Category Archives: Relationship

How to Face the Passive or Aggressive Partner In Relationship

Most people are afraid of conflict in their relationships. No one really enjoys getting into arguments with their partner, right? But to some, conflict is more terrifying than to others. A passive-aggressive person is deathly afraid of conflict.

When you’re the partner of someone who behaves passive-aggressively, it can feel like you’re locked in an endless dance of anger and frustration. Over my thirty-five years as a marriage therapist, I’ve tried and tested many ways to resolve conflicts and come up with my battle-tested 7 Steps to Resolving Conflicts with your Passive-Aggressive Partner.

In order for any conflict resolution strategy to work, though, you must come to it from a place of empathy for the person who is passive-aggressive, so first let’s learn a bit about passive-aggression.

Why are passive-aggressive people so afraid of conflict?

Like most emotional responses, our attitudes about conflict begin in our childhood. If the conflict your partner saw at home as a kid involved open expressions of anger—and sometimes violence—your partner’s experience has taught them that conflict means someone will get hurt. If, instead of outward expressions of uncontrolled anger, your partner’s family did the opposite and avoided conflict at all costs, your partner likely never learned how to fight fair. Meaning, they never learned that conflicts can be productive tools.

Healthy conflict doesn’t only resolve a dispute, but it can also build understanding and compassion in relationships.

For people who rely on passive-aggressive behavior to get their needs met, their biggest fear is that any overt disagreement will lead to the end of a relationship. Your partner is likely anxious and doesn’t want to tell you directly how they feel because of fear about how you may react. Your partner is scared that you will abandon or divorce them if they assertively express their needs and desires.

Now you know where passive-aggressiveness comes from, here are my 7 Steps to Resolving Conflicts with Your Passive-Aggressive Partner:

1. Cool down.

If you approach your partner when you’re in the throws of an angry emotional reaction, no good will come of it. Your partner will just shut down. So, take some time to breathe and to cool down, examine your anger, and gain control of your emotion before you proceed. Seriously. Take time on this step. This is where things tend to go wrong: when people try to resolve conflicts while they’re emotionally activated.

2. Discuss.

Talk to your partner about what the problem is exactly. Both of you should define the problem from your own point of view. You want to make sure the conversation you think you’re having is the conversation you’re actually having. Don’t try to read your partner’s mind.

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3. Brainstorm.

Work together to come up with ideas and options for solving the problem you’re having. Make a list of all the possible solutions—include ones you don’t like, ones your partner might not like, and ones that sound crazy but could maybe, possibly work. Throw it all out there.

4. Pros and cons.

Now that you’ve got your list of ideas for solutions, go through your list and discuss the pros and cons of the various potential solutions. Talk about what you like about the ideas and what you don’t like. In the discussion you might even come up with more ideas!

5. Win-Win.

Choose the solution that works best for both parties. Have the intention that everyone wins, or at least no one loses. The win-win solution is the best one, but obviously that’s not always realistic in every conflict.

What is The Good Relationship For You

Before you even think about dating or moving onto another relationship, you have to take inventory about your last relationship and figure out what worked, what didn’t and what you need to change in the future.  Ten questions to ask to figure out if your relationship was good for you and what you need to do to change it:

1. Safety: Were you physically, mentally, emotionally or verbally harmed? Were there times you were afraid of what your partner would do or say? Were there times you just dreaded seeing this person?

2. Self-esteem: Did you feel guilty, “less-than”, not good enough, not worthy in your relationship? Does your partner or ex partner criticize your behavior, your looks, or any other traits and qualities? Do you own that criticism and internalize it? Do you beat yourself up because of what you’ve done or continue to do? Are you taking the blame for the failures in the relationship? Has your partner broken up with you more than once because you haven’t changed or haven’t changed enough and you’ve been searching for the magic solution to make this person stay once and for all? Have you jumped through emotional hoops for your partner because he or she never seems to be happy with you? Have you ever hated yourself for being a fool for your partner?

