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"If you are too different, you're probably going to break up" is not so groundbreaking that it's worth three minutes of your readers' lives.
The naive application of that is to go around thinking "I shouldn't be thinking about 'should' all the time! I should stop doing that! I'm not thinking like I should!".
Yeah, that was pretty much the only thing I could think of. But given that people do not in fact have randomly assigned soulmates who are a much better match than anyone else, holding out for your soulmate is not a possible policy.
Another thing that would qualify is meeting everyone in the world (in reasonable age brackets and filtering by gender if appropriate, and maybe some amount of filtering on culture and interests still counts as not settling) to determine the best possible match, not because you can only be happy with them but because you refuse to settle for the infinitesimally inferior second-best match. But it's very unlikely that you'll be your first choice's first choice, forcing at least one of you to settle for an inferior match or remain single.
Gratuitous bragging: my calculations suggest that there are about ten thousand people in the world I'd be more or less as happy with as with my boyfriend. (It's not that lucky, I meet an incredibly skewed sample.) I have on average two more chances of finding another good match if we break up, and I'm not unhappy about this prospect, which makes "settling" a strange descriptor.
I'd go vegetarian for pay. I don't eat much meat, but I do enjoy it a lot and am reluctant to stop. If you're interested, let's discuss price by PM - I won't reveal my estimate of the cost but it is in the 100 USD/year - 1000 USD/year range. I could also go vegan but price will depend on how conscientious you want me to be about it.
Sounds like your problems could cancel out. If you decline intercourse but "fool around" a lot, they're unlikely to be too unhappy about it.
By "quite fast" do we mean a few hours, or a few dates? If the latter: You are in fact allowed not to have sex on the first date, or the first time they're in your bedroom. You can go as far as you're comfortable with and no further - and know where you'll stop in advance, so you're not anxious beforehand, and then go a little further on subsequent dates.
Is your anxiety tied to specific acts, or to sex itself? Does it help if I point out that the boundaries of what counts as sex are very blurry, and do your anxieties change if you change what you think of as sex?
As opposed to what?
The standard strategy seems to be to work up to sex very progressively, going a little further on each encounter, so there's never any bright line to cross. Why is this failing for you?
My current understanding of how hypnosis works is:
The overwhelming majority of our actions happen automatically, unconsciously, in response to triggers. Those can be external stimuli, or internal stimuli at the end of a trigger-response chain started by an external stimulus. Stimulus-response mapping are learnt through reinforcement. Examples: walking somewhere without thinking about your route (and sometimes arriving and noticing you intended to go someplace else), unthinkingly drinking from a cup in front of you. (Finding and exploiting those triggers is incredibly useful if you have executive function issues.)
In the waking state, responses are sometimes vetted consciously. This causes awareness of intent to act. Example: those studies where you can predict when someone will press a button before they can.
This "free won't" isn't very reliable. In particular, there's very little you can do about imagery ("Don't think of a purple elephant"). Examples: advertising, priming effects, conformity.
Conscious processes can't multitask much, so by focusing attention elsewhere, stimuli cause responses more reliably and less consciously. See any study on cognitive load.
Hypnosis works by putting you in a frame of mind where cooperation is easy; that's mostly accomplished by your expectation to be hypnotised. For self-hypnosis you're pretty cooperative already ("I am doing that, therefore it works and it's good."), otherwise rapport with the hypnotist and yes sets (consenting to hypnosis, agreeing to listen/sit/look at something, truisms) help. Inducing trance seems to be mostly a matter of directing attention elsewhere while preserving this frame of mind. Old school hypnotists liked external foci like swinging pocket watches, candle flames and spirals; mindfulness inductions work similarly; Erickson was fond of pleasant imagery; I'm partial to thinking about the process of hypnosis itself.
Modern writers tend to use "trance" to mean a highly suggestible state, whereas older ones just mean a state where you act on autopilot. Flow is the latter kind of trance but not the former, as the thing you're concentrating on does prompt you to take some actions ("play these notes") but not in any form that resembles suggestion. I'm less certain about this than about the rest of my model, the link between trance and suggestibility might be deeper.
So the evolutionary explanation for hypnosis would look something like this:
It's easier to build a reflex agent than a utility maximiser, so evolution did that.
However, conscious decision-making does better, especially if you're going to be all technological and social, so evolution added one on top of the preexisting connectionist idiot.
It is easily disrupted, because evolution is a complete hack and only builds things that are robust as long as you don't do anything unusual.
Important info you didn't mention: the thing tastes bitter and horrendous.
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