High Risk, High Return.

A: “Why do you trust him? You have no mutual friend that you can count on. He’s far away. You don’t know if he lies to you or not.”

B: “Why not? I ‘met’ him in a fairly trustworthy place. We had pure intention. I chose to trust him. Even people who we meet everyday can be fake. So many divorces happened after long term relationships even cohabitation. Could it be the other way around?”

A: “I see. High risk, high return. It’s like in business world. You’re so business-minded. NICE! It’s like you buy a mine you’ve never stepped your feet on to. You relay much on your intuition.”

The more people i meet, the more easily i detect their personalities. So many charming fun great conversationalists are a narcissist. Being with them one time is good, but try to meet and observe them longer, you’d want to runaway. They are also the type who flirt with just anyone, even if they’re married or in relationships already. Especially when they’re lonely. Uugh and they think i’m connected to them (more than one thought i was their one based on first meeting) because i have a narcissist spectrum in me, but NO, i don’t actually enjoy being the audience. I love the spotlight and having to wait for them to be a little emphatic can drive me crazy. They won’t.

8 Ways to Handle a Narcissist

by Susan Krauss Whitbourne Ph. D.

A tendency toward narcissism is present in everyone, to more or less of a degree. Sometimes you don’t know if someone’s particularly high in this personality quality until you’ve gotten deeply involved in a relationship and come to realize that the very qualities that attracted you to a person are the narcissistic qualities that now annoy you. You may have a sibling, parent, or other relative whose narcissistic personality traits you’re forced to confront but can’t control or challenge. Or you may be forced to work with a boss, co-worker, teacher, student, or employee with strongly narcissistic tendencies.

Just because some people are narcissists doesn’t mean they’re unlovable. People high in narcissism may also be fun, charismatic, or good at what they do. Having them around gives you more pleasure than pain and, in the workplace, enhance your team’s success. You may, if you have a choice in the matter, prefer the idea of “reforming” the narcissist in your life rather than leaving him or her by the wayside. (Some people’s narcissism may make them so vulnerable to rejection that you fear that harm will come to them if you shunt them aside.)

Not all narcissists are created alike, so the way you choose to handle one in your life should be based on which type you’re dealing with. University of Nottingham psychologist Vincent Egan and collaborators (2014), questioned a sample of over 850 online participants to determine the relationship between subjective well-being and narcissistic personality tendencies.

Previous researchers have distinguished between “vulnerable” and “grandiose” narcissistic types:

  • A vulnerable narcissist’s outward shell of self-centeredness and self-absorption masks a weak inner core.
  • In contrast, grandiose narcissists truly believe in their own greatness—and they may even be almost as good as they think they are.

Both are varieties of narcissism, but particularly those of the grandiose type may share the larger “Dark Triad” traits, along with so-called “Machiavellianism” (manipulativeness) and psychopathy (lack of remorse and empathy).

People high in both narcissism and Machiavellianism, Egan and team point out, are the ones who really get under your skin. Their antagonism makes them particularly hard to live with, and they’ll almost always get in the way of your accomplishing your goals. Machiavellian narcissists have mastered the art of one-uppance as they try to show their superiority while steamrolling over everyone else’s feelings and opinions.

Egan and collaborators pointed out that no previous researchers had looked at the role of emotions, especially positive emotions, in studies of the Dark Triad. They believed that narcissism might have differing relationships to happiness than would psychopathy and Machiavellianism. In other words, it might be possible to be a happy narcissist—but less possible to be a happy psychopath or manipulator.

In Egan et al.’s study, participants rated themselves on a general personality test that provided ratings on the “Big Five” or “Five Factor” traits of Extroversion, Emotional Stability/Neuroticism, Agreeableness, Openness to Experience, and Conscientiousness. They also rated their “Dark Triad” personality qualities. Their subjective well-being was assessed with one scale measuring happiness and another measuring their satisfaction with life.

After condensing and analyzing the scores on all of these measures, Egan’s team was able to identify 4 groups within the sample—vulnerable narcissists; grandiose narcissists; a group identified by their overall unhappiness; and, finally, one identified by overall happiness and low narcissism scores.

