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Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.


This Week:
Are the Best People Still on the Market
Checking Online Dating Services

If the people on online dating sites are so attractive and eligible, then why are they still on the market?

 

I’ve heard self-absorbed men in informal focus groups ask this very same question. They seemed suspicious that the women on online dating sites were not “quality” individuals – because they reasoned that quality women wouldn’t be on the market. I guess it never dawned on them that their reasoning also applied to them.

The fact is that some singles, be they online or off, are unsavory characters that wouldn’t make for stable or satisfying relationships. But the truth is that there are many reasons why attractive, dynamic, and eligible are on the market. Some put their education or careers before romance, others are recently new to the market because of some sort of separation, whereas others are on the market simply because they’ve not yet found the right person.

Whatever the reason, online dating sites are full of amazing singles just like you. It’s up to you to find dating services that fit with style and seem to have your type of people. But a little due diligence should quickly reveal that online dating gives you an outlet unlike any other if your goal is to meet the greatest number of quality and eligible singles near you and beyond.

I look forward to checking out my online dating site all day, but by the time I get home after work my mood changes. What can I do?

I have to wonder if your mood changes are due to work stress. You might have a rewarding, successful career, and, therefore, deny any work stress. This would be a wrong assumption. Hans Selye was one of the founding fathers of stress research. His view in 1956 was that “stress is not necessarily something bad – it all depends on how you take it. The stress of exhilarating, creative successful work is beneficial, while that of failure, humiliation or infection is detrimental.” Selye believed that the biochemical effects of stress would be experienced irrespective of whether the situation was positive or negative.

Some of the earliest research on stress established the existence of what we know today as the “fight-or-flight” response. That is, when a person experiences a shock or merely perceives a threat, the body quickly releases hormones that help it to survive. The physiological effects of these hormones essentially prepare us to either “fight” the stressor or “flee” or runaway from it. It’s not just life-threatening events that trigger this reaction – we experience it most any time something unexpected happens or when something frustrates our goals. When the threat is small, our response is small and we often do not notice it among the many other distractions of a stressful situation. So, small work pressures might be having a snowball effect and causing these mood changes.

Even small pressures can have big, cumulative effects. For example, your previously good mood might slowly or abruptly transform into more negative feelings like anxiety, jumpiness, or irritability. There are very few situations in modern working life where this response is useful. Most situations benefit from a calm, rational, controlled and socially sensitive approach. The same is true for online dating and interacting with others in social settings. If your mood changes are significant, then you might be experiencing work burnout. See if any of the following symptoms sound familiar:

1. Chronic fatigue - exhaustion, tiredness, a sense of being physically run down.

2. Anger at those making demands.

3. Self-criticism for putting up with the demands.

4. Cynicism, negativity, and irritability.

5. A sense of being besieged.

6. Exploding easily at seemingly inconsequential things.

7. Frequent headaches and gastrointestinal disturbances.

8. Weight loss or gain.

9. Sleeplessness and depression.

10. Shortness of breath.

11. Suspiciousness.

12. Feelings of helplessness.

13. Increased degree of risk taking.

If those do sound familiar, I recommend speaking to your doctor. In the short term, we need to keep fight-or-flight responses under control to be effective in our jobs and successful in our online and offline dating exploits. In the long term we need to keep it under control to avoid problems of poor health and burnout.




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