There are ten types of friends, some close, some not so close

Tuesday, 11 April, 2017

Just about everything you could possibly want, or need, to know about friends, and friendships. For instance, your acquaintances are spread across four tiers, from closest friends, to strangers, and within that cluster, there are ten types of friends.

Tier 3 friends – your Not Really friends. You might grab a one-on-one drink with one of them when you move to their city, but then it surprises neither of you when five years pass and drink #2 is still yet to happen. Your relationship tends to exist mostly as part of a bigger group or through the occasional Facebook like, and it doesn’t even really stress you out when you hear that one of them made $5 million last year. You may also try to sleep with one of these people at any given time.

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The biggest threat to your marriage? Your smartphone. So phubb it

Friday, 20 January, 2017

The biggest threat to your love life, or relationship? Your smartphone. That may not be such a surprise, given the dangers the device can potentially pose elsewhere in your day-to-day life. For example, I hope no one here engages in text messaging while driving.

So pronounced is the peril to martial matters though, a neologism has been created in its honour, phubbing. A portmanteau, or marriage – if you’ll excuse the pun – between the words phone and snubbing. I see instances of phubbing all to often.

Couples on buses, trains, or at restaurants staring, transfixed, into the screens of their phones. Almost oblivious to each other, it seems. I sometimes kid myself though, and imagine they’re engaging each other on some social media channel, as they sit there.

Most know what it’s like to be phubbed: You’re in the middle of a passionate screed only to realize that your partner’s attention is elsewhere. But you’ve probably also been a perpetrator, finding yourself drifting away from a conversation as you scroll through your Facebook feed.

And with some people glancing at their phone up to one hundred and fifty times a day, or once every six and a half minutes, no wonder some relationships are in disarray. The solution, to phubbing, though maybe not a strained love, is simple, if challenging.

It’s called abstinence. Put the phone away, and focus on your significant other. There is no alternative, or app that can help with something like that. It’s all about will-power, something else smartphones are eroding, and focusing on your desire for your partner instead.

Go to it. And when I said there was no app that could help, it immediately gave rise to an idea. A real idea. App developers, and venture capitalists, who wish to hear more, should have no hesitation in contacting me forthwith.

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An intimate glimpse into the lives of others, by Rentian Qiu

Thursday, 29 September, 2016

Artwork by Rentian Qiu

San Francisco based artist Rentian Qiu’s intimate, sometimes gritty, watercolour and oil paintings depict life at home with a significant other, and scenes that others are usually not privy to.

Needless to say, one or two works are NSFW.

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How much eye contact is too much eye contact?

Thursday, 21 July, 2016

3.3 seconds, that’s the maximum amount of time you should make eye contact with someone you’ve just met, elsewise you run the risk of making them feel uncomfortable, or put off.

Eyes meeting can lead to moments of raw emotions and autonomic physiological responses. But any deviation of what is considered normal can signal a problem: Short eye contact may lead people to perceive someone as less confident and untrustworthy. Avoiding it altogether has been suggested to be a symptom of autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia. A long gaze, on the other hand, can easily make both parties uncomfortable.

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You will marry the wrong person, so you might as well go for it

Wednesday, 13 July, 2016

Well forget being able to align the stars, and waltz off into the sunset with the one and only true love of your life… no matter what you do, you will marry the wrong person, says London based philosopher and television presenter, Alain de Botton. Oh, joy.

The primary error of our passion lies in overlooking a central fact about people in general, not merely the example we are proposing to marry, but the species as a whole: that everyone has something very substantially wrong with them and that no one can fully understand or sympathise with anyone else.

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On good terms with an ex? You may be a psychopath…

Tuesday, 17 May, 2016

Is there someone you know, who you’ve come to admire because they remain on good terms with former lovers and partners? Your respect may be misplaced however… it is possible said person is a, can you believe it, psychopath:

A healthy relationship with your ex-partner is generally viewed as an indication of maturity, an outward sign to the world that you’re both adult enough to respect what has gone on between you and remain friends. Your new girlfriend might hate her coming over for dinner, especially if she can’t eat refined carbohydrates, but you feel confident and Bond-like in your mixing of former and present lovers. But new research from the University of Oakland suggests that in fact you’re probably a psychopath if you feel the urge to keep an ex partner in your life. Brilliant.

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You may only have half the number of friends you think you have

Tuesday, 10 May, 2016

Not to put a dampener on proceedings or anything, but you may only have half the number of friends that you think you do. Seemingly about half the number of people who we think are friends, don’t see it that way themselves.

As it turns out, we can be pretty terrible at knowing who our friends are: In what may be among the saddest pieces of social-psychology research published in quite some time, a study in the journal PLoS One recently made the case that as many as half the people we consider our friends don’t feel the same way.

What is it that they say? If you can count all your true friends on one hand, then you’re in fact very fortunate.

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Are smart people better off with fewer friends? Quite possibly…

Wednesday, 30 March, 2016

Are smart people, that is highly intelligent sorts, able to get by with fewer friends, or personal acquaintances, than most other people? Are such people in fact better off with fewer friends? There’s food for thought.

Think of the really smart people you know. They may include a doctor trying to cure cancer or a writer working on the great novel or a human rights lawyer working to protect the most vulnerable people in society. To the extent that frequent social interaction detracts from the pursuit of these goals, it may negatively affect their overall satisfaction with life.

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And you don’t call to say you’re breaking up with me anymore

Wednesday, 18 November, 2015

Is this outsourcing taken to an extreme, or are we really so hamstrung when it come to communicating with each other, that we need someone else to do our dirty work for us? I’m referring to a new service, called The Breakshop, that will inform your significant other, or more the point, soon to be former significant other, that you are taking your leave of them.

For a fee, your go-between will deliver the message by way of a phone call, email, or text message. I’m not sure if they offer a face-to-face option though. For their part, The Breakshop contends that some sort of communication that a relationship is over, is better than the silent treatment, which seems to be the norm. Granted, they may have a point there.

They also seem to suggest that their service is probably better suited to relationships of the hook-up variety, or short term flings. If your situation is long term, or you are married, you’ll need to do this by yourself. And so you should, if you’re indeed going down that path. Oh, and if not face-to-face, then at least verbally, in conversation. But I digress.

Breakups aren’t pretty, but not getting any kind of closure can be worse. If you’re the kind of person who’s in and out of casual relationships often, and you don’t have the time or the courage to break up with someone yourself, you can pay The Breakup Shop to at least give the other person that closure. That, Mackenzie said, is the audience they’re aiming for.

While the romantic in me is appalled, the entrepreneur sees opportunity. If robots are taking away more and more of our jobs, then offering a service like this seems to me to be taking an initiative. Initiative is in almost as short supply as communication, so this venture might be a good thing. I say might be, because now that’s the cynic in me speaking.

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What’s your credit score, my love? The US Federal Reserve said to ask

Tuesday, 13 October, 2015

The US Federal Reserve, being the central bank of the United States, may not be able to decide when to start raising interest rates, but their research can tell you whether or not you and your romantic partner are marriage material. I’m actually rather surprised at what can deduced from someone’s credit score, even if it somehow seems like common sense:

  • People with higher credit scores are more likely to be in a committed relationship and stay together
  • People tend to form relationships with others who have a similar credit score as them
  • Credit scores are indicative of trustworthiness in general, and couples with a mismatch in credit scores are more likely to see their relationships end for reasons not directly related to their use of credit

There’s much that the unattached can also take from this data as well, especially when it comes to avoiding relationship related financial problems in the first place. Modifying that pick-up line would be a good start, I think. And here’s a suggestion. “So, what’s your credit score?” How do you think something like that would work?

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