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Aug
20

Who Should Pay for a Date?

Man Pay For DateThe arrival of the bill can interrupt the flow of even the most mutually enjoyable first date. Together, you and your date—someone you barely know––have to navigate how to handle this tricky, often unspoken joint decision of who pays for a date.

Sometimes, the check sits on the table for ages, feeling like an increasing intrusion into a your conversation and begs for resolution. It would be easy if there were a universally accepted way to handle the bill. But it’s more confusing than that.

The first few dates are a unique part of any relationship. While they might influence the tone for the future, this stage is all about courtship. It’s about wooing, getting to know one another and deciding if you like each other enough to continue learning about each other.

How you choose to take care of the check should reflect that you’re in a courtship phase. Because you know so little about each other, each little thing you do carries more weight than it will later on when it’s just a small piece of a bigger picture. At this stage, your date is likely to perceive how you handle the bill as emblematic of your generosity in other areas of life.

It’s too early to make assumptions about who makes a higher salary or how finances will likely be shared should you enter into a long-term relationship. While many women look more favorably on a man who pays for a date, few actually want to be continually “taken care of” by a man.

The question of who pays is basically left up to the opinions and life experiences of each dater, which can be a recipe for confusion and misunderstanding. People often ask themselves the following questions:

  • Should I go along with traditional etiquette, which states that the person who does the inviting should pay?
  • Should the man always treat?
  • Should we split the tab in order to keep things balanced?

The simple answer is that the person who does the inviting should pay. Since the man is usually the traditional pursuer who asks the woman out, he should offer to pay. It’s a romantic gesture, which signals that he values her and is willing to be generous towards her.

However, once the man picks up the check, a wise woman will signal her generosity by indicating that she’s amenable to paying her share. She’ll go through her purse, pull out her wallet and ask how he wishes to proceed.

Guys—if you’re interested in her, thank her and decline her offer. Take the opportunity to flirtatiously tell her that the pleasure of her company makes it impossible for you to consider such a thing. You could indicate that you want to see her again by telling her that you’ll let her pay “next time.”

What if the first date was a big flop? A woman should insist on paying her share if she has decided that she doesn’t want to see him again. By not accepting his generosity, she sends the message that she is holding back. A man should consider that this most likely conveys the woman’s indifference toward him.

Once you’ve gotten past the first few dates, it’s time to shift to a more modern perspective. Even though you’re probably still in courtship mode, you’re likely starting to set a rhythm together. By this time, both of you should demonstrate your willingness to be a potential partner by offering to reciprocate.

If you’re a woman, plan to treat a guy to a post-dinner drink, bring him cookies or wine when you meet, or invite him to a home-cooked meal by the fourth date. Otherwise, he may get the idea that you want to be taken care of.

As you move into a relationship, your ability to negotiate who pays is a good way to forecast how well you’ll be able to handle the number one issue that drives couples apart: money! 

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Jul
24

Why Bringing a Friend on a Date is a Big Mistake

First Date With Her BFFHave you ever brought your friend along on a first or second date? It might seem like a good idea. After all, isn’t it better to have two sets of eyes and ears paying attention to the pros and cons of a potential suitor?

It would make sense if we were in a culture where chaperones keep a watchful eye over a slowly brewing courtship. But, in a world where women are expected to be independent and make their own decisions, it sends a very different message. Let’s look at it from a guy’s point of view. 

Ken is a handsome, successful, professional man in his mid-forties. I was surprised to hear that Susan, a woman who he met online, brought her married friend to their first date.

He laughingly commented that he didn’t feel like he was on a real date. Instead, he felt like a commodity, knowing that his every move was about to be inspected, evaluated and dissected by two women he’d just met.

Ken happens to be one of the good guys. He’s intelligent, thoughtful and ethical. 

He makes good money. He takes care to plan dates in popular venues located in safe neighborhoods.

He is seeking a long-term, committed relationship with a compatible woman. He even invested in my coaching services because he’s determined to do things right this time around.

He’s looking for a self-assured, emotionally healthy woman who is open to connecting on an emotional, intellectual and romantic basis. Like most men, he enjoys the fun and flirtatious nature of courtship.

He found it almost impossible to woo Susan when a first date became a threesome. Rather than risking offending Susan’s friend, he took romance and courtship off the table. He couldn’t see a way to pursue her while meeting his obligation to be socially engaging with her friend.

Ken thought about asking Susan for a second date. He felt attracted to her and liked her personality. But he questioned what might be going on under the surface that would cause her to feel compelled to bring a friend on their date.

He reasoned that Susan might not be able to trust her own judgments and perceptions. Did it mean that she was insecure, distrustful or unavailable? He wondered whether she had the ability to authentically express her desires and make her own romantic decisions.

Susan would be better off if she realized that dating is a process that includes quite a bit of uncertainty. Even her best friend can’t possibly sense all of the nuances that she needs in a romantic partner. That’s up to Susan to figure out over time.

While the idea of being able to tell whether someone is right for you after just one date is appealing, it’s not realistic. A first date is just a time to meet someone and see if they’re interesting enough to meet again.

Susan needs to learn to trust the process and take things slowly. She needs to practice saying things like, “I’m not sure, yet,” “I’m not ready,” or “I need to think about it,” when she isn’t certain how to proceed.

In the end, Ken decided that he was going to pass on Susan and look for someone who is open to taking the emotional risks needed to move into a authentic relationship.

When you’re looking for love, you’re seeking a heart-to-heart connection with someone. If you bring another person along or introduce your date to your friends or relatives on the first few dates, you’re turning a potentially romantic situation into a social event.

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Jun
05

10 Things you Need to Know About Dating After A Break Up

Starting OverUnless you're one of the lucky few, dating after a break up can make you feel vulnerable in a way that you haven't felt for years.

Until recently, you've enjoyed the stability of being in a romantic partnership. Now you're experiencing the ambiguity of not knowing when, where or if you'll meet someone worthwhile. One of your goals should be discovering how to be comfortable both being single and dating again.

The good news is that you're presumably wiser than before. You've probably learned from your past relationship. You've got a fairly good idea about what worked well and what went wrong. You've probably thought about what you want––and what you won't tolerate––in your next relationship. It's likely that you're determined to do things differently in order to avoid repeating past mistakes.

How to start dating again

If you're like most people in your situation, you may wonder how you fit in to the dating scene now that you're older. You may want to know how to date more efficiently so that you're not wasting your time in the wrong places with the wrong people.

This is what you need to know to lay the groundwork for effective and fun dating that is likely to lead to a great, lasting relationship.

1. You are definitely not too old to find love. You're just older than you were last time. Like you, single people in your age range tend to have the wisdom of experience. Men are more interested in a woman's personality. Women are less prone to drama. Many people are still attracted to youthful energy, passion and optimism, which can be displayed at any age.

People of all ages date, fall in love and get into long term, committed relationships and marriages. Wanting to be loved is a primal, human desire and it doesn't go away as we age.

2. Be friendly and outgoing towards everyone. Single people are everywhere and you're more likely to find them when you're fostering connections and friendships.

Use technology to your advantage. Research effective ways to online date and learn how to best use the sites that you are on. Remember that no one was born knowing how to meet people by using online dating sites.

3. Dating behaviors have changed a great deal over the years, so forgive mistakes and misunderstandings. Some people have never dated. They met their exes through friends, work or school and got together in a less formal way.

4. Attraction is simply an opportunity to get to know someone better. It is not a sign that the person to whom you're attracted is "The One."

5. You can't tell how things will turn out after just one date. If you think you can, you are telling yourself a story. Continue dating several people until you find someone simpatico who is equally excited about the prospect of forging a relationship. Take time get to know the person who most interests you, as well as several others before committing to one person. Before you agree to be a couple, don't waste your time by committing to someone who only sees you as one of several options.

6. Courtship requires different skills than growing and maintaining a relationship. Don't assume that someone who is a great date will also be a great mate.

