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How to Avoid Online Dating Disappointment

Online dating beachDear Annie, I’ve been looking for a good man for over a year. I tried online dating—and it was a disaster! I’m a widow who has been out of the dating scene for decades.

I answered all of the profile questions, but have been reluctant to post a photo, so I posted an old, blurry one in which no one could recognize me. I don’t want my family, friends or colleagues to know that I’m so desperate that I have to use the Internet to try to meet men.

It seemed to work. Dave contacted me a few months ago. We began an email correspondence, which became increasingly romantic. Eventually, we engaged in a series of long phone calls. After about six months, I felt that our relationship was firmly established enough that I felt comfortable to meet him in-person.

Our first—and only—date didn’t go well. Even though I hadn’t seen his photo, I thought that he was nice-enough looking. Dinner felt strained. During dessert, he told me that he didn’t want to see me again. He actually said that if he had known what I look like, he would never have asked me out. I was crushed.

I’m terrified at the thought of putting myself out there again. I would love to remarry, but have no idea how I ever going to meet someone new. Patricia

The way that Dave rejected you was incredibly cruel. While you have every right to be upset, please don’t give his uncouth manners the power to prevent you from finding love with a more simpatico soul.

Online dating is a great way to give yourself the opportunity to meet men who you wouldn’t otherwise encounter. As you learned the hard way, it’s not always a good platform on which to build a relationship. That has to be done in real life.

No one is real until you meet them in person. You can’t tell what someone is like from information gleaned from an online profile. The online dating industry is also well aware that most people have difficulty when it comes to accurately portraying themselves in writing.

If you’re going to use online dating sites to meet men, you need to post several clear, current photos. Post the best shots you can find. Professional photos are ideal - after all, your profile is really an ad. Be sure to post several three-quarter length or full-body shots of yourself.

Don’t worry about who might see your pictures. So many relationships start online that the stigma of the venue has largely vanished over the last few years. Besides, the only people who would see you online are those who are using the site.

Once your profile is live, get online every day for twenty minutes to an hour—no more. Respond to those who contact you. Initiate introductory emails. Keep each message to no more than a paragraph and always include a question.

Your goal is to meet someone in person after a couple of email exchanges. It’s the only way that you’ll know if there is the possibility of starting a relationship with him. Then you can start dating in real life.

On-line dating is a great way to connect with like-minded men who are seeking romance and relationship.

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10 Signs You're Ready to Start Dating Again

Bringing flowersDear Annie, It’s been over a year since Lou and I broke up. I’d love to be in a relationship. It would be easy if someone would just introduce me to Mr. Right. But I’m terrified of the thought of dating again.

It’s never been easy. I doubt that I’ll find someone as wonderful as Lou. He was delightful—sexy, smart and funny—and I wish that our relationship had worked out. I’m not sure whether I’m 100% over him, but I’m certain that he’s moved on.

I’m hesitant to put myself out there again. The thought of making the effort to meet new men exhausts me. I’m afraid of getting involved with someone who won’t reciprocate. On the other hand, I’ve taken a good look at what happened in my last relationship and want to get it right next time.

I know I’m a good catch. I deserve to love and be loved. I’m intimidated by the ups and downs of dating. How can I tell if I’m ready to dive back in? Noreen

If you’re like most people, you’re rarely 100% ready for lots of things. Perhaps a tiny part of you would love to sleep in or have lunch with a friend when you need to go to work, but you do it anyway. The same goes for dating: It’s far easier to stay home or go out with friends but that’s not going to make your dreams come true.

It’s easier to put off something when the path to your desired outcome isn’t completely clear. You date because you want to meet a man and get into a relationship. But the path to success is uncertain.

It’s about trial and error. You don’t know where you’re going to meet the right man. You may not be sure if you’ll even meet anyone worthwhile. It takes time to ascertain whether a guy is interested in a fling or a long-term relationship or if he is trustworthy, lovable or reliable.

