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Help! I'm COVID Livid!
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
My new partner of four months and I live apart, and we both live by ourselves. He has been refusing to see me face to face for the last 2-3 weeks blaming COVID-19. We have both been diligently practising social distancing and working from home. I really don't see why we can't see each other face to face as we are not high-risk. It is not about sex. I miss human contact, simple things like a hug and talking face to face with someone. I should mention we both drive and live 15 minutes apart. Is his COVID-blocking making sense or is he busy with someone else?
We live in strange times. The pandemic is far more serious than many people initially wanted to believe. I'm sorry you feel alone and neglected. Many of my NYC friends who are couples are riding out the quarantine together as a unit by cohabitating. I, myself, am quarantined with my boyfriend, and we are of course driving each other crazy adjusting to this new life.
However, you and your bf don't live together so this is very tricky, as you don't want to force a move-in since it's a fairly new relationship. His level of anxiety is more heightened than yours, and it is important to respect his boundaries and listen to his needs.
This great article explores the dilemma of being quarantined away from a partner. In it, Dr. Peter Meacher, Chief Medical Officer at Callen-Lorde, points out that he "discourages travel between homes unless the journey involves not interacting with anybody or touching anything and you don't live in a state that is under lockdown." The article also recommends treating your relationship like a long-distance relationship and getting creative with video chats and video sex, etc. Psychotherapist Dulcinea PitagoraIt's is also quoted in the article stating, "It's a good idea to discuss what different types of interactions partners want to have and when." In regards to your infidelity suspicions, does the BF have a history of cheating? If you're feeling especially blue, discuss this with a qualified therapist. I hope you find solace in these recommendations and get creative to unlock your COVID-block!
- The Armchair Psychologist
Help! I'm Getting Wined And Swined!
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
How do I stick to my vegetarian/vegan lifestyle when I go home to my family of meat eaters? I'm a liberal and usually live in big cities, but my family are all a super conservative Republicans who live in Mississippi. I think my mom somehow believes I don't like them because we have different lifestyles. She got super upset when I tried to have conversations about wanting to eat vegetarian, like angry and almost crying, because she thought I was scolding the family and criticizing them for how they eat. The truth is, I wasn't. I just wanted to have a discussion, since I like to make people consider another point of view, and it's hard to get them to do that sometimes.
I'm sorry that you're experiencing such distress on home visits to your family. It's understandable you'd feel hurt over your mother's perception of you, and vice versa, however, misunderstood it may be. It's very tricky to navigate a balance in this when the subject is so deeply personal. This is why there are entire sciences devoted to the study of the psychology of eating meat and vegetarianism. Vegans and vegetarians are a minority population in the USA (3% Vegan, 5-8% Vegetarian) and many experience the difficulties you have experienced in navigating a majority-omnivorous society. The tension between yourself and your mom could possibly be rooted in underlying issues you might resolve best with a qualified therapist. However, while it's true you may not agree on politics, as most vegan/vegetarians are indeed liberal and progressive, you might be able to find a middle ground on the etiquette of the dinner hour.
First, it's important you keep in mind that being a vegan or vegetarian is a personal choice (unless you have a disease or an allergy). This is why you can't impose your pork-free casserole unto your mom/family, and it's understandable she'd find it upsetting and hurtful, as she might take great pride in her "special Christmas casserole." Suddenly, she has to choose between pleasing you and the rest of the family? Steven Petrow, the manners columnist for the Washington Post, coins it perfectly when he writes "You're a guest, not a customer." Keep in mind that meals with your family are about quality time and togetherness rather than the actual meal.
When I was a vegan (only for a few, clear-skin and sans-red-wine months), I remember being so dedicated to scrutinizing menus that I became anal to an extreme and would miss out on the fun conversations around me and quality time with friends. The proper dinner etiquette, according to Emily's Post Institute, a blog dedicated to the rules of etiquette, is that you inform the host of your restrictions and it's up to them if they'd like to comply or not. Because this is your close family, it is not a bad idea to ask if you can bring/make your own food. This might also open up opportunities to share your motivations for going vegan/vegetarian in a very casual way without risking coming off as judgmental. You could even suggest watching the revolutionary "Food.inc" together based on its popularity alone and low-key get the family to enjoy a new point of view in regards to meat production in America. Most importantly, remember that your mom loves you and only wants the best for you so don't pork with her pork!