3. Job/career: Did you call in sick because of being emotionally upset? Did you miss work to do things for your partner that he or she would not take care of? Did you neglect your job or career for your relationship? Did you obsess about your relationship to the detriment of your professional life?

4. Children: Were your children neglected when you were arguing with your mate? Were you frustrated or too upset to do things with/for your children? Did you swing between neglect and over-indulgence of your children out of guilt? Have you left your kids too long at a sitter or daycare because you needed to do something with your partner? Are you irritable or emotionally unavailable for your children because of the drain of your relationship? Do your children act rude to you because you’ve had no boundaries with your partner or you’ve been such as doormat for everyone, your chldren see you as one? Have you ever thought that your children may be rude to you because they don’t respect you and they don’t respect you because of the role you play in relationships?

5. Finances: Did you spend money on the relationship that you did not have? Did your partner siphon money off from you? Did your partner ask you “lend” him or her money and you loaned it even though you knew he or she did not have the means to pay it back? Do you spend money on self-improvement because your partner is critical of certain areas? Do you spend money on gym memberships or diet programs because your partner is critical of your weight? Do you spend above your means to be more attractive? Do you pay for things that your partner should pay for or help you pay for? Are you financially frustrated with your partner?

6. Stamina: Does the relationship drain you physically, mentally, or emotionally? Do you lose sleep or neglect your health because of the relationship trauma/drama? Do you have trouble sleeping or turning off your thoughts and that results in being a mess the next day?

7. Legal: Did you ever do anything in your relationship that could get you into legal trouble? Are you so wiped out that you forget small things like getting your car inspected or you are upset and speed or you become so upset you drink and drive? Are there things you are doing that could get you in big or small legal trouble that you would not be doing if not for this relationship?

Tips to Trust on Your Feelings

unduhan-93One reason critical thinking books advise their readers to suppress feelings is the assumption that we cannot trust our feelings. Indeed, we sometimes spontaneously trust others only to find out later that we were foxed; we buy too much food when we are hungry; we book a holiday based on pleasant anticipation and later regret it.

Although there may be some truth to the claim that we cannot trust our feelings, suppressing them comes at a cost. As outlined in an earlier blog post, suppression has negative effects on self-control and on stress.

So the question for every critical feeler becomes: Are there instances where we can trust our feelings? If yes, can we develop rules of thumb for when we can trust our feelings and when we cannot? Here are three.

One rule of thumb is that we should take feelings seriously and not suppress them because they might be important signals. A bad conscience might indicate wrongdoing, and fear might signal danger. However, this is not a sufficient reason to trust feelings unconditionally.

A second rule of thumb is, “know thyself.” Feelings provide us with signals for what is going on in the world. When these signals are accurate, we can trust our feelings; when feelings are not proper signals, we cannot trust them. For example, we should have scruples when we do something wrong. That is, a bad conscience should reliably tell us that we made a mistake.

However, a hardened youth might lack such a conscience while a hypersensitive person may be too conscientious and experience scruples where most people do not. An impostor may even feel pride when he succeeded in deceiving a victim.

The hardened youth has to cultivate feelings that signal wrongness in the right situations and should in any case take scruples seriously.

Hypersensitive people, by contrast, may ask each time they have the feeling whether it corresponds to the severity of the wrongdoing, or whether a deed is wrong at all. It is decent to have a fine moral compass but we should still be able to live on even if we make minor mistakes.

Pride is often a trustworthy signal that we have done something well. Sometimes, however, pride comes up for the wrong reason, for example, when we succeeded in cheating another person or when we boast how much heavy drinking we tolerate. In these cases, we should “reprogram” our feelings such that successful cheating elicits a bad conscience instead of the “cheater’s high,” and the tolerance of heavy drinking is seen as a problem, not as an achievement.

“Know thyself” applies to fear as well. We should know whether we tend to fear too much or too little. Some individuals might fear too much in one situation (for example dangers related to their children) but too little in other situations (for example dangers related their work). Again, people have to adjust their fear-level to what is appropriate in a given domain or situation such that they can trust their feelings in the future.

