Heckle Therapist

Jerry Seinfeld on dealing with hecklers:

Very early on in my career, I hit upon this idea of being the Heckle Therapist. So that when people would say something nasty, I would immediately become very sympathetic to them and try to help them with their problem and try to work out what was upsetting them, and try to be very understanding with their anger. It opened up this whole fun avenue for me as a comedian, and no one had ever seen that before. Some of my comedian friends used to call me – what did they say? – that I would counsel the heckler instead of fighting them. Instead of fighting them, I would say “You seem so upset, and I know that’s not what you wanted to have happen tonight. Let’s talk about your problem” and the audience would find it funny and it would really discombobulate the heckler too, because I wouldn’t go against them, I would take their side. [link]

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s full ABC interview on Apple’s fight with the FBI

“If a court can ask us to write this piece of software, think about what else they could ask us to write. Maybe it’s an operating system for surveillance. Maybe it’s the ability for law enforcement to turn on the camera. I mean, I don’t know where this stops. But I do know this is not what should be happening in this country. This is not what should be happening in America. If there should be a law that compels us to do it, it should be passed out in the open, and the people of America should get a voice in that. The right place for that debate to occur is in Congress.” — Tim Cook


No one would want a master key built that would turn hundreds of millions of locks. Even if that key were in the possession of the person that you trust the most, that key could be stolen. That is what this is about.


It’s clear that it would be a precedent. New York law enforcement is already talking about having 175 phones there. Other counties across the United States are talking about phones they have. And so it is a slippery slope. I don’t fear it; it is one.


Cook: I know people like to frame this argument as privacy versus national security. That is overly simplistic and is not true. This is also about public safety. The smartphone that you carry has more information about you on it than probably any other singular device or any other singular place.

Muir: So this is about protecting the safety of the people who carry those iPhones?

Cook: That’s exactly right. And by the way, it’s probably just not iPhone. Because if the government could order Apple to create such a piece of software, it could be ordered for anyone else as well. It doesn’t stop here.

Think about this. It is, in our view, the software equivalent of cancer. Is this something that should be created? Technology can do so many things. But there are many things technology should never be allowed to do. And the way you not allow it, is to not create it.


Cook: Hacking has become increasingly commonplace. It is very difficult to secure data, and the everyday person can’t do it. They look for Apple to help them do it. You need to look no further than the government, which has had some of the worst breaches of all in this case. And so yes, security gets better with every software release we have. Encryption gets more advanced. It has to to stay one step ahead of the bad guys.

Muir: So it’s not a mistake that we can’t get into Syed Farook’s iPhone?

Cook: We didn’t do it for that reason, David. We did it to protect our customers. But yes, a side effect means that Apple can’t get to it either. Think of it like this: if you put a door in a house, it’s a lot easier to get in that house. It doesn’t matter whether it’s locked or not. Somebody can get in that. And so our simple view is that you encrypt end to end, and you don’t keep a key. And so the people that can see communications are the people on either end of that communication.


Cook: What they want is, they want us to develop a new operating system that takes out the security precautions. Including the precaution that, after 10 tries, if somebody has set “erase all data after 10,” they want that to not be in there. And then they want an ability to go through a number of passwords at the speed of a modern computer.

Muir: A computer would do that to figure out the code.

Cook: A computer would do that. We believe that is a very dangerous operating system

Muir: Because once people know that exists, you say, the cat is out of the bag.

Cook: If one of the bad guys knew that that existed, think about the target that is. Everybody would want that system. Because you could get in… It has the potential to get into any iPhone. This is not something that should be created.


Cook: We would be prepared to take this issue all the way. Yes. Because I think it’s that important for America. This should not be decided court by court by court. If you decide that it’s okay to force a company to do something that they think is bad for hundreds of millions of people, then… Think about this for a minute. And this case is an awful case; there is no worse case than this case. But there may a judge in a different district that feels that this case should apply to a divorce case. There may be one in the next state over that thinks it should apply in a tax case. Another state over it might apply in a robbery. And so you begin to say, ‘Wait a minute. This isn’t how this should happen.’ If there is going to be a law, then it should be done out in the open for people so their voices are heard through their representatives in Congress.

Muir: And if Congress decided that there’s this small category — this was a terrorist’s iPhone. If Congress decided that, if the American people signed off on that, you’d entertain it?