- The Armchair Psychologist
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She walks into a room ready for her presentation. She wants to land this new client and has worked weeks on it. She heads to the 35th floor of the tallest building on the block knowing she has documentation that is sure to impress. The conference room has a 20-foot long table surrounded by executives in blue suits, button-down shirts, pencil skirts, and blazers.
At this point, she realizes she didn't take into consideration the other important component of her presentation... she is not dressed appropriately.
Is it true that there is power in clothing? Can an incredible outfit increase your confidence and add validity to your brand? Will you perform your job better or feel more empowered? Will first impressions of you be more positive?
For me, the answer is a resounding yes. I believe that clothing can greatly impact first impressions and make a lasting impact on anyone you interact with. Like it or not, people will judge you on how you look and they will make both conscious and subconscious decisions about you based on what you're wearing… Is she trustworthy? Is she the expert we need? Will she fit in our corporate culture?
Can an incredible outfit increase your confidence and add validity to your brand? Will you perform your job better or feel more empowered? Will first impressions of you be more positive? For me, the answer is a resounding yes.
After all, if you were hiring a financial advisor, and one walked in with a pair of jeans and the other in a pair of trousers and blazer, who would you trust with your money? Even if you don't realize what you're doing when you interact with people, there may be more going on beneath the surface. It's something to think about for sure.
Here's another example, let's say you want to hire a party planner for an event. You meet with the first candidate, and she is wearing a wrinkled shirt and her fingernails are chipping and half-painted. Whereas candidate number two walks in and has on a pencil skirt, pumps, and silk blouse. Who do you think would pay more attention to the details associated with your party?
In 2019, WWD wrote about the psychological effects clothing has on a person:
It is said that clothing is what makes and defines a person. What you wear tells others what you are and makes a statement about your taste, character and individuality. It gives an insight into your nature, whether you are casual or formal, playful or serious, cool or just composed. Whether you are attending a job interview, out on a date or just strutting by the beach, your apparel tells us so much about you at a simple glance.
We know that it takes 5-7 seconds for a person to subconsciously form an opinion about you. Our eyes take in how you look; after all, what you're wearing will influence how you are perceived. How do you want to be perceived to your audience, your clients, and in your working industry?
How do you want to be perceived to your audience, your clients, and in your working industry?
And it goes way beyond the external. There is scientific data that shows how an individual feels differently when dressed in a variety of styles. In an article from Research Gate, they found that, "Fashion choices can affect both self-image, the impression that you convey to others and in turn, the way in which people behave towards you."
Have you ever heard of the term "enclothed cognition"? It refers to the phenomenon in which people tend to adopt the traits and properties they associate with the clothes they wear. In a study on the psychology of clothing, that same article as above reports that, "Participants judged women to be more forceful in job interviews and were more likely to recommend them for hiring when they were dressed in a more masculine style compared with a more feminine style," and that "Both men and women are attracted to stylish clothing that fits them well, makes them feel well-dressed and looks current."
On some level, we may all agree with that statement.
Naturally, as a personal stylist, I am a true believer in the power of clothes. I have seen my clients' exhilaration as they take in their transformation, brought about by an outfit, a new style, and clothes that look incredible on them. I have also witnessed physical changes like their facial expressions, huge smiles, laughter, sparkling eyes, and even a change in the way they walk. It's almost like there has been a shift in attitude toward their inner beauty, which has increased because they feel and look amazing and confident.
Although most of us are no longer strutting our way to the boardroom, the psycholigcal power of clothing is still necessary and relevant, especially now that we're confined to our home offices. Most of us are on virtual calls or live streaming from our computer, and it's easy to not prep as much for your "waist-up" meetings. But, like it or not, you should look on-brand, and put together clothes that are relevant for your industry. Not only will your peers perceieve you as more professional and more put-together, but I am sure you will also feel better, be more alert, and have more energy.
Most of us are on virtual calls or live streaming from our computer, and it's easy to not prep as much for your "waist-up" meetings. But, like it or not, you should look on-brand, and put together clothes that are relevant for your industry.
I'm not saying you need to look like a superstar every second of every day. However, I want you to think about the positive impact well-fitting, stylish clothes can have on both others' perceptions of you as well as your inner-confidence and intrinsic behavior.