Comparing the two groups of narcissists, Egan and colleagues found that the grandiose narcissists tended to be happier, more extroverted, and more emotionally stable. The vulnerable narcissists were less agreeable, less emotionally stable, and higher in the other Dark Triad traits of manipulativeness and psychopathy.

With these findings as background, let’s examine ways that you can manage your own emotions when you’re dealing with people high in narcissism:

  1. Determine which type you’re dealing with. Vulnerable narcissists don’t feel particularly good about themselves at heart. In contrast to grandiose narcissists, they’re less “out there” with their emotions, and so you might not realize when they’re undercutting you or getting in your way. If you’re trying to put people in your family or on your work team to best use, the grandiose narcissist might be your best ally—as long as you can get that person on board with your overall group’s goals.
  2. Acknowledge your annoyance. As noted above, narcissists can be antagonistic and get under your skin. If you’re trying to get something done, and one person is always interrupting or trying to shine the spotlight on himself or herself, recognizing where your frustration is coming from can help give you the strength you need to put a stop to it.
  3. Appreciate where the behavior comes from. Vulnerable narcissists need to make themselves feel better about themselves, which is why they can become sneaky and undercutting. They may question your authority just to create mischief. Once you recognize that they are coming from a place of insecurity, you can provide them with just enough reassurance to get them to settle down and focus on what needs to be done. Too much reassurance and you’ll fan their egocentric flames, but the right amount will allow them to calm down and get to the task at hand.
  4. Evaluate the context. Narcissism is not an all-or-nothing personality trait. Some situations may elicit a person’s insecurities more than others. Let’s say a woman was turned down for a promotion she wanted very much, and now must continue to work with the person who got the job. Her insecurity will only worsen with time, leading her to become defensively narcissistic, vindictive, and spiteful. If you know a person like this, it’s important to remember that the situation helped create the monster with whom you must now interact.
  5. Maintain a positive outlook. If you are dealing with narcissists who derive pleasure from watching others suffer, then seeing the pain they cause will only egg them on to more aggressive counter-behavior. Don’t look ruffled, even if you’re feeling annoyed, and eventually that behavior will diminish in frequency. Furthermore, by keeping the previous tips in mind, you may be able to help ease the situation so things actually improve.
  6. Don’t let yourself get derailed. It’s easy to lose your own sense of purpose or goals when a narcissist tries to take center stage. You don’t need to attend to everything this person says or does, no matter how much he or she clamors for your attention. Find the balance between moving ahead in the direction you want to pursue and alleviating the vulnerable narcissist’s anxieties and insecurities. If it’s a grandiose type of narcissist, you may want to acknowledge his or her feelings but then move on anyhow.
  7. Keep your sense of humor. Calling a narcissist’s bluff may mean that you ignore the person, but it might also mean that you meet that bluff with a laugh at least once in a while. Without being cruel about it, you can point to the inappropriateness of the person’s egocentric behavior with a smile or joke. This would be particularly appropriate for the grandiose type of narcissist, who will probably find it entertaining and possibly instructive.
  8. Recognize that the person may need help. Because some narcissists truly have low self-esteem and profound feelings of inadequacy, it’s important to recognize when they can benefit from professional intervention. Despite the belief that personality is immutable, psychotherapy research shows that people can change even long-standing behaviors. Bolstering the individual’s self-esteem may not be something you can tackle on your own, but it is something you can work on with outside help.

Follow me on Twitter @swhitbo (link is external) for daily updates on psychology, health, and aging. Feel free to join my Facebook group, “Fulfillment at Any Age (link is external),” to discuss today’s blog, or to ask further questions about this posting. Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. 2014 

Reference: Egan, V., Chan, S., & Shorter, G. W. (2014). The Dark Triad, happiness and subjective well-being. Personality And Individual Differences, 6717-22. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2014.01.004

Leaders: We Love Humble Leaders But Idolize Narcissists

by Ray Williams

The public in general and even management experts are hypocritical about what makes a good leader. On the one hand we exalt and praise leaders who are basically nasty and abusive (called a****les by some) because they are financially successful and on the other hand, research shows that humble leaders whose focus is to serve others are equally successful, but more importantly, capture the hearts and loyalty of others. Which do we value more?

