Did you know that we tend to view people (consciously or otherwise) who drink alcohol as less intelligent. Known as the ‘imbibing idiot bias’, a picture of you holding a beer or a glass of your wine on your online dating profile is probably not ideal – unless you don’t want to appear smart. These researched-based facts are just some of the great findings in Dr Angela Ahola’s book, 100 dates: The Psychologist Who Kissed 100 Frogs so You Don’t have to.
A keynote speaker (named one of Sweden’s best) and a prominent psychologist, Angela specialises in human behaviour and is an expert on first impressions, dating and relationships and meaningful communication.
Part of the reason I became a relationship writer was due to my insatiable interest in romantic psychology. As a hopeless love connoisseur, I used to buy psychology books long before I navigated my blog towards relationships. So you can imagine my joy at being asked to read a book such as 100 Dates.
After Angela found herself newly single from a long-term relationship, she decided to go on 100 dates to research and understand the full spectrum of situations we come across in modern dating. To optimise her findings, she met different men throughout Sweden, from guys in Urban Stockholm to the countryside as well as travelling to Helsinki in Finland.
Angela tried numerous tactics and approaches to put together her findings. There are probably at least 100 lessons and takeaways from her book, but to not give everything away, I have shared 5 things that resonated with me.
Here are 5 great points to help you improve your dating life. But as a side note, 100 Dates covers many aspects of love from first impressions to navigating passion in a long-term relationship.
1. During initial encounters, we evaluate two main areas of character: warmth (most crucial) followed by status and competence
How we evaluate a person’s ‘warm traits’ (trust, kindness, good intentions) can trigger our approach-or-avoid behaviour. As Angela shares in her book, our ancestors had to quickly use human instinct to work out whether to flee from danger. This is partly why we place great emphasis on trustworthiness.
The first encounter is where we also evaluate status and competence – what’s your status, how confident and capable are you? Though not as significant as trust, status historically brought privilege which influences our desire to find someone with power.
Angela shares that we can exhibit these two attributes through body language, clothes and tone of voice. Maintaining eye contact for instance, open palm gestures and mirroring can help build trust.
2. Your photo and online profile bio text need to speak the same language
Throughout the whole section on online dating profiles, I found myself nodding along. If only people that upload blurry images and bathroom shots could stumble upon a copy of this book and realise their mistake.
There are various dating tips online, but rarely do I read advice that explains the connection between photos and text. Many people will have a bio profile that states they’re seeking something serious but then all their images are of them laughing on a beach and drinking beer in a pub.
Consider how your overall messaging appears. Do your photos represent what you have written?
3. We overestimate commonalities
On The Style of Laura Jane, I advise people to not spend too long texting and to meet sooner rather than later. I was glad to read that Angela agrees. Research shows that we have a habit of overestimating our similarities and underplaying our differences. This creates disillusionment that I’m sure many of you have felt before.
When I was online dating, I once spoke to a guy who seemed to share the same interests as me. He appeared friendly and optimistic – until we met IRL and I realised he thought I was his therapist. Could there be anything more numbing than listening to a guy whine about work and London?
To stop yourself from over fantasing and building up grand illusions, do not spend too many weeks texting. Meet up and find out for certain whether you have a connection. After all, Angela notes that research shows we are pretty good at reading people face-to-face.
4. Disinterest can be the biggest attraction
In her book, Angela writes that we often find what is hard to obtain or in high demand as more desirable. A great example of this is a designer handbag such as the exclusive Birkin. As well as desiring what is difficult to have, uncertain outcomes can hook our brains on what Angela describes as the ‘maybe of it all’.
I’m sure you know the score. You go on a date, have a good time but don’t receive a text after. Your brain starts to wonder… why? Before you know it, you are analysing and self-scrutinising, desperate to figure out what went wrong.
Pay attention to this type of behaviour. Do you really like someone, or are you trying to piece together a puzzle? When you feel someone is taking you for granted, Angela suggests balancing between available and unavailable. Do not be conveniently around whenever someone needs you.
5. Look out for agreeableness
How can we spot whether we have met someone special? In the beginning, most of us are on our best behaviour which makes it trickier to understand a person’s traits. However, Angela says to keep your eyes out for agreeableness – warmth, empathy, willingness to cooperate. On the other hand, she says to watch out for neuroticism, shown through irritability, stubbornness, bossiness and emotional instability.
From my experience, one of the first signs of poor cooperation is when a person insists you travel to them for a date. A guy once asked me to meet him around the corner from his office, never once considering my location in London or how we could meet somewhere of equal difference.
100 Dates: The Psychologist Who Kissed 100 Frogs summary
100 Dates by Angela Ahola is an uplifting guide for people who want science-backed tips and information to ensure that they are doing everything they can to enjoy and maximise their dating life and relationships.
The overall book resonated with me specifically because it puts the reader in a position of power. I’m not a fan of dating coaches or experts who patronise their readers by telling them that they are ‘beautiful, special and wonderful’ but they just need to follow their tips to meet the love of their life.
Instead, Angela has put together all that she has learnt using her own experience to create a fun, easy-to-follow book that offers helpful tips to navigate today’s complicated dating world.
Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me for social media promotion. I chose on my own accord to put this blog together.