Cook: Let me be clear. At the end of the day, we have to follow the law. Just like everybody else, we have to follow the law. What is going on right now is we’re having our voices be heard. And I would encourage everyone who wants to have a voice and wants to have an opinion to make sure their voice is heard.

Is It More Blessed To Give Than To Receive?

Is It More Blessed To Give Than To Receive?

At Christmastime, there are people who say, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Think about this for a moment.

Giving certainly can be a joyful experience. However, giving does not bring pleasure when it renounces the self. Giving brings joy only when it upholds something about yourself, your desires, your wishes and your values.

Think about the pleasure of putting joy on a loved one’s face. You experience the joy precisely because it’s a loved one – your beloved spouse, child, friend or anyone else you personally treasure.

Think about giving to a charity you believe in. Or donating used but still good clothes or other items to a charity. You feel good about doing it, because it upholds something or someone important to you.

Giving worthy of the name always has a self-interested component of some kind, in that it upholds your personal values or beliefs. Not only is that OK; it’s the way it should be.

Imagine for a moment that you were forced to give your Christmas gifts to people you don’t know. Aside from being resentful, would you still feel the same way when giving the gift? Wouldn’t you feel cheated?

You’d say something like, “I don’t want to give this gift to some stranger. I want to put a smile on my loved one’s face. I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks.”

Beware of the profiteers of guilt. These are the mentalities who push the issue. They’re the ones who claim there should be no selfish, personal component to giving. They’re the ones who will try to “make” you feel guilty by claiming such things as, “The true spirit of Christmas is sacrifice. The only kind of gift-giving that matters is the kind that hurts.”

All of us have heard such toxic ideas somewhere, at some time. Such ideas play out in the form of “tapes” or little memes inside our subconscious minds, emerging as an emotional experience of guilt. It’s important to understand that such guilt is unearned.

Think about yourself as the recipient of a gift. Do you want the other person to experience joy and pleasure at giving you something? Or do you want it done only in a spirit of dreary, selfless duty?

We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s the thought that counts.” The truth in this saying is your connection to the person giving you the gift. “Wow, this person was thinking of me, what I like, what I might enjoy.” The experience of receiving the gift under the tree, or whatever the occasion, has as much to do with this as the gift itself.

Years ago, I heard of someone who gave all his friends, as Christmas presents, donations to a charity. He told his friends, “We all have enough things. It’s time to give to others.”

This was not done by agreement, ahead of time. In fact, his friends had put time and thought into selecting gifts for this friend for Christmas. They were resentful, and also felt somewhat guilty for feeling resentful.

The problem with what this man did? He cheated his friends out of the gift giving experience. Gift giving is mutual. You love to delight the other person, and you love to see the other person delight in delighting you.

It’s not more blessed to give than to receive; nor is it more blessed to receive than to give. This sets up a false alternative.

The amount of joy and pleasure you gain from receiving a gift in no way takes away from the equal (and sometimes greater) joy you might receive from giving. It’s possible to relish both.

It all comes down to mutuality. When you love someone, you wish to express it – sometimes lavishly. Holidays like Christmas provide an opportunity for doing so.

At the same time, when you love certain people, you want to know you’re visible to them. You want to know they’re thinking of you.

Love comes from thinking; it’s an emotional expression of the fact that someone considers you worthwhile and important. Of course you want to receive from such a person, because it helps illustrate how much you matter to this person you love.

Giving and generosity are not about suffering, sacrifice and pain. They’re about cherishing and experiencing joy.

That’s one of the reasons I like the spirit of Christmas. It’s one of the few times people appear to recognize and embrace this truth.

Learn Anything in 20 Hours

“Skill is the result of deliberate, consistent practice. And in early stage practice, quantity and speed trump absolute quality. The faster and more often you practice the more rapidly you’ll acquire the skill.” — Josh Kaufman

