Category Archives: Relationships

Does your girlfriend suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder?

Dating a Woman with Borderline Personality Disorder.

Women who suffer frоm BPD (Bоrdеrlinе Personality Diѕоrdеr) can profoundly effесt the quality of their significant others lives. One minute everything is fine and the next you fееl аѕ if уоu are walking on eggshells. You never know how she will react to a situation or уоu; will it be with love… or аngеr? Being with her can make you fееl hеlрlеѕѕ and unable to cope. At times you may want to end it, but at the same time you may feel addicted to her. Usually the relationship is an intense one.

It is thought that more than six million реорlе in the U.S. have Borderline Personality Diѕоrdеr and that thеѕе реорlе grеаtlу affect the livеѕ of at least 30 million оthеrѕ. There is some controversy how many women might have BPD compared to men. Old studies say its 75/25, newer studies say its 53/47. The ratio of my caseload is about 75/25, which is why I am writing this article.

What is Borderline Pеrѕоnаlitу Diѕоrdеr (BPD)?

“Borderline personality disorder is a mental health disorder that impacts the way you think and feel about yourself and others, causing problems functioning in everyday life. It includes a pattern of unstable intense relationships, distorted self-image, extreme emotions and impulsiveness.

With borderline personality disorder, you have an intense fear of abandonment or instability, and you may have difficulty tolerating being alone. Yet inappropriate anger, impulsiveness and frequent mood swings may push others away, even though you want to have loving and lasting relationships.”

By Mayo Clinic Staff

 

The reason why men get trapped in rеlаtiоnѕhiрѕ with women who have borderline реrѕоnаlitу disorder is because of their ability to make you feel special and alive. Their intensity is infectious almost like a drug. At the beginning you will probably want to be with her all the time. You may say to yourself I think I found my soul-mate after a very short amount of time. Many times the sexual chemistry is overwhelming. They also may get you to fееl sorry for them and can make you feel that only you can save them. Then they may pull the rug out from under you. You can be feeling greater than ever you have met the love of your life, then she suddenly pushes you away. When she pulls away you may feel a very painful withdrawal, all you want is to get her back in your life. Then all of a sudden she comes back and you feel you are with that incredible person again. Unfortunately, the cycle usually will start all over again. This will effect your self-esteem and you may find yourself obsessing about her all the time.

 

Here are some red flags that your girlfriend may have BPD (borderline personality diѕоrdеr.)

  • Dоеѕ she immediately ореn up tо you about abuse in her раѕt?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе trаѕh her еx-bоуfriеnd or ex-husband even bеfоrе уоu hardly get tо know her? Dоеѕ ѕhе ѕееm tо go on and on аbоut her еx and how he ruined her life?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе have an intense bad rеlаtiоnѕhiр with her parents? Especially with her mother.
  • Is ѕhе always ѕауing bad things аbоut her раrеntѕ tо you? Does she blame her parents for all of her problems?
  • Does she seem to want tо move the rеlаtiоnѕhiр forward at a very quick pace? Maybe showing an intеrеѕt in moving in with you very early in the relationship?
  • Has she suffered or is currently suffering from an eating disorder?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе have temper tantrums in front of уоu and others?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе start horrible уеlling fights with уоu and when you try tо lеаvе she bеgѕ for уоu tо stay?
  • Has she bought you extravagant gifts early in the relationship?
  • Is she willing tо еxрlоrе risky ѕеxuаl behaviors?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе аbuѕе drugs or аlсоhоl?
  • Does ѕhе ѕееm very quick to fall in love with уоu and almost view уоu аѕ her knight in shining аrmоr?
  • Does she have a difficult time being friends with оthеr women?
  • Does she have a lot of associates she calls friends?
  • Is she always busy?
  • Dоеѕ it lооk like a lot of bad things kеер hарреning tо her? Thrown out by her boyfriend, trouble with finаnсеѕ, trouble maintaining a job, еtс?
  • Dоеѕ ѕhе ѕееm to have very compelling excuses and rеаѕоning that explains why these bad things have happened tо her (example, her еx-bоуfriеnd made her run up her сrеdit саrd debts, and that’s why her credit is bad)

If she has one or even two of these traits, it’s probably alright. But if its more than that, it is probably something to look into.

You also may want to check out another list from Boomerang Love

 

How to Cope with the Woman with BPD

Dating a woman with borderline реrѕоnаlitу disorder is exhausting and соnfuѕing. This is because they lасk a ѕеnѕе of who thеу are. One minute she might think of hеrѕеlf as a rеаl реrѕоn and the next minute think of herself аѕ evil and flawed. Thoughts аbоut other реорlе fluctuate rарidlу, as well. She might want to trust others, but at the ѕаmе time, she dоеѕn’t think other реорlе are trustworthy. All of this confusion саn lеаvе her fееling empty, sad, and hollow inside.

The best way tо cope is tо try tо understand what BPD is and how it is effecting you. Learn аѕ much аѕ уоu саn about BPD, its ѕуmрtоmѕ and what a sufferer of BPD gоеѕ through. Mоѕt imроrtаntlу, take care of yourself first and do not take it personally.  A qualified therapist can help you understand what is going on. They can also help you see if you can set boundaries and reduce the drama.  A good therapist should be able to give you some strategies on how to try to change the dynamic of the relationship. Remember you can only do so much since she has to work with you. If it appears it is not changing, do some deep soul searching and ask yourself will I ever get what I need out of this relationship?

As you can see there is no winning with someone with BPD. It will always be an intense push-pull. One day you may feel you have it figured out and the next day you are back where you started from. Will the drama ever stop? Unfortunately, many times these relationships cannot be salvaged.

 

Usually these relationships will end in one of two ways. The most common is she will just kill you off. All of a sudden she won’t talk to you, it’s like the relationship never happened. Almost as if you never existed. She may block your phone, make you feel like a bad person just because you want closure. Other times if you try to end it, they will not let go and create drama. Sometimes they may even stalk you. Usually it is not an easy ending.

 

 

 

How to Stop Hurting When You Have a Narcissistic Parent

How to Stop Hurting When You Have a Narcissistic Parent

Published on PsychCentral

narcissistic parent

“If I accept that I can never have a real relationship with my father, it feels like I don’t have a father. If I accept that, am I still a son?”

