Thursday, August 9, 2012

Intention vs. Opportunity

Good evening/afternoon LOVEanese! I'm really excited that I'm blogging again. Stay tuned for more posts to come over the next few weeks, and also even my own article on the Science of Relationships that I mentioned last week!

What I want to do in this post is share a little anecdote of something that recently happened to me, and the lesson that came out of it. Perhaps it's something you experienced/learned a long time ago, but I'm a late bloomer, so go figure, I just figured it out haha.

What exactly was I doing in college?

Anyway, Remember how I talked about "finding your habibi" a few months ago? And even going online to do so? What if the opportunity was there, but you actually accidentally passed it up? Multiple times even? And no I don’t mean your best friend or something like that, or not going out one Friday night when you were tired. What I mean is an opportunity missed because you didn't realize the opportunity was there to begin with.

Let me explain through example:

A few weeks ago, I was sitting with some good friends at a bar in the city where I did my undergrad (Louisville, KY). I was about three beers deep when something happened. As I was talking to my friends, a girl from another table randomly came over, and asked us if she could take an extra chair from our table. Of course we said yes, but then she looked right at me and asked, "Do I know you from somewhere? You look really familiar." Bear in mind a few things:

1. I wasn't exactly in my "going out" clothes. I had just driven there that day.

2. I was already a bit slow because of the beer (I'm kind of a light-weight, ok?)

3. I'm a really social person, and I used to know a lot of people in Louisville and at the university.

So, I'm thinking to myself, "Well, maybe she does know me..." So, I say, "Umm, I don't know. Did we have class together? What's your name?" And she tells me, but I'm still drawing a blank. At that point, my friend whispers to me, "Michael, what are you doing? Go talk to her!" And I'm just so confused, I'm still trying to figure out where she'd know me from! At that point she thanks us for the chair, and goes back to her table.

Now... my friend is kind of disappointed in me: "Dude, what was that!? You should have talked to her!" And this is where the lesson begins:

Me: (I'm still confused, and was flashing a puzzled look) "Why? She just wanted to know if she knew me. And she obviously didn't, what's the big deal?"

Him: "Well, she was obviously interested in you."

Me: "What are you talking about? She was just asking if she knew me" (which to me, in my naivety, was a reasonable conclusion).

Him: "But that's the point. It doesn't really matter if she was interested or not. The fact is, the opportunity presented itself just now, and you completely blew it.

Me: "What!? How!?"

Him: "Simple. When she came over and asked for the chair and if she knew you, what you should have done is gotten up, gone over to her, said something like, "no I don't think we've met, but my name's Michael," and then offered to take the chair back to her table."

At this point I was just amazed.

"Obviously you've never read The Game..."

Me: "How in the world should I have known that?? I thought she really might just know me."

"Ok fine, but you still missed an opportunity."

And that's when it dawned on me. Up until this point, I had never understood the difference between intention and opportunity when it comes to meeting someone. Intention, in this sense, being that she wanted to talk to me. Maybe she did. Maybe she didn't. To me, I always thought that the intention had to be there in order to talk to a girl (quite contrary to practically every movie, ever made, ever). But what I realized is that the opportunity to meet/get-to-know someone is really always there.

Now, you may be thinking, "Come on Ogie, that's like the oldest trick in the book." But analyzing that isn't the point of this post. It's that you may be missing good opportunities all the time because you're not reading the language of the interaction, or as I demonstrated, even realizing that the opportunity is there. As I said, it didn't matter if she came over just to talk to me or not. What mattered is that I should have stood up, introduced myself, talked to her, and offered to help; made something out of that interaction, and maybe meet someone new.

Does this happen to you? Has anything similar ever happened? In Lebanon? Outside Lebanon? Is it cultural? Just to clarify, my friend's girlfriend was sitting next to him, and not only affirmed what he was saying, but also said I should have talked to her, in part, because the "road for interaction" was clear so to speak.

Do you think there's a difference between how men and women perceive this? Ladies, men always say that they want a woman to approach them, but what happens if and when that happens? Do we kinda freeze up because it challenges all of our existing social and relational scripts of how to behave and what to do/say? Is it disrespectful or disingenuous if I assume that there is an "opportunity" to get to know someone there?

Let me know. I'm really looking forward to your comments on this one!

Spread the love,
-Ogie, MA

Monday, August 6, 2012

Updates and More Relationship Resources

Hello LOVEanese! Listen, I know it's been a long time since my last post, but A LOT has changed since then. For one, since I finished my thesis/defended, I graduated with an MA in sociology on June 22, and I moved from Beirut back to Kentucky in early July to see friends, spend time with family, and look for a job. So, not only am I coming to you live from the United States now, but I'm also in a different timezone (just an FYI). As you can imagine, it's been a really busy time. I also had the chance to present my thesis at the 2012 International Conference of the International Association of Relationship Research (IARR) in Chicago. It was great! I got to network and connect with many other relationship researchers, meet some of those people whose names appear in academic publications you read, and listen to a lot of presentations on really cool topics. My presentation went great, and I was even so fortunate to have my parents and a friend attend (so I could finally prove that I WAS doing something worth my time haha).

Transitioning back to "American life" has definitely been more difficult than I imagined. Finding a job has been incredibly tough, it seems like I apply to jobs everyday, only to never hear back. Typical I hear. Not exactly the best time, but whatever. Something will work out eventually. There's also been other things that have been on my mind as I transition back. The first is the loss of possession. Not in material things, but, for instance, the other day I told someone, "Oh, you should see my apartment!......well, my old apartment..." Little realizations like that make things difficult, and remind you of loss: loss of your routine, your living space, your independence, your bed, your living room, your kitchen, your routine, your city, your lifestyle, your friends, your family, your dekaneh owner, your life. But, that's also part of life: moving on, and moving forward. The other issue has been with this weird transitional in-between stage I feel between college students and recent/not-so-recent college grads. As someone who kind if fits into the middle, I'm finding it hard to identify with both groups.