10 principles of learning skills rapidly

  1. Choose a project you LOVE.  “The best thing that can happen to a human being is to find a problem, to fall in love with that problem, and to live trying to solve that problem, unless another problem even more lovable appears.” – Karl Popper
  2. Focus your energy on one skill at a time. “If you don’t know where you’re trying to go or don’t have a solid strategy to get there, you can waste equal amounts of energy in unproductive wandering.”
  3. Define your target performance level.  Visualize where you want to be. Be specific. “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” –Charles Kettering
  4. Deconstruct the skill into sub skills. Eliminate the non-essential. Rapid skill acquisition is “a way of breaking down the skill you’re trying to acquire into the smallest possible parts, identifying which of those parts are most important, then deliberately practicing those elements first.”
  5. Obtain critical tools. Want to learn to play a guitar — first thing is you need a guitar. Review several solid how-to guides.
  6. Eliminate barriers to practice. Remove any physical (turn off the phone, internet, etc. ), mental, or emotional barriers that get in the way of practice. Arrange your environment to promote skill development.
  7. Dedicate time for practice. Schedule it on your calendar. Keep a log.
  8. Create fast feedback loops. A coach, video your practice, etc.
  9. Practice by the clock in short bursts. You only have so much willpower every day — use it wisely.
  10. Emphasize quantity and speed. “Skill is the result of deliberate, consistent practice, and in early-stage practice, quantity and speed trump absolute quality. The faster and more often you practice, the more rapidly you’ll acquire the skill.”

10 principles of effective learning

  1. Research the skill and related topics (but not too much)
  2. Jump in over your head
  3. Identify mental models and mental hooks
  4. Imagine the opposite of what you want
  5. Talk to practitioners
  6. Eliminate distractions
  7. Spaced repetition and reinforcement for memorization
  8. Scaffolds and checklists
  9. Make and test predictions
  10. Honor your biology

A Refreshing Alternative to the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

Women for Sobriety has a remarkable series of “13 Steps” to serve as an alternative to the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I have a life-threatening problem that once had me. I now take charge of my life and my disease. I accept the responsibility.

Negative thoughts destroy only myself. My first conscious sober act must be to remove negativity from my life.

Happiness is a habit I will develop. Happiness is created, not waited for.

Problems bother me only to the degree I permit them to. I now better understand my problems and do not permit problems to overwhelm me.

I am what I think. I am a capable, competent, caring, compassionate woman.

Life can be ordinary or it can be great. Greatness is mine by a conscious effort.

Love can change the course of my world. Caring becomes all important.

The fundamental object of life is emotional and spiritual growth. Daily I put my life into a proper order, knowing which are the priorities.

The past is gone forever. No longer will I be victimized by the past, I am a new person.

All love given returns. I will learn to know that others love me.

Enthusiasm is my daily exercise. I treasure all moments of my new life.

I am a competent woman and have much to give life. This is what I am and I shall know it always.

I find these a refreshing alternative to the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. As I wrote in my book, Bad Therapy Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference), the 12 Steps send a mixed message.

On the one hand, they tell people to take charge of their minds and their lives; to develop an attitude of serenity based on the rational principle that you can control some things, and you cannot control others; and to take a moral and psychological inventory of your life.

On the other hand, and in total contradiction, AA tends to treat alcoholism as a disease which you neither control nor contribute to, which has a life of its own, and that some sort of higher, external Power (supernatural or otherwise) generates against your will.

I won’t deny that AA helps a lot of people, and when it does I give credit to the rational, positive aspects of AA. However, I find a lot of people sincerely looking for alternatives to the 12 Steps, and this Women for Sobriety program offers an excellent alternative.

I like these steps as an alternative for men every bit as much as for women.

Are these steps really just for women?

In an article entitled, “What’s Gender Got to Do With It?”, Regina Walker says,

Women who suffer from alcoholism face bigger challenges, not just physically, but psychologically as well. All alcoholics suffer from the social stigma of the disease but women are especially judged as morally weak when they deviate from their expected roles as caretakers of others including children and partners. In the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous, there is a chapter entitled, “To The Wives.” The goal of the article is to assist the wives of alcoholics in dealing most effectively with their alcoholic husbands. But what of the female alcoholic in AA? Women alcoholics are often portrayed (in books and movies) as sexually promiscuous and lacking self-control.

It is estimated that between 30% and 80% of alcoholic women were victims of sexual abuse in childhood. Although there is no definitive connection between early sexual abuse and alcoholism, the implications for the treatment of alcoholic women are significant. Many women who have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional abuse may develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and use alcohol to self-medicate the symptoms of this disorder.

Often, the shame and guilt experienced by women prevent them from seeking treatment. They may be more reluctant to acknowledge that a problem exists for fear they will be punished or humiliated. If the woman is the primary caregiver of young children, she will need support in terms of child-care to access treatment. In addition, these women may fear the loss of the children through the legal system if they request help and acknowledge their alcoholism.