7. Dating isn't efficient. It's about getting to know people and discovering whether you care for each other and if your values, goals and personalities are in alignment. You can't tell if someone is right for the long haul until you've known each other for an extended period of time.

8. Everyone has baggage. It's your job to be accountable for yours. Wait until you've gone out several times before gradually revealing personal details about your life and relationships.

Don't allow your date's baggage to become your problem. You're seeking a potential partner, not a therapy project.

9. Many people date because they are seeking a relationship, but part of dating is discovering if the person you're seeing wants one with you.

10. Some people are dating because they are seeking no-strings-attached companionship. They only want a play-pal or a friend-with-benefits. Most will casually mention it as you're getting acquainted. If you continue to see them after they've told you they aren't interested in a real relationship, they will assume that you are also looking for something casual.

It helps if you see your return to dating as an adventure. You don't know whom you'll meet, but if you adjust and embrace your new situation, it's sure to be entertaining and ultimately rewarding.

If you're interested in jump-starting your dating life, check out my online Making Sense of Dating Group, starting on June 24. Click here for details

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Apr
12

Master the Art of Flirting if you want to Meet Someone Special

Flirting At WorkYou may have had the deflating experience of encountering an attractive stranger, but having been too tongue-tied to talk, let alone flirt with him or her. You may have stewed about what you should have done or said. Perhaps you perused the "Missed Connections" ads in the hope that the other person was similarly intrigued.

If you feel awkward, shy or just plain terrified when you get the opportunity to connect with an attractive stranger, gather up some courage and resolve to improve your flirting skills. It doesn't matter how many wonderful, eligible people are nearby if you can't connect via a lighthearted, fun conversation.

Flirting is about creating rapport with others by acting confident, upbeat and interested. It involves briefly, playfully connecting with someone with the intention of getting to know that person a tiny bit better. Flirting works best if your only goal is to introduce yourself in a positive and light-handed way and see what happens next.

If you're a woman, it's OK to initiate a flirty conversation. Most men are flattered and intrigued when a woman says hello. You'll probably make his day!

If you're like most people, you'll need to muster some courage before flirting, because you can't know what will happen next. You may need to overcome your fear of negative consequences so that you can believe in the possibility of making a great connection and feel comfortable no matter what happens.

One of the best ways to allay these fears is to practice light flirting with almost everyone you encounter. Make a little eye contact, smile and say hello. The more practice you get, the easier it will be. As you become more at ease, your increased confidence will boost your chances of success when you run into someone you really want to get to know.

It's far easier to flirt if you know how to confidently respond to the possibly awkward consequences of approaching someone in a flirtatious manner.

Worrying that you might flirt with an undesirable person or send the wrong message is a great way to rationalize your never meeting anyone worthwhile. You just need to learn how to gracefully leave a coquettish conversation.

Give yourself permission to go at any time. Don't make the mistake of believing that you need to stay until the other person is ready to stop talking. Simply say something like, "It's been nice chatting. I have to go now." Then, say goodbye or wish them a nice day and go on your way.

If you discover that you're flirting with someone who is in a relationship, smile, say something positive, for example "That's great!" and ask how they met. If a significant other shows up mid-conversation, he or she is unlikely to feel discomfort when you're enjoying the story of their first encounter. Tell them they look great together as you exit.

Accept that some people will ignore your attempts at flirtation. Even the hottest among us don't succeed every time. It doesn't mean that you're a failure, unattractive or unworthy. It just means that others aren't responding for reasons that are unknown to you.

Once you've made it through light flirting and said hello, start chatting by introducing yourself by your first name and asking how the other person's day is going. Keep smiling and follow up with a compliment, question or comment.

  • Compliment what he or she is wearing, carrying or driving and ask a question about it. You're better off if you admire the person's taste rather than their looks. For example, "I love your scarf! The color is really flattering. Where did you get it?"
  • Ask for directions, what they think of something nearby or about a comment that you overheard. For example, if you're within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge you could ask, "I'm looking for a great place to get a good photo of the bridge. Where do you think I could get a great shot?"
  • Make a comment about something and ask what they think. For example, when you're in line at a café you might say, "These sandwiches all look delicious. I usually have the chicken, but today I want to try something different. What do you recommend?"

If you want to find love the most important thing that you can do is to open yourself to more possibilities. Your flair for flirting is what matters most when you have the opportunity to meet single men or women.

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Mar
26

Why a Woman Gives a Guy Her Number but Never Answers his Calls

Waiting For Her CallDear Annie, I called Kay the day after we met at a singles event. I left a friendly message, which included my number and said that I was looking forward to hearing from her. She never returned my call.

I don't know if I should call again. Sometimes a woman is so busy that she can forget to call. Other times it means that she doesn't want to talk to me.

This isn't the first time that this has happened. Why would a woman give me her number unless she wants to get to know me better? It is not fair for a woman to inconvenience a man just because she doesn't have the courage to say she isn't interested. I put myself on the line to ask for her number. She should be courteous enough to give me an honest answer.

I, like most men who have anything on the ball, would prefer to move on and pursue someone else if a particular woman isn't interested. Dave

Misunderstandings often arise around exchanging contact information. Men ask women for numbers. Some move forward and call promptly. Others don't. Some women are thrilled when a particular man asks for their info. Others give out their number and later wish they hadn't. Some give men a phony number and others wait for the call that never comes.

Some women don't know how to graciously say no when a man asks for her number. Many have had the unpleasant, intimidating experience of being pressured to share contact information after declining to do so. So, a woman who fears a potential confrontation might give you her number to just to avoid unpleasantness.

Women tend to take more time than men to make up their minds about whether they want to follow up with someone. A woman may feel that she has to decide whether a man is good relationship material before moving forward. In that case, she might give out her number so that her indecision won't cost her the opportunity to move forward in the future.

While there are several reasons why a woman who is ambivalent or uninterested might give you her number, they are not good excuses for her not returning your call and letting you know that she's not available.

Here are some ways that men and women can better understand each other when it comes to the tricky question of how to handle sharing and following up on contact information.

Women:

  • Learn to politely decline a man's request for your number. You could say, "Thanks for asking, but I'm not available." Then, smile and walk away.
  • If you're not sure whether you want to get to know him better, share your email address or ask him for his card or contact info.
  • If a man doesn't honor how you wish to share your information, it's a red flag as it is likely to reflect the likelihood of him not being able to respect your needs in the future.
  • Remember that a man asks you for your number because he's interested in getting to know you better. That's all. You don't need to say yes to an offer of a date. You don't need to touch him, kiss him or sleep with him. You don't need to know if he's "The One." If you hear from him, take the opportunity to become better acquainted.
  • Getting-to-know-you phone calls are a lot easier if you keep them short: 15 to 20 minutes is long enough to have a friendly chat and potentially arrange a date.

Men:

  • If a woman responds to your request for a number by asking for your information without sharing hers, tell her that you'd love to hear from her, but that you'll understand whatever she decides to do.
  • Ask whether she prefers to be contacted by text, phone call or email. Many women get frustrated when their preferred method of communication isn't used, but are reluctant to tell a guy which is the best for her.
  • If she doesn't return your first call, leave a message saying that you'll contact her the next day if you haven't heard from her. 
  • If she doesn't return your second call, leave a similar message saying that you'll get back to her later in the week.
  • If you don't get a response after a few days, call her for a third and final time. Let her know you won't be calling again in a clear and friendly way. "Hi Kay, this is Dave again. I really enjoyed our conversation the other night, which is why I've been trying to reach you. But this is the last time that I'll call unless I hear from you. Otherwise, I'll assume that you're sending me the message that you're not interested in our getting to know each other. In either case, I hope you're having a great week."

Following up after you've met someone new can make even the most experienced dater feel unsure and vulnerable, but it's the only way to begin to discover if the person who intrigues you might be a good match. The best way to do so is to act in a kind, respectful and gently honest manner.

