On April 17, I had 500 women on their feet yelling “Success is Sexy!” at the Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference. Watch this 45-minute video — including lots of Q&A — to shatter the myth that men are intimidated by smart, successful women, and learn how you can proclaim that your accomplishments are attractive, too!
Wednesday is the day for your Weekly Relationship Tip…
Stop Searching for Your Soul Mate
Some 20% of American couples file for divorce before their fifth anniversary. While the overall divorce rate has decreased in the last few decades, the number of marriages dissolved in those early years has increased. Why?
According to nationwide surveys, 94% of never-married Americans age 20-29 agree that “when you marry, you want your spouse to be your soul mate, first and foremost.” It’s very romantic, really, and the stuff love songs are made of: You live your life as best you can alone, and then one day you meet your other half, the person who completes you in every way. This person always knows how to make you laugh, how to make you feel cherished and will never hurt you.
But looking for a soul mate—and believing your significant other or spouse is your soul mate—can be a recipe for disaster in modern relationships because we are setting ourselves up for disappointment after the first blush of passion fades.
Yes, finding a true friend—someone you ‘click’ with, someone who you can share your emotions with and with whom you communicate well—is central to making a good match. But the idea that there is one person who will fulfill all our needs, one soul mate out there for each of us, is a childish idea that should be put aside with the Tooth Fairy.
The fact that we want to marry our soul mates is an indication of how much importance—and how much pressure—we’re putting on marriage. If our spouse is our soul mate, he or she should be perfect for us, unable to hurt us, and certainly not someone who will reduce us to tears or screams of frustration, right?
But most relationships have some tearful moments and screaming matches, so what then? When we tell ourselves that our spouse must be our soul mate, we’re asking for an element of perfect understanding that’s hard (if not impossible) to achieve, and setting ourselves up to be disappointed.
• In this search for our supposed soul mate, we don’t know what to look for. Are you looking for someone who has similar taste in music? Who makes you go weak-kneed? Are you looking for the opposite-sex version of yourself? What does a soul mate really mean—and are we sure we are prioritizing the right things on our list of characteristics for Mr. or Ms. Perfect?
If we are confused about what a “perfect match” should look like, we’re likely to overlook some perfectly wonderful people for very silly reasons—and are inclined to prioritize more superficial aspects of someone’s personality or interests more than issues of shared faith.
• We’ve put far too much emphasis on one person to provide all our happiness and fulfillment. It’s wonderful to share you life with someone, and the closeness a couple can foster through marriage is a powerful and precious bond. But few successful relationships exist in a vacuum: Our individual happiness and fulfillment comes from all sorts of interpersonal interactions, with friends, family, coworkers and community.
We’re setting the bar too high when we say that a spouse must be your soul mate, meeting your every emotional need. It’s perfectly healthy to shop with your girlfriends, watch sports with the guys and complain about your parents to your best friend from high-school – not your spouse.
In fact, a strong social network is crucial to keeping your intimate relationship working order past that first blush of love. If you have isolated yourself with your soul mate to the exclusion of your friends and family, to whom will you turn when you have a fight with your spouse? Disagreements and hard times are normal—and often necessary—within a growing relationship, and since a marriage is made up of two fallible human begins, we all need some help along the way.
• Mature love is more valuable – and more enduring. The search for a soul mate is a symptom of the consumer culture, says William J. Doherty, a professor of family social science at the University of Minnesota: We are looking to acquire a person who will complete us in the same way we acquire an iPhone to make us feel cool. “Of course, once inevitable tension and conflict arises, I might conclude that in fact this was not my soul mate–and I can justify leaving and setting out on a new quest.”
Just because two people may not complete each other in the romantic way we perceive a soul mate should, doesn’t mean they can’t have a fulfilling relationship. “When the soul mate glow wears off, the real marriage can start—based on mature love that is sustained by daily practices of kindness and connection and tested by conflict and struggle,” says Prof. Doherty.
Nancy Slotnick, a New York City matchmaker, warns that it’s impossible to speak for all couples. “I do believe in soul mates. I just don’t believe everyone gets lucky enough to find that person, but for those that do, I’d tell them to go for it, embrace it.”
She cautions, however, that if years go by and friends tell you that you’re too picky, or that you are constantly drawn to the wrong guy, it’s time to reevaluate your search for a partner. Perhaps your idea of a “perfect” match is holding you back from finding true and lasting love.
Curious? Well, so were more than 120 other SWANS® just like you. Last week, Dr. Alex Benzer hosted me as his guest in a national teleseminar featuring dating tips for smart, successful women. I answered questions, laid out no-nonsense advice and shattered myths left and right.
Missed the show? That’s OK–you can download it here.
