International Matchmaking

The Seven Deadly Sins: Part one - Envy

According to tradition, The Seven Deadly Sinsare: envy, gluttony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and wrath.

This series of blogs looks into how these ‘sins’ can play into relationships. 

Envy: The intense desire to have something that someone else possesses. 

It is human nature to compare yourself to others, but when it comes to relationships, this is a mistake best avoided. We have all heard the saying ‘nothing is quite as it seems’ and this couldn’t be more accurate when it comes it love. It’s easy to view a relationship from the outside and envy what those two people have in comparison to what you have; ‘they always look so happy’, ‘they’re perfect for each other’, ‘they never seem to argue’ but the reality is more often than not quite different. In the age of social media where people are encouraged to post picture perfect lifestyles, taking things with a pinch of salt can sometimes be the best approach. 

Let us first remember that when you see couples posting about themselves online, you are seeing only a small snapshot of their reality. It is highly unlikely that the people in question will post anything other than the best version of themselves and their relationships. Projecting the image of relationship bliss is far more inviting and enviable than posting the day to day reality of relationships.

So if you are tempted to compare your relationship to the Prince Harrys  and Meghan Markles of the world, take a moment to consider that maybe, just maybe, you are already living your own fairy-tale. 

Relationships of any kind are hard work. Be it friendships; if you want to remain on good terms and connected to a friend, you have to put the effort in to see them regularly so that the connection remains, or romantic relationships; you need to take time to be with your partner, to build memories together and to really talk to each other about whatever is happening in your life at that time. 

Envy can impact your relationship in many ways. From an internal perspective, comparing your partner to someone else’s can be the start of a downward spiral. Statements such as ‘why can’t you be more like X, he’s always happy to spend all his free time with his wife and kids’, or ‘X loves going out every weekend with her partner, why can’t you be more like her’ can have a detrimental impact on your relationship as a whole. This is because, after all, it’s never nice to feel like the qualities you offer your partner are being compared to those of someone else. 

When envy begins to creep in, in this way, it can be helpful to remember what attracted you to your partner in the first place. You are with that person for a reason, so there must be some qualities that drew you to them in the first instance. Psychologist Dr Georgina Barnett and colleagues at Seventy Thirty explored The Psychology of Attraction in a recent podcast which highlighted an introduction into some of the different approaches to what we find attractive and why. The matching hypothesis for example, explains that we tend to be attracted to someone of equal attractiveness. There are many different theories about what we find attractive and why, some of which Noam Shpancer Ph.D .explores in his article Laws of Attraction: How Do We Select a Life Partner? These range from factors such as exposure and familiarity, to personality and character, and on and so forth. Whatever the reason that drew you to your partner, keep that at the forefront of your mind. 

When it comes to envy, the phrase ‘The grass is always greener’ is often a prevalent thought. You envy what someone else has and automatically assume your life would be far better if you had the same; if you’re single, you long for the security and comfort of a long-term relationship, and if you are in a relationship you long for the freedom and far reaching social life of your single friends. 

Suzie Pileggi Pawelski and James Pawelski in their article Why Does the Grass Often Seem Greener Elsewhere? Found that “We may overwhelmingly focus on what is wrong in our situation and forget about what is going right. Despite plenty of positive things in our environment, our attention naturally fixates on problems.”. This applies to envy in that it is an emotion which, more often than not, comes to the forefront when we are feeling in a negative mindset. If you are having a good day, feeling happy, loved and in good health it is quite easy to naturally relish all the things you love about your partner and see the positive traits they have; thoughtfulness, understanding etc. However, the opposite can be said if you are having a bad day and are in a negative mindset. Suddenly those usually endearing qualities turn into ‘reasons’ to feel envious and look elsewhere or at least feel like you ‘should’ be looking for bigger and better things.  

Remember, happiness isn’t a guarantee which comes with life. You have to want it, be passionate about it and work hard to achieve it. Once achieved, whether that be with the partner you’ve always hoped for or the job you dreamt you’d get, the next stage is to work hard to maintain it. Envy can become an issue when something else in your relationship is lacking. It is during these times that we tend to focus on the negatives which make it so much easier to justify our feelings of envy and this is where the hard work begins.