When we think of egotistical, and even narcissistic and abusive leaders, the names of Steven Jobs, Donald Trump and Larry Ellison comes to mind. Not that their hubris doesn’t pay off according to a research study (link is external) completed by Charles A. O’Reilly III at Stanford’s business school. O’Reilly and his colleagues surveyed employees in 32 large, publicly traded tech companies. He contends that bosses who exhibits narcissistic traits like dominance, self-confidence, a sense of entitlement, grandiosity and low empathy, tend to make more money than their less self-centered counterparts, even if the lower-paid CEOs exhibit plenty of confidence. O’Reilly says of the narcissists, “they don’t really care what other people think and depending on the nature of the narcissist, they are impulsive and manipulative.”  O’Reilly goes on to argue the longer narcissistic leaders are at the helm, the higher their compensation in comparison with the rest of the leadership team, or in some cases the narcissistic bosses fire anyone who dares to question or challenge them.

There is a dark downside to this appearance of success however, O’Reilly contends. Company morale often declines, and employees leave the company. And while the narcissistic or abusive leaders may bring in the bigger paychecks, O’Reilly says there is compelling evidence that they don’t perform any better than lower-paid, less narcissistic counterparts. This argument has been supported by Michael Maccoby in his book, The Productive Narcissist: The Promise and Peril of Visionary Leadership. (link is external)

While Steve Jobs was a charismatic visionary, and brilliant innovator, Walter Issacson’s biography showed him to be rude, controlling and mean-spirited, never hesitating to humiliate Apple employees and take credit for others’ work. Since his death, there has been a flood of articles and books and seminars extoling Job’s leadership style, many of which argue that it’s okay to be an “asshole” as long as your financially successful. In may article in The Financial Post (link is external) I make the point “The concern I have, and that it is reflected by other leadership experts, is the faulty cause and effect, and “ends justifies the means” arguments that hold up Jobs as a leader to be emulated.  It goes something like this: It doesn’t matter what kind of boss you are like (meaning abusive), as long as you get results (financial); and any methods to get there are okay, including abusing people.”

I’ve encountered many young men, aspiring to be leaders, espousing flawed thinking goes something like this: “If Steve Jobs was a jerk and he was one of the most successful leaders in one of the most successful companies in the world, if I act like him, maybe I’ll be successful too.”

Robert Sutton one of the first leadership experts to draw attention to the prevalence of abusive bosses and how organizations should screen them out, as detailed in his book, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t (link is external). He points out that tech firms, particularly those in Silicon Valley where abusive leaders thrive. His article in the Harvard Business Review on the subject received an overwhelming response of affirmation.

A University of Iowa study, “Perpetuating Abusive Supervision: Third-Party Reactions to Abuse in the Workplace” (link is external), found “when a supervisor’s performance outcomes are high, abusive behavior tends to be overlooked when they evaluate that supervisor’s effectiveness.”  In other words, while people might not want to be friends with an abusive, overbearing bosses, they’ll tolerate their behavior as long as they are productive.

So it seems that abusive, narcissistic bosses are alive and doing well in the business world (and politics), and even exalted by the media. This is in sharp contrast to the research showing that humble bosses actually perform better and are better for the organization.

Peter Smuelson, a psychologist at Fuller Theological Seminary along with psychologist Sam Handy at Brigham Young University published a study in the Journal of Positive Psychology (link is external) described the need for humble leaders. They recruited 350 participants and gave them an open-ended questionnaire about real life problems. They found two clusters of traits people used to explain humility: The first from the social realm—sincerity, honesty, unselfishness, thoughtfulness. The second was learning—curiosity, logic, awareness, open-mindedness.

