Why Online Dating Fails

Written by Dr. Andrea Potthoff
Despite the fact that the majority of people are meeting online, many people are resistant to trying online dating. And for those that do try it, there are a number of factors that may limit its success. Here are some of the most common reasons online dating fails:
Avoiding It Altogether
This is definitely the most costly mistake; people are too anxious or judgmental about online dating to try it in any form. It is not uncommon for anxiety to overwhelm someone to the point of total avoidance. This severely limits the number of opportunities you have to meet a potential partner. Furthermore, pursing dating “the old-fashioned way” requires you to gauge someone’s interest indirectly and this can complicate the process. Online dating has already removed this barrier and simplified the entire process.
Passively Engaging
There seems to be two approaches to online dating. Some people throw themselves in completely by sending messages, organizing dates, and reviewing profiles daily. Others tend to wait for someone to approach them. The first approach tends to be much more successful. There is a wide range to how much people are getting out of participating on an online dating site. This can range from going on one date every couple of months to going on 2-3 dates a week. If finding a relationship is important for you, you can’t afford not to put in the effort.
Choosing The Wrong Platform
There is a reason why there are so many options for datings sites and apps. Each platform attracts different kinds of people looking for different kinds of relationships. Consider what your goal is before deciding on a platform to use. Some apps are more geared toward short-term hook-ups, while others attract people looking for serious, long-term relationships. How you identify (e.g., bisexual, heterosexual, polyamorous) should also be considered when you pick which platform will give you the best chance for success.

Selling Yourself Too Much

There is a fine line between an appropriate amount of impression management and flat-out lying. The last thing you want is to get your ideal date and then have to pretend to be someone else the entire time. Everyone has pieces of themselves they would like to be different and it can be hard to know how to share these details with a new partner. We generally recommend considering dosage. For example, maybe you have struggled with anxiety lately. This is nothing to be ashamed of, but it might overwhelm someone if you divulge every worry you have on the first date. By slowly revealing this aspect of yourself over time, you allow your partner time to better know and understand you.
Online dating is a tricky landscape to navigate and it is not unusual to need help if this is something new for you. It is also not uncommon for dating to be a therapeutic goal. If you would like more information please call us at 612-470-4099 or email us at andrea@dendrinospsychology.com.

How Cheating Changes A Relationship

Infidelity is common in romantic relationships, with researchers estimating the infidelity occurs in at least a quarter of all marriages. Despite its prevalence, 90% of people categorize it as an immoral act and more than half of people view it as unforgivable. Not surprisingly, infidelity is also associated with an increased rate of divorce. Infidelity is associated with a number of other negative outcomes, including family disruption, conflict, violence, and psychological distress.
Types of Infidelity
As psychologists, we usually distinguish between two types of infidelity: emotional and physical. They can occur at the same time or separately. Women are often more distressed by a partner’s emotional infidelity, whereas men are usually more upset by a partner’s physical infidelity. The definition of infidelity can vary greatly between couples and sometimes even partners are not on the same page in regards to what constitutes cheating. Making sure these boundaries are clear is an important part of navigating a romantic relationship.
Infidelity may also include varying degrees of secrecy. This can have a large impact on how infidelity changes a relationship. For some couples, this is more troublesome than the actual act of infidelity itself.
Effects of Infidelity on Children
Children should be protected from knowledge of parental infidelity in almost all cases. However, this is not always possible and research shows that many children who have been exposed to parental infidelity show trauma and grief-like symptoms. Family or individual therapy may be needed in cases in which children are impacted by parental infidelity. Similarly, as adults, these children show changes in their attitudes toward love and relationships and this may need to be addressed.
Infidelity is a breach of trust in the relationship. In order to move forward, trust has to be rebuilt. This takes time and an openness from each partner. Fortunately, infidelity can be overcome and relationships do survive it. The nature, duration, and intensity of the infidelity is also relevant in treatment planning.
Treatment for infidelity often involves three phrases. The first priority is to repair the relationship after infidelity. Next, treatment focuses on understanding how the events surrounding the infidelity came about. And the final phase includes looking at ways to prevent future relationship problems. This may mean increasing emotional and/or physical intimacy between partners, addressing sexual concerns, or teaching each partner how to prioritize the relationship. A treatment plan that is customized to your individual relationship is important for helping your relationship move forward from infidelity.
In some situations, couples may decide to terminate the relationship due to infidelity. One partner may want to continue in an extramarital relationship or they may conclude they would both be happier ending the relationship. Couples therapy can help couples make this decision and better negotiate the ending of the relationship.
If you would like more information on how infidelity affects relationships or are interested in speaking to a psychologist about scheduling an appointment, please call us at 612-470-4099 or email us at andrea@dendrinospsychology.com.