Jack’s Story:

Jack is a 45-year-old architect, recently married for the first time. He came to therapy to deal with long-standing feelings of depression. His wife, ten years younger than Jack, wanted to start a family. Jack had spent years keeping a cool and cordial distance from his critical father. Now, as his wife pressed him to become a father himself, he felt flooded by sadness and insecurity. Could he be a good father? What if he messed it up?

Having done much reading, Jack came into therapy with the understanding that his father had many characteristics of a narcissistic personality disorder. Even as an adult, Jack could no right. Jack’s father constantly criticized his life choices, even his thoughts and feelings. Only his father’s way of seeing things was right.

Although Jack learned to expect that his father would react to perceived slights with complete rage, this behavior never became easier for him to bear. Still, part of him continued to hope that things would change. He hoped that some day he could have a “real” relationship with his father that would help him feel better about himself.

How to Feel Better

Jack gradually learned ideas that helped him cope with his painful feelings about his relationship with his father. He also learned that he could have these feelings and move forward in his life.

The following ideas helped him and they can help you, too. They are based on concepts from Buddhist meditation practices and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). The good news is you don’t have to a Buddhist, expert meditator, or be in DBT to greatly benefit from these ideas.

1. DIALECTICAL: means two ideas can be true at the same time. Life is full of opposites that exist together.

We can can feel better when we acknowledge what is AND that change can still occur. We can learn to cope with two opposite ideas.

2. ACCEPTANCE: means that we suffer when we hold onto things we can’t change.

We can accept things, without approving of them, and find new ways to live. When we accept painful realities, we can begin to problem solve.

Here is an especially important point:

Acceptance is more than than today’s ubiquitous phrase: “It is what it is.” This seems to imply: “Whatever. Just deal with it.”

Acceptance does not mean approving of, condoning, or forgiving a situation.

For Jack, this meant that accepting that a father with a narcissistic personality will not change. This is very painful; he will never have the kind of father-son relationship he craves and deserves. At the same time, Jack can move forward in his life. He can learn ways to deal with these painful feelings and have the life he wants (marriage, fatherhood, feeling good).

3. MINDFULNESS: helps us notice our feelings, but not be overwhelmed by them.

There are many ways to practice mindfulness. For example, when Jack felt hit by feelings of grief or fear, it helped him to imagine these feelings flowing out of him like waves roll out of the ocean.

After Jack learned about dialectics, acceptance, and mindfulness, he continued to have negative thoughts about himself and his future. This is normal. Our minds are like Gorilla Glue — they do not want to let go. Jack practiced noticing his self-critical, pessimistic thoughts and letting them go, without beating himself up for it. Sometimes he had to do this many times throughout day. It helped to remind himself that acceptance does not equal liking or even forgiving. It just meant that he was learning to cope and change.

The more Jack practiced Acceptance and Change, the more optimistic he felt. He began to feel that his sense of worth was separate from his relationship with his father. He could make his own choices.

Sangoiri/Bigstock

Loving Someone with Borderline Personality Disorder

By Darlene Lancer, JD, MFT From PsychCentral

 

couple upset woman man 7Caring about someone with borderline personality disorder (BPD) tosses you on a roller coaster ride from being loved and lauded to abandoned and bashed. Having BPD is no picnic, either. You live in unbearable psychic pain most of the time on the border between reality and psychosis. Your illness distorts your perceptions, causing antagonistic behavior and making the world a perilous place. The pain and terror of abandonment and feeling unwanted can be so great that suicide feels like a better choice.

If you like drama, excitement, and intensity, enjoy the ride, because things will never be calm. Following a passionate beginning, expect a stormy relationship that includes accusations and anger, jealousy, bullying, control, and breakups due to the insecurity of the person with BPD.

Nothing is gray or gradual. For people with BPD, things are black and white. They have the quintessential Jekyll and Hyde personality. They fluctuate dramatically between idealizing and devaluing you and may suddenly and sporadically shift throughout the day. You never know what or whom to expect.

Their intense, labile emotions elevate you when they’re in good spirits and crush you when they’re not. You’re a prince or a jerk, a princess or a witch. If you’re on the outs with them, all their bad feelings get projected onto you. They can be vindictive and punish you with words, silence, or other manipulations, which can be very destructive to your self-esteem. Unlike bipolar disorder, their moods shift quickly and aren’t a departure from their normal self. What you see is their norm.

Their emotions, behavior, and unstable relationships, including work history, reflect a fragile, shame-based self-image. This is often marked by sudden shifts, sometimes to the extent that they feel nonexistent. It is made worse when they’re alone. Thus, they’re dependent on others and may frequently seek advice from several people about the same question on the same day. They’re desperate to be loved and cared for, yet are hypervigilant for any real or imagined signs of rejection or abandonment.

For them, trust is always an issue, often leading to distortions of reality and paranoia. You’re seen as either for or against them and must take their side. Don’t dare to defend their enemy or try to justify or explain any slight they claim to have experienced. They may try to bait you into anger, then falsely accuse you of rejecting them, make you doubt reality and your sanity, or even brainwash you as emotional manipulation. It is not unusual for them to cut off friends and relatives who they feel have betrayed them.

They react to their profound fears of abandonment with needy and clingy behavior or anger and fury that reflect their own skewed reality and self-image. On the other hand, they equally fear the romantic merger they try to create, because they’re afraid of being dominated or swallowed up by too much intimacy. In a close relationship, they must walk a tightrope to balance the fear of being alone or of being too close. To do so, they try to control with commands or manipulation, including flattery and seduction. Whereas narcissists enjoy being understood, too much understanding frightens the borderline.

Generally, borderlines are codependent, and find another codependent to merge with and to help them. They seek someone to provide stability and balance their changeable emotions. A codependent or narcissist who acts self-sufficient and controls his or her feelings can provide a perfect match. The borderline’s partner vicariously comes alive through the melodrama provided by BPD.

The person with BPD may appear to be the underdog in the relationship, while his or her partner is the steady, needless and caretaking top dog. In fact, both are codependent and it’s hard for either of them to leave. They each exercise control in different ways.

The non-BPD may do it through caretaking. A codependent who also yearns for love and fears abandonment can become the perfect caretaker for someone with BPD (whom they sense won’t leave). The codependent is easily seduced and carried away by romance and the person with BPD’s extreme openness and vulnerability. Passion and intense emotions are enlivening to the person without BPD, who finds being alone depressing or experiences healthy people as boring.