Know more about unconditional love

There is no phrase so misinterpreted as “unconditional love.”  People use it as an excuse to stay in bad relationships or toshame someone into staying in one. They use it for some ideal they chase when they are not even sure what it means. They use it when they say, “I believe inmarriage,” or “I believe in loving someone until they can love themselves.” or “I’m religiousand want to love unconditionally,” or “I can’t say ‘If you do this, I’m out’ because that is not unconditional love.”

Unconditional love REALLY means, “I love you no matter what happens,” NOT “no matter what you do to me.” It means UNDER ANY CONDITION life throws at us.  I promise not to scream at you because I’m having a bad day.  I promise not to look for love elsewhere if you are. I promise not to blame you if we hit the skids.

The original marriage vow ideal is love, honor, and cherish, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.  In other words, the “for richer or poorer….” part means UNDER ANY CONDITION. If we’re rich or we’re poor. If we’re sick or we’re healthy. If the sun is shining or it’s snowy.  No matter WHAT conditions our relationship has to endure. I will love, honor and cherish you.

Unconditional love does not mean “I love you if you hurt me.” That is not in any wedding vow imaginable. No one says that on their wedding day or whenever they commit. And no one SHOULD.

Commitment ends when repetitive hurt comes in or when a relationship ending INSTANCE comes in (cheating/abuse).  Unconditional love means, “I love you. Love is an action, and you come first with me.” Unconditional love means, “I love you NO MATTER WHAT CONDITIONS OCCUR.” No matter what life throws our way, I will not take it out on you and I will not forget you exist.”

If we are healthy, we must set boundaries for people to stay or go in our lives. These are standards, and they don’t disappear when you find someone to settle down with.

Many people get upset when a person continues to be the person they met. “He’s so messy!” “She’s a nag!” If those things were present when you met and built a loving relationship together, why is it different now? Accepting someone, warts and all, means you knew this going in, so why did you expect it to change?

We’re not talking about terrible, horrible things like cheating or abuse.  We’re talking human foibles.  We’re talking about the little irritants that were present when you met.  If you overlooked them then, continue to overlook them now. If you need some compromise because now that you’re living together, it’s turned into a GIANT irritant, that’s fine.  But don’t lose your mind or withhold your love over it.

On the other hand, if your partner’s behavior is hurting you, why are you getting in deeper instead of getting out? You can’t accept unacceptable behavior, put a ring on it, and expect it to change. However, if you really can’t accept it any longer, it’s time to go.

It’s not fair to enter into a relationship expecting someone to change but that’s a mistake you can avoid in the future.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you promised to love and cherish and now you’re stuck.  You’re not.  But if you have a good partner who is good to you and you make a commitment, unconditional love means you don’t love that partner under ONLY good conditions or withhold love when they forget the jar of pickles for the party.  You love that partner no matter what life has in store for you including their occasional lapses, mistakes and goofups.

Fiction and Fact About Online Dating

I began reading, with warm anticipation, The Other Einstein: A Novel, by Marie Benedict. It was loosely based on what little is known about Einstein’s first wife, Mileva Einstein, and her relationship with one of the greatest scientists in history. Benedict’s take on the Einstein story commenced with promise as the two students, Albert and Mileva, began their friendship, their sharing of a passion for science and mathematics (Mileva’s field), and the blossoming of their love. Einstein came across as delightful and eccentric, and unlike many men of his time, not a man who discriminated against intelligent women; quite the reverse in fact. However, in the novel their apparently equal relationship quickly deteriorated when Albert did not include Mileva’s name on his first important papers, in spite of the ‘fact’ that he and Mileva had worked on them together, and indeed that Mileva had apparently contributed more than Albert.

The real facts are that although there has been speculation that she might have contributed something to these papers, the resounding and most parsimonious conclusion is that she did not and could not have contributed in any significant way, in the sense that there is little evidence that she had the giant intellect and training to think through concepts as unique as these. This is not to say she wasn’t a highly intelligent woman and mathematician, nor that her gifts weren’t put on hold by Einstein’s rise to the top (supported by the beliefs of the day that a woman’s place was in the home, especially once children were born). However there are few people of either sex who could hold a candle to Einstein’s intellectual achievements. So even although this is a novel, I think it strays too far in this respect. Most readers of The Other Einstein not intimately acquainted with the facts about Einstein’s life will definitely get the impression that Mileva was robbed of her right as an author on these papers (and of the Nobel prize later). Albert Einstein is far too giant a figure to sacrifice in this way, even in fiction.

