Category: Dating for Men & Women

Dating advice relevant to both sexes

  • How to Love Yourself: A Mini-Manual

    A great question from Marcia, of the epic email exchange from not so long ago:

    “So my question is, how do you love yourself, what does it mean to love yourself and what are the things that you can really do and practice to love yourself. I am interested to know your personal opinion on what loving yourself truly means. I really respect your work and I believe what you have to share is important and that is why I am reaching out to you. I look forward to your reply.  Many thanks and much love and light, Marcia

    Hmm… you ask what it means to love oneself and how to do it, as simply as you would ask for a puff pastry at the bakery. No sweat!

    I’d like to bring to your attention that you also have an answer, and that your answer as good as mine. More on that later. But instead of trafficking in semantics, I’d like to dive directly into things you can do to make yourself feel better. We start with the simple and go to the more advanced: (more…)

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  • On New Year’s Resolutions and Dr Ali’s Book Club

    A few days ago was the first day of the Gregorian calendar, January 1.

    In the countries that use that calendar, the night before January 1 is a festive time. People dress up, ingest large amounts of food and alcohol with friends, and angle to lip-lock with someone at the clang of midnight. They make a big deal of it.

    In the meantime, most of the world (more…)

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  • Five ways success may be hurting your love life

    If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a hard worker and have accomplished a fair amount in your life. Maybe you have an advanced degree, made vice president at your firm, or started a great company. And maybe in spite of success in your career, success in your love life has still been elusive.

    But what if it’s not despite your success but because of it that your love life is anemic? What if success is inadvertently driving love away from you? Over the years of writing books on love for smart, educated, successful folks like yourself and advising thousands of you, here’s what I’ve observed and some suggested remedies.

    1. You think success is more important than love.

    The biggest impediment to love that I’ve noticed is that people spend so much time on their careers that they don’t have time for people. Between conferences, meetings, all-night coding sessions, month-long trials, overnight hospital shift, and report deadlines, who’s got time for love? Isn’t that a luxury to be attended to once all the important stuff is done?

    Wrong. In his magisterial book, Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study, Dr George Vaillant of Harvard Medical School summarized the findings of the 75-year long ongoing study (more…)

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  • Does unconditional love exist?

    Hi Dr Ali,

    I’m hoping that you can help me to resolve an inner conflict. My understanding of unconditional love is that you accept a person exactly as he is; you do not try to change him. My understanding of boundary setting is that you explain to a person when his behaviour makes you feel uncomfortable or disrespected, and if the behaviour persists, you walk away. If you say to a person “I accept that this is who you are, but I do not accept this behaviour in my life, so I need to leave this relationship”, are you not putting conditions on how you are receiving the person? The person may even believe that he is acting in a loving way, doing his best, yet he is repeatedly demonstrating this behaviour that makes you feel not so great. I know that you are a proponent of “no ego”, but isn’t boundary setting automatically an act of egoism? Walking away from a relationship from a place of “self-love” or “self-respect” still requires “self” or ego. Is there any way to integrate the concepts of unconditional love and boundary setting, which seem to be mutually exclusive? — Tammy from Ottawa, Canada

    Thanks for a great letter, Tammy! Unconditional love, boundaries, ego – all great concepts. And it’s important to remember that they are just that – abstract concepts. Of those, perhaps unconditional love is the most abstract. At best, it’s an unattainable ideal, like the horizon, and at worst a stressful hobby, like chainsaw juggling.

    In fact, the whole point of love between two adults is (more…)

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  • Love, Dating & Happiness at Harvard: Ali Binazir at the Harvard Alumni Association

    Love, Dating and Happiness at Harvard
    “Love, Dating and Happiness at Harvard” at the HAA, June 2013

    I gave a 14min talk at a gathering of fellow Harvard alumni in Cambridge in June 2013. Hope you find it useful. (more…)

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  • Your friend’s about to marry a toxic guy. What to do?

