Decoding the Tinder Algorithm

Decoding the Tinder Algorithm

For all intents and purposes, I find Tinder fascinating. It has fundamentally changed the workings of the sexual marketplace and if you are single, you simply have to take notice of it, even if you have vowed never to create a Tinder profile.

To me the most fascinating thing about Tinder is its algorithm, which of course is not publically known. But we can speculate; and Tinder’s staff has made certain info available for us through interviews.

Last year Tinder’s CEO Sean Rad admitted to Fast Company’s Austin car in this interview that Tinder has a scoring system where you are rated against other users. Interestingly the score does not measure “attractiveness” as such, but rather “desirability”. Which makes totally sense since attractiveness is something that is very hard to define (although science can tell us a lot about what people in general find attractive, but more about this another time).

You see, on Tinder desirability is not only measured by how many people swipe right on you; it is also measured by your own behavior!

To some degree, however, Tinder still works like “hot or not”. If a lot of people swipe right on you, your rating will be higher while less people swiping right on you will affect your rating negatively. This works the same way as the conventional dating market. Its supply and demand at its best.

Say you swipe right to nearly everyone, though. I used to do that and studies have shown that there is a tendency for men to do just this. This also works like in real life. If you are openly less selective, that will tend to lower your own value.

Generally, Tinder would want to match people of high desirability with other people of high desirability and people with lower desirability with other people of lower desirability. Everyone wants someone who are highly desirable but it goes without saying that someone who are highly desirable would not want someone who is not. Remember that desirability is measured on a number of factors, not only physical attractiveness!

Besides being more selective about who you swipe right to there are a number of other things you can do to improve your desirability score.

Obviously, you should work on your profile photos and your text. I don’t want to get into what constitutes a good profile photo and a good profile text here because that depends on your end goal, but I’ll say one thing: it is absolutely vital that you try to be as honest and authentic as possible!

Putting forth an image of yourself that is not completely true will get you more matches, but when you chat or go out with these people, they will see right through your tactics. Better be authentic. In general, I think we tend to put too much effort into working on our self-presentation than into actually working on ourselves these days.

So your checklist of things to do should include more selective swiping, better photos, and a better profile text.

Now, you should also be aware that how many of your matches you write too will also affect your overall score or rating. How much are you worth to someone who matched you in excitement only for you to never contact them?

I don’t think this is a huge factor because in the end we can only have so many conversations going at one time, but I think it matters a lot for men especially. Basically, Tinder would want to reward men who display traits that are attractive to women because it’ll give the woman a better experience (and vice versa).

An article that I’ll not reference advised the reader to just write everyone they match if only because of the algorithm. I think this is faulty logic and I am sure that Tinder has considered the quality of a person’s chats when tweaking the algorithm.

So if you were to take only one (okay two) things from this post its to be selective about who you match and be proactive about writing those people you do match (but only write as many as you can actually handle having a solid chat with).

My Cringe-worthy Blogging Past

My Cringe-worthy Blogging Past

Today it has been exactly one month since I decided to get back into blogging. Naturally, I have been rereading many of the 136 posts I have published over the course of the last 5 or more years that the blog has existed. Boy oh boy, did I find a lot of cringe-worthy content!

I suppose it’s only natural for most people to cringe a bit when they look at things they produced years ago, but it really stirs all sorts of horrific feelings in me. I won’t delete anything – not a single comma – even if I really, really, really want to. In the end, doing so would be counter to what I want to achieve from here on, which is to display an increased level of openness and authenticity as a writer and human being.

So if I can’t sweep those posts under the carpet and pretend they never existed in the first place I figured I might as well address why it is I feel so embarrassed about the majority of the content on this blog. So without further ado, here’s is the 4 types of posts on The Measured Life I cringe the most about.

1. The overly personal “personal  development” posts

Throughout the years I have written A LOT of ” personal development” type content because, well, I was doing a lot of personal development those days. I was utterly hopeless with women, I was near hopeless when it came to my work life, in general I was pretty much as hopeless as one can be.

Obviously that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point. Things were not going well for me. I believed that my “discoveries” gave me a lot of insights, and certainly they where huge insights to me, but how I thought anyone would take advice on personal development from someone with a very long way to go in terms of his own personal development is beyond my current understanding.

