130530 Key to Love

I once went on a date with a neuroscientist.  She was buttoned up and orderly, and I was edgy and blithe. About halfway through the date I asked her how she thought things were going.  “I’m going to need more data,” she replied romantically.

It was cold comfort to find out a few weeks later that she wasn’t the only person who adopted such a baldly pragmatic approach to love.  An Economics PhD named Peter Backus, who once published a research paper called “Why I Don’t Have A Girlfriend,” used an algorithm in his search for true love.

In order to determine his chances of finding a girlfriend in his native England, Dr. Backus applied the Drake Equation – a means for discovering how many evolved civilizations might exist in the Universe.

Employing a series of filters, he determined that there were only 10,510 women in the whole United Kingdom who would be a good match. In other words, he had a 1 in 285,000 chance of finding love.

130530 Pinata of LoveData, Shmata. I’m going to stick with my plan of navigating the dating world with a bat and a blindfold, seeking the Piñata of Love. The big question, though, it this: If finding the right relationship is so difficult, why do we keep screwing them up?

None of us plan to repeat the same mistakes in our relationships – it just turns out that way. When a couple reaches a relational impasse and comes for therapy, it’s usually not because they don’t want to get better or they haven’t tried. No one engages in a behavior without the expectation of a positive result. Most often, they’ve just been using the wrong tools. And when the tools don’t work, their strategy is to use them more often.  (Guys usually go out and get a bigger tool.)  Is this sounding like insanity yet?  The tools couples bring to the table are their unexamined faulty beliefs about the world.  These faulty beliefs sabotage their natural inclination and ability to love.  In The Road Less Traveled, Scott Peck called them the “maps” of our world

Sometimes conscious and sometimes not, we turn our beliefs into rules for the relationship, and their manifestation typically includes words like “must” and “should.”  If all of your words begin with the word “You…” well, that’s a matter for another blog. Learn this lesson:  the relationship can’t change until the rules do. Find a therapist who can help you identify your faulty rules and explore the anger, disappointment and pain that inevitably underpin them. Once that’s done, the actual work of couples counseling gets a lot easier.

Now that you have a better understanding about why you screwed up the last one, I’m going to tell you what not to do in the next one. In my ensuing blogs, I will present you with the 8 Simple Rules for Ruining Your Relationship.  Research shows that most marriage counseling doesn’t really help, and sometimes makes things worse.  This relationship advice in Sarasota is based on experience and science.   addition to seeing these issues every day with couples, you may be assured that over the past few decades I have personally made each of these mistakes, many more than once, so you wouldn’t have to.

It’s the least I could do.