Codependents already have low self-esteem and poor boundaries, so they placate, accommodate, and apologize when attacked in order to maintain the emotional connection in the relationship. In the process, they give over more and more control to the borderline and further seal their low self-esteem and the couple’s codependency.

Borderlines need boundaries. Setting a boundary can sometimes snap them out of their delusional thinking. Calling their bluff also is helpful. Both strategies require that you build his or her self-esteem, learn to be assertive, and derive outside emotional support. Giving in to them and giving them control does not make them feel more safe, but the opposite. See also my blog on manipulation.

BPD affects women more than men and about two percent of the U.S. population. BPD usually is diagnosed in young adulthood when there has been a pattern of impulsivity and instability in relationships, self-image, and emotions. They may use alcohol, food, or drugs or other addiction to try to self-medicate their pain, but it only exacerbates it.

To diagnose BPD, at least five of the following symptoms must be enduring and present in a variety of areas:

  1. Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment.
  2. Unstable and intense personal relationships, marked by alternating idealization and devaluation.
  3. Persistently unstable sense of self.
  4. Risky, potentially self-damaging impulsivity in at least two areas (e.g., substance abuse, reckless behavior, sex, spending)
  5. Recurrent self-mutilation or suicidal threats or behavior. (This doesn’t qualify for nos. 1 or 4.) Around eight to 10 percent actually commit suicide.
  6. Mood swings (e.g. depressed, irritable, or anxious) mood, not lasting more than a few days.
  7. Chronic feelings of emptiness.
  8. Frequent, intense, inappropriate temper or anger.
  9. Transient, stress-related paranoid thoughts or severe dissociative symptoms.

The cause of BPD is not clearly known, but often there has been neglect, abandonment, or abuse in childhood and possibly genetic factors. People who have a first-degree relative with BPD are five times more likely to develop BPD themselves. Research has shown brain changes in the ability to regulate emotions. For more, read here and here.

Unlike narcissists, who often avoid therapy, borderlines usually welcome it; however, before recent treatment innovations, its effectiveness had been questioned. Use of medication and DBT, CBT, and some other modalities have proven helpful. Borderlines need structure, and a combination of knowing that they’re cared about and firm boundaries communicated calmly.

©Darlene Lancer, LMFT

 

How to Cope When a Loved One Commits Suicide

It’s never an easy thing to lose a loved one. When someone takes their own life, however, it can present its own set of challenges. Here, we’ll discuss how to cope with this particularly difficult type of loss.

Clearing Up Some Myths About Suicide

Suicide is very commonly misunderstood. As a result, it has a large stigma that not only hinders the grieving process, but can keep people from seeking the help they need in the first place. Here are some facts you may or may not have known about suicide:

  • Mental illness can (but doesn’t always) increase suicide risk: Often times, we try to interpret suicide as a symptom of depression. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention explains that this is sometimes the case. However, it is equally true that intense stress, traumatic events, substance abuse, or serious and chronic pain can lead someone to take their own life.
  • Anyone can be a victim of suicide: While the AFSP says that white males in particular are at a higher risk of suicide statistically, there 40,600 lives lost to suicide in 2012, which included men and women of all ethnicities and age ranges. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Suicide doesn’t peak during the holidays. Contrary to popular belief, the holiday season is not an outstanding cause of suicide, which may be a bit of a comfort as the holidays approach. According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is actually at its lowest rate in December. Suicide rates actually tend to spike during the Spring and Fall.

Suicide Loss Differs From Other Types of Death

It’s important to know that the grieving process for a loved one who takes their own life can be dramatically different from most other types of death. While we understand how heart disease, old age, or car accidents work, the path to suicide happens largely internally. In fact, suicide can often occur without any warning signs at all. This isn’t always the case, but it can happen.

Naturally, coping with the loss of someone close to you in this way can be hard in its own special way. Keep in mind as you process these feelings:

  • It’s okay to wonder why: Many suicide victims do not leave a note. Even if they do, you can still struggle with what drove them to the point that they felt this was necessary. Unfortunately, you can’t always get answers, but it’s alright to ask.
  • It’s alright to be angry: When a drunk driver causes an accident that takes a loved one’s life, you know who to be angry at. When someone commits suicide, though, the person who did it and the victim are the same. Thoughts like “How could he do that to us?” or “Didn’t she care about us?” are extremely common and also perfectly natural.
  • Blaming yourself is natural (but it’s not your fault): When something tragic happens, we want to believe we could’ve prevented it. This instinct doesn’t pair well with the first bullet on this list. It’s easy to imagine a “what if” scenarios. The problem is that this often only makes us feel worse. While feelings of guilt are totally normal, be aware that ultimately, the choice was theirs and try not to be so hard on yourself.

All of these reactions are perfectly normal and expected. It’s important to keep in mind that you may experience any or all of these emotions while coping with the grief. While it won’t make the feelings go away, knowing they’re natural can help ease the transition.

Help Yourself Grieve with These Coping Strategies

It’s important to know that the grieving process for a loved one who takes their own life can be dramatically different from most other types of death. While we understand how heart disease, old age, or car accidents work, the path to suicide happens largely internally. In fact, suicide can often occur without any warning signs at all. This isn’t always the case, but it can happen.

Naturally, coping with the loss of someone close to you in this way can be hard in its own special way. Keep in mind as you process these feelings:

  • It’s okay to wonder why: Many suicide victims do not leave a note. Even if they do, you can still struggle with what drove them to the point that they felt this was necessary. Unfortunately, you can’t always get answers, but it’s alright to ask.
  • It’s alright to be angry: When a drunk driver causes an accident that takes a loved one’s life, you know who to be angry at. When someone commits suicide, though, the person who did it and the victim are the same. Thoughts like “How could he do that to us?” or “Didn’t she care about us?” are extremely common and also perfectly natural.
  • Blaming yourself is natural (but it’s not your fault): When something tragic happens, we want to believe we could’ve prevented it. This instinct doesn’t pair well with the first bullet on this list. It’s easy to imagine a “what if” scenarios. The problem is that this often only makes us feel worse. While feelings of guilt are totally normal, be aware that ultimately, the choice was theirs and try not to be so hard on yourself.