I guess I still like to write personal stories (sigh), so maybe I haven’t learned much at all, but at least I know how to be at least somewhat self-ironic about it these days. Not all people would agree about that last bit, though…

2. The “unsubstaniated science” posts

Well, to start off with giving myself a small pat on the back here, I guess I was miles ahead of Donald Trump when it comes to source criticism, but that doesn’t say much does it? It’s not that anything I have written was ever wrong as such, I did (like I still do) look up scientific articles on sites like google scholar, but somehow those posts always ended up very incoherent and messy anyway. (Probably because of my incoherent and messy mind).

I think that when I realized this I just stopped writing this kind of content altogether. Which made the blog go south in general. And that’s a huge shame. When I look up cultural anthropology (my original field of education), or even behavioral science online theses fields doesn’t seem to get nearly enough attention they deserve. I’m no journalist, but I think that every bit of attention people give important topics like this counts. The world needs ethnography, god damn it!

For example, a topic I have wanted to take up on the blog for years is Facebook and other social media’s (often negative) influence on people’s self esteem. There is a lot of great research done on this trend, but much of it doesn’t get a lot of attention from the media. I  don’t know why that is, actually. Maybe people don’t care to read about it. Maybe it’s bad for business for the social media companies who rule the net.

Either way you should never make statements about something you don’t know enough about. Well, it’s sort of comforting, sort of sad that people much higher in society than me seems to also need to take that class again. Trump, let’s take it together!

3. The “spiritual enlightenment” posts

Boy, have I thought and written a lot about Taoism. It’s not that I’m NOT into Taoism. I still remember when I first read The Tao Te Ching and fell in love with this simple yet very wise ancient Chinese philosophy. But I’m certainly a novice at best when it comes to really understanding it. You have to spend hundreds if not thousands of hours of rigorous study if you want to look at yourself as someone who could teach others about a philosophical tradition such as Taoism. I guess my point is the same of that above: don’t preach about something you clearly haven’t researched well enough.

The Tao Te Ching is less than a hundred pages long, but its verses aren’t very straight forward for someone like myself to understand. It is something you have to give a lot of deep thought if you want to get the subtleties of the text, and I certainly didn’t at the time.

4. The “ins and outs of personality typology” posts

Many of my posts on MBTI were actually quite popular and those are typically the ones still drawing traffic to the blog to this day. Like all of the above they were well meant, and based off of sound theories (if you believe in personality typing anyway) but simply not well composed or anywhere near researched enough.The MBTI has many layers, the cognitive functions are especially hard to understand for a novice.

I have a plan to right this wrong, though, and write the series of posts I originally set out to write. I think understanding the whole frameworks behind the MBTI and the Enneagram can help you greatly in life, and since the main purpose of this blog is to be (even a very minor) positive force in this world I’ll be looking very much forward to getting started with that.

The conclusion

So whats the takeaway of this post? Isn’t it just another cringe-worthy / head stuck up your arse type post?

Well, for one, if anyone ever decides to comment on the quality of my “back-catalogue” I’ll send them here.

Will I stop writing personal stories, though? Or insights into the latest in behavioral science? Or bits on personality typology? Or (if god forbids) even the occasional “spiritual” post?

Those are all topics I still love, so they will naturally be an integral part of the fabric of The Measured Life. Also in the future. But you hereby have my promise that I will think about this post every single time I have a “great” idea for a post about any of the above.

…and then I’ll probably write it anyway.

Life Come Full Circle?

Life Come Full Circle?

Beginnings

That’s me, there on the left. Back in 2009 I was interning with a danish NGO in the Peruvian Andean mountains.  This photo was taken on Taquile Island in lake Titicaca with the kids of our host family as well as with Tara Miller of Paonia Pottery.

At the time this blog was in its heyday, but I never really got to tell the wonderful story of the Taquileans, or that of Tara and her husband Sam who I met on the island. While my frail memory does not serve justice to the many wonderful things that happened during my year in Peru, I luckily still have many of the notes and photos I took.

Back then I was a practicing ethnographer, that is I was studying to become one and my time in Peru was part of my planning to do my master thesis, which eventually became a defense of tourism’s impact on the island community of Taquile. There are many sides to this story, and of course, like most stories, this is not a black and white one. Its something I will get back to over and again on this blog.

I finally graduated from Aarhus University in the summer of 2011, knowing much about how to study the world, but very little on how to be an active participant in it. I  was frightened about having to enter the job market, to say the least. My plan was always to get a PhD and probably end up as a professor somewhere, but I now know that I wanted to pursue this road only because it would be the easiest one to take for me, seeing that it would allow me to stay in my bubble.