However, this is not as serious a speculation or fictionalization as the depiction of Einstein’s treatment of Mileva as the years went by and he became more famous and she withdrew into the world of motherhood and looking after the home and her husband. Albert’s increasingly humiliating treatment of Mileva is shocking, and a reader who forgets that this is fiction would be hard put not to revise any positive or even neutral views they previously had of the man who, along with Darwin, is probably the best known scientist the world has ever known. As far as I know there is no evidence for this dark change in Einstein’s personality and treatment of his wife. Indeed it doesn’t fit with what we do know of Einstein from writings of his friends and so on. Of course it could be true, or partly true; we will probably never know. Certainly there are plenty of instances of a powerful man treating his wife badly in private and yet outside the marriage everyone thinks he is wonderful. It is a fact that Einstein had a  long affair with his cousin and later married her. It is also a fact that he signed a divorce agreement giving all of the prize money of his forthcoming Nobel Prize to Mileva to support her and their two sons (whom he continued to love and spend time with). Neither of these facts suggest the extreme behavior he displayed towards Mileva in this fictional portrayal. Again my issue is that Einstein is not a fictional character, and to denigrate him like this, even in fiction, is going too far.

The secret to success in relationship

images-40Simone has been dating Jake for several   months. Every time they get together it’s wonderful – he’s sensitive and open, thesex is great. But then he’s gone – no contact for a couple of weeks, then he’s back, two dates nights in the same week, then back a week later, then nothing for 3 weeks. Simone feels like she is on a rollercoaster. She obsesses about him when he’s gone, but is afraid that if she pushes for any regularity or, God forbid, commitment he’ll bolt.

The problem here is that the relationship is Jake’s not Simone’s. He’s setting the pace, the rules of engagement, and she is essentially is taking what she gets. There are a couple of dynamics at work here that are keeping it in this stalemated position.

One is that intermittent reinforcement at play. There is no pattern, Simone is constantly off-balance. Just when she might reach her bottom-line – that Jake is always gone for weeks at a time and she is fed up – he instead shows up. Each time they have two dates in the same week, her brain starts thinking that this is the beginning of a possible change. This trying to connect dots that aren’t there both feeds her obsessing and keeps her emotionally hooked.

The other is that by taking what she gets, by her fear of rocking the boat and making demands, she is not actually getting to explore the relationship or Jake. The purpose of dating is to get to know someone, to see if you are truly compatible. An easy mistake to make is to stay in good dating behavior mode for too long. Both individuals let things go rather than speaking up, they accommodate rather than taking the risk of letting the other person know what they like, don’t like, need. The fact that they are not living together allows the distance to dissipate what might ordinarily become a source of tension.

So how does Simone not settle, make the relationship more her own, change the rules of engagement? Four steps:

She needs to decide what she really wants.

Simone needs to move from being reactive to being proactive, and before she can do that she needs to decide what she really wants. Is she wasting her time with Jake? That’s up to her. She may be fine right now with the excitement without the commitment, or no, she wants to settle into a permanent relationship. She is the only one who can set her own priorities and for this she needs to step back and take a look at what she really needs and wants right now.

She needs to be assertive with Jake.

This is the only way of changing the rules of the game. Simone needs to have input. This does not mean that she needs to lay down a list of demands that she wants Jake to follow. It’s all about the process. She needs to explain to Jake how she feels, that she wants to sensitive to his own fears and hesitations. What they need to discover is whether she can be more honest and whether they as a couple can truly compromise and solve problems. She needs to discover through the process whether Jake, because he cares about her, is willing to listen and make some changes. If she doesn’t she has no way of understandingJake, testing what the relationship can or cannot be. She’ll stay treading water.

