Today our expert guest is Clarissa Silva, a Behavioral Scientist, Researcher, and Relationship Coach with 17 years of experience in mental health, behavioral science, and public health. Using research and data-driven techniques, she helps provide evidence-based solutions to relationship-based problems, for both organizations and individuals.

Clarissa also writes a very tongue-in-cheek relationship wellness blog, “YOU’RE JUST A DUMBASS,” to help people select and maintain healthy relationships (and avoid suboptimal ones). “I really wanted to remove the clinical barriers and provide any reader with true, public science.”

I love this approach to relationships because a lot of people don’t think about relationships in terms of optimal vs. suboptimal. We often get caught up labeling different behaviors as negative or positive, but it’s all so personal and subjective – what’s optimal for one couple may be suboptimal for another.

The Dating Paradox

We’re in an interesting era of dating: in just one generation, we shifted from young people reluctantly using online dating to young people almost exclusively using online dating.

Because our data and understanding of online dating is still so young, Clarissa works to better understand dating behavioral trends and its impact on self-esteem, self-awareness, and decision-making.

“The current dating market is creating what I call The Dating Paradox: it’s giving off the illusion of many choices, while making it harder to find viable options.” There’s also an illusion of more social engagement and social capital, while simultaneously masking one’s true persona.

We end up treating people like items on our social media streams. The first shiny object is what we stop at, and then we move onto the next shiny object. But that person – that shiny object – is still waiting to have their outcome fulfilled; they were looking for a date with a decent person!

The Happiness Hypothesis

Clarissa was curious about what impact these behaviors have on dating, so she conducted in-depth interviews with men and women ranging from ages 28 to 73, which she published as The Happiness Hypothesis Study.

There were quite a number of interesting findings:

  • People dating online make decisions about whether or not to date someone in less time (just a few seconds), and use fewer elements of data to determine their selection.
  • Because we’re interfacing digitally more than personally, it becomes easier to emotionally manipulate others or project an overly-positive persona. “I call this Vanity Validation – you’re seeking validation through electronic likes instead of life”
  • 80% reported it being easier to ghost, bench, gaslight or breadcrumb because of the lack of communication and face-to-face interaction – and 80% of millennials reported having experienced ghosting, benching, gaslighting or breadcrumbing firsthand.
  • 60% of people using social media, who are also active online dating users, reported that social media impacted their self-esteem in a negative way.
  • 50% of people using social media, who are also in relationships, reported social media having negative effects on their relationship.
  • 80% of people reported that it was easier to deceive others through their social posting.

So in light of these findings, are we living through the lens of social media instead of life? Or are we looking through the lens of life and trying to streamline it differently for social media?

Either way, the intersection of social media and relationships is having internal effects on our self-esteem, self-awareness, and decision-making.

Now Clarissa is turning her findings into tools (called Your Happiness Hypothesis: Your Personal Love Algorithm) that you can use to take a more data-driven approach to dating. There is simply so much useful data – so much – that individuals can mine from their online dating experiences.

The first Happiness Hypothesis tool is “How to Spot Red Flags,” which you can learn more about on

The Biggest Helping: Today’s Most Important Takeaway

“My biggest wish is that I’d love to see a movement form around not accepting suboptimal outcomes, and a more empowered approach to getting your desired outcome.”

Thank you for joining us on The Daily Helping with Dr. Shuster. Subscribe to the show on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play to download more food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, and tools to win at life.


Check out “Your Happiness Hypothesis: How to Spot Red Flags”

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