Joshua Becker wrote A Helpful Guide to Overcoming Envy and found that ‘One of the biggest reasons we envy the life of another is because we have begun to take our blessings for granted.’It can be helpful to remember the things you enjoy about a certain situation in order to stop feelings of envy coming into play. For example, if you are working in a field that you initially found appealing, which would be a given if you decided to take a job in that field, remember why you said yes. Consider all the skills you have learnt in that role, the colleagues you enjoy spending time with and the reasons why you have stayed in that position for as long as you have. The same applies to romantic relationships. Remember why you said yes to the first date with your partner, when you fell in love with them, the memories you have shared so far and the plans you have for your future together. 

Taking time to be thankful for what you have, instead of being frustrated by what you don’t, can do wonders for your relationship and state of mind. Incorporating Mindfulness into your day to day life can help with this as “becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better. When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted”. 

It is human nature to get frustrated and to want something else. There are some who would even say this is a helpful emotion to have as it can make you strive to achieve more or to change the things you are not happy with. For example, if a friend of yours has progressed up the career ladder and has achieved successes you feel you would like in life, instead of feeling envious, try to feel inspired. See them as someone to look up to, a yard stick of what you would like to achieve and the direction you would like your life to go in. You could even try talking to them about how they have come to the position they are in today and see if there is anything you can implement in your own life/relationship to help you reach your goal. 

Loveisrespect.org published a blog on What is a Healthy Relationship? and found that the following tips can help you and your partner create and maintain a healthy relationship: Speak Up, Respect Each Other, Compromise, Be Supportive and Respect Each Other’s Privacy. These points may seem simple, but are often over looked when we are in an envious mindset. Once you find the person you want to commit to, keep these tips in mind as ways to maintain your relationship thus avoiding envying others. 

So to conclude, whether you are in a relationship or single,take time to smell the roses, push doubt from your mind and instead of feeling envious about all the shoulda woulda couldas, consider where you are now, what you are grateful for and happy about in your life, and if there is something you don’t like about it, change it because you want to and not because the green-eyed monster we call envy tells you to. 

Meet the matchmakers who find love for the international jet-set dating elite

First-date nerves are par for the course and Jake was no exception. As he made his way to the Mayfair private members’ club, Marks, often frequented by the likes of David Cameron and Boris Johnson, the 47-year-old venture capitalist struggled to contain a “rush of anxious energy”. 

He needn’t have worried. Utterly charmed by Anna, a glamorous 38 year-old PR executive (“She was so stunning, I almost knocked over my glass of water”) Jake married her seven months later

But this was no ordinary whirlwind romance. Jake had travelled over 3,000 miles from New York to meet London-based Anna, whom he was introduced to by Seventy-Thirty, a matchmaking service that helps high net-worth individuals find love, wherever in the world they are based.

The new jet-set dating elite don't let oceans get in the way of finding true love. 

The couple are very much typical of this new jet-set dating elite –  the super-rich whose lives are so international they don’t see a few oceans as a barrier to true love.

Seventy-Thirty has a global membership of around 2,000, with the majority of their clients aged between 30 and 60. When its Managing Director, Lemarc Thomas told Jake he had found the perfect match for him in London, Jake saw it as opportunity not a problem.

“The dating scene in New York is too aggressive for me,” he explains. “I travel a lot and I’m more drawn to the effortless sophistication of European women. Anna sounded intriguing so I flew out to meet her the following weekend.”

Continue reading in Telegraph

How to deal with a partner who is anxious in a positive and healthy dynamic (Part Two) 

Sometimes anxiety can feel like a third person in a relationship, wriggling in between you and your partner, creating distance and sowing doubt. Dealing with anxiety is hard for the afflicted, but it also affects the people they are close with, particularly in a romantic relationship. It’s important to tackle anxiety as a team and educating yourself can relieve a lot of the stress. 

Firstly, there must be acceptance. Abandon all ideas that you can change or fix your partner. It’s unfair to pressure someone to live up to your idea of how you think they should be, and this can result in them feeling like they have failed you. It also makes your love appear conditional. One common fear of anxiety sufferers is that their anxiety makes them inherently unlovable. Let your partner know that your love and support is unconditional, and you want them to feel better because you love them — not because they have to be well in order to be loved. Remind them as often and as naturally as you can that the two of you are in this together, and that you’re not going anywhere. 