This is a must-listen for all your SWANS® out there. And… after you listen, if you want more, email me at swans (at) christinewhelan.com to receive a free BONUS REPORT full of great tips on how to date smart in an economic downturn.
Americans love the institution of marriage — and they like to do it over and over again, as the joke goes. This rise of contingent commitment in the U.S. has been the focus of family research for decades, and Andrew Cherlin is one of the leaders in the field when it comes to describing the changing trend.
Here’s an excerpt from Prof. Wilcox’s review:
How did the U.S. reach this state of affairs — in which marriage is almost universally desired and yet more fragile than ever before, with almost half of all first marriages ending in divorce court and a series of hybrid family forms adding confusion and instability to children’s lives? Mr. Cherlin points to competing “models” or ideas of marriage. On the one hand, he notes, most Americans believe that marriage is the best social institution for bearing and rearing children and that marriage should be grounded in a permanent, faithful and loving relationship. On the other hand, Americans celebrate individualism more than people in other Western societies and so believe that they are entitled to make choices that maximize their personal happiness. When a marriage becomes unsatisfying, difficult or burdensome, according to this model, it can be dissolved — it even should be dissolved.
Such contradictory impulses push the vast majority of Americans into marriage and then push a large minority out again when their dreams of marital bliss go unrealized. It does not help that Americans in recent years have come to see marriage as a symbol more than a covenant — as a kind of “capstone” signaling that they have arrived at a certain position in the world, with a good job, a good résumé and now, it is hoped, a soulmate who will make them happy. Meanwhile, poor and working-class adults — especially men — lack the cushioning financial assets of their privileged counterparts, so they are even less likely to get married or stay married.
It’s a fascinating book — and very readable. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning more about the changing relationship landscape.
PLUS: Watch this space for more: This weekend I’ll be at the Council on Contemporary Families conference in Chicago — along with both Andrew Cherlin and Brad Wilcox.
SWANS, I’ve got two related tips for you this week:
1) Check out my HuffingtonPost column on Dating in a Downturn — It’s packed with 8 tips for recession romance.
2) Sign up for my FREE teleseminar TONIGHT — at 9 p.m. Eastern, 6 p.m. Pacific to hear me talk with Dr. Alex Benzer about dating advice for smart women. If you sign up, you’ll get a bonus link to a Special Report on finding the best match for you in these tough economic times. And it’s TOTALLY FREE.
Have a great week!
The title of my talk is: Success is Sexy: Shattering Myths About Women, Power & Love
And a few of my key takeaway points include:
Myth: Men are intimidated by smart, successful women
Reality: 3/4 of men said a woman’s career or educational success makes her more desirable as a wife, according to a nationally representative 2006 Harris Interactive survey
Myth: Working women aren’t good mothers
Reality: Mothers are role models for their daughters and sons: Men whose mothers worked outside the home were much more likely to seek out a similarly smart, successful woman as a wife themselves
Myth: Powerful women aren’t attractive to men
Reality: Being the boss is sexy: High-status and powerful women were consistently rated as more attractive, according to a 2005 national survey.
But perhaps the most exciting (or hilarious) part of this event is that on Thursday April 16 at 5:15 p.m. I’ll be at the Coralville Marriott doing a joint book signing with Erica Jong and Naomi Wolf.
Which one of these is not like the other?
Click here to watch me LIVE on “The Early Show” on CBS this morning.
It was a short segment, but I’m hoping to get on again to talk about more elements of the economy and dating. In the meantime, if you want my full batch of talking points, click here for my column up on BustedHalo.com today.
Also, you can read an excerpt of my book, Marry Smart: The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to True Love online here.
Here’s to your smart dating decisions!
Dr. Alex Benzer, author of The Tao of Dating and fellow HuffingtonPost.com columnist, and I are hosting a FREE teleseminar on Wednesday April 8 full of advice for SWANS®. “If you’re a smart, successful woman wondering how to
improve your romantic life, you simply can’t afford to miss this teleseminar,” Dr. Benzer has told his fans.
I agree — and it’s 100% free.
Here’s the call info:
Date: Wed 8 April 2009
Time: 6pm PDT/9pm EDT
Call-in #: 218 486 1300
To get the access code to the teleseminar, sign up here:
SWANS and fans: Watch me LIVE on Monday April 6 on CBS’s “The Early Show” as I discuss the pitfalls–and advantages–of dating in an economic downturn. When should you bring up finances? Is your credit score a turn-on or a turn-off? Why are online dating sites getting record numbers of new members? And what does the latest sociological research say men and women are looking for in a mate?
And have no fear: I’ll post the online link as soon as I can, so if you miss the live segment, you’ll have plenty of chances to watch.
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