But when men saw visual or anecdotal drug-related cues—a photo of someone at a bar, or of a needle or line of coke—their habit centers were triggered. For women, those images had less power. One takeaway from this is that therapies should be different for men and women. Female addicts should be instructed in stress reduction techniques, while men—the findings suggest—may do better in a 12-step program.
So what does this mean for you the next time you're on a date? Well, to begin with, remember that men's habits are triggered by visual or anecdotal, as opposed to emotional, cues. Want to move the conversation to the topics of marriage and children? Show him photos of your niece and nephew or tell a story about a wedding you recently attended. This will serve as a cue to trigger his conversational routines. On the other hand, asking him to free-associate about his feelings regarding kids or commitment are likely not to trigger anything.
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And since women are more sensitive to emotion-related cues, it's important to recognize that when certain emotions are triggered, there is an automatic routine likely lurking somewhere nearby. That explains, for instance, why a burst of excitement from a novel experience (like going to the opera for the first time on a date) or of energy from a meal (like a double espresso) can cause a male companion to suddenly look more handsome: the positive emotional cues of energy and excitement trigger automatic routines—in this case, upgrading your estimation of the guy sitting across the table. 50 Best Summer Date Ideas
So, if you want to get to know a guy, do something that makes you feel excited and good about yourself, have a coffee, and then start telling him stories.
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To learn more—including why some habits matter more than others, and what we've learned about how habits function within relationships, marriages and families, read The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business or visit http://www.ThePowerOfHabit.com.