    What do you do when you see a dear friend headed for certain disaster? It’s a tough situation, trying to balance your concern for someone you love while still giving the friend his or her space.

    Heck, I’ve been in that spot myself. What did I do? I wrote a thinly-disguised HuffPost article about it, that’s what I did. He got married anyway, and I think we’re still friends. But I digress. Here’s a great letter illustrating that point:

    Hi Dr. Ali,
    I am a big fan of your book and have recommended it to several of my friends. I had a question and was hoping to get your advice. One of my closest friends has been seeing someone who I feel he is a giant screaming neon red flag.

    I’ve tried to talk to her about it, but she’s convinced he will change for her. He’s in his early thirties and has cheated on every relationship he has ever had. His marriage wasn’t going well and he started a relationship with his second girlfriend while still married. His ex before my friend apparently started dating him when he was still closing the book on the second girlfriend and my friend started seeing him while he was still dating the third girlfriend because he said things weren’t going well.

    They didn’t officially start a relationship until she moved out (yes- he never ended the relationship, she did). They’ve been together for a little under two years with large periods of him being away for work for months at time in between and they just got engaged.  They plan to get married in two months.

    I am afraid she will be badly hurt in this process. I understand people have to make their own mistakes but am I misled? Is there a plausible explanation for his behavior? Or is his behavior a sign of a much bigger issue, and she needs to run away hard and fast? Thank you so much, Rhiannon

    Rhiannon –
    Wow, that’s a helluva story. Thanks for sharing.

    Sounds like your friend is setting herself up for a high-speed crash into a wall. This is the most troubling sentence in the letter:

    “I’ve tried to talk to her about it, but she’s convinced he will change for her.”

    Yipes. The probability of this boy changing his behavior and suddenly becoming an obedient boyfriend who’s not interesting in fooling around with other women is not 50%. It’s not 10%. It’s not even 1%. It is precisely ZERO.

    Which means that, if what you say is true, there is a 100% likelihood that he’s going to cheat on her. And that, once they’re married, he’s going to get antsy again and leave the marriage. This dog ain’t learning new tricks; the old tricks are plenty sufficient.

    In general, the idea that someone is going to change when in a relationship with you is a dangerous mixture of fantasy, naivete and blind egotism. Some woman out there volunteered to be Charlie Sheen’s 4001st girlfriend, thinking, “Oh, the other 4000 women were fools. I’m going to be the one who changes him with my loooove.” No, honey. You’re just fool #4001.

    I know it’s hard for people to change behavior because I professionally help them change. So even when they’re super-determined to make a change — to the point of being willing to pay big bucks for it — it’s still hard to do. With this philandering fellow you’re describing, there is zero hope.

    For the other ladies who are reading, the message is this: go for the guy who’s already a good fit for you.

    As for what you can do — well, these situations are tough, because in the end, there’s not a whole lot you can do. People have to live out their own fates and learn through their own mistakes. That said, this is your friend, and if she were cutting her wrists or unknowingly eating rotten shark flesh, you’d stop her. This isn’t so far off.

    Remember, talking sense to her is not going to work that well. That’s going to hit her at the level of the cerebral cortex, and that logical part of her brain went on vacation long ago when she met this guy. Right now, she’s operating at the level of the emotional brain, the limbic system. So you need to hit her with some powerful emotion. Here are some suggestions:

    1. Assemble a panel of friends under the guise of a dinner outing or something. Have every one of them tell her, in no uncertain terms, what they think about this guy. Preferably, there will be people in the audience who went through a similar experience and lived to tell. Drama is good.
    2. Dig up the exes and have them talk to your friend or write a note to her.
    3. Dig up incontrovertible evidence that he’s cheating right now, since there’s a very high probability that he’s been doing it all along. This could be a good wake-up call.
    4. This one worked for me once: Take her on a mental preview of her marriage. She wants to have kids, right? Now have her imagine the little kids going through all the pain of this guy’s cheating ways: “Mommy, why isn’t daddy home? Was that other lady that he was kissing my aunt?” And when the time of the inevitable divorce comes: “Is daddy leaving us because of something I did?” For extra impact, fast-forward to when the daughters are grown up and going through the pain of dating unfaithful men themselves: “Well, we watched you do it, Mom. That’s how we learned.”

