You’ve probably heard of the concept “cognitive dissonance” but do you know what it means?
It can take many forms but it’s usually when your beliefs and behavior are at odds and that conflict causes you stress.
The classic example is the smoker who knows his habit isn’t good for him. His belief “this is bad for my health” goes against his behavior – continuing to smoke.
What usually happens when someone experiences cognitive dissonance?
Either their behavior changes (he quits smoking) or his belief changes, often in the form of a rationalization – “Oh well, I have to die of something”.
So that’s the concept but what does it have to do with dating?
Here’s an example you’ll probably recognize – you like someone you just started dating but she’s giving mixed signals about her interest level.
Here’s the dissonance:
Belief – “I don’t know if she likes me”
Behavior – you continue seeing her
The dissonance is stressing you out.
Because you’re holding uncertain beliefs yet your behavior is that of someone who is certain – you continue seeing her.
What do most people do in these instances?
They complain to their friends.
But what do they do about the new relationship?
They could try to get more clarity and ask the woman how she feels.
But they don’t do that.
What does the smoker do?
Instead of quitting smoking, he changes his belief – he rationalizes.
We do the same thing in dating.
Instead of changing our behavior, we change our belief – we rationalize.
“I know she didn’t return my call but she said she was really busy with work this week”
Is it true?
When it comes to cognitive dissonance, most people will change their beliefs.
But that doesn’t help.
They’ve adopted a belief that’s not serving them.
When it comes to dating dissonance, it’s usually better to change the behavior.
But to do so requires a shift in beliefs, so both components need to change.
“I don’t know if she likes me” is a dead-end belief.
It leaves you in a state of uncertainty that can only be resolved by the other person.
What would be more empowering?
How about “I know what I want” or “I like her and I’m going to find out if she likes me”?
Would either of these cause dissonance?
Dating is ripe for dissonance. You have your belief about someone and they have theirs about you and sometimes they don’t align.
But our minds want them to so we do all kinds of mental gymnastics to be in more harmony, but ironically, we remain in conflict.
And things get worse.
Want to have more control over your dating life?
Identify where the dissonance is and adjust your belief to one that is more empowering.
THAT will lead to more constructive action like getting out of a bad relationship, which is step one to getting into a good one!