Romance Without the Drama: A Simple Scientific Explanation of How to Do It

The Psychology Behind Love and Romance

Romance Without the Drama: A Simple Scientific Explanation of How to Do It

We spend our lives craving it, searching for it, and talking about it. Its meaning is felt more than it is clearly expressed. It’s called the greatest virtue.

It’s love.

Love is fascinating and complex. Romantic love, in particular, seems to be a beautiful mystery we find hard to explain.

Although poets and songwriters can put many of our romantic thoughts and feelings into words, love is so inexplicable we need the help of science to explain it. After all, psychologists have a lot to say about how and why people fall in love.

This is Your Brain on Love

During romantic love there are many changes that both men and women experience. It seems rather inaccurate to say “falling in love” because experiencing love is more of a high that puts people on cloud nine.

“The first step in the process of falling in love is the initial attraction,” says Elizabeth Kane, a South University adjunct faculty member who teaches clinical psychology and behavioral science. “It’s the powerful moment when we meet another person and feel energized and are immediately aware of our heart pounding.”

According to licensed psychologist Dr.

Rachel Needle, specific chemical substances such as oxytocin, phenethylamine, and dopamine, have been found to play a role in human experiences and behaviors that are associated with love.

They function similar to amphetamine, making us alert, excited, and wanting to bond.It’s the powerful moment when we meet another person and feel energized and are immediately aware of our heart pounding.

“Falling in love is associated with increased energy, narrowing of mental focus, sometimes sweaty palms, light-headedness, racing heart, and a lot of positive feelings,” says Needle, an associate professor and coordinator of Clinical Experiences at South University, West Palm Beach.

In his book, The Brain in Love: 12 Lessons to Enhance Your Love Life, Dr. Daniel G. Amen says “that romantic love and infatuation are not so much of an emotion as they are motivational drives that are part of the brain's reward system.”

Kane agrees, saying that the human brain supports falling in love, which is why we have such a strong physiological response when we are attracted to another. Once a romantic couple begins to spend time together, they are in a sort of love euphoria.

“A person newly in love sees the world through the lens of love and most everything is tolerable and everything their partner does is delightful,” says Kane, who is also a marriage and family therapist.

According to the triangular theory of love developed by psychologist Robert Sternberg, the three components of love are intimacy, passion, and commitment. Intimacy encompasses feelings of attachment, closeness, connectedness, and bondedness.

Passion encompasses drives connected to both limerance and sexual attraction. Commitment encompasses, in the short term, the decision to remain with another, and in the long term, the shared achievements and plans made with that other person.

“Romantic love evolves when one feels a sense of interdependence, attachment, and that their psychological needs are being met,” Kane says. “Some researchers say oxytocin plays a part in the evolution of romantic love as it is released in the brain during orgasm, which contributes to the couple’s ability to bond with one another.”

They Call Me Dr. Love

Understanding the psychology behind falling in love can also help therapists treat people dealing with heartbreak.

When a therapist understands the meaning that romantic love has in one’s life and the traumatic effects of the abrupt and sometimes unexpected end of a relationship, they can address their client’s ability to move on and strengthen their resiliency.

“Moving beyond the pain of a failed relationship requires a shift of focus back on one’s self and to their own unique ability to give and receive love,” Kane says.

“When we understand how we fall in love, we can connect to the difficulties in moving forward after our heart has been broken.

We can then connect again to the beauty of the experience and an optimistic understanding that if it has happened to us once that it can happen again to us.”

Needle says therapists need to understand each individual and how they fell in love and what they currently experience in terms of heartbreak in order to best help them work through that difficult time.

“A therapist can be helpful in supporting clients in understanding and learning from the past,” Needle states. “Many people choose similar partners from relationship to relationship, but are unaware of it, as well as why these relationships continue to lead to disappointment and not last.”

Keeping the Fires Burning

Some of us may have committed ourselves to the fantastical notion that romance is just an act of spontaneous combustion. But, Needle says it’s time to ditch the myth.

“Get rid of the myth that these things should just happen spontaneously and that there is something wrong with the relationship because you are not all over each other every minute, as when you began the relationship,” Needle says. “The truth is that you have to put in time and energy and make a conscious effort to sustain the relationship and the passion.”

Healthy relationships require regular communication, she adds.

“Basic communication with your partner on a daily basis is important to continue connecting on an emotional level,” Needle says. “Also, remind yourself why you fell in love with this person.”

Predictability can also dampen desires, so couples should strive to keep a sense of adventure and surprise alive in their relationships.