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Mar
12

How to Thank Your Date when You're not Sure What's Next

Email RejectionDear Annie, What do men think when they get a thank you note after a date? I enjoyed a pleasant first date with Jason from OK Cupid. He said nothing about seeing each other again, which was fine with me. I would have said yes if he asked me for a second date, but was comfortable with it going either way.

In the spirit of being polite and courteous, I sent him an email thanking him for meeting me. I did not mention anything about the possibility of a future date. He replied that he hadn't felt a romantic connection and wished me well.

I'm highly annoyed that my thank you note was misconstrued as an overture. I don't need a man to inform me that he isn't interested. I find it much more palatable if a guy just says, "Nice to meet you as well," and then doesn't initiate any further contact.

Would it have been better if I didn't send a thank you note, especially if men misinterpret them as a subtle message about wanting another date: which is not my intention? Karen

This is the thing about online dating: You don't know how you or the other person is going to feel or react after you have met in person.

It's easy when you are in sync with each others' feelings and approach to dating. Perhaps both of you are so attracted to each other that your next date is immediately agreed upon before you part ways. Or, it could be obvious that there is no mutual appeal, so nothing transpires after your initial meeting.

Most of the time, it's more awkward. You're out with a stranger whose assumptions and intentions are unclear to you. Each of you likely operates under entirely different dating tactics, unspoken rules and expectations.

To top it off, most people are uncomfortable about rejection, whether they are struggling through the discomfort at the thought of hurting someone's feelings, or the pain of being brushed off. There is no correct protocol that satisfies everyone, yet many women have strongly held, often contradictory, beliefs about how a man should let them down after a first or second date that was going nowhere.

Some women want to know where things are going after just one or two dates. Perhaps they decide that they really like a guy and want to move forward. They may reach out via phone calls, texts or notes and are likely to feel frustrated and angry if they haven't heard from him.

Others, like you, are more comfortable assuming that a man who is interested will follow up and that others will drop by the wayside without saying a word. But, after just one date, a guy has no way of knowing what kind of communication is best for you.

Jason, like most guys, was probably completely in the dark about the best way to let you know that he wasn't interested. If he's like most men who have been dating for even a short while, a woman has most likely contacted him after he decided not to move forward after a date, and asked him questions like, "What happened? How come you didn't tell me...?" She may have said that she thought "We had an amazing connection," or "Why didn't it work out between us?"

I've even had some comments on blogs from other coaches who say that it's imperative that a man verbally communicate his intentions to move forward--or not--after a first date. 

Many guys don't know how to interpret a post-date thank you email because women send them for different reasons. Some are angling to get another date, while others are sending a sincere thank you. But don't let that stop you from sending them, as lots of men believe that not receiving a message of thanks after a date means that a woman is rude or thoughtless.

Jason probably decided to err on the side of full disclosure. His response to your thank you note was probably intended as a sincere, kind way to spare you the pain of not knowing where things were headed. He didn't do anything wrong, he just guessed that you might be a women who wanted an answer.

I'm all for writing a quick thank you note for what a date has provided, especially if he has gone out of his way by meeting you in your neighborhood or paying for a drink, meal or treat. After all, it's better to deal with the temporary annoying sting of a guy telling you what you already know, which may be that he's not interested, than to have him shut off further possibilities because he believes that you are rude. It's better to walk away with dignity.

Aside from enthusiastically thanking your date in person, there is no one right way to deal with the situation you're talking about. I suggest that you accept that the different ways that men handle receiving thank you notes is just part of the dating process. Have compassion for the guys who have to shoot blindly while guessing what works best for each woman they meet.

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Feb
26

How Your Dating Must-Haves Could Be Undermining Your Happiness

Dating ChecklistDear Annie, What do I need to do in order to meet a high-quality man? I've been on more than a hundred first dates in the last couple of years and haven't met one man who is a good match. I'm very attractive at 48, and look much younger than my age.

I try to give men who are interested in me a chance, but I've yet to feel chemistry with them. On the rare occasion that I meet someone to whom I'm attracted, he disappears and I never hear from him again.

I took a good look at my failed relationships so that I'm aware of what didn't work in the past. I have made a list of all of the essential qualities that I require in my next mate. The next time I fall in love, I think that I deserve to be in a relationship with a man who will meet my needs.

When I tell my friends how difficult it is to meet the right kind of guy, they say that I'm too picky, but I'm the one who has to live with my choices. Louise

Knowing what you're looking for in a relationship is important. However, there are some things that are better left to serendipity.

Love and partnership is about having a heart-to-heart connection with someone simpatico who shares your values and long-term goals. A good relationship includes things like quality time, commitment and sharing. But other things on your must-have list are not essential for a rewarding, loving relationship. 

For example, many women in urban areas will only consider becoming involved with a professional man with a college degree who makes around $100,000 a year, is over six-feet tall and loves to travel.

On the surface, this doesn't sound too unreasonable, but realistically you are shrinking your dating pool to a point where you're using superficial criteria to rule out a huge number of men who are potentially great partners.

Would you want to miss out on experiencing the love of your life because he's a retail business owner, a working actor or a teacher? Or because he makes around $50,000 annually, but has other assets that make for a financially comfortable life?

According to this recent article in the Huffington Post, less than 27 percent of Americans earn more than 50K annually. Only nine percent of Americans earn over $100k a year.

You, like the majority of women in the US, are looking for a man who is over six feet tall. But only about fourteen percent of men meet that requirement. Needless to say, those men can afford to be choosier because they have many more opportunities for romance than a guy who is shorter.

Since the average height of a man in the US is 5'9", you are severely limiting your dating pool before you start taking critically important things like character, compatibility and common relationship goals into account.

If you're only comfortable dating someone taller, you'll vastly increase your odds of meeting the right guy if you go for a man who is at least couple of inches taller than you.

If you believe that not having a college degree means that a guy is less intelligent, ambitious and able to see things throught than those with baccalaureates, you're mistaken.

Would you pass up an opportunity to connect with someone like Steve Jobs, Richard Branson or Steve Martin? This long list of famous and/or wealthy college dropouts includes actors, kings of industry (many of whom are billionaires) and technology, and other men of all professional stripes.

There are many ambitious, intelligent, successful men who don't have college degrees who are looking for love. Some are duds—just like some who hold degrees. Ruling out men who don't have degrees is a great way to needlessly lessen your chances for finding love.

The most important things on your list are those that reflect his personality and his character. Pay attention to how he treats you, whether you're together or apart. Is he attentive, thoughtful and respectful? Do you enjoy each other's company? Is he honest and generous in his dealings with the world at large?

Your list will be most useful to you if you prioritize it by sorting it into qualities that you absolutely must have and those that would be nice, but that aren't necessary to sustain a loving, long-term relationship.

 

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Feb
18

6 Ways to Get Over a Breakup

Begging Her To ReconsiderDear Annie, Sylvia broke up with me after we dated for three months because I was moving forward too quickly. I didn't handle it well.

I still have strong feelings for her, but she ignores my texts, emails and calls. What can I do to win her back? Sam

The ball is in her court. You've communicated that you want to get back together and she has chosen not to respond. It may sound counterintuitive, bur your best bet is to respect Sylvia's wishes to be apart.

You can send her one final email saying that, although you wish things were different, this will be the last time you'll be in touch. Ask her to contact you if she changes her mind in the future. Refrain from asking her to take you back. Just wish her the best.

After that, begin to move forward with your life, confident in the knowledge that she will get in touch if she changes her mind. Be gentle with yourself. Your new challenge is to move past your heartbreak.

Give yourself permission to grieve for a while. This is also a good time to assess what you have to offer, what you realistically would like to do differently and what you need from your next relationship.

You don't need to take full responsibility for your breakup. Look at dating as a test drive, the object of which is to discover if the two of you are compatible. If you had been a good match, your ex would have been happy with your forward momentum.