Around the time of my graduation, however a lot of things happened in my life, that would eventually lead me down another road. All though, as I will get to later, a road that I think is about to come full circle, at least in part.

So lets turn the time back to the summer of 2011. I had just graduated, but the financial crisis of 2008 was still making it hard for recent graduates, especially those in the humanities, to find proper employment. Because of that and because of other things, among them my then girlfriend breaking up with me (doesn’t love always get the fault for these things though?) I decided to move back to my home town of Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark.

Back in Copenhagen, I had been lucky to find an apartment I could sublet for two years, but I needed someone to share the expenses with. This was still in the fairly early days of Facebook (well, I think I first got on in 2007), but I did eventually put a post up about needing a roommate there. And doing just  that turned out to be one of the best things I had ever done, and it has since been a testament to me how much positive power social media can have on your life!

Among others, I got a reply from Kristina, a girl who I incidentally (hmmm…I think not!) had interned with in Peru.

On the plow

So in December of 2011 we moved in together in this tiny 50 square meter (well, tiny for a guy and a girl who aren’t in a  relationship) apartment in the Østerbro neighbourhood of Copenhagen. In many ways Kristina has since then been my guardian angel and I hope that I’ll some day be able to repay her for everything that she has done for me.

I can thank Kristina forthe fact that I work in project management today (she got me the interview). I can also thank her for understanding women better (I used to have no clue whatsoever!) although alll you fine women out  there are still quite an enigma to me! That’s what makes it interesting in suppose.

I couldn’t begin to count the hours she must have been listening to me yapping on about my failed attempts at love without asking of much in return. And I don’t know how much I ever really gave her in return, to be honest.

A huge part of my problems in life has indeed started with how self-centered of a person I have been. I guess even my ethnographic endeavours have been, for a large part, due to this self-centeredness. Even as I write this, it gets to me that what do you really care. There is no context for you to put this information in.

This is somehow where we really get back to square one of this story. I had a pretty difficult start in the job market, and so was very thankful to even have a job, and this month I can celebrate three years anniversary at a great job with great colleagues, one of them being aforementioned Kristina.

But over those years out of university I also slowly settled into an inertia of sorts. Like I think many of us do. A full time job takes a lot of your mental energy and the more responsibility you have at your job the harder it can become to pursue hobbies like writing this blog in your free time, when all you have energy to do after an 8 hour workday is to be a couch potato and watch reruns of Star Trek: The Original Series.

That’s what I told myself anyway!

In fact, I no longer believe in this whole thing about work-life balance. Your work doesn’t end when you clock out and your life does’t magically begin at that same time.

I now aim for my work to inspire what I do in my free time and what I do in my free time to inspire what I do for work. Ultimately, I think you have a great thing going when you both look forward to getting back to work when you are off, and look forward to getting home to your family or whatever it is at the end of the work day. The feeling has to go both ways. What I think most people do is solely looking forward to getting off of work while not thinking about how they can make their work meaningful.

I will not deceive anyone into believing that the job I have is my dream job. Its not. I am lucky to have a boss, though who understands this. He even said at one point that he totally understood if I was to pursue something else.

At the time I didn’t get the true significance of that, but now I see that I am one hell of a lucky guy to have a boss who sees things in  such a way. When a colleague of mine parted ways with our department it was very amicable, and I am happy to know that when the day comes when I too will do so, it will be in the same manner.

Coming full circle

My boss’ attitude is the kind I think you should be looking for in an employer. Its also the attitude I think you should be implementing in your job as the CEO of your own life. That is, you should pursue more of what thrills you in life, and spend less time on things that don’t.

I truly understood this when I recently began taking up photography as a serious hobby. I love the process of selecting the right equipment, composing a good photo, and post-processing for a stunning, authentic final result.

I love the fact that the images I have taken so far has brought genuine smiles on many peoples faces. It has facilitated conversations, both online and offline, that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Generally, it is making me a happier, more confident person day by day.

What I don’t like, for example, is the way people behave on apps like Instagram, in general how social media today encourage you to ‘market’ yourself as I describe in length in my previous post. I think this way of socializing does not bring many good things with it, and its something I will talk more about on this blog in the future. Do tings because you simply HAVE to, not because it is something  society tells you to do.