Humble leaders are more effective and better liked, according to a study published in the Academy of Management Journal.   (link is external)“Leaders of all ranks view admitting mistakes, spotlighting follower strengths and modeling teachability as being at the core of humble leadership,” says Bradley Owens, assistant professor of organization and human resources at the University at Buffalo School of Management. “And they view these three behaviors as being powerful predictors of their own as well as the organization’s growth.”

Owens and co-author David Hekman, assistant professor of management at the Lubar School of Business, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, asked 16 CEOs, 20 mid-level leaders and 19 front-line leaders to describe in detail how humble leaders operate in the workplace and how a humble leader behaves differently than a non-humble leader.

Although the leaders were from vastly different organizations—military, manufacturing, health care, financial services, retailing and religious—they all agreed that the essence of leader humility involves modeling to followers how to grow.

“Growing and learning often involves failure and can be embarrassing,” says Owens. “But leaders who can overcome their fears and broadcast their feelings as they work through the messy internal growth process will be viewed more favorably by their followers. They also will legitimize their followers’ own growth journeys and will have higher-performing organizations.” The researchers found that such leaders model how to be effectively human rather than superhuman and legitimize “becoming” rather than “pretending.”

But some humble leaders were more effective than others, according to the study.  Humble leaders who were young, nonwhite or female were reported as having to constantly prove their competence to followers, making their humble behaviors both more expected and less valued. However, humble leaders who were experienced white males were reported as reaping large benefits from humbly admitting mistakes, praising followers and trying to learn.

In contrast, female leaders often feel they are expected to show more humility than their male counterparts, but then they have their competence called into question when they do show humility.

“Our results suggest that female leaders often experience a ‘double bind,'” Owens says. “They are expected to be strong leaders and humble females at the same time.”Owens and Hekman offer straightforward advice to leaders. You can’t fake humility. You either genuinely want to grow and develop, or you don’t, and followers pick up on this.

Leaders who want to grow signal to followers that learning, growth, mistakes, uncertainty and false starts are normal and expected in the workplace, and this produces followers and entire organizations that constantly keep growing and improving. A follow-up study that is forthcoming in Organization Science using data from more than 700 employees and 218 leaders confirmed that leader humility is associated with more learning-oriented teams, more engaged employees and lower voluntary employee turnover.

The more honesty and humility an employee may have, the higher their job performance, as rated by the employees’ supervisor. That’s the new finding from a Baylor University study published in in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (link is external)that found the honesty-humility personality trait was a unique predictor of job performance.

“Researchers already know that integrity can predict job performance and what we are saying here is that humility and honesty are also major components in that,” said Dr. Wade Rowatt, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor, who helped lead the study. “This study shows that those who possess the combination of honesty and humility have better job performance. In fact, we found that humility and honesty not only correspond with job performance, but it predicted job performance above and beyond any of the other five personality traits like agreeableness and conscientiousness.”

The Baylor researchers along with a business consultant surveyed 269 employees in 25 different companies across 20 different states who work in positions that provide health care for challenging clients. Supervisors of the employees in the study then rated the job performance of each employee on 35 different job skills and described the kind of customer with whom the employee worked. The ratings were included in order to inform higher management how employees were performing and for the Baylor researchers to examine which personality variables were associated with job performance ratings.

The Baylor researchers found that those who self-reported more honesty and humility were scored significantly higher by their supervisors for their job performance. The researchers defined honesty and humility as those who exhibit high levels of fairness, greed-avoidance, sincerity and modesty.

“This study has implications for hiring personnel in that we suggest more attention should be paid to honesty and humility in applicants and employees, particularly those in care-giving roles,” said Megan Johnson, a Baylor doctoral candidate who conducted the study. “Honest and humble people could be a good fit for occupations and organizations that require special attention and care for products or clients. Narcissists, on the other hand, who generally lack humility and are exploitative and selfish, would probably be better at jobs that require self-promotion.”

Amy Y. Ou and her colleagues at Arizona State University published a study in Administrative Science Quarterly (link is external) in which they suggested it would be interesting to look at some of the leadership traits associated with Confucianism. Those traits include self-awareness, openness to feedback, and a focus on the greater good and others’ welfare, as opposed to dwelling on oneself. Ou, who is now an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore, thought that China would be a good place to gather data, because of Confucianism’s influence. She also had a network of corporate contacts there and she teamed up with another Chinese colleague at the business school, Anne Tsui, who had connections in China.