She needs to diversify.

Simone is putting all her emotional eggs in the one basket that is Jake, which fuels her obsessions and riding the rollercoaster. It would help her feel less trapped, have a better perspective if she can create other baskets. This may be dating other men, it may be not waiting around to see if he calls on a Saturday and instead make plans to go out with friends. Continuing to take what she gets, staying reactionary will only keep her emotionally dependent and unhappy.

She needs to work on her stuckpoints.

This is likely not the first time that Simone has gone-along-with in a relationship. She may do the same with friends, at work. This is not about her relationship with Jake but about her, her high tolerance for accommodation. Even if Jake feels like too big an emotional challenge to take on right now, she can practice speaking up and being assertive with friends, with colleagues from work.

It doesn’t matter where she starts. Her goal is to practice taking risks, however small, as long as they help her step outside her comfort zone. With practice and successful experiences under her belt, her self confidence will increase. Even if Jake eventually fades away, she will have the tools to run her next relationship better.

What are you thinking about marriage in little age

This is the first of a two-part blog on how we may unwittingly enable our spouses to be either too responsible, or under-responsible. In Part I, I will focus on how over-responsible spouses play a direct role in allowing their partners to do less, while burdening themselves. In Part II, I will examine the ways in which less responsible spouses put over-responsible mates to work, and the developmental price they pay for their irresponsibility.

It’s alarmingly common to be presented in marital therapy with an over-responsible mate married to an under-responsible one. It’s a dynamic similar too Sager and Hunt’s (1979) parental-childlike relationship. Over-responsible partners are easy to spot. After all, they’ve initiated the therapy. The under-responsible may request treatment but usually under duress from the over-responsible. The over-responsible have a tendency to readself-help books and relentlessly cajole the under-responsible to do the same…which rarely works. The over-responsible aren’t always the bread winners, but many are. They tend to initiate sex…and just about everything else. The over-responsible almost always appear exhausted and exasperated in treatment; by the time they get to my office they are fed up and threatening separation or divorce.

The over-responsible have plenty of training before they marry. Oftentimes they were parentified in their families of origin or given age-inappropriate responsibility (Betchen, 1996; Boszormenyi-Nagy, 1965). For example, as a child or adolescent the over-responsible mate may have had sick parents or siblings that merited care. In some cases, they were enlisted, as the eldest or most competent children, by infantile or irresponsible parents who encouraged them to take over parental duties. One client reported that her parents immigrated to the United States but failed to assimilate. She said that from the time she was a little girl she served as her parent’s mediator and interpreter. And some over-responsible mates were born of elderly parents who chronically depended on them. Sounds exhausting doesn’t it? In extreme cases it robs one of childhood. But upon closer look, the over-responsible often mightily contribute to their burdens.

It seems the over-responsible relish being in charge despite the load they claim it to be. And therein lies the rub: The over-responsible spouse wants it all: to be in charge with less stress and responsibility—a real conflict. And they happen to be terrible at compromise. One chief defense is to say that they would gladly give up some responsibility but fear the job wouldn’t get done. What they really mean is that nobody can do it the way they can—a nice way to stay miserably in charge. The over-responsible will be the first to tell you how they do most, if not all of the chores in the house. They fail to admit however, that at times they block anyone else from taking over. When they do give others a chance to help, they can be so critical, their help quits. The over-responsible are famous for firing maid after maid or rendering their assistants at work useless. Over-responsible spouses are somewhat sadomasochistic. Their sadism comes out in the hypercritical, belittling of their spouse and the thwarting of their growth. The masochism is displayed in the enormous burden and stress that they put on themselves by rejecting significant relief. I use the word significant because another defense the over-responsible use is to accept a certain amount of help, but not nearly enough to change the dynamic of their relationships in any significant way.

I want to make it clear that I’m not suggesting that the over-responsible are terrible people. They can be extremely competent, “take charge” individuals who get things done. They’ve been trained from a very early age to be great administrators, and if they don’tburn out too young they can be quite successful. Many also have very good hearts and mean well. Some over-responsible spouses are simply victims of bad luck or circumstances, such as the chronic illness of a spouse or child. Nevertheless, they still remain poor at lightening their loads. It’s not hard to feel sorry for someone who has such difficulties setting limits. From what I can tell, most of their enabling is unconscious.