This may all be true. And I’m certainly not against women forming a support group for alcohol / substance abuse which specifically reaches out to women.

But in my view, both men and women could benefit from a refreshing alternative of this kind.

I love the emphasis on personal responsibility for one’s alcoholism. In my experience as a therapist, I find that most alcohol and drug abusers do not really buy the idea that they are helpless recipients of a disease. The ones who do think this way are usually the ones rationalizing their continued use and abuse of a substance.

By the time a person — man or woman — wakes up and realizes, “I have a problem and I have to quit,” he or she is generally way past the disease model of addiction and ready to do the kinds of things embodied by these 13 Steps.

“I have a life-threatening problem that once had me.” I find this an uplifting and yet realistic idea. The point is: your abusive habits do not have to rule you. It may be a struggle, but you can ultimately emerge triumphant. Men and women need to develop this attitude, not just about overcoming an addiction, but just about any life struggle or challenge.

One theory of substance abuse is that people are self-medicating their anxiety or depression. I find this is usually, if not always, true. The 13 ideas listed above, for the most part, serve as a good program for managing and overcoming anxiety or depression (the most common mental-emotional problems), including for men and women who don’t abuse a substance.

“The past is gone forever.” Wonderfully true. It’s not that it’s taboo to think or talk about the past. But the context must always be held in mind: The past is over. Whatever you don’t like about the past need not be true now; not if you’ve learned. As for childhood, you were largely helpless and powerless as a child. You had no choice about the fact you were born, and to whom you were born; and most of the choices that affected you were made by adults around you. As an adult, you have the power to live your own life on totally different terms, if you want to, and you definitely ought to do so if your childhood experiences were bad. Maybe you were a victim back then; but you don’t have to be a victim now. If you feel like a perpetual victim now, it’s no wonder you want to drink or drug.

I am in charge of my mind, my thoughts, and my life. Absolutely and profoundly true. If your mind drifts, you can bring it back into focus. You can learn how to better do this, and competent professionals, or even peers or loved ones, might help you. If your mind leads you to do self-defeating or self-destructive things, you — and only you — can direct it back to a life-advancing, life-fulfilling purpose. Your life ought to have a central purpose; you, and you alone, get to choose what that is. You can get all the help you want — and help is good; but in the end, it’s yourself, and only yourself, who will fix your life.

Do women need to hear this more than men? I don’t think so. Our culture is, for the most part, anti-reason and anti-rational. America, in particular, was built on rationality, productivity, rational self-interest and individualism. Those values and ideas are under assault everywhere today; absolutely everywhere, from public schools to universities to the media to politics to the culture at large.

When those values of reason, self-determination and individualism were more dominant, the false idea was that they applied more to men than to women. One of the tragic errors of feminism was that it largely rebelled against reason and individualism, removing those things as a value for women or men, and replacing them with emotionalism, subjectivism and (in politics) socialism.

If it were 1950, I’d say that women need to embrace these values of self-responsibility and rational mindfulness for themselves, just like men had been trained to do. They can still be women, but they need reason, self-responsibility and individualism just as much as men do, in order to survive, cope and flourish in life.

Today, in 2015, I’m finding (more than ever) that both men and women need help and support in becoming independent, self-governing individualists. Alcohol abuse and substance addiction certainly get in the way of that; but so do depression, anxiety and the various other maladies people tend to suffer from in their daily psychological lives.

In the end, there are no magical 12 Steps or exhaustive 13 Steps that will, in isolation, somehow fix all that ails you. At the core of any recovery program, psychotherapy or “spiritual exercise” worth the name is a deep sense of commitment to loving life and valuing self. Without those two things, any therapy or treatment program is meaningless, and any potential value it has to offer you is wiped out.

At the end of the day, you either love life and yourself, or you don’t. If you do, then you will develop the strategies and actions required to lead a rewarding and purposeful life. If you do not love life and/or yourself, you are free to start doing so … any time you choose.

When seeking help, find people who help you do so.

The Psychology Behind Criminal Excuse Making

By Dr. Michael Hurd

We’ve all heard the phrase, “blaming the victim.” Normally, this expression applies when one party blames another — the actual victim — for something he or she did not cause.

Things have become so backwards and upside down in our crazy culture that we now have a new phenomenon: People who are the actual victims of something — like crime — blaming themselves for the robbery, theft or assault inflicted upon their very selves.

