Ask Dr. Elaine

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Category: Lifestyle and Holidays

Question (from Sarah):

As a psychologist, what is your opinion of New Year Resolutions?

Answer:

Dear Sarah:

New Year Resolutions can be wonderful or they can be daunting. An important variable that determines the positive or negative effects of New Year Resolutions is the mindset of the person making the resolutions.

It’s not the resolution that is good or bad….it’s the attitude and mental frame that the resolution maker has about the intention. For example: You may resolve to go on a diet and join a gym in the New Year. There is nothing wrong with that! In fact, it’s a very healthy resolution.  As the months of 2015 go by and you continue over-eating and you forget to join a gym…a very negative reaction could be that you feel worthless and angry at yourself. A positive reaction would be to re-evaluate your resolution and decide whether you want to postpone it or readjust your requirements. You may decide to cut out your bedtime snack and instead of joining a gym you can decide to take a 15 minute walk at lunchtime.

Here is another example: You might decide that you want to read a new book every week. You set a goal of reading 52 books in 2015. The first week passes by and you haven’t even visited the library. You could get down about this and think, “I never finish anything I start.” Or you could say, “Okay. I will reexamine this resolution and I will decide to read one book per month for a total of 12 books this year.” This goal is far more attainable.

Get the picture? Basically it’s important not to be too hard on yourself. By the time you’re a Boomer or a Senior you probably know what your reactions/responses are like. You know yourself pretty well by now. You know if making a New Year resolution will end up with self-loathing….or simply needing to reframe your aspirations.

If you are more prone to judging yourself harshly this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider any resolutions at all.  Instead, make your resolutions like easy baby steps leading you toward a goal. By having more manageable and achievable goals you increase the possibility of success and self pride.

Boomers and Seniors have more self-understanding than the younger generational groups and potentially have the best success when dealing with New Year Resolutions. New Year Resolutions are aspirational and having positive and optimistic feelings toward the future year is a very healthy thing.

Enjoy the New Year and good wishes with your resolutions!

Category: Online Dating

Question (from Jill):

How can I avoid dating a narcissist?

Online dating for singles over 50 years old is generally populated by people with more awareness and life experiences than the younger age categories. Most people over 50 have had their relationship experiences with narcissists. Problem is that not everyone really knows what a narcissist is and they are often difficult to clearly identify.

In my own psychotherapy practice I have had many patients over the years describing their first or first few dates with a narcissist. They describe that person as full of themselves, as talking the entire time about themselves, turning any attempt to talk about another topic right back into something about themselves.

This is usually the first obvious glance at narcissism and usually the most easily spotted.

The more subtle and more engaging types of narcissists are those who seem to idealize you, put you on some kind of pedestal. People love to be loved and often are blind to this kind of narcissism. An awareness of how things do fall from pedestals happens when given some small detail that the narcissist feels injured about, will cause a crashing down from that pedestal.

Psychologist Linda Sapadin, Ph.D., in her article on “Living With A Narcissist” describes the various characteristics of narcissism and how to cope or deal with these if you are in a relationship with a narcissistic person. At the online dating level, I suggest you keep these suggestions nearby and your awareness peaked if you experience these characteristics in someone you are just beginning to know.

Beware however about labeling everyone a narcissist. Many of the characteristics that are mentioned are commonly found in everyone from time to time. These aspects are only troubling when they define a person’s personality.

 

Question (from Maggie):

The busiest time of year for online dating is reported to be between the Sunday after New Years and Valentine’s Day. We’re asking Dr. Elaine why she thinks this is true.

I have read that this is a busy time for online dating. The Wall Street Journal theorizes that many people are lonely during the holiday season so they gravitate to their computers. I believe there is more to the story.