The cause of Sexual Imperialism

unduhan-92“Me love you long time” is a phrase often used when referring to foreign Asian women and sex.  It may or may not be explicitly associated with illicit sex but the clear underlying message is that the Asian woman’s role is to sexually serve the man.  She is to be docile, unassuming, exotic and demure — yet wildly sexual and uninhibited.  A woman with “slanted eyes and creamy yellow thighs” (lyrics from “Asian Girlz” song) to be tamed and devoured by the white man.

If you ask anyone younger than 30 where the roots are from the line, “Me love you long time”, you’d probably get a blank stare.  They may think it’s just broken English from an Asian women who is truly trying to express genuine affection to someone in English.  The reality is that this phrase, “Me love you long time” is not “I love you” coming out awkwardly in an Asian accent.  Instead, it’s a phrase popularized by Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 movie, Full Metal Jacket, where the line itself is taken from the scene where a Vietnamese woman propositions herself to two American GIs.

The movie’s objective was in capturing the essence and impact of the Vietnam War based on the experiences of a U.S Marines Corps platoon.  The term has since become a popular part of American lexicon spoken with limited insight to the past or a desire to ignore the realities of the present.

The scene unfortunately speaks the ugly truth about collateral damage in wars, especially U.S. military occupation overseas in Asian countries.  The first major American White sexual imperialism occurred during the Philippine-American War (1899-1902).  The Filipinos fought from being colonized by the U.S. but 250,000 lost lives later, they succumbed to the might of America’s military.  While the actual war only lasted three years, there were insurrections and rebellions along the way that kept a large number of American soldiers stationed on the island for more than a decade.  Slash and burn techniques swept across villages as the country lay in waste.  When the soldiers tired of wreaking havoc on the land, this same imperialistic mentality to conquer shifted to the local Filipina women who they referred to as, “little brown fucking machines powered by rice.” *

Filipino women were viewed so subservient and subordinate, not only to White men but also to White women, that U.S. soldiers sexually denigrated them in a way they would never have treated their spouses or other women back home.  “Filipina sex workers, for example, frequently report ‘being treated like a toy or a pig by the American [soldiers] and being required to do ‘three holes’ – oral, vaginal and anal sex.” *

It was this American colonialization period during the turn of the 20th century that gave rise to today’s notorious sex entertainment industry in Asia.  Sex and prostitution sprang up to cater to the American military amidst the backdrop of political and economic plight, despair, and poverty where a man could have “a girl for the price of a hamburger”.*

A few decades later, during the Vietnam War, this only intensified as the conflict took a long and brutal toll on the U.S. military and the American psyche back home.  But on the battlefield, the mind of the fighting soldier must be protected and preserved at all costs, even at the cost of Vietnamese or Thai women and girls.  Consequently, several military bases were stationed in Thailand to shelter up to 70,000 American GIs at any given time for “rest and recreation”.  “With pervasive disregard for human rights, the military grimly accepts and recognizes access to indigenous women’s bodies as a ‘necessity’ for American GIs stationed overseas”. *

Online Dating Tips

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and conventional wisdom both suggest that love is a fundamental human need. Most people meet their significant others through their social circles or work/school functions. However, these pools can be relatively shallow. In the search for a potential date, more and more people are switching to less traditional methods.

Online dating is really popular. Using the internet is really popular. A survey conducted in 2013 found that 77% of people considered it “very important” to have their smartphones with them at all times. With the rise and rise of apps like Tinder (and the various copycat models) who could blame them.  If you want to think about dating as a numbers game (and apparently many people do), you could probably swipe left/right between 10 – 100 times in the span of time that it would take you to interact with one potential date in ‘real-life’.

