!

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Wednesday
Aug152012

Four-Legged Support: The Benefits of Owning a Pet

Decades of research show that close relationships play a critical role in our health and wellbeing. People need to feel connected to others, and so they fare much better when they have supportive, nurturing relationships with people such as family members, friends, and romantic partners. But what about our relationships with our four-legged friends? Are pets just cute and fun to play with, or can they actually help to meet some of our important psychological needs?

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Monday
Aug062012

Friendship Fallout: The Post-Divorce Apocalypse

Having been divorced more than once, I have noticed a sad, but unfortunate by-product: Losing friends. My ex-husband and I had many mutual friends that we met through some parent networking groups; we hosted play dates and attended children’s birthday parties together. Our shared participation was essential for my adjustment to motherhood. The collateral damage I did not anticipate after the divorce was losing some of these friends.

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Wednesday
Aug012012

Why Does "It's Not You, It's Me" Feel Like "It Really Is Me?" 

A reader recently submitted the following question:

Q: Why does a break up feel like the person is rejecting you? Even though you are pretty satisfied with yourself? I guess what I am also asking is, when someone says “It's me, not you,” why does it still hurt?

A: Thank you for submitting your question. Social rejection is painful in almost any context; being ostracized from others feels bad because it threatens many of our core needs, such as our need to belong.

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Tuesday
Jul102012

How Dare You "Unfriend" Me

Social networking has fundamentally changed how we interact with one another. For example, researchers find, time and again,1,2 that interactive networking sites are helpful in maintaining relationships with our close friends and family as well as with our acquaintances. But these sites have also changed how we end our relationships. The best example of this is the ability to “unfriend” someone on Facebook. With the click of a button, you are able to terminate your Facebook relationship with anyone you had previously friended. However, when a friend decides to cut you off, you receive no notification that you have been unfriended. In fact, you’re likely to only notice the change in friendship status when your total number of Facebook friends goes down or if you search for the person who unfriended you and notice they are no longer listed as one of your friends.

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Thursday
Jun282012

Unrequited Love (Part 2 of 2): Stuck Between Friend and Friendlier

The article below is continued from Unrequited Love (Part 1): Crushin’ on or Crushed by You? Click here if you missed it.

In Part 1, my teenaged self confessed a long-time crush to a friend. Sometimes these situations can blossom into satisfying romantic relationships if both friends are harboring feelings for each other, but if the person who wants more (confessor) admits this to a desired friend who is uninterested (rejector), the two friends must deal with the resulting emotional fallout in their friendship.

The same researchers did a new follow-up study to uncover the specifics of how these friends behaved toward each other after the confessor had been rejected.1 It turns out that particular types of verbal and nonverbal behaviors in the friends’ interactions were indeed linked to whether or not the friendship ended.

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Thursday
Jun142012

Unrequited Love (Part 1 of 2): Crushin' On or Crushed By You?

It's been over a decade, but I still remember the heart-in-my-throat, forgetting-to-breathe moment of agony all too well.  I had just confessed to my friend that I "liked liked him" and was waiting, almost dreading, to hear his response.  Did my crush like me back?  A lot was at risk; admitting my romantic feelings would probably change things between us, no matter his answer. 

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Tuesday
Apr032012

A (Rejected) Fly Walks into a Bar...

Did you ever wonder what drives a fruit fly (aka drosophila melanogaster) to drink? If you’re anything like us, this question keeps you up at night (Let’s hope you’re nothing like us). Well, based on research out of the University of Missouri, it looks like sexual rejection is a prime instigator of fruit fly alcoholism.

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Wednesday
Oct262011

No Really, You're So Money and You Don't Even Know It!

I don’t want to oversell this, but Swingers is one of the greatest movies of all time! I was recently re-watching this classic and realized that not only is it hilarious, but it is also a storehouse for some pretty sage relationship advice. Seriously, how else would we know that the industry standard for a callback is three days (“two's enough not to look anxious, but three days is kind of money”) or that no matter how much you want them to, ex-partners won’t come back until you really forget them?

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Monday
Mar282011

Getting Dumped Hurts Like Hell 

A new study highlights the similarities between physical pain and social rejection. When recently dumped individuals were asked to view a picture of their ex, an fMRI scan revealed that their brain was active in the same areas that process physical pain. 

Kross, E., Berman, M. G., Mischel, W., & Smith, E. E. (2011). Social rejection shares somatosensory representations with physical pain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.