Q:I’m a gay man. I was in a relationship with my ex for about three years. We’re on good terms and hang out as friends. He recently started dating a guy who looks like my long-lost twin (except he’s got about 40 pounds on me). Our mutual friends find this creepy and weird, and I have to say, I do, too.—Disturbed
This sort of thing can seem seriously creepy, until you drop in on a behavioral genetics researcher like Nancy Segal. Research by Segal and others on identical twins separated at birth (sometimes by a hospital mix-up) and raised apart suggests that many of our behaviors and preferences are genetically driven. For example, Segal told me “most behaviors have a 50% genetic effect.” There’s an interplay between genes and environment that can shake things up a bit, but if Mommy likes hot food and dark-haired men, there’s a good chance her daughter (who shares approximately 50% of her DNA) will also be thumbs up for Sergio and Sriracha.
Gloom With A View
Q; I’m a 30-year-old woman in a new relationship with a really great guy. I haven’t been very lucky in romance, and in the past, every time I met someone I really liked, I ended up getting the rug pulled out from under me and getting dumped when I thought things were going great. This has left me with some raging insecurities. How can I calm down so I won’t get so freaked out that I sabotage the relationship?—Panicky
The Stoic philosopher Epictetus said something along the lines of, “It is not events that disturb us but the views we take of them.” In other words, it is not what happens to us that makes us feel bad but our interpretation of it. Chances are your interpretation is that it would be HORRIBLE if you were to get dumped again. Psychologist Albert Ellis calls this “catastrophizing”: engaging in irrational, overblown, drama llama thinking that only serves to make us more miserable. Rational thought, however, is the face-slap out of hysteria that we used to see in old movies. An example of the rational approach: There are “HORRIBLE” things in the world, like being eaten alive by a family of bears. But let’s be honest: Being dumped is merely a miserable experience you’d prefer to avoid. You will survive.
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