All of these reactions are perfectly normal and expected. It’s important to keep in mind that you may experience any or all of these emotions while coping with the grief. While it won’t make the feelings go away, knowing they’re natural can help ease the transition.

Help Yourself Grieve with These Coping Strategies

It’s important to know that the grieving process for a loved one who takes their own life can be dramatically different from most other types of death. While we understand how heart disease, old age, or car accidents work, the path to suicide happens largely internally. In fact, suicide can often occur without any warning signs at all. This isn’t always the case, but it can happen.

Naturally, coping with the loss of someone close to you in this way can be hard in its own special way. Keep in mind as you process these feelings:

  • It’s okay to wonder why: Many suicide victims do not leave a note. Even if they do, you can still struggle with what drove them to the point that they felt this was necessary. Unfortunately, you can’t always get answers, but it’s alright to ask.
  • It’s alright to be angry: When a drunk driver causes an accident that takes a loved one’s life, you know who to be angry at. When someone commits suicide, though, the person who did it and the victim are the same. Thoughts like “How could he do that to us?” or “Didn’t she care about us?” are extremely common and also perfectly natural.
  • Blaming yourself is natural (but it’s not your fault): When something tragic happens, we want to believe we could’ve prevented it. This instinct doesn’t pair well with the first bullet on this list. It’s easy to imagine a “what if” scenarios. The problem is that this often only makes us feel worse. While feelings of guilt are totally normal, be aware that ultimately, the choice was theirs and try not to be so hard on yourself.

All of these reactions are perfectly normal and expected. It’s important to keep in mind that you may experience any or all of these emotions while coping with the grief. While it won’t make the feelings go away, knowing they’re natural can help ease the transition.

Help Yourself Grieve with These Coping Strategies

Dealing with the loss when a loved one commits suicide isn’t a process that’s done in a day. In fact, it can go on for a long, long time. If you need more guidance or just an ear to listen to, here are some resources you can check out for more help:

  • The Mayo Clinic offers several articles guides with additional suggestions on how to cope here. Topics go beyond just the scope of suicide, but many resources relating to grief are applicable as well.
  • The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers guidance on understanding suicide, how to cope, and where you can find support groups in your area or online. You can also read stories from others who have suffered similar losses.
  • If you’re an educator or professional who is looking to help those in your organization learn about and deal with suicide loss, the Suicide Prevention Resource Center has a variety of kits and resources to help you support those under your care.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if you’re considering suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255 in the US) or speak to someone you know. There are always alternatives and, despite how you may feel, it is possible to get the help you need. Speaking personally as someone who has considered and attempted suicide in the past, the darkest moments do not have to be the end. Please reach out.

Photos by Cathy Baird, Antoine K, Sander van der Wel.

Control is what keeps someone co-dependent

By Barry Herbach

This article will explain why you would stay in a relationship that continues to make you feel bad. But the main focus is addiction.

I thought it would be useful to discuss the concept of letting go. This is a process of acceptance. I think this is best illustrated in the serenity prayer.

 “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. “

 Co-dependence is one of the most misused words in psychotherapy. What the word means is that you are a partner in your significant others addiction. The addict is addicted to the drug and you are addicted to the addict. This is why you are co-dependent.

Let’s say you were in a relationship with an alcoholic, who also has been unfaithful many times. You can continue to hope and pray that he or she will wake up and stop this behavior. You can check their cell phone smell their breath. These are the things that you feel will help you control their being out of control. There are dozens of examples like this, I can give you.  But its denial!!

The bottom line in each of these examples, you are trying to control the uncontrollable.  It is only by realizing and accepting that you have no control in these situations that you can gain control.  If you finally allow your self to see that for right now, this is the reality. That there is nothing you can do to change another persons behavior. Then you will be free to move forward. This is the courage that is described in the serenity prayer. Having to change or do something else, requires courage and determination.  So, if we look at your relationship with the addict and that for the foreseeable future they are not changing; you can leave and free yourself.  You will now have control over your choices. You will see that you are powerless over the addicts choices. Then you can let go of your need to fix the addict and finally work on fixing fix you.

This is starting the first step of AA/Al-anon, you are accepting you are powerless over this. You will never get what you want as long as your partner is an addict. You are destroying your life as they are theres. You will only get sicker as they will, l if they try to become control users.

The irony is both of you are trying to control the uncontrollable. It is a disease of control. The answer is let go of the illusion that you are in control. You blame the addict for no letting  go of the drug, yet you won’t let go of the addict. Explain to me the difference. Both of you have the same choice, LET GO OF CONTROL.

There is nothing more freeing and powerful as saying, “I am leaving.” When you do this. There is nothing the person or situation can do to stop you or control you. Once you let go of trying to control something. You are finally in control.

Is Kindness Physically Attractive?

Is Kindness Physically Attractive? | Beautiful Minds, Scientific American Blog Network

Scientific American Blog Network» by Scott Barry Kaufman on October 9, 2014

One of the most robust findings in social psychology is the beauty-is-good stereotype: physically attractive people are perceived and treated more positively than physically unattractive people . But here’s the thing: I have definitely met attractive people who went from hot to not the second they opened their mouths! Vice-versa, some people are so kind and awesome that you can’t help but be attracted to them, regardless of their score on hornotnot.com.

Which has me wondering: I know beautiful is often perceived as good, but isn’t good also beautiful? I mean, I know we are an extremely looks obsessed culture, and research does show that the people we initially perceive as physically attractive tend to follow a very predictable pattern: they are average, symmetrical, and have hormone-dependent features [2]. But don’t things like character and goodness also factor into our perceptions of physical attractiveness?

Enter a new study by Yan Zhang and colleagues. The researchers randomly assigned Chinese participants to one of three groups and had them rate 60 photographs of unfamiliar Chinese female faces. All the photographs were taken from Google, and all of the faces had neutral emotional expressions. After two weeks, the participants rated the same pictures again. But this time, one group of participants were given positive personality descriptors of the people in the photographs (e.g., decent, honest), another group of participants were given negative personality descriptors (e.g., evil, mean), and the third group were given no information about the people in the photographs.

During the first rating, there were no significant differences in ratings of attractiveness among the three groups. But after the second rating, the group given positive personality descriptors of the people in the photographs rated them the most attractive, and the group given negative personality descriptors of the people in the photographs gave the lowest ratings to the photographs.