From an article entitled, “When robbery victims blame — themselves” by Karol Markowicz at nypost.com 10/25/15:

Last November, Ditmas Park experienced a rash of armed robberies. What made the one at the Lark Cafe unique is that the gunman didn’t target the register. Instead, he took all the laptops of a writer’s group that was meeting there. In a long rumination on the incident, [Brooklyn writer Chaya] Babu writes that she and her writer friends “felt angry and violated, but not in a way that necessarily placed blame on the person who did it.” It seems that if they blame anyone, it’s themselves — for existing and choosing to live in Ditmas Park [Brooklyn] in the first place. In the weeks following the robbery, she and her friends worked on “finding space to take into consideration the broader social and economic circumstances surrounding the incident” and “cultivated our sense of compassion toward the robber, whom we imagined must have been acting out of dire need.”

Victims of crime who feel that their victimizers act out of desperation or “need” would do well to actually study research on the criminal personality. For example, Dr. Stanton Samenow in his book, “Inside the Criminal Mind,” documents in thorough and readable detail what makes criminals different from non-criminal personalities.

The distinguishing features of a criminal are not desperation or need so much as a particular way of thinking about themselves, reality and the world. Criminals, for example, feel a sense of entitlement to things which are not theirs, a chronic sense of victimization even though they’re not really victims, and actually turn others into their victims.

If you have something that I would like to have, I admire you for your accomplishment and figure out how I can do the same. Or, maybe I stew in resentment but never dream of doing anything to harm your life or your property. A criminal is different. A criminal feels entitled to act upon this resentment and envy, and actually experiences a sense of “ambition” or accomplishment about doing so. Power for its own sake is what motivates the criminal.

Criminal personalities are not like you and I, not according to the research. Nor are they like these naive fools who make excuses for them, even after being victimized by one.

There are plenty of impulsive, needy and desperate people who would never initiate force, theft or murder against another human being. They perhaps suffer from all sorts of emotional or behavioral problems, and in the end are generally their own worst enemies. They are not criminals, however, because however self-defeating or irrational they might otherwise be, they seek no power or domination over others. Whatever malevolence they might or might not feel towards others, they take no steps and harbor no significant desires to bring others down with them.

Neither reason nor research supports Babu’s thinking that criminals are really victims who are acting out of desperate, needy impulses of desperation, angst and pain. Yet it’s fashionable, in certain circles, to think this way — or at the very least, to be seen (amongst one’s similarly minded peers) thinking this way.

It’s nothing more than old-fashioned posing repackaged as progressive, self-conscious, pseudo-sophisticated faux enlightenment. And because of the influence it’s having on government in particular and culture more broadly, it’s becoming downright dangerous.

Babu quotes another writer who was robbed that night as saying, “I didn’t ultimately think that person posed a threat. I didn’t feel afraid of the person; I felt more just afraid of the weapon.”

And there it is. The case for gun control, once again. What euphemistic, self-conscious romanticization of violent criminal behavior would be complete without the smuggled in lecture based on the premise, “People don’t kill people; guns do”?

It seems that Babu really means it, or at least claims to mean it. She experienced a crime herself, but still excuses the criminal. It’s hard to imagine what’s worse: That she merely wants others to think she means it, or that she really means it.

The reason I call such thinking dangerous is that its dominance will ultimately lead to the banning of weapons for self-protection, at which point criminals (along with government, more often criminal itself these days) will have the ultimate power over the innocent and peace-loving individual who simply wishes to be left alone. It’s also dangerous thinking because to excuse and seek to “understand” criminals in the way Babu means is to provide such people with precisely the type of moral and psychological atmosphere which they require to survive. Babu and her enlightened progressive allies in academia and government believe they have discovered something new, but criminals have been at exploitation for a very long time.

Babu notes that “many of us in the group agreed that in some respects we identified more with our robber than with the characters we were portrayed to be” in media stories about the crime.

I’ll bet they did agree on this — in the group. That’s because rational and objective thinking rarely occurs in a group, at least not a group of idiotic pseudo-sophisticates like Babu; and rational, objective thinking never originates in a group, because there is no collective brain.

Here we have the most revealing aspect of the mindset behind criminal excuse making. It’s kind of like a woman who has a “bad boy” syndrome, where she falls in love with bad men and finds herself romantically attracted to them precisely because they are bad. In her mind and psychology, objectively bad (yes, there is such a thing) is actually good.