Most women date for a while before becoming involved in a relationship. Take it slowly as you re-enter the dating pool. Remind yourself that dating is just a way to get to know new people.

Approach the first couple of months of dating someone as a series of unique events, where you’re exploring possibilities and enjoying each other’s company, rather than viewing your encounters as make-it-or break-it steps to a relationship.

You’ll know if you’re ready to date again if you agree with most of these points:

  1. You’re no longer thinking that you’ll do anything to get your ex back
  2. You’ve gotten rid of mementos that remind you of your ex
  3. You’re attracted to some men
  4. You’ve sorted out the good, the bad and the ugly about your ex and have learned from the experience
  5. You’re buying new clothes/creating outfits out of old ones and feeling sexy
  6. You’re getting involved in outside interests
  7. You’ve caught up with your friends
  8. You’re interested in other topics than “what went wrong”
  9. You’re ready to learn about and enjoy the company of someone new
  10. You’re tired of spending weekends with your cat

Start by approaching dating simply as a way to meet new men without any expectations. You’ll be most successful if your only goal is to stay in the present and see how you feel when you’re on a date.

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What it Means When He Wants Post-Breakup Sex

Romantic Breakfast in BedDear Annie, I was crushed when John suddenly broke up with me after ten months.

We had a wonderful time together--great conversations, an over-the-top sex life and enjoyed many interests in common. We rarely disagreed. We’d already made plans for next summer, so it was a real shock for me when he told me it wasn’t working.

I was thrilled when he called just after the New Year and asked to come over to talk. We quickly fell back into our old routine. He’s so easy to be with, so it felt natural to touch each other.

A couple of hugs turned into passionate kisses, which culminated into lovemaking. We had an amazing night together. I felt comfortable and at peace for the first time since our break up.

I didn’t hear from him for couple of days, but I assumed he just needed space. We have been together several times since. It feels great at the moment, but I never know if or when I’ll see him again.

I can’t figure out what’s going on. I think that he is probably too scared to commit to a relationship. I haven’t asked because I don’t want to pressure him.

How can I tell if he still loves me and wants us to be together? He is not as attentive and reliable as he was previously. On the other hand, he says he misses me after we haven’t seen each other for a while.

How long should I wait for him to come around? Melody

I’m not convinced that John is interested in resuming your relationship. At the moment, it looks like you’ve transitioned from a connection with long-term potential to one that is a friends-with-benefits liaison.

It’s best if you assume that, unless John told you that he wants to rebuild your committed relationship, he is simply enjoying your company and engaging in no-strings-attached sex. He misses you, but he no longer wants to be your exclusive boyfriend.

Believe his words: He ended your relationship. From his perspective, it means that he’s free to pursue, date and sleep with other women. Whatever happens between the two of you is based on his assuming that the two of you are no longer an item.

When you sleep with him under these conditions, his conscience is clear because he believes that he has informed you of his intentions and that the two of you are on the same page.

It’s likely that he doesn’t understand how easily you, like most women, could easily interpret his actions to mean that he wants to get back together. It’s simply not how most men experience romance.

Since you’re not willing to settle for a casual affair, tell John that you’re no longer going to see him or sleep with him unless he wants to rebuild your relationship. You’ll get over him sooner than if you continue to hope that this go-nowhere relationship will morph back into the real thing.

Once a relationship is over, it’s up to you to take care of yourself by creating good boundaries. If your ex asks to get back together, you’ll be in the position to rebuild the relationship you want rather than settling for crumbs.

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How to Find Romance During The Holidays

Holiday PartyDear Annie, I can’t believe that I am facing the holidays alone again! I love holiday festivities and traditions. I can handle the ups and downs of my family over Christmas, but the thought of being alone on New Year’s Eve is upsetting.

It’s such a romantic holiday––kissing at midnight, planning for the future—and I hate the reminder that I’m on my own. As much as I’ve tried this year, I have not connected with anyone who wants to be in a relationship.