“Break the predictable pattern every so often,” Needle advises.

People can let their partners know how much they love them by the little things they do every day.

“To be romantic is to make a choice to wake up each day and ask yourself what you can do today to let your lover know they are adored,” Kane says. “Have fun in your romance and remember that the more effort you put into your romantic relationship, the more love you will receive in return. Be the partner that you seek and live a life filled with passion and romance.”



Romance Without the Drama: A Simple Scientific Explanation of How to Do It

In the strictest academic terms, a romance is a narrative genre in literature that involves a mysterious, adventurous, or spiritual story line where the focus is on a quest that involves bravery and strong values, not always a love interest. However, modern definitions of romance also include stories that have a relationship issue as the main focus.

II. Examples of Romance

In the academic sense, an example of a romance is a story in which the main character is a hero who must conquer various challenges as part of a quest. Each challenge could be its own story and can be taken the overall story without harming the plot.

Example 1

  • A knight who wishes to prove himself by recovering a stolen heirloom from an enemy may find himself attempting to make his way through a dangerous wood filled with thieves.
  • Once he has accomplished this challenge, he may find himself climbing a tall mountain on which a group of people are in trouble. He would save the group somehow, and then move on.
  • Then the final stage: the enemy’s kingdom. There may be a fair maiden whom he meets and somehow helps or rescues, or perhaps she helps him.

But the fair maiden is not the focus of the story – his quest is the focus. Each story can be taken out, yet each builds the hero’s strength to face his final quest.

These stories tend to be serious rather than humorous and touch on strong values.

Example 2

A modern romance would include:

  • The story of a character who keeps meeting the wrong type of people in his or her relationships or has run into a problem with a current love relationship.
  • The story would focus on the struggles the character faces while finding Mr. or Mrs. Right. The whole focus would be the relationship, although the character may also be dealing with other struggles, such as losing a job, handling difficult parents, etc.

These stories may be funny, sad, tragic, serious, or a mix. The obvious resolution to the conflict would be finding the right person or saving the present relationship.

a. Gothic

In Gothic romance, the settings are usually in distant regions and the stories feature dark and compelling characters. They became popular in the late 19th century and usually had a sense of transcendence, supernatural, and irrationality. Popular Gothic novels still read by many high school students today are classics such as:

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

b. Historical

Historical romance takes place in times long past and appears romantic due to the adventure and wildness of the time. This also provides value and meaning to the lifestyle of the characters. The following novels fit in this sub-genre:

  • The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
  • Rob Roy by Sir Walter Scott.

c. Contemporary/Modern

Contemporary romance focuses on a love relationship and has a happy ending. There are two ways these romance novels are written: as a series or category romance (the author writes a succession of books that fit a theme or follow a storyline) or as a single-title romance.

Even more so, within the sub-genre romance, and as seen in many movies, there can be:

  • comedy-romance
  • tragic-romance
  • satire-romance
  • serious romance

Playwrights and poets also treat romance with various tones.

IV. The Importance of Romance

Romance is a natural human emotion. Sad love songs and poems when one is recovering from a broken heart can help express unspoken feelings.

Happy romantic movies and plays help people feel optimistic that someday they will also find true love.

However, there is some criticism that many modern romantic stories make people develop unrealistic views about real relationships, as they expect love to be it is in the movies.

Barbara Cartland was a British writer who wrote 723 romance novels before her death in 2000. While her novels were mainly historical in context, Cartland’s simple format for love stories and success opened a whole new publishing field, specifically with companies such as Harlequin Romance and Bantam.

The plot lines she used focused on a simple model: handsome stranger, innocent and pure female, and a conflict that required trust and dependence. The couple usually didn’t get along at first, or they had a misunderstanding. Yet, the stories always ended in marriage and complete happiness.

As a result, more modern writers began filling the niche and the romance novel evolved on different levels.

Example 1: Gothic Romance

A classic story that contains all the standard elements and has been made into several movies is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, published in 1847.

In this gothic romance, there are unexplained and irrational happenings in an isolated region with mysterious characters, which help create a dark mood. Tragedy and sadness also act as part of the plot.

This trailer for a 2011 live-action British version illustrates the gothic romance perfectly.

Jane Eyre Movie Trailer Official (HD)

Example 2: Historical Romance

One literary figure who has had many stories, poems, songs, and plays written about him is the legendary King Arthur. Historians have never proven that he existed, but there are theories that the legend may have been a few leaders from long ago.

