Category Archives: Relationship

MIT Campus Preview Weekend

Source: MIT admissions blog, Apr 2015

does the sentence “MIT is hard” even mean? It means that come October of the first semester, midnight quasi-philosophical discussions about the future might become pset parties of frustration. Lists of things to do become as long as the infinite corridor, but unlike during CPW, they come with a price tag of your time and an expectation for them to be completed with excellence. At the core of what makes MIT challenging is learning the delicate balance between taking advantage of everything it has to offer and time management, all while doing a good job.

It’s possible and common to be so deep in piles of work that you will NOT be able to finish. (Example: I once made a 48-hour schedule of things I had to do and then realized I forgot to include time to sleep.) It means that even if you go to every recitation and lecture, you might still fail your exam, your interest in the material may vanish, and your mind will be so tired and full of the next thing you have to do and the last thing you haven’t done that it will likely become unable to think of happy things. You get an empty, sinking feeling in your stomach, and you wonder if you’ll be able to make it through the semester, let alone ever measure up to everyone else.

You won’t be alone. In a poll done in 2012, it was found that more than half of the student body surveyed believed they performed below average as compared to their peers. To bring back Lydia’s Meltdown post, “There’s this feeling that no matter how hard you work, you can always be better, and as long as you can be better, you’re not good enough.”

By the time a given class graduates, 35% of students will have gone to get mental health help. And that percentage doesn’t include those who, like me, lacked a “good reason.”

Last year, one of my peers who overcame depression came back to campus and started a happiness club. The club was responsible for purchasing and lining up smiley face balloons all along the infinite corridor as a way to express solidarity with regards to upcoming finals and encourage people to be proactive about their mental health.

What I believe drives the success behind MIT students in the real world is that to survive here, you become an expert at rolling up your sleeves and summoning your grit.

Any kind of progress, scientific or not, is not easy and sometimes seems to be at a standstill no matter how much work you put into it. In the process, you learn about what your boundaries are mentally, physically, and emotionally. You will learn the exact number of hours of sleep you need. You will learn how to accept failure with a smile. That’s what MIT teaches you, and what preview weekend shows if you look hard enough.

Love is an Action

Source: NYTimes, Jan 2015


what I like about this study is how it assumes that love is an action. It assumes that what matters to my partner matters to me because we have at least three things in common, because we have close relationships with our mothers, and because he let me look at him.

I wondered what would come of our interaction. If nothing else, I thought it would make a good story. But I see now that the story isn’t about us; it’s about what it means to bother to know someone, which is really a story about what it means to be known.

It’s true you can’t choose who loves you, although I’ve spent years hoping otherwise, and you can’t create romantic feelings based on convenience alone. Science tells us biology matters; our pheromones and hormones do a lot of work behind the scenes.

But despite all this, I’ve begun to think love is a more pliable thing than we make it out to be. Arthur Aron’s study taught me that it’s possible — simple, even — to generate trust and intimacy, the feelings love needs to thrive.

“Getting to Know You” Questions

Source: NYTimes, Feb 2015

 a 20-year-old experiment by the psychologist Arthur Aron that involved two strangers asking each other 36 increasingly personal questions followed by a four-minute staring session to see if doing so would lead to intimacy and love. For Ms. Catron and the man she barely knew, the experiment worked.

… you risk having canned answers if you keep using the same questions.

The question are available HERE, and a companion APP.

Related Readings:

NYTimes, Jan 2015

The 36 questions in the study are broken up into three sets, with each set intended to be more probing than the previous one.

The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness. To quote the study’s authors, “One key pattern associated with the development of a close relationship among peers is sustained, escalating, reciprocal, personal self-disclosure.” Allowing oneself to be vulnerable with another person can be exceedingly difficult, so this exercise forces the issue.

The final task Ms. Catron and her friend try — staring into each other’s eyes for four minutes — is less well documented, with the suggested duration ranging from two minutes to four. But Ms. Catron was unequivocal in her recommendation. “Two minutes is just enough to be terrified,” she told me. “Four really goes somewhere.”

