Asheville Daily Planet
RSS Facebook
The Advice Goddess: June 2018
Tuesday, 04 June 2019 11:33

Sister knives

Syndicated Columnist

My sister dates super hot guys, but sheís always telling me that looks arenít what matter and I should go for a man whoís stable and reliable. Is she looking out for me? How come she doesnít follow her own advice? It seems weirdly hypocritical. 
ó Puzzled

Charmingly, the men your sister picks for herself look like they could work in strip clubs, while men she picks for you look like accountants whoíve invested in strip malls.

 Welcome to ďthe Juliet effect,Ē as named by evolutionary scientists Robert Biegler and Leif Edward Ottesen Kennair. In Shakespeareís ďRomeo and Juliet,Ē Julietís mom ó  letís call her Mrs. Capulet ó was working her own agenda in giving her daughter advice on who to marry. 

Mrs. Capulet was pushing her daughter to go for Count Paris, a boringly stable rich guy from a good family. 

Juliet, of course, only had eyes for Romeo, the off-limits hottie, whose family was basically the feuding Italian Hatfields to the Capuletís McCoys.

 It turns out that Shakespeare was something of an intuitive evolutionary psychologist. Parents do want the best for you -- uh, that is, except when whatís best for you diverges with whatís best for them. The same goes for your siblings. 

These fun intra-family conflicts are called ďparent-offspring competitionĒ and ďsibling competitionĒ by evolutionary psychologists. 

 Biegler and Kennair researched the way these evolved conflicts play out over ďtransferrableĒ versus ďnon-transferrableĒ qualities in a womanís partner. Transferrable qualities are those that could directly benefit the children of a womanís mother or sister ó for example, a manís ability to provide food, shelter, and/or ďprotection against predators or enemies.Ē (High status, too, would be transferable, because of the power and perks that come with it.) Non-transferrable qualities, on the other hand, are those ó like hottiehood ó that suggest a man has good genes, which would directly benefit only his female partnerís own children.

 Accordingly, Biegler and Kennair found that moms and sisters wanted hunks for themselves but would steer their daughter or sibling to the stable guy with resources. Granted, this probably isnít a conscious move on their part ó all ďgotta make her believe the rich troll is her soulmate.Ē However, you should be conscious when 

seeking advice from your family members about a guy that there could be mildly nefarious ulterior motives at play. Sure, your sister wants the best for you ó the best Ugly Dave you can get who owns hotels and a plane, so she can take free luxury vacations with the recently paroled soulless hunks of the world.

As fade would have it

I was dating this guy, and it was super intense. He is a big believer in soulmates, and he said he thought I was his. Of course, I was excited, and it all seemed really romantic, and then poof! He was gone. Ghosted me. What makes somebody think simply disappearing is an okay way to break up?
ó So Upset

ďLove is in the airĒ is not supposed to mean your new boyfriend disappears into it like a fine mist.

 Welcome to the dark side of the ďWeíre soulmates!Ē thing. It turns out that a personís beliefs about the underpinnings of a successful relationship can affect how they end things ó whether they tell you itís over or just ghost you (wordlessly vanish from your life). 

There are ďdestiny beliefs,Ē which, in their strongest incarnation, involve believing in fate and soulmates ó  the notion that people in relationships ďare either meant to be together or theyíre not,Ē as social psychologist Gili Freedman and her colleagues put it.

 ďGrowth beliefs,Ē on the other hand, involve the notion that ďrelationships grow over timeĒ and take work; you donít just bump into your perfect partner in a train station and go off on the 6:07 to Happilyeverafter.

 In line with this view of relationships as a gradual process of working out conflicts, the researchers found that romantic partners with stronger growth beliefs were 38.4 percent less likely to indicate that ghosting is okay. However, people with destiny beliefs, like your ďFate or bust!Ē ex, were 63.4 percent more likely to find it acceptable to take the disappearo way out.

 But interestingly, Freedman and her colleagues note that ďhigh scores on destiny do not equal low scores on growth,Ē which means somebody can believe both in soulmates and in working to improve relationships. (Also, even soulmatehood devotees can understand that another person is a person, with feelings.) In other words, donít assume that anybody who believes in soulmates will disappear without explanation -- going from an exuberant ďBabe, you complete me!Ē to a silent ďBoy, am I glad I didnít give you my key!Ē
(c.) 2019, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA  90405, or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ( Weekly radio show:


contact | home

Copyright ©2005-2015 Star Fleet Communications

224 Broadway St., Asheville, NC 28801 | P.O. Box 8490, Asheville, NC 28814
phone (828) 252-6565 | fax (828) 252-6567

a Cube Creative Design site