Plays Well With Others: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Relationships Is (Mostly) Wrong by Eric Barker

  • 14. Eric gives us four Rs for a magical marriage. 1. Rekindle: Recent emotions are much more important. For this reason, you must never stop dating. Do fun and exciting things as often as possible. Travel and avoid a low-sex relationship.
  • 2. Remind: Get to know your partner better by asking questions. Here is a link to a pdf with sample questions. Choosing a partner is choosing a set of problems. Try to see them as lovable quirks and be sympathetic. Try to understand why they feel the way they do. Such quirks can give you deeper insight.
  • 3. Renew: If you marry someone who needs to be fixed, you are probably in trouble. You need to accept each other. Changes can happen with encouragement rather than shaming.
  • 4 Rewrite: Love is a shared story. Couples with similar stories tend to be more satisfied. Your story won’t be perfect, so try to spin it in a positive manner. Find out your partner’s ideal and actual story. Use more we words in your shared story. A successful marriage requires falling in love many times.
  • Part 4: Is “No Man an Island?”?

  • 16. Humans are social animals, but lately, there has been an increase in people living alone and people suffering from loneliness, which has negative health implications. You don’t have to be alone to feel lonely, and you are not always lonely just because you are alone. Some alone time is important.
  • It’s clear that quality relationships promote good health and longevity. It may be as important as not smoking. Modern society, unfortunately, has seen an increase in depression, schizophrenia, poor health, anxiety, and chronic loneliness.
  • 17. There are two kinds of popularity. They are status popular and likable popular, and the latter is better for you. Both TVs in the 50s and 60s and the Internet starting in the mid-90s have led to less time talking to each other. Support groups that meet in person are much more effective than those that meet online. IMs and social media don’t make you closer emotionally.The good news is that you can increase your empathy if you turn off your devices and simply talk. Love is more satisfying than power.
  • 18. Placebos work in part because they imply caring. Placebo injections beat placebo pills as they require more interaction with a caring medical professional. In essence, caring is good medicine. Doctors with better bedside manners have better results.
  • Real problems are less likely to result in depression when one has a stronger, caring, supportive network. Wealthier countries feature more depression due to the fact that the people have weaker communities than in poorer countries where people are more reliant on each other. The reason we beat out the bigger-brained Neanderthals is that we were better at cooperating. This shows up in disasters where people pull together to help each other.
  • If you want to be happier be more involved in your community rather than working alone to make more money. The Amish adopted tractors to grow more food but did not adopt cars as they allowed them to be farther apart. Their communities are so strong that only 20% of their young people leave after their wandering year.
  • 19. In 1866 a group of lepers was left on a small Hawaiian island ostensibly to die. They didn’t. They worked together and survived rather well. Along with other such stories, this shows us that human nature is all about caring. These stories are proof that no one is an island.
  • We are lonelier than ever and lacking in community. We can, however, use some deliberate solitude to be creative, find some wisdom, and get in touch with ourselves. The big idea is to balance solitude and community. Don’t opt for status over being likable. There is no substitute for love. We should take a lesson from the Amish and prioritize community.
  • Something Vaguely Resembling a Conclusion

  • After a lot of thought, Eruc believes that belonging is the meaning of life. Stories can help us unite and we can always create new stories. Anecdotal evidence is more persuasive than statistical evidence, but facts and statistics are still useful. As the old African proverb says, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
  • Eric Barker

  • Eric is the author of Barking Up the Wrong Tree and the creator of the blog of the same name. His work has been mentioned in many high-profile publications. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and holds an MBA from Boston College and a master’s of fine arts from UCLA. You can reach him on Facebook at bakadesuyo, on Twitter @bakadesuyo, on Instagram at bakadesuyo, and on LinkedIn at ericbaker. His website is His email is
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