It may alleviate part of your sense of failure if you realize that most dating relationships don't last. The most common time for a break up is after the first date. After that it's the third date. Of the remaining relationships, many don't last past three months. Six months, nine months and one year are also times that couples are at higher risk for breakups.

If you see these times as opportunities to discover whether you and the person you're dating are on the same page, it will help you to understand that you're not solely to blame for your relationship's demise.

You will recover more quickly if you realize that you're the only one who can bring closure to your past. The first, painful but necessary step, is to remove all traces of your ex from your life.

  1. Rearrange your home so that you're not reminded of your ex every time you walk in the door. Reposition your furniture. Add decorative touches, such as colorful throws or pillows. Update your bedroom as quickly as possible, and replace sheets, bedding and any décor that reminds you of your ex.
  2. Eradicate all evidence of your relationship. Erase your ex's number from your phone. Delete electronic information, photos and emails. Discard gifts, cards and mementos. If you can't bear to let go of these things forever, burn electronic data onto a DVD, box it up with other gifts and mementos and ask a good friend to store it for you. Extract a promise that you won't be allowed to retrieve the box for at least two years.
  3. Don't exacerbate your pain by continuing to be connected over social media. Un-friend her! Watching an ex go on with her life can be a painful reminder of what you once had together.
  4. Get your endorphins pumping by exercising regularly. Take a physical activity class, such as Tai Kwon Do, ballroom dancing or golf. Steer clear of junk food. Not only will healthy habits help you to feel better, you're likely to be happier with your body.
  5. Update your wardrobe so that you aren't reminded of her every time you get dressed. You'll feel more confident if you look good when you leave the house.
  6. Reconnect with friends. Invite them to share activities with you, whether it's watching or participating in sports, going to a movie or just hanging out. Remember to refrain from talking about your ex.

Recovering from a breakup is likely to be easier if you take time to experience your feelings, create closure and move forward in your life. Whether your ex returns or you find someone new, you'll be better able to be fully present when the next opportunity for love comes along.

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Feb
12

How to Write an Online Profile to Attract the Right One

Writing Online ProfileDear Annie, I decided to revamp my online dating profile because it attracts too many losers. What should I do in order to make it appeal to the right kind of people? I've thought of modeling it on other profiles, but I don't know how to tell which ones are successful. Lynn

An online dating profile is just an advertisement that is designed to inspire others to explore the possibility of meeting you in person. Your profile should include good photos and upbeat, true-to-life descriptions.

When you write your profile, talk about the things that make you unique. Rather than using generic adjectives, describe yourself in one or two sentence stories. This shows that you're confident and authentic. Don't worry about people not liking what you write. Your job is to appeal to the kind of person who is likely to be a good match.

Your profile should include the kind of topics you'd share at a casual gathering. A good profile will give readers enough information so that it's easy to start a conversation by sending an email with questions and comments.

Your profile will be even more successful if you use these tips:

Do:

  • Use words that express feelings when you describe yourself: Don't list your interests; for example, "I like sailing, Salsa dancing and trying new restaurants." Instead, use sentences like these to give readers a sense of your personality: "I love the feeling of the wind, water and sun when I'm sailing," or "I adore moving to the rhythm of Salsa music, " or "I delight in discovering unusual flavor combinations when I try new restaurants."
  • Write from a positive point of view: Talk about what is working in your life. People are attracted to others who can make them feel good. Wait until after you meet, but before you become involved, to discuss any challenges that you're experiencing.
  • Express your sense of humor: If you can make someone laugh, they are more likely to reach out to you. Don't worry that you won't be funny, as everyone expresses humor differently.
  • Describe the kind of relationship you're looking for in one or two sentences: Do you want a friendship that might lead to romance sometime in the future? Are you interested in marriage and children or a long-term relationship? Mention it in your profile, but don't get too far into the details.
  • Answer all of the dating site's questions: You never know what will inspire someone to email you.

Don't:

  • Daydream about your perfect relationship on your profile: No one can tell what a relationship with someone who they haven't met might be like. If your profile is only about the kind of relationship you want, it's impossible to comment on it in an email without sounding awkward. Who wants to write an email to a stranger that says, "Like you, I want a relationship with clear communication, lots of love and appreciation. How about meeting for coffee?"
  • Use adjectives: For example, everyone's definition of "independent" is different. Do you mean financially independent? If you're talking about independence in the context of a relationship, are you saying that you like to have time to do some things separately or that you live separate lives and see each other for a few days each week or month? Or do you define it as something else? Be clear about what you mean by describing it in a sentence or two.
  • Use these tired, frequently found phrases: Loves to laugh, lives life to the fullest, equally at ease in jeans or tux/cocktail dress, work hard and play harder, partner in crime, or any phrase that includes the word "drama."
  • Write about what you don't want: This often turns off the kind of people you're looking for. It's also not effective. Writing the phrase, "No alcoholics or drug addicts," is not going to stop them from contacting you. It's up to you to check out everyone you date as you get to know each other.
  • Post a profile without current photos: Like it or not, online dating is a visual medium. Post photos that feature you at your best. Don't try to attract people by posting old photos or ones that don't represent your body type and age.

A profile that uses feeling words to describe who you are in a fun, friendly, conversational way is bound to attract more compatible users. But, don't worry if your profile attracts some of the wrong people. You can't control who responds to you. Simply ignore, delete and block those users.

If you want professional help creating a profile, click here for more info.

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Feb
02

What to do When He Won’t Commit

WomanPursuingUnavailableManDear Annie, How do you change a man who is commitment-phobic? I'm in love with Jason, who embodies everything I've ever wanted. We've been together for almost three months. We have fabulous chemistry and a magical connection. Each date is like a fantasy come true. I think that he is "The One," except for one thing. He says that he doesn't want a serious commitment. How can I show him that I'm a great catch without scaring him away? Patricia

If you've been dating for over two months, Jason is aware of what kind of a catch you are. But even though he knows you fairly well, he has told you that he's not interested in a sincere commitment. So he's being honest with you, and you should take him seriously.

He is probably aware that you are committed to him, even though he's not interested in reciprocating. He most likely feels that he is being ethical because he's communicating his truth without any disclaimers, and that what you do with that information is up to you.

Jason's actions and words about commitment are all you need to know about what to expect from him. He feels no need to move your relationship forward. After all, he can avail himself of your company whenever he wants to see you. He gets the benefit of your doing your best to please him.

Any efforts you make to in order for him to change his mind are extremely unlikely to be effective. After all, you want to be with him because of the way that you feel rather than the way you think. If you want your relationship to move forward, he needs to feel inspired to reciprocate your feelings. Showing him that you're a great girlfriend is not a good strategy to make him want to commit to you.

It's likely that Jason has a good reason for not wanting to be in a seriously committed relationship. He may not feel ready to settle down with one woman. It's possible that there are things that are important for him to accomplish before he's willing to provide the attention and care that he believes are important to nourish his vision of a strong relationship. Or he may like you a lot, but for some reason feel that you're not a potential long-term partner.

It's highly unlikely that he will reconsider if you continue with your current arrangement. As perfect as Jason seems, if he's not interested in a committed relationship, he's not going to make you happy in the long run.

Your best chance of motivating a change in Jason's feelings is to show him that you're a strong woman who isn't willing to compromise by waiting around and hoping that a long-shot dream comes true. Tell him that you are sorry that he's not ready for the type of relationship that would ultimately make you happy. Let him know how you feel around him, and your regret that your affair must end.

Walk away. Disconnect completely. Use as much willpower as you can muster and resist the temptation to contact him. There is a good chance that you won't hear from him, which means you made the right decision because he was probably sure that a break up was inevitable. Although he enjoyed your company, it was only a matter of time.

If he gets in touch with you, tell him that you are moving on with your life and that going back to the way things were will just hold you back. Do whatever it takes to refocus your attention towards a different future.