Although part of me wants to sleep through the whole thing, I realize that there might be something I can do differently. I know it’s too late to find an actual boyfriend before then. What can I do to find a date for New Year’s? Therese

 It’s almost never too late to find a date for New Year’s Eve. It's best if you don’t project too much meaning into it. A New Year’s date with someone you’ve just met is no more likely to portend a romantic future than a similar one that takes place at any other time.

Some single men prefer to wait to ask until the last minute. A guy may fear that asking for a date ahead of time might send the wrong message. If a man isn’t ready to be your boyfriend, he may worry that a New Year’s date that is planned well in advance will create unrealistic expectations.

In the meantime, I suggest that you seek out opportunities to meet men..

Don’t leave home unless you look your best. You can’t know where you might meet someone. My clients have met their mates in varied places, including waiting for BART, at the grocery store and at the gym.

The key is to be aware of those around you, so that you can interact at a moment’s notice. Do your errands at busy times, so you’ll have more opportunities to meet men. Go to local holiday events and chat with strangers. Accept all invitations.

Check out Meetups, singles parties, or local dances that hold lessons before the main event.

Disengage with your phone—you don’t want to be distracted at the wrong time. Take the pods out of your ears, make eye contact and say hi to strangers. Strike up conversations by asking open-ended questions.

Interact with at least two men on an online dating site or app each day. 

Take advantage of opportunities to connect, even if someone isn’t your type. If you’ve been single for a long time, you might consider the possibility that the men who are “your type” aren’t the type of guys who want to commit. and start exploring the possibility of a relationship with other types of men.

These actions will vastly increase your odds of meeting someone with whom to share New Year’s Eve.

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5 Gift-Giving Tips for Smart Holiday Dating

Gift giving coupleIf this holiday season marks the first time that you and your beau have the opportunity to exchange gifts, these tips will help you handle it discreetly and with tact.

How long should you be dating before you can expect to give each other gifts? While there is no hard and fast rule, it’s best to err on the side of caution. You might appear desperate or inappropriate if you give an extravagant gift too early in a relationship. On the other hand, not giving a gift may be interpreted as not caring for the other person.

You and the person you’re dating might not assign the same meaning to gift giving. One person might be insulted by an inexpensive gift, while another may feel relieved at the prospect of not feeling obligated to reciprocate. Even though it might seem awkward, I suggest that you and your beau have a discussion about the kinds of gifts that you’re comfortable giving and receiving at this particular point in your relationship.

If you’ve been dating someone for a short time, and you’re not sure if a gift is in the offing, what should you do? Have a wrapped gift ready in the event that your date arrives with one for you. The best gift for a new relationship is one that is edible. Homemade cookies in a festive tin, a bottle of a nice wine, or an assortment of tasty treats are gifts that won’t go to waste. These also won’t serve as a reminder of failure if your relationship doesn’t go anywhere.

You’ve been dating regularly for three to six months, but don’t have a long-term commitment. What gifts are appropriate? Activity presents are great. Think concert tickets for a music aficionado, museum membership for an art lover, Giants tickets for a baseball fan, or technology event tickets for your geek. This is not the time to replace his decrepit toaster with a sleek new one. Keep it fun and light.

You’ve made it past 6 months and you haven’t discussed the future. At this point, a lasting memento won’t seem inappropriate. Keep gifts on the lighter side: such as costume jewelry, electronic gadgets, or books or accessories you know your sweetie would love.

You’ve made it past 6 months and you’re talking about a future together. Take this opportunity to discuss how you plan to handle gift giving as a couple. Will you use those opportunities to upgrade your closet or household, or will it be about special experiences, such as great meals or weekends away? Chat about how your families handled gift giving, what you liked—or didn’t--about it, what you think will work for both of you. Don’t get into situation where one of you gives the other a $500 stereo system and the other returns the gift with a pair of socks!

Of course there are exceptions to these guidelines—more engagement rings are bought as holiday gifts than at any other time of the year. If that’s the case...go for it!