But you know, with the opportunity for change also comes the opportunity for great growth and a lot of introspection. Of course, many Lebanese/Arab individuals are accustomed to moving around, so that definitely isn't a feeling that's hard to identify with. And I have been thinking about things often, including life and where to go next, and how to meet new people, etc. Before I get to one of the new revelations I had about dating that I wanted to share with you in the next post, I wanted to remind you of some great relationship resources that exist (I'll also be putting these on the LOVEanon Facebook Page. Remember, avoid places like Cosmo and Men's Health, and look for resources where research is cited! Don't merely take advice because they say an "expert" is writing about it):

1. The first is probably the best one because it is a hub for many different relationship bloggers, and has a ton of resources in general. It's called The Science of Relationships ( It has information related to dating, relationships, sexuality, friendship, marriage, courtship, engagement, breaking up, compatibility, and a host of other topics, resources, and featured columns. The best part is that they write like me: including social scientific relationship research in their posts. The head editors were also present at the IARR event, and all of them/the contributing authors all have a background in relationship research (either with an MA, PhD, or other degree/experience). Definitely a relevant and credible website (you can also check them out on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites).

2. The second is a website by Dr. Terri Orbuch ("The Love Doctor"). I also had the opportunity (and privilege if I may add) to meet her at the IARR event. She's a media-friendly relationship researcher from Michigan who writes articles related to relationship research for media outlets (she was interviewed for the story about "5 Secrets to a Happy Marriage: Revealed by Divorce" (A better overview here)). She also does a weekly segment on a local Michigan news outlet (Saturday morning between 8 and 8:30 AM on WJBK Fox 2 News-Detroit). You can find her columns on the Huffington Post and Psychology Today (Psychology Today is also a great resource!). She can also be followed on Facebook and Twitter.

3. The third is a bunch of resources hosted by Dr. Bjarn Holmes (who I am convinced is the real-life Thor). Also a media-friendly researcher, he blogs on Science of Relationships and Psychology Today. He also hosts a monthly podcast series called Relationship Matters,  which features an interview (or more) with a knowledgeable expert on some aspect of relationship research and relationship maintenance. He is available on Twitter.

4. When it comes to sexual concerns related to relationships, sexual health, and everything in-between, Kinsey Confidential out of the Kinsey Institute of Indiana University is my go-to guide (Kinsey sound familiar? It was established by pioneering human sexuality researcher Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey). Anyway, this site has it all, from relationship resources to information about STIs, sexual health, sexuality and relationships, answers to questions about sex, reading lists to check out, and much more. I strongly suggest you check them out, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

5. Another sexual health and relationship resource (and another that I heard about at IARR) is a blog authored by Dr. Justin Lehmiller called "The Psychology of Human Sexuality." It has a lot of great topics on it. I suggest you check it out as well, and follow him/the blog on Facebook.

6. The last resource I want to link you to today is the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center. It's a non-partisan, government-sponsored project that compiles information, statistics, marital resources, and other information together. It's really interesting, and gives more numerical information based on various surveys and other research methods. So, from attitudes toward marriage, marital trends, demographics, divorce patterns, etc., this site has it covered.

There is also two academic journals that are dedicated to relationship research: Personal Relationships (Wiley), and The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (SAGE), both through the IARR. They both contain additional resources as well.

Now, I know what many of you who live in Lebanon, Europe, or elsewhere may be thinking: "But this is all written for Americans, by Americans." And honestly, you're right. A lot of this research is American/Western-focused, and there's a shortage of cross-cultural relationship research. This isn't to say it doesn't exist, just when compared to studies conducted on American samples, however, it just, well... doesn't compare. BUT, although culture does have much to do with romantic relationships, much of the research conducted can be applied to many different populations, especially at the individual level. So, definitely take everything with a grain of both salt and common sense/critical thinking, and if you have any questions, discuss it! Either in the comments section of my blog, on Twitter, on Facebook, or simply just write the author! Even if they don't know the answer, they have the knowledge, skills, and expertise to connect you to other resources or find the answer for you.

This is also a great point to reiterate exactly what I'm doing here. I know I'm writing to you from the US now, but remember what I always say (and have said since I wrote my very first post almost a year ago): I want to help connect individuals to relationship research and resources in an easy-to-digest way that is informative, fun, and educational. Also, MA or not, I AM NOT AN EXPERT, nor do I ever intend to come off as one. I will always cite my sources, and I will strive to make this blog objective and value neutral. However, I will  write it in such a way that it focuses on Lebanese/Arab culture, but still be applicable to a general population and especially those who come from cultures that  emphasize family and social collectivity. If you ever need a reminder of this or the purpose, vision, or mission of this blog, just re-read the first post. I have tried to not deviate from my original purpose.

With that all said, I just want to give a teaser of some topics to expect in the coming few weeks in no specific order:

1. Can you really be friends after a break-up?
2. When in doubt, follow your nose
3. Understanding the difference between intention and opportunity
4. How to read a scientific article
5. A case for and against marriage
6. Dating at work: pros and cons

7. Are men REALLY from Mars, and women REALLY from Venus?
8. The pros and cons of pornography within a relationship context
9. Attraction and birth order
10. The benefits of selfless sexuality

As always, thank you all so much for reading! I really appreciate all of your support, no matter what country you're in, continent you're on, or culture you were raised in.

Stay cool, peaceful, and lit-up Lebanon. And spread the love,
-Ogie, MA