These results suggest that having a desirable personality may indeed be a factor when judging physical attractiveness. As the researchers note, “This findings indicates that human interior psychological activity is related to exterior physical feature[s], and that a human is the whole entity of psychology and physiology.”

But perhaps this study was too artificial. Maybe the same effects wouldn’t occur for people who we know intimately. There is a series of really fascinating studies conducted by Kevin Kniffin and David Sloan Wilson, in which they address this very issue. As they note, there are evolutionary reasons why personality traits can inform our perceptions of physical attractiveness. Even though beauty is an assessment of fitness value, there is no reason why assessment of fitness needs to be purely physical. Fitness value of a potential social partner can be influenced by both physical and non-physical traits.

In one study, participants rated the photographs of classmates in their high school yearbooks for physical attractiveness, familiarity, liking, and respect. The researchers then had strangers (of the same sex and roughly same age) who had never met the people behind the photographs rate the same photographs for physical attractiveness. In general, the more the people in the yearbook were familiar, liked, and respected, the more physically attractive they were perceived to be. The effect of non-physical traits on perceptions of physical attractiveness was significant for both sexes.

The researchers give a really neat example of their effect. After a particular participant completed her rating, the researchers looked at the photograph of the male who she regarded as least physically attractive. To the researchers, and the strangers who rated this man, he did not seem ugly but actually quite average in physical attractiveness. When they showed her the photograph and asked why she rated him so ugly, her face was one of disgust as she explained what a horrible person he was. She was physically disgusted by the image of this guy, even though his horrible personality has nothing to do with his his physical features. This woman’s perception of this man’s physical attractiveness remained this intense, even after 30 years since last she had seen him.

In a second study, members of a university rowing team were asked after the training and competitions were over for the year to rate all other team members on the following dimensions: talent, effort, respect, liking, and physical attractiveness. The males on the team were also rated for physical attractiveness by a group of strangers about the same age as the crew members (the photo was a group photo).

As in Study 1, for both males and females, perceptions of physical attractiveness were heavily influenced by non-physical traits. Also, the ratings made by the strangers and the ratings made by the crew members who had information about the non-physical traits of the other crew members differed significantly.

As a vivid example, the researchers describe a male team member who was perceived as the slacker of the team and the main focus of negative gossip. It turns out that he was uniformly rated physically ugly by the other members of the team. In contrast was another member of the team, who worked so hard that there were discussions of him as a possible contender for the U.S. Olympic team. This guy was rated by everyone on the team as physically attractive. The most interesting thing is that this large difference in perceived physical attractiveness between the two crew members was not evidenced by the raters who did not know anything about the contributions of these two men.

In a third study, students in 6-week summer archaeology course rated each other on the first day of class on familiarity, intelligence, effort, liking, and physical attractiveness. The same students then did the same ratings again on the last day of class, after working with each other for the 6 weeks on a dig site, working 5 days per week and approximately 8 hours per day with each other. Consistent with the first two studies, non-physical traits (especially liking) contributed to final perceptions of physical attractiveness above and beyond the effects of the initial impressions of physical attractiveness.

On the first day of class, one woman received a below average rating (mean of 3.25) of physical attractiveness by the other members of the class. However, this woman turned out to be a quite popular, well liked, and hardworking member of the group. Strikingly, this woman went from a mean of 3.25 on the first day of class to a mean of 7.00 by the last day of class! Her rating of physical attractiveness increased quite a lot, and she presumably did not do one thing to alter her physical appearance.

These results suggest that sometimes our initially hardwired gut reaction to appearance can be overridden, and sometimes even without effort. All it may take is increased familiarity about the person. As the researchers note, “Among people who actually know and interact with each other, the perception of physical attractiveness is based largely on traits that cannot be detected from physical appearance alone, either from photographs or from actually observing the person before forming a relationship.”

I agree with the researchers that we should be particularly wary of basing physical attractiveness strictly on ratings of photographs by strangers or even on first impressions of physical appearance without at least learning a bit more about their character. But I especially like the beauty tip the researchers give: “If you want to enhance your physical attractiveness, become a valuable social partner.”

I know this is not your standard beauty tip, but the results of these studies do suggest that if you want to improve your physical attractiveness, strengthening the content of your character may be the most effective thing you can do.

© 2014 Scott Barry Kaufman, All Rights Reserved

10 Things You Can Toss With No Regrets

Great article for hoarders and those wanting to move forward in their lives.

10 Things You Can Toss With No Regrets from psychology today

Are you still hanging onto jeans you haven’t been able to zip in a decade, or a grudge against a co-worker that’s long past it’s expiration date? Let’s face it, even if we’re not hoarders we all have stuff from our past—unnecessary keepsakes as well as emotional baggage—cluttering our lives.
Here are some suggestions for what to toss to the curb to make room for better things:

1. Clothes That No Longer Fit Your Lifestyle

Clothes can be a wistful reminder of days gone by—the funky poncho that was so fun to wear back in college or the beige power suite with wide lapels. “Women have a hard time letting go of clothes that hold memories, but if you haven’t worn something in a full year it’s probably time to turn the page on it,” says Donna Smallin, author of Organizing Plain and Simple. Someone else is bound to love it, and any profits from a consignment shop or yard sale can go toward buying something great you can wear now.

2. Your Old Self-Image

Who you were 20 years ago has little to do with the person staring back from the mirror today. Yet many of us harbor old self-images that are hard to shake. Carole Lynch was a mother of two and a respected police officer, yet she hung onto the geeky image of herself as a shy teen with a bad perm and no fashion sense well into her 30s. “One day, as I was cleaning the basement shelves and my hand touched my junior high yearbook, I started thinking about all the murders and rapists I’d taken off the streets,” says Lynch, now 62. “I realized how silly it was to keep a record of my low self-esteem from decades ago.” Lynch didn’t just throw away her book of bad memories; she put it through the shredder as a ritual statement for really letting go of the past.