Together with three other colleagues in the U.S. and China, the researchers wound up interviewing the CEOs of 63 private Chinese companies. They also gave surveys to 1,000 top- and mid-level managers who worked with the CEOs. The surveys and interviews aimed to determine how a humble leadership style would affect not so much the bottom line as the top and mid-level managers who worked under the CEOs. Did managers feel empowered by CEOs’ humility, did they feel as though they were invited into company decision-making, and did that lead to a higher level of activity and engagement? The study’s conclusion: The more humble the CEO, the more top- and mid-level managers reported positive reactions. Top-level managers said they felt their jobs were more meaningful, they wanted to participate more in decision-making, they felt more confident about doing their work and they had a greater sense of autonomy. They also were more motivated to collaborate, to make decisions jointly and to share information. Likewise middle managers felt more engaged and committed to their jobs when the top boss was more humble. “There is a negative stereotype that humble people are weak and indecisive,” Angelo Kinicki, one of the co-authors of the report, “That’s just not the case.”

In an article in the Harvard Business Review (link is external) entitled “Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve,” leadership expert Jim Collins argues Level 5 leaders, the best leaders exhibit the following characteristics:

  • Demonstrates a compelling modesty, shunning public adulation; never boastful.
  • Acts with quiet, calm determination; relies principally on inspired standards, not inspiring charisma, to motivate.
  • Channels ambition into the company, not the self; sets up successors for even more greatness in the next generation.
  • Looks in the mirror, not out the window, to apportion responsibility for poor results, never blaming other people, external factors, or bad luck.
  • Looks out the window, not in the mirror, to apportion credit for the success of the company—to other people, external factors, and good luck.

Rob Nielsen, author of Leading with Humility, argues that some narcissistic business leaders are treated like rock stars but who leaders who are humble and admit mistakes outshine them all. There’s a difference between being a humble leader and being wishy-washy or overly solicitous of others’ opinions, says Arron Grow, associate program director of the School of Applied Leadership at the City University of Seattle and author of How to Not Suck as a Manager. He says being humble doesn’t mean being a chump and describes 6 ways in which leaders can be more effective by being more humble.  Elizabeth Salib takes up on this theme in her article in Harvard Business Review (link is external), contending the best leaders are humble leaders. She cites Google’s SVP of People Operations, Lazlo Bock, who says humility is one of the traits he’s looking for in new hires.

A recent Catalyst (link is external) study backs this up, showing that humility is one of four critical leadership factors for creating an environment where employees from different demographic backgrounds feel included. In a survey of more than 1500 workers from Australia, China, Germany, India, Mexico, and the U.S., Catalyst found that when employees observed altruistic or selfless behavior in their managers—a style characterized by acts of humility, such as learning from criticism and admitting mistakes they were more positive and committed to their work teams.

When are we going to stop idolizing business leaders, needing them to be bigger than life in a way reminiscent of celebrities and movie stars, and start appreciating the value of humble leaders, and accept the research evidence that will serve us better?


Narcissist or Just Self-Centered? 4 Ways to Tell

by Robert Taibi L. C. S. W.

Jim takes what he wants at a dinner party without thinking whether there is enough left for everyone else. He marches ahead of his date when they enter a restaurant. He tells endless stories about his work accomplishments and childhood experiences on a first date.

Question: Is Jim self-centered or narcissistic?

Many professionals think of narcissism, like many other mental-health issues on a continuum. And while truly narcissistic people are certainly self-centered, are self-centered people truly narcissistic? Not necessarily.

Here are 4 major indicators:

1. Focus on self.

Surely, by definition self-centered people are, well, self-centered. Research tells us that those children who were put on a pedestal, who were their parents‘ whole world, or who didn’t receive enough discipline and structure can easily become narcissistic.

