Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Halo Effect

Illustration by Lynn Bonnette

Have you heard of The Halo Effect? If you remember any of those Renaissance paintings where all the saints had golden halos around their heads to indicate their importance, it allowed everyone to know who the important people were. It gave them divine characteristics. Well, The Halo Effect is a little like that. The difference is people blessed with a halo by those around them are not usually deserving of it.

The Halo Effect is when skills, attributes, and potential are attributed to people due to their unusual good looks. We all know attractive people are treated different, which is the basis of The Halo Effect. Here’s a quick example in everyday life. As a teacher, I had a student who could easily be a male model. He was beautiful to look at and in excellent shape, but an emotional weakling in almost every way. All the teachers and coach refused to see it. Someone as handsome as he was had to be intelligent. Nope. Someone with such height and physique had to be great at football player. No again. Any guy with such dark romantic looks would be an amazing boyfriend. A huge no! Despite what everyone witnessed, people continued giving him extra chances that an average student would never get because the adults couldn’t conceive that the student could be lazy, ignorant, limited, and selfish. His appearance indicated he possessed characteristics he didn’t have.

This happens all the time in the dating world. We continue to have high hopes for people who have done nothing to deserve our optimistic thinking. We believe if someone looks like a lead from a rom com, then he should behave in a similar manner. At times like this, it is beneficial to make a pro and con list. Too often, our emotions play havoc with logic when dealing with The Halo Effect. The teachers who‘d been endlessly disappointed by the handsome student kept giving him extra chances because of their own conditioning. Unfortunately, they demonstrated to the average or less than average attractive students that the world is not a fair place.

The Halo Effect can and will guarantee an unhappy relationship. What you think someone should be like does not create a great relationship. Instead, it leads to a series of letdowns. It’s not too surprising that often when we get to know a person our perception of him or her changes. Often a handsome, apathetic beau loses his attractiveness with time. A considerate, average looking guy grows more handsome with each romantic gesture.

Often the shorter man or plainer woman is much more interesting and fun. One reason is they learned to be more entertaining because they realize they can’t rely on looks. The Halo Effect won’t work for them. Considering this, you might want to decide if you are choosing your date with what he could be as opposed to what he is.

Most people understand The Halo Effect and use Photo Shop to benefit from it. People are upset when they meet the owner of the enhanced profile because they believe they no longer have the desired traits that the viewer gave them. Of course, they may never have had them no matter what!

The best way to handle this is to accept that wonderful people come in all sorts of packages. Spend less time looking for the perfect package and more time getting to know people behind the package. Try to keep in mind; no one really wears a halo.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Your Home's First Date

You’ve finally met someone who might be worth keeping. Everything is going well until you visit his home or he visits yours. Suddenly, the relationship takes a turn the other way. Return texts are few and the dates dry up too. What happened?

Your humble abode did not pass the relationship test. Your home has to put on its best face too for the initial meeting. Think how you’d feel if your date showed up in smelly gym clothes. A casual invite occurs after cleaning.

Home Turnoffs

1.       Sloppy. There’s a difference between a jacket on the couch and dishes everywhere and an unmade bed.

2.       Unsettled look. When there is no sign you’re staying. Lack of curtains, wall art, even real glasses as opposed to those souvenir restaurant cups.

3.       Signs of previous visitors of the opposite sex. This could be anything from hairpins, shoes, clothes, toiletries. It doesn’t matter if it belongs to your sibling. She won’t ask, she’ll assume.

4.       Smell. This is hard for people because they are used to the way their place smells. You may have to ask a friend to scent test your place. Anything from bacon, pets, stale smoke, or the locker room stench has to go. A thorough cleaning with a lemon or pine scented product will help, but room deodorizers and candles are good too.

5.       Location. This may not be something you can help. Because let’s face it, you aren’t going to move.  This is more of a female issue because if she feels unsafe, then she’ll not want to stay over.

6.       Pets. Do you have too many? Is your canine vicious? Is your date allergic to cat dander?

7.       Children. Did you mention you had any? Is your child or children in your date’s face?

8.       Roommates. Often your roommate can be a deal breaker. Perhaps your roommate likes embarrassing you or decides to make a play for your date.

9.       Smoking. Your date might be aware you smoke, but it’s an entirely different experience to step in an area steeped in stale cigarette smoke, not a pleasant one.

Home Upgrades

1.       Wall art. You can in mix some photos of you doing fun stuff.

2.       Plants. Go with fake if you can’t do real. Not too many or it starts to feel like a jungle. Green is relaxing.

3.       Wastebaskets in the bathroom. Women appreciate this touch.

4.       Soap by the sink. Full roll of toilet paper on the spindle, preferably not the cheap brand.

5.       An actual sofa as opposed to chairs, which allows the two of you to snuggle while watching a movie.

6.       Clean, coordinated sheets and fluffy pillows.

7.       Boxes of tissues scattered throughout the living room, bedroom, and bathroom.

8.       Actual dishes. You can pick up glass dishes anywhere from Target to the Dollar Store. No reason not to have a couple along with real flatware. Plastic dishes, glasses, and especially forks signals you’re not a grownup.