Communication is of paramount importance, and one of the most effective ways to cope with anxiety within a relationship. Talking about it openly, honestly and directly with your partner, opens the dialogue and creates a safe space for them to confide in you. Remember that anxiety is not logical or rational, and the worst thing you can do is be critical, dismissive or make fun of your partner. Dealing with a partner who has anxiety requires keen emotional intelligence, patience and the resilience to not take it personally. 

On the flip side of this, you must avoid treating your partner as if they are too fragile. Another common fear of the anxious is worrying about their anxiety being a burden to others. Anxious people are actually very perceptive and will notice immediately should you pull back or withhold things from them. Even if you don’t want to worry or upset your partner, treating them like an adult is the only way to help them manage their anxiety in a healthy way. Too much mollycoddling also leads into potential risk of enabling and reinforcing your partner’s maladaptive anxious behaviours. Find the balance between supporting and remembering that your partner’s anxiety is not your responsibility. 

What is often neglected in a relationship where your partner is anxious, is making equally sure that you are taking care of yourself. Establishing boundaries is crucial to establishing a healthy dynamic, and there are some behaviours that are unacceptable whether your partner has a mental health problem or not. Insults and accusations should be off the table, anxiety attack or no, and do not be afraid to let your partner know where your line is. When you care for someone, it’s tempting to support them by trying to act like their therapist. However, you’re not a therapist and trying to play that role will be emotionally draining and can lead to resentment towards your partner, which will ultimately be toxic for the relationship. If your partners anxiety is really affecting their life, encourage them to seek professional help.  

Anxiety isn’t just a source of stress in a relationship, it’s an opportunity to understand and love your partner more deeply and connect with them on a more intimate level. People with anxiety are perfectly capable of having healthy, and successful relationships and there’s no reason why yours shouldn’t be too. 

The Mottos

The Mottos

Understand: Each partner in the relationship should play an equal role. There should be a balance in what the two parties contribute to the relationship in order to create a workable status quo. You do not have to contribute the same things; the key is to show that you are putting in as much as you would like to receive in terms of love, support and communication.  

New Year, new me, new you? The damaging effects of trying to change your partner.

The resolutions have been made, you’ve decided what you will change to become the person you want to be for the forthcoming year. It’s at this point you turn to your partner and assess what they should improve upon to become their better self. You’re helping your partner, simply lifting them to higher levels, it’s all for their benefit, or is it?

Trying to change a partner doesn’t say much about the partner but more about the individual who is trying to modify their loved one’s thoughts and actions. It exhibits an egotistical thought pattern whereby they believe the way they do things is the right way and so their partner should accommodate themselves to fall in line. It also suggests a lack of appreciation for your partner’s thoughts and opinions and diminishes their individuality. Distinctiveness in a relationship is incredibly important, contrary to some people’s beliefs. Though you may work as a pair, it is essential to remember that you are two wholes who have chosen to come together rather than two halves making a whole. Your partner may have similar interests, values and way of life, but they are still a separate person, whose opinions will at some point differ. This by no means is a negative and allows you and your partner to have healthy debates and to equally challenge one another.    

Regardless of whether the reasons for wanting to change your partner are rooted in what you believe to be compassion for that person, the consequences of trying to change someone frequently result in the opposite of what you were trying to achieve. Instead of gratitude, appreciation and admiration you will receive anger, resentment and bitterness. A distance is created that may not have been there once and overcompensating for this gap may only make it bigger. If you are looking to have a successful relationship with that person, then there needs to be an acknowledgment that although changes may need to be made, they may be ones you need to make in yourself, as opposed to changing others. Instead of directing your energy, focus and motivations on the misconception that you have control over someone else, turn those efforts internally and you will find a positive difference in yourself.   

Positivity in yourself and understanding that we cannot change someone without being manipulative, self-serving and controlling, will allow you to be free of the burden of seeking perfection or the ‘ideal’ partner. A happier you equals a happier relationship and you may just find that those behaviours you sought to change in your partner become endearing. After all, no man or woman is perfect, and we must remember to love all of someone, even their quirks, if we are to find true love.   