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Five Reasons to be Thankful for Dating in 2016

Dancing couple webDear Annie, I've tried absolutely everything that I can think of to find love, but nothing has worked. I’ve gone out with dozens of men, but only felt connected and attracted to one, who ended up ghosting me after a couple of months.

I don't understand why I can't seem to make this happen even though I have been able to find success in every other endeavor I have tried to pursue.

Now the holidays are here and I can’t believe I’m still single, despite my best efforts. I feel alone and humiliated. All of my friends have found someone. I don’t want to deal with yet another holiday dinner where I’m the only one going solo. Alison

 There is nothing to be ashamed of. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, just over half of adult Americans are single. Being single today doesn’t mean you’ll be single forever.

This is the time of year when people are inclined to look for love. Maybe it’s the long evenings and cool weather that makes them want to connect. Perhaps it’s the extra time away from work that provides the space that allows them to ponder what’s most important in their lives.

Both men and women are most attracted to someone who is happy and confident. People want to connect with someone who is interested in getting to know them, rather than someone who wants to obtain a mate to fill an empty chair at the table.

So, even if you have to fake it, you’re better off if you display an upbeat attitude when you’re out and about meeting people.

While modern dating may seem discouraging and confusing, it helps if you focus on the positive. After all, it wasn’t so long ago that single people over thirty were considered unfortunate people who had missed their chance for love. In 2016, you definitely have a lot going for you for the following reasons:

1) This year, more people are seeking a partner who shares their values in an increasingly divided country. After the recent disruptive election, many people who were previously satisfied with casual dating or waiting for the impossibly perfect partner are now actively looking for love.

2) There are more ways than ever to meet like-minded, single people. The more you take advantage of these, the greater your chances of success:

  • In real life: You can meet people through friends, social groups or clubs, and MeetUps. Participating in volunteer work, networking activities and attending classes or Internet-organized events or singles events is also a plus.
  • Online dating—actually, I prefer to call it “online introductions”—whether it’s one on of thousands of online dating sites, such as match.com and OK Cupid, or apps, such as Bumble and CoffeeMeetsBagel is a great way to meet people.
  • Randomly, whether you’re at the grocery store or farmer’s market, waiting for public transportation or walking the dog, you can chat with potentially eligible mates.

3) It’s easy to get support: You can find answers to questions on the Internet, meet new friends in social groups while you’re looking for love or hire a dating coach, an option that was almost unheard of at the turn of the century.

4) We are in a country and place in time where you get to choose what kind of relationship you need at this stage in your life. No one else feels entitled to make your decisions for you. The key difficulty is creating the time and making the effort to getting to know someone before you decide to stay or go.

5) We are so fortunate to have access to reliable birth control. The last 50 years have marked the first time in known history when engaging in sex did not automatically include the risk of a woman becoming pregnant. If you are like most midlife women, you couldn’t imagine waiting to marry someone before becoming sexually intimate.

There is a lot to be thankful for when it comes to dating in the twenty-first century. Happy Thanksgiving! I wish you love.

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What to do When Your Boyfriend Won't Call

Woman Wait For CallDear Annie, Josh and I have been together for four months. We adore each other and are in a committed relationship. In spite of that, I can’t get him to call regularly when we’re apart. We see each other every weekend and once or twice during the week.

When I call, he often sounds distant, although he says he’s glad to hear from me. It is as if he had an on-and-off switch. When we’re together, it’s great. But when we’re apart, it seems like he forgets that I exist. Despite my best efforts, this results in my feeling resentful, insecure and unimportant in his life.

I would love to be in relationship where we talk every day. Is it too soon for me to ask him to call regularly? I don’t want to do anything to upset him or scare him away. Deirdre

It’s not too soon to ask your boyfriend to call regularly. An emotionally healthy man who cares for you will want to make you happy and provide what you need as long as it doesn’t conflict with his values or responsibilities to himself or others.

If Josh is unaware that you feel that talking in between your dates is important, he may not see any reason to call. He may believe that you should call him if you want to talk, rather than understanding that you don’t call him because you feel that he’s often emotionally unavailable when you initiate a call.