3. Failed Diet Souvenirs

We all have dieting skeletons in our kitchen pantries—like an abandoned bottom shelf packed with low-carb snacks or high-protein shakes. “We tell ourselves that one day we’ll get back to eating that ‘good’ food, but it may be just a useless reminder of a failed diet that wasn’t right for our body,” says Philip Goglia, author of Turn Up the Heat: Unlock the Fat-Burning Power of Your Metabolism. “Some people crave carbs because their body really does need more of them.” (The same goes for exercise equipment; the stationary bike you keep tripping over in the garage may be there because it never really worked for your body. Get a trial membership at a gym, see what you really like using, and then make a wiser investment.)

4. Nagging Expectations

Of course, most of us have something we wish we could change about our spouse. (For me, it’s my husband’s amnesia about turning out the household lights before going to bed.) “Renegotiating household responsibilities, allowing each partner to toss jobs that just aren’t on their radar screen, can take the pressure off your marriage and leave more room for enjoying each other,” says Detroit psychotherapist Cindy Glovinsky. My husband and I recently negotiated a win-win deal: I’ll do evening light patrol and he’ll cook dinner an extra night every week.

5. Old Grudges

Everyone has someone who did them wrong lurking in their past—the co-worker who snitched on you or the girlfriend who stole your guy. Many of us hold some grudges for years, but when it comes down to it, haven’t we all made mistakes? In a University of Michigan survey, nearly 75 percent of respondents said they believe God has forgiven them for a past misdeed, but only 52 percent of them had forgiven others. “Many of us find it difficult to forgive if the offending party doesn’t own up to their actions and apologize,” says Stanford psychologist Fred Luskin, who teaches forgiveness seminars. “The trick is to give yourself permission to put your bitterness in the past for your own good—regardless of the other person’s actions. Why give all that power to someone who’s done you wrong?”

6. Family Ghosts

Every family history is filled with cherished memories as well as some that are best parted with. Marilyn Paige of Philadelphia felt so strongly that she needed to let go of her family legacy of secrets and lies that at age 33 she legally dropped her last name. “My grandmother was a single mom before anyone knew what that meant,” says Paige, now 47. “She was ashamed and bitter, and passed along that history of guilt to my father. After I filled out the legal forms to officially let go of a family surname attached with such dark feelings, I finally felt free to embrace a new history all my own.” Paige did keep her father’s first name, Heywood, as her middle name, to honor the part of her family history she wanted to hang onto—the loving father who instilled a great sense of humor and curiosity about others in his children despite the nurturing he lacked in his own childhood.

7. A Pack Rat Attitude

Sometimes the main thing standing in the way of tossing keepsakes we no longer need is our attitude. “Many pack rats keep absolutely everything because they can’t bear to think of their mementos as garbage,” says Gail O’Neill, host of HG-TV’s Mission: Organization. “Finding a second home for keepsakes can soften the blow. Even if you can’t sell something, you can usually give it away.” When Maria Rock began remodeling her garage into an apartment for her father, she was at a loss for what to toss. “I couldn’t bear to throw out any of our family collectibles—shelves overflowing with Christmas decorations, stacks of boxes with my grown children’s faded school papers,” says the Chico, California horticulturist. “Then, my dad suddenly died and losing something really precious swung everything into focus.” By the time Rock was done, she had filled an 8-foot trailer bed with dump-worthy items, while salvaging enough ornaments, stuffed animals, and ceramic Santas for 20 needy families to have a merrier Christmas. “I realized that even though I got rid of 30 years worth of accumulated things, my family history would always stay in my heart.”

8. Gifts Wrapped in Guilt

Some people have no sixth sense about gift giving and keep wrapping up that proverbial fruitcake. “Lots of gifts wind up as clutter—usually hidden away in closets—because we feel guilty getting rid of presents from people we care about,” Smallin says. “But if it truly was a gift from the heart, the giver would want you to enjoy it or give it to someone else who can.”

9. Books You’ll Never Read

Great books can be read time and again, but we all have paperbacks that were at ten-for-a-dollar at a garage sale, or titles that looked better on Amazon.com than when they arrived. There’s no written or unwritten rule that says we can’t toss these volumes before we’ve read them cover-to-cover. “For years, I collected serious books on topics that I knew I’d never read, but I thought it made me smarter just having them around—as if through osmosis I would soak up the information,” says Janice Taylor, who recently gave up dozens of books when she moved out of her Brooklyn, New York home of 21 years. “As I started packing, it hit me: Having these unread books didn’t actually make me feel intelligent, but quite the opposite.” Taylor felt really smart as she dropped the piles of books off at a high school for kids who would actually appreciate them.

10. Your “To Do” List

What would you do without your To-Do list for just one day? “You wouldn’t forget the things that are really important just because they aren’t written down,” Glovinsky says. As for all that other stuff? “Let it sit for a day—it will still be there tomorrow, and you’ll have more energy after a refreshing day off.”

Jennifer Haupt is a freelance writer living in Seattle, Washington.

Jennifer Haupt is a writer based in Seattle, Washington. She has written for O, The Oprah Magazine, Readers Digest, and The Christian Science Monitor.

32 ways to make new friends

I like this article, this stuff will work in small groups as well as large.

32 Ways to Easily Make New Friends at Live Events (& how an introvert met 70 people in 12 hours) | Live Your Legend

liveyourlegend.net · July 9, 2014
Easily connect with strangers
Easily connect with strangers

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

– Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends & Influence People

Have you ever been standing alone in a room full of strangers?

You don’t recognize anyone. You’re not even sure you belong there, and you have no idea what to say. You think about darting for the door or at least jumping on your phone so you don’t look like a total loser. Or maybe just the thought kept you from showing up in the first place.

I’ve been there. More than once.

But I can also link almost all of my business or personal success back to the friends I’ve met – often at events that could have felt just like that.

In a couple days, a lot of us will be heading to Portland for the World Domination Summit – probably my favorite event of the the year for hanging around people doing the things you didn’t think could be done.

When I first went to WDS, I knew two people and Live Your Legend was just an idea. I left on Monday morning with dozens of new friends. Friends who not only understood me, but who showed me a new type of possibility – one that landed me right here.

It is experiences like this that have made environment and connection the heart of how LYL helps people find and do work that matters. It’s why we created our How to Connect with Anyone community and it’s why I decided to create today’s rather in-depth guide.

Because it all starts with connection. 

And nothing beats showing up in the real world.

As long as it’s actually fun… So this is meant to be a resource for you to return to before or during a live meetup of any kind – conference, event or just connecting with someone new at the cafe down the street. It’s all universal. If you’re headed to WDS, print this out for your flight and to refer to over the weekend – or for the next time you’ll be around a bunch of new faces.