If he persists, say that you're not willing to compromise your standards; you want a commitment with the goal of it leading towards a long-term relationship. Before you get involved again, test his intentions by starting as friends and casually dating each other over several weeks before becoming emotionally and physically intimate. 

Like the vast majority of men who say that they don't want a commitment, Jason is sending you an unwavering message. As long as you're willing to continue doing your best for him in the hopes that he will commit, things won't change. Your best bet is to walk away and get involved with someone who really wants to be in a committed relationship with you.

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Jan
22

How to Meet Someone Special on the Street

Pretty woman waits for busDear Annie, I've been exchanging smiles and hellos with an attractive young woman, who I usually see jogging past my bus stop on my daily workout.

I would love to get to know her, but I'm not sure how to arrange it. I think that she lives a couple of blocks from me, but I don't even know her name, let alone her address or phone number.

I wish she could see me in dress clothes instead of my morning jogging clothes. How can I "coincidentally" bump into her without seeming too obvious? What would be the best strategy with which to approach her? Claude

Any time you introduce yourself to someone new, you are simply exploring possibilities. You can't possibly predict what the outcome will be. Because so much about a stranger is unknown, your best bet is to proceed as a if you are a detective who makes use of clues and signals to guide you as you move forward.

You say she's an "attractive young woman," so I'm going to assume that she's significantly younger than you. If that's the case, she might feel comfortable smiling and returning your hellos because she perceives you as a friendly older—read fatherly—guy.

Don't assume that a woman is interested in you just because she smiles and exchanges hellos with you. She may simply be a happy person who is friendly with everyone around her. On the other hand, she might be thrilled to finally have a chance to meet you. It's up to you to discover if she might be open to your advances.

All you need to do is temporarily alter your morning routine. Dress in business clothes and wait for the bus at the same time that you usually see her. Plan to ride the bus for a few minutes, disembark and return to the original stop.

Since you're already familiar with each other, it shouldn't be too much of a stretch to go from smiles and hellos to introductions. You'll appear more confident if you smile and don't shy away from eye contact with her.

Check to see if she's wearing a wedding band or engagement ring on her left hand while you're introducing yourself. Ask her how her day is going. Listen carefully to her answer, as you may learn everything you need to know from her reply.

If she mentions a husband or boyfriend, continue the conversation with small talk about your neighborhood, the weather or the reliability of bus schedules, for example. If she talks about her kids, ask a benign question about her husband, perhaps about how long she and her husband have lived in the neighborhood. You'll quickly find out if she's single and possibly available.

You can tell her why your morning routine is different that day. Mention that, although you routinely jog by, you happen to be waiting for the bus because of an unusually timed important meeting. She doesn't need to know that the object of your meeting is to make her acquaintance.

Take it slowly. Women tend to need time to warm up to a man they have just met. If you have a light and playful attitude, she'll be more likely to relax and enjoy your company.

If she seems to be single, available and engaged in conversing with you, ask her where she likes to hang out nearby. Tell her about one of your favorite neighborhood spots or activities. If she seems interested, offer to accompany her there in the near future. If she appears ambivalent, you can hand her one of your cards and tell her you'd like to stay in touch.

Whether she wants to get to know you better or prefers to move on, you'll both save face if you end your conversation on a polite and dignified note by telling her that you're delighted to have met her.

You'll greatly increase your opportunities to find love if you plan to meet women with the goal of simply exploring whether there is a possible point of connection between you two. If you're like most people, you'll be more confident and appealing if you don't have the pressure of feeling as if you failed if you don't achieve the result for which you were hoping.

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Jan
16

The Art of Rating Possible Red Flags

She Might Be Too PickyDear Annie, It seems like everyone I meet online has some sort of red flag. My friends think I'm being too picky. However I would like your opinion.

Should I avoid a fifty-plus-year-old man whose profile features his recent pictures at Burning Man?

What do you think of a man who lives forty miles away, but does not offer to go out with me closer to my home for our first meeting?

What kind of man would spend the first fifteen minutes going through a verbal resume on a first date?

What if a man gets so physically affectionate that he's behaving as if you've been dating for a long time when you're on a first or second date?

What do you think about a man who talks about dating a super-hot woman who had a "smoking hot body," before mentioning that he lost interest immediately after she said that she didn't care much for kids? Laura

It's wise to have different standards when you're meeting men online than you will after you meet them in person. As anyone who has met people through online dating knows, someone can seem very different in a dating profile than they do in real life.

The wonderful thing about online dating is that it provides opportunities to meet people you would otherwise never encounter in your regular life. Even if you exchange lots of emails, texts or phone calls, you can't really tell if you'd like someone enough to become better acquainted until you meet in person, which I recommend you do as quickly as possible.

When you're on an online dating site, your primary intent should be to connect with men you might like should you be able to meet in-person. I suggest that you cast as wide a net as possible so that you have the opportunity to meet as many men as you can.

Not all men are great profile writers, and many online photos aren't the best, so I suggest that you be open to meeting men who move things forward and are reasonably interesting, friendly and respectful. The main red flag to watch for is someone whose online presence is fraudulent

Once you start planning to meet in person and going on dates, you'll get a much better sense of how a man thinks and behaves. This is the point that you can get more discerning as you begin to discover how he treats you and whether you enjoy each others' energy and personalities.

While you're online, be open to communicating with the guy who posted photos of himself at Burning Man. After all, if you met him at a party, you might not know about that part of his life, so it wouldn't influence whether or not you found him interesting. Unless you would break up with someone who you really like because of his participation in an activity, don't rule it out when you're dating online.

While you're planning a first date, pay attention to whether he's courteous, considerate and flexible. For example, the guy who lives forty miles away and is not willing to meet you on your own territory is sending you a message that he is not willing to date or meet you unless it's on his terms. He's doing you a favor by showing you how he operates. Tell him you're not interested unless you want to date someone who won't take your needs into consideration.

When you're on a first date, give the a guy a break. Unless he's had a lot of practice, meaning he's gone one lots of dates, he's likely to feel awkward and nervous. Be open to seeing most guys a second time, as it's much easier for most men to relax and be themselves on a second or third date.

Some men try to cover up their shyness by talking a lot. If a guy is very attracted to you, he's going to do whatever it takes to impress you. The man who did nothing but talk about his resume for the first fifteen minutes of your date was probably hoping that you would admire his credentials.

If you told the man who was touching you too much that it made you feel uncomfortable, and he persisted, that's a red flag. Ditto for the guy who was talking about the "smoking hot body." Most men are aware that it's inappropriate to discuss their physical attraction to another woman while they are on a date.

When a man doesn't change behavior and that causes you to feel uneasy, it's a sign of disrespect, which is a characteristic that has no place in a healthy relationship.

When you're dating in-person, it makes sense to watch for behaviors that could signal red flags. But, when you're looking for people to meet online, look for opportunities to meet men who might make great mates, whether or not they have online dating savvy.

You can read my article about how to spot a fraudulent email here.

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Jan
01

5 Ways to Date Smarter in 2015

Dreaming of LoveDear Annie, I'm fed up with dating. I don't seem to have much trouble attracting men—but I can't find a good one. Unfortunately, I end up dating one loser after another.

I really want to get off the dating merry-go-round and find someone to marry. Would you have any suggestions? Sandie

Dating tends to be more relaxed and successful when both of you take some time to get to know each other before getting involved.

If you're like most people, you will decide whether someone is a potential partner after having gone out only once or twice. When you make that kind of a decision so quickly, you're committed to a tenuous relationship because neither of you have had the opportunity to discover the other person in a natural, low-pressure way.

Most first dates are fraught with anxiety because each person is trying to impress the other. You're likely to get a much better chance to become acquainted on second and third dates because both of you are likely to be more relaxed with each other by then.