Living authentically, and to be truly happy, in today’s world is becoming increasingly difficult even though it should be the opposite, and its therefore something that needs to be debated more from an ethnographic viewpoint than I see it being done. The above was the original intention with this blog and it is where I see it going forward from here on.

It is a funny thing how you on one hand think that you have come a long way over the years, yet when you sit down and think about it, you seem to be right back where you started.

Yours truly,

Jacob

 

Dirty tricks will not make you Instagram famous

Dirty tricks will not make you Instagram famous

Let’s start by setting things straight here. Yes, I want to grow my following on Instagram as a way of furthering my career as a storyteller. And since you are reading this article chances are you have a similar purpose with being on Instagram.

Maybe it’s just to validate your ego, and that’s totally fine too. We all need validation. Let me know in the comments, by the way, if I am completely wrong here. As far as I am concerned, though, you and I both need to quit the bullshit if we want to get some real value out of being on Instagram.

I just recently joined Instagram and quickly saw a pattern in most people’s behavior there. People would follow me only to unfollow me shortly after. I also received a lot of comments on the photos I posted. Some people would like five or more of my photos, but for some reason none of those people wanted to follow me, even if they apparently liked my work so much. I was perplexed to say the least.

So I went to google to check out what this thing about follow/unfollow and mass liking photos was all about and got a whole lot smarter on the inner workings of Instagram. Don’t hate the player, hate the game, right?

Consider this for a second though. The net result of how people are using Instagram is millions of people spending valuable time they could spend doing or creating something worthwhile on this never-ending game of following and unfollowing each other. How silly is that?

My question for the interwebs is this: how many people do you think stop to consider whether the followers they get really matter in any significant way?

I want followers. But I want followers who gives a real damn about my art, and I couldn’t care less about everyone else. I also don’t want people to like my photos for just any reason whatsoever. I want people to only like my pictures if they genuinely think that what I am producing is worthwhile spending time looking at. My sole hope with displaying my art publicly is that it can brighten someone’s day or that it moves someone in one way or another. I view art as a way of making what is otherwise for many a grim world just a little brighter.

You’d think that Instagram, or I guess Facebook really, would care about all of this? It can’t possibly be good for business if your whole business model is based off of people who really don’t care about other users and only about themselves?

I don’t think they care at all. What Facebook and Instagram cares about is how much time people spend on their platform. Because the more time you spend on Instagram the more advertisement they can sell. As users we are the product.

Of course this is not the whole truth. I know there are many genuine people on Instagram, but I can’t help but feel that they are hard to find sometimes.

I didn’t want to write this article to bash all the following/unfollowing going on. I just wanted to address why I think it is a bad strategy and for the most part a waste of time to do so. Don't get me wrong. I think follow/unfollow will get you thousands of followers! It works! But wherein lies the real value of THOSE followers?

I think there are really only two ways to be successful while at the same time being happy and proud of what you have accomplished. And that is a) working hard on a core set of skills, and b) networking. “Network, network, network!” as Steve Balmer (formerly of Microsoft) used to say.

Working on building a core skillset

My goal is to be a good writer and photographer, maybe even earn some money from either or both eventually. I strongly believe that the best way to get there is to get out there the trenches and get mud on your hands. I.e. get busy with taking photos and learning about Photoshop and Lightroom.

Don’t get me wrong, I am upping the time I spend on social media management, but I believe that I should be spending at least 5 times the time I spend on Instagram etc. on working on my core skills. The bonus is the more I work on my skills the more great content i'll have to share on Instagram and elsewhere.

I think that if what you produce is of a consistently high value, and by that I mean much higher than most, followers will come without having to hesitate to these follow unfollow methods.

Network, network, network

I don’t think you’ll be successful from skill alone though. You have to get out there and sell yourself. I learned that the hard way through maybe 50 + tinder dates. In the beginning I was horrible at the whole first date thing; now I don’t have a problem with it at all and have had much more success because of my experience with promoting myself, so to speak.

But wait a minute, didn’t I just tell you not to promote yourself? No, I told you not to follow and unfollow people mindlessly. Yeah, they are also real people just like you and me.  Not just numbers to make your ratio right.

I think that if you want people to care about you, you have to show them that you care about them first. So while I will continue to build relationships on Instagram, I am dead certain I will have more success with actually going out in the real world and connecting with people face to face.