Also, once you’re done, I’d love to hear your best in-person connection technique in the comments.

There’s a lot to cover, so I’ve broken things down into a few sections. Now, let’s make some friends…

32 Ways to Immediately Connect with Strangers at Live Events

I. Get Your Mind Right

None of this stuff works (or is any fun) if you aren’t coming from the right place…

1. See strangers as friends you haven’t met yet. Thinking about a room of strangers is often intimidating enough to keep you from ever showing up. It’s also usually not true. If you’ve picked an event that aligns with who you are, the people you’re about to meet are your people. Approach conversations knowing you have beliefs and ideas in common.

Reframing strangers as friends also makes it a lot easier to know what to do. With good friends, we listen, try to help, make introductions, remember names and talk about shared passions – all of which we’ll cover below. We do not try to dominate the conversation, shove our product or website down their throat or think about how we can use them to move up some ladder. Treat them as friends you’ve yet to meet and the rest of this stuff becomes pretty obvious.

2. Know that there’s possibility in every conversation. I’ve experienced enough serendipity to know that every new event or interaction has the potential to lead to a new friend, partner or idea. Approach new people that way and it starts to become self-fulfilling.

3. Realize everyone is as scared as you are. No matter how unknown or well known someone is, we all share fears of being in a room with no familiar faces, feeling lonely and not fitting in. That’s natural. Your situation is not special. It’s normal. As soon as you realize you’re in the same place as everyone around you, new faces start to feel a lot more welcoming.

4. Be there to help. Sure, you want to meet people to help build out whatever you’re working on, and that will come. But real connection is built from genuinely caring about serving the people around you. If that’s not your intention, then you’ve come to the wrong place and most of your efforts will backfire. Constantly come back to adding value. People will feel it and your conversations and results will be all the richer for it. Remember Carnegie’s quote above.

II. Make a Plan

Getting the most out of a live event starts long before you get there, so in the days or week leading up, lay out some groundwork…

5. Know and research people you want to meet. Some of the most important interactions often end up being the people you never saw coming. But you still want to create as much luck as possible. Write down the names and a few notes about the people you know will be there who you’d love to connect with. Do some research on their current projects and know what you want to say when you happen to connect. What idea could you share? What specific piece of their work could you sincerely and personally thank them for? Keep this on you during the event.

You could also make a Twitter list so you can follow and interact with them during the event. Thanks to Caleb at Fizzle for that one.

6. Reach out in advance. Go back through your list and send short notes of anticipation. Remind them who you are, let them know you’re excited to meet and how and when you hope to cross paths. Make it a super short email and follow with a couple tweets or other social mentions so they can associate your face with the name and note.

III. Show Up

Here’s what to do once you walk through the door…

7. Smile. I wish I didn’t have to mention it, but it’s too easy to forget when you’re immersed in new surroundings. Smiles are contagious. They show confidence. They make people want to be around you. Any smile is better than none, but also try not to grin like some connection-deprived clown.

8. Obey The 3-Second Rule. I first learned this from a professional pickup artist years ago, but it works magic with any new person. This is your 80/20 rule – it will lead to more interactions than anything else on this page. The rule is simple: When you see someone interesting to talk to, you have three seconds to walk up and say hello. Wait longer and you’ll either overthink it and screw it up or overthink it and never approach. Not sure what to say? It doesn’t matter. Anything is better than nothing, because it takes you from being a no-name in a sea of faces to being an actual person with a story (who had the courage to say hello). If it’s someone you’ve always wanted to meet, you’ll at least be able to open by thanking them for their work and how it’s impacted you.

I shared this rule at my How to Connect With Anyone talk at WDS in 2012 and the next day, a woman named Erica wrote me an email. Here’s one sentence from it:

“I am a very nervous introvert but after finishing your workshop, I went on to meet roughly 70 people in one afternoon and 115 in one weekend!”

She included the list of people she’d met. This stuff works.

Here’s a little bonus video on The 3-Second Rule from Module 2 of our How to Connect With Anyone course on Overcoming Approach Anxiety & Creating Instant Physical Rapport.

Hope it helps…

Don’t see a video? Click here.

9. Warm up. The 3-Second Rule isn’t just for people you recognize. Use it to talk to anyone who looks interesting. And in the beginning, apply it to everyone you see. It’s just like warming up for a race or big talk. You gotta get some reps in and build confidence. Do that by saying hello to anyone you can, when there’s nothing at stake.

10. Take notes. Write down names and memorable details immediately after meeting someone. I keep a list in my iPhone. You could even do this during your chat as long as you tell them what you’re doing – that you really care about remembering their name and following up about something cool they’ve mentioned. They’ll probably be flattered. Better to use a paper notebook than phone if doing this in person, so they don’t think you’re distracted. Notes will make you much more likely to remember them during the event and follow up with something meaningful once it’s over.

11. Know names. No excuses here. No one’s good with names unless they try. Repeat it back to them. Write it down. Introduce them to someone else. Picture a friend who has the same name. If you forget, just ask again. In a pinch, you could introduce them to a friend without mentioning the new person’s name, so hopefully they repeat it back (or ask your friend or spouse to always introduce themselves when they approach you and someone new, just in case you’ve forgotten). Then use it every time you see each other. Hearing your own name makes people feel on top of the world, especially from someone you wouldn’t expect to remember.

Also, don’t expect others to remember yours  – make it easy for them by quickly mentioning your name the next time you meet, especially if you’ve only met once before or if it’s a distant acquaintance you haven’t seen in a long time. And definitely never say something like “so do you remember my name?” or “I bet you don’t remember me.” I’m surprised by how often I hear this and all it does is make the person you’re talking to feel like an ass. People forget. Be nice.

12. Take pictures. I love taking pictures with people I’ve met. It’s a fun way to remember folks, get them to remember you and also great for follow-up. Have fun with it, but don’t be pushy.

13. Bring a small group together. Invite some new friends to dinner or drinks that night or for a little workout. Or with enough advance notice, set up a little party for folks you know and want to meet. That’s what we’re doing with our LYL pre-party and beer tasting on Friday at WDS. I invited all of you as well as a bunch of personal friends and people I’d love to meet.