Over the many years I have been in practice, I find that I get bursts of additional new patients at the beginning of the New Year and in the fall. I have always thought that people sense a new beginning and a fresh start at the beginning of the calendar year and also at what is traditionally the beginning of the academic year. Once we are adults we think we’re past the influence of the academic year but the experience of a new and fresh start remains imbedded within us.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that as we begin the new calendar year we often feel as though we want to do better things – to make a fresh start: to be better in ways that we judge are better. One of the ways we create a fresh start is by reaching out more to others.  We generate new friendships, socialize more, join additional social clubs or organizations, and we strive to find a good relationship.

Trying your hand at online dating may be a New Year resolution for some. For others, the resolution may be a choice to take action, locating a travel buddy for a long dreamed-of trip to Greece. You might be tired of living in a big house alone and hope to find a house sharing mate.  50PlusConnects.com offers these matching possibilities. The hopefulness of a new year and a fresh start will mean that there will be more people to choose from, too.

Good wishes to all for a fresh start in 2015.

Question (from Bill):

 

I am recently divorced after a 30 year marriage. I would like to date again but I don’t want a serious relationship yet. I don’t think I’m ready for that. On the other hand, I don’t want just a hooking up type of situation either. I feel lonely and would like to have someone to talk with, someone to go to the movies with, go to an informal dinner with. Many of the dating websites seem like you have to want to settle down and meet the love of your life. And, as I said, I don’t want to appear flaky.

Answer:

Dear Bill:

Many people feel exactly the way you do. People who are newly divorced or widowed often need to go through a transition time of catching their bearings again in the world of being single. For you, 30 years have gone by since you were last single. You are not the same person you were 30 years ago, so you can’t expect yourself to suddenly be comfortable with dating or being single.

Many newly single people want sometime to grieve their loss as well as to take time to plan the next stage of their life. Yet, people get lonely and want some closeness with another person. Many people report that they miss just being and talking with someone. Others miss some affection. They miss someone to hug or someone to be physically close. This isn’t necessarily sexual, it can be just warm affectionate nearness.

Our website, 50PlusConnects.com, is intended to serve all these needs of people who are wanting to connect, but on varying levels of closeness or commitment. Your desires can be stated clearly in the narrative section of the profile. That section is the perfect place to describe exactly what you’re looking for. This is the beauty of a site that offers so many things for people. It’s not just a dating site.

Question (from Linda):

I’m afraid to sign up with an Online dating site. I read articles about identity theft, rape, murder victims, and more. Online dating scares me but I know it’s the thing-to-do nowadays. Please help me understand the value of Online dating. Thanks.

Answer:

Dear Linda:

I understand your fears and concerns.  When online dating first started, I too had all the fears you mentioned.  However, as time has gone on, we have learned about many safeguards that can and should be used.  Today, online dating is a most common way of dating.  If you think about it, is it any less safe than meeting up with someone at a party or at a singles bar and then dating that person?  In some ways it is far safer.  You have an opportunity to do much more “interviewing” than in the more traditional ways.

Here are some of the usual tips to ensure your safety.

  1. When you are matched with someone or you find someone who seems like an interesting person, find out more from each other by emails and through the chat room.
  2. Try to find mutual friends, or some way to verify that what the person is saying about him or herself is true.  Google him or her.  Does Google come up with verifications of what that person has been saying about him/herself?
  3. Exchange photos.  See photos with family and with friends.  See how you judge this person’s activities, friends and family.
  4. Next talk by phone.  Do you enjoy the conversations.  Are you still interested in meeting this person.
  5. Meet at a public place such as a coffee shop.  Have your own transportation.
  6. If you don’t have any mutual friends or sense of history about this person do get a background check.
  7. Pay attention to your intuition.  Anywhere along the way, if you hear or feel something that just doesn’t sound right, don’t go any further.  Often that intuition only speaks once. If you ignore it and look to the positive things that you want to believe, you may sadly realize later that your intuition was correct.

The Don’ts:

  1. Don’t lend this person money. It’s a red flag if the person even asks to borrow money.
  2. Don’t meet at your home.
  3. Don’t have the person pick you up in their car.

Hope this helps.  Hope you get more and more comfortable and successful with the online dating process while keeping all the safety tips in mind.

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