9.       Clean matching towels in the bathroom. (You only have to have one set in the beginning.)

10.   Food in the fridge. Something besides beer, condiments, and takeout containers. It’s nice to be able to offer your guest a snack or drink.

11.   Lamps. The good thing about lamps as opposed to overhead lighting. It’s more flattering to your skin tone and the use of appropriate dim lightning sets the scene.

 The home visit is a positive step forward, but it can also be a research time for your date. He or she may be doing a little investigation work. Is there any sign of hobbies or interests? Could be checking for signs of a significant other still in the picture. (This is where the answering machine can be a killer, although most people have voice mail.) Could be you bragged about a telescope or a huge movie collection. It helps if you actually own an item you bragged about; otherwise, everything else you mentioned will appear to be a lie.

The home visit doesn’t always seal the deal either. Don’t invite someone over too soon. It would be a shame to go to so much work and end up dumped. Unfortunately, many people instead of working on the premise on what is good about the person work on what is wrong.

It’s possible, your potential sweetie could decide after spending time in your home that the two of you could never work because you have atrocious taste in art or have carpeting as opposed to hard wood floors. Don’t sweat it, because if all it takes is a crystal bell collection or ceramic dragons to scare him off, then he was looking for a deal breaker. Someone who likes who you are won’t mind floor coverings and will find your collections unique because they are part of who you are. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Important 1st Date Red Flags

Recent new events including dates who robbed their date or the rise of dating abuse tends to make the single person wary of dating, but there are some subtle red flags that should give warning. Keeping an eye out and a clear head will help you avoid bemoaning your fate later. Most of these signs can apply to both men and women. Here’s what to look for:

1.    Too good to be true dates.  The ones who are supposedly rich, handsome, and amazingly successful. This a setup to ask for money often before you even meet because once you met you’d realized the truth. One elderly man who signed onto the dating site Seeking Arrangements went out with seventeen years old twins who later robbed him and went on a spending spree with his credit cards after tying him up.

2.     The jokester. This man heckles you about your job, pets, and clothes, whatever. He may think he’s funny, but he is verbally abusing you. He’ll only get worse.

3.     The crazy ex he or she once had. Okay, many people have crazy exes. The fact he wants to talk about her on the first date, talks about she drove him to do stuff, had it coming, or the need for revenge is your neon exit sign.

4.     Being mean to help staff (the waiter, valet, ticket person, etc.) Consider first date behavior should be super nice. If he can’t be civil for the length of a date, then you’re in trouble. It also means he regards those people as less than himself.

5.       Angry driver who displays road rage.

6.  If you ever feel afraid or uneasy, then it is definitely time to leave. It can be a remark, inappropriate touching, bad driving, and the list goes on.

7.   A casual comment about a celebrity recently embroiled in a domestic abuse case being mistreated as opposed to condemning the abuse. The real question is why he mentioned it anyhow.

8.       Too serious, too fast. This person confesses he’s falling for you before the evening is up. Smart, date-worthy people don’t fall that fast, but abusive people do. They’ve learned they have to corner the date, possibly sleep with her, to create a bond.

9.       The date who takes over. You know the one who orders for you without asking.  It’s okay if he asks first & you agree. He starts listing books for you to read and movies for you to see. Even has the nerve to make clothing suggestions. Run away. He only wants to make someone into a clone of his perfect woman.

10.   Cell phone never leaves his hand. He’s on the phone, texting, reading a text, etc. Get the message: you’re not important.

11.   Porno dialogue. You’re interested in his job, siblings, or if he’s a cat or dog person and he’s asking you if you’ll do something he saw in a porn video.

12.   The I just got done with yard work look. It happens. Guy or even woman shows up for a date, unkempt, frazzled, even sporting body odor. C’mon, anyone knows better than this. If your date didn’t make an effort to primp on the first date, then it will never happen.

13.   Irrational jealously.  He or she thinks you’re checking out the wait staff. Resents you being  involved previously. This person will monitor your every move and invent drama where there is none. Scary.

14.   You make your date mad while on the date. Who knows what you did. It might have been checking out the waiter (that you really didn’t.) Now, you’re on the defensive and find yourself apologizing or worse, trying to make it up. Makes you wonder if you're out with an adult.

15. Trash talks your friends. Why would anyone put down people he or she never met? The only reason is to separate you from your friends.

16.   The split personality thing. He’s all charming, but after you come back from the bathroom. He’s surly. Could be a personality disorder, or maybe he was that way all along and the charming part was an act.

Truthfully, it sounds like a list of reasons not to go on the second date, which it is. You can’t meet the person you’ll click with if you spend all your time going out with people you don’t click with. Most of the red flags hint at later abuse. No one needs that.