You don't know what you're getting into when you become involved someone shortly after you've met. Deciding that someone is a romantic possibility after one meeting can lead you on a dating roller coaster that is built solely on instant chemistry.

I don't have anything against chemistry. It's an important component of a long-term relationship, and women often feel it after they have gotten to know a guy for w while. But many other things predict future compatibility; for example, how you treat each other, how you resolve differences and whether your relationship goals are aligned.

You can't tell if a man might be right for you if all you know about him is that you're physically attracted. Strong chemistry tends to trigger excitement, fantasies and projection that most likely has nothing to do with who he is. This causes you to feel that the man you're falling for has all the attributes of your ideal man.

On a broader perspective, your tried-and-true dating patterns have not been working. As Einstein purportedly said, "The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results." So, if you want to find love, resolve to use the following tips to start dating differently in 2015.

1 - Treat first and second dates as opportunities to get to know men rather than as possible romantic encounters. Don't assess his relationship potential when you get home. Instead, ask yourself if you enjoyed the date enough to meet again. If you're "not feeling it" after six or seven dates, agree to part as friends. It's best to refrain from deciding whether someone is a romantic possibility until you've really gotten to know him.

2 - Start dating people who are not your "type." If you've been unsuccessfully dating men who are your "type," accept the fact that it's not a working as a way to determine if a man is a candidate for a good relationship. Be open to possibilities and date guys who are different than those you've gone out with in the past. You don't have to go on a second date with someone who bores you to death.

3 - Modify your list of requirements. (Most people tend to ignore their lists when they meet someone who makes them feel romantic.) The ideal man does not exist. The most important thing is how a man makes you feel, not how tall he is or how much money he makes. Is he kind, honorable and trustworthy? Does he make you feel safe, valued and respected? Do you have similar goals?

4 – Be easy on yourself and your date. Accept the fact most mistakes and misunderstandings don't result from malice, but from good intentions and communications gone wrong. They're bound to happen in any relationship. The important thing is how you handle them.

5 – Walk away from those who don't treat you well. If he tells you that he's not ready for a serious commitment, don't stick around hoping that things will change. If you can't count on him to show up when he says he will, or if he only calls to make a date with you later the same night, things are not likely to improve. Leave the relationship with kindness and an intact sense of self-respect.

You're much more likely to find love if you stay focused in the present––keep your ideal man out of it––and get to know each other as people before becoming emotionally involved.

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Dec
12

How to Choose the Perfect Gift for the Person You're Dating

Holiday Gift Dating CoupleDear Annie, How can I choose a great gift for the woman I'm dating without getting in trouble? The last time I dated someone special, we'd been together for about six months before the holidays. I spent a lot of time and effort planning and shopping for her. I gave her a designer outfit, accessories and a couple of matching cashmere sweaters.

The next time I saw her, she gave everything back to me and broke up with me. She told me that my extravagant gifts indicated that I was too invested in our relationship and that she didn't want to lead me on. I told her that I didn't expect her to reciprocate and that I love buying clothes for the women in my life—even my mom––but there was no getting back together with her.

I really enjoy giving girlfriends thoughtful gifts. I've been dating Vivian for a few months. I really like her and the holidays are quickly approaching. I'm not sure what to get her. I don't want to blow it by giving her something too extravagant, but I don't want to look cheap, either. What should I do? Jerry

Managing gift giving while you're dating is fraught with possible landmines, especially early on. There are no hard and fast rules. However, it's important to match your gift-giving style to her personality and taste, along with the commitment level and duration of your relationship.

Giving an extravagant present too early in a relationship may seem like too much too soon. It may cause her to feel beholden to you. She might question whether you spend your money wisely. Or she could wonder whether you are insecure, needy or have ulterior motives. It also puts you at risk for being valued more for your money than for anything else.

Save extravagant gifts until you've been a solid couple for at least the better part of a year. This means that you've been talking about a possible future together, you've met each other's families and friends and that you're spending most of your free time together.

Women often express their personality through their choice of clothing. Before you give her something to wear, pay close attention to her sense of style and color. If you give her something that she wouldn't choose for herself, she may feel that your gift of clothing is a criticism of her taste. Also, the size of women's clothing tends to vary by manufacturer; an otherwise identical item could be labeled a size four by one brand and size ten by another. If you want to give her clothing, start with a great accessory that enhances what she already has in her wardrobe. 

You're not likely to get in trouble if you follow the guidelines listed below:

  • If you've been dating someone for a short time, and you're not sure whether you're exchanging gifts: Have a wrapped gift ready in the event that your date brings one for you. At this point, you don't know if your relationship is going anywhere, so it's best to give something casual. Choose a delicious edible gift, such as a good bottle of wine, tasty cookies—even better if they are homemade––or other holiday treats.
  • If you've been dating regularly for three to six months without a long-term commitment: Provide a shared experience for your beau. Think concert tickets for a music aficionado, museum membership for an art lover, or a pair of Giants' tickets for a baseball fan. This is not the time to spruce up her wardrobe or replace her decrepit toaster with a sleek new one. Keep it fun and light.
  • If you've made it past six months, but your future is uncertain: Keep gifts on the lighter side. By now, you should know her well enough so that you know what she likes. Costume jewelry or accessories, electronic gadgets, or books that she's expressed interest in are great gifts that don't imply a deeper meaning.
  • If you've made it past six months and you're planning a likely future together: Take this opportunity to discuss how you plan to handle gift giving as a couple. Be honest, willing to talk about what is most important to you and prepared to reach a creative, win-win compromise with your partner if you don't agree. Don't get into a situation where one of you gets an iPad and the other receives a pair of socks!

Since you and Vivian have been dating for a while, introduce a conversation about gift-giving attitudes, traditions and budgets. It will be easier if you start by talking about how your family and friends handle gift giving and ask how her friends and boyfriends have handled this in past. That way you'll know that the gift you choose will be up to snuff.

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Nov
30

How to Spot a Fake Email when You're Online Dating

FraudHi Annie, I've exchanged a couple of short emails with Jerry, who I met online. I like his profile: he's attractive, successful and we share many interests. When I suggested that we talk on the phone, I was put off by his strange reply. I'm not sure what to make of it. What is your opinion? Carol

Note: The email that Carol sent, along with Jerry's profile, is too long to post in its entirety. The following includes some excerpts from typical emails that may be fraudulent.

It does not bode well if the person you're emailing ignores your request to connect via phone. While not everyone enjoys talking on the phone, someone who wants to meet you is likely to honor your request. Not doing so is an early indicator that he is not interested in meeting your needs.

While the vast majority of those who use online dating sites are sincerely looking for a romantic connection, you're wise to be alert to signs of misrepresentation. Being fooled by someone who is attractive, intriguing and interested in you is easier than most people think.

If you receive an email with at least two the following signs, there is a good chance that the writer may not have good intentions. Just remember that someone with honorable intentions also might make similar mistakes while writing an email—especially if he is using voice recognition software on a mobile device and is unable to use spelling and grammar check tool.

  • Unusual email salutation: While you've got to allow for differences in greetings, be on the lookout for something out of the ordinary. The writer of this email began with "Hello." After double spacing, he added another salutation, "Good Afternoon."
  • Inconsistent punctuation throughout: While a legitimate email writer may have occasional bouts of sloppy punctuation, fraudulent emails may be written by people with limited English who are using translation software.
  • Poor use of commonly used language: The writer said he was raised in Switzerland, probably hoping that this would excuse his poor word choices. However there were too many examples of bad grammar in this email. These are some examples: "hope you having fun," "it has been due to circumstances my control and I was busy doing some paper works," and "would love to read from you."
  • Fantastical stories: This email writer purported to be an oil and gas engineer who completed a four-year internship as an interior designer on the side. He had varying numbers of children throughout his email. Pay attention to your intuition if you feel that someone's story doesn't make sense,
  • Creating a fantasy future: The writer talks about what your romantic life would be like if you got together.
  • Being pursued by someone who is way out of your demographic: Many older men are fooled by emails from people posing as gorgeous women in their twenties.
  • An exceptionally long email telling the writer's history that are designed to elicit sympathy: These emails may reference heavy-duty topics such as childhood or the loss of one's parents—and that's just the beginning.
  • Using excuses to avoid talking on the phone or meeting in person: In this case, Carol had suggested talking on the phone. His email states, "I also think I express myself more writing than talking... I have messenger if you want to chat."
  • Photos: Dig a little further when someone contacts you who is far more attractive than others of a similar age. In some fraudulent emails, like Carol's, that featured multiple photos, it wasn't clear if the photos were of the same person. Fortunately, easy-to-use image searches make it simple to detect fraudulent shots. A Google Image Search (http://www.google.com/insidesearch/features/images/searchbyimage.html) of the photos included in the profile of this email took me to a site that listed them as having been used for fraud.

