Huge swathes of my dating history explained.

Psychology produces something actually interesting in the dating department. (A year behind. So?)

Research tends to focus on the positives of self-monitoring — a personality characteristic that accounts for how attuned individuals are to societal conventions as well as the degree to which “appropriateness” controls their behavior and moderates how they present themselves to others.

“High self-monitors are social chameleons,” says Northwestern University researcher Michael E. Roloff. “And, because they’re quick to pick up on social cues, are socially adept and unlikely to say things upsetting to others, they are generally well-liked and sought after.

“Research finds them to be excellent negotiators and far more likely to be promoted at work than their low self-monitoring peers.”

But there’s a downside for high self-monitors when it comes to their romantic relationships. “High self-monitors may appear to be the kind of people we want to have relationships with, but they themselves are less committed to and less happy in their relationships than low self-monitors,” said the Northwestern professor of communication studies.

In “The Dark Side of Self-Monitoring: How High Self-Monitors View Their Romantic Relationships” in the journal Communication Reports, Roloff and co-authors Courtney N. Wright and Adrienne Holloway present their findings from a study of 97 single young adults.

“The desire to alter one’s personality to appropriately fit a given situation or social climate prevents high self-monitors from presenting their true selves during intimate interactions with their romantic partners,” says Roloff. “High self-monitors are very likeable and successful people. However, it appears they’re just not deep.”

Their propensity to self-censor prompts them to avoid face-threatening interactions that more honest self-disclosures potentially provide. The result: the partners of high self-monitors may be completely in the dark about the extent of their high self-monitoring partner’s degree of commitment and regard.

Superego to id: stop dating actresses, writers, people who are overly introspective, total neurotics, the sort of person who was a social outcast until she actually studied how people interact and consciously mimicked them (like one ex-girlfriend did), people who are obsessed with the approval of their friends, people who completely reinvent themselves or start giant propaganda campaigns to impress others, anyone involved in any way whatsoever in law or the corporate world (with the exception of delightfully badass public interest lawyers), anyone obsessed with clothes or makeup, anyone involved in any way whatsoever in Hollywood, etc. etc. No, really, Paul. Stop. Stop it. (Id to superego: But I like actresses! No fair! Can I just keep those, and the writers? Superego to id: You’ll regret it…)

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9 Responses to “Huge swathes of my dating history explained.”

  1. Mike Says:

    Mike to Paul: Um, dude, there is no drama if you don’t get attached. Sounds like you view dating as a way to find your soul mate. Change the frame. Dating is a way to “meet” a lot of different chicks in between reading a lot of books.

    Incidentally, if you change the frame, you’ll also find that YOU now have the emotional power in the relationship – which will make it more likely that you’ll get what you want out of the relationships.

    So….. as with many things in life…… the way to get what you want is to stop wanting what you want.

  2. Paul Gowder Says:

    If one no longer wants it (whatever it is), what good will it do one when one gets it?

    Anyway, that’s just such bullshit: like humans have that kind of control over our desires.

  3. Mike Says:

    If one no longer wants it (whatever it is), what good will it do one when one gets it?

    That’s why it’s a paradox.

    Anyway, that’s just such bullshit: like humans have that kind of control over our desires.

    Not total control; but some control. We should exercise what we have.

  4. Paul Gowder Says:

    That’s why it’s a paradox.

    Sounds like the road to nihilism to me. Which isn’t a criticism, mind. Simply an observation.

  5. ben wolfson Says:

    As far as I can tell I’m what you would call a high self-monitor, and I am not a very likeable and successful people or even person, nor am I socially adept.

    I smell facile conclusion-making!

  6. Mike Says:

    a high self-monitor

    You monitor your behavior to ensure you’re being contentious and obnoxious. Which is all good. But which is also not how the authors defined high self-monitor.

  7. Mike Says:

    Sounds like the road to nihilism to me

    What is enlightenment but the realiziation that nothing exists?

    The riddle is what once you realize nothing exists, you see reality for what it is. (How can nothing exist yet there be a reality? Exactly!)

    The failings of language will always mean that these concepts are impossible to communicate, and thus seem irrational. Alas.

  8. ben wolfson Says:

    You monitor your behavior to ensure you’re being contentious and obnoxious.

    Actually, I monitor my behavior to ensure I’m being sociable and pleasant, I’m just really bad at it.

  9. Mike Says:

    Actually, I monitor my behavior to ensure I’m being sociable and pleasant, I’m just really bad at it.

    Being sociable and pleasant generally means being a good conversationalist – which means knowing how to keep the other person talking about himself. There is definitely some science to this, and the skills can be learned.

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