I make a lot of references to sex in my posts. This is not because I’m obsessed with sex or because I have run out of other things to talk about, but because sex lends itself easily to humor. That is, sex is funny to most people in a way that the Harvard Lampoon is not.
This is related to social skills because I’ve noticed that a lot of socially awkward people are most awkward around the topic of sex. I’ll say penis and get an audible wince. Their eyes will kind of slide downward, and then they drop some cutlery for good measure.
So what I’m suggesting is that people become more comfortable with sex as a conversation topic, if not as a physical act. The point isn’t to be bawdy or lewd. But familiarizing yourself with enough terminology to lie during a game of ten fingers is a skill well worth acquiring. At the very least, learn to guffaw with the best of them. Read the rest of this entry »
It is all too common for a guy to be interested in a girl, to spend a year pining over her without making a move, to finally get the nerve to ask her to a dance or on a date, and to be courteously let down. The rejection is hard because it is honest and it is personal. It is the disheartening culmination of a year’s worth of romantic investment.
What could have been done differently? Remember, “be proactive” is the first of Stephen Covey’s seven habits of highly effective people. This translates to moving quickly. I’m not saying that you ought to move rapidly in the traditional sense (which only applies within the context of some sort of relationship), I want you to do so in the “get to know each other” portion. A year is a long time to dwell on anything, especially a static infatuation. I suggest taking steps early on to find out if she reciprocates your affection. Ask her on a date. Flirt with her. If she likes you, fantastic. If not, it’s good that you found out sooner rather than later. Read the rest of this entry »
A friend recently said something that bothered me. And in some ways, it is depressing: all relationships end in break-up or marriage. Hell, a lot of marriages end in break-up. It makes romance seem futile. Yet in many relationships, there does come a point when the novelty has worn off and the nebulous idea of commitment is the only way forward. A lot of Harvard couples stall at this tipping point.
Why? We aren’t commitment-phobes. There are people here who spend more time planning Women In Business conferences than I would my wedding. If anything, we over-commit. What makes these Harvard relationships go kaput? What value do we place on these partners, who were lovers, roommates, pset buddies, best friends, all at once? Read the rest of this entry »
My idea of an enjoyable flight involves a lively conversation with the cute girl sitting next to me. So when she sat down, I said hello. Turns out she’s a runner from New Zealand who is going home for the first time in several years. I’m learning about how teenage pregnancy is all the rage in her homeland and how the cattle there are fed grass instead of corn. But that’s enough chatting… back to my book on theoretical neuroscience.
We’ve been taught that life is about making trade-offs. Parties, hanging out, and conversation all take time, as do homework, the gym, and sleep.
But in fact, there is a way around this. Going to parties may be the best way to meet people (you get to chat in a fun environment among many mutual friends), but that takes all of Saturday night and eats into Sunday morning. The trick is to take the little things and make them social. More generally, if we transform socializing from an activity to a habit and we adopt a social attitude toward our daily routine, everyday life becomes more purposeful and more fun. Read the rest of this entry »
A friend sent me the following email.
There’s often a tension between honesty and politeness in our interactions… Under what circumstances is it okay to lie to people to make them feel better? Would you admit disliking somebody to his face? Would you criticize her even if you thought it would make her angry?
Similarly, there’s a tension between being “cool” and being honest. How much should you compromise your true self to fit in? For example, if admitting to being a “mathlete” could seriously jeopardize your social interactions, would you lie about it?
For the first question, usually it’s alright to tell a white lie. If you hate your sister’s new haircut, chances are there isn’t much that can be done about it, so go with making her feel good. The truth is great, and honesty a virtue, but only if it is simultaneously constructive. Read the rest of this entry »