Online dating is a great way to connect with people you wouldn't ordinarily meet. The vast majority of those you meet are honorable people with fairly good intentions. So enjoy yourself, but check out the strangers you're meeting. In the end the best policy is to trust, but verify the information you receive.

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Oct
10

How to Remain Positive When Friends Criticize Dating

Midlife FriendsDear Annie, I'm fed up with my friend's negativity about dating. She frequently tells me that men want to date younger women and that they aren't interested in dating women my age.

Many people have told me that I do not look my age. I take care of myself and try to look my best.

How can I get her to see that people of all ages date? Life doesn't need to stop because I'm 53. Alice

If you're like most women, positive, supportive friends are great allies to have as you handle dating's inevitable ups and downs. A good friend can remind you of your strengths and desirability, along with serving as a reflective sounding board as you become acquainted with various possible romantic partners.

This kind of friend can also help you to roll with the punches, see your dates for who they are—rather than who you would like them to be—and can point things out as you sort through what is important to you.

On the other hand, interacting with someone who is negative and discouraging is likely to demoralize you every time you see each other. Someone who tells you that you aren't good enough—whether it's because you're "too old," "too heavy" or anything else—isn't really your friend.

When it comes to dating and love, most women can't tell you what a particular man is seeking.

Every man is interested in a different type of woman. Most people, no matter what shape they're in, want to date someone who is youthful, takes good care of his or herself, and is in good shape. Most want to be in a relationship where they can feel loved, appreciated and treated well.

Older men--especially those who lack substantial wealth--who want to date a much younger woman, often find it's difficult to find those who are interested in dating them, as they tend to look like their older relatives.

You can tell your friend that there is no expiration date on a woman's desirability to men. I know plenty of men and women who married in their fifties, sixties and seventies.

But, you've probably tried that and it hasn't worked.

Since you know that she's likely to get negative, simply avoid the topic of dating when you're with her. If she asks how your love life is going tell her it is fine. Then change the subject by asking her a question about her life.

If she persists, tell her that you will be sure to let her know when there is something important to share about your romantic life. In the meantime, the topic is off-limits because you want to put less of a focus on it when there is no one special in the picture.

Many of my clients have found that limiting discussions about their dating lives to one or two supportive friends helps them to stay grounded and focused on what is truly important for them. The result is that they make better decisions about their dates.

If you think about it, you probably shouldn't put too much weight on most people's opinions about your dating life. Trust your perceptions. After all, you are the one who is experiencing it. And, if you watch what a man does, most things are pretty obvious.

If a man likes you, he'll ask you out. He'll contact you in-between dates. He'll plan ahead so that he has the opportunity to spend time with you. He'll ask you to be in an exclusive relationship and to be his girlfriend after he's gotten to know you. He'll talk about the kind of relationship he wants.

Keeping a positive attitude as you're dating helps you to enjoy the process. It gives you the energy you need to be patient as you wait for things to naturally unfold.

In the meantime, spend time with friends who are supportive of your dating endeavors.

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Sep
20

Why a Man Would Drop Out of Sight After a Great First Date

He Isnt Who He Seemed to BeDear Annie, I just started dating after my twenty-five year marriage ended in divorce. Finally, after lots of dates, I met a man with whom I felt extraordinarily in sync and highly attracted. We had a fabulous first date.

Dan paid me lots of compliments. We engaged in major eye contact, flirted a lot and shared a wonderfully deep conversation. He insisted on paying for our expensive lunch, walked me to my car and gave me a kiss and complimented me about my soft lips. As we parted, he said, "We'll see where this goes."

I haven't heard from him since—and it's been a week. I'm confused, because I thought that we got along so well. Every sign pointed to a possible connection.

This left me doubting my ability to trust my perceptions—how could it have seemed so right, but worked out so unexpectedly?

I'm disappointed, but I'm keeping my spirits up. I have already gone on another date and continue to keep an active on-line presence on two dating websites.

It's tough out there! Alison

I think it's great that you are continuing to meet men online. However, you're likely to experience fewer disappointments if you make a couple of minor adjustments in your approach to a first date.

One of the most confusing things about online dating is that, no matter how much the two of you clicked online or on the phone, a first date is really just an introductory meeting with a stranger.

Rather than experiencing a first date as a possible romantic encounter, it's more realistic to look at it as a short, fun, introductory meeting.

From what I know of a male perspective, this is how he probably saw it:

  • He asked you out because he was attracted to you and wanted to get to know you better. He most likely didn't have an agenda that went further than that.
  • He wanted you to have a good time on the date, regardless of whether he felt there was a possibility of a future relationship. He gave you honest compliments. He had fun flirting with you and engaging in conversation.
  • He bought you an expensive lunch because that is what he likes to provide for a woman on a date.
  • Many men share deep stuff on a first date because they have learned that women like to do so. It's unlikely that he saw it as a sign that you were becoming involved in a budding relationship.
  • He kissed you because he wanted to. He may have not meant to signal that he wanted to see you again.
  • He may have known at some point during the date that he wasn't interested in taking things any further, but he wanted you to enjoy yourself anyway. It's likely that the idea of directly rejecting you in-person made him feel uncomfortable. His ambiguous "We'll see where this goes" good-bye may have been his way of saying that he didn't want to lead you on
  • He didn't call you later because it never became a priority for him.

The most common time for a dating "relationship" to end is after the first date, so I suggest that you always view them as introductory meetings with unknown consequences.

You can tell if a man is really interested by how he behaves after your date. If he calls or make plans to see you again within a few days of your first date, he's interested. If he doesn't, he's not.

I suggest that you save deep conversations until after the third or fourth date, when you have a sense of whether your relationship is progressing or not.

The only way you can really know if a date will turn into a relationship is if your date starts showing up in your life on a regular basis, over time. His actions will tell you if he is really interested.

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Sep
04

The Art of Meeting More Men or Women at Singles Events

Singles PartyDear Annie, I'm recently divorced and am thinking about attending a singles mixer. But I'm really nervous and I am not sure what to wear. I am also worried that I'll feel awkward, that I won't find anyone interesting and that I'll get stuck talking to a loser. Leslie

Singles mixers and dances are great places to meet available men and women. While the thought of walking into a room full of strangers might feel intimidating, you're bound to feel more confident if you have a solid strategy to guide you through the situation.

Increase your confidence by looking your best

  • Arrive freshly showered, well groomed and dressed to impress in well-fitting clothes that lightly skim—not hug––your body.
  • Dress appropriately for the occasion.
  • Wear an interesting piece of jewelry, tie or colorful scarf in order to provide a conversation point for someone who wants to meet you.

Set realistic expectations

Rather than expecting to meet The One, plan to enjoy a fun evening and interact with new people. You'll be more appealing if you have several short flirty conversations with each person spaced over intervals throughout the evening. Keep them wanting more!

Although some people go to singles events with the intention of meeting someone special, some strategies increase the possibility that they will leave feeling disappointed. Unsuccessful tactics include:

  • Just waiting to be approached.
  • Believing that you can tell if someone is a possible match simply by looking.
  • Talking with friends rather than introducing themselves to strangers.