Needless to say, this unknown man has been the focus of many historical romances. His leading character traits are usually honesty and bravery, necessary in bringing a torn country to peace. The idea of true chivalry ran through the stories of his knights and the round table.

A more recent screenplay this literary figure and uses a different yet more realistic twist is the 2004 release of King Arthur, starring Clive Owen and Keira Knightley.

In this version, Guinevere is a Woad (a group of Celtics who have been fighting the invading Romans and is a historical fact).

King Arthur Theatrical Movie Trailer #2 (2004)

Example 3: Contemporary Romance

Many novels of the author Nicholas Sparks have been made into popular movies, such as The Notebook, A Walk to Remember, and Safe Haven.

 His stories all have love as a theme, some featuring a long-time love that was lost then recovered, others with a long-time love reaching the end of life, and others with bad relationships that find happiness in new ones.

This trailer for Safe Haven is the latter, in which a woman who escapes an abusive relationship seeks peace and solace in a new town but finds a new love, if she can escape her past.

Safe Haven Trailer 2013 Movie Nicholas Sparks – Official [HD]

Example 3

A well-loved and popular children’s movie enjoyed by adults as well, blends fairy tale, comedy, musicals, and both historical and modern romance into one.

Shrek features an unly hero, an ogre named Shrek, who embarks on a quest for one simple reason – he wants his swamp back from all the fairy tale characters that have overtaken his home.

This movie is a romantic satire of many genres, with the basic romance theme running through it, ending with a lesson about beauty and love being in the eye of the beholder.

Shrek 2001 Official Trailer


Any piece of literature that takes place in unrealistic realms with various creatures rather than only humans. This is one of the oldest types of literature, and may be the starting place of other genres.

The original Le Morte d’Arthur (The Death of Arthur) by Sir Thomas Mallory was a fantasy. The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien and the Harry Potter series by J. K.

Rowling also fall into fantasy, involving strange creatures, wizards, and magical places.

VIII. Conclusion

Many people today don’t realize that romance is more than a love story. Romance can be a complex plotline with a setting from the past in a remote, faraway place.

Instead of focusing on a love story, it idealizes values and principles that seem lost in today’s world of technology and instant gratification.

However, romance may also be a typical, romantic, love story that makes people sigh with wishful thinking.


Romance Without the Drama: A Simple Scientific Explanation of How to Do It

Romance Without the Drama: A Simple Scientific Explanation of How to Do It

Ever wonder why feelings of love can seem so complex—even contradictory—and sometimes impossible to explain? Scientists have recently discovered why this happens.

Our feelings of romantic love arise from five separate biological systems.

These five systems work together, blending emotions, to create all the different ways we feel about our partners. Because of this complex and variable process, you will generally respond to a different partner in a different manner.

What’s interesting is that any, all, or none of your five love systems can respond to another person.

This means that you really don’t have a single on/off or a hot/cold switch when it comes to loving somebody. Rather, you have five different switches for five different feelings. And they will get set at different intensities, and go on or off at different times.

There's 5 different systems that blend to create romantic love.

Now you can imagine that there a dozen of possible ways that two people could potentially feel about each other. Yet people still generally use one word—love—when they talk about those feelings. That gets confusing. Two people are often talking about two different things. And that’s why an individual might end up saying, “You don’t love me as much as I love you.”

That expression doesn’t make too much sense when you consider that you don’t know which love systems the other person is talking about. And it's often impossible to explain which one you are talking about. So you both hit a dead end when discussing your relationship

Your partner might, in fact, experience one or the other of the five feelings of love with more intensity compared to what you are experiencing.But you might be experiencing another one of the five feelings more intensely when compared to your partner's feelings.

That is why you need to be able to talk about your five love feelings with your partner if you want to understand what’s going on in your relationship.

Otherwise you end up talking past each other, and just nodding, without really understanding what your partner is experiencing.

Let’s look the five distinct feelings of romantic love that arise from deep within us:

1.The In-Love Feeling

When you experience the crazy-in-love feeling, you’re prone to start thinking obsessively about the person you’ve got your mind set on.

You might actually think about that person so much that you think he or she is The One.

The feeling of being crazy-in-love, however, generally fades away when your brain's crazy-love connections rebalance, usually within 18 months after getting wild about someone.

At that time, you might move into the second stage of being in love. That is where you feel rewarded when you are together with your partner.

It actually raises your dopamine neurotransmitter levels–those things that make the electric signals connect in different parts of the brain. If you do not have a functional relationship, however, you won’t move into this second stage of the romantic in-love feeling.

