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Computer Cupid: A Safe Place Online to Talk about Love, Science, and Everything in Between. Submitted by Computer Cupid!

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wake Forest chapter.



So, I bet you are wondering what on earth makes me qualified to sit here and talk (and occasionally scream) to you about relationships, science, and all that jazz. Well, I am a senior in college who has seen her fair share of failed situationships and boyfriends. “Okay, all of us have the same experience, what makes you different?” I am a psychology major and like to look through all these experiences through the lens of a wannabe psychologist. I’d like to think this is why my friends trust me for advice. So, buckle up and let computer cupid (this is my online moniker for the blog btw, what do you think?) lead the way.

To All the boys i’ve loved before (even the ones i didn’t like that much…)

I know Ariana Grande is involved in a husband stealing scandal with the guy who played Spongebob on Broadway right now… We are NOT going to talk about that! However, we are going to talk about her song, “Thank You, Next.” As problematic as she may be right now, she did have a point back then. She presented a new perspective, being grateful for our exes. Before you slam your computer shut in a “I HATE my ex” rampage…. Hear me out. Or better yet, hear Ariana out:

“One taught me love

One taught me patience

And one taught me pain

Now, I’m so amazing

Say I’ve loved and I’ve lost

But that’s not what I see

So, look what I got

Look at what you taught me

And for that, I say

Thank you, next (next)”

Our exes, as annoying, stupid, and infuriating as they may be, teach us valuable lessons that we can only learn through becoming intertwined with them. Let’s talk about it. 

Have you ever found yourself misinterpreting your partner’s behavior as a result of emotions or experiences from a previous relationship?

If you said yes, congratulations you are not the only one! I decided to put my journalist cap on and go out into the world and ask people this exact question. Here were the responses:

“I think for sure it definitely takes some time to kind of forget about old partners’ habits, routines, and personality. For example, I am a big texter and have had in the past other people who are really big texters, but some people just don’t do that as much and it takes a bit to kinda get used to that and be like okay even though they aren’t texting me all the time. It does not mean they are upset with me, it just means that they communicate differently.”


The funny thing about this is while this person is overthinking this texting debacle, the person he is texting is probably thinking nothing of it. This is a classic tale of misinterpretation due to our beliefs, values, and the past. Information processing, as discussed in psychology, refers to all the ways our mind organizes everything we learn about the world. In this context, beliefs are a person’s ideas or theories about what the world is actually like, such as the notion that ‘the frequency of text messages reflects a person’s level of interest.’ Values, on the other hand, represent a person’s opinions and attitudes about what’s important and how they want things to be, like ‘I value frequent communication in a relationship’ or ‘I believe that prompt replies show commitment.’

The distinction between what people think is true and what they want to be true has some useful implications for understanding how partners evaluate their relationships. In the example of misinterpreting a partner’s texting habits, it’s evident how past beliefs and values can shape our interpretations of current behaviors, sometimes leading to misunderstandings.


Today I have decided to give you guys a juicy little treat: a story from my experience. I am doing this for the sake of this section of course, but also because I know you are DYING to know Computer Cupid’s lore.

I experienced my first full fledged relationship in college. While I am thankful for the experience, as it has taught me so much, I would be lying if I said it was a perfect experience. It was plagued with communication issues, passive aggressiveness, and never quite being on the same page, if you get my drift. That is okay, as these experiences are required in order to learn. However, sometimes I find myself misinterpreting my now WONDERFUL partner’s actions due to some hurt I felt in my past relationship. If you have ever experienced the same thing I want you to know this is completely normal.

As the studies have shown so far, the nature of people’s ideas is not as important as the gap between their ideas about relationships in general and their perceptions of their own relationships. Yet our thoughts and attitudes may do more than shape how we react to our experiences. What we believe and value also affects how we understand the experiences themselves (Baldwin, 1992).

For example, whenever my partner texts me “hey shawty” out of the blue, I always get a little bit nervous because in my previous relationship, “hey” was normally followed by bad news. Am I just receiving a friendly greeting, or could it mean they’re about to cancel on our plans or get upset with me? Usually, such a message won’t give me enough information to know for sure what my partner means. To lessen the ambiguity of text-based communication, we tend to interpret our experiences by drawing on our beliefs and expectations. Therefore, since I believe my partner values open and honest communication, I’ll probably perceive their text as a friendly greeting and respond accordingly. However, due to my past relationship, where similar messages were associated with bad news, I might interpret the same text as a precursor to something negative and feel nervous.