NYTimes, Feb 2015

a study that explores whether intimacy between two strangers can be accelerated by having them ask each other a specific series of personal questions. The idea is that mutual vulnerability fosters closeness.

Huffington Post, Jan 2015

those 36 are only suggestions. If you are going to use this approach with more than one person, or more than once with a particular partner, you may need to make up new questions so your answers don’t become rote. Whatever questions you use, they should gradually escalate in personalness. If you don’t want to rewrite them, you could use every third or fourth from the list of 36, one or a few from each of the three sections, but always include the ones that build the particular relationship, such as the three things you both have in common.

The basis of the 36 questions is that back-and-forth self-disclosure, that increases gradually (not too fast), is consistently linked with coming to like the other person you do this with. We just made it a systematic method that could be used in the lab. In more recent research by Harry Reis and colleagues, another factor is also proving very important — being responsive to the other’s self-disclosure! These factors are important for both starting a relationship, and even more important, for its continued quality.

Swiping at Love in NYC

Source: NYTimes, Feb 2015

Tinder is a matchmaking service that enables people to connect with one another through no more than a brief swipe on their smartphones. While traditional dating sites, like OKCupid or, use algorithms to sort through personal profiles and to link up strangers with complementary interests, Tinder makes the daters do the choosing, stripping down and speeding up the process. You look at a photo, tagged only with a name, an age and, with a tap, perhaps a short introduction, and then you vote yes by swiping to the right, or no by swiping left.

The app’s popularity is based on two chief aspects of its software. The first, which plays off our desire for instant gratification, is a location function that lets those seeking companionship search for people in their area. The other, which avoids the embarrassment of rejection, is what the company calls the “double opt-in”: a match between two users will occur only if they each signal that they like the other’s profile. The matched pair can then chat through Tinder’s messaging service and, perhaps, meet.

social scientists say apps like Tinder are incredibly effective at identifying a local population of potential mates and at helping people contact one another (through instant-message systems), particularly in large, anonymous places like New York, where traditional modes of introduction — family connections or religious institutions — might not be available. But the apps are not so good, experts say, at predicting or inspiring chemistry; indeed, there is evidence, at least in theory, that New York’s bountiful supply of romantic possibilities can actually erode one’s dedication to any single partner.

“There’s tons of research that suggests if people know they have lots of options, they feel less dependent on and committed to their current option,” Professor Karney said. “But options aren’t the only or the main predictor of commitment. What’s most important is that you actually like your partner. What mobile technology does is make it easier to find someone, if you’re looking.”

“The best way to use Tinder is to see it as an opportunity to meet new people, to make new friends, to have nights out and be introduced to things you might never have done before,” she said. “But if you’re looking for a long-term relationship, if that’s your primary interest, you’re going to have a disappointing experience.”

Likeable People …

Source: Forbes, Jan 2015

  1. Ask Questions
  2. Put Away Their Phones
  3. Are Genuine
  4. Don’t Pass Judgment
  5. Leave a Strong First Impression
  6. Don’t Seek Attention
  7. Are Consistent
  8. Use Positive Body Language
  9. Greet People by Name
  10. Smile
  11. Know When To Open Up
  12. Know Who To Touch (and They Touch Them)
  13. Balance Passion and Fun

Never be Intimidated

Source: Nancy Hua blog,

… when I meet someone with intelligence, beauty, or wealth, which is basically everyone in the post-singularity society of Silicon Valley, I automatically delete those qualities from my perception of their Real Identity. I still recognize intelligence, etc. as a property they possess, but I don’t define them by it.

I try to define people by their ambitions, creativity, drive, perspective, attitude, inspirations …

Connecting Tips

Source: Fast Company, May 2014

  1. They always want to help

  2. They feel most comfortable with surplus relationship capital

  3. Their brains are oriented toward people

  4. They think of themselves as matchmakers

  5. They have an abundance mentality

  6. They view social events as opportunities