Instead, you might get the feeling that the “honeymoon is over” and feel at times that you are “in bed with a stranger.”

Sexual feelings come in two different types: the feeling of physical arousal and the feeling of emotional arousal. You feel physically aroused when you body starts responding to sexual cues, causing blood to rush to your genitals, making nerves tingle.

Interestingly, physical exercise raises just about everyone’s potential to get physically aroused about sex. But the emotional desire to have sex is different. It can be dependent on how the relationship is going, your mood, and how much stress you are under.

The emotional desire for sex often increases when you and your partner simply get out and explore the world together. But sometimes a person’s physical and emotional feelings are at opposite ends of the turned-on spectrum.

Someone can be teasing you, for instance, and you might notice you are physically aroused for sex. But looking at the situation, your emotions may be telling you, “Not now.

” That's when your body says, “Yes,” and your head says, “No.”

3. Feeling Friends

The feeling of romantic friendship is no other friendship. That's because it takes place between two people who know each intimately. As such, it sets the general tone of how people treat their lovers. It also affects how they handle relationship conflict. When partners are romantic friends, they don’t keep score or call each other names.

Rather, they either settle the conflict or let the whole thing go the way friends do. That's because the couple values their relationship. The feeling of friendship is so important to romance that we have an expression for couples who openly show it. We say that they are “friends and lovers, too.” This is the most admired type of romantic relationship.

Without it, a relationship is a car engine that misfires and shakes.

4. Feeling Family

The family feeling is what creates the ties that bind people together. That might feel trustworthiness. When you have a healthy family feeling about your partner, you chill out together. That’s because the family-love, biological system creates stress-relieving hormones and brain connections that allow you to discuss troubling things.

Feeling family works the opposite for people who are prone to having negative family feelings and cling/clung relationships. Feeling family means heightened tensions for them. That is because one person is generally always worried about being rejected.

Meanwhile the other person may avoid his or her partner when under stress. In a relationship that, the curative stress-relieving powers of a couple’s family feelings never take hold.

And eventually the partners just don't have anything positive to say to each other, which is one of the first signs of relationship failure.

When your romantic helping system engages, you want to help your lover with something. You do that because you care about you partner achieving his or her life goals.

But some people only help in order to try to get control over their partners. Sensing this, their partners simply do less and expect more.

As a result, the helper will slave away until he or she ends up resenting his or her partner.

People in functional relationships have an intuitive understanding of this. So they do not give unsolicited advice and do not act martyrs. They also know when to ask if their partner really wants some help and when to stay the way. So they don't end up codependents. Codependents mistake caregiving for helping, as if they were babysitting their partners.

What This Means

With these five distinct romantic feelings blending together to create the way you feel about your partner, you will not experience the relationship exactly the way your partner does. Actually, no two people can love each other in exactly the same way.

The way you respond to another person is dependent on your life experiences, the way you were raised, and by your genetic makeup. These things affect how your five feeling of love are expressed in your relationship. So the most you can hope for is that your partner’s feelings are similar to yours.

The closer the two of your feel towards each other in these five areas, the smoother your relationship will go.

To improve your relationship, talk to your partner in terms of the five feelings of love.

Don’t just say, “I love you,” and leave it at that. Instead, you can improve your relationship communications ten-fold by explaining how you are feeling at the moment.

Does your love emotion feel :

  1. Are you obsessed and thinking a lot about your partner? Or maybe feeling rewarded just to be around your partner?
  2. Do you have the feeling of being physically aroused sexually? Or rather, emotionally aroused about having sex? Or both? Or maybe too stressed or too tired to feel either one?
  3. Do you have a sense of being relieved of stress, you do with friends? Or do you have the feeling of being stressed out when you are around your partner?
  4. Do you feel family in a good sense–a sense of trustworthiness? Or do you feel you are stuck at a Thanksgiving family dinner that you did not want to attend?
  5. Do you feel you enjoy your partner's successes and want to help him or her achieve his or her goals? Or rather, feel you do not want to help your partner achieve success?

You can start improving your romantic relationship by simply talking about each of the five feelings of love! You might even print this column and let your partner read it. Once you are able to express your real feelings, there will be less drama in your relationship.


The Coronavirus Outbreak

Romance Without the Drama: A Simple Scientific Explanation of How to Do It
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Long ago, my man and I agreed to do what’s called “Living Apart Together,” or LAT. Even if we ever marry, I intend to keep my pad in Manhattan and spend a couple nights there alone every week.