An important consequence of this tendency is that the resulting interpretations are probably going to be consistent with, and thus confirm, the ideas we already have. In other words, if we expect people to behave a certain way, we’re more likely to perceive their behavior that way. This process is referred to as perceptual confirmation, and it appears to be an important mechanism through which beliefs and expectations can affect intimate relationships.

This idea of perceptual confirmation, where our existing beliefs shape how we interpret behaviors, aligns with the study conducted by social psychologists Geraldine Downey and Scott Feldman. They used perceptual confirmation to explain the effects of childhood experiences of rejection on relationships throughout life. Building on attachment theory, they argue that significant rejection experiences shape the beliefs and expectations adults bring to their intimate relationships, leading to a greater sensitivity to rejection than those who were not rejected as children.

In one study by Downey and Feldman, participants who had completed a self-report on rejection sensitivity were asked to interact with a confederate. After a brief conversation, the confederate left the room, and participants were informed that the other person no longer wished to continue the experiment. How did participants react to this news? People scoring low in rejection sensitivity did not react much at all, assuming the other person had to be elsewhere. But those scoring high in rejection sensitivity were significantly upset by the news, perceiving the identical behavior as a personal insult. Because they expected rejection, they perceived rejection in an otherwise ambiguous experience (Downey & Feldman, 1996).

In a committed partnership, if our partner’s behavior is vague or confusing, our beliefs about relationships fill in the missing information, and we perceive ambiguous experiences to be consistent with those beliefs.

Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk

Our past experiences not only have an effect on how we feel and think, but they also have an impact on how we act. Guys, I am not going to lie…. This one is embarrassing. In my previous relationship, I always felt like my boyfriend ditched me at date functions. I brought this up to him, nothing was done, so I decided to give him a taste of his own medicine and make sure to ditch him first at all of his functions. This was very immature and I am embarrassed.

Well, due to being used to ditching my dates at functions, I accidentally did that to my current partner. I felt so bad and wondered why on Earth I did that… then I remembered why. 

As this silly story shows, our expectations about how we’ll be treated can significantly influence how we treat others. In a study I came across, spouses who believed their own actions could bring about positive changes in their marriage tended to communicate more productively about relationship issues compared to those who felt their actions wouldn’t impact the marriage (Miller et al., 1986). Similarly, individuals with a secure attachment style, those who believe a degree of dependence is healthy in a relationship, are more effective at providing social support to their partners (Feeney & Collins, 2001).

But what happens when we expect certain behavior from others and then act in line with those expectations? Quite often, it leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy – our behavior reinforces the expected outcome. This cyclical process, where beliefs shape behaviors that, in turn, strengthen those beliefs, is at the core of attachment perspectives on intimate relationships.

In a study on rejection sensitivity by Geraldine Downey and her team (1998), they illustrated how these processes operate. They videotaped women who had completed a self-report measure of rejection sensitivity discussing challenging issues with their partners. Observers coded the interactions for positive and negative behaviors. What they found was intriguing. Women who feared rejection the most displayed significantly more negative behaviors during these interactions compared to women with low rejection sensitivity. Essentially, the expectation of rejection seemed to compel these women to behave in ways that made rejection more likely. Following these interactions, the partners of women with high rejection sensitivity reported greater dissatisfaction in the relationship, indicating that, ironically, the women who feared rejection the most inadvertently turned their fears into reality.

& an outro

Apparently many of my readers like my blog because I sound like Gossip Girl, so I decided to tell you guys what lesson I want you to learn in a manner you are bound to understand: 

Our histories, honey, they’re like the juiciest secrets in this concrete jungle. They shape us, define us, and color the way we see the world. But darlings, let’s not get caught up in the past drama. Instead, let’s take those lessons, let ’em marinate, and use ’em to create a dazzling future. You know you love me. 

XOXO, Computer Cupid.

Anna Wexler

Wake Forest '24

Anna is a senior at Wake Forest and has been involved in Her Campus since she was a freshman. She is excited to be taking on the role as Co EIC/President of HC this year and is looking forward to working with Wake's awesome HC ladies!