For Richer or Poorer? Four Ways to Manage Money in Your Relationship

With arguments about finances being one of the strongest predictors of divorce, how are you and your partner when it comes to talking about money?
Money and finances are considered one of the most private subjects in today’s culture. You rarely, if ever, ask other people are how they manage their money and it can be seen as rude to comment on someone else’s spending. However, when you’re sharing a bank account with someone, not talking about money may be costing you big time. Research suggests that the more couples talk about money, the fewer financial arguments they tend to have. But talking about money with your partner can lead to a lot of difficult questions. Are you spending more than me? I make more, so I can spend more, right? You bought that?!
Very few of us realize that there are different approaches to managing money with your partner. What works for one partner may not work for another and each couple can tailor the following plans to fit their needs and budget. Here a four of the most common ways couples manage their finances together:
1. Head in the Sand – No Plan Approach
This approach tends to be surprisingly common despite its drastic disadvantages. Many couples avoid talking about money altogether and have no explicit agreement about spending or financial goals. This tends to be a more popular strategy at the beginning of a committed relationship, but often catches up with couples in the end. Debt, lack of retirement savings, and hidden credit cards are just a few of the problems that can arise when couples refuse to discuss their finances. In fact, avoiding early discussions about money can easily lead to full-blown arguments later, weakening both the trust in your relationship and your investment portfolio. For these reasons and more, this plan, or lack thereof, is not recommended.
2. Finders keepers – Separate and Not Necessarily Equal
A large amount of couples find that they want to be in control of their finances, but manage money in a completely different way from their partners. These couples may decided to retain separate bank accounts in which their incomes are directly deposited. The advantage of this approach is that each partner can maintain their pre-relationship spending habits and make decisions about their money without having to compromise. However, this approach gets awfully complicated when partners are making drastically different amounts of money. Similarly, kids, mortgages, and retirement can be difficult to navigate when using separate accounts. Do you pay a percentage of the utility bill based on your income or do you and your partner split it 50/50? This is just one of the questions couples who use this approach have to answer. It can certainly work for many couples, but definitely will not work for single-earner households.
3. Better Together – Combine Everything
This strategy for managing money is more traditional and tends to be what most couples expect will happen once they get married. But for couples who may never tie the knot, it can be tricky to decide when to combine incomes. In this approach, each partner’s paycheck is deposited into a single account and living expenses are paid via this account. Personal spending also comes out of this account and this is where conflict is most likely to arise. Does each partner have a set allowance? How much can you spend without needing to consult your partner first? Are you okay if your partner is more of a spender and you are more of a saver? If partners can get on the same page regarding these questions, this approach has a lot of advantages – mainly partners may perceive a greater commitment to one another and can work more easily toward shared financial goals.
4. Yours, Mine, and Ours – Combined with Separation for Personal Spending
I find that this plan tends to offer the most freedom compared to the other three. In this approach, couples’ paychecks are still deposited into a single account from which combined expenses (mortgage, bills, insurance, etc.) are paid, but then a chuck of money is taken out and divided into two separate accounts, one for each parter. This money can then be used for personal spending (e.g., shopping, independent travel, dining out without your partner). In some ways this is the equivalent to having separate allowances, but gives the option for one partner to save for large purchases and the other partner to frequent Starbucks guilt-free. It reduces the need to explain purchases to your partner or hide the credit card bill each month. This plan does require trust that your partner is spending within the allotted amount. In addition, each partner’s spending account doesn’t have to be equal. If one partner is earning more and working much longer hours, it’s not unreasonable that they could have a higher percentage to spend- given, of course, that their partner agrees with this division.
Overall, money is a sticky subject that couples can’t afford to avoid. For the sake of your partnership and bank accounts, consider with your partner what plan might work best for the both of you. Plus, choosing a plan doesn’t mean you can’t change your approach in the future as life together, and your financial picture, changes. And if the negotiations with your partner are getting you nowhere, consider meeting with a couples therapist who can help facilitate a plan.

4 Communication Pitfalls to Avoid in Your Relationship

Written by: Andrea Potthoff, PhD LP

Conflict is a normal part of any relationship and is to be expected between couples. However, couples fight in very different ways. Researchers have found that certain behaviors couples engage in during conflict can predict what couples will stay together. In his groundbreaking research, Dr. John Gottman identified behaviors that were related to divorce in couples. Here are the four behaviors known to predict divorce:


Our partners do not always do things we like and one of the best ways to improve a relationship is to communicate with your partner when this happens. However, it is important to distinguish between a complaint and criticism. It is fine to let your partner know you are annoyed at something he or she did, but it is not okay to attack your partner by criticizing his or her character. Criticism often includes the words always or never and makes negative claims about someone’s personality. Complaints, on the other hand, are usually specific and do not include negative assumptions about your partner’s personality or character.

Criticism Example: “You never take out the trash, you dirty slob.”


Of the four behaviors, this is considered the most problematic. Contempt is intended to damage and hurt the other person. It includes any show of disdain or disgust toward your partner. Of the four behaviors, the presence of contempt is the most predictive of divorce. Mockery and sarcasm are common examples of contempt. Spiteful acts, such as name-calling and physical destruction of your partner’s possessions, are also examples. Any physical abuse falls in this category.

Contempt Example: “Try to be more pathetic (eye roll).”


I have not met a couple yet who does not acknowledge engaging in some defensiveness during disagreements. It is a natural human reaction to defend your actions, but it tends to lead down an unproductive road. When you are more concerned with the next point you want to make than what your partner is saying, it is unlikely anything will get solved.

Defensiveness Example: “I may have done that, BUT you did this.”


This is the hardest one to describe, but couples usually recognize it in their partners pretty quickly. Stonewalling occurs when one partner withdraws or disengages from the discussion. They may do this by turning away or distracting themselves with their phone or other items. Stonewalling is more commonly displayed by men and is thought to be a reaction to becoming physiologically overwhelmed. Unfortunately, this type of behavior tends to escalate a disagreement and can lead to what psychologists call a pursue-withdraw communication pattern.

Stonewalling Example: “Whatever.”

Fortunately, there are concrete ways to overcome these communication challenges. If you have questions or are interested in therapy for addressing communication issues within your relationship, consider reaching out to us at 612-470-4099. We also offer the Couples Check-Up, a two-session assessment that can provide you with specific feedback about these communication patterns and recommendations for improving your relationship.