During this global tragedy, however, we are, by necessity, now living together full time. It has its challenges, but I am confident that we — and many other lovers — will survive, even thrive in this crazy time.

Why? Because I’ve spent more than 40 years studying the evolution of human marriage, adultery and divorce, as well as romantic love around the world today and the brain circuitry of this universal passion. In fact, romantic love and feelings of deep attachment run along powerful pathways in the brain. Love is primordial, adaptable and eternal.

Nevertheless, this dreadful virus has pushed all of us to assess our needs, make difficult decisions and build stronger partnerships and family bonds. It’s a tremendous opportunity to learn more about your partner and kin — and grow together.

That said, we are a nomadic species — built to leave home regularly for quests of all kinds. So being cooped up 24/7 during this pandemic requires creativity. Here are a few suggestions on how to make the most of this difficult situation.

Psychologists have offered a host of tips for how to maintain a healthy and happy long-term partnership. Among them: Don’t show contempt. Don’t threaten divorce. Listen actively. Compromise.

But there is one piece of solid advice that comes directly from my work with the neuroscientist Lucy Brown and other members of our brain-scanning team.

Among those adults we scanned who were in long term happy partnerships (in America and China), we found activity in three brain regions: a brain region associated with empathy; another linked with controlling your own stress and emotions; and a third coupled with the ability to overlook what you don’t about your partner and focus on what you do — what’s known as “positive illusions.”

I do this daily. OK, so sometimes he isn’t listening to a word I’m saying.

But I know that women tend to be better at doing several things at once — probably an inheritance from raising helpless infants throughout our prehistoric past — whereas men tend to do one thing at a time.

So rather than assuming he is ignoring me, I chalk this up to his remarkable ability to focus, a trait that probably helped him build his brilliant career.

In short: I dwell on the positive. It works.

I’ve also carved out a “safe space” in his apartment — a room where I can’t be interrupted. If my partner needs me, he knocks on my door and asks if I’m available.

Data show that people around the world have an innate need for autonomy, at least in the parts of their lives that they regard as valuable; creating a safe space can help people to feel in control, so they feel happy instead of helpless — or sometimes even hostile. If you have children in the home, let them select their own safe space as well.

My man and I make a daily schedule, too. People differ in what scientists call “intolerance of uncertainty.” Some express extreme anxiety in ambiguous situations. That’s not me. But I do plans, because they help me organize my time.

So over morning coffee, we make a program for the day. Typically, we decide to remain at our desks for a specific period and eat lunch separately — generally leftovers. In this time of crisis, establishing specific work hours can calm the mind, as well as establish when we’ll play and meet for dinner. We plan all this every day.

We make sure to “dress” for dinner too — no pajamas or old sweats. In fact, he recently had a birthday, so I brought in a host of goodies and asked him to get dressed up. He emerged from the bedroom in his tuxedo. It made my month.

Play triggers the brain’s dopamine system to give you energy, focus, motivation and optimism. So we often assemble on the living room couch in midafternoon to play some bridge together, online.

We also play self-revealing games. I particularly a game I invented a couple weeks ago, “Remember When.” I begin the game with a remembrance of an endearing time together. Yesterday, I started with: “Remember our first date — when you knocked on my door and immediately apologized for being on time?”

Nostalgia is good for you — if you do it correctly. Instead of pining for “the good ol’ days,” savor them.

Another game we play is: “My Favorite Moment.” Some evenings, we write one another an email, telling of our favorite moment of the day. It doesn’t need to be momentous. Two days ago, mine was when he winked at me in the supermarket. It’s valuable to let your partner know what’s meaningful to you. This way they know how to please.

We’ve begun to tell one another a story at cocktail hour too. Telling stories was standard entertainment during our long prehistory — and in our home, it’s standing the test of time.

Regularly we also curl up and listen to a book. Touch (including kissing) is important: it drives up the oxytocin system in the brain and generates feelings of calm and attachment. Of course, if one of you is sick, this isn’t possible.

One of my favorite current pastimes with my man is planning our next vacation. Hopefully, we’ll go to Scandinavia next summer. So we sit together at his computer and look at maps, museums, nature walks and historic sites. I think it’s important to imagine your life after this plague has passed — and live it now. Research shows that anticipating your next vacation makes you happy.

If you have children in the home, include them in your daily morning powwow as you review the family’s schedule. Invite them to join your exercise routine, or the evening’s “story telling” hour.

Give them free time to do just as they please, something children enjoyed throughout our past. And how about some new challenges — making lunch. It might not be four-star chow, but they will learn and you might laugh.