I advise my clients to attend singles events with the intention of talking to at least six people of the opposite sex before they leave. Successful tactics include:

  • Appear friendly and approachable. Make eye contact, smile and nod to as many people as possible throughout the evening.
  • Think of a short list of conversational topics. Keep it light and fun––favorite vacation destinations, spare time activities and favorite movies, books or shows. Avoid discussing dating, relationships or exes.
  • Express an attitude that says that you are the host of the party and want to help others feel at ease.
  • When you introduce yourself, chat for a few minutes. Then, say that you've enjoyed your discussion and that you hope to run into each other later on. If you have had good rapport, return later for a longer conversation. Repeat this pattern throughout the evening. Don't worry that you're leading people on—you are just being friendly. You are under no obligation to go on a date simply because you've enjoyed chatting with each other.
  • You will be far more approachable if you move away from a conversation with your friends. Most people feel that it's rude or awkward to break into someone else's conversation.

Plan and practice your exit strategies

It can't hurt to say yes to an opportunity to get to know someone who might be interesting. After all, you can't find out much about someone over a few short conversations in a noisy environment. Once you have exchanged numbers or made tentative plans, excuse yourself by saying "I'm looking forward to seeing you again. I'm going to mingle for a bit. I'm really enjoying getting to know you."

If you want to escape from a conversation, wait for a pause, smile and say, "Excuse me, it's been fun talking with you. I'm going to mingle. I'll catch you later." If they talk non-stop, try to touch or tap them on the shoulder to get their attention.

Singles events and MeetUps are great ways to meet others. If you attend these events with the intention of getting to know a few people, rather than feeling pressured to find a date, you'll feel more relaxed and have more fun.

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Aug
21

Why Men Press for Sex Before Commitment

Hoping For LoveMakingDear Annie, Why do most women think that men who want sex before commitment are only interested in sex?

That's not true for me. I am looking for a committed relationship, but I can't imagine wholeheartedly committing to a woman until I know that we are truly sexually compatible. Fred

Many men feel the same way as you do. But, most women have difficulty understanding a man's intentions as they are getting to know each other.

In the early stages of dating, men who are only interested in sex often behave the same way as those who are seeking a committed relationship. After all, many women won't agree to engage in sex with a man if he tells her that all he wants is a temporary, sexual liaison with no possibility of a future.

Most men quickly learn that if they want to have the greatest chance at successful sexual conquest, they must use romantic language and gestures to court a woman.

This is where it gets confusing for women. It's difficult for many women to discern whether a man is interested in the possibility being in the kind of relationship that she's looking for or if he's only interested in sex.

Men who are only interested in playing the field often send women mixed messages. For example a man may talk to a woman about the many ways that he finds her fun and irresistible, briefly mention that he's not quite ready for a relationship, then resume his intense romantic pursuit. A woman may interpret this to mean that she is so special that he will not be able to resist becoming deeply involved with her.

A man who is genuinely interested in a relationship usually won't send mixed messages. He will continue to reliably romantically and sexually pursue a woman.

For the most part, women who are seeking a relationship desire a reliable emotional connection before they engage in sex. And, like you, most men want to know if there is sexual compatibility before they commit to a relationship.

However, there are no guarantees in dating. If you are seeking a long-term relationship, the first few dates are an introduction to someone whom you find attractive. After a few dates, both of you are in an extended "audition" to figure out how you get along. During that process, it's important that each of you appraise the other's intentions.

This works both ways—both men and women worry about being "used" in different ways during dating. A woman might want to discover if a man is only dating her in order to have sex. And, like most men, you may want to be assured that a woman isn't just interested in dating you for your money, so it's up to you to discover whether she's attracted to you or drawn to your bank account.

It's not just about chemistry and sexual compatibility. A relationship won't succeed unless you are compatible on multiple levels. And dating is about discovering whether you're right for each other by sharing time and experiences together.

Commitment when you're dating usually means different things as your relationship progresses. Initially, it may mean that you're exclusively dating each other and seeing how it goes. As time goes by, the two of you could develop into a couple with the intention of exploring the possibility of a future together. Becoming engaged is a deeper level of commitment, and marriage takes it even further.

Relationships that are in the earlier stages of commitment are more likely to break up as the people involved discover incompatibilities, annoyances and red flags. As painful as it may be, it's the only way that people who are dating can discover whether they are a match.

If you and your date discuss how becoming sexually involved impacts each of you, you'll gain a deeper understanding of each other. That knowledge may make it easier for you to take your time and get into a early committed relationship before discovering if you're sexually compatible.

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Aug
03

Will I Lose him if I don't have Sex by the Third Date?

Cheek2CheekWebDear Annie, Is it true that a woman should agree to have sex by the third date? Towards the end of my otherwise delightful second date with Frank, he began pushing for a degree of physical intimacy that made me uncomfortable.

When I declined his advances, he told me that we needed to get to know each other's bodies so that we could know if we were sexually compatible before making love on our third date. I told him that I generally need to take things more slowly, and he replied that I was out of touch with today's dating mores.

He expressed surprise that I didn't know about the "Third Date Rule," which states that couples must have sex by the third date. He said that he never gets into a relationship with a woman who doesn't abide by that rule because he needs to feel sexually accepted and appreciated before he is able to get emotionally involved.

I told him that I wasn't ready to move forward and our date ended. It's been a week and I haven't heard from him. I really enjoyed his company—was I wrong to resist his sexual advances?

When I met my husband—I'm currently widowed after a 28-year marriage—there was no such rule. I want to find love again, but I don't want to become sexually intimate without feeing emotionally connected. Is there any place that I can meet men who won't insist on following the "Third Date Rule?" Sally

The meaning of the Third Date Rule 

The "Third Date Rule" is in the same category of mating lore that men and boys have always employed to in order to gain a greater opportunity to engage in sex. Some others include, "If we don't do it, my testicles will be incredibly painful [otherwise known as 'blue balls']", "I'll just put it in for a second to see what it feels like" or "Let's just lie down, talk and cuddle. I promise that nothing will happen."

In other words, there is no such rule. Frank was giving you an ultimatum. His non-verbal message was, "If you don't agree to have sex now or on our next date, you can forget about enjoying the pleasure of my company. It's my way or the highway."

He gave you a wonderful, if somewhat painful, opportunity to learn about his values. He let you know that he is interested in getting what he wants without considering the needs of others and that he is open to manipulating and bullying people if he doesn't get his way.

And, if he's not willing to compromise, negotiate and respect your point of view this early on, an ensuing relationship can only promise more of the same, because his attitude sends the message that he's only interested in a sexual relationship with you.

How to tell if he's interested in all of you...or just your body

It's no wonder that many women find men's sexual signals confusing. A man won't ask a woman on a date unless he's sexually attracted to her. But, women have a difficult time figuring out if a man is only interested in a purely sexual encounter or if he is also interested in pursuing the possibility of a deep, intimate relationship.

A man who is only interested in a sexual relationship will pursue you until he decides that the cost of pursuit, whether in time or money, outweighs the possibility of success. His strategy may include trying to manipulate you by saying that you're not available, adventurous or open enough to be with him.

A man who is interested in an intimate relationship with you won't risk rejection by giving you an ultimatum. He'll respect your values and needs. As long as you let him know that you are interested in the possibility of closeness and intimacy, he will take the time to get to know you and be patient while you make up your mind.

If a man is interested in pursuing a relationship, encourage him by playfully telling him that, while you need to take things slowly, you're excited about the prospect of becoming sexually involved when the time is right.

A big part of dating is sorting out which men see you as a possible partner and which ones see you as someone to enjoy until you get too serious. You'll spare yourself a lot of unnecessary heartbreak by meeting different men, exploring the possibility of an emotional connection and walking away from those who want a relationship based solely on sex.

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