Flirting: The good, the bad…

 

A little flirting is healthy, fun and sometimes completely automatic (or unintentional). We have written about all about the art of flirting and how it helps in those initial stages of forming a romantic connection. However, following the release of our flirting blogs, we received many enquiries about the negative side of flirting.

Naturally when we are attracted to someone without any intent, we may flirt through our body language, pupils dilating, tone of voice changing. Flirting behaviors is culturally universal and also evident in animals. This is happening unconsciously, however, flirting can also be very deliberate, we can learn the art of flirting and whilst this can be all playful and fun. Perhaps there is a dark side that we should explore....

Abusing power or flirting to get our own way

Often people flirt with another for personal gain. This may be for something simple and harmless, such as a drink on an evening out – but can lead to individuals flirting for other reasons, such as promotion at work, which is affectionately termed Flirking, but scientifically coined as ‘strategic flirting’. However, Females who are in a masculine dominant environment and engage in flirtatious smiles at work or playing dumb for attraction sake, have been found to be treated with less respect or left out of promotions/meetings2.

Flirting to get our own way can also be seen in relationships – you may affectionately speak with your partner, doing something you know they find irresistible before asking them to fix the toilet seat, or drop the bombshell that your parents are coming to visit – although intended to be harmless, this use of flirting can be seen as manipulation and can lead to hard feelings and mistrust.

Leading people on for self-gratification

Often people will flirt for self-gratification with no intention of looking for a romantic partner or follow on dates – therefore simply using flirtatious behavior to make themselves feel more attractive, or more important. When these people flirt, they feel good, and the behavior is rewarded with a psychological buzz and hormonal release, boosting their own ego. They may flirt with someone, and when it is reciprocated, act shocked or as if they weren’t flirting – meaning the recipient becomes confused and less likely to trust their own judgment at finding a romantic mate.

People may also lead someone on for self-gratification when in a relationship – engaging in what they deem to see as ‘harmless flirting with no intention’ with a stranger. This leads us on to flirting whilst in relationships:

Being flirtatious with another whilst in a relationship - does this cross a boundary?

When you are flirting whilst in a relationship, but not with your partner, you are engaging in what is believed, from my own blog series, to being behaving as though sexually attracted to someone, but playfully rather than with serious intentions[1]. Primarily, this is leading someone on for self gratification, creating a sense that you are available. This ‘playful’ action provides you with the chemical and psychological boost described in my previous blog The Importance of Flirting [http://www.seventy-thirty.com/blog/2015/6/flirting-series-the-importance-of-flirting]. This chemical boost, alike to adrenaline, can become addictive, exciting, exhilarating. In tern, you find yourself needing to gain the boost from engaging in flirtatious behaviours and equally having these behaviours reciprocated – reciprocation is key as you are rewarded with what psychologists deem as ‘positive reinforcement’. After a period of time, you may find that this chemical boost will become something which you now cannot gain from your current partner, someone whom you are meant to love and care for, or from within your relationship. It will leave you questioning your own relationship for the forbidden fruit, the sexual desire.

Looking at flirting in a relationship from this perspective shows that flirting outside of the relationship does cross a boundary. You should be aware that your desire and particularly your actions on the desire, may begin to make your partner feel undervalued, unimportant and unable to satisfy you – this in tern creates an wedge between you both within your relationship. It is widely known that you cannot start an affair without fancying someone, and fancying someone – finding that important chemistry - comes from flirting.

Within the Psychological field, flirting with someone outside of your relationship can be seen as Relational Transgression (RT). RT happens when an individual breaks relationship rules – both spoken and expected. This psychological contract between a couple is hard to rebuild however, If you find yourself in this situation, speak with your partner and have open dialog on what is acceptable and how you both feel. Open communication is the foundation of a successful relationship, boundaries will enable you to both feel secure and safe - allowing you to both get your relationship back on track.

 

 

[1] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/flirt

2 http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2013/08/07/new-research-looks-into-strategic-flirtation-in-the-workplace/