With the popularity of sites like eHarmony, match.com, OKcupid  and literally thousands of similar others, the stigma of online dating has diminished considerably in the last decade. More and more of us insist on outsourcing our love-lives to spreadsheets and algorithms. According to the Pew Research Center, the overwhelming majority of Americans suggest that online dating is a good way to meet people. Interestingly, more than 15% of adults say that they have used either mobile dating apps or an online dating site at least once in the past. Online dating services are now the second most popular way to meet a partner.

The popularity of online dating is being driven by several things but a major factor is time. Online dating presents an effective solution to a serious problem.

Browsing profiles isn’t nearly as time-consuming (or daunting) as mixing with people in a social context. Statistics suggest that about 1 in 5 relationships begin online nowadays. It’s estimated that by 2040, 70% of us will have met our significant other online.

The problem with a lot of online dating applications is that they don’t really work. Many are just ‘fad’ applications that squeeze money from punters with no intention of matching you with a suitable partner. Before you throw caution to the wind and empty your wallet into the pockets of an online app with the reckless abandon of a love-struck teenager, there are a few things you should know.

1. People lie on their online dating profiles

Ok this is hardly an earth-shattering revelation. Well duh, people want to be appealing. Most people probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it’s more common for people to lie in their online profile than be completely honest.

A study of over 1,000 online daters in the US and UK conducted by global research agency OpinionMatters founds some very interesting statistics. A total of 53% of US participants admitted to having lied in their online dating profile. Women apparently lied more than men, with the most common dishonesties being about looks. Over 20% of women posted photos of their younger selves. But men were only marginally better. Their most common lies revolved around their financial situation, specifically, about having a better job (financially) than they actually do. More than 40% of men indicated that they did this, but the tactic was also employed by nearly a third of women.

Why you must choose about divorce

So, you’re back from summer vacation; you’ve returned to work, and the kids are back in school? Well, beware: You might be headed for a divorce!  It’s true new research finds that divorces tend to rise following vacations.

This study, from the University of Washington, discovered that divorce is seasonal during the periods following both winter and summer vacations. That suggests divorce might be driven by a “domestic ritual” calendar that governs family behavior. And more specifically, that vacations may exacerbate underlying tensions and conflict for couples.

The study was presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association by researchers Julie Brines and Brian Serafini. According to a summary of the research, they found divorce consistently peaks during the months of August and March – times that follow winter and summer holidays.

In the research summary, Brines reported that troubled couples may see the holidays as a time to mend relationships; and they might believe that if they have a happy time “away from it all,” then everything will be fixed and their lives will improve.

But in reality, those vacation periods and time off can be both emotionally charged and stressful for many. And, that may expose cracks in a marriage. That is, the researchers point out that seasonal nature of divorce filings may reflect the disillusionment unhappy spouses experience afterwards — when vacation time doesn’t live up to their high expectation.

“People tend to face the holidays with rising expectations, despite what disappointments they might have had in years past,” says Brines. “They represent periods in the year when there’s the anticipation or the opportunity for a new beginning, a new start, something different, a transition into a new period of life. It’s like an optimism cycle, in a sense. They’re very symbolically charged moments in time for the culture,” she adds.

When that doesn’t pan out as hoped, some couples may make a conscious decision to file for divorce in August — following the family vacation, and before the kids start back at school.

Similarly, the researchers found that divorce also spikes in March, a few months after the winter holidays. Brines suggests that the same issues may be involved during both peak periods – like finances, finding an attorney, taking the actual steps leading to divorce – but it may be that the start of the school year hastens decisions for couples with children in August.

The researchers began by looking at divorce rates throughout the state of Washington, and considered multiple factors that might play a role, such as current economic and employment issues. But even accounting to those possible issues, they found the same pattern: heightened filings emerging in March and August. “It was very robust from year to year, and very robust across counties,” Brines says.

The researchers hypothesized that if the pattern was tied to family holidays, other court actions involving families – such as guardianship rulings – should show a similar trend. And that proved correct.

Future research will examine if the trends noticed in Washington also apply to other states. Brines and Serafini have already analyzed data for Ohio, Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona . Those states that have similar laws to Washington but have different demographics and economic conditions.