This is the sort of psychology and mentality to which we’re subjecting our laws about guns, our attitudes about police and ultimately our view about criminals.

It’s dangerous but also sick and sad.

Look at what’s happening here: A bad boy-loving neurotic, posing before her progressive friends in some coffee shop, claiming to understand the true plight of the criminal to the point where she can forgive his assaults on her, and perhaps (deep down) even longs for such assaults.

Do you still wonder why so much is going crazy? It’s because we’re letting out-of-touch neurotics do our thinking for us, whether it comes to gun control, crime, or just about anything else.

— Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of “Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)” and “Grow Up America!” Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The Value of Unstructured Time

Heike Larson has an excellent article on The Value of Unstructured Time (Or: What to Do Instead of TV).

According to Larson “children need boredom. The self-initiated effort to solve boredom leads to creative thinking. Children benefit from having to find a way to entertain themselves, to just hang out with siblings and friends and make up games, time to play, to build, to draw, time to think and dream.”

I need to requote that because it is such a brilliant statement:”The self-initiated effort to solve boredom leads to creative thinking.”

Make sure to read the full article here at the LePort Schools blog.

Age Differences? Love and Joy Trump Everything

Age Differences? Love and Joy Trump Everything

A visitor to my website writes that he has fallen in love with a woman who is fourteen years his senior. He tells me that he generally goes for people his own age, but that he’s never felt so good about any relationship. He asks if this is wrong.

First of all, congratulations! Second, my primary definition of a “wrong” relationship is one that leads to unhappiness for either or both parties. Tolerating or inflicting physical or mental abuse is wrong. Staying with someone only out of nostalgia or pity is also wrong. According to my ethical perspective, genuine happiness is never wrong. It sounds like you’re happy, and I trust your partner is as well. What could be wrong with that?

A relationship with an age difference (within legal boundaries, of course) ought to be approached like any other. Is there compatibility? Are there common values? Are there enough differences to make it interesting but not so many as to make sustained companionship impossible? Of course, there are unique aspects as well. For example, the younger person has less life experience, and the wider the age difference, the greater that challenge can be.

As in any relationship, there has to be intellectual compatibility. But mental abilities and life experience are not the same. An older person may respect how bright the younger person is, in spite of the lack of experience. People who are happy in such relationships don’t see the age difference as a challenge. The younger partner likes being with someone who has experience and wisdom; the older partner enjoys the younger partner’s youth and vigor. Issues related to age are not nearly as significant as a real connection and the ability to sustain it over time.

The late actor Tony Randall married a younger woman after his wife of many years died. He had children with the younger woman, something he and his first wife never did. I’m sure it was hard on his younger wife and kids to lose him. But would it have been better if he had never remarried, spending his final years lonely and sad? Would his widow be better off never having loved him? I say no, because I always vote for happiness above knee-jerk responses based on emotion and bias.

The most important factor is to be honest, not only with the other person but also with yourself. Can you honestly say that you would rather be with him or her than anyone else? At the end of the day, do you look forward to being with your partner? If so, then something is working, and you’re fortunate, no matter what the age difference.

Wikipedia points out that, “In some societies, age-disparate relationships are seen as aberrant or even perverse. Historically, the ‘gold digger’ mentality has been frowned upon as being akin to prostitution.” One of the easiest things to do is to be judgmental, because making a snap judgment based only on bias requires no thought. “Gold digger” does not apply where two people truly love each other. Financial circumstances can vary, but love tells the tale, and only the people involved know for sure if it’s the real thing.

Of course there are relationships that fail because of age issues. Needs and basic values can sometimes change between one’s early years and later in life. Yet, my experience has shown that it’s more the presence of extreme youth that creates the problem, rather than the age difference. The same thing applies when two young people marry, only to realize that one or both of them chose to marry too soon.

If you’re pursuing a relationship with an age disparity, and it bothers you, then try to figure out why. Are you happy with your partner, but dislike the idea of the age difference? Do you worry about what others think, even though you’re happy? Those are wrong reasons to hesitate.

If the age difference is bothering you because you genuinely feel frustration over a lack of compatibility, then that’s a valid reason for pause. But, above all, don’t let bias or baseless prejudice stand in the way of your happiness. Love and joy trump everything.