Next week I am going to go shoot a badminton tournament for free. This allows me to a) work on my skills, and b) connect with people. Maybe I’ll be lucky to take some great photos of a player, who will then recommend me to his or her friends and family. Maybe I won’t. It’s a chance to take, but I am sure that it’s a lot better strategy than to follow someone and the unfollow them again once they begin following me.

When you go out there and take an actual photo of someone you connect with them for life. When you follow someone and then unfollow them again you are showing them that you don’t care about them, only about how many followers you have.

Conclusion

So to conclude, I think that time spent on tactics to get more followers is wasted time you could have spent building your business by creating actual content that’ll give people a genuine reason not only to follow you, but to like and enjoy the stuff you post.

What do you think? Am I completely out in the woods here? Is there a grain of truth to what I am saying? Please let me know what you think in the comments section.

Caol Ila on a Lazy Sunday

Caol Ila on a Lazy Sunday

Just opened a new bottle of scotch and am sitting here enjoying the lovely aftertaste of smoked oak. A Caol Ila Moch to be precise that I bought earlier today at my local supermarket. What a treat!

Next time I am to introduce someone to peated whisky I’ll offer them a Moch. It has a sweet, well-rounded, slightly lemony and fairly lightly peated character. The aftertaste lingers on in your mouth for about 10-15 minutes. Of course, waiting that long before taking another sip is unlikely going to happen here at my household.

On the inter-webs it said that Caol Ila has historically mostly been used in the Johnny Walker blended whiskies which makes me somewhat skeptical about the brand, but it seems that Caol Ila is now growing in its own right as a single malt.

By the way, how do people manage to pronounce Scottish whisky properly? I always get whiskies like Lagavulin completely wrong and I am sure its no difference with Caol Ila which is supposed to be pronounced “cull Ee-la”. Ehm, Carol what?

“Please say that again” I’ll ask the barman and they’ll raise a brow at me as I try to get it right for the 15th time. I’ve got this test that when I am able to pronounce Lagavulin right I know it’s about time I go home.

Of course its not easier when it comes to wine. I’ll call Côtes du Rhône “court ruin” and I won’t even attempt at pronouncing the Mourvedre  grape let alone the Nebbiolo or the Gewürztraminer.

In other news, I went with my roommate Karen for a huge bowl  of mussels, fries and white wine Friday evening. Yesterday I went for a couple of Indian Pale Ales with another good friend of mine followed by a big juicy burger. Today my roommate and I am cooking up some pork with veggies and having a chill evening at home.

Anyway, there really isn’t a point of me telling you these trivial things other than to add an assurance to all of you that I am in fact still alive and well. Considering that my last two posts were a now two year old tribute to a man who had just died at the time (how depressing) and a incoherent babble about not being able to write anything worth reading anymore (even MORE depressing) you’d imagine as far that I might not be coming back here ever again.

(I wouldn’t have bet on me being back either).

RIP, Seth Roberts

RIP, Seth Roberts

I am very saddened to learn of Seth Roberts untimely death on April 26th 2014. Unlike many of the people listed below, I did not know Seth personally, that is, I never met him in real life.

Online, however, Seth actually took the time to contact me a couple of months ago when I had cited him in a post recommending honey before bedtime on this blog. He was very interested in knowing more about my experiments, and I found it a great honor that someone as accomplished as him would take the time to contact random strangers with few proven credentials for advice.

Back then, and to this day, this says a lot to me about what kind of person Seth must have been to the people who really knew him.  It is not every day that you meet someone who treats everyone, from every walk of life, equally. I don’t, if I must be completely honest, and I don’t think I have ever met anyone who truly does yet.

But Seth absolutely seemed to me like someone interested in getting to know everyone on equal terms. At least the few email correspondences I had with him leads me to think so.  He was also someone with unconventional ideas about how to hack life. I have experimented with many of his ideas myself, and will continue to live my life in the same vein that I imagine Seth did.

I don’t have a category on my site that matches news like these, so I am putting the post under spirituality. I do this because Seth was, although unknowingly,  a spiritual teacher  of sorts of mine – understood in the sense that to me being spiritual means being able to look outside the box of conventionality. Seth obviously did, and I will spend the rest of my life trying to do so too.

