True or false?
Half of all marriages end in divorce.
If he’s not putting a ring on it, he’s not committed.
Kids are the glue that holds marriages together.
The best marriage is between a feminine woman and a masculine man.
Men should always make the first move.
Dating and relationship expert Amy Waterman is in the interview hotseat on the show Ask Sharifah, as host Sharifah Hardie asks her about love myths that are long overdue to be challenged.
If you’re sick and tired of people telling you what to do based on nothing but their personal opinions and old wives tales…
Then you’ll love this dive into relationship science.
You’ll learn what studies and research are telling us about how people live and love today.
You’ll discover why Amy thinks the “gender police” need to be kicked out of dating…
Why the best way to support marriage is to help couples achieve financial stability…
And the one question you should ask yourself if you’re wondering whether you should stay together for the sake of the kids.
What You’ll Learn
it’s ironic that one of our greatest sources of pleasure in life is also a great source of pain.
“Love is tough. Love is hard. Love means getting your heart ripped out,” Amy says. But, at the same time, “what is more pleasurable than love?”
Transforming the pain of love into pleasure is Amy’s mission in her book The Pleasure Principle.
“My goal is to help women rediscover the pleasure in dating again, by starting with their own capacity to experience pleasure,” she says.
“When we do that, we not only attract love more easily, but it’s a lot more fun.”
Opinion vs. Science
Amy began her investigation into dating and relationships as a twenty-something working her way around the world.
“When I started traveling, I realized that dating and relationships is very cultural. The way I’d experienced it in America was not the way it was everywhere else in the world.”
Her experiences in South America, Australasia, and Europe opened her eyes “to the fact that so much of dating and relationships reflects our belief systems, rather than natural difference between men and women.”
As she studied history, through books like Stephanie Coontz’s Marriage: A History, she learned that love and marriage have evolved in unexpected ways.
The way we date and mate is always changing. Which means that most age-old advice has been outdated for ages.
“I often joke that, if anybody is giving you advice that dates before 2010, it’s probably outdated,” she says.
Modern studies and research are tackling age-old questions of love through hard data and the scientific method.
What we’re learning is turning many of commonly held myths about love on their heads.
Do Half of All Marriages End in Divorce?
One common myth is that half of all marriages end in divorce.
But the risk of divorce among college-educated, middle-class couples is actually dropping.
Unfortunately, the risk of divorce is going up among couples with less education who are financially struggling.
That’s not because these couples lack the motivation to stay married or the skills to stay married.
It’s because “socioeconomic status has a big impact on marriage.”
Survival concerns, like having enough money or somewhere decent to live, put a great deal of stress on relationships.
If we want people to get married and stay married, we should be creating policies that support families financially, Amy says.
Does the Size of The Ring Demonstrate the Size of His Commitment?
We put a lot of symbolic value on an engagement ring.
If you’ve been together for some time, and he’s not saving up to buy you a big ring, then he’s not really serious about the relationship…
Or is he?
An expensive ring, like an expensive wedding, is a red herring.
One study found that the more you spend on your wedding, the greater your risk of divorce.
Today, both men and women prefer to wait to marry until they’re financially stable. The delay has nothing to do with their personal commitment; it has to do with the conviction that a marriage needs to start on a firm financial footing.
“It used to be that marriage was the beginning of adulthood,” Amy says. Now, “we’re seeing marriage as something that caps the end of a successful young adulthood…. Both men and women today want to have financial stability and a clear career path before they get married.”
“This is why we’re seeing the average age of marriage getting pushed back and pushed back,” she adds.
Delaying marriage is not a bad thing. It can make your marriage stronger.
“If you get married when you’re a bit older, your marriage is more likely to last,” Amy says.
Plus, “you’re going to have less stress on your marriage if your education is finished and you’re financially sound.”
What Makes a Great Marriage?
According to Dr. Eli Finkel in his book The All-or-Nothing Marriage, the best marriages today are better than any marriages in history.
In the past, marriage provided a practical function. Couples needed each other to provide for the basic needs of daily life.
Today, most couples don’t need each other for a roof over their heads or food on the table. Nor do they need to get married if they want to fall in love and live together. So why do we need marriage at all?
Because marriage helps us step into our greatness.
Marriage helps us self-actualize. A self-expressive marriage expand us. We can step into a larger vision of ourselves through our partnership with our spouse.
“Obviously, that puts a ton of pressure on your partner to really support you in becoming the person that you’ve always wanted to be,” Amy explains.
“But it also makes for a really good marriage, because you are so much more with your partner than you ever could have been when you were single.”
Should I Avoid Divorce for the Sake of Our Kids?
Once you get married, you have kids. And after you become a family, your marriage is complete.
But what if your marriage hits the rocks after the kids are born? What do you do?
Kids are not always the glue that holds a marriage together. Research shows that marriage satisfaction plummets after the birth of your first child. It doesn’t go up again until after your last child has left home.
So it’s not unusual to have relationship problems after your children are born.
But sometimes those problems aren’t just normal bumps in the road. They cross a line.