That being said, there is a spectrum: Only children, for example, usually have much attention lavished on them, just because of family dynamics. They can often seem more self-centered than most others because they did not have to deal with the sharing, and the seeming unfairness, that siblings often experience. Without other sibling distractions, their brains are wired to think in terms of their own needs and wants. Just how much their parents actually spoiled them, or enabled them to feel entitled, affects how self-centered they actually become.

At this point in the analysis—the quality of focus on self—narcissists and self-centered people are about even.

2. Empathy.

Here is the first fork in the road where the two groups start to diverge. Imagine that Jim’s date calls him on his tendency to march ahead, or his wife says something about his hogging all the shrimp: If he is self-centered, he is likely to genuinely feel remorseful, and might earnestly change his behavior and habits in the future. But if Jim is more in the narcissistic range he is likely to dismiss his date’s or wife’s comments, or get angry because they actually criticized him. Or he may go through the motions of accommodating, not because he is really sorry, but to score points with his date or wife or to repair his image with the guests. Does it change his behavior overall? No.

Self-centered people can be empathic. Narcissists may fake it, but still essentially see others as pawns in their egocentric universe—and fail to make real changes.

3. Grandiosity.

Self-centered people crave attention from others, and can reliably find a way to talk about themselves when they begin to feel neglected and unimportant. In conversations, they may talk too much about themselves, but they can also actually listen to others.

The fine line here is the degree to which narcissists seek not only attention but also don’t listen to others or only listen to pounce on opportunities to turn the conversation toward themselves and their accomplishments. Where self-centered people essentially say, “Notice me!” narcissists say, “Notice how special and wonderful I am—and you’re not!”

4. Breaking rules.

Last fork in the road. Self-centered people have clear moral values: I don’t cut in line, I don’t cheat on my partner. Again, empathy is present. Narcissists feel special; rules don’t apply to them. They rationalize why it’s OK to cut in line or cheat on a partner, and will then actually blame others for their own actions as a way of thwarting criticism.

What’s Next?

How well do these divergent traits apply to you, those close to you (or those who are not)?

If you feel you yourself have become overly self-centered and want to change what may be some childhood hardwiring to become more inclusive and sensitive. A shift requires changing habits with intention. Start by looking at your patterns. Use someone close to you as a coach or sounding board to help you catch yourself from falling into those routine behaviors, and make deliberate efforts to be more emotionally generous.

If it’s about those close to you, the best thing to do is speak up, point out what bothers you and why—without scolding—and see what they say and do. Or show them this article. Self-centered people may be curious and take it seriously. As for the narcissists? They’ll probably never read it.



On Being A Narcissist

A: “Oh No! What to do? After reading about Narcissism, i found out that i’m one!”

B: “Hmm. Yeaaah. I knew it. Years ago. I knew you were and are now.”

A: “But how could you handle to live with me?”

B: “By always being blunt. If not, it will be a resentment. People are like that. They keep to themselves but it becomes a time bomb.”

Relationships: Finding a Great Partner

by Robert Puff Ph.D.

Finding a great partner involves two parts: being a good mate yourself and looking for someone who is as much like you as possible.

These two parts interact and affect each other. For example, the second part relates to the adage, “Birds of a feather flock together.” There’s a lot of truth to this old saying.

But what about another old adage — that opposites attract? Yes, they do attract, but in the long run, they don’t fair very well. So we are looking for someone who is as much like us as possible. But, we first need to look at ourselves: if we are a great partner who is loving, kind, supportive, listening, taking good care of ourselves, being healthy, being happy, and so on, that is what we are going to attract. However, if we are dysfunctional and struggling, then that’s also what we’re going to attract. So yes, it is so important to find someone like us, but we also need to be like someone we want to find. Let’s look at these ideas more closely.

We need to be the kind of partner we want. We need to be in a place that’s healthy (link is external) and to take care of ourselves. If we don’t do that, then we will attract someone who is unhealthy and isn’t taking care of himself or herself. Now this isn’t an absolute guarantee, but the way to avoid dysfunctional relationships is by being that healthy person because if we are we will not be attracted to dysfunction. We may date it, but we won’t date it for very long. It will quickly end. This could also apply to friendships and family. If we are healthy, we won’t put up with dysfunction. It just won’t be very attractive to us, and when it occurs, we will just set up boundaries. The boundaries could include not allowing others to continue to hurt us, ending some situations, and so on. In dating, we will quickly end dysfunctional situations because even if dysfunctional behavior isn’t initially directed at us, eventually it probably will be.