If you do not know who Seth was, take a look at his blog. Although he won’t be able to contribute to our collective knowledge further, his blog as well as his book are still very valuable resources for those interested in self-experimentation and in lifehacking.  I will leave you with links to posts by people who actually knew Seth well. (Borrowed from Tucker Max).

Tucker Max

John Durant

Richard Nikoley

Ryan Holiday

Ben Casnocha

Nassim Taleb

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Finding Yourself is a Dialogue

Finding Yourself is a Dialogue

Join me on G+

I am at wit’s end about the future of this blog. On one hand, its been far more of a success so far than I could ever imagine; on the other, the lack of effort I put into it is growing more and more unacceptable by the day.

There has never been a coherent pattern to my posts. A a friend recently pointed out, I am “all over the place”.

In the back of my head I am always thinking, that because people sign up for the blog after reading one specific kind of post, they expect my overall output to resemble that type of post. That would be the “sensible” way of looking at it.

This thought pattern scares me. It keeps me from publishing my innermost thoughts because I gather that doing so will turn someone off. Of course, everything you do will always turn someone off. It is silly to try to please everyone, because you can’t.

Anyway, I realized that I am having all of these troubles because I am still in the process of finding out who I really am as a person – what my core values are, and what I believe in.

You don’t find that out through only having a monologue with yourself. You need to engage other people in dialogue in order to really understand your place in the world.

This blog here, this is “only” a monologue, more or less. Indeed, people do comment, and that adds a whole deal to my self-reflections, as a human being, and as a writer. But it is still not as much of a two-way street as I would like it to be.

I have therefore taken to making an effort to be more active in the Google plus community, with the goal of getting to know a lot more like-minded people than I do now.

My efforts over there are not about gaining exposure of myself, they are about getting to know other people more intimately. I want to know their story. I want to share mine with them. I want to see how this world wide web connects people firsthand by being an active participant on social media myself.

So if you ever feel like getting to know me as much as I want to get to know you, then add me on Google Plus.  I’ll add you back and get the conversation started. Looking forward to that.

See you there!

Jakob

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Should You Stay Friends with Your Ex?

Should You Stay Friends with Your Ex?

First of all, I am not an expert, but I do have a very strong opinion on the subject. That is because I often meet or hear of people who are hurting because they are dealing with their ex in a manner that is bad for themselves. My main goal in life is to minimize pain in people around me as much as possible, so therefore I feel very strongly about writing this post.

Now, my short answer to the question is a resounding NO. It is most likely not at all a good idea. My long answer is, well, long. This post is mostly based on my personal experience as well as on a little bit of psychological insight. I hope you will agree with some of my viewpoints.

Whether you can be friends with your ex depends on many factors, most importantly on whether you are:

  • the one who did the dumping, or
  • the one who got dumped

Next to this, it depends on whether you have hopes of ever getting back together with your ex or not.

Of course, most people who get dumped will have hopes of getting back together, while most people who do the dumping are finished for good with that other person. It may not always be this black and white, I know that.

Regardless of what position you find yourself in post breakup, I believe you will benefit very little from hanging out too much with your ex. And if you got dumped and want them back, then I would say that the no contact rule applies.

The no contact rules has been discussed many, many places all over the net, countless of times before. So you probably already know all about it. The idea is to promise yourself to break contact with your ex for a certain period of time. It could be 30 days; it could be forever, depending on the severity of your broken heart.

During no contact you are not allowed to:

  • Call your ex
  • Text your ex
  • Hang out with them
  • Email them
  • Leave your ex notes
  • Bump into them on purpose

During no contact you are encouraged to:

  • Better youself
  • Date other people
  • Keep busy
  • Just have fun!
  • Etc.

A lot of people, including people who try to make money off of the no contact rule, will themselves into believing that the purpose of the no contact rule is to use it as a psychological trick to get your ex back. (People want what they can’t have).

In my opinion, the purpose of the no contact rule is to free yourself from the psychological burden of pining after someone who clearly isn’t into you any longer. Do no expect to be able to change anyone’s decisions, in love, or in any other aspect of life.

My main reason for being so much against being friends with your ex is quite personal. I have lived out different of such scenarios. I have tried having casual sex with an ex. And I have tried having not much contact with an ex besides having her as a Facebook friend. None of these situations ended happily for me.

The casual sex only happened once in a blue moon, but it would completely warp my “friendship” with that particular girl. Every single time I would see her the sex thing would be on my mind, and its both not fair to another person to have a secret agenda with them as well as counterproductive for yourself to have your “dating efforts” go towards someone who does not want the same thing as you do.