Like many men, he may not regularly get on the phone just to chat. Instead, he might be more likely to use phone conversations to exchange information. I first noticed this when my son was growing up; he often had a one-minute phone conversation to arrange getting together with a friend, while I was used to conversations that included making a connection before making plans.

Your best bet is to plan a conversation to tell Josh that you would love the opportunity to talk between dates. Before you do so, think about what would be satisfying in the long run.

If you could have it all your way, how often would you talk? How long would those conversations last? Would they be quick check-ins or long talks or a combination of each?

Don’t modify your answers in order to accommodate Josh’s possible reaction. Just decide what would be most satisfying to you. Once you have that sorted out, you will be more able to effectively communicate what you feel is important. You will also be more likely to have gained awareness of the areas in which you’re most comfortable compromising.

When you talk, tell him how you feel when you don’t hear from him: “resentful, insecure and unimportant.” Say that if you had it all your way, he would call you for as often and as long as you previously decided. Tell him what sensation that would provide for you—the opposite of how not talking feels—let’s say, happy, secure and important. Then, ask if this is something he can provide for you. Listen carefully to his reply.

If he says he’s happy to do so, problem solved!

If he says he wants you to compromise in some way, be willing to negotiate, as long as it won’t cause you to feel resentful. For example, if he wants you to initiate some calls, ask him to provide you with times when he’s more likely to be emotionally available.

If he tells you he’s not willing to make any changes, then you’ve got a choice: stay in a relationship that makes you uncomfortable and insecure on a regular basis or move on so you can find someone who wants to make you happy.

Asking to have your needs met may feel like a risky proposition, but if you communicate clearly, it’s likely to provide an opportunity for the relationship to grow.

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How to Set Boundaries When Your Live-in Boyfriend Loses his Job

Dog couple outdoors 1Dear Annie, Mark lost his job three months ago, just after we moved in together. He has limited savings and is now at the point where he can’t afford to pay for his share of our expenses.

He had a good job when we met. We dated for eight months before merging households. He seemed to be a hard worker. He was loyal and reliable. He never took a day off from work, not even when he was sick.

He is clearly enjoying his time off. He said that he has worked all of his life and wanted to relax for a while. That was fine with me as long as he pulled his own financial weight.

After I insisted, he reluctantly agreed to search for work. This consists of him spending about an hour each day on job-search websites. He rarely sends out his resume because the jobs that he qualifies for don’t pay as well as his old job and he doesn’t want to work for less money.

I know that the loss of his job was a shock to him, but I’d rather not continue to support him. How can I get him to take his job search seriously? Adele

I understand why Mark might want to take time off and relax. It would make sense if he could afford to do so. At this point, he’s in a situation where he can’t pay for his costs of living without your financial backing, which he couldn’t have obtained without your consent.

Let’s face it: no one except the IRS can force you to spend your money unless they have your permission. It’s up to each couple to negotiate how they agree to share financial responsibilities.

Some couples believe that all income belongs equally to both members. Others set aside a portion of their income for mutual expenses and keep the remainder separate.

In either case, a member of a couple might feel that it’s reasonable to assume that their partner will act as their financial safety net when the other person’s contribution falls short.

You may very well question Mark’s financial intentions, as you just moved in together after a moderately short courtship.

When you and Mark moved in together, did you have an understanding of how you were splitting expenses and responsibilities? If so, revisit your agreement to see how it was designed to work under your present circumstances.

If you didn’t do so, you need to create one right now, even though he’s not working. Bite the bullet and prepare to take the time to negotiate what is fair for both of you.

For the short-term, if it works for your budget, it’s OK to allow Mark to owe you money that you have paid on his behalf. I suggest that you set a firm time and dollar limit to extending him credit.

If he’s unwilling to actively engage in a full-time search for a job or pay his share out of his savings or credit cards, I suggest that you start looking for a new place to live as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may run the risk of supporting him indefinitely.

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