Friends or a bit more than friends?

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Meeting your match through a dating channel like It’s Just Lunch may not be your cup of tea. Speed dating and online dating isn’t for everyone. And not everyone wants to go to a SDN event or is brave enough to join a Meet Up group. Talk to all those strangers? No thanks!

It’s common sense that we’ll be more likely to meet that special someone if we give ourselves opportunities to meet more people. But it can be hard to find the right context to meet new people. One way to make new friends is, of course, to get passionate about something.

You could for example, get a new hobby. As an alternative to gym-based classes like zumba, yoga, and pilates, you could get fit while making new friends during bootcamp training sessions, which are conducted at different outdoor locations across the island. Social dancing which involves spending lots and lots of time with other people, even after you finish the initial classes, like argentine tangosalsa, west coast swing, and lindy hop, can provide many opportunities to widen your social network. Learning a musical instrument like the ukelele could lead to spending more time with your newly acquired friends to jam and practise after the initial lessons. Helping out at a soup kitchen or dog shelter could bring you closer to someone with like-minded interests.

But getting a hobby which involves meeting lots of other people is only the first step. Making friends is the next step. Just like being on a first date, we sometimes need a bit of help to make friends. Here are 6 tips to help you get to know your new friends better!

1. Playing hard to get can backfire. Research finds that men view women as more attractive when women respond to them rather than take an aloof stance. In contrast, women prefer men who are less responsive. Apparently, men who show eagerness to please seem to come across as manipulative and/or desperate. So, men might want to remain mysterious…at least initially.

2. Pursue interesting conversations. Rather than asking what the other person does for a living, experts advocate asking questions which invite interesting conversations. It could be that couples respond similarly to a question like “have you ever traveled to another country alone?” (this question was a good predictor of romantic compatibility in a 2011 online dating poll), illustrating the wisdom that birds of a feather flock together. But unusual questions can make for interesting conversations and a chance to show genuine interest in the other person.

3. Practice makes perfect. Starting a conversation with someone you don’t really know can feel awkward, but research says that we can get better if we practise. One way is to find someone who’s alone at a gathering or event and begin a conversation.

4. Use humour in your interactions. But do it only if you’re funny! Research shows that the more times a man tries to be funny and the more times a woman laughs at his jokes, the more likely she is to be romantically interested.

5. Are you speaking the same language? Research suggests that interested parties speak in a similar way. The person you’re trying to make a connection with is more likely to respond positively to you if he or she is using the same kind of personal pronouns you use (e.g., “I” and “we” rather than “it” and “that”). Other research finds that we change the way we talk when speaking to someone we’ve a romantic interest in – women lower their pitch while men raise theirs. Even our gestures and facial expressions become more similar to that of the person we’re attracted to. Using the same expressions, so to speak, can be a useful hint about the other person’s interest in you!

6. Paint the town red! A 2008 study found that men were more attracted to women if they were wearing a red shirt than if the shirt was in a different colour. Sometimes, all we need is a little bit of encouragement and help in the wardrobe department! But be warned, it doesn’t work the other way around…

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Shortcuts to a happier life with your partner

Shortcuts to a happier life with your partner

There’s one day in the year we’re especially nice to our loved ones. There’s also another day we’re patient and generous with our time. And yet another that we’re considerate, amiable, sociable and conciliatory. We try to be our best selves on birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays. But what about the other days in the year?

Life in the fast lane often leaves us with spare precious time for romantic gestures during the ordinary work week. So what are some things we can do about it?

Based on recent research, there are actually a few small steps which can make all the difference. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

1. Am I picking a fight because I’m hungry? 
A 2014 study found that couples were more likely to choose to subject their spouse to irritating or annoying sounds (fingernails against a blackboard or ambulance siren) when they were hungry (and having low blood sugar levels). So, have a meal or snack before you engage in verbal battles!

2. Am I punctual? Do I do what I say I’ll do?
A recent study found that couples who intentionally gave as much as priority to their partner as to their work, were less physically and emotionally stressed. Having a relationship work ethic means investing in your relationship, “putting the same kind of energy into active listening, planning time together, finding a workable solution for sharing household tasks, and handling personal stress so that it doesn’t spill over into the relationship” (sciencedaily.com).

3. Do I appreciate my partner and express my appreciation to him/her?
Research shows that successful relationships are rooted in a culture of trust and intimacy. These couples seek to express appreciation for their partner; they also respond in such a way as to meet their partner’s emotional needs. In contrast, the silent treatment — where one responds to demands from one’s partner’s by withdrawing — is a sign of distress within a relationship. The key to a successful relationship is kindness. So practice kindness, starting with this resource list and these ideas.

4. Would I watch and talk about these movies with my partner?
A recent study found that having couples watch and discuss one relationship movie a week over a period of a month, was as effective as conflict management training and compassion and acceptance training in reducing divorce-and-separation rates. Couples trained to manage conflict were encouraged to use active listening when communicating with their spouse, while those trained to communicate with compassion and empathy were encouraged to practice random acts of kindness and affection and to communicate effectively. So if attending therapy sessions is daunting, get comfy on the sofa and discuss these questions with your partner after the movie ends.

Finally, here are some tips for small problems and the basics to building a strong relationship. There are no real shortcuts to the happy life. Kindness takes practice.