    In the meantime, if you’re worried that this guy might be dangerous, read up on The Sociopath Next Door and The Sociopath Test and see if he fits the bill. If he does, it’s a much bigger red flag than you think. In any case, if you do something instead of nothing, at the very least you can rest easy knowing that you’ve done your part.

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  • For a great time, keep these two body parts open

    Recently I came back from a stay in Europe, where several of my friends were generous enough to host me. As an extra perk of these visits, I got to know these friends a lot better.

    After hearing the stories of their romantic woes, I realized that to have a fulfilling love life, there are two body parts that you need to be sure to keep open. No, it’s not the right leg and left leg, although those are important, too. It’s your eyes and your heart.

    What do I mean by keeping your eyes open? It means that you exercise discernment. You’re looking closely to see if this person would make a good match for you. Is she sweet? Is he gainfully employed? Educated? Good family? Mentally stable? In good health? If you’re interested in a long-term match, these factors really matter when selecting a partner.

    At the same time, you want to keep your (more…)

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  • Accessing your own bottomless well of beauty: a personal account

    A couple of weeks ago, I attended a yoga festival conveniently located right down the street from me in Santa Monica. On the first day of this Tadasana Festival, the co-founder (and yoga instructor) Tommy Rosen was conducting a provocatively titled class – Getting High: Yoga and the Infinite Pharmacy Within.

    Well then. Lord knows this happiness engineer isn’t one to pass up a non-pharmacological psychedelic experience, so I was in, baby. What transpired was novel, literally electrifying, completely unexpected, and potentially transformative.

    In my 12 years of yoga practice, I had never experienced (more…)

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  • Happiness Engineering: 3.5 ways to boost your mood instantly

    A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to speak at a friend’s monthly event. It’s a casual, friendly series of informal talks modeled after the TED Conferences, so he calls them FRED Talks (y’know — like a friendly TED). Oh, and you only get 5min to speak.

    Now, by now you may have gathered that, unless I’m underwater, I have a lot more to say than just 5min. So what could I possibly convey to this attentive crowd in 5min that’s potentially life-changing?

    Ah yes — happiness engineering. In those 5min, I taught 3 exercises to the audience, each taking less than a minute to do, which measurably boosted their mood. And in the extra minute, I managed to squeeze in another exercise.

    Increasing happiness and engineering it in our daily lives is a topic I’ve been studying for several years now. In fact, you could say it’s the main focus of the Tao of Dating books for men and women. So expect a lot more on this topic coming from me in the near future.

    And now, the video. If you find it useful, make sure you ‘Like’ it on YouTube, leave a comment so I know you’re alive, and share it with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, smoke signal and carrier pigeon. Thanks!


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  • Six Dangers of Online Dating

    Let it be known: I am not a big fan of online dating.  Yes, at least one of my best friends found her fabulous fiancé online.  And if you live in a small town, or fit a specific demographic (e.g. woman over 45, ultra-busy businessperson, sugar daddy, sneaking around your spouse), online dating may expand opportunities for you.  But for the rest of us, we’re much better off meeting real live humans eye-to-eye the way nature intended. Here are six reasons why:

    1. It’s easy to be fooled by inaccurate signals online.

    Do you think you’re beautiful?

    What most people call ‘beauty’ is actually evolution’s very thorough system of broadcasting our suitability as mates.  Clear skin, good posture, broad shoulders, sonorous voice, bright eyes, shiny hair, graceful movements, pleasant aroma, facial symmetry, articulate speech: evolution has engineered features such as these into us to signal (more…)

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