And laughter is the elixir of survival — it evolved to get us through hard times.

Then there are all the obvious things a couple can do to keep love alive. Put on dance music and waltz or swing — even if you can’t dance. Cook dinner together — and follow a new recipe. Take virtual tours through the world’s great museums, cities or nature preserves.

Go over old photographs together. Or just plan your next party. You might try an evening of Halloween, too — dress up in any outlandish costume you can create. But do something new. Novelty also stimulates dopamine activity in the brain to give you energy and optimism.

So be creative. And when you emerge from this challenging time, you might be surprised at how much you’ve grown together — rather than apart.

Helen E. Fisher is a biological anthropologist and senior research fellow at The Kinsey Institute, Indiana University. She has written six books, including “Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Stray.”

  • Updated April 11, 2020
    • This is a difficult question, because a lot depends on how well the virus is contained. A better question might be: “How will we know when to reopen the country?” In an American Enterprise Institute report, Scott Gottlieb, Caitlin Rivers, Mark B. McClellan, Lauren Silvis and Crystal Watson staked out four goal posts for recovery: Hospitals in the state must be able to safely treat all patients requiring hospitalization, without resorting to crisis standards of care; the state needs to be able to at least test everyone who has symptoms; the state is able to conduct monitoring of confirmed cases and contacts; and there must be a sustained reduction in cases for at least 14 days.
    • If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
    • The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.
    • It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.
    • No. Clinical trials are underway in the United States, China and Europe. But American officials and pharmaceutical executives have said that a vaccine remains at least 12 to 18 months away.
    • Un the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions — not just those with respiratory diseases — particularly hard.
    • If the family member doesn’t need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.
    • Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.
    • That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.

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Good luck finding true love with ‘no drama’ – fulfilment takes work

Romance Without the Drama: A Simple Scientific Explanation of How to Do It

Apparently, in the dating world, there’s now an epidemic of men specifying partners and relationships with “no drama”. “I understand that people want joy, laughter and happiness in their relationships,” wrote Laura Hilgers, in a New York Times essay on the phenomenon.

But the men who use such phrases, she argued, “want something that doesn’t exist: a problem-free partnership with someone who has no life experience.

Are they looking for a woman who never gets angry or afraid or sad, who never worries about her family or struggles in her job?”

It’s hard to say, because “drama” is so vague. That makes it a worthy successor to the now rather 70s-sounding “issues”: a label capacious enough to include people with severe personality disorders – whom you might be forgiven for wishing to avoid – but also everyone who has displayed any human emotion other than upbeat good cheer.

So, by demanding “no drama”, you get to characterise your fear of difficult emotions as a simple matter of self-care. Of course you don’t want to date somebody with, you know, issues! (To be clear: if drama means emotional or physical abuse, you should definitely avoid it.

) On the other hand, good luck finding a fulfilling relationship if you will only consider people with no issues.

If I have sympathy for these drama-avoidant men, though, I can sum it up in two words: internet dating. Romance, much else these days, comes with the promise of infinite possibility: if this particular match doesn’t work out, there are countless fantastic alternatives on standby.

The promise might not be real; maybe none of those astoundingly attractive women would date you. But it’s the belief that counts – and in this environment, filtering out the prospect of being exposed to someone else’s emotional struggles makes a certain, rather soulless, kind of sense.

Why choose a challenging experience if a fun one seems an option? Sure, the challenging experience may ultimately prove more meaningful, but it’s still a big ask. It’s a mild version of that phenomenon where people have a brush with death, through illness or accident, then say it was the most meaningful experience of their lives.

Fair enough – but even so, few of us would choose that path if we thought we could skip it instead.

The problem here is the collision of a timeless truth – that what we think we want isn’t always what’s best for us – with a modern one: the way the “convenience revolution” makes it so easy to get what we think we want.

Convenience plays funny tricks: “I prefer to brew my coffee,” writes the academic Tim Wu, “but Starbucks Instant is so convenient I hardly ever do what I ‘prefer’.

” A decade or two ago, it didn’t matter so much if you couldn’t handle negative emotions in others; if you wanted a relationship at all, you would have to learn to cope.

These days, when it takes willpower just to go and meet a friend instead of staying at home watching Netflix, how much more willpower does it take to voluntarily submit to the risk of difficult feelings? You still should, since it’s the only way to fulfilment. But many other things worth doing, it’s getting easier and easier not to do it.

Listen to this

Three Jungian therapists discuss the challenge of choosing a life partner in an episode of the podcast This Jungian Life.

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