Lessons from an Internet Dating Service

    The Jewish Singles Network Internet dating service asks each person who is posting their profile to answer the question "What have you learned from past relationships?"  I have read many of the answers and summarized them here.

  1. Communication is important in relationships.
  2. Honesty and openness is important.
  3. Mutual Respect is necessary for relationships to work.
  4. Your lover should be your best friend.
  5. You need to accept your lover for who he or she is.  You can't change someone.
  6. Give your lover space.  Don't smother him or her.

   I'm not sure that item 5 (you need to accept your lover for who he or she is) is totally true.  What happens if a man (Joe) gets married and then his wife (Sue) gains a lot of weight and becomes unattractive.  Joe is likely to ask Sue to exercise and diet.  Sue is likely to feel hurt and say "Joe, you should accept me the way I am."  I think Joe has the right to be upset that the beautiful wife he married has let herself go and become unattractive and that he has the right to complain about it.  One beautiful woman wrote as part of her answer to what she wanted from a perfect date was that he would do his utmost to remain attractive and endearing throughout the years. I think both partner's have a right to expect that from their partner if they make the effort as well.  Often when people get married they no longer feel the need to stay attractive for their partner.  This is discussed further in the marriage section.

    Item 5 is "You need to accept your lover for who he or she is.  You can't change someone."  I believe that people have to be willing to change some of their behaviors and attitudes in relationships, for the relationship to work.   I have heard advice that says not to marry someone because you expect them to change.  That is probably good advice.  However, I think you can date someone and give them a chance to change.  Very few couples will start out perfect for each other.  People have to be willing to change for each other and to work at becoming a happy couple.  For positive change to happen couples have to be able to communicate the changes they want without hurting or antagonizing each other.   When one communicates constructive criticism it is important to do it in a loving way.   It's also important to be willing to receive constructive criticism from your partner without becoming hostile.

    One way to offset the damage constructive criticism can do is to take time to express appreciation for the person.  Such appreciation could be mixed in with the criticism to soften it but could also be expressed at other times.   If one's partner feels appreciated they are much more likely to take constructive criticism in a constructive way. 

 

 


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