We each function within a metaphorical behavior bubble. Within each bubble there are very specific rules that we all follow. It indicates how we treat ourselves, as well as others. So, for example, if we are harsh on ourselves when we make mistakes, then we’re going to be harsh to others. We sometimes let people into our bubbles. We get married, and our spouse enters the bubble. We have children, and they enter our bubble. When others do, we start treating them the way we treat ourselves. Let’s say a couple is dating, and the man is very romantic. He gives his girlfriend flowers, writes her poetry, and says a lot of endearing things to her. They get married, and then everything changes. What happened is that it isn’t the love that lasted. He was treating her like he wanted to be treated. He didn’t want flowers, he didn’t want poetry, so he doesn’t recite verses to her anymore. He still cared for her but in the same way that he cared for himself. So when we’re dating, we have to watch out for this.

How people treat themselves and other people indicates how they might treat us. How are they treating their friends, their family, and most important, how are they treating themselves? When they make a mistake, do they angrily punish themselves? What is their self-talk like? It may not be easy to pick up on that, but if we observe, if we take our time, the truth will unfurl, and we’ll begin to see how they treat themselves. Then we’ll begin to see how they interact with our world. When someone hurts them, do they get really angry or upset? When they go through a tragedy, how do they treat themselves? When we have an argument with them, how do we interact during that argument? This isn’t that hard to figure out; it just takes time. So let’s give ourselves time; that’s probably one of the most important things we can do. The longer we take to get to know someone before we decide to commit a life to this person, the better we feel.

How others treat us does matter. We’re not going to marry or get into a serious relationship with another if the person is treating us poorly. But most important, we have to look at how they treat themselves. If they’re treating themselves in a harsh way, sooner or later that’s going to be directed at us. We have to be honest. So often I see people expect they can change their partners’ bad behavior. It is far better to assume that whatever is happening is going to stay that way or perhaps even become worse. If they drink too many beers, if they yell at people too often, if they’re stuck in their job and seem depressed, that’s probably going to be their way for the rest of their lives. No matter how much we love them, we can’t change them very much. I make a living trying to help people change themselves because I stay neutral while they decide and work to change. But in a relationship with someone with bad habits, any motivation to change his or her behavior has to come from that person and not from someone else. And often, people stay the same.

Look at what relationship you have and ask yourself, “Do I want to spend my life with this, or am I hoping to change my partner?” If you do, then drop that. They may not be the perfect person for you if you want your partner to be different.

If we can live with the other’s differences, if we can live with him or her — warts and all — then great. If we can’t, we need to decide whether to stay in the relationship or not.

One other common mistake I see is that while people are looking for the right partner, they hang onto an old relationship. Lots of people do this. I used to do a show called the Holistic Success Show, (link is external) and I had the number one relationship blogger in the world on my show. He said the very same thing—what most men do is stay in old relationships that are going nowhere while they’re hoping to find another one. What he and I encourage is to end the relationship and be single so you can find someone you are looking for without sabotaging new relationships because you’re hanging onto the old one. You need to let it go and work on being single. It’s healthy to be single. It’s good for you to be by yourself and enjoy that solitude. When we’re single and are able to be in that state, we’re not going to feel panicky or make bad choices. We need to be happy with ourselves before we find our partner. If we can’t be alone, then we probably won’t be a very good partner.

Part two in finding great partners and friends involves looking for others who are as similar to us as possible. How do we find these birds of a feather? I suggest four things:

1. Do what you do with passion and seek others doing the same.
2. Use friends to expand your relationship circle.
3. Be open to using the Internet.
4. Trust that all will work out.