Here is a general rule that applies to all sexual relations:

Always make sure that the people you date are in it for the same reasons as you are, no matter what those reasons may be! If you don’t, you WILL be hurt.

Even today, a couple of years after the last time we had a sexual encounter, I am not sure if I feel like seeing her ever again. It is not a healthy relation for me to carry on with, and success in life comes from letting go as much as from letting in.

Then there is the other girl I mentioned. She was the love of my life, and although it is embarrassing to admit, I never gave up on her. With time I grew to know that we would never, ever be back together, not in a million years, but it did not prevent my messed up brain from holding on to that tiny, little hope of reconciliation.

So after finally manning up, I deleted her number and I deleted her off of Facebook with the intention of never speaking with her again.

Life is too short for exes. There are literally so many other beautiful people out there for you to meet and connect with. And exes, they have a way of being in the way of you going out there and meeting those other people. You might not think so. But they will be. They might even be in the way of your current relationship flourishing, like it is supposed to.

The reason why I think you can never really be friends with your ex is one not often discussed in these kind of dating articles, and therefore one I would like to share here. It has to do with brain plasticity, or the fact that neural pathways are created every time we experience something new.

Some of these pathways grow strong over time, like the pathways responsible for us having addictions to stuff, and others, of course, do not linger. That is why we say that the brain is plastic: It changes and adapts to changes in our behavior and environment.

In simple terms, if we want to truly get over an ex we have to not activate all of the pathways that has to do with that person.

Let me come up with an example. If I think about Louise, my for this purpose fictional ex, in any context, my romantic memories of her will most likely linger on. Because, all of the pathways concerned with Louise are intertwined. The neurons fire off each other. In order to really get over her, I would have to not think of her and not have contact with her – at all. This is why cold turkeys can sometimes be the best way of overcoming addiction.

Of course the brain isn’t as simple as that, and the scientific field of neuroplasticity research is still in its infancy. But a very short summary of current scientific advancements would be that we now know that who we are, our identity, is not set in stone. We can make a a difference by setting rules and boundaries for ourselves.

The above is the reasons why I don’t think you should be friends with your ex. Not if you still have feelings for them, at least. Those feelings can and likely will linger on for years and years if you don’t remove them completely from your life. Do it. Life is too short for heartaches.

Now, if you truly are over your ex, then yes, by all means be friends with them. But I would never trust myself in deciding whether or not I still have feelings for them – my brain is constantly playing games on me, and so, I will never be trustworthy when it comes to things like this.

None of us will, because we are all wired more or less the same way. The best we can do is to ask a good friend, or someone else who are better suited to analyze our emotions objectively, if they think we are truly over our ex or not. Until then, don’t stay friends with your ex. Just don’t.

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First Impressions

First Impressions

Today I lost a very great job opportunity because of certain communicative misconceptions between the interviewer and I. I of course tried to remedy the situation, but the truth is that people very rarely change their already established first impression of other people. At least not in the short term.

This could be because of something called confirmation bias. That is, all of us hold certain beliefs to be true, and we are programmed to feel negative about things that are counter to those beliefs. No matter if said beliefs are based on solid evidence or not.

I therefore think that, while it goes against my own beliefs, it is necessary not to be completely honest whenever you meet someone for the first time. I am not saying to be dishonest, but that withholding certain aspects of the truth is often in ones best interest.

Personally, for example, I find some people to be quite biased against mindful living, meditation, and spirituality in general. I used to be one of those people, and I viewed spiritual folks as being more or less crazy loons. They would never have a chance to redeem themselves.

Of course, later on I understood that I was the one viewing the world solely through my own eyes, and that doing so was not bringing me lasting happiness. All it did was make me a negative grump who criticized everything and everyone.

Unfortunately, most people never get to realize that every single aspect of reality is up to subjective judgement, and that their judgment is just about as subjective as any other. Evidence is secondary when it comes to human feelings.

What we can learn from this is to respect everyone equally, no matter how skewed a view of things we might think they have.

But more importantly so, what I really take from this great loss of opportunity is an understanding that situational awareness is a very important skill to cultivate in life:

Sometimes, holding back to begin with is the best way to get people on your side in the long run.

If this makes you think, please add to the discussion below! I need the input severely.

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