14. Know your elevator pitch. I don’t like the term, but everyone’s familiar with it. What’s your 30-second story of who you are, what you’re doing and why you care so much? Have something sharp and concise, but be ready to modify to fit the person you’re talking to. And share it with some excitement!

15. Know what you want to say to those you know you want to meet. Do your homework so you don’t get caught fumbling when you bump into your idol in the bathroom (best to wait until after you’re both done, though…). What do you want to thank them for? Who do you know in common? What idea do you want to share? How can it connect with and help their work?

16. Find common ground. Building rapport is all about finding things in common as fast as possible. This can be mutual friends, cities, travels, ideas, businesses, fears, whatever. Being at the same event means you’re already starting with something. Build from there.

17. Know your ABC stories. The more you know your experiences, the higher your odds of quickly finding similarities as you ask questions and learn their story. An easy exercise for this is to write a 1-2 sentence true story about yourself for every letter of the alphabet (My friend Tynan taught me this one). Ask a friend to help if need be. “A” for me might be that I went on a safari in Africa and we almost ran into an elephant in our 6-person motor boat. The point isn’t to tell everyone all your stories (definitely don’t do that) – it’s to have a refined lens for listening to theirs and seeing how you can relate. It also makes for much more memorable conversation.

18. Be interesting, ask interesting questions and become contagious. Do whatever you can to interrupt the usual small talk pattern. Share passions. Anything’s fair game (well, almost). Ask about fun things like recent adventures or what they’re most excited about right now. Tell them the same about you. Don’t ask, “So, um, what do you do?” There are much more entertaining ways to get to that question. One of my go-to questions is, “So, what are you building?”

People want to be around people who are excited about what they’re doing. Energy and passion are contagious. Let it rub off on the people you’re with. But don’t dominate the conversation. Let them do more talking than you. Then play your energy off the things you learn.

19. Meet on their level. If someone is quiet and reserved, you being your wild and crazy extroverted self will likely turn them off. Tone it down to where they are. Your goal is to make people feel welcome and safe. This creates rapport.  You can still be contagious without making people feel like you’re crazy.

20. Be with them and only them. If you’re talking to someone then talk to them. Do not glance all around the room looking for more important people. That sucks. Encourage others to talk about themselves – then listen and actually hear what they’re saying. Make it a game to listen so intently that you pick up on how you can uniquely relate and help.

21. And while we’re on don’ts, DO NOT retreat to mindlessly checking your phone when you don’t have someone to talk to. Leave it in your pocket on “do not disturb”. Anytime you notice yourself pulling it out because you feel alone, use it as a trigger to apply the 3-second rule.

22. Create a time limit. This is especially important for influential people who are constantly being bombarded. Open up by letting them know you’re headed to dinner in two minutes but just had to say …  then offer a memorable thank you and quick idea. If natural rapport and conversation grows from there, go with it, but still only stay a few minutes. It’s much less awkward for you to decide to walk away than them trying to leave. Or if they’re talking to someone, you could just walk up, touch them on the shoulder, apologize for the interruption and say a quick thank you and good bye, and maybe that you’ll try to catch them later in the weekend. Find a way to make contact, but be respectful of their space.

23. Change seats. Don’t sit in the same place during every session or eat or stand in the same area throughout the weekend. Most people do, so show up somewhere different and see who else you can bump into.

24. Take advantage of transitions. Walking into and out of a venue is a natural time to start up a chat. So is any transition. It usually feels less awkward than walking straight up to someone. Say hi to the people beside you. Who knows, the woman in the stairwell might be your future business partner.

25. Make and share introductions. Once you meet someone, think about who else you know that they’d have fun with. If you see a group of friends, introduce everyone to the new guy. Also make an agreement with a few friends that you’ll introduce each other to the people you meet.

26. Be the host. Act as if this is your party. If you see someone alone, go say hi. I don’t care if you don’t know anyone else. Make someone else feel welcome. And you’ll both have someone to talk to. Offer help, directions, introductions, whatever. If you’re headed to a meal, invite them to join. A few years ago, I was at an event where I saw one of my biggest mentors and hugely successful author wander around looking for a place to eat – so I invited him to join us. Made for a hell of a lunch. Remember, no one wants to feel alone. Always be welcoming.

27. Embrace the party. This is crucial. Most the real connection happens between events and after hours. Share unique experiences – get up early for a workout, jump in the river or go bungee jumping (if that’s your thing). Skip a session for an afternoon beer with new friends, go out and do some partying together, get your dance on, stay late, get a little tipsy. These are the non conference things that bring your guard down and turn acquaintances into lasting friends. Take your pick. Be creative. Get a little crazy. And always be sure to dance  – that’s my signature move on the right…

dance a little
dance a little

IV. Follow Up

The event is just the beginning. What comes next is where the lasting friendships form…

28. Send a note and add some value. In your follow-up, thank them for something specific and find a way to offer an idea, article, talk, book, whatever that might help with something they mentioned when you met. Make each note unique and memorable. Do it within 24-48 hours, max. If you wait longer, you’ll probably never do it or it’ll get lost. Send an email as well as snail mail and maybe a tweet. If you have a fun picture, print it out and put it with the letter.

29. Thank speakers even if you didn’t meet. Send a note to the people who left an impression and tell them why.

30. Write about them. For the past couple years, I’ve published summary posts about WDS with mentions and links to the people who taught me something. Then I’ll include a link in my followups.

31. Find a way to connect in real-time within a few weeks. If you care about keeping up, prove it.

And finally…

32. Be You & Allow Others to Be Them

This is the blanket that covers the whole process.

When you’re around accomplished people, it’s easy to want to puff your chest out and be someone you’re not. The problem is that people see straight through the bull sh*t and it kills rapport. Be open, vulnerable and unapologetically you. This connects way better than some Superman story, and makes people actually enjoy being around you. Plus, you being uniquely you helps inspire the person you’re with to do the same. And that’s a rare gift.

Do that and you become unforgettable.

Stop worrying about what to say or what to do. Just show up and care about who you’re talking to.

We’re all coming from the same place. We’re all at least a little nervous. We all wonder where and how we’ll fit in.

And we all want to connect with people who believe in the same things we do.

See us as friends you haven’t met yet.

Then go say hello.

Can’t wait to see a lot of you this weekend!

-Scott