Number one is to do what we do, do it passionately, and then look for people that are doing it too. Passion in what we do attracts others, and by engaging in what we love to do, we attract others who are similar to us. But we have to be out doing it and making ourselves available and known, if only in a little way. By doing what we enjoy, we are authentic, presenting a true picture of ourselves.

Different types of activities attract different personalities. A Star Trek convention attracts a different crowd than would a meditation retreat. We need to enjoy our passions and do them, and then look around and be friendly.

People need encouragement. Women, pay attention. A nice guy is not going to be aggressive and make the first move without an indication he should make that move. If he’s a nice guy, he is going to wait for you to give a little smile or some hint that you are interested; otherwise he’ll respect that boundary that you have made. If you want to attract someone who is kind and gentle, you need to give some indication you are interested.

This is the beauty of taking our time by watching the person we are maybe interested in and seeing how he or she acts. We will observe what he or she is like and then decide if this is the type of person we want to spend time with and get to know better. If not, we walk away. If yes, we can lend a hand and wait to see if the person brings us anything back. Then proceed from there. It’s a gentle dance that we both have to participate in, and women, nice men need some encouragement, so give them some.

The second way we can meet people is through our friends and other people we know. We have to let them know we’re interested because our friends and family want to help us. Going on a blind date can be scary, but meeting someone through friends doesn’t have to be a blind date. They can have you over and invite the other person too, to see if you’re a good match. Letting our friends and loved ones play matchmaker is a good way of our finding a mate because they know us so well. But you have to tell your friends that you’re looking to start a relationship.

The third tip is using the Internet. I know some people don’t like turning to the web for romance, but I urge you to consider it because the Internet has become a very effective way of finding mates. When you do use it, put out as much information about yourself as possible and then look for people who have a lot of information about themselves, too. We’re looking for someone like us. But if we say only, “I’m pretty” or “I’m handsome,” there’s nothing for people to pick up on beyond the superficial level. If your profiles are detailed and so are those of your potential mates, you can get a better idea if you’ll be a good match. Look for depth and for a likeness in interests. By making our profiles as detailed as possible we make it possible for the other to find us.

When we find someone who looks compatible from an online description, then we need to ask many questions before we meet in person. Although the Internet allows relationships to develop very fast, it’s going to be better for us if we take our time in getting to know another through an online connection. We need to take time to make sure that the other person is being truthful because people lie, and the Internet makes it easy to do so.

The key factor with Internet dating is finding out as much information about others as possible and also sharing with them our likes, dislikes, and hopes for the future. Most dating sites let you use filters to pick out what you want or don’t want in the other person, which also increases your chances of finding the right mate. But if we’re secretive, hide information, or lie, then later it could bring problems or obstacles to the relationship. For instance, if you start dating a person but don’t mention you want kids in the future, you might be afraid the person won’t continue to date you if he or she discovers you want children. We need to put out all our information so we can end an unsuitable relationship quickly.

It can be a lot of work to find someone through the Internet, but it is also encouraging because internet dating has worked for so many people. It does take time to find the right fit. If you want to find the perfect dress for a dance, you will probably have to go to several stores. It’s the same way with finding a mate. In the same way you might take a dress off the rack, look at it, try it on, and study it while it’s on you, do the same with meeting people on the Internet. If one person isn’t going to work out, move on to the next one. Asking questions will help you discover a lot of information you need to know before you meet in person. If you find you have a lot in common, proceed. The Internet can be a very effective tool if we use it well.

The fourth point is trusting in God or the Universe to help us find what we’re looking for. When we are in a good place, taking care of ourselves, then God, or the Universe, help us find what we are looking for. We don’t have to be alone in this. It’s almost as if, when we are in a good place and comfortable being alone, all of a sudden everything synchronizes to help us move in the direction of finding our soul mate. But, we have to trust. We can increase that trust by being comfortable with being single until we find our soul mates. We have to like our time alone as we are looking for people to journey with us in life. With this balance, God will help us find the mate and friendships that are best for us.

To recap, remember these two things when looking for a good mate. First, be a good mate yourself. Second, find someone who is as much like you as possible. When you do this, you will find happiness and a happy relationship.