If you’re wondering whether you should stay in your marriage for the sake of your children, consider this.
Our children see their own families as normal. They see the way their parents interact, and they think that’s a normal relationship. That’s how all husbands act; that’s how all wives act.
The question you have to ask yourself is, ‘Is this the normal I want my children to believe in?'”
But we’re scared of divorce. We’ve been told that divorce hurts children.
“We often have this belief that being married is better than being separated,” Amy says, but “here’s what the data says. The one factor that harms children is not divorce, not separation, but conflict between parents.”
What can you do to minimize your children’s exposure to unhealthy conflict between you and your spouse?
Do you stick with your husband and find a way to model for your children “a lovely, healthy home where people resolve conflicts through communication”?
Or will your children just end up seeing you shrink to avoid making him mad?
Do You Have to Be Feminine to Attract a Masculine Man?
Another myth is that the best relationships are between masculine men and feminine women.
Amy would like to see what she calls the “gender police” kicked out of dating.
“Right now, in dating, men have to be men and women have to be women,” she says. “If a woman dares be strong or, god forbid, masculine, she’s not going to get a guy.”
However, research shows that the strongest marriages are not between masculine men and feminine women.
The happiest, healthiest, most satisfying marriages are between two people who both have a wonderful balance of masculine and feminine traits.
“We also know that relationships where there’s equal balance of power, where both people negotiate their roles rather than taking a typically masculine or typically feminine role, are happier and much more satisfied. They even have a better sex life!”
Women Should Never Make the First Move
“Because we have listened to the gender police for so long,” Amy says, “we have put ourselves in a passive role in dating.
“We can flirt with the guy, but he’s the one who’s got to come over and talk to us. We give ourselves the power to choose a man, but we never put ourselves out there for rejection.”
That holds us back in dating, especially online.
Women sit back and wait for men to contact them, then feel unsatisfied with the quantity and quality of their connections.
The most successful online daters not only make the first move, but they send out dozens and dozens of generic messages to men who look interesting.
Don’t waste time reading his profile carefully and crafting a custom message. Create a template for that first message, which you can customize using his name and perhaps one detail from his profile, and send it out to as many men as possible.
Keep that first message short, between 40 to 60 characters if possible.
Will you get tons of responses from all the guys you’re most interested in, if you just follow this formula?
Probably not. Expect only 20% of the men you message to respond to you.
“Once we start putting ourselves out there, making the first move, approaching men, sending the first message, we’re going to start learning the same lesson that men have been learning for decades,” Amy says.
“And that lesson is: we’re going to get rejected more than we get accepted.”
And that’s okay.
The Pleasure Principle
Of all of Amy’s dating and relationship tips, there’s one piece of advice she feels is the most important of all.
Having fun and finding pleasure is going to change your love life more than anything else.”
That’s the focus of her book The Pleasure Principle.
Pleasure goes to the heart of what men are looking for in a woman.
Men love pleasing women. “So why do we as women try to please men?” Amy asks. “Because what really works in a relationship is to show him that he’s pleasing you.”
She urges women to ask themselves how they can experience pleasure on a first date, rather than getting stuck into judgment.
Stop worrying about whether he’s judging you. And put your own judgments about him on hold for the duration of the date, too.
“I know you’re going on a first date because ultimately you want to find love,” Amy says, “but what about just respecting the fact this is a vulnerable human being who’s taken a risk taking time out of his day to come and meet someone he doesn’t even know?”
She asks women to “meet there in that human vulnerability just for one date.”
After the date, she says, you can go ahead and consider what you learned about him and whether you want to see him again. But during the date, focus on being present.
And if your love life is hard, don’t blame men. Don’t blame a toxic dating culture. Take action.
Start asking yourself how you can give yourself what you need. We wait for guys to give us love. What if we gave ourselves the kind of love we were waiting for guys to give us?”
The Future of Love
“One of the issues with dating advice in general is that so much of it is targeted towards white middle-class women,” Amy says. “There’s not a great understanding of diversity.”
Amy would like to be part of the change.
“My goal is to change culture by informing as many people as possible,” Amy says. “I want this to be a public conversation. We need to change the way we love in this country.”
If we all change the way we see dating and marriage, culture shifts. It all starts with each of us, so if you don’t like it, be one of those people envisioning a new way for the future.”
Jump to Topics of Interest
1:17 The pleasure of love
1:59 How Amy became a love coach
3:48 The evolution of love advice
5:23 The impact of socioeconomic status on the divorce rate
8:18 Diversity in dating
9:59 Should a man wait to propose until he can afford a big ring?
12:40 The self-expressive marriage
15:14 The gender police
18:28 Reader question
25:56 Changing the culture around dating
27:00 Online dating strategies for success
28:35 Making the first move
32:38 Having more fun in dating
35:13 What he craves more than anything
38:41 Give yourself what you’re waiting for him to give you
Amy Waterman, M.A., is an old-timer in the field of dating and relationships. Her work has appeared in over a dozen online courses. With two decades of international travel under her belt, she knows that the search for love is at the heart of the human experience. Get The Pleasure Principle.